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E3 Prediction Week: Day One

Every E3 certain things are inevitable – sweaty overweight dudes posing with booth babes blocking walkways, lines around the block for Nintendo's latest announcement, and more open bars than the Sundance Film Festival. Others are not so expected, like when Square Enix left the comforts of its Sony exclusivity deal and landed on the Xbox 360, a move that shocked and dismayed much of its passionate base. So what will be the shocking announcements and wince-inducing moments from E3 2010? Like that History Channel special that runs on repeat, Game Informer misappropriated the writings of Nostradamus, mistranslated the Mayan calendar, and hired a palm reader to piece together a week-long run of predictions.

For day one, we look at Microsoft-oriented announcements.

Microsoft Debuts App Store
Now that Natal is out of the bag, many of us are wondering what Microsoft will announce for news at E3 this year. Our money's on the software experts announcing an SDK for the Xbox 360 for console based applications, officially joining the app craze. Instant streaming from Netflix and the release of last year’s Facebook, Twitter, and Last FM apps may have just been a preview of a much larger ambition for the console. Microsoft has shown time and time again that it has a great interest in growing the Xbox 360’s multimedia capabilities to bring non-gamers into the fold. Likely app candidates include Hulu, Pandora, ESPN, and YouTube.

Xbox Live Anywhere Resurfaces
Microsoft is a trailing in a distant fourth place in the mobile phone operating system race, and the company needs a jolt of positive news to generate some buzz about Windows 7 Mobile. Live Anywhere, which debuted in 2006 before retreating back into seclusion, could be the catalyst. Allowing Xbox Live Gold account members to play compatible Xbox Live Arcade games right from their phone won't win consumers over alone, but it would be a great first step toward turning their gaze away from Android and Apple and back to Microsoft.

Rare Brings Back Killer Instinct
Rare has teased gamers about a reboot of its 1994 fighting game for years, but this E3 might give fans a reason to start memorizing Fulgore’s moves all over again. The company just redesigned its logo in honor of its 25th anniversary, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see similarly retooled versions of its older games. The rights may be complicated to sort out, but the XBLA re-release of Perfect Dark demonstrated that anything’s possible.

Slim 360 Bundled With Natal
We've been living with the rumors of an Xbox 360 Slim for so long now that we'd be surprised if it wasn't true. Industry analyst Michael Pachter has dropped perhaps the biggest prediction by saying that the 360 Slim (with a 250GB hard drive, no less) will be bundled with Natal for $299 – the current price of a 120GB Elite bundle. Given that Natal will likely be over $100 itself, it seems far-fetched to believe that Microsoft would give consumers a Slim 360 AND a 250GB hard drive AND a Natal for that price. There will certainly be Natal bundles and perhaps a price drop or two for the various 360 SKUs, but let's not pray for the moon.

Farmville Comes To Console
Say what you will about Microsoft and Sony, but those companies take notice when a game starts making millions of dollars. Considering how many acres of cash Farmville has generated lately, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Zynga start planting seeds on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Games like N+, Diner Dash, and Trials HD all started out as PC titles before they became available on Xbox Live and PSN, so would it really be that surprising to see Farmville make that jump? Microsoft seems to be more on the ball with this kind of stuff, so we're predicting that we’ll see Farmville on the Xbox 360 first.

Soccer Goalkeeping Game Coming To Natal
Nintendo pack-in Wii Sports is the template game for introducing motion control to the masses. We expect Natal to similarly use a similar collection of minigames based on sports, like soccer and bowling, to show what the peripheral can do and provide an easy-to-play entry point for casual gamers. A goalkeeping game uses the same principle design as the dodgeball demo Natal debuted with onstage at last year's E3, but it could allow more range of movement. With the World Cup in full swing the week of E3, it's also timely.

Kojima Demos Metal Gear Rising For 15 Minutes With No Gameplay
Metal Gear Solid games have always received star treatment at E3, usually in the form of extremely lengthy trailers. Hideo Kojima's presentations normally feature Hollywood-caliber production values that excite fans, but there's no debating that they're usually light in terms of gameplay. With little known about Metal Gear Rising, fans are clamoring for any morsels of information they can get. Considering it's a new (and apparently Raiden-centric) direction for the series, many are wondering just what the gameplay will entail. Will it continue the Tactical Espionage Action that's synonymous with the Metal Gear name? Or will Raiden's newfound badassery lend itself to a more action-oriented title? Fans want to know, but don't be surprised when Kojima serves up a dialogue-heavy presentation that answers few questions.

GlaDOS Takes Over Microsoft Press Event
To our dismay, Valve recently canceled their much-anticipated Portal 2 press event. As compensation, we are promised a surprise. No details about said surprise were divulged, other than that “the time, date and content of the actual surprise will only become available as you experience the surprise.” Our thoughts? GlaDOS is most definitely behind the disaster, and we expect her to make an appearance during the Microsoft press event to wreak further havoc. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell has experience dealing with GlaDOS in this capacity, as she hijacked his Pioneer Award acceptance speech during the 2010 Game Developer Choice Awards. Let’s try the stunt again, Valve. This time bigger and better. What would be an even more exciting bombshell? If GlaDOS commandeered the Sony press conference instead.

Gaming Websites Get More Traffic For Booth Babe Pics Than Game Announcements
Congratulations, everybody. Gamers look like a classy and sophisticated bunch every year when booth babe photo galleries get more page views than game announcements during E3. My god, there are models in LA who are happy to dress in revealing game-related costumes for a couple hundred bucks a day?! We hate to break it to you, but every time you click one of those pics, you give social critics and game publishers another reason to treat us gamers as randy 14-year-olds. Yeah, yeah, we know that some of you are randy 14-year-olds, and you're forgiven. For now.

Also check out:

E3 Prediction Week: Day Two

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