E3 2006

The team discuss the biggest gaming event of the year – E3 2006.

We’ve seen the titans butt heads; we’ve seen what they’re heading for; we’ve seen what they’re offering. So what do you think? Has Nintendo made a dominant impression? Can the Wii be considered a potential threat in the next generation of consoles? Have Microsoft arrived in the market too early? Will they be able to survive while depending on valued community-enveloping services? Has Sony been too bold in their new controller? Will their console have what it takes to compete with the Xbox 360 and Wii with an inflated price? Your thoughts on the biggest gaming event of the year – E3 2006.

The Xbox 360 is a great piece of kit, and I don’t see that being first into the market is such a bad thing. Look at the PS2; that didn’t do too badly did it? A little bit of a price drop and I can see this having a huge head start before the other two players enter the battle.

The PS3 is going to have to be something pretty darn special to be a success at that price point. This seems to be the complete opposite of Nintendo’s ideas. While the Big N aims to capture all the casual gamers, Sony seems intent on targeting the fanboys who must have the latest console no matter what. I am sure this is a great machine, but a price of over £400 will be beyond many people’s budgets.

It’s controversial, I know, but my money is on Nintendo this time around. I am completely behind their whole ethos in the console wars for this next generation. I too am fed up of playing the same game, the same way, with only slightly better graphics. The Wii promises to give us new ways to play, and I can’t wait. Some will scoff, but they scoffed at the DS, and look at that! It’s soon to go to a whole new level with the launch of the DS Lite and the Opera browser. The price point of the Wii will attract impulse buys in stores, and the Nintendo franchises remain as good as ever.

That’s how I see it anyways. I’ve been wrong before (god, I’ve been wrong!) and I may be again, but I can see the outsider coming back at the other two with a vengeance.

A £350/£400 price tag for the PS3 is shocking, and the fact that the stupid controller is exactly the same is just plain lazy and stealing ideas shouldn’t be the way forward. However, it might be worth at least a look into for Final Fantasy XIII.

The Xbox 360 is a great piece of kit that I believe is going to perform tremendously well in the coming years, and being first out does give it an advantage. The well thought-out Live services are a joy and can turn the tables in this day and age.

Like Ian, I will put my money on Nintendo’s offering, the Wii. It’s a technological marvel and will give computer gaming a whole new meaning. It looks like fantastic fun to play and everything is polished off.

Sony is going to have to make something incredible to take my money from me this time around; the 360 and Wii can take my bank account number and eat my money without chewing.

I can see high sales for Ninendo and Microsoft this year. I still have not seen anything to let me think that the Wii could stand in someone’s collection as their one and only gaming system, but if you have a Wii and a 360, gaming heaven is yours.

Microsoft’s line-up has never been stronger – now the only company they need is Square Enix properly, and they are on their way. It is perhaps strange that SE still rely on PS3 as their main format when it’s clear that party support is up in arms at the moment. Everything on the 360 shown was intriguing in its own way.

Adding fuel to the fire, Blue ray seems in a lesser great position at the moment, with users of PS2 having to buy the most expensive console to gain a foothold with the technology – a sure fire shock.

When you consider you can get a 360, an HD-DVD add-on and a Wii for around the price of a premium PS3, it looks like we have a great change in the market share for all three companies.

I think, if demoed and marketed in a way that truly shows off its immersive control system and special features, the Wii will be a major success worldwide. After some of the played demonstrations during Nintendo’s press conference, the Wii proved to have the greatest natural draw factor, with the addictive ideas and the fact that it was truly fun to watch effectively negating the need to have someone talking over the top, explaining what’s going on. If enough people are exposed to someone actually playing the thing, they’ll be desperate for a go themselves, and from then on word of mouth will spread rapidly, resulting in high sales and a successful console. True, it is doubtful that the console will satisfy all your gaming needs, but the low price point will hopefully mean that people will happily buy one along with, say, an Xbox 360.

