With E3 returning to its old, bigger-is-better format, there seemed to be more at stake at this year's show. Could Nintendo provide enough compelling news to hold onto its lead? Would Microsoft trot out something to create new enthusiasm for its Xbox 360 platform? And could Sony reveal anything that might give it some much-needed momentum?
Alas, as it goes most of the time at E3, none of the companies truly hit it out of the park and a lot of what was announced was already leaked to greater or lesser degrees before the show started. However, that doesn't mean we can't try to objectively determine which companies did themselves some good--and which companies may not have.
Here's a quick recap of the news conferences from each camp and my quick assessments. But nevermind what I say, feel free to add your own comments--and try to be objective.
- What's new: Expanded XBox Live audio/video offerings, Facebook and Twitter integration, full game downloads, and a strong selection of XBox 360 exclusives, including Halo: ODST, Forza Motorsport 3, Left4Dead2, Splinter Cell Conviction, and Metal Gear Solid Rising (this isn't an XBox 360 exclusive but it's the first MGS title to appear on the platform).
- Big tease: You are the controller (Project Natal).
- Biggest letdown: I was kind of hoping for a Zune portable gaming device, but all we got was the Zune brand added to XBox Live.
- Overall message: We're rounding out our already formidable XBox Live offering, serving up solid and sometimes innovative exclusives, and we have some cool motion-controller stuff that will be available for the platform--including existing systems--in the future.
- What's new: Fresh Super Mario Brothers title and Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid Other M, Wii Fit Plus, Wii Motion Plus, Wii Vitality sensor.
- Big tease: Nada (sorry, that isn't a code name for a new technology).
- Biggest letdown: No big tease.
- Overall message: We've expanded the gaming audience--and we're going to continue to expand it by doing just what we've been doing, improving our revolutionary motion controller, and adding the word "Plus" to some accessories and games.
- What's new: PSP Go, expanded roster of PSP games and downloadable content, and impressive line-up of PS3 exclusive titles, including Uncharted 2, Gran Turismo 5, Modnation Racers, God of War 3 (March 2010), and the briefly mentioned Rockstar Games' Agent.
- Big tease: Impressive new motion controller that uses the existing PlayStation Eye to rival or beat the Wii's motion controller (it's due out in spring 2010).
- Biggest letdown: No new hardware configuration or price drop for the PS3; PSP should have been priced at $199.99.
- Overall message: We're revamping and reinvigorating the PSP platform and feeding the PS3 with a bigger selection of triple-A exclusive titles that will make you want to buy the system, even if it costs $400.
As for Nintendo, its whole presentation once again came across as more of a dud than a bang. But that hasn't hurt the company in the past, so Nintendo fans shouldn't be too worried, right?
Update: Added Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid Other M to the "what's new" section of Nintendo. Both titles are slated for release next year.