E3 summary

E3 kicked off today in California and will run until July 13. Unlike previous years, this year’s event is by invitation-only (up to 4,000 attendees). But plenty of news has already come out and here are the highlights.

While many expected Microsoft to announce a price but on the Xbox 360, that did not come to be. But they did unveil a Halo-themed Xbox 360 (to be released in September 2007). The specs are the same as the Xbox 360 (with 20GB hard drive) but it does feature an exclusive “Spartan green and gold” finish with matching controller and some downloadable exclusive content (pictures and a theme). Oddly enough, the Halo 3 game is not bundled with it! They also announced new accessories including a new controller and a Messenger Kit which connects to the Xbox 360 controller and provides thumb-stroke chat capabilities while maintaining gameplay functionality.

Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 Elite will head to Europe later this summer (Pricing was not announced). Japan will only see the Elite in October.

Microsoft also announced that it will offer Disney movies on the Xbox 360 Live Marketplace. And they have done iTunes one better by offering HD versions. The Xbox Live Video Marketplace is also coming to Europe and Canada by the end of this year.

No price cuts are in the cards over at Nintendo (why would they when they can barely fulfill demand now?) but new accessories including the Wii Zapper for shooting games and a pressure-sensitive Wii Balance Board (this name could change before the product release) that users will be able to use for fun aerobics are on their way.

Sony announced a new lighter and thinner PSP. It still comes with UMD and a 4.3-inch display but will apparently load games faster. It adds a video-out port that will let you output video (to your television for example). It will be available in Piano Black, Ceramic White, and Ice Silver as well as some limited edition colours.

Oh yeah, one more thing: Plenty of new games were announced and previewed.