Predicting E3

May 3, 2006

E3 is an interesting beast. The flurry of news that spews from gaming’s little trade show piles a virtual mountain of information on my computer desk from which I’m unlikely to emerge with any action resembling haste. With both Nintendo and Sony poised to chat about their new entries in the console war and Microsoft out to prove that the 360 won’t be a just stopgap until the PS3 arrives, it’ll be a fun, and rather interesting, week.

While some this week will be spent poring over the slowly leaking pre-release news, I thought I’d take the lull in activity to register a few predictions, some risky, some decidedly not. I’ll revisit these later and see how I did.

Microsoft will announce a bigger hard drive for the Xbox 360

This move will largely be a response to Sony’s announcement of a 60 GB hard drive for the PS3. How big? 100 is a nice round number. This rumor has the size correct. The price, however, is another matter.

Sony will not announce a price for the Playstation 3

Some will say it’ll be a wonderful surprise for later. Others would say that we really don’t want to know. We only know it’s going to be expensive. That will have to be enough for now.

A number within a single dollar of $500 is rather likely to show up on a sign near you. Expect them to hold this news until late summer. Expect them to sell every one of the 1 or 2 million machines that they produce this year, regardless of the price tag found on the box.

Microsoft will announce a price drop …. for the original Xbox

Microsoft won’t, however, announce a price drop for the suddenly price competitive Xbox 360. Why ignore the improved offspring in favor of its parent? Simple economics.

The 360 doesn’t need to shed pennies at the moment. The timing is all wrong. I count 6 months between now and the likely November release of its real competitor. The pressure continues to mount to establish a convincing lead in terms of hardware sales. That remains more of a supply than a price issue heading into the summer months. Microsoft could have a $100 price advantage when Sony finally enters the market. Don’t expect Microsoft to play with price tags until Sony finally lays its cards on the table. Even then, no promises are likely to be made.

On the other hand, the original Xbox isn’t faring so well. It’s quickly finding itself without many friends. Third-party support is quickly drying up, reflecting a lack of support from its first part developer. Microsoft began to ignore their giant black box late last year. Everyone else is about to do the same. They only need to clear the warehouse.

Sony will make you believe that Live was their idea

Sony won’t talk about Xbox Live. They are likely to deny its existence entirely. Their press conference will, however, inspire quite a bit a deja vu. Sony will outline a set of features that do more than just mimic the online capabilities currently available on Microsoft’s circle infested machine. You’ll add PlayBuddies to some type of registry. You’ll add up PlayPoints, earned from each PS3 game, to form an ultimate PlayScore.

Remember folks, their idea. All. Along.

Nintendo will be the talk to the show

Somewhere between the blaring videos of Sony’s promises and hubbub that should accompany Microsoft’s first round of real software for the next generation, you’ll find Nintendo’s tiny box. It’ll be different. It’ll have that fancy remote we’ve heard so much about. Most importantly, it’ll be unique. Unique is exactly what you want to be in a room full of jaded journalists who’ve spent a lifetime playing the same old thing. How the hell do you play with the damn thing anyway?

Nintendo might have no clue how to name the damn thing but don’t be surprised if the press is just snapping at their heels, for good or bad. I’m guessing it’ll be the former.

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