[UPDATE 12:50pm: The ESA has since contacted MTV Multiplayer with some additional clarification.]

There's movement to help reignite some of the fire that used to make E3 such an important event next year.

Hot on the heels of rumors over the annual event's reform, E3's organizer, the Entertainment Software Association issued a press release on Wednesday confirming many details.

It's happening next June, will remain in Los Angeles and appears to be a compromise between the small, business-oriented E3 of recent years and the massive, circus-like E3 it once was.

What the official announcement didn't touch upon, however, was whether early reports were right in saying E3 would adopt the same policies of Tokyo Game Show and Games Convention and allow the public to show up on certain days.

MTV Multiplayer contacted the ESA about this unaddressed point. "This will not be a public event and it is not open to general consumers," said a company spokesperson.

Both Newsweek and G4 reported the public would have some form of access to the new E3, however, so it seems the ESA may simply be waiting until it's figured exactly how that will end up happening. Raffle? Priced admission? Who knows.

When we know more, we'll pass it on.

Game Critics Awards media outlets (circa 2007)Earlier today I wrote a post noting how few Japanese-created games and pieces of hardware were nominated for E3 Game Critics Awards this year.

I suggested that, once the winners were announced, Japanese creators might wind up with fewer awards from E3 2008 than from any previous E3.

That's just what happened.

Among the 15 winners announced today only one work from Japan -- Best Fighting game "Street Fighter IV" -- took a top slot. Japanese efforts in the handheld and hardware categories fell short, as did multiple nominee "Resident Evil 5." The awards are determined by tabulating two rounds of votes from 36 game reporters (myself included) who nominate all the titles in contention. I had voted for three Japanese-made works, "Rhythm Heaven" for Best Handheld, "Street Fighter IV" for Best Fighting, and Wii MotionPlus for Best Hardware.

A commenter this morning criticized my original post, saying, accurately, that E3 is an American-run show. Regardless, the numbers are real and a four year decline in awards for Japanese-made product at E3 continues. In the 11 years of Game Critics Awards have been issued, this year's total is Japan's lowest.

I do believe this says something about the games made in Japan, the nature of games shown to Americans and, well... what do you think?

(Full Game Critics Awards winners listed after the jump) Read More...

'Wii Music' - One of many Japanese games to not even get nominated for a Game Critics E3 awardJapanese game developers, arguably the most influential video game creation community in history, are on the verge of nearly being shut out at this year's E3 Games Critics Awards.

The list of 71 nominations for this year's awards lists only 12 nods to the work of Japanese creators, few of which are likely to take top honors when the winners are announced in the coming days.

The 12 nominees includes multiple nominations for "Resident Evil 5" and a heavy Japanese presence in two categories: three of four nominated best fighting games ("Soul Calibur IV" and two versions of "Street Fighter") as well as two of three nominated best new pieces of hardware (Wii MotionPlus and the "Lips" microphone).

Japanese winners have been on the decline for several years. In 2005, Japanese creators took home six Game Critics Awards. In 2006 that number dropped to four. Last year they claimed just two.

With final judges ballots now in for tabulation from the three dozen reporters selected for judging  -- including mine -- Japanese developers may walk away with the fewest wins across the contest's 15 categories in the Awards' 11-year history. And no Japanese developer or company can hope to win the biggest award, Best of Show, because no work from Japanese creators made the cut to be nominated in the final five. (Contenders are "Fallout 3," "Gears of War 2," "Little Big Planet," "Mirror's Edge," and "Spore" - three games from the U.S., one from England and one from Sweden). Japanese creators had taken the Best of Show three times in years past, all for hardware: GameCube, PSP and Wii.

There are many possible reasons for the lack of Game Critics' commendation for Japanese-created work. Could it be Nintendo's failure to connect with the E3 media? Was Sony holding back Japanese-created content for Tokyo Game Show? Or is there a real decline of Japanese development, something that "Ninja Gaiden" creator Tomonobu Itagaki mentioned off-hand to me as a problem during an interview we had at Game Developer's Conference? He is not the only Japan-based game creator to have expressed that anxiety to me.

E3 and the Game Critics Awards have never been dominated by Japanese games, but looking over the list of nominees and guessing at the expected winners, I find it hard to reach any other conclusion than that Japanese game creators had less impact on this E3 than any in recent memory. If this is a sign of a geographic shift of the gaming industry, I imagine it is one that could make our lives as gamers a bit less rich, a bit less creatively interesting, even for those of us who find a way to import "Rhythm Tengoku Gold" for our subway rides home.

