Last year we predicted that the E3 show would be the largest and most exciting show ever. For the most part, we were correct. But this year promises to be even more interesting.
The console war this year is in full swing, with Sega having stumbled out of the hardware side of the market. Last year it was Sega vs. Sony vs. Nintendo. But just when Sega has been relegated to also-ran status, here comes Microsoft. Looks like we will have a three-way race once more. GiN has appointments with all the top competitors, so we will be there to give you an inside look at the market.
Sony will be doing everything it can to hold onto the market share it wrestled from Sega. But the real show with Sony will be with the developers that make games for the platform. Everyone knows what the PlayStation 2 can do, but it will be developers like Konami and Crave that will be showcasing new titles, and thus tempting new people into buying the console.
And Microsoft will finally have to start showing what the X-Box can do. This close to the suspected fall launch, journalists won’t accept seeing the same three demos we have looked at in the past. And we won’t put up with doctored photographs. No, at E3 we are going to want to see games running off of a beta of the console itself. Then we can rate it against the PlayStation 2 and see if the technological advantage of the X-Box will translate into better games. Plus, we will need to find out what the price of the console will be, which we assume will be announced at the show. Low performance and a high price could be death for the X-Box out of the gate, while impressive performance and a low price could spell trouble for frontrunner Sony.
Nintendo will also be giving first looks at the GameCube. This will be the first time we will really get a close look at the Cube. Last year, back when the Cube was still called the Dolphin, the only thing Nintendo had was several security guards and a box that supposedly contained the device. This year we hope to see some demos if nothing else.
And Sega will be fighting for its very existence. Switching over to a developer of games for other platforms could be a good move, though many interpret this as throwing in the towel. It may depend on what they can offer the industry whether they make it to next year’s E3 or not. Their track record is impressive, but they have fallen quite a ways since they were the kings of the block. Their most recent move will either be a nail in the coffin, or a new phoenix-like beginning.
The PC market is a bit more consolidated this year. Companies like Infogrames have bought up a lot of competitors, even larger ones. And although there will be hundreds of new companies at the show this year, the big money – and thus the power to move the industry – is resting with five or six large firms.
This consolidation has not hurt originality. There are thousands of PC games released each year and probably 100 titles we will look at that promise a "never before seen" feature or two. Companies have really figured out how to embrace the advantages found on the PC, like faster processors and broadband communication for multiplayer games on a truly massive scale. With new graphics cards and super sound systems being shown, expect a game-focused PC to be close to virtual reality. This will lead to a strong PC showing for years to come, and this year will be no exception.
Some companies are even trailblazing into new markets. We are meeting with companies that are making games for mobile phones, intelligent toys that will enthrall children and even new ways to distribute computer games that have not yet been successfully tried. It should make for an interesting show.
To cover the show, we are changing our format a bit, just like last year. The first thing you will notice is that the GiN Industry Happenings section is going to scroll past the normal point on the page. Basically, with all this news, we can’t fit it all in the normal space, so we will let the news scroll on for as long as it takes. That way you wont miss a thing.
Also, you will notice a link in the upper left corner of the screen. Click there and you will be treated to tons of pictures taken throughout the show by our six editors on assignment this year. We want also want you to see everything going on at the show.
Every day you will be treated to special stories filed from the show. Ken Urben and Todd Hargosh, two men with very different opinions about games, will be doing daily columns in dueling style. Expect lots of fireworks. Plus, we will be covering the keynote speeches and any surprises, so you will be in touch.
Finally, we want to renew an insane promise that we have made for the past five years. Our editors will speak with every company exhibiting titles at the show this year. We have done this, somehow, every year and will continue to do so. Because of this, you can be sure you won’t miss a thing when you tune into GiN for E3 coverage this year. It's the least we can do for our loyal and savvy readers.