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    The E3 Crystal Ball by shiva

    Ah, after spending all morning working on Homeworld Nation, getting 4 hours worth of sleep, watching my less than 2 year old kid pigging out on chocolate, and here I am. Doing a rant and rave for a change. I can do that. After all, if you ask any of the big StarCraft sites, they would tell you I'm real good at ranting and raving. (But I do it with class though)

    Hmm, who's gonna be the first victim of the evening... Ah, lets pick on Nintendo, shall we? As you know, I have been doing a Top Story on the E3 expo. This is the big show for all the retailers in the industry, and a good or bad showing could make or break a manufactors year. With the world press well represented, and thousands of retailers and industry professionals to attend, if you have a important product to promote, this is the place to do it. Sega will be hawking their, and promoting their Dreamcast rebates, and Sony will of course have the PlayStation 2 all over the place. Even the Evil Empire, Micro$oft, will rush out a beta unit of X-Box for everyone to admire. And Nintendo? Despite the fact that the Video Game industry is the largest entertainment field in the world, and the industry does BILLIONS of dollars every year, and we are at the most important retailer's show of the year, Nintendo has decided not to show the Dolphin or the Game Boy Advance. (Though there will be a lot of Pokemon) Instead, Nintendo will show their latest units at the Tokyo Space show in Japan instead, because after all, IT'S JAPAN, and because the show is SO much more popular compared to the E3. After all, when E3 comes out, it's reported on just about every website, magazine and TV show, while the Nintendo Space show is reported by every... err... hmm...

    I guess that even though the world wide market outside of Japan is larger than the Japanese market, Nintendo is Nintendo. The funny thing is if your the number 2 game manufacturer, and looking at becoming the number 3 manufacturer real fast, you would think that at least you would do something about it rather than let your biggest competitors get more free publicity on every single game news medium, while you just sit there and say, "Just you wait, we have something better." Come to think of it, that's exactly what Nintendo has been doing since they released that the NES. Nintendo though has seemed to have forgotten that they no longer control 90 percent of the market. Remember the Virtual GameBoy? And yes, we have been waiting for that "something better", and no, we haven't seen it yet.

    Anyway, time to go out on a limb on E3 here. Since I had already done some predictions on the Relic and Blizzard games in the E3 preview, lets do some quick ones for consoles:

    Sega will get the smell of desperation real early in the show, and announce that the Dreamcast will be dropping in retail price real soon. They only have grabbed about 11 percent of the total U.S. market, and you can hear the whispers of "Saturn", and "32X" already floating around. Lets see what's a good number... how about $149 by August, and $99 by the end of the year? Oh, I forgot, they are gonna be a "online company" now. Expect something big about, as the entire company seems to be riding on how successful is.

    Nintendo will have lots of Pokemon products, and will try to hawk various games to try and deflect Sony and Micro$oft. Won't work this time. The only advantage that the Nintendo booth will have this year, is that it's a nice quiet place to catch up on some sleep during the show.

    Microsoft will debut the X-Box, make all the right noises, and then screw it up by insisting on "Corporate improvements". Come on, it's Micro$oft! Look at Windows, and it's "corporate improvements". Funny how a game unit that didn't exist till a couple of months ago, or even have official specifications, suddenly will have a major debut at E3. It should look real impressive as well, in it's little sealed glass case on a table, running games only a P600 can run. Of course, I wouldn't look to closely, or check under the tablecloth on the table where the unit is. It could be pretty disappointing if there's a tower hidden underneath actually running the show.

    Sony will just sit back, and say... "show me the money". They don't even have to do anything. Sure they may be a little upset that someone found out about the modem and the hard drive, but they may not even announce it just for spite. The PS2 price? With the cheapest DVD around 250-300 US, I can't see the PS2 at $300. $350 is a good number, but since it's the hottest unit at the moment, it will be more than likely around the $400 level. It's not as if they have any real competition at the moment, and X-Box and the Dolphin won't be released till late next year in the U.S.

    It doesn't look like there's anything to earth shattering on the software side, just a lot of sequels, and quite a few computer game ports to the various systems. Microsoft will undoubtedly announce some major games ported over to the X-Box, but I wouldn't get to excited, as by the time the X-Box is released, these games will be over 2 years old by then. Be a whole bunch of decent games for the PlayStation 2, and even quite a few for the Dreamcast, as developers who are dumping the system still have to develop the existing games to get some money back.. Should be a good year.

    Everyone is of course waiting for the PlayStation 2, and developers are flocking to it like wolves after a sheep dinner, but I wonder about something. It's a hefty price to ask the consumer to pay for the unit. Sony is expecting ten's of millions of sales, but just how many people have that kind of money to spend on a game unit? If I was a developer, I wouldn't be sticking a fork into the Dreamcast to see if it's done yet, it's a real good unit, and if Sega lowers the price, it might be a lot stronger in sales than people will realize. After all, the Nintendo 64 was the number one selling game system in March, and who would have predicted that?

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    Zalman: ZM-DS4F Headphones

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