Hanging hopes on motion control
A lot of the show floor buzz at the main conferences this year have centred on two aspects of the industry - social network games and motion control. But while one is undeniably changing the face of the industry as I write, the real impact of the other one is - arguably - already some years in the past.
A lot of people certainly see Microsoft Natal and PlayStation Move as possible saviours in helping to kickstart industry growth once again, but how much real difference could the two make?
I see a couple of problems that they'll have to get around, but principally, while it will be argued that Natal's 'hands-free' solution does differentiate it from the other platforms' technology, motion-based games are now nothing new - Nintendo's had that market to itself for a good long time, and one interpretation of its decline last year could be that mainstream consumers (and 'non-gamers') failed to transform into regular gamers once the novelty had worn off.
There are other analyses possible, of course - perhaps that with the emphasis always on first party products, as third party publishers throw their weight behind Natal and Move there will be genuine choice on offer to gamers looking for something new.
But the key fundamental that we need to consider, as we watch the unveilings and updates from all and sundry next week, is that even with two new platforms to play with, are there actually any genuinely new and innovative products that will provide a materially different experience from existing Wii titles - and therefore show the ability to capture the wider public's imagination once again?
A story we published today about the intentions of consumers to buy Natal or Move demonstrated low interest among existing gamers - and a point well made by Claire Blackshaw in the comments was the potential impact of marketing... that's something that Nintendo pulled off admirably.
But first mover advantage is gone, while companies the size of EA have already indicated their intention to cut TV ad spend - word of mouth buzz can make or break a product, but it's not an exact science. Without the buy-in of the existing core gamer market, it might not be so straightforward to build momentum - while Wii consoles are still selling in large numbers.
Naturally, post-E3 might present a different picture and there will inevitably be a period of time while developers learn to get the most out of both platforms - but it will definitely be interesting to watch how Microsoft and Sony attempt to tackle this one.