Before E3 2009 began, CNET's trio of gaming experts--Dan Ackerman, Jeff Bakalar, and Scott Stein--offered their predictions on what they expected to be the show's big news stories. Now that the show's history, it's time to put their predictive punditry to the test. Who came out on top?
I'm awarding 2 points for predictions that were dead-on, 1 point for ones that were partially correct, and zilch for ones that were totally off-base. Two things to keep in mind: I'm subjectively determining the criteria for each, and this is all based on my off-site impressions--I did not attend the show.
Prediction: God of War III and Rock Band: Beatles will be the big mainstream games and public (and retail buyers) care about.
Score: 2. The Beatles version of Rock Band did seem to get a lot of mainstream press--helped, no doubt, by a joint appearance of Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney at Microsoft's press conference. And the amazingly gory God of War III demo was definitely one of the big highlights of Sony's presentation.
Prediction: Variable price points, which are easy to do on DLC, help gamemakers target recession-addled audiences.
Score: 0. While this may yet prove to be true, none of the game makers seemed to be highlighting lower prices for download-only versions.
Prediction: Booth babes return, but in a subtle, post-wretched-excess kind of way.
Score: 2. Googling "e3 2009 booth babes" seems to provide plenty of evidence for this one (Spike, IGN). Subtlety is in the eye of the beholder, but most of these outfits seemed dialed back from the earlier, more controversial ones of years past.
Prediction: New hardware/accessory pushes from Nintendo and Sony hope to boost flagging software sales.
Score: 2. Sony announced a new PSP and previewed a prototype motion controller, while Nintendo highlighted Motion Control Plus (again), an upgraded Wii Fit, and previewed the bizarre (to me, anyway) Vitality Sensor accessory.
Prediction: Chances of getting a decent Wi-Fi or 3G signal in a convention center full of game nerds -- slim to none.
Score: n/a. This one's a bit too "inside baseball," so I'm not even going to grade it.
Ackerman total: 6 points
Prediction: PS3 and/or 360 will introduce some sort of social networking functionality. Whether it be tie-ins with Facebook or Twitter, or something proprietary, there will be ways to update status, etc.
Score: 2. Direct hit: Facebook and Twitter are en route to the Xbox 360. (May God have mercy on our souls.)
Prediction: Sony will make Netflix on PS3 official.
Score: 0. Sorry, Jeff. You'll have to stick with Play On--at least for now.
Prediction: Nintendo will announce a new Mario game in development.
Score: 2. I'm tempted to award double or triple bonus points here: Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2 are en route to the Wii, while Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story for the DSi was showcased as well.
Prediction: A new Wii remote with Motion Plus built in will be available soon.
Score: 0. For now, Nintendo is sticking with the snap-on Motion Plus dongles. But I think Jeff's prediction will be proven correct in the long run.
Prediction: Microsoft will unveil a motion-based controller for use with specific Xbox Live Arcade games.
Score: 2. Project Natal looks to go beyond XBLA, but this prediction is worthy enough to receive full credit.
Bakalar total: 6 points
Prediction: DLC and downloadable games steal the show almost as much as disc-based games.
Score: 2. Microsoft showed off discless downloads for full Xbox 360 titles, and the PSP Go is download-only. And that's in addition to ample downloadable content (DLC) already available on all current home and portable platforms. No wonder GameStop's stock looks to be on a downward trajectory.
Prediction: Nintendo pimps the Wii Motion Plus hard, with a handful of games that get "updates."
Score: 1. Motion Plus was certainly highlighted, but there was no talk of existing games getting updated. (Again, though, given the spate of GameCube retreads that Nintendo is rereleasing with Wii-enhanced controls, it wouldn't surprise me if we see that Plus-enhanced games in the future.)
Prediction: The PSP Go will cost as much as a DSi, and not be quite as useful.
Score: 1. The PSP Go is considerably more expensive than the DSi ($249 versus $169), so I'm counting that as "costs at least as much." Not quite as useful? Given the PSP's ample nongaming feature list, I think that's a stretch.
Prediction: There will be more "free" games in a weak economy, in the style of SOE's surprise hit Free Realms.
Score: 1. Microsoft announced a free-to-play racing game Joy Ride (you can buy additional in-game enhancements). But we didn't see enough other such announcements to call this a trend.
Prediction: Halo 3: ODST will emerge as a better all-around game than anyone expected...and it will support an unfortunately huge number of DLC "extras."
Score: 0. I haven't seen a lot of hands-on feedback for this title, but there were no big DLC announcements to speak of. (Mark it zero, dude.)
Stein total: 5 points
Winner: Dan and Jeff tie, with Scott following closely behind.
So, what did you think of the grades above--did I get anything egregiously wrong? Which of your E3 predictions were right on--or dead wrong? What no-show rumor was the most disappointing? Let us know in the comments below.
Additional reading: E3 2009: CNET's complete coverage