Tuesday, June 07, 2011
What Nintendo may show today
Microsoft's and Sony's presentations are over, Nintendo's is yet to come. It is time to sum up the first two and speculate a little on what Nintendo may have in store for us in just a few hours.
In their E3 press conferences, Microsoft greatly emphasized Kinect. Most titles like ´Kinect Sports´, ´Kinect Disneyland Adventures´ or ´Fun Labs´ appear all too reminiscent of dozens of titles already available on Wii. However, with ´Kinect Star Wars´ and especially ´Ghost Recon: Future Soldier´, ´Mass Effect 3´ and ´Ryse´, Microsoft is finally showing us more mature Kinect titles. Voice activation, to be integrated into Kinect, sounds intriguing too.
Sony's press conference, however, came across as more appealing. Their emphasis was clearly on 3D, showing ´Resistance 3´, ´God of War: Origins´ and ´Uncharted 3´, as well as introducing a PlayStation-branded 3D screen for $500. As far as software is concerned, attracting the ´BioShock´ license to both the PS3 and the PSVita is a coup in its own right.
The PSVita, the PSP's successor, impressed me less. The games look solid. But the price point of $250 for the WiFi-only model and $300 for the 3G version was to be expected. Anything above and Sony would have priced itself out of the market. Remember that I still believe the 3DS is too expensive.
Nintendo: Project Café
So what may Nintendo be up to? We will know in just a few hours. A large touchscreen as part of the controller is pretty much confirmed by now. But will the controller simply be a tablet? I expect Nintendo to surprise the world with a completely new form factor once again, just like they did with the Wii. I cannot imagine what such a controller may look like, though. Yesterday, someone suggested that the touchscreen may not be held across, but lengthwise. And what if the screen were not rectangular but a different shape? What if the six inch screen is composed of two halves that can be folded shut like a laptop? This seems anyone's guess, really.
What I am more certain about is that the new cosole will feature a strong emphasis on augmented reality and tracking, just like ´Face Raiders´ on the 3DS. Now, imagine this type of gameplay coupled with a traditional screen. Here is an example of what this may enable.
Check around one minute, when the ball pops out of the tv screen and lands on the floor. Also, the interaction with another person later on might give you an idea of what gameplay Nintendo may be wanting to leverage with the new console.
Of course, the tracking seems a little awkward here. Tracking can, however, be perfectly done. See the following technology demo by a company called Invensense.
It all boils down to cost. I cannot imagine a tablet-like controller with truly original features which enable ground-breaking gameplay for less than $200. And such a scenario would only be possible if this new controller would work with the Wii, which is already in 90 million homes or so. You cannot ask consumers to shell out $400 for two controllers and then buy a new console, too. And will such a touchscreen controller, which must double as a standalone portable console, not cannibalise the 3DS market?
We know quite a bit about the Wii successor Project Café already. But once you try to put the pieces together, you realise that we just do not see the big picture yet. I am very excited about the press conference. Microsoft and Sony had good presentations, but Nintendo has a chance of stealing the show this year.