ZeldaBlog

The Great E3 Wrap-Up

May 13th, 2006 at 12:25 am by The Missing Link

So it’s the weekend! E3 is officially over, and thus begins the onerous wait for the next Zelda games as well as the Wii. It’s going to be a good haul as well; a quick look to the counter on the main page says that we have a really long way to go until they’re released. (Yes I know we don’t know the release date; that’s why the question mark is there. But if you’re wondering, my current guesstimate is November 11, but I’m thinking Nintendo may jump the gun and go a few weeks earlier. Only time will tell.)

With the excitement of the past week slowing to a crawl once again, it’s time to ruminate on the past week, dig into the content of the conference, and then look into our crystal balls to see what the next year will bring.

You might remember that, before this all began, I had made a list of predictions about what we were going to see. Let’s see how I did:

  • Launch date of Twilight Princess [Well… this kinda came true. It’s the same time as Wii’s release, but we don’t know when that is, so still no…]
  • A new trailer video for Twilight Princess
  • Gameplay footage of Twilight Princess from the E3 show floor
  • Approximate launch date of Phantom Hourglass [We did get the plot of the game, not a total loss!]
  • Gameplay footage of Phantom Hourglass from the E3 show floor
  • Launch date and price of Wii [Not even close!]
  • In-depth demonstrations of how the Wii controller will be used
  • Gameplay footage of Mario, Smash Bros., Metroid, and some new mascot [Almost had it! I would have if you count Solid Snake in SSB:B]
  • Launch date for PS3… maybe the price point as well
  • A handful of games and demos for the PS3, but not many
  • Xbox 360 games a-plenty

This all proves, obviously, that TML would make a horrible member of the Bomber’s Gang. But more importantly, while I did get many things right on the list (over 50 percent… with odds like that, I could be a weatherman!), the things I missed perhaps take centre stage more than the things I got right.

Nintendo, by most accounts, had the most impressive show out of all three console companies. Of course, Nintendo had set up the pieces that way by using this E3 as a launch pad to promote the new control style for console gaming. Wii garnered most of the talk at the conference, and although there have been several reports at IGN and Joystiq (among others most likely) about slight hiccups in the software, people have been generally impressed. Games like Super Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess, SSB:B, and Metroid Prime 3 were easy winners, but Red Steel and Madden NFL ‘07 were a little shaky. Nintendo and friends still have some time to tweak and tune both hardware and software, but they clearly demonstrated the killer app and won this round of E3 Deathmatch.

It was not, however, without some–what I believe to be–errors in judgment. I’m eternally mystified by the two versions of Twilight Princess, one for Wii and one for the ‘Cube; my hope is that these will be sold together in one package rather than separately because, in all honesty, that would make a lot of sense. If you sell them separately, you force existing ‘Cube owners into a difficult dilemma: (1) Be an early adopter of Wii just for Zelda, (2) buy the ‘Cube version and lose out on the enhanced functionality of the Wii version, (3) buy the ‘Cube version up front and then buy it again later on for Wii, or (4) not play Zelda until you’re comfortable enough with the Wii paradigm. While I think I will be in category one, not every gamer is comfortable with being an early adopter of a console, thus making it a choice between the least of the four evils.

I also think the decision not to give out a release date or a price point was a very odd decision. I think a lot of people went into this week thinking we’d have dates and prices, and we were left empty-handed. However, I remain humoured by an image in my mind from the movie Maverick (which every one of you should see, by the by). In it, Maverick in the final poker game refuses to look at the last card of his hand before betting; this, in turn, drives his opponent mad as he starts sweating bullets because he cannot possibly determine whether Maverick’s hand is any good or not. It’s funny to watch, but the stakes are still quite serious in the end. The stage is set, I think, for Nintendo to pull the royal flush out of the deck, but it is far from a guaranteed thing, and you and I have to admit that the announcement of a very inexpensive price point would have done nothing less than increase the salivation of most every gamer for Nintendo. I will say this about the price though: Nintendo, whatever you do, do not make it $250. I can see it coming that, when the PS3 launches in November, Microsoft will undercut the $200 difference between the 360 and PS3 now by another 50 greenbacks, and if Wii is $250, it’ll be the same price as the el cheapo 360, and I don’t think it can stand at that price. Wii either needs to sell for $200 (provided the virtual console downloads are free or extremely cheap) or $150 (with a little more leeway on download pricing).

