As E3 approaches each year gamers everywhere begin to hope, dream, and speculate about what the industry changing event will bring. This year is no different. Below are my predictions for the show.
This will be an exciting show for Nintendo! Project Nitro (the Nintendo DS) will be the main attraction here. We will be amazed at some of the innovative uses that developers have come up with for the handheld. The power of the system will be equally impressive, but will not quite rival Sony's PSP. Though direct backwards compatibility with the GBA will not be a feature, Nintendo will hint at a future add-on device that will allow you to play all GameBoy games. More third party developers will pledge to support the DS. Nintendo will continue to advertise connectivity between devices and will have a few games to show off new ideas only capable with connectivity.
Of course the two big games shown will be Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker 2. The former will be playable, but the latter will not. In addition, the new Mario game for the GameCube will be shown briefly in video form and hyped as "the next big innovation in gaming software" like Mario Sunshine was. The game will not be playable and Nintendo will not comment on it much other than to say, "You should be excited about this one!" It will also feature both Mario brothers in some way.
Nintendo will continue to emphasize its renewed committment to third parties, while support for the GameCube continues to drop. Sadly, getting the GameCube online will still not be a priority, but the company will mention that it intends to offer an online service for free in the future. The service will probably not be implemented until the release of the next home console, codenamed N5, which Nintendo will not discuss at all this year other than to re-affirm that it is in the works.
The mystery hardware device Nintendo has been hinting at will be announced and will possibly have a demo on the show floor. It will be similar in function to Sony's Eye Toy. Though a few developers will announce that they will use the device, it will not change the way we game as a whole.
Finally, several surprise titles will be announced, a few of which will be Nintendo exclusives. More Game Boy Advance games than you could ever get around to playing in the 3 day trade show will be shown, too. Other games that will be playable to be excited about include Star Fox 2, Four Swords Adventure, Donkey Konga, Advance Wars and Fire Emblem for the Cube, Paper Mario 2, Mario Tennis, Pikmin 2, Geist, and Mario Party 6. This latest addition to the Mario Party series will feature more action elements with faster gameplay overall.
The final build of Thief: Deadly Shadows will be playable, and though it's a highly anticipated game, will be overshadowed by the likes of Doom 3 and Half-Life 2. Tribes: Vengence will have a bit more of a presence and will also be playable, though still not the main attraction.
ATI and Nvidia will show off their newest flagship products using proprietary demos, but will not be running any new games with them. At the ATI booth, Valve will be showing off more direct-feed video of Half-Life 2 to try and get gamers excited again, but unfortunately the title will be delayed once more. Valve will announce updates to its Steam service to tide gamers over in the meantime. Meanwhile, Nvidia, who showed off scantily-clad fairies last year, will have a mermaid you can take pictures with.
One major focus this year will be on "high definition" gaming technology including an array of HD TV's that are PC compatible. 3D display technology will also be pushed as the road games should head down, and while it will look cool, the idea will not adopted by many gamers or developers.
Guild Wars, a free MMORPG, will draw a large crowd where E3 attendees will be able to play an early alpha build of the game online with gamers at home who registered for the "E3 for Everyone" play test. Here they will advertise the idea of massively multiplayer games without regular subscription fees. The concept will be tried by a couple other developers and publishers in the future, but will die down with not enough revenue to continue to the expansion of the games. In the meantime EverQuest 2 and World of Warcraft will become the dominant MMO's.
Several new gaming peripherals will also be shown with an objective of replacing the keyboard, but they will not gain any kind of overwhelming popularity.
One prediction that I know will come true is that an insane number of PC games will be announced and/or shown, few of which will actually make it to market and become successful. (This happens every year.)
Microsoft's biggest attraction will be Halo 2, followed closely by Jade Empire. Conker and Kameo
will make repeat appearances in almost completed playable form. Other big titles that will be
playable include Doom 3, Mortal Kombat: Deception, Driver 3, and Call of Duty: Finest Hour. KOTOR
2: The Sith Lords will be shown in video form and, while it will be a great game improving on many
aspects of its older brother, will not be amazingly innovative. Like Kaleb, I think Perfect Dark 2 will be announced for the Xbox 2.
EA will finally cut the exclusive deal with Sony and put all their future releases on Xbox Live.
Microsoft will provide a few new details on the Xbox 2 in response from media pressure, but will not focus on it directly this year. Since I don't follow Xbox news as much, these are all of my expectations from Microsoft for now.
Two new hardware devices will be shown: the PSP and the PStwo. The PSP will be playable, though some of its functionality will not be complete or shown. Still, it will stun all in attendance. A load of games will be announced for the handheld and a few will be shown in demo form. Sony will either announce that a few small features will be cut from the PSP, or it will be delayed a bit longer. We will be shown how Sony intends to make connectivity work between the PS2 and the PSP, and the PSP and the PC. An online service will be announced with the release of the PSP where users can buy and download songs and other digital media to be played on the PSP.
The PStwo will be smaller and more stylish than the current PS2, and will include a broadband adapter and hard drive, but will not be as competetively priced as we would like. It will probably start at $200. Sony will continue to market the PSX as the all-in-one media center for those with deeper pockets, pricing the system at $500. Similarly to Microsoft, a few new details on the PS3 will be squeezed out of Sony reps, but the Japanese giant will not specifically talk about the system.
As far as games, there will be too many to keep track of as is usual for Sony and its popular console. Again, I don't currently keep watch on Sony as much, so those are all my predictions for this year.
Sega will NOT announce that it is re-entering the console market. Its huge super-secret announcement will not be as big as they hype it up to be.
Gabe and Tycho from Penny-Arcade will be at the UbiSoft booth on Thursday and Friday creating massive crowds, but will not be kicked out this year as in years previous since they have an actual booth to stay in.