The Electronic Entertainment Expo is the biggest show of its kind in the world, giving companies that develop and sell electronic equipment and games the opportunity to show their wares off in public. Not only does the world's press attend the event, but with the advent of the Internet, the hundreds of thousands of gamers around the world can catch up on the action as it happens, and discover the ins and outs of a previously inaccessible media event. Currently the ConsoleGamer staff budget doesn't stretch to overseas airfares, so our editorial team has remained firmly grounded here in the UK. But naturally, our enthusiasm for such events prohibited us from just sitting on our haunches during this exciting time, so we've scraped together all the information we could on what will be on offer and have set it into various categories for your perusal. You can find out who's demo'ing what at the event and check out our mammoth collection of links to event coverage elsewhere. So, if you can't be at the event like us, enjoy it anyway, and check back regularly for updates!
The XBox situation is slightly different to the other consoles in circulation. While the other console's have specific lineups, no-one's really sure what's going to happen about Microsoft's new baby. Their recent website update sheds a bit more light on proceedings, but not much. In truth, no-one can predict their showing at the event. News as we get it.Sony's Lineup:-
Sony have used E3 as a proverbial pedestal to announce the Playstation 2's domestic release details in both Europe and North America. According to Sony officials, the console will retail for $299 in the States (a figure of £299 was bouncing around the English press, but no confirmation was given) and be available on October 26th, 2000 worldwide. The console will include a Dual Shock 2 controller, an AV Multicable and the AC power cable. Unlike the Japanese release, the console will not include a memory card or utilities disk. Instead, the DVD playback software is entirely built into the console this time - and any patches will be available as firmware updates. Nobody posed the question of multi-regional capabilities, but Sony will have learnt valuable lessons from the bodged DVD software release in Japan. The American/European unit will also include a drive bay extension at the rear, with space for a 3.5" Disk Drive and Network adapter - these will be available separately sometime after launch. Additional Dual Shock 2 controllers, 8Mb Memory cards and Multitaps will be available at $35 or so each. According to Sony, nearly 50 titles will be available on release - at about $50 each. The large variety of games will include Ridge Racer V, Tekken Tag Tournament and many others. The Run-down:- Release Date - 26th October, 2000 Price - $299 (~£299 in Europe) Including - Dual Shock 2 controller, AV Multicable, AC power cable Extra Features - Built-in DVD playback, expansion port for 3.5" Floppy Drive and Network adapter Peripherals - Dual Shock 2, 8Mb Memory cards, Multitaps - ~$35 each Games Available - Around 50, each priced at ~$50
Blowing The Sony Trumpet
After the announcement, SCEA President Kazuo Harai spoke up about potential sales and figures for the USA. While very speculative, the sales figures in Japan do go some way to backing up his estimates. According to Mr. Harai, Sony will sell over 10 million units by the end of 2000 at least. That's approximately 150,000 units per day for the 67 day period between release and the New Year! Not including bank holidays, Sundays and holiday periods, it's still optimistic. EA Sports representatives were on hand to blind the audience with sales figures and marketing drivel, before announcing Madden 2000 and various other titles. Sony are very enthusiastic about the console and understandably optmistic about sales potential in the USA. While potential European figures were not openly discussed, it's widely understood that Sony feel pleased with the Playstation's reputation as a lad's gaming platform over here, and that the PS2 will do well to continue this. In order to help hype up the console prior to release, Sony will embark upon a marketing campaign (details as-yet undisclosed) to help readdress the balance and repair any misinterpretations of the console the UK press may have built. They will also review their advertising for the PSX, reprice it and re-release it as a "kid's console", with more user friendly titles to back it up. An interesting strategy indeed...
Four Packages and a PSX Funeral
In a move that's looks more like cold vengeance than a marketing move, Sega and the guys behind bleem!, the Playstation emulator are working on bleemcast!, a new incarnation of the controversial software for the Dreamcast. According to an announcement yesterday, four "bleempaks" will be released, each sporting 100% compatability with 100 different PSX games. No more worrying about problems and graphical glitches now, then. Each pak is scheduled to retail at ~$20 and will apparently be released on June 15th of this year in the States. The bleem! team is selecting each of the games for the different paks selectively. PlayStation games that are compatible are to be divided by genre and rated based on quality and sales figures. Then the top 400 are going to being divided amongst the four paks, maintaining a large variety of genres and qualities for each pak. Each pak may be based on slightly different emulation code, meaning that games that work better with one version of bleem! will appear on that pak. One of the biggest advantages to this system is that when you buy a bleempak!, you know exactly which games work and which don't. You boot up your Dreamcast using the bleem! disc, then insert the appropriate PSX game disc and play away to your heart's content. It's an efficient system and there's no need to worry about whether your games are compatible - the pak will clearly show which games work and if the game's on the list, it will! One disadvantage of this system is that Playstation controllers are very different to Dreamcast ones, and users are obviously complaining the DC ones aren't up to the task. Two other products, to be rolled out in the 4th quarter, should sort this out. bleempad! will be a Dreamcast-compatible pad with full Playstation layout to work with bleemcast! bleempod! will be used as an adapter to plug your PSX pads into the Dreamcast. Only a few pads will be supported though, and bleem/Sega will be treading on thin ice with the big men at Sony, who may not appreciate such blatant profiteering.
And now for the Depressing Truth
The four bleempaks! mentioned above will be released in the States. Not the UK. Not yet, anyway. So should we twiddle our thumbs for a few months? Possibly not... because two other Stateside releases may come to our aid. Two bleempaks! will be released later on, with support for Japanese NTSC games... and European PAL titles! So hopefully, the second of these paks will be available for import and allow us all to play our games. Don't count on it though, yet. Each Import pak will support 100 games from each territory. In the end, this is a very interesting development. Obviously those of you in the US will benefit the most from it, but hopefully us Europeans will be able to import them cheaply and use them fully. Let's hope this turns out for the good. Here're all the details again... The Run-down:- Products - 4 bleemcast! bleempaks ($20 each), bleempad! ($TBA) and bleempod! ($TBA) Compatibility - 100 games totally supported by each Release Date - 15th June, 2000
Onlookers at E3 were yesterday thrilled to bits by the Dreamcast version of Quake III, available for play with... a keyboard and mouse! That's right, while by no means the final units, sitting next to the Dreamcast were an official Dreamcast keyboard and mouse, and the game supported them. It looks pretty much the same as the PC version and plays identically, too. According to officials on-hand, the PC and DC versions will be able to face off against one another too! There was no way to network the games using the Dreamcast at the event, but there will be, fairly obviously. Bystanders could jump on Internet servers using the machine's built-in modem! Obviously over here we'd rather play networked, since we only have pitiful 33.6Kbps modems in our machines, and Stateside there are 56Kbps ones. Nonetheless, it's great to hear that the game's in such an advanced state by comparison.
While 600Mhz may have sounded good to those of you preparing to purchase Microsoft's console venture, 733Mhz would be preferable, right? Well, MS have officially changed the specifications of the 'Box to that effect! No word was given on whether the RAM and hard-drive increase rumours are true, though. Let's hope they are! Tecmo representatives let slip that the company may be producing an improved version of the saucy Dead or Alive 2 for the "Playstation 2 or XBox," too. The only thing preventing an official announcement is a forthcoming meeting with Microsoft, happening in a couple of week's time. Hopefully we'll be able to bring you official details on this soon!