What Will Microsoft, Nintendo Cook Up?
After last night's controller announcement from Sony, everyone seems to be wondering if Nintendo will have an equally surprising announcement up its sleeve.
The applause for most of Sony's announcements was a little tepid. The Nintendo event is always a little more high energy, because Nintendo fans are ... a little intense. If there aren't screams and of joy from some of these people in the crowd when the company shows its upcoming games and Wii console off, it'll be a first.
Today's announcements are back-to-back news conferences from Nintendo and Microsoft. Only rumor/guess I've heard that Microsoft is interested in putting out a free, ad-supported version of its Xbox Live service for the Xbox 360, in which users get to play each other for free online, but have to look at ads. Would expect the company will also talk about the supply of 360s, how they've addressed the problem, yadda yadda. The big thing people are looking to Microsoft for is: When does Halo 3 come out? If it comes out well in advance of the PS3, it could get people to buy Microsoft's console instead of the more expensive one from Sony.
None of the games have yet grabbed the buzz, though some folks were talking about the Square Enix press conference (which I skipped), in which a bunch of Final Fantasy games were announced.
At the Sony event I actually heard someone mildly complaining that the Nintendo party will feature the Black-Eyed Peas, because Fergie & co. apparently played at some other game-related trade show (and the Consumer Electronics Show).
Sony always throws an enormous fiesta, and people are already looking forward to it. The bands that play at that shindig are always kept as a top-secret surprise, but there's a rumor about the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That rumor is itself part of E3 tradition -- by tomorrow, I expect to hear its counterpart: that Aerosmith will play, or was supposed to play, but had a conflict. Almost anything is believable, because Sony has had great surprise shows in the past: Beck, Macy Gray, Crystal Method, Missy Elliott, Outkast, and on and on.
With Sony's impressions fresh in mind, it's time to see what Nintendo has to offer via its morning news conference.
The unconventional controller war has officially begun, Nintendo having fired its first shot via the "wand" system some months back and Sony now responding with a Bluetooth, gyroscope-based unit that offers six additional axes of passive input that could make all the difference -- or frustrate its user base once the novelty has worn off.
Nintendo has a perfect opportunity to impress, despite its confusingly named Wii console. And where Sony hyped integration between its PSP and PS3 consoles as well as emulation of older titles, Nintendo has traditionally placed itself in a position to connect its consoles as well as offer older content for easy download.
Once again, Nintendo will have to strike a balance between its youth/family markets as well as the older generation, which Sony and Microsoft have managed and corralled better content for. A single market, by any form of logic, can be served better than a mixed one, and it's time to see how Nintendo evolves with this under consideration.
Well after a good night's sleep, I'm off to the Nintendo news conference. Going to be interesting to see what they say. The general consensus after the Sony event was good - they showed some promising new games, showed off some cool tech, and the controller unveiling really threw a wrench in Nintendo's plans. However, with Sony blowing their wad and telling the world the high price of the PS3, Nintendo (and Microsoft) have some ammo for their speeches today. Let the mud slinging begin!
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