Page last updated at 15:16 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 16:16 UK

Big three show their wares at E3

By Marc Cieslak
Reporter, BBC Click

Since 1995, E3 has been a highlight of the games industry's calendar. But as video games have grown into a 60bn ($30bn) a year business, E3 has shrunk in size to a smaller, more intimate, trade-only affair.

The real news at this event is delivered at the pre-show press conferences and the games industry's heavy hitters - Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony - attempted to impress the assembled journalists with their latest line up of games.

XBOX 360

Microsoft was the first company to speak at E3 and claimed the Xbox 360 will outsell the Sony PlayStation 3.

Singer Duffy demonstrating the Xbox game Lips
Xbox's social karaoke game Lips was demonstrated by singer Duffy
It was a bold statement, but unfortunately Microsoft's show was less shock and awe and more shocking bore.

The announcement of a new Xbox interface, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple's Cover Flow, alongside Nintendo-style Xbox Live avatars and a performance by pop princess Duffy, demonstrating a karaoke style title called Lips, suggests the boffins in Seattle have raided their competitors' ideas bins.

It is a charge Xbox executives refute: "We never claimed to have invented avatars or music games, but what we have done in each of these categories is innovate and take them to completely different levels," said Microsoft Game Studios vice president Shane Kim.

While sci-fi shooters such as Gears of War 2, Fallout 3 and epic role-playing game Fable 2 look as good as any Xbox title, they are not likely to appeal beyond the hardcore gamer demographic.

Microsoft also showed more causal game You're in the Movies, where players act out the mini-games via a webcam. The gameplay footage is saved and then used as the action in a series of short mini-movies.


Nintendo's E3 events are famous for the level of adulation which is heaped on their products by the audience and Nintendo staff.

Shigeru Miyamoto demonstrating Wii Music
Shigeru Miyamoto created games including Mario and Donkey Kong
You could forgive Nintendo for believing their own hype as they manufacture the number one selling handheld and home console, in the shape of the DS and Wii.

But Nintendo's chief executive, Shigeru Miyamoto, suggests this success may have come as something of a surprise.

"I must admit that even Nintendo employees could not have imagined that, five years later, the market would have responded so quickly that we could be selling millions of bathroom scales around the world," he said.

Their highlights included a Wiimote controller add-on dongle which increases the motion controller's sensitivity. New game Wii Sports Resort, with its sword fighting and jet skiing mini-games, should take advantage of this.

Closing Nintendo's show was the creator of Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto, who showcased Wii Music. Making use of the Wiimote controller and balance board, Wii Music allows the player to simulate playing a host of musical instruments.


Sony used to be the number one home console manufacturer.

Sony America's boss Jack Tretton
Sony thinks user generated content will play a bigger role in games
But the release of the PlayStation 3 (PS3), 18 months ago, did not exactly go to plan. Now an increase in sales, boosted by the fact that it is still the cheapest way of getting a Blu-ray player, the PS3's fortunes could be about to change.

Sony's speakers seemed pleased with themselves, showing off new superhero sandbox title Infamous and a sequel to first person shooter Resistance: Fall of Man.

Both titles will certainly appeal to hardcore gamers, but Sony's American boss Jack Tretton suggested a new direction the PS3's games might take in the future.

"When historians look back on this time in history and the trends that are shaping the world of digital technology, one of the first things they're going to be talking about is user generated content," he said.

Screenshots of online social platformer Little Big Planet and teasing glimpses of the oft-delayed community platform Home and a short trailer for Massive Action Game (MAG), which promises up to 256 online players, suggests Sony may finally have its house in order.

This convention might have shrunk, but it is still the best place to catch a glimpse of titles that in some cases will not see the light of day for years. In this instance size really does not matter.

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