Although focusing on entirely different tactics, Microsoft has a very good chance of eating away into Sony’s market share this generation. The integration of Live with Windows Vista and mobile devices will massively expand their online possibilities, and if this is popular enough it is likely the growth rate of the 360 user base will increase quite a bit. With the fortune they’ll most likely make with Vista, along with the expansion of Live Arcade, more money can be put into increasing the quality of the player experience, as well as improving their marketing campaigns. With Microsoft’s past experience in the online realm, what with Messenger and Hotmail, they’ve had the time to see what people want and how to give it to them in the most popular way, evident in the constant upgrades to the two applications mentioned. If integrated sensibly, I can see them becoming the market leaders this time.

Sony, on the other hand, aren’t giving me good vibes. Yes, the PS3’s technology is no doubt exceptional, but with such a hefty price tag (not including games and any additional accessories) they seem to be getting out of touch with most gamers, even their hardcore fan(boy)s. Yes, the PS3 probably is too cheap when compared to the development cost, but then why the hell didn’t you make a cheaper, less powerful and more affordable console? It’s your own fault! Their online ventures are improving, and innovative use of the Eyetoy technology could produce simple yet addictive gaming experiences, but overall, in my eyes, their chances seem slim. Sony had the chance to produce something astounding this time. Now I wonder if they’ll survive till the next round…

This E3 has been great and the number of videos to watch has been astounding.

Microsoft had a pretty reasonable E3, they did exactly what you’d expect – be good at creating hype and it was received fairly well. As the 360 has been out a while there were no big surprises. They’ve done well with all the videos now present on Live and there’s a week’s worth of content to download and watch.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought both PlayStation consoles, but Sony really has messed up this time. They strode out onto the stage and tried to sell us a console that is not only over-priced, but has copied everything from Microsoft (Media Center functionality) and Nintendo (motion controller). What made me laugh the most was their joypad – it’s basically the same one we saw a decade ago when the original PlayStation launched. I used to be a fan but having used the 360 controller there’s certainly no going back. It’s clear that Sony are having severe trouble in coming up with ideas of their own. Plus they’re no longer capable of outbidding the competition for 3rd party exclusives – Microsoft can always match what they’re offering.

Nintendo have easily had the best E3 of the big three. Their console was initially dismissed by many as a no-hoper with a ridiculous controller – how things have changed. Even after just announcing it’s going to be called Wii they still managed to wow us with their presentation and now I think many gamers have been won over by their aims. I for one am one of them, after seeing Mario Galaxy you can see they’re making a real effort. I’m not completely sold on buying a Wii, but if the price is under £150 I’ll definitely add it to my console collection. The same cannot be said for the PS3.

This generation promises to be much closer than the last and I predict Sony will have their market share eaten into by Microsoft and Nintendo.

This year’s E3 just reinforced what I already knew.

Microsoft didn’t make a mistake releasing the 360 early – they’ve gained a good foothold on the market and with a lot of very impressive exclusives on the horizon the future looks very bright for the 360.

Nintendo’s future is also looking very bright with the DS going from strength to strength with plenty of games on the way, both new and old. The Wii is looking to be a lot of fun too, and that’s what games are all about, so I don’t see how it can fail really.

But from Sony’s showing, the future’s not looking so bright for them. Their insistence on pushing graphics capability has just left them with an overpriced white elephant of a console. Games for it will be so much more expensive to develop meaning inevitably higher prices for the consumers. Then there’s the fact that the screen resolution is too high even for the majority of high definition televisions, even by the end of the PS3s expected ten year lifespan television resolutions of that size still won’t be the norm. Bluray looks destined to be another Betamax for Sony, and at those prices it’s not hard to see why, and don’t even get me started on that crappy controller. All in all if there was a loser at E3 it was Sony.

Well, what can I say? Wow. E3 2006 came like a rocket and burst through my shack of expectations. It was much more than I could have ever expected and my only regret is being unable to attend in the flesh.

Sony’s conference was pretty much the only bit I was totally expecting – flaunt past, fling some bull to the attendees (with limited applause in return), and say “Look at this!” while running some jaw-dropping graphics on a PC. The flaunting and bit about Gran Turismo was perhaps the most boring introduction to an E3 event I’ve ever witnessed. Thankfully some DarkZero staff that decided to stay up and give Sony a chance were all having a good chat with me, so the time didn’t trundle on too slowly. The first big eye-opener was the card game demo for the new eye toy. I was pretty damn impressed, but saw little direction in where it was going (position monster and attack). Perhaps an actual game would have caught some more interest? The controller was pretty laughable considering the new feature and the ancient design – it was expected. The price tag on the machine is mind-boggling, and upon hearing that Kutaragi thought it was too cheap, my temple burst and I began smashing my head against the monitor.

