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Friday, June 1, 2012

As the Wii U release inches closer, this year's E3 is Nintendo's to "lose"

Who will win E3 this year?

That's usually the question that lights up message boards around the Internet when determining who between Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo will have the best press conference and showing at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, which takes place next week in Los Angeles. It always brings up fun and heated debates from the Big 3 fanboys, even though "winning" or "losing" doesn't really matter in the long run.

As Christmas in June for video game fans draws closer, one thing has become decidedly clear: Nintendo should have this year's in the bag, and for one reason only: The Wii U blowout. Since Sony and Microsoft have been mum so far on their PS3 and Xbox 360 successors, respectively, being the only one showing off a new console automatically puts Nintendo well ahead of the pack. Sure, Sony and Microsoft could give a small tease of their hardware future to take away some Wii U hype, but unplayable demonstrations only go so far.

But just showing up doesn't mean Nintendo should rest easy. Last year at E3, Nintendo first revealed the Wii U and it didn't catch on like they had hoped. Much of the focus was on the tablet controller and not the system itself, which along with the name caused confusion on what the Wii U really was. It's obviously a new console, but the general public didn't seem to get that. Nintendo should make it very clear this time: Here's the system, here's the controller and here's a bunch of games to play.

I would expect a lot of Wii U games, too, especially from high-profile Nintendo franchises. On the Wii U Facebook page, Nintendo is teasing us on what some initial game releases will be when it's expected to launch this year. I hope we get a lot of info on Pikmin 3 and the New Super Mario Bros. game, along with some info on Super Smash Brothers and Zelda titles. A lack of quality third-party titles has plagued Nintendo for years, so it'll be interesting to see what other companies bring to the table.

A firm release date and actual price would be nice, too, but is not expected to be revealed.

Don't forget about the 3DS either. Although it doesn't seem to have lit the world on fire, it's still bringing in respectable sales after a rough launch last year. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is set for release in August, which should sell huge around the world, and we're still waiting for more info on much-anticipated titles like Paper Mario, Luigi's Mansion 2 and Animal Crossing. Many think a 3DS revision is in the works, but I don't see that happening as the Wii U will be the main focus.

All eyes are on Nintendo this year, and if they play their cards right they'll be the talk of E3 and the video gaming world for months to come.

Can't forget about Microsoft and Sony

Oh yeah, there are these guys, too. While no one's expecting any new console shockers from Microsoft and Sony, I expect a lot of already-known games to be shown off.

Microsoft has their big exclusive Halo 4 release this year, along with notable third-party games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Assassin's Creed III that will surely sell big. Kinect will likely get some attention, and since Microsoft has pushed the Xbox 360 as the all-in-one media hub, maybe more services will be revealed.

With PS Vita sales down in the dumps, expect a big push by Sony to get more software revealed for the struggling handheld. Will a price cut happen? Who knows? Sony's finances are dire so can they afford it? Even if they did slash it from $250 to say $200, it won't save the system. Like Nintendo learned, you need the games to sell the hardware.

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