In just a few short days, many folks from the 1UP Network will hop a plane from chilly San Francisco to the slightly warmer Santa Monica area for this year's [Register or Login to view links] show. A gimped and more frustrating version of its former self, E3 2007 promises to be something...different. We asked the office to throw out their predictions for the show, which ranged from actual prophecies to paragraphs of curse words at the work load. One way or the other, we'll be there -- and here's what might go down.
As much as it's going to suck for those of us attending -- the event is spread across a bunch of Santa Monica hotels and tons of things overlap (the ironic part is the organizers claim this year's event was designed with the press in mind) -- I think this year's show is going to be pretty exciting for those of you keeping watch from home. It won't be the spectacle it used to be (no booth babes gallery for you this year), but you'll still get to see a ton of big games and announcements. The biggest revelations are going to come out the Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft press conferences, so we'll naturally be delivering live video feeds of those (see our [Register or Login to view links] for the full schedule).
So what should you look forward to? Well, Microsoft and Sony will both announce price drops and/or new SKUs with more in the box; Nintendo's probably pretty content with its price point. As for games at the conferences, Halo 3's single-player will likely be the highlight of the Microsoft showing, though Epic should have something pretty hot, too. Sony's going to try to steal Halo 3's thunder with Killzone 2 that same night at special event for the game -- I don't know if it's possible, but I love seeing the rivalry. At Sony's actual press conference, Metal Gear Solid 4 will likely be the highlight, but expect to see strong showings of other mainstay Sony franchises: Wipeout, Gran Turismo, and -- if we're really lucky -- a first look at the sequel to a Sony of Japan franchise that everyone's been waiting for. Nintendo will show the usual suspects: Mario Galaxy, Metroid, and maybe even the rumored Mario Kart.
As for other E3 games that everyone's going to be raving about, Rock Band, Assassin's Creed, Heavenly Sword, and Mass Effect will probably be up there. Oh, and we'll finally get to hear more about David Jaffe's new Utah studio with Scott Campbell that Patrick was right about.
In recent memory, E3 has never been about news. Everyone knows that. I'm going to play devil's advocate and say that this year's changes are for the best, and that you, as readers, will reap the benefits. In a recent interview between Wired's Chris Kohler and Peter Moore, Chris wondered if the scaling-back of E3 wouldn't deter companies like Microsoft from making the major announcements they ordinarily would. That's when Peter Moore actually made a really nice point: the tininess of this year's expo is sure to put a great deal of emphasis on the Big Three Consolemakers, who in turn will want to make the most of that focus, that real estate.
Certainly, industry journalists will be allotted more face time with games, as well as with major interview subjects--which means it's in Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony's best interests to make the most of that opportunity. Since the change was announced, E3 has been touting itself as an "intimate" event, which up until now, really rubbed me the wrong way. But now I figure, rather than feeling shut out, journalists and readers and gamers all will be so much closer to the industry action than ever before. So I'm really looking forward to it.
I think pricing is going to be a big issue for both Sony and Microsoft. I think the $499 rumor for PS3 is only part of the story, the other being that there will be a "new" $599 SKU with a bigger hard drive, and (if they're smart) an HDMI cable and the Blu-Ray DVD remote too. Something I really don't think we'll see is anything on any kind of "new" PSP. It would be nice to see a redesigned unit, or a shift in strategy to be more download friendly, but I'd be shocked if that happened at this E3.
From Microsoft, I think we'll see a similar "trickle down" pricing strategy to what we're seeing with PS3. I'm guessing we'll see the Elite for $399, and then some movement and reorganization with the other SKUs - but your guess is as good as mine on that. Maybe the Core will be eliminated all together, so the 360 no longer ships without a hard drive (which would no doubt help for games like GTA IV) resulting in a $299 "Premium" replacing it, or we may very well see the Core sticking around, but dropping to $249 or even $199. I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for that though.
On the Nintendo front, I think fans are in for an unusual ride. We're seeing some big shifts in the market, and Nintendo is the vanguard, so if there was ever going to be a time when the hardcore fan base feels left behind, this very well could be it. I think we're going to see a lot more in the casual, and family spaces on both Wii and DS, and maybe more of that than visibility on new, classic Nintendo IP. It's entirely possible too that the "missing" franchises on Wii (things like Mario Kart) will turn up in more family friendly guises. I also think it's going to be bundle-time on DS in time for the holidays.
The PC will have a great show, I'm sure. There were some great games last year, and I think we're going to see some really gorgeous looking games running under DX10.
OK, OK, I'm busy over here!! ...but OK, real quick-like. Sony: PS3 price drop, redesigned PSP, Gran Turismo, Metal Gear, message on PS3 really coming into its own this fall. Microsoft some nifty new Xbox Live functionality for the fall, lots of Halo stuff, GTA downloads, talk about the best games lineup of any system this year. Nintendo: new indie-games Wii channel, some kind of expanded Mii usage, one major new Wii franchise game, emphasis on total global domination and third parties embracing the Wii. I expect fewer surprises from the third party publishers this year, just because of how the show is set up. People may leave talking mostly (whether good or bad) about the same games they were going in: Rock Band, Metal Gear, Starcraft, Assassin's Creed...about a dozen others, including a few major sequels I can't talk about. Should be a really good show, all in all.
E3 will suck balls yet again, in more annoying, less attractive, highly irrelevant fashion. Nintendo will announce some games that will surprise no one, and a legion of devout Nintendo-Can-Do-No-Wrong followers will spin it by stating 'well, Nintendo's outselling PS3 6-to-1 so they must be doing something right!'
The PS3 will price drop, which will cause Sony to lose even more money than they're already bleeding, and yet Sony will spin it as 'we've found ways to cut costs with the production of each system, so building PS3s is even more cost efficient than ever!' and totally avoid admitting that 'No one's buying this ****, we had to drop the price.'
Microsoft and 3rd parties will continue to churn out really good games but support coming out of Japan will be inconsistent at best. Japanese developers know that their best chances for staying in business are to make games for North America, but few know how (see: Vampire Rain). Team NINJA will have to save the day, but Ninja Gaiden 2 won't really surface until Tokyo Game Show, because Itagaki's idea of rocking the gaming world's face does not equate with revealing the game to the world in a small room at the Marriott. Good going, ESA.
Honestly, I don't anticipate many big surprises this E3. The show's new format and timing have practically neutered it; only a handful of companies are presenting games at the show, and plenty of third party publishers (Konami, Capcom, Square Enix, etc.) have scrubbed their usual press conferences. This industry still runs on an annual cycle focused on the holidays, so everyone had their games ready to show back in May. Without a May E3, they went ahead and rolled out their offerings over the course of a couple months, meaning that we've seen most of the big games already. The real benefit of this year's show will be the developer interviews, which (hopefully!) will be more relaxed than in past years, and therefore of more value to gamers. Then again, maybe they'll suck as much as the rest of the show.
All the Sony fanbois are wishing and hoping, but I'm reasonably sure that Sony is not going to be announcing a price drop. I'd like to find out when we'll get to play Spore (I'm guessing 2009) and Mass Effect (sooner than 2009...hopefully!) However, I am really, really hoping to see something incredible that starts with Duke - and ends with -eR (in 2025)!
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