In all honesty, I expected the same from Nintendo. An extended flaunt of the good old days, a sales comparison with the PSP, and a Zelda trailer to finish the show. I was dead wrong from the start. Of all things, I opened the window and there was Miyamoto conducting a virtual orchestra to the Zelda tune! Was this just a lucky start? Nope! We got an instant trailer featuring tons of in-game Wii footage with many more to come throughout the conference. Sure Zelda’s being delayed to the Wii launch on both the Gamecube and Wii (a huge disappointment), but luckily Nintendo has some time to convince me on which version I should buy. Although most of the games were looking pretty fine, some were pretty lacklustre, and Excite Truck was one of them. For comparison, the title holds as much interest in me as the new eye toy – has super potential, but is nothing special at the moment. Even after their conference with the absence of all Gamecube news, we got several trailers of upcoming games, and were even treated with an absolutely beautiful Smash Bros. Brawl trailer. Nintendo stole my heart and is sure to steal my wallet and savings come the Wii.

Microsoft’s conference was the one I was excited for. As someone who got into the Xbox too late for this generation with the arrival of Halo2, I was all ears on new Xbox 360 developments and Halo3 news. We got our “trailer” (tech demo) and at first I felt it was horribly mediocre, but that’s low-res video for you. No, my real interest with the Microsoft conference was the revelation of details concerning Windows Vista. This snippit of the conference made by Bill Gates himself opened my eyes on how much the Xbox actually means to Microsoft. You can only go so far in Operating systems before you have to tackle a new market, make a name and conquer, and expand. I was absolutely intrigued by the ability to connect between the Xbox360, Vista, and Mobile phones. Not only that, but Microsoft is bringing in all of their other ranging services under the “Live” name marking a new era for the corporation. I personally can’t wait to see how the Live service influences Microsoft’s future plans and how the Vista/Mobile connection will only further Xbox Live’s pulsing future.

The next generation is a blur to me. New and old, all of the guns are being pulled out for this generation. Sony’s screwed up this E3 with a faulty impression and failing to impress the audience. A prime example of an E3 well done is quite obviously Nintendo’s and I can’t think of anything that’s been done wrong as of yet (with the exception of the unruly friend codes). With both Microsoft and Sony complimenting and even recommending Wii, Nintendo’s probably curdling with joy. Microsoft managed to create a competitive impression even though their console already launched nearly half a year ago. This E3 has been extraordinary and it’s doubtful we’ll see one of such calibre over the next few years. Will the market grow for Nintendo and Microsoft? Will Sony’s PlayStation brand lose grip and fall to third place after a decade of being on top? Only time will tell but we’re lucky to be gamers in such a competitive time.

E3 this year has been a good one without anything truly blowing me away apart from the 15 minute trailer for Metal Gear 4. I pause and wait for the fanboy comments… but that I am not! I loved the trailer – everything about it… The way it was directed and produced to make a compelling trailer, and I had to stop myself afterwards and think, “This is ‘just’ a video game, nothing real,” but I felt this gut feeling inside my stomach of something truly amazing due to come our way in the next few years.

Anyway enough bumming of the MGS series for now, especially since Kojima san has stated categorically that the series is going to be PlayStation only. This is a blessing and a curse in some ways, but mostly a blessing. Showcasing a game with such a fan base as this then stating it is single format will lose more sales (apparently) and generate a slight backlash (i did say ‘slight’), but for a developer to commit to a console gives that console the killer IP it so desperately needs especially with the backlash given to the PS3 after the price announcements. “It’s too CHEAP!!” chirps Kutaragi, “pfff!” says everyone else including myself. 599 Euro for a console is far too much and to be honest I wont be paying that on launch, and I shall wait for the inevitable price drop in the months following the release even if I have to wait a year.

On to the other stars of the show…. Star number one is Peter Moore: “For the price of a PS3, people can buy both a 360 premium and a Nintendo Wii, and I find the Wii a very interesting and enticing project.” Not the exact quote, but you get the general jist of what he was saying don’t you?

