Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are expected to announce new hardware, software and services at next week's E3 conference, running June 7-9 in Los Angeles.
Nintendo is struggling to win users from Microsoft and Sony and is coming off a disappointing launch of its 3DS handheld device. In a bid to return to the top, it will be unveiling a new video game console.
When the company revealed the Wii console at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2005 and followed up with a demonstration of the innovative motion controller later that year, the video game industry looked quite different than it does today. This was before the current generation of consoles (Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3) broadened the audience for gaming and the definition of what a console does with new kinds of gameplay, new genres and new entertainment features. Dedicated handheld gaming devices had existed long before, but this pre-dated the rise of smartphones, tablets and Facebook as viable gaming platforms.
Nintendo prepares to share details about its new console - known as Wii 2, Wii's successor or Project Cafe - at E3 2011 next week. The new device is expected to feature HD graphics, a special controller, motion sensors and technology that allows it to run old Nintendo games.
The company has already announced a major system update for the hand-held Nintendo 3DS system. The update, which will be released in North America the evening of June 6, will give users
access to an Internet browser and the Nintendo eShop, which contains a variety of new content.
The Nintendo eShop is a digital store for Nintendo 3DS owners that provides access to downloadable content, such as original 3D software, classic games that have been re-mastered in 3D called 3D Classics, Game Boy and Game Boy Color "Virtual Console" games in their original 2D glory, and more than 350 Nintendo DSiWare games.
Other capabilities that go live with the system update include a free Internet browser that has the capability to show 3D images on sites specifically designed to show 3D images.
The system update also gives Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL system owners the ability to transfer most of their previously downloaded Nintendo DSiWare games to their new Nintendo 3DS systems.
Sony, meanwhile is expected to once again apologize to its customers for the data breach that exposed the personal information of more than 100 million of its video game users.
Sony does not plan to announce any new hardware such as the next-gen Playstation console. The company is expected to focus on plugging its not-yet-released handheld device, called the NGP
, or Next Generation Portable. The 5-inch touchscreen device has Wi-Fi and 3G network connectivity, and front and rear-facing cameras. Sony is expected to release details of the NGP's pricing, launch date and games at the conference.
Microsoft is also not expected to announce the successor of the Xbox 360. The company will detail the new optical disc format for the game device and also new game releases. The new format is expected to allow for additional storage space on a game disc, and will provide additional levels of copy production, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft is also rumored to annoucne an Xbox "Live TV" subscription service. The move could be part of the company's plans to make the Xbox 360 an complete entertainment device after already including ESPN, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and the Zune Marketplace.
Of course, the E3 game show is always unpredictable so let's wait a few days and cross our fingers for more surprises.