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Big Announcements From E3

E3 2011 has come and gone. Last week, I went to L.A. to hear about exciting new announcements in the gaming world. You might have been following updates on our Wikia Gaming blog, but here’s a quick round-up of conference highlights in case you missed anything.

Nintendo’s next bold move

The Big N had many noteworthy things to discuss. At this year’s E3, Nintendo unveiled Wii U, a new hardware platform, and celebrated The Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary. While Nintendo paid fair tribute to the classic RPG series, it’s no surprise that the real star of the show was the impending successor to the Wii console. Building on the innovative Wii Remote, Wii U is a new tablet-like controller that combines features of a standard game controller (face buttons, directional pad, and analog sticks) with a touchscreen.

Nintendo Wii U Trailer (E3 2011)03:24

Nintendo Wii U Trailer (E3 2011)

It will be interesting to see if the Wii U is really a new way of interacting with games or if the novelty will eventually wear away. Nintendo must also prove that the Wii U can compete when it comes to things like graphics and online connectivity. Still, considering their success with the Wii, Nintendo could once again change the way we interact with our games.

Sony banks on the PlayStation Vita

At E3, Sony did its best to restore its standing with gamers in the aftermath of the PlayStation Network failure. Perhaps their most interesting announcement was the official name and price of their next-generation portable, the Vita. While Sony hasn’t made much of an impact in the handheld space (their PSP line was vastly outmatched by rival systems like the Nintendo DS and Apple’s iPhone/iPod), the Vita looks like a promising bit of technology and impressed a lot of E3 attendees.

PlayStation Vita - E3 2011 Announcement Video03:22

PlayStation Vita - E3 2011 Announcement Video

I noticed the handheld’s graphical prowess first and foremost, but the unit’s touchscreens, cameras, and suite of connectivity tools — 3G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth — also add to the system’s appeal. Of course, Sony has a reputation for bumbling product launches so it’s unlikely that skepticism will disappear, but its portfolio of high profile first-party franchises like Uncharted, Killzone, and God of War may help convince gamers to invest in the new console.

Kinect rules the Microsoft press conference

Unlike their rivals (Nintendo and Sony both concentrated on bringing new hardware to market), Microsoft chose to focus on an existing piece of technology. Besides reinforcing known brands like Call of Duty, Gears of War, and Halo, the company’s E3 presentation was almost exclusively centered on Kinect.

Microsoft showed off several new uses for the motion and voice controller, including a new update to the Xbox software that will allow gamers to control their console by speaking commands. Third party companies like Ubisoft and LucasArts were on hand to present Kinect integration in their upcoming titles as well.

Microsoft E3 Press Conference29:35

Microsoft E3 Press Conference

It’s clear that Microsoft is banking very heavily on Kinect technology, and that their third party partners are throwing in support. Of course, the line between useful feature and unnecessary gimmick is razor thin, so it will be important for the companies involved to ensure that Kinect adds to the overall gaming experience.

What did you think about E3?

While these three announcements generated tremendous buzz at E3, there were many other developments that deserve mentioning. You can check out the Wikia Gaming blog for more updates, but we also want to hear from you! What caught your interest? What are you most excited about? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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