Star number two, the support and intriguing concepts shown for the Wii. It really is gathering its momentum now and I expect some very exciting and wii-volutionary games to come out for it during its life span as long as developers maintain faith in the console and the unique development opportunities it offers.

On to the games! Gears of War really is starting to come into its own although only shown in playable form behind closed doors along with Mass Effect. These two games are having excellent feedback and these two are great fantastic killer IP’s for the 360 console and goes to show that the year head start has given developers a good period with which to work and get a lot out of the hardware, and by the time the 360’s 1st birthday rolls around we can expect some truly wonderful and mind blowing games.

Many have already mentioned the other games I was going to speak about, but seeing as I am of the same opinion me ranting on is useless and not worth the read as I don’t really have nothing much to say other than just ‘positive and seems good’.

I will admit I wasn’t very impressed by the Super Mario Galaxy game though. I don’t know, it just didn’t do anything to me inside, and I just felt as if I was watching another trailer, but as usual the Nintendo magic will be cast over the game to make it truly enticing… I hope. The Metroid Prime game did nothing to impress me either, what I saw was just too similar to the cube version to grab me… this better change.

I am also interested by the prospect of playing Winning Eleven 2007: Pro Evolution Soccer as this represents the first example of a ‘proper’ next gen football game, I know it won’t be ground breaking, but I still get excited like a kid at Christmas when a new Pro Evo game is announced.

So to conclude, another E3 has come and gone and I do like the look of a lot of games, but to be honest my winner this E3 is Microsoft for its great software and Xbox Live announcements. The Wii comes a close second for being genuinely interesting and innovating (potentially) and the PS3 so far in last for its stupid price point, only being saved from a total humiliation from the showing of MGS4 in such an advanced stage.

James Moulding
I genuinely don’t think that E3 could have started in a worse way. Sony’s press conference was quite possibly the dullest thing I have ever watched and the announcement of the price and the tacked-on tilt function in the controller just topped it all off. In all honesty the price of the PS3 isn’t a big surprise and it’s a decent price given the technology in it, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still far too much for the average consumer. The fact that most of the titles shown were less than impressive didn’t help matters and it was an anything but impressive show from Sony (Although to their credit MGS4 and FFXIII look awesome).

Thanks go to Nintendo for getting the show back on track. Shigeru Miyamoto’s entrance was awesome and the show was all about the games. Of the games I was personally most impressed by Mario Galaxy and Wii Sports. I absolutely love the concept behind Wii Sports, it seems like it will be a simple but intuitive game to play, and one which everyone can play and enjoy together. Unfortunately it wasn’t all great. THQ’s offerings looked shocking and Nintendo’s own ‘Project HAMMER’ looked quite dull. Disaster: Day of Crisis is a great concept though and all of Nintendo’s other first party titles looked like a lot of fun. The graphics aren’t a patch on almost anything on PS3/360, but they still looked nice and a decent advancement on the Gamecube. Mario Galaxy in particular looked very nice and most importantly looked like a whole lot of fun. It wasn’t all about Wii though and some of the stuff on the DS looked fantastic.

The Microsoft conference passed fairly quietly, but that’s probably largely because the system is already out and now its just about the games, unlike with Wii/PS3. That didn’t stop Microsoft showing some great looking titles with the likes of Dead Rising and Too Human looking like they’re living up to their potential and new titles such as Halo 3 and Fable 2 looking astonishing in the brief trailers that were shown. The announcement of GTA4 was the icing on the cake and though it will be coming to PS3 as well it means that 360 owners aren’t faced with the sort of wait they had with the previous GTA games.

Judging from Show Floor reports, it sounds like there was a lot of good stuff on show, the Wii in particular got some great feedback. Some people suggested the controls in third party titles weren’t quite right which is slightly worrying, but developers are likely going to have to take time to adjust, much like they did with the analogue stick.

Overall I’d say that this year’s E3 was one of the best in recent years, Sony’s performance was a disappointment, but the PS3 will undoubtedly sell and after the success of previous systems it will still have some great support from third parties as well as Sony’s in-house studios. I have no doubts that in time the PS3 will become a system worth having although at this moment I personally am totally set on buying a Wii and a 360 on the strength of their showings so far.