06/06/2011 02:27 pm ET | Updated Aug 06, 2011

E3 2011: Electronic Entertainment Expo Hits Los Angeles

The biggest gaming convention in the world returns to the Los Angeles Convention Center this year for three days of blockbuster video game sneak previews and gaming console unveilings. The Electronic Entertainment Expo runs through June 9 and it remains the biggest opportunity for game publishers to preview 2012's upcoming releases to the press and buyers. G4 puts it this way (for "total noobs"): "E3 can be broken down into the press events, the show floor, and the 'extracurricular', that is, the parties that keep the excitement going long after the convention center powers down for the evening."

E3 has already kicked off with Microsoft's annual press conference on the USC campus (check out liveblogs here, here, and here). They'll be unveiling new games for their motion and voice-controlled Kinect, as well as long-awaited sequels to franchises like Halo, Call of Duty, Tomb Raider, and Gears of War. Another major announcement: live TV programming, YouTube, Bing search, and voice control are coming to the Xbox too.

Nintendo's follow up to the Wii, the first in six years since the console's debut, is expected to make the biggest splash in the public conscious. While Nintendo has been mum about the console's new features, gamers are anticipating touch screen controllers (which make for two-screen gaming) and high-definition graphics, according to CBS.

Another highly-anticipated unveiling is Sony's new handheld gaming device. Details from The Guardian:

The sleek console, designed to compete with Nintendo's 3DS, features a 12cm OLED display, two cameras, movement sensors, wireless internet, and an innovative touch pad promising new types of game interaction.

Sony's online gaming network has been repeatedly hacked in the past few weeks, which potentially compromised the personal information of about 100 million users. It's unclear whether Sony will use E3 to address gamers' concerns about online security in the future.

CBS also highlighted other expected trends at this year's conference:

1) Free-to-play and massively multiplayer online games.

2) Microtransactions or virtual goods-based digital diversions.

3) Download-only offerings that increasingly approach the quality of retail experiences.

4) Games that only begin, not end, at what's in the box.