June 2, 2011 at 12:03 AM ET
The annual video game extravaganza known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3) is nearly upon us. That means the interwebs are awash in rumors about what games and related gadgets will be revealed by the many game companies scheduled to descend upon LA next week.
So what's in store for us this year? Nintendo has already promised to unveil its next game console at a press event taking place next Tuesday morning as E3 officially kicks off, but what that machine will look like is merely the stuff of rampant rumor and speculation.
Meanwhile, Sony — in the midst of trying to clean up the massive PlayStation Network debacle — has promised to present crowds with a five-hour-long press event on Monday evening. What, exactly, is going to happen during those five hours — also the stuff of rampant rumor and speculation.
Certainly this year's E3 is shaping up to be a memorable one and gamers can expect a whole lot of exciting and intriguing news next week. But who can wait until then? Here's a look at some of the sure bets and biggest guesses surrounding E3 2011.
Nintendo, Project Café and Zelda oh my
This much we know for sure: Nintendo is going to reveal the successor to the Wii at E3. But beyond what Nintendo officially announced — that this new machine will "offer a new way of playing games" and will arrive in 2012 — the rest of what we know about the device is all based on leaks from anonymous sources of somewhat questionable authority.
But hey, those leaks are interesting and some even make good sense. For starters, anonymous sources have told a number of sites that the new Nintendo console, allegedly codenamed Project Café, will have touch-screen controllers. And even newer rumors say these controllers will also have two analog sticks and a camera and, as Kotaku reports, eight buttons.
In the era of the iPhone, a touchscreen controller makes very good sense to me. What does not make good sense to me is the rumor that the Wii successor won't have a hard drive. What-the-what?
Another rumor that does make sense: "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword" game, previously announced for the Wii, will instead be coming to the Project Café machine. As many a seasoned Nintendo fan and gamer pundit has pointed out, Nintendo has done this before — delaying "Twilight Princess" from the Gamecube to the Wii. It's certainly a move that would give Project Café a very strong title for its 2012 launch.
Beyond Nintendo's next console, gamers can expect Nintendo to bring out the 3DS games. The new handheld game device hasn't been selling as well as some might have expected and has been a bit short on game offerings. But Nintendo is expected to show off "Super Mario" for the 3DS for the first time and that's sure to bring in the crowds.
Shigeru Miyamoto has described the game as a cross between "Super Mario Galaxy" and "Super Mario 64," but we won't know what that means for sure until next week.
Sony: The good, the bad and the unknown
With a five-hour conference scheduled, you can bet Sony is going to spend a good bit of time apologizing for the theft of users' personal data from its network and perhaps offer some goodies by way of apology. A PS3 price cut perhaps? Analysts seem to think it's a reasonable bet.
Something Sony seems sure to do? Reveal lots o' information about its forthcoming Next Generation Portable (or NGP) handheld game machine. Though the company has already announced many of the device's specs (click here for an in-depth look at what we already know about the successor to the PSP), we don't know what its official name is, how much it's going to cost or when it will arrive in stores.
E3 is the place to reveal these sorts of details. But who can wait for official word? As Kotaku reports, some pretty strong rumors seem to suggest that Sony will be officially naming the gadget PlayStation Vita.
The other question is: What will the NGP's games look and play like? Certainly Sony is already promising us media types that it will be giving us some hands on time with NGP games in action at E3. And personally, I can't wait to try out "Uncharted: Golden Abyss" (officially revealed today) and some of the other titles that are sure to be there.
But how will the machine — with its two sticks and touchscreen on the back — handle? Will its power and its price be able to pull Sony into a better position in the handheld game gadget competition? E3 will give us our first real indication.
Microsoft ... what DO you have up your enormous sleeves?
While Nintendo is touting its big console reveal and Sony is busy trying to clean up its PlayStation Network mess, Microsoft has been, by comparison ... kinda quiet these days. Which makes us suspicious. Veeeery suspicious.
One thing is for sure, we can expect to Microsoft and other companies to show us what's in store next for Kinect. Microsoft took the wraps off Kinect at last year's E3 and the full-body motion control device has sold remarkably well (a whopping 10 million units to date). But now that the device has launched, serious gamers want to know what kind of games — beyond dance games and fitness games — are coming to the device.
You can bet that Microsoft will reveal the next wave of Kinect games and will surely set out to convince the more hardcore gaming set that Kinect does, indeed, have something to offer them. And here's hoping that we'll finally see more of that Star Wars Kinect game we've been promised.
But what else might Microsoft have in store for us?
Well, ever since game site Develop reported last month that the next iteration of the Xbox was sitting in the EA offices, the rumor mill has suggested that Microsoft just might announce a new console at E3.
Though the new Xbox rumors have been circulating for a while now — and yes, certainly Microsoft must be working on its next machine — I have to say this one seems like a long-shot for E3 what with the company riding high on Kinect and the Xbox 360 doing very well in the console competition. But the Xbox 360 is the oldest of the three game consoles (six years old) and stranger things have happened.
And in a final interesting tidbit, Microsoft does seem to be gearing up to make some sort of entertainment-related announcement regarding the Xbox at E3 next week. Frank X. Shaw, corporate VP of Corporate Communications at Microsoft, wrote on the Official Microsoft Blog yesterday that 40 percent of all Xbox activity now is non-game.
"We’re seeing an average of 30 hours of video consumption per month per Xbox, a number that is growing fast. And people are expecting more — more options, more games, more videos, more entertainment," he wrote.
And he promised: "Next Monday at E3 in Los Angeles, the Xbox home entertainment pot will be boiling over..."
Games, games games...
Certainly we'll be getting a closer look at many of our most anticipated games at E3 — "Mass Effect 3," "Star Wars: The Old Republic," "Uncharted 3," "Modern Warfare 3," "Battlefield 3," "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" and "Bioshock Infinite" are just a few of the games that will be shown off at the expo for sure.
But something else that's also for sure: Some new games are going to be revealed for the very first time.
What might they be? Well, Rockstar Games has been busy launching the excellent "L.A. Noire," but that hasn't stopped the rumor mill from moving full steam ahead with leaks and tidbits suggesting the game maker may be about to reveal a new installment in the storied Grand Theft Auto franchise. Game Rant recently reported that GameStop appeared to be revealing a GTA launch on January 15, 2012. And as other tidbits about the supposedly-in-the-works game make the rounds, many are expecting/hoping that E3 will see an official revelation of some sort.
Meanwhile, Bungie is done working on Halo but that doesn't mean Halo is done. And the Halo rumor mill has been alive and kicking in advance of this year's E3 with reports that a fancy remake of the original "Halo: Combat Evolved" is under way. It'll be the game's 10-year anniversary later this year, so an E3 revelation makes good sense.
Speaking of Bungie, word on the street is that, while the company says it won't officially be at E3 this year, we might still see a new game from the Halo studio. Rumors have suggested that Bungie folk are working on a first-person-shooter MMO called "Destiny" or perhaps "Tiger." But will they show it off in LA? Wishful thinkers say "yes!" But realists say "not likely."
We'll be on hand at E3 next week to find out whether these rumors turn out to be fact or fiction. In the meantime, gamers, what are you hoping to see revealed at E3 2011?
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