The world's biggest carnival of digital mayhem comes to Los Angeles this week.
The biggest names in the multibillion-dollar video-game sector descend on the city for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the industry's most important annual conference. In addition to big-name and independent game studios, conference attendees include analysts, retailers and investors from more than 80 countries.
Anchoring the conference this year are presentations from the three major game console manufacturers in the industry - Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.
Sony will be under the most pressure to deliver, given the company is coming off a series of embarrassing incidents. Hackers managed to breach its security and obtain account information for millions of users on the PlayStation Network, the company's on-line gaming and entertainment hub.
Sony is expected to use E3, as the conference is known, to showcase its newest handheld gaming system, dubbed NGP. The console is the follow-up to the wildly popular PlayStation Portable system, and analysts will be watching closely to see what features Sony includes in the new system to try to maintain loyalty among users - some of whom are now turning to smart phones or tablets for their gaming.
The most important announcement at E3, however, may come from Nintendo. The company is expected to unveil the follow-up to the Wii gaming console. The original Wii, released in 2006, revolutionized the industry by allowing for movement-based game play. The departure from the traditional control pad made video games were much more appealing to non-traditional demographics, such as seniors.
The competition followed: both Sony and Microsoft have introduced movement-based game hardware of their own. So the new Nintendo console will likely be the most closely watched event at the conference.
In addition to the major hardware announcements, E3 will also feature dozens of new game releases from smaller studios, including a number of Canadian production houses. Many of those announcements will focus on smaller, cheaper games designed specifically for mobile devices - a reflection of the growing popularity of on-the-go gaming and downloadable titles such as the ultra-popular Angry Birds franchise.