Moving along, Microsoft is in standby mode. They’re now moving forward with their initial strategy, and that’s gaming. They didn’t have an overly impressive E3 this year, but they also didn’t need to. Xbox 360 is doing well with over five million units sold and many more on the way, so they’re exactly where they want to be, out first with a year ahead of everyone. Now while their Windows games and Vista strategy don’t play into the console war all that much, you can bet that they are going to be leveraging Windows to sell 360s, especially with Live Anywhere integrating PCs, 360s, and cell phones. Even more interesting, though, is that Peter Moore, VP of Microsoft Gaming Studios, is making an unwritten pact with Nintendo in order to beat Sony. This may sound good, but don’t be fooled; Microsoft isn’t doing this because they have love for Nintendo. Microsoft is afraid of getting their butts handed to them again by Sony, and Peter Moore is going to use Wii and the two-consoles-for-the-price-of-one argument solely to steal Sony types over to their console. Will it sell Wiis? Likely true, but just don’t get too lovey-dovey with Mr. Bill Gates just yet. (Not that I worry that anyone will be given how Windows operates! ;) ) Microsoft is solidly in second place… but they’re still on the heels of Nintendo.

Last and certainly least, we have Sony. All I have to say about Sony is that it’s been the worst E3 showing I have seen from any console company ever… and this is their launch year for the PS3! The stars were aligned for them to slam dunk this show… yet all they have to show for it is a controller that tries to be Wii but comes up lacking. Seriously, if you compare the line at E3 to play the Wii versus what was reported to be just a 30-minute wait to play a PS3, that’s news that Sony should be concerned with. Yet that’s not the end of their bad karma either. The sticker shock of $600 (or the el cheapo at $500) has both gamers and industry folk leaving E3 with a bitter taste in their mouth. As Peter Moore said, Sony is facing being more expensive than the sum of their competitors’ products. If that weren’t bad enough, try this on for size: Sony’s big cheese is on record for saying that “[The PS3]’s probably too cheap.” Wait until the Sony fanboys start passing that communiqué around…

Now, be that as it may, do not count Sony out just yet. As a good friend has mentioned, iPods are still the most successful MP3 player out there despite it costing hundreds of dollars more than other brands. At the same time, however, you also don’t see everyone driving down Any Street, U.S.A. in a Porche or Lamborghini. PS2, despite its high price, easily won the sixth generation of video game history. However, its price then was still rather comparable to the other consoles, not to mention that it was helped out by being one of the first “cheap” DVD players as well as being the first console out to market that generation (aside from the Dreamcast). Sony’s got an uphill battle coming their way, but they can still win if they add enough positive PR spin up through November. However, considering that nary a word was heard from Sony last year (nearly every Internet rumour or executive statement was completely disavowed) and considering that Sony is fanning the flames about their pricing even more when they say $600 is too cheap, Sony seriously needs to actually hire a PR staff shake some things up in the PR department if they want to succeed.

All in all, this puts Nintendo in a relatively good position for the next year… at least until November. ;)

Looking at Zelda, well… Phantom Hourglass is still not much more than a phantom at this juncture, but Twilight Princess is beginning to step out into its own. With the Wii functionality at its beck and call, well, this will be exciting to see what happens. The only question now will be to see whether or not the Wii control style is better than the traditional control style; it seems so far that most people indeed like what they’re seeing, but as Nintendo says, “playing is believing.” I think we’ll see that most people will indeed be sceptics until they play the game, but I think trying it out is just want gamers will need to let go of their inhibitions and fully embrace a Wii Zelda. After all, that is the direction that Mr. Miyamoto believes that the series is head towards in the future.

