Will E3 2012 be the year of the Wii U? From a hardware perspective, most signs seem to be pointing to "yes." The console formerly known as Project Cafe had its official unveil this time last year, in prototypical form. Nintendo has trotted it out a few times in the ensuing year -- including CES back in January, but the company has yet to give a full picture of the console it seems to hope will help it recapture the non-casual market it somewhat alienated with the family-friendly original Wii.
Late last year, the gaming giant's president, Satoru Iwata, promised a more complete picture of the console and its tablet-esque controllers at E3 2012. Also, the next-gen PlayStation and Xbox still seem a ways off -- all of this, coupled with a loss of steam behind the Wii and a general feeling of disappointment surrounding the 3DS mean that Nintendo's really got to deliver the goods this time out. And certainly the company's doing all within its power to make sure word gets out -- including an early bird press conference.
Odds seem pretty good that Microsoft will be the least buzzy of the big three press conferences this year. There's not likely to be a heck of a lot in the way of hardware coming out of Redmond. Xbox multimedia may take center stage, courtesy of products like the Spotify-esque Woodstock music streaming service. We may also see some face time devoted to Windows 8 / WP8 and their gaming potential. Also on the list of Microsofty rumors is Smart Glass, an AirPlay-like media streaming app for the Xbox 360.
Again, likely no major new hardware on this end, but the company is expected by some to give a jolt to flagging Vita sales with a significant -- and permanent -- price cut. On the PC side of things, we've already seen a preview of the cool SOEmote, which brings some excitement over the MMORPG world, by delivering things like facial recognition to EverQuest II.
Unreal Engine 4
Epic Games has been promising some big things from its latest gaming engine -- and after countless years in development, expectations are extremely high. The gaming technology got a brief demo running on an Nvidia Kepler GTX 680 card for a small and fairly impressed crowd back at GDC. Expect to see some more of that glorious action -- and, if Epic gets its way, some console-based hardware improvements to match down the road.
No one loves a good sequel more than the gaming industry -- and surely this year won't disappointed on that front. Titles like Halo 4, God of War Ascension, Far Cry 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 will all likely be given their time to shine at the show, leading what will surely be a long list of franchise-bolstering titles.
Mobile / Casual Gaming
Yep. Expect this creeping to continue, try as the Nintendos of the world might to keep the focus on the console, major industry dollars have shifted into the phone-based casual gaming market, and as such, we only expect the space's influence on the show to continue.