Last year Blistered Thumbs went all-out for our first Electronic Entertainment Expo, seeing damn near everything at the show. We also cooked up a pre-show list of our predictions for the event, which turned out to be mostly on target. We’ll be sending a couple of writers (i.e. hapless suckers) to Los Angeles again next week, so I thought I’d take some time and make more wild guesses. Feel free to join in!
NINTENDO EXPLAINS THE WII U:
While we know a lot about the big N’s next console, it’s obvious that there are still a lot of questions to be answered. The fact that a redesigned controller (pictured above) was recently leaked seems to hint that even the answers we thought we had may no longer apply. If Nintendo still plans on releasing the Wii U this holiday season, then this is their big chance to lay it all out on the line. How powerful is the system? How will the online infrastructure work? Will its digital storefront measure up to XBLA and the PSN?
Early reports indicate that Nintendo isn’t ready to talk price yet, but I have predictions for all your other burning queries. First, it seems that the Wii U will end up being at least slightly more powerful than the Xbox 360 and PS3, given some developers’ comments about the platform. As for online implementation, friend codes are supposedly on the way out, but I still see Nintendo making the experience cumbersome in the name of protecting younger players. I’m hoping for unobtrusive parental controls, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they come up with something just as silly as their last system. Expect online play to still be free though; I can’t imagine Nintendo trusts its “casual” base to even bother with subscription fees.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I foresee the Wii U heralding a big push for the company into the digital sphere. Rumors are currently circulating that an app store and e-book functionality are in the works, so I feel confident that a more robust service than WiiWare is also on the way. While Steam will still be the holy grail of indie distribution, I suspect that next year Nintendo will join the other console manufacturers in supporting the industry’s burgeoning budget development scene.
Obviously, Nintendo will also come out with announcements for new 3DS games and a few other things, but I think this year will be all about hyping the Wii U up. You can see for yourself if I’m right by watching the official livestream of the E3 press conference right here.
NO PS4 OR XBOX 720:
Every few weeks we get a new rumor about Sony and Microsoft’s supposed new systems. Some of the scarier ones out there include a disc-less console or one that doesn’t play used games. While those make for great headlines, I seriously doubt we’ll be hearing anything about those projects come next week. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 still have plenty of life left in them, and with huge exclusives like The Last of Us and Halo 4 on the horizon, I don’t see either company shifting their focus so abruptly. That, and both Sony and Microsoft have stated that they aren’t planning on any such announcements.
Next year? Maybe. The next generation of consoles is undoubtedly in development somewhere–probably in a secret underground lair for Sony and in an active volcano for Microsoft–but we aren’t going to be hearing about them for at least another year.
SONY GETS SERIOUS ABOUT THE VITA:
Even the staunchest Sony supporter has to admit that the PS Vita hasn’t been performing up to expectations. Between relatively low sales numbers and a dearth of “must have” titles, quite a few pundits have declared the handheld dead on arrival. I still think there’s time to save it, but Sony has to act quickly.
First and foremost, I think the Vita should get a price drop announcement. It did wonders for the 3DS, especially since it led up to the release of marquee titles like Super Mario 3D Land. If Sony announces a $50 price drop and a Vita version of PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale, it could inject the short-term interest the system needs in order to maintain a market presence. I don’t think this is too much to ask, especially considering some analysts were calling for a price cut before the Vita even launched.
I predict that they will, at the very least, emphasize their support for the handheld, and announce a large number of titles for it. This includes ports, sequels, and new intellectual properties–at least one of which needs to be a Zelda-sized announcement to garner enough excitement. A price drop is a little less likely, but I think it would be a smart move. Also, they better announce PSone Classics support, or else.