E3 2012: Five things to look for

It may be hard to believe it’s already June, but this is the month for video game manufacturers. The Electronics Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, is coming up June 5 and is the game industry’s event of the year. Here are five things to look for as a prelude to the big day:

Nintendo’s big push: Nintendo needs to wow at E3, in a big way. The company is offering more details on the Wii U, its newest console and much-needed update for the Wii. The Wii U has a tablet controller, which is supposed to act as a second screen for the device.

With sales of the 3DS in the fair-to-middling range and smartphone gaming eating up the handheld market, Nintendo’s Wii U will have to be one heck of a device to put Nintendo back in the black. The Wii U will also have to fight back against the perception that it’s not for serious gamers. The Wii had few titles that would have made it onto a hard-core gamer’s wish list, but the Wii U is supposed to have a string of ported titles in addition to its original Nintendo fare.

Console innovation: In addition to the Wii U, there will probably also be some other big announcements that affect the console. Even though they aren’t providing hardware updates (well, not that we know of), Microsoft and Sony will most likely be announcing some value-adds for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Microsoft has been seriously ramping up its content partnerships for Xbox Live, adding services such as Amazon Instant Video, apps for HBO GO and others.

Sony, meanwhile, has been making a company-wide push for more integration across its many services, so expect to see more interplay between the PlayStation and the Vita. We’ll also see if there’s truth to the rumors that Sony is planning to purchase a cloud-gaming company, as MCV reported Wednesday.

New chapters for established franchises: Which is my nice way of saying: So. Many. Sequels. Sequels are fun, and it’s nice to revisit some of the worlds established in past, hit games. At this year’s show, to name a few, we’ll have “Borderlands 2,” “God of War: Ascension,” “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” and “Assassin’s Creed III.”

Oh, and a little game called “Halo 4.” You may have heard of it.

That said, with AAA titles focusing mostly on ground we’ve already trod, it should be fun to see what original concepts come out of smaller studios, as well.

PC games: Did you hear? PC gaming is making a comeback. With digital distribution on the rise, and new massively multiplayer games such as BioWare’s “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” the upcoming “Elder Scrolls Online” or PC titles like “Diablo III,” it’s clear that consoles aren’t the whole story when it comes to this year’s biggest titles. It will be fun to see how this trend plays out at the show this year.

Conspicuous absences: There will be some conspicuous absences from the show this year, so consider this item more of a “what not to look for.” “Bioshock Infinite” will not be featured at E3, since the game’s release date has been pushed back to February 2013. Valve is also not expecting to produce any announcements for this year’s show. And another big sequel, “Grand Theft Auto V,” is also not expected to have a big showing, according to a report from Computer and Video Games.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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