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The Most Important Week in Gaming (E3 2004)

This week, the Los Angeles Convention Center is host to the biggest and most exciting gaming event of the year, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Each year the trade event serves as launching pad for publishers and developers to reveal and showcase their upcoming products to the media. In short, E3 is as important to the gaming industry as the Academy Awards are to films.

This year’s event will be particularly special as the big three console makers (better known as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo) are expected to unveil crucial information about their next generation of gaming consoles, which are expected to launch in early 2006. During the last couple of months, the Internet has been running rampant with rumours of what to expect out of these upcoming couch potato enhancers.

Nintendo and Sony will also use the event to showcase their upcoming handheld devices. The big “N” will be showcasing its dual screen product aptly known as the “Nintendo DS”. While Japanese rival Sony will take the stage with its media centric iPod killer the PSP. Both companies are expected to have working prototypes on display at the show. So far, most major developers have pledged their support to both units.

Two other companies will attempt to enter the crowded console market with new innovative, but pricey units. Digital Interactive Systems will be at the show demonstrating their DISCover console and Infinium Labs will have its Phantom Console on exhibit. It’s believed that both companies will be brandishing their devices with fully functioning units.

On the software side of things, publishers will be on hand with a complete list of their forthcoming titles. Canadian developers Bioware and Digital Extremes will be showcasing two of the most anticipated titles of the year in the form of Jade Empire and Pariah, respectively. Many significant releases such as Doom 3, Half-Life 2, Metroid Prime 2, Final Fantasy XII, Resident Evil 4, and Metal Gear Solid 3 should be among the most sought-after titles on the show floor.

It’s also interesting to note that software developer SEGA has promised that it will make a shocking announcement on May 12. Revealed by the company as “big news you’d never guess,” its still unclear whether or not the announcement is software or hardware based. SEGA’s last hardware venture was the Dreamcast, which was discontinued in 2001. It’s highly doubtful though that SEGA will make a return on the hardware scene. Expect an announcement to be in the form of a merger or an acquisition.

It remains to be seen whether or not their will be any surprises at the event, but rest assured that this year’s event will surely be the talk of the industry for months to come. If all the hype turns out to be true, this year’s E3 trade event will end-up being one of the most interesting trade events in recent years. And don’t forget to pick-up next week’s issue of the Metro Marquee for a complete rundown of the event.

Andre Barriault lives in Dieppe and is co-editor at the gaming website www.XGR.com – Originally published in the Metro Marquee in May 2004

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