Big 3 Console Makers Unveil Future Plans At E3

Dennis Faas's picture

The video games industry has been holding its major trade show, E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) this week. We've been reporting in-depth on some of the newsworthy events, but here's a summary of the biggest announcements from the big three major console manufacturers, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.

Microsoft is revamping the user interface of its Xbox 360, specifically the way they interact with other players around the world. There'll be a customisable avatar of the type seen in virtual world games such as Second Life.

The firm is also ditching its 20GB hard drive for a 60GB version. They'll still need the original disk in the console (to avoid piracy), but the console will primarily access data from the hard drive, making load times up to 30% faster and significantly decreasing system noise. (Source:

Microsoft has also snatched the Final Fantasy series from Sony (formerly a PlayStation exlusive), and will soon allow Netflix subscribers to rent titles online and stream the video to their TV sets.

Nintendo concentrated on the games themselves rather than the hardware in announcing new features for its DS handheld and Wii console. Music seems to the main theme: Guitar Hero is getting a new DS edition titled 'On Tour -- Decades', while a Wii music game will let users 'play' more than 50 different instruments with their controllers. There will also be a Grand Theft Auto spin-off, Chinatown Wars, exclusive to the DS. (Source:

Sony's only hardware change is to phase out the 40GB PlayStation 3 in favour of an 80GB version. There's a new movie and TV download service, too; though the range is quite limited compared to rivals, users will be able to transfer titles to the PlayStation Portable (PSP) for on-the-go viewing. (Source:

Perhaps the most interesting comments came from CEO Jack Tretton, who said game consoles should have a 10-year life cycle. While that certainly appears true for the PlayStation 2 (which will get 130 new games this year, nine years after its initial release), it seems an ambitious claim for consoles given how fast technology develops.

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