So in all, we should have an exciting and interesting year ahead of us. We will finally (we hope!) have Zelda, the next round of the console wars will begin, and Miyamoto will be conducting symphonies in a tuxedo. With our stomaches finally full from all the news and speculation that’s been spread to all corners of the known cyber-world, it’s time to settle back and wait, but even though we may still have six or so months to go, I think they’ll go much quicker than you expect.

Filed under Editorials, Nintendo, E3 2006

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19 Messages from the Gossip Stones about “The Great E3 Wrap-Up”

    Comments

    I agree - I thought for sure that Sony would come out much bigger than it did, but it in fact, seemed to dive. Not that I’m complaining necessarily ;-) , but it makes me wonder why they didn’t use E3 to their advantage. And $600, the same or more than the price of the combination of your both your competition’s prices, is ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is the statement “it’s too cheap.”

    Still, perhaps their popularity from PS and PS2 will swing right over to PS3 and push aside the overprice. Wouldn’t surprise me. Media plagues minds like that.

    But the Wii sounds great! The controller sounds amazing, the graphics are leveled up, and online/download capabilities. That’s a pretty darn good package for a much more reasonable amount. Though I’m still under the impression that it’s a bit of risk, I truly believe that it will end successful. Nintendo’s dare-devil tactics, and PS3’s insane pricing, will pay off.

    …And Microsoft somewhat advocating them is always a nice addition.

    Zelda, PH and TP, look and sound wonderful as well. The trailer for TP blew me away; now I see why they held it back for graphic twitches (plus the Wii functions), and PH looks to be shaping up to be an interesting play on the DS. And man, SSB:B also looked incredible. Nintendo’s got some good games comin’ for it, and hopefully that marks the beginning of a nice run for it.

    The calm before the storm; may we have a few months of peace before the great console wars, and the exciting, annoyingly long awaited release of TP, begins.

    Nice article TML, as always. This is an exciting time to be in the community, that’s for sure. I like the annalogy you used, very fitting. Let’s all hope that the card they’re holding is a good one. So far, so go. Nintendo is playing this really smart.

    The PS3 “IS” cheap if you think about the fact that it’s also got blue-ray out of the box. They’ll probably face difficulties like that of Microsoft (not making much money off the XBox, but still paking a profit of the games).

    UltimaLuminaire said:

    The PS3 “IS” cheap if you think about the fact that it’s also got blue-ray out of the box. They’ll probably face difficulties like that of Microsoft (not making much money off the XBox, but still paking a profit of the games).

    Provided you want a Blu-Ray player. ;) If not, then…

    PRovieded you know what Blu-ray is, or care.

    Launch date of Twilight Princess
    - What you said, though NOAs told me before the Holiday Season.

    A new trailer video for Twilight Princess
    - We got one.

    Gameplay footage of Twilight Princess from the E3 show floor
    - Got that.

    Approximate launch date of Phantom Hourglass
    - They said Q4 2006.

    Gameplay footage of Phantom Hourglass from the E3 show floor
    - Got that.

    Launch date and price of Wii
    - Sony’s conference altered this.

    In-depth demonstrations of how the Wii controller will be used
    - They sure did that.

    Gameplay footage of Mario, Smash Bros., Metroid, and some new mascot
    - Heh, yeah. No new Mascot.

    Launch date for PS3… maybe the price point as well
    - Got it.

    A handful of games and demos for the PS3, but not many
    - Handful? More like a teaspoon.

    Xbox 360 games a-plenty
    - Yeah, but I didn’t see any of them being killer apps. Halo 3 was only a trailer.

    Overall, from being there, a five hour long line at Nintendo, where Microsoft and Sony had 30min to an hour max lines speaks for itself.

