It’s up to Nintendo to save E3

If you’d asked me back in December, I’d have told you that E3 2012 had the potential to be the biggest in show history. Not only were rumors pointing towards both the PS3 and 360 successors getting their much-anticipated debuts, but Nintendo were to finally shed more light on the Wii U, while this looked to finally be the year that Valve lifted the lid on Half-Life 3.

Turns out most of that won’t actually happen.

Unless they’re pulling a Jaffe; both Microsoft and Sony have stated that their next home consoles won’t be revealed at this year’s show, while Valve has confirmed it will make no announcements. Who’s left to save E3, then? Well, the same guys as last year – Nintendo.

Don’t get me wrong; the other two are bound to impress; all Microsoft need do is show me Halo 4 and Sony supply the games on Vita and I’ll be happy, but Nintendo is the only one who can change the face of the industry this E3.

How, then? The company has promised to deliver the goods on its next system this year with a full re-reveal. That should mean more specific demonstrations on its unique features, a release window, price, and, of course, games.

Software was sorely lacking from the big N’s 2011 presser. Confusion over just what the system was added to a frustrating first showing, but it was undoubtedly the absence of games that made the show disappointing. What good is showing off all of that expensive new tech if you haven’t got the titles to justify it?

This year the company has to deliver on the promise of restored third party support; bringing the likes of EA into the mix along with (the already on-board) Ubisoft and other big players. We don’t want year-old games like Arkham City to be the highlight, rather the debut of exciting new sequels like Dead Space 3 which have the potential to see their best incarnation on Wii U. Imagine bringing that IP’s ground-breaking HUD to a whole new level using the tablet screen.

In recent weeks we’ve heard whispers that the system may well support digital downloads alongside retail releases. This would be a game-changer; I’m already buying everything digitally on my Vita, and I want the boxed product to be out of the way ASAP. Who’d have thought that it could really be Nintendo to speed this along? A day-and-date digital release for every game on the system would pretty much ensure that I buy one and maybe even make the majority of my multiplatform purchases on Wii U.

I’m not meaning to scribe yet another article on what the Wii U needs to do, though; simply describing how they’re my one hope for an exciting E3 this year.

It’s definitely telling that both Microsoft and Sony have confirmed no-shows for their next consoles, though. Sony seems eager to beat its main rival to market with the next system; so why is its reveal skipping the industry’s biggest show? Perhaps this signifies just how important Gamescom has become to the company, or that it would feel safer doing the initial rounds on home turf at TGS. Microsoft, though? If that system really isn’t appearing next month then I doubt it’ll even be mentioned until the 2013 press conference. And, given that rumors of an E3 2012 reveal began just a week after last year’s show, that’s pretty surprising.

Of course, it could be a memorable convention for plenty of other reasons. This late into the console cycle and virtually every publisher is putting out killer games. New IP is bound to be scarce while publishers don’t want to start a new franchise on old systems, but there are plenty of exciting sequels to make up for that. I’ve already made my hopes for Dead Space 3 obvious, but if Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is announced then I will run up and down the streets preaching the lord’s good graces to all.

And, even without the true next-generation of consoles being revealed, what’s to stop publishers that are keen to get the ball rolling from showing some target footage of their next-gen projects? Ubisoft has been calling for new consoles for the better half of a year, and Epic only just released images of the next incarnation of its Unreal Engine, which will surely lay on the pressure.

But, ultimately, it’s Nintendo’s show to lose. Right now the Wii U has the potential to tick all of the boxes for fans to lay down early orders. Get it right and last year’s scepticism will go out the window, get it wrong and those murmurs of ‘the new Dreamcast’ may long continue. The company has been given the world as its audience, let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint.