E3 Press Conference Preview

Wednesday, 01 June 2011 11:26 PM Written by 

E3 starts in less than a week, but the press conferences start the show on Monday and Tuesday Morning.  The big shows from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are always highly anticipated, and every superfan has the hopes that his or her favorite company will steal the E3 spotlight.

Last year Microsoft showed off Kinect, Nintendo unveiled the 3DS and Sony cooled things down with the announcement of Playstation Plus.  What can we expect at E3 2011?  Will there be a clear winner of “best in show” or will it be a close race for “which company slightly surpassed mediocrity?”

 

Sony

Expectations for E3 2011: High
Big announcement last year: Playstation Plus
Significance of the announcement in hindsight: "Meh" (especially since the PSN debacle)
Sure thing we’ll see: NGP

 

Sony has the biggest hurdle to overcome this E3.  Just coming off of the PSN fiasco, fans want retribution or at least something that tells them that the company is truly sorry and that great things are around the corner for both the PSN and the company on the whole. 

The NGP looks to be Sony’s big grab this year.  We’ve already seen the handheld’s impressive specs, but these specs make its price point a hard sell for even the hardcore audience.  This could be a sequel to the announcement of the PS3 where a $600 price tag was met with the sound of jaws hitting the theater floor.

We haven’t seen any original software for the NGP yet so prepare for a ton of demos to take the stage.  We’re finally going to get to see exactly what this high-end handheld is capable of.  What we know so far is that it is capable of recreating PS3 graphics, certain models will have 3G capability, and it has a touchpad on the back, among other internal specs and tricks.

What will we see for the PS3?  Well, we know that Uncharted 3 is getting a big push, and you can rest assure that we’re going to get a ton of Resistance 3 footage, but sequel software will only take the future of the system so far.  I’m predicting that we’ll see some excellent new features for the PS3 with the help of a “PSN 2.0”.

I’m remaining optimistic for Sony.  I truly believe they know that they need to come out with their big guns and those big guns need to be blazing.  Could we see a complete overhaul of the PSN, new online services through the PSN (preferably free), or perhaps some crazy NGP-PSN integration that we haven’t even thought of?  I’m looking forward to seeing what Sony has in store this year.

 

Nintendo

Expectations for E3 2011: High
Big announcement from last year: 3DS
Significance of the announcement in hindsight: Not nearly as big as Nintendo wanted it to be
Sure thing we’ll see: Project Café


Since Nintendo announced the codenamed Project Café, the expectations for Nintendo’s press conference have been extremely high.  Any time one of the big three brings a new home console to the table, there’s a palpable energy leading up to the big show.  Then when Nintendo’s name is slapped on it, that energy gets multiplied.

Anyone can see that the momentum of the Wii has petered out.  Nintendo has all but abandoned major software support for the once-beloved motion controller.  It looks like Zelda: Skyward Sword very well could be the console’s last hurrah.  E3 will usher in the era of Project Café.

Project Café marks Nintendo’s return to hardcore gaming.  All of Project Café’s information points towards an emphasis on recapturing the core gaming audience whether it’s the physical controller with buttons (and a mini screen), HD graphics, or rumored comprehensive online capabilities.  As Adam Sessler suggested in my interview with him, Project Café could certainly have Wiimote support built-in, keeping the casual gamer who still enjoys waggling happy.

Project Café is already such a big story, I’d be surprised if there’s any room for anything else at Nintendo’s press conference.  There’s so much that we still don’t know about it and we can’t wait to see.  If they start the press conference with something other than Café attendees will just be wondering when Reggie Fils-Aime is going to get to Project Café.  If they lead with Project Café, what could possibly top it later in the conference?  We may get some tidbits on new software for the 3DS, or perhaps a fifth design of the DS, but the Nintendo press conference may as well be called the “Project Café press conference.”  Right now this is the most anticipated show of E3.

 

Microsoft

Expectations for E3 2011: Medium
Big announcement from last year: Kinect
Significance of the announcement in hindsight:
     If you ask the hardcore gamer – “Meh”
     If you ask the casual gamer – “Oh, I forgot I bought that.”
Sure thing we’ll see: ???


Microsoft is the biggest wildcard this year.  There are rumblings of a successor to the 360 and new Xbox Live features, but there are very few certainties for this press conference if any at all.  This uncertainty sets the stage for plenty of surprises.  Microsoft can quietly step in while everyone is busy talking about Project Café and a new PSN and really “wow” their fans with something great.

I’m predicting a lot of new info about the future of Kinect.  Be prepared to hear plenty of groans and possibly a few crickets from the audience made up exclusively of the hardest of hardcore gamers, but Kinect is still a big deal for Microsoft.  Lets not forget that the company sunk a half a billion dollars into the marketing campaign for Kinect and they do have strong sales numbers to show for it.  Kinect’s lifespan is far from over and support for the camera will most likely span to the next Microsoft console as well. 

The software lineup for Kinect has been outstandingly lackluster in both quality and quantity so far.  There are a couple titles for the motion capturing controller that have Kinect fans excited, but I expect a plethora of Kinect games to be showcased that haven’t been announced yet.  These could be games that are aimed at both the hardcore gamer and the casual.  Perhaps Microsoft could grab both demographics and announce Kinectimals 2.

On the software front for the 360 we will probably see peaks at exclusives like Metal Gear: Rising and Alan Wake 2 as well as big non-exclusive games like Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3 and maybe even some footage of a GTA V.

Microsoft could also turn attention to Xbox Live.  This is a perfect time for Microsoft to flex its online muscle in the direction of Sony due to their recent online struggles.  We could very well see some great new features for the online service.

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So, will this year’s E3 be one to remember or will it be an E3 of disappointment?  We’re less than a week away from finding out.

Stay tuned to the blog for more Pre-E3 coverage, plus live coverage from E3 in L.A. next week and be sure to follow me on twitter @GameGuyPGH for up to the minute E3 coverage beginning on Monday.

 

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