Although it’s a year away, the hype surrounding E3 2005 is gathering pace impressively, with all three hardware manufacturers poised to show their new home console offerings at the key Los Angeles event.
Indeed, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have all openly - albeit off the record - stated that the intention is for a colossal hardware showdown next May, making E3 2005 the hottest date on the industry calendar.
Although the Xbox 2 has essentially been decided upon already, the offerings from Sony, and especially Nintendo, still hold a great deal of interest. As you will recall, we exposed Microsoft’s deal with ATi exclusively here last year. Bolt the GPU onto a processor and motherboard, along with the as-yet undisclosed storage, and you have your Xbox 2. Microsoft’s headway into fields outside of gaming is where the real interest will undoubtedly lie.
Sony’s PlayStation 3 emergence strategy has been one of the more interesting sagas thrown up by the games industry of late. As you will recall, Sony held conferences as far back as 2001, talking of its Cell plans, with some incredible figures being thrown around. Then head of all things SCE, Ken Kutaragi, hinted at the PlayStation 3 tapping into some kind of centralised super computer brain with an access hub in the home. As one respected analyst said to us at the time, “It’s quite simple. The PlayStation 3 will be a box. With some sort of computer inside of it.” Makes sense really.
Arguably, Nintendo is offering the most exciting machine for this year’s E3, in its newly-dubbed Nintendo Revolution, the firm’s in-development home console. Speaking at this year’s pre-show conference, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata made some of the boldest claims since Kutaragi-san’s, with the firm’s new war cry insisting that the technology race is over – the innovation in gaming race is set to begin.
We have known for some time that Nintendo is in the most important transitional period of its modern history, illustrated by the firm’s recently unveiled peripheral-driven gaming strategy, the first example of which is the Donkey Konga Bongo Drum. Nintendo has told us both on and off the record for the past few months that this is just the start of what it sees as - appropriately enough, given the next console's name - a gaming revolution.
Moreover, Iwata-san spoke passionately about how the Nintendo DS was illustrative of what the Revolution will embody. Given that the DS is arguably the most innovative console ever to hit the market, how this level of left field thinking could be applied to the home sector is almost unimaginable. We have been told, on the record, by Nintendo Europe MD David Gosen, the Revolution will not simply be a box that plugs into the back of your TV with controllers coming out of the front. This statement is absolutely fundamental. The Revolution will be something entirely new, a massive gamble and without question our most anticipated console at this time.
As the information dripfeed continues, we’ll bring you full updates on the run up to next-year’s show. Stay tuned.