The Electronic Entertainment Expo. Game fans dream of it. Analysts foam at the mouth to talk about it. Games journalists dread it. Every year, thousands of people huddle under the Los Angeles Convention Center’s roof to attend by and far the biggest game-related event of the year.
While none of us here at Pixelitis have actually been to E3 (yet), we’ve been avid watchers of the press conferences, hectic breaking news and overall insanity that occurs at the convention for several years.
Each year, the press conferences can be a mixed bag. In the past, they’ve reduced us to little more than an excitable group of Japanese schoolgirls with new console and game announcements. Others, however, have bored us to tears and even been cringe-worthy.
So follow us through the annals of time as we look back to some of the greatest (and lamest) moments of E3.
Greatest E3 moment: Microsoft press conference (2005)
It wasn’t long ago that Microsoft was the new kid in a gaming industry rife with old dogs Nintendo and Sony that ran the show since the mid-to-late ’90s. The massive black and green box from Redmond, Wash. was nowhere near as popular as the PlayStation 2 juggernaut nor did it have the instant name recognition of Nintendo.
Near the end of the original Xbox’s life cycle in 2005, game industry analysts were postulating over what the “next generation” of gaming would bring, as well as who would bring it.
That’s when Microsoft broke out its Xbox 360.
The press conference that year was full of pomp and circumstance. Former gaming department heads Robbie Bach, Peter Moore and J. Allard took to the stage with a certain swagger to them. It was flashy, hip and cool. That day in Los Angeles, Microsoft fired a shot across the bow to the rest of the gaming industry, saying that the “next generation” had come.
Though there were promises made that to this day haven’t been fulfilled (where is VelocityGirl?), it was about the games in the end. Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, Project Gotham Racing 3 and Call of Duty 2 all looked amazing at the time.
Couple the new games with the reveal that Final Fantasy (albeit FFXI Online) was now on something other than a Sony console and you’ve got a blockbuster event in E3 history.
Lamest E3 moment: Sony press conference (2006)
Where Microsoft excelled in unveiling the Xbox 360, Sony completely bombed with its reveal of the PlayStation 3. If the Xbox looked hip and “with it,” the PlayStation 3 and its handlers looked completely out of touch.
First and foremost, was the price. Even though the economy hadn’t officially shit the bed yet in 2006, the idea of paying $599.99 for a brand new videogame machine was borderline mental. Forget that it also doubled as a blu-ray player. At that time, blu-ray was an unknown quantity in the war against HD-DVD. It was too early to call.
Sony took a beating that year specifically for its press conference. It spawned memes and inspired parody songs on YouTube, all while tarnishing the company’s reputation for the next couple of years. Not to mention their competition had a console with comparable graphical power and (at the time) superior online connectivity for a smaller price tag.
Though Sony would go on to have another rough conference a couple years later after the PSN hacking incident, the PS3 is now a strong contender this console cycle. It just tripped on the carpet as it made its entrance.
- Andrew Martins
Greatest E3 moment: Nintendo’s 3DS promo trailer (2010)
It’s always great to see CEOs of huge businesses exude a bit of zaniness here and there. It humanizes them and gives a little character to the men and women hyping up their brand.
During the Nintendo’s E3 conference in 2010, that’s exactly what happened when the 3DS was shown for the first time. Out of all the trailers they showed during that conference, however, this one in particular had me giggling at its silliness. Seeing Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto interacting with and then being sucked into the 3DS unit was one thing, but witnessing Reggie Fils-Aime’s antics was even better.
The NoA president cackled villainously as he peered into the 3DS, in which Iwata and Miyamoto were shown jumping over lava pits, complete with Mario sound effects and all. The whole video reaches a bigger point of absurdity when a giant 3D Bowser comes out of the 3DS’ screen and toasts Fils-Aime’s face as he screams.
The payoff, however, came when the trailer cut to the 3DS logo and Fils-Aime walked back onstage with a burnt and tattered business suit.
Lamest E3 moment: Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr on stage for The Beatles: Rock Band (2009)
When Harmonix showed off The Beatles: Rock Band, they pulled out all the stops. They got to be the first game on the Microsoft press conference and some big names came on stage to support the title.
“Please welcome Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.” Both enter, Olivia waves, Yoko throws up peace signs, they hug and then walk away.
…Umm, okay? Nothing to say about The Beatles: Rock Band?
Well, no – Microsoft wasn’t done with the surprises – this was followed up with surviving Beatles members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr getting up on stage, which produced a bigger pop in the audience.
Both then proceeded to make things awkward by not really saying anything interesting. I suppose this was most likely something Microsoft and MTV Games pulled at the last minute, and I’m sure McCartney and Starr thought they could just wing it – but it didn’t work.
“I love the game, I can’t play it,” says McCartney.
“The game is good…the graphics are very good…and uh, we were great,” Starr chimed in. Thanks, Ringo.
Add in a little more nonsense by McCartney, followed by a Ringo strut that was met with dead silence, and you have a lame E3 moment that had me facepalming and shaking my head at the same time.
- Patrick Kulikowski
Greatest E3 moment: Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time announcement (2011)
My greatest E3 moment wasn’t something huge, like the Wii U or the Vita being announced. Don’t get me wrong, I was sitting there gasping at the Vita’s price with the rest of them, but that didn’t send me screaming and pointing like a little girl.
What got me the most amped was the announcement of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Although there are so many bigger titles out there, I fall hard for my nostalgia when it comes to all of those lovable PS2 platformers.
With Sucker Punch working on the very successful Infamous series, I assumed the Sly Cooper franchise was pretty much on the back burner indefinitely. This was understandable – the industry had been leaning away from adventure-style hits like Jak and Daxter and Sly Cooper for a while now. It’s something I wasn’t particularly happy about, but it is what it is.
So imagine my surprise when out of nowhere came the precious announcement for Thieves in Time at Sony’s conference last year. To this day, I still get excited at any mention of this new installment in one of my favorite series.
Lamest E3 moment: 2011 – Kinect Sports Season 2 demonstration
For every impressive E3 moment, there’s an equally lame one. What took the cake for me was the terrible acting I witnessed in the demonstration for Kinect Sports Season 2 at last year’s Microsoft press conference.
I can overlook previous titles, where a little girl pretends a virtual tiger named Skittles is licking her. She’s a kid and you can overlook the corniness of it by instead focusing on how cute her and Skittles were.
Two grown men having a pep talk and screaming play numbers at their TV on the other hand? That was too much for me. I actually cringed in embarrassment for the two actors, and for Microsoft – whatever potential the Kinect had seemed to plummet just from how lame their demo was.
Seriously, who looked at that and went, “Bingo! That is exactly what will sell this game!”