The story settles

Faithful reader of The New Republic that I am, I know it’s always dangerous to give conventional wisdom too much credence. But here’s my story from Wednesday morning’s tbt on where Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo stood after the first days of E3. And here’s Chris Kohler’s story and the AP’s Matt Slagle from Wednesday afternoon.

Next Generation’s Jon Jordan has a different view here (scroll down to the 9 a.m. Wed entry), though he’s mostly just talking about “the actual information announced.” Which yes, Sony announced more details. But that’s not the point. Sony shouldn’t want people talking about the details that were announced — the high price — but the games and how fun the system will be to play. That’s what Nintendo did. Jennifer Tsao has a partly different view at 1up: that Microsoft had the best presentation. Or, more precisely, that the Wii stuff was overrated and Microsoft was the quiet winner. Either way, Sony stumbled and the others got a big boost.

Microsoft is doing fine. The Gears of War video looks great. I downloaded the demo of Lost Planet — Microsoft is smartly making E3 trailers and demos available on Xbox Live — and it looks almost as good (I’ll have more impressions when I get a little more time with it). Nintendo is setting itself up for something big, but now it has to make sure it actually delivers on all the talk and promies of easy, intuitive, fun gameplay. After testing out some games at E3, Joystiq has a very good assessment of where Wii seems to be at this point:

The overall story seems to be that Nintendo’s Wii controller (along with the expertly crafted and very intuitive nunchuka attachment) is all it claims to be, but software manufacturers still haven’t figured out how to get this wonderful hardware to control their games as easily as the gamepads of yore, and our skills have not yet progressed beyond a shaky noob. It might turn out that the controller is just too abstract for some actions, and too hard to hold and control for others (let’s hope FPS doesn’t fall into that category), but we’re going to reserve judgement until the software is more mature and we get a Wii in our living room for a few nights of practice.

If the Wii controller ends up being imprecise or the motion sensor that sits in front of the TV doesn’t pick up all the movements, then Nintendo will be sunk. But if they’ve put so much into this contraption, you have to think they’ll smooth everything out.

— May 11, 2006

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