I’m sure that most of you are aware that E3 is currently happening in the good ol’ US of A and the big 3 have just finished all their pre-event conferences so I thought I’d have a look at the 3 and break them down a little bit and give them a verdict. I’ll tackle each one as they happened after the jump.

First was Microsoft

Amazingly, theirs was probably the strongest of the 3 without having any major exclusives announced! A lot of time was focusing on stats (as always) with announcements for Gears of War 2 and Fable 2 both getting release dates. They also showed off LIPS, basically an attempt to beat Singstar from Sony. I hate the karaoke games like that so I’ll skip over.

There was also an announcement of a redesigned 360 dashboard and the inclusion of Mii… I mean avatars.I think enough has been said about the lack of originality from microsoft at times and the last 2 items pretty much shows that off. They are lifted wholesale from their competitors without even trying to do something different!!

But the biggest announcement was at the end when the head honcho os Sqare-enix came to the stage and announced Final Fantasy XIII for the 360. Instant Internet flamewar!!!

but when you break it down, it’s not as amazing as you would believe. They have said straight out that they wanted to take advantage of the userbase of the 360 in the US and Europe (and when they say Europe, they mean the UK since mainland europe hates the 360).

FFXIII is still going to be PS3 exclusive in Japan, where 360 numbers are almost non existant and FF Versus XIII is still PS3 exclusive (although nobody knows how the 2 will link. It may play an integral part or it could be a pointless curio…)

the 360 version will be released simultaneously with the PS3 versions in the US and Europe but I think it will only make a difference in the US where the installbase is much higher for the 360. Looking at europe, 360 is only doing well in the UK and even then, the PS3 is pretty close now. Europe is Playstation territory and Final Fantasy = playstation to a lot of people, even more so that GTA. Brand loyalty is going to show up quite a bit here and, although 360 will do well in sales, it probably won’t be the massive coup that fanboys on both sides are claiming. It most likely won’t shift 360 consoles (though it probably will sell PS3s) but sony will take a hit in the books.

What I find interesting is that S-E have always been quick to jump on new media from Cart to CD to DVD but they seem to have ignored blu-ray. Giving FFXIII to the 360 means that they have limited the storage space they are able to use. Does this mean that it’s scaled down? or did it never need the storage capacity of Blu ray in the first place (something Kojima was praising till the cows come home)? Then again, it could come in a ridiculous number of disks on the 360…

Personally, I think a time will come soon where developers will be forced to move to PS3 simply because then need more storage space for their games. Lost odyssey  was 4 DVDs long! That’s pretty much the limit CD games got to before the move to DVD. Is that when Microsoft will announce the next Xbox?

Verdict: (When you take into account the fanboy wars which have erupted over the Final Fantasy announcement) RAGING INFERNO!!!!!

(when you look at it more subjectively): warm. Remember, they haven’t made FFXIII exclusive, they have just given consumers a choice. It’s possible (though highly unlikely) that the 360 version will be ignored in Europe!

Next up Nintendo:

A ridiculously dry presentation harping on about how they have expanded the market and throwing numbers around…

Game announcements were thin on the ground with only some snowboarding game using wiifit, animal crossing and wii music (new ways to waggle) really of any note. 2 Peripherals were introduced. An attachment to the wii-mote to increase Sensitivity and a mic which sits on the sensor and allows you to speak to other players. Basically, this old VGCats comic sums up what I though of those announcements.

http://www.vgcats.com/comics/?strip_id=165

Harsh? Maybe, but I am getting sick of nintendo going on about how they got the elderly and parents to start playing games. The wii has, by far the worst game attach rate per console because 1) those same people buy the console and then don’t get anything else and 2) there aren’t many good games for it!!! The pic below is also 100% true.

In the end, the nintendo conference was devoid of any major announcements or things of major interest. In fact, one could come to one of 2 conclusions: 1) They’re resting on their laurels and don’t feel the need to compete with the other 2 competitors or 2) They’re stuck and don’t know what to do next. (I was wondering when something like that was going to happen). I loved nintendo. I stuck by them in the dark days of the N64 and Gamecube but they continue to beat actual gamers away from their new club and this conference did feel very much like they were telling games to “suck it”

Verdict: Cold as ice Colder than your girlfriend after you forgot about her birthday and went out with your mates to get wasted!!

And finally, there was Sony

If they were hurt by the S-E announcement, they weren’t showing it. A lot of focus was placed on video download and media interactivity with the PS3 and PSP. and some focus on 1st party games. For a while, it did feel like their conference was going to add to the “PS3 has no games” joke but they did show some 3rd party titles near the end along with more 1st party stuff.

The final announcement was of an online Action game called MAG. the premise seems interesting. Online war game where each side is hundreds of players big but you are part of a small 8 man group. I’m not really a fan of purely online games and the PS3 pad is ill suited towards shooters, but it could prove to be a sleeper hit. No word on if it’s PS3 exclusive tho…

But with the opening of many playstation franchises to the 360, you would think that sony would at least break a sweat, esp with Final Fantasy XIII, but they really don’t seem to care. In fact, they just seem to focus more on 1st party games. This is a dangerous game to play, 1st party games will always be exclusive, but if sony continue, they could end up being like nintendo back in the N64 days…

Their position is much stronger than some people think, but I worry about their direction

Verdict: Lukewarm At least there were games…