There always seems to be a little extra something in the air when the road to E3 winds down each year, and this year is no different. We are less than three weeks away from the hugely popular event and whether it is the promise of rumors being confirmed or the chance to see an anticipated title in action for the first time, there is a lot to be excited about this year as we close in on June 7th.
Over the next couple of weeks leading up to the event, we’ll be taking a look at Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony and filling you in on what you should and should not expect to see or hear about, out of each of their respective conferences. We’ll make some bold predictions and try to cool off some of the more unlikely rumors in an attempt to craft an outline for what you can expect out of these conferences. At the end of it all, we’ll take a shot at predicting which of these three powerhouses will “win” E3.
Today, Nintendo takes the spotlight. There’s a lot to be excited about going into E3 when it comes to Nintendo. In fact, this is probably the most anticipated Nintendo E3 conference since we were all riding the Revolution hype train. However, while there’s a lot of potential for Nintendo to shock us with a flurry of stunning announcements, there’s just as much scepticism on whether or not Nintendo can live up to this hype and deliver something spectacular. Anything shy of that may only come across as a disappointment in fans’ eyes. Without further ado, let’s jump right in and take a look at five things you can expect from Nintendo’s E3 conference…
WHAT TO EXPECT
1) NINTENDO WII 2/STREAM/PROJECT CAFÉ OFFICIAL UNVEILING
Well this was a gimme. If there’s one thing that’s for absolute certain it is that Nintendo will officially unveil their next home console on June 7th to the masses. I would expect Nintendo to save this announcement for the second half of their conference for the sole reason that it is most definitely the biggest thing that is going to come out of the event and anything that would follow it at their conference would pale in comparison. Once all the other business is taken care of and talked about, expect a bit of hype before Nintendo rolls a video package that officially unveils the console, controller and the first game footage in a sort of montage style reel.
2) NINTENDO 3DS 2011 CALENDAR BECOMES CLEAR
It is no secret that the Nintendo 3DS, while still seeing massive success, slightly fell short of what was expected following the intense hype leading up to it’s release. Nintendo won’t pull any punches in reassuring it’s fan base about the Nintendo 3DS’ potential and incoming game library. I’m fairly confident that we’ll see larger game play demonstrations or video packages for big titles such as Mario Kart, Paper Mario, Kid Icarus and Super Mario 3DS. The latter of those three will almost definitely receive a decent portion of stage time to be formally unveiled to the public. I’ll also hazard a guess and say that Mario Kart 3DS, Kid Icarus and Super Mario 3DS will all be given 2011 release dates, just to put the icing on the cake when it comes to needing a reason to own a 3DS this year.
3) LEGEND OF ZELDA: SKYWARD SWORD RELEASE DATE
There really isn’t any more time left to hold off this announcement. Nintendo will be moving on from the Wii to greener pastures soon and they need to hype up what could very well be the last big Wii release as soon as possible. A firm release date will do just that and I would be very surprised if it wasn’t for Fall 2011. I’ll even narrow it down further and say that we’ll see it released in the last three weeks of November, just in time for Christmas and in order to give the Wii one last big holiday send off as the Wii 2 will almost surely dominate Nintendo’s Holiday 2012 plans.
4) NINTENDO 3DS eSHOP COVERAGE
The eShop of the 3DS is supposed to launch later this month, only a week or two before the E3 event. I would expect Nintendo to take few moments during it’s conference to highlight some of the features of the service, detail the 3DS Netflix launch and probably even give us all a sneak peek into some of the games that will be finding their way onto our eShops and Virtual Consoles. While I don’t think it will dominate stage time in any way, it would be a missed opportunity for Nintendo not to promote this service at all, especially when it seems as though they are focusing on building stronger online systems and communities.
5) HARDCORE REUNION
Finally, I think that we’ll see a different style of press conference from Nintendo this year. There has been a lot of talk about Nintendo recapturing the hardcore crowd recently and though a lot of it stems from yet to be confirmed rumors, it is pretty safe to say that this seems to be the way Nintendo will be leaning in the next couple years in an attempt to regain their hardcore audience. Tying into this, I would say that it’s safe to say that you can expect at least one third party shocker during the Wii 2 announcement. It will most likely be something of the magnitude of Nintendo getting Rockstar on board to develop titles for the Wii 2. I think this is one of the biggest ways Nintendo can prove that it is getting serious about hardcore development in the next home console generation.
WHAT NOT TO EXPECT
1) NINTENDO WII 2/STREAM/PROJECT CAFÉ RELEASE DATE OR PRICE
While the Wii 2 will most definitely be the focus of Nintendo’s event this year, I think any announcements regarding price or release dates will be reserved for next year’s E3. It’s simply far too early to expect Nintendo to lay all of it’s cards out on the table, especially when companies like Sony are known for stealing ideas from innovators and retooling them for their own consoles. Plus, announcing a price or release date would only give Sony and Microsoft more time to react in some sort of strategic fashion, whether that be undercutting the price or pushing for a quicker release. I predict that the best we’ll get from Nintendo is confirmation that the console will definitely not be coming in 2011, but rather, sometime after March 2012.
2) SURPRISE FIRST PARTY GAME ANNOUNCEMENT FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN WII 2
Nintendo’s big ace up their sleeve is going to be the Wii 2. On the game front, a lot of the big releases that will be coming have already been announced or shown in some way: Super Mario 3DS, Zelda: Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time 3D, Paper Mario 3DS, Animal Crossing 3DS…the list goes on and on. We all remember when Metroid: Other M shocked all of us with its surprise announcement that no one seemed to see coming. Well, don’t expect anything in that vein to come out of E3. I think the most we will get is a showcase of titles that will be featured on the Wii 2, which I’m sure, will include favorites like Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Metroid and even Pikmin. I think the Wii has seen it’s last big surprise and the 3DS doesn’t need to surprise us this year; it just needs to deliver on what we’ve already seen. Anything that is going to shock us in the game department is going to be something in development for a 2012 release alongside the Wii 2.
3) SUPER SMASH BROTHERS 4
Prove me wrong, Nintendo! Prove me wrong!
4) ANY MAJOR FOCUS ON WII SPORTS/FITNESS/VITALITY SENSOR TYPE PRODUCTS
As I mentioned earlier, I think the bulk of the focus at this conference is going to be about Nintendo proving its allegiance to the hardcore crowd once again, and spending too much time on the above mentioned items is only going to detract from that. Having said that, the Wii has been immensely popular because of the casual crowd embracing it, so I won’t outright say that there will be NO coverage on casual products, but expect it to be brief and limited. A quick announcement for something new out of the Just Dance series and then they’ll move right along.
5) TO COMPLETELY LOVE THE WII 2
Nintendo is all about innovating and taking risks. This is going to be the first unveiling of the new console and we all remember what it was like when we first heard and saw about the Wii. “It’s called Wii?!” “It’s all motion?!” “Wii Sports has such bad graphics!” Eventually, for the most part, everyone came around in regards to the Wii and it went on to be widely successful and deliver some amazing video game experiences. I don’t think the Wii 2 will come across as quite as big a confusing gamble, but expect to have lots of concerns and questions in regards to the next home outing from Nintendo. Just remember, Nintendo knows how to deliver on its risks and its promises.
There you have it. Nintendo’s showcase at this year’s E3 is promising to be absolutely spectacular. Don’t miss next week when we delve into what you can expect from Microsoft at the big event.