Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and E3 predictions

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 11:05 PM Written by 

E3 is fast-approaching, and arguably the most discussed and analyzed part of the expo happens before the doors even open.  It’s the big press conferences from Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony.  There will be plenty of conjecture in the coming weeks, but I thought I’d get the ball rolling early.  I’m going to break down each upcoming presser and examine what each company will present, should present, and I’ll add a couple bold predictions at the end.  Here’s an explanation of each:

Sure things:” These are the surefire talking points for the companies.  If these topics don’t get addressed in the press conferences, I’ll be shocked.

Needs:” These are the topics that the fans are dying to know about.  These are the burning questions that demand answers.  If they aren’t addressed, prepare to hear complaints.

Bold predictions:” Certainly not guaranteed discussion points. These are what I would like to see, but are a long shot.

 

Nintendo unquestionably has the most pressure out of the big three to really “wow” their audience this year.  With poor profit margins being announced for the past year, a stagnant home console, a handheld that is beginning to come into its own, and a brand new console on the horizon Nintendo has a lot to prove and the fans have a lot of questions that demand answers.


Sure things:

I’m expecting the majority of the time to be spent talking about the future of the 3DS.  Nintendo wants to recapture the success of the DS and thinks the 3DS is the rebirth of the cash cow.  Prepare to see more exclusives and more features announced for the handheld.

The Wii U will get a significant piece of the spotlight.  Everyone is dying to know more about Nintendo’s new console, and the company has been pretty tight-lipped on the details thus far.

I see the Wii being mentioned in a sentence or two as a lead-in for the Wii U presentation.  The Wii is dead and Nintendo knows it.  I wouldn’t expect a whole lot of discussion about this console whose glory days are behind it.


Needs:

In the past few months, there have been rumors swirling about the Wii U’s hardware capabilities or lack thereof.  Some developers currently working closely with the system have allegedly said that the hardware isn’t as powerful as the 360, or PS3.  Nintendo needs to assure fans that this console is ready for its release and ready for the future.  That might not mean announcing that it’s graphically capable, but they need to tell us something that says we’ll be playing the Wii U for more than three years after its release.

 

Bold predictions:

It would surprise me if Nintendo had a second E3 press conference about the Wii U without announcing release date.  I predict that Nintendo will announce an early 2013 release date for the new system.  I don’t think they’re going to be ready for a holiday 2012 release.  Don’t expect a price announcement just yet either.  I see Nintendo being very careful with this release.

Nintendo has never shied away from releasing multiple versions of the same console or handheld.  I think they’ll use E3 as a launch pad for a new model of 3DS, one that will have two analog sticks and a better screen.

 

Sony’s pressure isn’t nearly as high as at was last E3 when their press conference came on the heels of the horrible hacking news. This doesn’t mean Sony doesn’t have to bring the A-game on June 4.  Rumors have been buzzing about the gaming giant being hard at work on a new console.  Don’t be surprised if a new Sony console comes shortly after the Wii U.


Sure things:

The attention for Sony’s presser has to be on the PS Vita.  It hit shelves just a few months ago and was mostly well received by critics.  But the honeymoon is over for the handheld and fans want deserve more.  The Vita needs a strong future of software and Sony is going to put on a good show saying that games are coming.

The PS3 is a bit of a wild card this year.  It’s getting long in the tooth as they say, and doesn’t have much left to prove.  Sony will give us a closer look at some big titles like “God of War: Ascension” and hopefully some new games from big franchises.  Oh and don’t forget about “Battle Royale” either.  We’ll get a closer look at that, for sure.


Needs:

As I said, there have been rumblings of a new Sony console in the works.  Fans are always looking for more info on what’s coming next.  Sony likes releasing info about their new tech long before we’ll ever see it, which means there’s a chance we might hear something about the next generation.


Bold Predictions:

I’ve been vocal about the Vita needing an open SDK for a while now.  Apps are the key to its success.  It’s a powerful machine, but is limited by the software available to it.  Sony’s announcement of an open SDK for the Vita could be a game-changer.

Sony may also use E3 to announce a new network infrastructure.  Let’s face it; the PSN is painfully slow by today’s fast-paced standards.  I’m hoping for an announcement of a PSN upgrade, preferably one that supports party chat.


 

Rumors are swirling about an earth shattering decision by Microsoft to sell an Xbox 360/Kinect bundle for $99 that locks you into a two-year Xbox Live subscription. The monthly fee is rumored to be $15 per month, making the new price plan cell phone-esque.  If indeed true, prepare for Microsoft to upstage both Sony and Nintendo.  This news will rock the industry and how we buy consoles.


Sure things:

We’ll probably hear something about that artsy, indy game called Halo 4.  This is easily the most anticipated console exclusive for the system, and Microsoft is going to be shoving it down our throats.  Not that that’s a bad thing.  As a long-time fan of the series I’m looking forward to seeing what the new hands of 343 Studios are capable of.  I was impressed by “Halo 1: Anniversary,” but now I want to see something new.

If it’s not announced before E3, Microsoft will make the $99 Xbox official.  More Xboxes will be in more homes, but more importantly they will be Xbox live enabled for at least two years.  That means more Xbox Live features are coming our way.  That’s why this alleged new strategy is so brilliant.  I wonder how many family Xboxes are currently sitting in a family house that aren’t Live enabled.  This eliminates that problem for Microsoft.

It also puts more Kinects in more homes and Kinect will get a lot of stage time.  Get ready for a lot of new and cute Kinect titles, probably ones with big franchises behind them like Sesame Street or Marvel.  The Kinect is going to get a big push in 2013.


Needs: 

I mentioned console exclusives above.  It was a bit of a lackluster year for the 360 in this category if you exclude XBLA games.  Microsoft needs to announce some excellent exclusives for the next year that aren’t subpar Kinect games.  Exclusives are still important and gamers still like to see them.

 

Bold Predictions:

Some have suggested that the $99 rumor is a sign that Microsoft is dumping units to make way for a new system.  I’m not buying it.  If rumors are any indication, the company is still pretty far from unveiling a new machine.  In today’s tech age, it’s almost impossible to keep secrets, so no news about a new 360 probably means there won’t be one.

Like the last two E3 Microsoft pressers, there won’t be any new tech shown (not including the Kinect), but will instead showcase plenty of software and features.  I predict more robust Xbox Live offerings.  M-Soft could follow Apple to the cloud and unveil a complete cloud storage system that allows you to access files from Windows on your Xbox.

 

 

So there you have it.  What are your hope and dream announcements from this E3?  Let me know on Twitter @GameGuyPGH or in the comments below.

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