Analysts give high marks to E3 2009

E3 2009: Industry prognosticators weigh in on motion-sensing cameras, big hits (and misses), and a return to form for the expo.

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LOS ANGELES--While the last day of the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo has yet to wrap, a handful of analysts have already weighed in on the big event from top to bottom. Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich and Wedbush Morgan Securities' Michael Pachter answered GameSpot's questions on the show. As expected, the big three press conferences were a particular point of interest.

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"I don't think any one of them can be declared a winner," Divnich said. "Each conference had its own highlights and some disappointments. In terms of games, I have to give it to Sony with God of War, MAG, Uncharted... I think MAG is going to be huge."

While Divnich was positive across the board on the big three conferences, Pachter expressed some reservations. He called Nintendo's presentation disappointing, particularly because the company chose to save news of a new Zelda game on the Wii for Shigeru Miyamoto's Tuesday-night roundtable. As for Microsoft, Pachter thought the Project Natal motion-sensing camera demo was cool, but he expects its real value to extend beyond gaming.

"The ultimate vision is that the camera will allow a user to interact with the XBL dashboard, sorting and selecting Netflix movies, accessing Facebook, and so on," Pachter said. "It has limited potential as a controller, because most games won't work well with motion control. However, in order to get everyone to buy one, Microsoft has to get enough games made to justify the purchase. I think that they are being very deliberate about this, and don't expect a launch until there are 30 or so such games available. Ask me then what I think, as I'm sure that my opinion will change."

Divnich agreed that Natal was interesting, much like the new PlayStation 3 motion-sensing controller, but he said both Sony and Microsoft may have tipped their hands too early.

"I don't expect [Natal] until Christmas 2010, so why tease the gamer now," Divnich asked. "We have to wait a year and a half to see this thing in action. I think it was a mistake on MS's part. Announce it or something, but now core gamers are excited about it and want to see more, but we won't."

Did we meet Milo too soon?
Did we meet Milo too soon?

As for the digital-distribution-only PSP Go, Pachter called it "the future," saying it should do wonders to combat handheld piracy. Divnich also thought of the system as emblematic of the future, so much so that he said its success in the present could be irrelevant.

"Whether or not the PSP Go is going to be successful really doesn't matter," Divnich said. "It's just the fact that they're bringing that technology here. What they're doing is acting as permission givers for others to do the same."

On the third-party front, both Pachter and Divnich singled out Ubisoft and Avatar as particularly buzz-worthy. The former analyst labeled the French publisher as the "biggest winner relative to its size," noting a lineup stocked with Splinter Cell: Conviction, Assassin's Creed 2, and James Cameron's Avatar. Divnich was also taken with that last title.

"You have to see Avatar," Divnich said. "You go in with a preconceived notion and it blows you away. It completely blows you away."

Finally, the two analysts were in agreement again in regard to E3 2009 itself. When asked if the organizing Entertainment Software Association finally got it right with the E3 format tweaks, Pachter said they got it "more than right" (emphasis his), and he lauded the "brilliant job" ESA head Michael Gallagher is doing.

"In all honesty, I think this is the perfect E3," Divnich said. "You have the right amount of people, the right amount of vendors, the right amount of energy."

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