There was barely a word about the PSP at E3 2008.

Sony revealed several new products for the portable at their press conference, but third-parties were mum on their support. At E3, I sat down with John Koller, Sony's director of hardware marketing, about the state of the PSP in 2008.

What's coming over the next 12 months? Why aren't third-parties talking? Sony explains...

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I've been attending E3 for more than a decade, but this year marked my first Comic-Con.

Games, like movie and TV before it, have continued to become a bigger deal at Comic-Con every year. Towards the end of the show, it struck me -- this is where the old E3 should end up.

Merging with Comic-Con would allow gaming to become part of the spectacle that was so desirable at the once-mammoth E3. It would fill the growing need for a public showing, giving companies a rare chance to meet one-on-one with their hardcore fans.

It makes perfect sense!

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Unofficial MTV E3 Judging GavelThe nominations for the Game Critics Awards Best of E3 were announced last night. "Fallout 3," "Gears of War 2," "Little Big Planet," and "Mirror's Edge" made the shortlist for Best of Show.

I was one of 36 members of the gaming media who judged and voted this year for the best games of E3. All games had to be presented at E3 and been playable for judges. Last week, I submitted a ballot of my picks for nominees. Everyone's votes were weighted in order to produce the final nominees list.

I have until late Thursday to cast my vote for the winner for each of these categories. I've got most of my picks selected but am still unsure of a few.

(The full list follows, as do my notes on which of my picks for nominations are missing from the list, including the yanked Best Simulation category.)

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'Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts'

Two months ago, I played a preview build of the Xbox 360's "Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts" and was left scratching my head. It was the first "Banjo" game I had played since the two Nintendo 64 versions. I had skipped the Game Boy Advance edition. The 360 game left me and several other reporters who tried it a bit perplexed. It's a platformer designed to be traversed with player-engineered vehicles driven by Banjo the bear and Kazooie the breegull.

The problem in May was that the vehicle-creation editor was confusing. The game didn't play much like the old Banjo games and seemed an odd use of the franchise. I left my May session of the game highly skeptical that development studio Rare was producing a sequel worthy of its original efforts.

Then I played it at E3 and was impressed -- not just because it's the first Xbox 360 game that includes a Nintendo 64 in it -- but because, well...
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Wii MotionPlusEarlier this week GameInformer.com reported that third-party developers contacted by the outlet possess feelings of "annoyance and betrayal" regarding the new Wii MotionPlus controller add-on. The complaint is that developers found about the add-on that enables 1:1 motion control only when it was announced at E3. The site reports:

None of [the developers] said they had any advance notice about the peripheral, and we were told that they were as surprised as everyone else when Nintendo revealed its existence on stage. That lack of prior notice means that, aside from Nintendo’s own roster of games, users won’t likely see any support for the device for at least six to nine months.

Those responses don't quite align with what Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told me during my interview with him at E3 last week, during which we had the following exchange... Read More...

Although "Alpha Protocol" is an action-RPG starring a government operative in modern times, I couldn't help but think of "Mass Effect" when I saw the game at E3 last week.

Everything from the dialogue tree to the real-time combat system (replete with an "active skill" wheel that pauses the combat and allows the player to choose a special attack) to the main character's circular targeting reticule echoed gameplay elements of the best-selling space saga from BioWare.

During a closed-door demo, senior producer Ryan Rucinski of Obsidian Entertainment acknowledged certain similarities to "Mass Effect," but told me that the "Alpha Protocol" has been in development for over two-and-half years, and has plenty of differences to boast about. It goes deeper than the setting.

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Want to see some of the E3 coverage we aired on MTV? Check out this piece which aired earlier today and features top guys at Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony answering some of the tougher questions I asked them at E3.

  • To Microsoft: Are Xbox Avatars cribbed from the Wii's Miis?
  • To Sony: How did you guys feel when Microsoft announced that "FFXIII" was coming to Xbox 360?
  • To Nintendo: What do you think of the hardcore fan's complaints about Nintendo's showing at E3?

Answers to all are in the video. And following the video are some segments we've already shown you elsewhere on the blog, featuring more talk with the gaming execs.

(Video will not be accessible for users logging in from Canada or parts of Europe. Our apologies..UPDATE: A written transcript of this segment is after the jump.)

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