Time has been gradually marching along since the news broke that I would be attending this year's Electronics Entertainment Expo—or E3, as most of us know it—and I thought that it's time to start talking about some things that I'm expecting to see happen during what will be one of the most important shows in recent memory. Some of these are already confirmed, and some may be a bit more unexpected. We'll certainly see how my predictions stack up versus reality when the show actually gets going in early June.
Here we go:
- PlayStation 3 price cut: I know that I've been towing the line on this cut for awhile now, and I want to reiterate that I really do see this happening during Sony's press conference. I still believe that the price of the 160GB units will drop by $50 to $249.99 and could take effect as soon as that day. In light of recent events regarding the PlayStation Network, Sony will be making some moves to attempt to shore up its public image and win back the favor of consumers. A price cut in this situation, especially with inFamous 2 due to hit stores that same week, makes sense on many levels. I'm still uncertain about how the 320GB units will be affected—if at all—but a move with the 160GB SKU seems more than likely to me.
- New Call of Duty unveiled during Microsoft press event: Activision and Microsoft have been developing quite the comfortable relationship, and I expect that to continue to grow as Activision rolls out its new Call of Duty project during Microsoft's press conference. Despite a concentrated effort by Electronic Arts to steal some of Call of Duty‘s thunder with Battlefield 3, this announcement will once again set fans buzzing for weeks as the hype train builds towards a likely November release. The timed DLC exclusivity deal that we saw introduced last year will play a role in the new Call of Duty game as well.
- Sony NGP for $300/$350 in late Q4: There have been questions as to whether the NGP makes it to North America by the end of the year and about the hardware's price point. The good news is that I do think that Sony pushes the hardware for a late 2011 release and that Sony really talks it up during its press event. Early buzz on the NGP was quite positive and Sony wants to get it into consumers' hands sooner rather than later. The bad news is that there's almost no way that the NGP sells for any less than $300 when it hits stores, and that price point could prove to be a problem… especially if the economy doesn't show signs of stabilization by September/October. As more 3DS software makes its way into stores, consumers could very well go with Nintendo as the cheaper option (and Nintendo's better track record in the portable arena). Early adoption crowd could be further limited if Nintendo's new console sees release late Q1 2012, but that's a low probability.
- Mass Effect 3 dated for January 2012 with multiplayer functionality: Don't worry, Shepard fans. The delay of Mass Effect 3 into 2012 won't be a long one. There's precedent to make this prediction; Mass Effect 2 hit on January 26th back in 2010. A late January release provides separation from the flood of Q4 2011 titles and allows wallets to refill a bit after the holiday drain. As for the multiplayer component, Electronic Arts has made it clear that solo-only games don't fly in their business plan. Expect some sort of multiplayer feature set, at least in terms of co-op, in Mass Effect 3… and learn to accept your new multiplayer overlords.
- New Nintendo console (Project Cafe) will be its most expensive ever: If you're thinking about being one of the first to buy Nintendo's new console, you had better be prepared to pay up. Expect to hear a price point of $349.99 with $59.99 software price points. As Nintendo rarely takes losses on its hardware, I just cannot see any way that Nintendo can go with a lower console price point. With development costs likely to increase as a result of the more powerful hardware, the more expensive software pricing model makes sense. As for a potential launch date, I can see Nintendo waiting until Q4 2012 in order to sell through Wii inventories and allow development time for a solid slate of launch software. There's a small chance that the unit arrives at the tail end of Q1, but that's needlessly risky.
As we get closer to showtime, we'll look at more potential announcements and we'll break down the confirmed ones. In the meantime, why not put on your prognostication cap and offer your predictions for E3? Who do you think will have the best press conference? Which company has more to prove? How will the issues with PSN affect the show for Sony and game publishers? Are there any surprises that your intuition tells you we should expect? Leave ‘em in the comments! Let's see how YOU do!
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