Here is a quick and opinionated view (from an older more jaded core gamer) of what I thought about each show. Before I begin let me be clear first. Nothing at this year's convention really amazed me as the news was either already known in advance or simply not that impressive. Anyway, here we go...
Microsoft Conference - They played an interesting twist supporting their Kinect largely throughout the show. While to me they appeared one step behind (now that the new Nintendo platform was going to be announced) they try to stress how Kinect can reach a broad audience of gamers and not just casual ones either with titles ranging from Forza Motorsports 4 (with full body integration) to Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter (with hands free movement and weapon customization). Ubisoft also announces that all future Tom Clancy games will support Kinect (including the newest Rainbow Six title) In addition, Kinect's integration with the XBOX Dashboard and internet services (YouTube, Bing, etc.) Last but not least, came the continuation of the HALO franchise with HALO 4 and that of course was a pleasant (yet predictable) sight to see.
It seemed that of all the shows this one played it most safe relying on building upon last year's Kinect hardware and third-party support for this holiday season (MW3 with first access to DLC for instance). A logical position since Microsoft's majority dominance (and profits) is in the North American market alone.
The Biggest Surprise: Microsoft's commitment to Kinect for the next fiscal year.
Sony Conference -First was the continual apology about the hacking scandal that has rocked the very foundation of Playstation Network and caused a great sense of insecurity. Sony, well aware of their competitor in the portable market, Nintendo attempts to advance on Japan's current weakening sales of 3DS and announces that their new handheld PSV (PS Vita) will be made in two versions: a standard Wi-fi and a 3G compatible version for 24980yen (249USD) and 29980yen (299USD) respectively. A price range that should put away any doubt that power and price can't be balanced out. They stress full online social integration with their future game products and show the cross compatibility between the PSV and PS3 (somewhat but not exactly similar to what Nintendo had to offer). The graphics of the machine are very powerful providing console like experiences in a handheld. This to me is the strongest point of the platform and builds potential (I hope) for developers. However, the game list currently was very scarce and more must be seen first.
Following the PSV, Sony announced their lineup of holiday games such as Uncharted 3, Resistance 3, and all the HD remakes coming out between now and 2012. Nothing extremely surprising or shocking here, just run-of-the-mill all around good news. My major criticism though would be that they need to focus more on being aggressive against Nintendo to control the global market. This platform reads easily that they want to succeed against their rivals, but if they don't get the right games created and appeal to a larger audience with those titles, they will fall victim to Nintendo in the long-term once again.
The Biggest Surprise: (While technically not a surprise) The price of 249USD (300USD 3GS)puts to rest many of the claims that the portable would be more expensive than the 3DS.
Nintendo Conference -The whole show was a jawdropper (therefore there is a lot to be said). Ranging from the whole Zelda orchestral introduction (cheesy but necessary) to the announcement of what Nintendo's next generation console would be. The show progressed from Reggie proclaiming that between now and next year the 3DS will start to flourish and take its spot as lead handheld once again to the announcement of WiiU. First the 3DS. For others I understand their passion of all that is 'Nintendorelated' but it was pretty ho-hum typical. Mario3DS (finally...), Super Smash Bros. (gasp..), MarioKart3DS, Kid Icarus, Luigi's Mansion (oh why that one...) to all the N64 remakes in 3D. Undoubtedly though, there are many out there (including younger gamers who've just started out) that want to get their fingers on this as soon as possible and to them I give them my warmest regards. As for me though that feeling (perhaps unfortunately) has passed.
WiiU now on the other hand felt like a smile at first and then a slap to the face. Let me explain myself (before Nintendo readers tear me apart). It is indeed an interesting concept for the home console market. The idea of using a controller as a portable gaming device in the confines of your own home with other Nintendo hardware. That part was the "smile". Now, the "slap" part. Nintendo creates (once again) an underpowered console for its next generation. Sure, it is comparable to the current consoles right now but Nintendo easily could of taken up the challenge of making a more powerful console, right? What made it worse was the system that the controller is set up to is left in the dark for the entire presentation. As to suggest that there isn't much to discuss about it (a foul move in my opinion). Using a similar strategy as with the Wii, they will cut costs using dated hardware and rely solely on the innovation of the console design and functionality. This will have repercussions as it will once again narrow the field of third-party development in the long-term.
Both Sony and Microsoft will introduce their much more powerful hardware to the public (within 2-3 years) and then cause developers to work primarily with them and give Nintendo a harder reason as to why they should make exclusives based around their dated hardware. Nintendo however firmly believes in being self-reliant and not requiring the full cooperation of outside developers. So my entire argument on the lack of techical power in the WiiU can be easily bypassed by their own company policies (which make them hugely successful) by relying on their own first-party IPs. Undoubtedly this system should appeal to the large range of customers out there. Younger children, Nintendo fans (and snobs) and those in the casual market of all ages. So once again it should be made clear that Nintendo's WiiU is meant only for those that wish to partake in Nintendo's first-party line-up. Beyond that, it's all a big smoke and mirrors trick in regards to third-party support to me.
The Biggest Surprise: The Wii-U's controller and integration with other Nintendo products.
So there you have it. E3's major conferences from my perspective. Certainly you weren't expecting me to hype it all up now were you? From the big three companies I have to say overall that I am slightly displeased but perhaps its not their fault either. Since the global economy isn't doing so well it seems a lot of companies are conservative on their projects (that includes Nintendo) for their future financial security. This global economy is in a mess and it impacts business ac cross the board. So it seems that these companies are clearly aware of that and are trying to find a way to balance costs and technology as much as possible. Before I end this, I leave you with my personal picks of E3. Enjoy! And remember, post below if you want to share your opinions as well!
Most Anticipated Game(s): Battlefield 3, ICO/Wanda To Kyozou HD Collection
Least Anticipated Game(s): Modern Warfare 3, MarioKart3DS
Most Anticipated Hardware(s): PSVita, Wii-U Controller
Least Anticipated Hardware(s): Wii-U Console, Kinect