E3 2006, which starts May 10 in Los Angeles, is a major gaming conference and a venue for all sorts of announcements and related flackery. And just as in past years, vendors have planned pre-E3 publicity because they don’t want to be overshadowed by all the E3 publicity. It makes sense to them, of course.
In any case, Cubed3.com has the schedule for the three big console vendors including Microsoft:
The big three are once again going head to head before E3 even kicks off as their press conferences ahead of E3 are all confirmed. Nintendo will be holding its press conference at 9:30am PST on May 9, 2006 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California.
Sony will be holding its pre-E3 conference from 2:00 pm on May 8, 2006 at the Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, California.
Finally, Microsoft will host its event at 11:30am PST on May 9th, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Microsoft will be unveiling further plans for the XBOX 360, how they are going to attempt to do anything in Japan with the system and of course some of their biggest software exclusives will also be on show.
What’s the Xbox 360 buzz? Here’s a selection for your delectation – hit the link for more and a likelihood assessment:
Rumour: Microsoft is planning to slash the price of the Xbox 360 Premium Pack and Xbox 360 Core Pack by around 80 Euros (55).
Rumour: Microsoft is planning to cut the cost of a subscription to Xbox Live Gold, or make it totally free if you agree to receive advertisements on your dashboard. This is expected to happen in October.
Rumour: Rare has been working on Kameo 2 since before the first game was even launched. It will take better advantage of the Xbox 360′s power and will be fully Xbox Live.
Rumour: The external HD-DVD drive will be available in September, will connect to the console via USB 2.0, and will be priced at around 95 Euros (65).
Rumour: Microsoft has signed a partnership with US TV network NBC to broadcast Xbox Live games and tournaments on television as if they were spectator sports.
Somehow, I don’t think the latter is going to be a real crowd pleaser.
As far as Japan goes, Xbox 360 sales are just barely hanging on:
Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console sales are staying afloat in Japan, Media Create Co. reported on Friday.
The Xbox successor sold 1,926 units from Apr. 10 – 16. Last week the company sold around the same number of units.
In the first week of Apr., the Xbox 360 saw a brief sales boost on the release of the all-female wrestling game, Rumble Roses XX.
Quick, someone call NBC! Humor aside, the point is that 2,000 units a week is chicken feed for a major market which is why Microsoft has a new guy in charge of the Xbox 360 in Japan who is trying to turn it around.
Finally, outside the rumor category, Microsoft has signed a deal for a new Xbox 360 CPU:
The world’s fourth-largest contract chipmaker, Singapore-based Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, announced that it has signed an agreement with Microsoft for the manufacturing of CPUs for the Xbox 360, using IBM’s 65-nanometer, silicon-on-insulator semiconductor technology, as opposed to the current 90-nanometer Xbox 360 CPU production. Production set to begin during the first quarter of 2007.
The news comes following news earlier in the week indicating that Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer Wistron, one of three Xbox 360 manufacturing partners, was stepping up production of the Xbox 360 console, targeting one million units of consoles manufactured per month by year end.
The new chip is expected to substantially reduce power and heat dissipation requirements as well as enable possible price cuts.