New photo of Wii U tablet controller leaks ahead of E3

The new Wii U controller? Credit: Source: Twitter

It's hard to believe that E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is just two weeks away. Technically the show starts on June 5th, 2012 but June 4th is the day that Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft and Electronic Arts are all holding their press conferences.

I'm optimistic that we'll see some fun things coming out of the show but generally speaking the hype this year is subdued. Microsoft and Sony have both stated that they won't be showing any new hardware. Nintendo will be showing the new Wii U console but they won't be sharing launch date or price. Still, it's safe to say that Nintendo will be the big news coming out of the show.

Over the weekend Nintendo suffered from (or orchestrated...you choose) a leak showing a new iteration of the unusual tablet controller that comes with the Wii U. The story is that the image was posted on Twitter by someone in the QA department of TellTale Games. The image was subsequently removed, but not before copies were downloaded by bloggers everywhere, including yours truly. Here's the image:

It's not really a radical redesign from what we saw last year. The big change is that the new (if it is new) design features real joysticks rather than the circle-pads that were on the units displayed at E3 2011. That's great news for serious gamers who're interested in the Wii U. (Are there serious gamers who're interested in the Wii U?) Otherwise a few buttons have been moved around and those two non-symmetrically placed rounded squares are new. I can't decide if those are buttons or what. The one on the left almost looks like a 'punch-out' area which has makes you wonder if this is some kind of prototype or developer-only hardware.

I'm sure come June 5th we'll all know what the final design looks like and, setting my snarky comments aside, this year's E3 will be Nintendo's chance to win back the hardcore gamers that kind of drifted away from the company in the era of the Wii and it's plethora of 'waggle games' and casual titles.

The traditional video game business is taking a beating so far this year, with stories about sales being down coming out seemingly every month. For instance in April 2012 sales were down 42% as compared to April 2011. Nintendo and Sony both reported huge losses and Microsoft seems determined to turn the Xbox 360 into a set-top box that just happens to play games.

The Wii U might start to turn things around. Nintendo will have to carry the burden for at least a year before Sony and Microsoft refresh their aging console lines. I'm looking forward to this year's E3 because I'm anxious to see the kinds of experiences the Wii U can deliver.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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