Every E3 there's the pre-show windup, riddled with gossip and hyperbole, and every year that windup gets longer.
Which ones make sense (or don't)? Which are just pranks? Viral rumors? Intentional misdirecting from public relations agents designed to lead tens of thousands of prying eyes astray?
Like everyone else, we can only promise half-guesses in our list below, but then what's the point of E3 without a monkey-barrel's worth of surprises?
Rumor: The Nintendo 3DS is 'Close To' a Portable PS3 or Xbox 360
Did I say 'half-guesses'? This one's no guess, it's patently false (however much we wish it were otherwise). Someone turned game site IGN's ear claiming as much and IGN listened, triggering an avalanche of speculative stories about the possibilities...or lack thereof (toward the latter, guilty as charged).
Why so dismissive? Common sense: Thermal dissipation and battery life. Even at a handheld's lower screen resolution, putting PS3 or Xbox 360 caliber power in handheld-sized housing is just pipe dreaming...unless you're game for maybe a half-hour of battery life, or think a Nintendo Oven Mitt accessory sounds like fun.
Expect the 3DS--which will unquestionably debut at E3--to be more powerful, sure, because it'll have to be to handle 3D output, just nothing like the PS3's monster Cell processor, or the Xbox 360's powerful Xenon triple-core. And besides, notwithstanding the Nintendo 64, when was Nintendo about bleeding-edge visuals anyway?
Rumor: Sony Introduces the PSP2
Sources now say Sony won't reveal its handheld sequel to the PSP at E3, but they do claim the device is [bleep]ing powerful. Last year the company introduced its micro-sized PSPgo, which thanks to its unjustifiably high price point ($250) and UMD-incompatibility, hasn't fared as well as Sony hoped.
Sony's PSP2 reportedly has a touchscreen, two cameras (one front, one back), still no UMD drive, and a 3G wireless option. What about the long-hoped-for (if rarely rumored) second analog thumb-nub? Still a no-go, per the most recent tittle-tattle.
In any event, with Nintendo's 3DS all but guaranteed to put in an appearance at E3, Sony announcing a faster, cheaper version of the PSP soon--even if they delay until after the show--seems increasingly likely.
Rumor: Microsoft Unveils an Xbox 360 'Slim'
Face it, the Xbox 360 looks like an old early-2000-style Dell Optiplex, not a game console. And like those not-so-ultra-slim desktops of yore, it's time for Microsoft's Xbox 360 to lose a little weight. (That, and some disc-drive decibel levels: The muted buzz-saw sound it makes still drives my wife out of the room each time I play a game straight from disc.)
The rumor mill cooked up this story ("Is This an Xbox 360 'Slim' Motherboard?") back in March, when a Chinese site "leaked" a snap of an alleged micro-ATX-sized Xbox 360 motherboard. Microsoft declined to comment.
True or false? I say likely. Microsoft could bundle a diet-sized Xbox 360 with its motion-control add-on, Project Natal (or whatever they opt to officially rebrand it at the show). It'd be cheaper to produce, friendlier to home entertainment centers, and, if the gods favor us, quieter too.
(And no, in case you're wondering, that's not an Xbox 360 'slim' mockup in the picture, it's just the bygone Xbox 360 HD-DVD player.)