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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
Console wars at E3 show
EA Sports NFL 2002
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Three giants of the computer games industry, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, will clash at the E3 video games conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

The three companies will be demonstrating the latest developments for their next generation consoles, the Sony Playstation 2, which was released last year, and Microsoft's X-Box and Nintendo Gamecube, which are yet to be released.

X-box
X-box is hoping to make a big splash at E3
For Microsoft and Nintendo the conference will be crucial in their attempt to catch up with Sony, whose console has already sold more than 10 million units worldwide.

For the first time Microsoft will be giving developers and publishers the chance to get their hands on their much-anticipated console while Nintendo will also be pushing its new product.

'Crossing swords'

Joe Fielder, site director of the San Francisco-based games website Gamespot, said the 2001 E3 was a "historic moment for gaming".

He told BBC News Online: "We will have these three huge games companies crossing swords.

"It looks like it could be the best E3 yet. I am looking forward to finding out what games will be released for the three consoles."

Halo
Halo is one of the next generation games for X-box
Mike Rawlinson, general manager of the European Leisure Software Publishers Association, said the conference would be dominated by the three companies.

He told BBC News Online: "Microsoft are going to be showing their X-Box for the first time.

Biggest surprises

"This year there will be development kits on their stand with live demonstrations. People are going to be able to get their hands on the product.

"Gamecube is a little bit further away, while Sony will be hoping to consolidate Playstation 2 as the first of the next generation consoles."

But Mr Fielder said the biggest surprises of E3 could be reserved for the Nintendo Gamecube.

PS2
Sony will be hoping to consolidate Playstation 2's success
"Nintendo are going to have the biggest surprises and the most press of the show.

"Nintendo traditionally keep quiet when they have a new system so it brings an anything can happen feel to the show."

'Mouths open'

David Wilson, head of UK public relations for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, told BBC News Online: "It is unquestionably the most important show for our industry.

"It is a very important show for PS2 because the whole gaming word travels to Los Angeles in May."

Sony is expected to announce a series of exclusive alliances with developers.

More than 62,000 developers and retailers are expected at the exhibition and conference which lasts for four days.

Despite the competition, Mr Wilson said Sony was confident of "leaving mouths open" at the show.


Nintendo's Gamecube: Tipped for success at E3
"It is going to be one of the most exciting shows to date."

Microsoft have described E3 as a turning point for the future of X-Box.

'Big announcement'

"That's when everything really starts to focus on the games themselves," Robbie Bach, chief X-box office, said.

Ed Fries, Microsoft vice president of games publishing, added: "I hope what we show will really bring out the character of X-Box games."

Mr Fielder agreed that E3 was really important for Microsoft in its push for X-Box success.

"I think they are going to be make some big announcement at E3."

With three next generation consoles expected to be on the market at the end of the year competition for the billion-dollar industry is expected to be fierce.

But Mr Fielder said he felt all three consoles could co-exist.

"The games console market has evolved. It used to be a younger market back in the days in Nintendo 64 and Sega's Genesis but Playstation changed that and gamers are now older.

"It is a much wider market than it used to be."

'Strong industry'

Mr Rawlinson said E3 was a crucial event in the calendar for the UK games industry also.

He said "We are going to promote the industry as a whole, alongside individual companies.

"We are a strong industry and we have excellent first class development potential. Europe is the second largest market for interactive software in the world."

The UK games industry is worth 1 billion a year.

Mr Rawlinson added: "In terms of profit, computer games can generate more money that a Hollywood blockbuster.

"We are the money earner of the UK entertainment industry."

See also:

29 Mar 01 | Business
Microsoft's X-Box goes online
12 Mar 01 | Business
IBM wins Playstation 3 contract
23 Jan 01 | Business
Sega linked to Playstation, XBox
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