It’s a big time of year for the big three console makers as E3 is less than a month away, and with all three manufacturers seemingly having one eye on the next generation – it’s hard not to speculate about the impending announcements.
Nintendo & Wii U
Nintendo, and quite rightly so, will have all eyes on them as they’re finally expected to show off the final version of their new HD console the Wii U. It was announced at last year’s E3 – but the unveiling actually left more questions than it answered.
How many tablet controllers will it run? Will the console play DVD’s & Blu-ray? How much hard drive storage will it have? How powerful is it? Hopefully Nintendo’s big-wig Reggie will make sure we get to see the console close up and get a detailed breakdown of what it can and can’t do – we need more substance, and less smoke and mirrors, if Nintendo is to capture the public’s imagination at E3.
We should expect a large list of first and third party software, most of which are likely to be cross platform titles found on current consoles. If Nintendo wants to capture core gamers then they need to have a selection of Nintendo stalwarts as well as triple-A titles like Call of Duty, GTA and Assassins Creed – whether this will happen remains to be seen.
We should expect Nintendo to flesh out their launch plans for the Christmas release, including whether all three territories will get the console on the same day or whether it will be staggered release. One major announcement will be, of course, price. Nintendo will be going up against established consoles with price ranges from £99 to £250 – meaning their price point needs to be thought through carefully – the 3DS was overpriced and sales only begun to pick up when Ninty dropped the price. They can’t afford to make the same mistake again.
Nintendo has already announced some of its online plans which include the ability to buy digital versions of games on the same day as their physical release, which is a great statement of intent. Where Nintendo has work to do is trying to secure media content deals from the likes of Netflix and Lovefilm – these services a have been a massive catalyst in sales for Sony and Microsoft – and are sure to be really important for Nintendo too.
Microsoft & Xbox 360
Microsoft don’t really have anything massive planned for E3 if we’re lead to believe the rumours. We know this because Microsoft said so. Speaking to Bloomberg, David Dennis, a spokesperson for the company, said the corporation won’t be announcing any details on the upcoming console at the games expo – nor will it be anytime soon (despite reports that the machine has already been made).
Unfortunately Microsoft’s conference has the makings of being rather lacklustre – with no new hardware – there keynote is expected to be software focussed with games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Halo 4 and Assasins Creed taking centre stage.
Microsoft focus for this year’s E3 is likely to continue their drive to improve Xbox live with new apps and services. One such rumour suggests that Microsoft is ready to give Xbox live users internet Explore 9 – apparently its already running on some modified Xbox’s at Microsoft’s skunk-works in Redmond. Let just hope it’s implemented properly and not done in the dismal way Sony did with their own web browser, which wasn’t given full flash support and performs fairly poorly.
Sony’s plans are little harder to pinpoint, they’ve just announced a loss of 4 billion – so E3 is going to be an important battleground for them to show the company is still alive and kicking. It’s expected to push Vita’s Christmas lineup which they will hope to try and drive sales with. Expect heavy coverage of God of War: Ascension as well as a number of PS Vita titles, both announced and unannounced. Sony will likely push its cross-platform play feature, as well as pushing both systems as entertainment hubs over gaming devices.
Sony isn’t expected to announce any new hardware at this year’s E3 and isn’t expected to make the same mistakes as it did last year. Last year Sony made a big song and dance about 3D – even releasing a Playstation 3D TV, but as many had predicted a £400 3DTV with no remote was always destined to fail. Expect Sony to mention 3D as an option, but not push it as a highlighted feature.
With neither Sony or Microsoft willing to jump the gun for their next gen consoles this year – it leaves Nintendo with a perfect opportunity to take E3 by storm. Let’s just hope their plans chime with consumers and the gaming community like it did with the Wii.
E3 starts June 5.