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E3 2011: What do Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony have up their sleeves?

5fc8a nintendo project cafe2110422135328

E3, the gaming world’s biggest show, is almost here. The annual event has become the place for a large portion of the industry’s biggest announcements, and every year, gamers sit with bated breath listening to what will come.

Last year, we took a guess at what the big three might have. We were right, oh, on about 50% of our predictions which isn’t half bad. So, let’s gaze into our crystal ball and wonder: what will Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony be offering at this year’s E3? And what does each platform holder have at stake?


5fc8a nintendo project cafe2110422135328

The Stakes

Given that we know that Nintendo is announcing a new home console – something that only happens once every 5 or 6 years or s, it is likely they will be the star of this year’s E3. The pressure, though, is huge. Though the initial reaction to the Wii was lukewarm, it obviously went on to become incredibly successful. When Nintendo do announce ‘Project Cafe‘, it’s going to have to knock people’s socks off, both traditional gamers and new ones too.

On top of that, Nintendo will have to deal with the fact that the 3DS handheld isn’t doing as well as they perhaps hoped. So Nintendo are going to have win over gamers once more by proving the 3Ds is worthy and that ‘Wii 2’ is awesome.

Our Predictions

So, what will come from Nintendo’s presser?

  • There are too many rumors about Nintendo’s new controller having a screen, so let’s take this as roughly true. The ‘gimmick’/selling point of the Cafe will, I’d guess, be that it will bring the 2-screen gaming of the DS to the living room. That means touchscreen control, innovative approaches to gaming and possibly even the portability of the controller between different consoles.
  • In addition to touchscreen control, the emphasis will be on in-person, offline multiplayer, with the classic use case being using your controller screen to ‘make secret calls in Madden‘ or something like that.
  • Given development cycle times, it seems plausible that Nintendo and guru Shigeru Miyamoto will have a Mario game ready to go.
  • Expect to see a bigger emphasis on 3rd party ports, especially high-end graphics-heavy titles from Activision, EA etc. that show off the technical superiority of the Cafe over the PS3 and 360.
  • As for price… this is a bit of a wild guess, but I’m going to say $349. $400 is just too high for a Nintendo console, but we also know that Nintendo refuses to sell hardware at a loss, which means $299 is probably too low.
  • It’s too early for a price cut on the 3DS. So instead, look for more details on that Mario game and titles that take advantage of the 3DS’ augmented reality and, hopefully, a game that actually uses the 3D for something.


The Stakes

Despite some rumblings from hardcore gamers that Microsoft has abandoned them, the folks at Redmond are on a roll. Particularly in North America, Kinect has been a wild success, and the system itself is selling like gangbusters.

But what Microsoft has to prove now is twofold. First, that they will provide the software to support their big Kinect and console numbers. And secondly, that the Xbox 360 will remain viable for at least the next 18 months. Microsoft’s big concern will be to sustain momentum.


  • Look for Microsoft to emphasize not only Kinect and media features, but also Kinect for the hardcore. Is it possible that the ‘Fusion‘ games listed in the rumor mill are actually games that mix Kinect and regular controller use?
  • As for games and other rumors, this post on NeoGAF will basically tell you everything we need to know. The highlights? A Crytek game Codename Kingdoms, a Gears of War rail shooter for Kinect, 3D support for the 360 and Forza 4.
  • That said, given Microsoft’s massive sales, look to see a lot of emphasis on Kinect, including new non-game uses, like the many hacks we’ve seen.
  • Will there be a Halo game? I think almost certainly. It’s a surefire way to appeal to the original Xbox base and assuage fears that ‘the hardcore’ is being ignored.
  • Of course, Activision will come up on stage and demo the Modern Warfare 3.
  • Overall, the tone of Microsoft’s event will be celebratory and will build upon the strength in both Kinect and ‘hardcore’ games.


PSP 2 NGP 1280px 50p

The Stakes

The stakes for Sony? Huge. After a catastrophic hit to their reputation in the PSN hack, they have a lot on the line. What’s more – and probably more important – is that Sony as a whole is to post a $3.2 billion loss for the last financial year. Sony need some good news and they need it now.

So, at this E3, Sony has to prove two things: that the NGP is a desirable, reasonably-priced machine with a great games line up that offers something significantly more than a smartphone or tablet. And second, that the PS3 is not only viable, but that it is the go-to hardcore system for ‘serious games’


  • The big focus for Sony will be the NGP. Look for them to announce price, availability, an approximate launch lineup and hopefully a name too. My prediction? US$299 for the Wifi only model, US$349 for the 3G. As for a name… Playstation Touch, perhaps?
  • We’ve already seen some NGP games, but I’d bet there are a couple more surprises on the way. Hopefully the emphasis will be on games designed for a portable experience and not simply replicas of home console games.
  • Will Sony address the PSN hack in their conference? Inevitably yes, but the emphasis will likely be on the Welcome Back package and how Sony is going to move forward.
  • While a PS3 price cut was a sure thing a few months ago, now it’s 50/50. A drop to $249 could push sales, but since Sony are so far into the red, it could be difficult to them to again move to a loss or break-even situation.
  • Sony desperately need something that will sell their Move motion peripheral. Yes, you can use it in Killzone 3, Resistance 3 etc., but it’s unlikely that will sell millions of the device. This E3 is basically their last chance to prove that the Move was more than a decent idea with no compelling software.
  • The PS3 emphasis for Sony will be the games, particularly given their strong 1st party lineup. Hopefully though, we’ll see some big news about the Rockstar game Agent, and some other surprises.


What I think is clear is that, unless Microsoft has an incredible conference full of surprises, the big news this year will be Nintendo’s new system and Sony’s NGP, which is pretty exciting.

But will there be other surprises? A new game from Bungie? Some unannounced PS3 exclusive? A big hardcore franchise showing up for Project Cafe?

What do you think? What is in store for this year’s E3?



history, indie bookstores have been

markers of an anti-corporate, anti-digital resistance, as they simultaneously tried to mould themselves to fit in capitalist economics. They did so out of necessity, because books and spaces and writers and editors and everything else cost money. That kind of necessary submission to economics had its own consequences, and the trope of the hardscrabble, barely-surviving bookstore also saturated book culture in a kind of resigned fatalism as they stood at the gates of civilization, staying the inevitable flood of digital barbarism.

What do you think?

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Written by Navneet Alang

Navneet Alang is a technology-culture writer based in Toronto. You can find him on Twitter at @navalang

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