It's time again for the media circus and major gaming event that is the E3 Expo. What can we expect from this year's show?
Motion: One of the big show draws will likely be a hands-on demo of Microsoft's "Project Natal" accessory. This will be Microsoft's opportunity to start the hype machine for the peripheral, which is expected to launch later this year. Sony is likely to be showing off its PlayStation Move as well. Then Nintendo has the Wii, so all three consoles will be moving and shaking at this year's show.
3D: Sony will be showcasing 3D gaming on the PlayStation 3 this year. Nintendo will have its portable Nintendo 3DS, which promises to deliver a 3D experience without the glasses. While gamers are still mostly divided on the prospects of 3D gaming, E3 will be a major chance for these two companies to make a case for the third dimension.
Expanded Media: Just as there was a major announcement two years ago about Netflix on the Xbox 360, there are rumors Hulu will be following suit with a paid business model. There are also rumors that Sony will be creating a paid tier of the PSN, and it is reasonable to expect that there could be expanded media capabilities, which would represent the perks that might make a paid tier attractive to consumers. Also expect announcements of more "live event" games similar to the "1-vs-100" Xbox game. There's a chance Sony will be announcing games of this type as well.
Variety of Business Models: With the success of Zynga's social games and micro-transactions in general, it's likely we'll see some new business models for games. Expect to see these models make their way from the PC to the console, either directly, as in Sony's port of its "Free Realms" MMORPG to the PS3, or as entirely new models. I'll be watching as both EA and Sony push the envelope in this regard -- both out of necessity and a desire to expand revenues. There's a possibility we might see something interesting here from Square Enix as well, if invention born of necessity is taken into account.
I'll be on the show floor for a day or two. If you're there as well, keep an eye out for these trends. For those unable to attend, I'll be writing a wrap-up of things that stood out or were unexpected.