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E3 Promises New Wii Unveiling and More
By: Terri Wells
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    Started in 1995, the annual week-long Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is the event to get to if you want to know what's coming up in the video game industry. With hundreds of vendors, this year's show, held in Los Angeles, is no exception. So what can we expect to see?

    While both Sony and Microsoft have already submitted releases to the press, the company everybody is watching is Nintendo. Everyone expects to see the maker of the game-changing Wii system unveil the second generation of its motion-activated entertainment system on Tuesday.

    The timing couldn't be better...or more necessary. While Nintendo dominated the market when the Wii was first unveiled in 2006, Microsoft and Sony started catching up this year with their own motion-activated gaming systems: Kinect for Microsoft and Move for Sony. While no one outside Nintendo knows what the new Wii will do, some observers think it will target the new Wii to reach the hardcore gamers left in the cold by the first generation of the gaming system.

    Dan Hsu, co-founder of gaming site Bitmob, noted that the first Wii did a great job of reaching out to the casual gaming market. These are typically the kind of people who want to play for a little while every so often, rather than get deeply involved in a first-person shooter with an intricate plot demanding lots of skill at using the controller and a heavy time commitment to complete. Hsu thinks that “it might be a situation where they've seen how well games like the 'Call of Duty' series have done and they say, 'Let's try to get back a little into that (hardcore) side of the market.' "

    Sony, on the other hand, is keeping very few secrets. In a press release on Monday, the company said it will unveil a new handheld gaming system. Dubbed the NGP, for Next Generation Portable, hints on the new system's capabilities started hitting the press in January. The system's specs include dual analog sticks, front and rear cameras, front multi-touch display, multi-touch rear pad, GPS, always on connectivity via Wi-Fi and 3G, and location-based gaming. The system will need impressive capabilities to support titles like “Call of Duty,” as Sony promises it will. It's anticipated that the NGP will hit the stores just in time for the holiday shopping season.

    On top of the excitement of releasing a new gaming system, Sony will need to deal with the negative publicity generated by hacker attacks that, among other problems, put its PlayStation Network out of commission for more than than three weeks. Hsu thinks Sony will manage it with grace and self-deprecating humor. 
    "Historically, Sony's been pretty smart about their messaging during E3...knowing their corporate personality, they'll probably address it, have a little fun with it and move on."

    With Nintendo and Sony accounted for, many observers wonder what, exactly, Microsoft has up its sleeve. The motion-sensing Kinect system made a splash at last year's show, so many observers think Microsoft won't be trying to top it – at least, not with new hardware. Analysts expect new software built around the Xbox Live, and new games that unlock more of Kinect's capabilities.

    Of course, many gamers feel that seeing the new games in the pipeline is the whole point of E3, and attendees can expect to see plenty of demos. There's a long list, but some of the most anticipated games to feature demos at E3 include “Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception," "Batman: Arkham City," "Bioshock Infinite,"  "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3," "Battlefield 3," "Star Wars: The Old Republic," "The Darkness II" and – perhaps inevitably – "Duke Nukem Forever."

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