The big buzz at the E3 Media & Business Summit is that there’s no big buzz this year.
Gaming analysts say they’re not expecting any big surprises from the big three companies – Microsoft (MSFT), Nintendo (NTDOY), and Sony (SNE) – at E3, one of the largest events in the $37.5 billion video game industry. The three main drivers of E3, which kicks off Monday, will not unveil any new game consoles as they are all in mid-cycle. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gets a $50 price slash. Yawn. And some anticipate Nintendo to unveil – wait for it – different colors of the Wii remote.
Without shiny new hardware, all eyes will be on the gaming titles that will come out within the following year. Even that has investors unexcited. “What we’re struggling with is the new surprise,” says John Taylor, a video game analyst with Arcadia Research. “The big new [game] that we haven’t heard about already.”
Most of the biggest games for 2008 have either been released or unveiled at events earlier this year. Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) took the best-seller slot with Grand Theft Auto IV and Nintendo got the couch potatoes to move with the Wii Fit this summer. Gears of War 2, an exclusive title for the Xbox 360, was unveiled in late February at another gaming conference while other big blockbusters like MTV Games’s Rock Band 2 and Harmonix’s Guitar Hero World Tour (its fourth version) have already been teased.
Gaming analysts say the show, which kicks off Monday in Los Angeles, means they’ll have to focus on incremental news from the big three. “Perhaps Microsoft will introduce a Wii-like controller to attract the casual gamers or Nintendo will introduce a software lineup to appeal to the more hardcore gamers,” says Todd Greenwald, an analyst with Signal Hill Group. Greenwald expects Sony to continue to capitalize on its upcoming lineup like God of War III and LittleBigPlanet that can only be played on the PS3.
Expectations are so low that even minor news from the three consoles will be treated with great significant. “There’s no point in going to a convention where you’ve seen the same stuff before,” says Sam Kennedy, the editorial director of gaming site 1Up.com. “We’re all waiting for the big three to show up and surprise everyone and get folks excited.”