OPINION: It's that time again

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E3 always manages to produce something special.
Whether at its most disastrous (that brief ‘98 pit-stop in Atlanta; the ‘hospital corridor' of 2008) or its most prosperous (Sony's ‘Go big or go home' price-drop warning in 1996; 2005's unveiling of next-gen machines and boomerang controllers), the show always offers excitement and pointers for the year ahead.

In recent years, industry chit-chat was all about the show itself. Is it healthy? Who's going? Can we afford it? Who's not going? But for 2010 the focus is on a more significant question: how can new tech pull us out of the slump?

Will it be digital downloads? Streaming services OnLive or Gaikai? iPad? Facebook? Move? Natal? 3D? 3DS? Some of these will define our future, and boost revenues, while the rest will fall by the wayside – good ideas perhaps before their time.

A handful will provide the answer to issues flummoxing the industry right now about how we can reconcile a decline in sales with new frontiers.

E3 will prove that experimentation is rife. In the words of Peter Moore on page 27, We're throwing mud against the wall and seeing what sticks.”

It might just be the most important E3 yet, but the week-long extravaganza will – as usual – show the world that games are still the most forward-thinking and groundbreaking industry of them all.