Nintendo has already announced its plans to reveal the successor to the hugely successful Wii home console at E3 2011, with pre-show excitement levels about Wii 2 tech and games amongst the company's hardcore fanbase immediately putting its rivals at Microsoft and Sony on the back foot, long before the major three press conferences have even begun.
We have already considered the many pre-E3 rumours, speculation and confirmed info from Microsoft and Sony, with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation companies both set to run their pre-E3 press conferences on Monday 6 June.
Breaking with E3 tradition, which usually sees Nintendo's E3 conference sandwiched between Microsoft on the Monday morning (LA time) and Sony on the Tuesday lunchtime, at E3 2011 Nintendo's E3 conference is the final of the major showdowns from the big three console giants, taking place at LA's Nokia Theatre at 9am PST (5pm GMT) on Tuesday 7 June.
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"Nintendo is in an interesting place due to the rumours about a new console," is the personal opinion of Nvidia's European PR manager, Ben Berraondo. "They've always been innovative so there's a lot of expectation. I think they'll have more than simply an HD Wii. All of their biggest franchises have been a bit quiet of late so in addition to Zelda on the 3DS we may see a new Mario or Metroid."
New Nintendo hardware and iconic system-sellers
As for the key elements of Nintendo's new console - codenamed Project Café (with Nintendo Stream rumoured to be the final name) online rumour and speculation to date all points towards a powerful, high-definition machine to allow the Kyoto-based Mario factory to finally compete with the graphics and processing grunt of the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Nintendo has already sold 86 million Wiis since its launch in November 2006, though sales were down considerably (around 25 per cent) in 2010, which is a clear pointer that it is time for the company to progress to the next stage in the home console tech race.
Wii clearly succeeded in Nintendo's stated objective of opening up the gaming market to new demographics outside of the teen-to-thirties male hardcore gaming crowd. But can the company successfully disrupt the market yet again?
After all, Nintendo faces a whole host of new commercial challenges in 2011 - with new and improved Kinect and PS3 Move experiences on the way from Microsoft and Sony, alongside a multitude of new smartphone-and-tablet gaming and cloud/web-based casual and hardcore gaming experiences on offer.
"In terms of what we're going to see from Nintendo at E3, we know for certain that the Wii's successor will be unveiled and will be playable - but beyond that, it's very much a case of 'wait and see'," says NGamer magazine editor Charlotte Martyn. Nintendo are masters of keeping things under wraps."
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Martyn also reminds us that "the internet is fixated on the idea of a controller with a built-in touch screen, almost akin to a self-contained handheld console in itself [and] given Nintendo's track record of innovation - with Wii, DS and 3DS - it wouldn't be a total surprise if these rumours turned out to be true."
In addition to these reports of what is a rather unique-sounding gamepad with a 6.2-inch touchscreen, dual analogue sticks and a built-in camera, if the rumours that the Wii 2 is set to be powered by a three-core IBM Power PC chip with an ATI R700 GPU for fully high def 1080p/3D visuals and be fully backwards-compatible with Wii 1.0 games and feature improved 3DS syncing-and-compatibility features and the promise of far-better online gaming capabilities, then it is not hard to see why Nintendo may well steal the show at E3 2011.
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