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Analyst predicts Big 3's E3 gameplan

Wedbush Morgan's Michael Pachter explains what Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft need to get out of next month's trade show, speculates about new Twisted Metal, Starfox possibilities.


Earlier this week, Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich laid out his expectations for the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, set to take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center June 1-4. Today it's Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter's turn. Pachter laid out a game plan for each of the big three, starting with Microsoft.

Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter.
Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter.

"Microsoft has to focus on exclusives," Pachter said. "They have Mass Effect 2, Splinter Cell Conviction, and I'm sure some undisclosed stuff up their sleeves. At the end of the day, they have to just keep plugging away and minding their business, growing the installed base and broadening the offering on Xbox Live."

He added that the deal to allow Netflix subscribers to stream movies directly to their Xbox 360s "worked exceedingly well." As a result, that might lead Microsoft to set the stage for customers to consider its console as a multimedia device as much as a simple game player.

As for Sony, Pachter addressed the rumors of a redesigned digital-distribution-focused PSP without a slot for the system's UMD discs, saying it would make a lot of sense.

"The PSP has been at a disadvantage because its disc drive was not only a power hog, but the UMD caused the device to be somewhat bulky," Pachter said. "Without a UMD or disc drive, they can make the device thinner, and the battery should last longer. They also should be able to apply some kind of digital rights management to limit piracy. They also are likely to spend some time showing off PSN, which appears to be working extremely well."

Pachter added that success stories from Sony's ancillary businesses (like movie downloads) are likely to be highlighted and guessed that gamers might be treated to a new version of Twisted Metal. However, one thing Pachter doesn't expect to see at the show is a price cut on the PlayStation 3. While he believes one is coming, Pachter said Sony is more likely to announce it later this year at the Tokyo Game Show.

Wrapping up with an assessment of Nintendo, Pachter said the Wii and DS maker needs to--and likely will--make an appeal to the core gaming audience.

"Last year, they focused on Wii Music, and this year, they have to focus on the hardcore," Pachter said. "It's been three years since the last Zelda game, and two years since Mario, so they have a lot to work with. Maybe something from the distant past, like Starfox or GoldenEye. Who knows? E3 is clearly the right venue for them to cater to the hardcore, as the entire hardcore fan base is paying attention."

Finally, Pachter came down alongside Divnich with his appraisal of the job done by the Entertainment Software Association in reorganizing the show.

"I think ESA is getting it right this year," Pachter said. "They are incredibly gracious, have really tried to be all-inclusive without allowing the show to be poisoned by 'outsiders.' [ESA president] Mike Gallagher really 'gets it' and has shown a lot of courage to address the issues of the small format he inherited and change back to something splashier in just two years on the job."

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