    Ahhh Nintendo *sigh* even we hardened Nintendo lovers have a hard time living with its tactics, well all I can say is at least Nintendo always tries to be different *in EVERY way sigh* and never follows the crowd. O.k. what is the deal with Sony, its head honcho slates Nintendo and its games as kiddies games and says who would want to play them but then they go and copy everything Nintendo does, the motion sensitive PS3 Controllers and download service are complete rip offs.

    BTW I have to agree TML that Maverick movie is great, Mel Gibson is sooooo funny.

    Anybody else hear that Red Steel was extremely hard to control? IGN said that the aiming was extremely jittery and worse than analogue control or mouse/keyboard control. I sure hope they fix that… I don’t know if I’d want to buy a console that can’t even play some of the games right.

    Oh yes, I am eternally in a predicament weather to buy the GC or Wii version of Zelda. Does the Wii version of TP play as good as it looks?

    Light Link 007 said:

    PRovieded you know what Blu-ray is, or care.

    Blu-ray = next generation of disc playing, supposed to enable recording, rewriting, and playbacking, uses a blue laser that’s got a shorter wavelength, HD…yeah that’s all I got.

    Blu-ray itself sounds awesome, but it just sounds like Sony’s trying to compact so much stuff onto it, PS3 having Blu-ray plus being a videogame console being an example, and I don’t see it working. Too many features isn’t always a good thing, and I think that’s going to be the problem with PS3. If they can pull it off, make it work and make it successful, kudos to them, that’s just so hard to believe.

    What I find funny with sony is that the PS3 will come with a price tag of $900 to manufacture, and will sell at $500. They hope to make up the dif with lots of good sales and online fees. Also with red steel, you gotta remember its still in its development stages and that they’ll likely as not polish it up before release.

    Remember, Blu-Ray isn’t even an industry standard yet, unlike DVD was (or at least looked like being as it had no real comptition) when the PS2 was released. Early adopters of the PS3 will be taking a gamble on something that could well be obsolete, say like the mini disc player (anyone remember them?) or even UMD (it might not be obsolete yet but it’s getting there). Granted, it seems unlikely at this point (Blu-Ray seems to have a lot of backers) but it’s still possible.

    I wish Nintendo had told us more, a price would have been nice. I was also irritated about the whole 2 versions of TP, if sold seperately (which I suspect they will) I think it’s going to annoy a lot of people. Since I plan on buying the Wii, I’ll be buying the Wii compatible version of course. Still, overall I saw a lot to be excited about. Bioware’s new RPG Mass Effect sounds like it’s taking shape nicely, Lucasarts gave a nod to the possibility of a Wii Star Wars with Light Sabers game, the DS, with games like Starfox DS, Phoenix Wright 2 and Phantom Hourglass, seems to be going from strength to strength and the Wii itself looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun to play. If it comes anywhere near to the enjoyment I’ve got out of my DS lately (which is more than I’ve had with any console for a long time) then I will be a very happy pink bunny. ;)

    Light Link 007 said:
    Also with red steel, you gotta remember its still in its development stages and that they’ll likely as not polish it up before release.

    I hope so. I’m looking foward to this game because of the Katana swinging action!

    As for the whole Blu-Ray thing, remember Microsoft is going to have HD-DVD compatibility soon. From what I hear, HD-DVD players are backwards compatible with regular DVD’s, and Blu-Ray isn’t. This makes it alot more easier on people so they don’t have to re-buy all their old DVD’s. I’d much rather see HD-DVD as standard than Blu-Ray if that’s the case.

    I fall in the seccond catagory of your “three evils”, simply because…. well… cant tell you, but I will not be buying a wii, thats why I still am thankful that TP is on the Gamecube. Altogerther, nice predictions!

    Legend of Link: I don’t know where you heard that Blu-Ray would not be compatible with dvds, but it is. Don’t always believe everything you hear without verifying it first.

    thebawp said:

    Legend of Link: I don’t know where you heard that Blu-Ray would not be compatible with dvds, but it is. Don’t always believe everything you hear without verifying it first.

