The annual E3 video gaming conference is underway in Los Angeles, and the big console makers are showing off new hardware they hope will help them dominate the multibillion dollar industry. 

Gamers will get their hands on new Sony and Microsoft hardware for the first time in seven years, marking an unusually long length of time between game console generations. Both consoles utilize high end desktop PC components and offer superior graphic processing as compared to the current generation. Nintendo previously released their lower powered next generation Wii U console last fall to lackluster sales, and is focusing its marketing efforts on convincing current Wii owners that their new console is better and different than the current one.

Each new console generation brings with it tremendous risk and opportunity. Sega exited the business after it failed to produce a console as successful as its legendary Genesis. Sony dominated the market with its release of the Playstation in 1995 and Playstation 2 in 2000, but has been in a neck and neck battle for second place dominance with Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Nintendo has been the dominant player in the current console generation, with the company’s original Wii outselling the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.  The Wii was never more powerful than its competitors but its low price and accessible casual games library appealed to a broader audience.

Microsoft, who introduced the Xbox One a few weeks ago, found itself on the defensive as gamers are pushing back against copy protection features of the new console. The new Xbox will need to check in with Microsoft’s servers every 24 hours or be rendered inoperable. Gamers are also upset that publishers can choose to restrict reselling or giving previously played disc-based games.

Watch the Microsoft E3 presentation:

Sony took advantage of Microsoft’s PR troubles, promising a console that is $100 less expensive, won’t require a persistant Internet, and allows game disc swapping without content restrictions.

Watch the Sony E3 presentation

Nintendo decided to skip a flashy presentation and instead released a streaming video detailing new games for the Wii U and their handheld 3DS.

Watch the Nintendo presentation:

Expect long lines and short supply at retailers this holiday season as both Sony and Microsoft plan to release their new consoles in the fall. The Wii U is available now.

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