I haven't actually watched any significant portion of the news conferences, the Sony conference isn't even over, but I thought I'd share with you my gut reactions about this year's E3.
Firstly, it's obviously very different. If you watched the conferences from previous years you'll note a significantly less active crowd. There are applause and cheers, but it feels unenthusiastic compared to the past. If it wasn't universal, you would think each of the big three gaming companies were in trouble.
Microsoft seems to be attempting to join the mini-games bandwagon with a Viva Pinata game of that flavor. Halo 3 looks absolutely awesome. Microsoft seems content to stay their course for the most part, while attempting to ramp up support for more casual gaming.
Nintendo annoyed a lot of hardcore gamers by focusing largely on casuals with their conference. Most of what was seen will be more of the family fun stuff like WiiSports and Wario Ware. There were tidbits for hardcore gamers (Mario Kart in the first months of 2008, Super Smash Bros Brawl on December 3rd 2007, online play and more), but it wasn't the focus of the show. Expect temper tantrums to continue before hardcore gamers realize that they aren't going to be the sole focus of gaming anymore.
Sony didn't impress me. The incoming games they've described show a lot of great ideas, and that's to their credit. They don't seem to have done anything extremely stupid this conference, so far anyway. However, I am going to level one severe criticism at them, namely the redesigned PSP. There are legitimate reasons for having done this, but the way they seem to have gone about it leads me to believe they are simply trying to duplicate the success of the DS Lite. As much as the DS redesign helped sleekify matters, I don't believe the already sleek PSP is going to benefit in the same way.
It's hard to know what to expect from the rest of E3. It'd be nice to get some news on Spore or Hellgate: London, but I'm not going to hold my breath as the layman is not the target of the new conference.