    Oh.

    Here are (a few of) my thoughts on E3 2006:

    Zelda, first of all. I am very impressed with the Wii functionality with the Twilight Princess. The full potential of the Wii controller is beginning to emerge. To be quite honest, I can’t wait to try it out. However….

    I think we all know now why the Twilight Princess was so sickeningly delayed. This Wii functionality was, I believe, a last-minute endeavor by Nintendo to sell some Wiis. And I am just plain ticked. I would much, MUCH rather have Twilight Princess on my GameCube right now, this minute, than have to wait for an ENTIRE YEAR just to have a few new features on the Wii. Save these “revolutionary” features for the first REAL Zelda title for the Wii! Turning the Twilight Princess in to a half-assed Wii launch title was a bad idea. Oh, and by the way, the ONLY way I will buy a Wii along with TP at launch is if they come in a bundle-type deal. Otherwise, no way; I’ll just be happy to play it on my GameCube.

    Phantom hourglass looks quite good. I have to say, I really like the stylus-pen control scheme. I can’t wait to play it.

    While Nintendo’s press was good, it certainly had problems. I became quite disgusted by the amount of times somebody shouted this same message: “Graphics don’t matter, graphics don’t matter.” Yeah, you’d better be banking on that assumption Nintendo, because your Wii games look like high-end GameCube games at best. Now, I agree that graphics aren’t the top priority…for me, they are actually quite low on my list of priorities. But they absolutely definitely matter.

    Microsoft…well, I admit to caring very little about the Xbox, or any software on it. Their press conference seemed like an excuse to finally unveil Halo 3. (Although that was quite an awesome trailer).

    Sony is in a ditch that they dug themselves. The funny thing is that $599 is, in fact, quite cheap for a Blue-ray player, and Sony will lose money for every system they sell. And yet that brings up the question: Was a blu-ray drive necessary? Is it worth the cost? My answer to that is no. The Xbox 360 launched with a DVD drive, and the Wii will launch with a DVD drive as well. Blu-ray may be the most cutting-edge, but it’s certainly not the most practical.

    On a personal note, the biggest news for me didn’t come from Sony, Nintendo, or Microsoft; but rather Square Enix’s press conference! Final Fantasy XIII looks, from a graphical standpoint, absolutely amazing. And because of it, I’ll just have to start saving up those pennies for a PS3. I’d go on…but a Square Enix press conference is a little out-of-place on a Zelda Blog.

    It was nice how all the other companies had an open show, where you could stand and watch people play instead of waiting hours for 5 minutes or a glimpse as I like to call it. I loved walking around and seeing stuff, I didn’t care if I got to play all the games, watching has always been as much fun for me personally. I really wish that Nintendo had had a unenclosed area, or at least a screen showing their “inside” games playing on it- like most of the other companies did. It would have just felt more considerate to me. It would have cut down on the absolutely insane line and let the people who were really dying to play have more time to enjoy the game and the whole expo more.

    I liked the Sony’s booth because it had a ton of eye candy, Namco had a fun booth that gave you cute little things for trying out each of their games (no lines, yay) the NCsoft booth had a ton going on, Blizzards was great- big statues and art walls, screens galore, and they made it easy for you to watch the others playing while you were in line because they had a second monitor for each screen up above head level. There were some really awesome booths from companies I had never heard from before- they were trying to make it a great show so people would remember them, they were all in the second hall, needless to say, that place really had it going on. (The Xbox booth just seemed sad, nothing got my attention there.)

    they showd a lot of videos of Twilight Princess…from watching all the videos I already know how to beet the entire forest temple.

    *sound of teeth grinding* Cant… believe… you… got… to… go… to… E3… DAMN YOU, LOL. From what I read about E3 I have to say that Microsoft has once again relied on Halo to save it, Halo and Halo 2 were the games that saved the X-Box as far as I am concerned and I have never had much faith in Microsoft personally.