It’s nearly June, which to the tech-minded means only one thing. Nope: not an iPhone launch – they happen later in the year these days. We’re talking E3, the biggest gaming expo of the year, which is taking place June 7th-9th. But, whilst everyone’s rattling on about some rather woolly rumours regarding the Xbox 720 and PS4, we’re keeping our feet on the ground with the more likely announcements.
Want to know what to actually expect to fall out of the gargantuan LA convention centre? Read on for our pick of the best in upcoming gaming tech…
Disc-less Xbox 360
The Xbox 720 is definitely coming, but it won’t go on sale this year. Whether Microsoft chooses to take the same approach as Nintendo – showing off the console more than a year ahead of release – we’re more concerned with what’s to become of the current one.
The Xbox 360 has already been through one shrinking machine in its lifespan, and it could be about to go even smaller if you believe certain rumours. The future-focussed gossip (revealed by an insider back in March) says that the Xbox 720 won’t spin physical discs, but it will take a sort of proprietary SD card format to allow users to swap and store games.
That ecosystem could be previewed in a new, cheaper Xbox 360 that ditches the physical media in favour of an ecosystem purely based around downloading and streaming content. Think of it as a sort of dry run: customers with decent enough web connections and no ties to discs could be able to snap up the redesigned 360 on the cheap, and buy all their games through Xbox LIVE.
A stretch? Not if that’s where future consoles are headed, and Microsoft’s already trialling the idea of subsidised Xbox consoles sold with Xbox LIVE subscriptions as it is.
Wii U change-up
Last year Nintendo announced the Wii U to a very divided audience. Some hailed it as the beginning of a new era, while others brandished it as nothing but a ream of more gimmicks on top of the already gimmicky Wii. Whatever your feelings, Nintendo’s making a few changes.
Yesterday it was revealed that between E3 2011 and now, the tablet-like Wii U controller has had a spruce up, with Ninty swapping a few buttons round and deciding to replace its rubbishy thumb sticks with proper analogue joysticks. Because, you know… Logic.
On top of that, there’s a rumour floating about that Nintendo will rename the Wii U at this year’s show, ahead of its Christmas launch. Why? Well, Nintendo’s had a difficult year this year, and some of that’s down to confusion over the 3DS. Remember the refreshed adverts shouting ‘This is not DS, this is Nintendo 3DS’?
The handheld console’s turned itself around in terms of sales, but Nintendo’s recently posted a net loss for the first time for thirty years and will definitely want to learn from that mistake. The thinking is that people get confused when the console name is just a slight tweak from the one before – to the average consumer, it can seem like an incremental difference or eve, in the case of the Wii U, just a new controller.
“I should have shown a single picture of the new console,” said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata after the Wii U confusion last year. Will Nintendo choose to rename the console to make it clear that it’s a new, next-gen device? We don’t think it’d hurt. Any guesses for the new name?
The four Destiny games are set to launch between 2013 and 2019, with DLC interspersed throughout that timeline. We don’t know much about the new series, but you can almost guarantee excellence from the people behind the original Halo titles if it’s already green-lit for three sequels.
What we’re also pretty sure about is that some aspect of the franchise will poke its head above the water at E3 2012, even if it’s nothing more than a teaser trailer.
“Well, if we have to sell hardware we will.” That’s recent word from Valve co-founder Gabe Newell, who heads up the Steam online store. Steam, as we’re sure you’re aware, has a lot of fans. Dedicated, loyal fans, at that. But it’s still very much a store for PC gamers. Ask your more casual console gamer, and they might not even have heard of it.
But they will – or at least that’s what we’re being lead to believe. Rumour has it that Newell’s team is preparing a set-top Steam console that’ll look to tackle the console market. Why is this exciting? Because Steam knows how to do customer satisfaction and it knows how to blow the lid off of RRPs.
We’ve spoken before about Steam showing the big boys how it’s done when it comes to gaming sales and deals, so we’d be excited about the prospect of a fresh price war.
Valve filed a patent application for its own gamepad (pictured above) last year, and could very well turn up at E3 with a console to match. The real reason why that would prove to be best in show? You’ve gotta imagine that the Steambox, if such a thing exists, will have to launch with Half-Life 3. Right?
Elder Scrolls Online
Skyrim. Just how many hours have you chucked away on it? None, because it’s awesome, and therefore not a waste of time. The thing is, if your time spent traipsing around Tamriel has already made you forget loved ones’ birthdays and such like, it’s about to get a whole lot worse: The Edler Scrolls Online is going to be previewed at E3.
The details we have so far are pretty scant, but we do know that it’ll be an MMO developed by Zenimax, which’ll let you choose a race, fight with and against hundreds of people at once and even crown yourself emperor of the Imperial City.
There are a couple of early caveats – like the fact that you can’t buy property, the land has certain locked-off areas and the fact that the view restricts you to a WoW-style third-person view – but overall this should be amazing. Stay tuned for a full unveiling at this year’s show.
Anything else you’re immensely excited about? Let us know which games, consoles and tech you expect to see at E3 in the comments section below.