May 31, 2012 at 5:31 PM ET
For video game fans and pundits alike, one of the fun thingsabout the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (aka E3) is guessing what'sgoing to happen at E3 before E3 actually happens.
After all, E3 — which gets under way in Los Angeles nextweek — is the biggest and possibly most important video game show of theyear and a place where companies like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo and manyothers like to reveal and unveil their newest hardware and their most excitingnew games and innovations.
(Msnbc.com is a joint venture ofMicrosoft and NBCUniversal.)
That means, every year right about this time, gamejournalists try to wring advance info from their sources and try to sleuththeir way to some hidden nuggets of gaming gold. Some of what they find turns out to be true. Some it turns out to belittle more than wishful thinking.
But this year, many gamers' biggest rumor-fueled E3 hopes have been dashedwith companies quashing some of the most interesting and exciting rumors making the rounds. Sony and Microsoftinsist we won't get to see a new Xbox or PlayStation, Valve says no-go on therumored Steam Box or a new Half-Life game, and Bungie says we won't get to seetheir project "Destiny."
Darnit! Still, there's plenty of juicy game gossip making the roundsand frankly, some of it is looking pretty solid ... not to mention pretty awesome. Here’s a look at some of the mostintriguing E3 rumors.
A redesigned Nintendo3DS and Wii U
Gaming blog Kotaku.comreported Thursday that the Amazon store in Japan has run out of Nintendo's 3-D displayinghandheld game device. The 3DS shortage has fueled some long-running rumors that Nintendo may beabout to introduce a new 3DS model — and may just reveal it at E3.
Will the device have the two analog sticks that gamers so wish ithad? Perhaps abattery that lasts longer? Will it have a bigger screen like the goodol' supersized Nintendo DSi XL? Well, for starters, we'll find out if it even exists next Tuesday when Nintendohosts its annual E3 press conference.
Meanwhile, Nintendo unveiled its forthcoming game console — the Wii U — for the first time at lastyear's E3. And there's no doubt the game giant will be showing off the machinein a big way at this year's E3. And if the rumor mill is correct, it seems theWii U will come with something of a new look.
Recently leaked photos indicate the console'stablet-like controller has been redesignedto include two proper analog sticks rather than two control sliders, as well as some other small changes. The leaked pics seem pretty legit and the changes definitelymake good sense.
Certainly one thing we expect to seeat this E3 is the Wii U in its final form. But two things Nintendo has said we should not expect to find out at this year's E3 — the Wii U'sprice tag and its release date (though, yes, it is still expected to arrivesometime at the end of the year).
Sonyheads to the cloud and into e-books
One of two big Sony rumors making the rounds at the moment is that the gamingand electronics giant is about to jump into cloud gaming in a big way. Accordingto MCV, sources have revealed that Sony will soon fully acquire one of thetwo big cloud gaming companies — OnLive or Gaikai. (Though it's looking moreand more like it'llbe Gaikai.)
OnLive and Gaikai tout their ability to deliver streaming, high-qualitygames without the need for dedicated hardware. So what would this mean forSony's PlayStation 4 and the company's overall game strategy? It would mean,well, some very big changes, that's for sure. Big budget console games might nolonger be confined to game consoles, just for starters.
It had previously been rumored that Sony would reveal acloud-gaming partnership at its E3 press conference. So it seems this evenbigger acquisition news could make an even bigger splash next Monday. Certainlyit would put Sony in a new and very intriguing position in the game business.
Meanwhile, a second, somewhat less sexy rumor, also broughtto us by MCV,is that Sony will be getting into the e-book business with the unveiling ofsomething called Storyteller. Storyteller will see books and interactivedocuments — largely aimed at children — brought to the PlayStation 3 and possibly the Vita through thePlayStation Network Store. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me ... but maybe things will be clearer after Monday's press conference.
A new game from QuanticDream
Speaking of Sony, rumors are coming fast and furious claiming thatthe developers behind the haunting, ground-breaking PS3 title "HeavyRain" will reveal their new game at Sony's press conference.
After Quantic Dream showedoff their new motion-capture technology with the heart-wrenching short"Kara" earlier this year, it doesn’t seem far-fetched they'd followup with news about a new game. Computerand Video Games claims "a trusted senior development source" hastold them the Paris studio will reveal one of the two projects it is working onat E3. Meanwhile, over at Kotaku,they've rounded up a fair bit of evidence to back up the rumor.
And here's hoping that whatever this new game is, it's asgripping as "Kara" was.
Xbox Music Center
Some sleuthing by Kotaku and The Verge has turned up some interesting details suggesting that Microsoft will be unveiling a new music service during its E3 press conference Monday. The so-called Xbox Music Center — hinted at in LinkedIn listings and Microsoft job openings — would be a replacement for the ill-fated Zune music.
The Verge describes it as being "Spotify-like," and will integrate seamlessly with Facebook, to allow friends to build group playlists. It is also expected to have a "scan and match" function, similar to iTunes Match, which will acknowledge a user’s pre-existing music collection.
An Xbox-based music service certainly makes sense considering Microsoft's ongoing push to make the Xbox not just a game machine but a household hub for all forms of entertainment.
The debut of 'Grand Theft Auto V'
Ever since the first trailer for the new installment in the storied Grand Theft Auto franchise was revealed last year, gamers have been desperate to see and hear more. So it's not surprising that the rumor mill has churned up word that "GTA V" will make some kind of appearance at this year's E3.
But keep that excitement in check. According to CVG, its "trusted sources" say developer Rockstar Games "has no plans for E3." Of course, even if that is true, that doesn't necessarily mean the game's publisher — Take-Two Interactive — doesn't have any "GTA V" goodies in store for us. Our fingers crossed on that one.
Battlefield Premium – Some pretty firm rumors suggest that EA isgearing up to reveal a Battlefield Premium service during its press conferenceMonday. Battlefield Premium, which was leaked in a blog post and fact sheet earlier this week, will cost a one-time $50 fee and offer earlyaccess to "Battlefield 3" downloadable content as well as perks and"powerful new features" and seems to be EA's answer to rival Activision's Call of Duty Elite service.
Honestly, this bit o' news is shaping up to be less of a rumor and more of a fact. It seems EA has now told Joystiq, “Looks like the excitement for Battlefield Premium cannot be contained. For details, please visit Battlefield.com on June 4.”
Rumors ... or reality? Tune in to find out
Will these rumors turn into reality? Be sure to follow our In-Game team as it hits the Los Angeles convention center next week to bring you all the breaking video game news.
In-Game editor Todd Kenreck will also bring you ongoing snapshots from the E3 floor via his @ToddKenreck Instagram account. And don't miss the E3 experiences from video producer Matt Rivera who will be posting via his Twitter and Instagram accounts here: @MattMRivera.