Technically E3 doesn’t officially open until tomorrow, but in much the same way that Christmas starts well ahead of December the flood of announcements from video game companies is already well under way.
One of the first announcements from Sony is the long expected price drop of the PS2 to $149:
Hirai then went on a lengthy breakdown of the PlayStation 2’s market history and demographics. Then he touched on a key issue—the price of the PlayStation 2. “Effective immediately, the PlayStation 2 will be $149,” he told a crowd in Los Angeles. Hirai also promised a widespread media campaign promoting the new price point. “The health of console market depends on us,” he said.
Also announced today was an impressive roster of games for the upcoming PSP including footage of the games in action:
Conference attendees were treated to a dizzying video montage of new versions of many classic PlayStation 2 titles which looked almost identical to their original versions. Clips of Gran Turismo, Ridge Racer, Wipeout, Dynasty Warriors, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Medievil, Ape Escape, Spider-Man, Metal Gear Solid, and a Capcom fighting game were shown in rapid succession—and to an enthusiastic response from the crowd.
After the lights came up, Electronic Arts’ Don Matrick took the stage to reveal his company’s first wave of titles for the PSP. Pledging to give the portable the “same degree of support as the PlayStation 2.” NBA Street, NFL Street, Need for Speed Underground, and a Tiger Woods PGA golf game will all be available when the PSP launches in America in early 2005. Matrick also showed off footage of all three titles from a PSP emulator on a PC.
Lastly it looks like whatever dispute between Microsoft and Electronic Arts that was holding up EA supporting Xbox Live in their games has been resolved:
EA has always been a great publisher for Xbox,Ӕ Microsoft Chief Xbox Officer Robbie Bach told the crowd. WeӒre strengthening our alliance by bringing EAs world-class games to Xbox Live,Ҕ said Chip Lange, VP of Marketing for EA Sports and Games Nation, who echoed Bach’s enthusiasm in a private interview with GameSpot. “We are supporting this system aggressively [by] putting our full might behind it,” he said.
Lange also outlined EA’s rapid timetable for bringing content to the Xbox Live format. In July, NCAA Football 2005 will be playable on Xbox Live, while the 800-pound gorilla of online sports games, Madden NFL 2005, will join the service in August. NBA Live 2005, FIFA Soccer 2005, NHL 2005, NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 will follow soon thereafter.
By the end of the year, 15 of EA’s online-enabled console titles will be playable on Xbox Live, and the selection will extend beyond EA’s sports franchises. Burnout 3 and TimeSplitters Future Perfect will also be Xbox Live-compatible, as will two even bigger franchises, Need for Speed Underground 2 and a new, previously unannounced, Xbox version of Battlefield: Modern Combat.
Those of you not into video games will have to bear with me over the next few days as I go into my annual E3 news frenzy.