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E3: More leaks than surprises?

We're just a couple of hours away from the first proper volley of shots from the E3 Expo big guns - Microsoft's press briefing is set to take place in LA at 10am local time, 6pm UK time.

Unfortunately, while the firm has apparently gone to a great deal of effort to keep the show floor super watertight, it looks like a leaked advert might have rumbled one of the key big reveals. It's not clear at this point if the much-rumoured slimline Xbox 360 is genuine, but sources continue to affirm that it is. Either way, we've not got long to wait.

But while this year's E3 spells frustration for Microsoft, last year it was Sony left red-faced after an internal error led to pretty much all the details on the PSPgo becoming public knowledge a few days before the press conference. And that wasn't the first time, either.

So why is it that it seems so hard to keep secrets in the games business? Generally-speaking, the best-kept secrets in videogames seem to live at either Blizzard or Rockstar, with both companies generally able to keep announcements secret - whether for love or fear is a different discussion.

But does it matter? Actually, these days, it does.

Rewind to 2006 and the legions of fanboys at each of the big three press conferences ensured rapturous applause with every announcement, big or small - and particularly-well cheered was almost every word from Nintendo.

However, after the big cull, those left able to attend the Expo in the subsequent couple of years were far more restrained - one might even say cynical - made up mostly of analysts, top-level retailers and the main games journalists from around the world (the latter of which were mostly too busy live-blogging to actually cheer anything).

Since then the atmosphere in most conferences has been flat by comparison - the notable exception probably last year's Microsoft event, with the Natal unveiling and real-life Beatles on display.

So will this year's editions cause a stir? We'll find out soon - but let's hope Microsoft has enough software secrets in reserve to fire up the emotions. Unfortunately an(other) admin error means that journalists from several territories (including the UK and Germany) won't even be able to get into the room...

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