E3 Prognostications


posted 7/6/2007 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
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E3 is just a week away and I thought now would be a good time to list out a few things that may or may not be big stories next week, the things that we expect to happen, and a few things that might happen if the planets align correctly.  With the change in format comes a host of new unknowns and it's hard to tell how things are going to work out.

Large decrease in coverage due to fewer outlets being let in
This is the biggest "No duh" of the list but it's probably the most important because not only are there fewer outlets going but there are fewer people from those outlets going.  GamingNexus will be going to E3 this year but we were only able to send two people instead of the usual five or six people.  This means that John and I have packed schedules and will not be able to meet with every company that we normally meet with.  There's the added factor that the companies are spread out across Santa Monica which means even less time to spend with companies this year. This sucks because this means that we had to make choices between which companies wanted to meet with and those we didn't have time for.  This is incredibly frustrating because it's usually the smaller companies who have some of the more innovative games.

It's also important to remember that this isn't just a press event as the game companies are trying to impress wall street analysts and retailers which puts yet another squeeze on both the companies showing products and those covering the events.  Even if an outlet was to get invited to E3 there's no guarantee that they are going to get an appointment with a company.

Also expect to see nearly the same coverage from site to site as everyone is going to be seeing the same canned demonstrations.  Sure there will be a few sites that get some exclusive views or notice something out of the background but you're going to see a lot of the same thing over and over again, it will just matter of who meets with who first.

Lots of complaints from journalists about the setup
This dove tails with my last point a bit but it still bears talking about.  Journalists love to complain about stuff and this year's E3 should give us plenty to complain about.  The biggest item is that we are going to have to do a lot of driving and planning to get to appointments.  While most of the press conferences and companies are operating out of one hotel the rest are at different hotels that may be 10-15 minutes away.  You'll be hearing a lot about missed appointments, lack of parking, and a lack of organization from the ESA. 

There will also be a lot of ire for any company that tries to hold an event outside of the Santa Monica area.  It looks like Sony is the only one right now as they are holding their press conference in Culver City but there are some rumblings that EA and NC Soft are both having press conferences in the LA area.  I'm guessing a lack of space is driving this but we'll see how it shakes out.

Keep in mind that this is the first "new E3" so there are going to be a lot of bugs to work out.  E3's haven't exactly been the smoothest running operations in the past and given that this is the first time with a new format there are going to be more than the usual number of issues.  Hopefully they won't be too bad but with this being the first edition of the "new" E3 there will be a lot of quirks to work out.

Does Sony get it right this year?
Sony had one of the worst E3's ever last year.  Between the pricing nightmare and the Riiiidge Racer incident  and I think that they are going to be gunning to come out swinging this year.  With the new regime in charge at Sony they have a chance to make a strong impression this year.

I think the first thing Sony will announce is that they are bringing rumble to the SIXAXIS controller.  There probably won't be any backwards compatibility for games that have already been released but you never know, they could win a lot of support if they announce that select games (Resistance and MotorStorm) will be patched to incorporate rumble.

The real key with the PS3 is how many exclusive games they announce at the show this year and if they manage to get any third party developers to commit a game to the PS3 and only to the PS3.  There are some rumblings in this months EGM (hey, it's going bathroom reading) that they are working with Epic on a Gears of War type exclusive for the PS3 so that might be one candidate but don't rule out any kind of exclusive from EA or Ubisoft.

I'm guessing we'll get a newly re-designed PSP, hopefully one with dual analog sticks, better battery life, and maybe a few new high profile games to go with it.  For some reason people don't realize that the PSP has been getting a lot of quality titles for the last six months or so.  Games like Puzzle Quest and Crush have actually been pretty good and it's about time for Sony to find a new way to take the platform to the next level.  I would also hope that Sony shows off some cool new useful connections between the PSP and the PS3.

We could also see some major news about the PlayStation store as I think Sony is starting to realize that the current online service is a minor league experience compared to what Microsoft is offering.  What will be interesting will be to see if the service stays free or if Sony charges for it or not.

Speaking of price, I think the last bit of business with the show will be Sony officially lopping $100 off the price of the PS3.  The rumors hit late today that they were going to be cutting the price and I think they'll tease us a bit with the cut before making it official.  I wouldn't be surprised if Sony introduces a new model PS3 with a larger hard drive but I hope that they don't as I think we're all sick of the dual SKU strategy.

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