It’s that time of year when gamers put their differences aside and band together to lovingly toast the equivalent of video game Christmas: the Electronics Entertainment Expo. Since its opening show in 1995, E3 has become a hub for major industry announcements, new hardware and studio showcases, and of course, a bottomless source of memes. There are always a run-up to hype and speculation about what’s going to happen every year, which is quite sane and angry at times.
E3 has been instrumental in shaping the way audiences interact with studios and developers – even Nintendo’s popular Nintendo Direct streams were a reaction to the long-standing influence of E3 press conferences. Today the E3 is no longer a pure business fair, but an extravagant marketing production that fits in with it Press and Fans. Here’s a look back at the ups and downs of the largest and most famous gaming show in the world.
The 1990s: this is how it starts
1995: $ 299
The ’90s were a relatively pure, serious time in E3 history when it was still a fair focused on doing business. In 1995, Sony’s Steve Race announced the historic price announcement for the first PlayStation at the first E3 keynote. He went on the podium, easy said “$ 299,“and left.
1995: virtual flop
Nintendo released the doomed 3D Virtual boy, which ended up being the best-selling console (above is a clip of speaker Alan Belardinelli speaking about it in the exhibition space).
1995: You can just … buy a Saturn?
Sega Saturn was a surprise drop that debuted with this incredible video. The Saturn had already been on the road in Japan for a year and was released in the USA compete with Atari’s Jaguar.
The exhibition area from 1995
What were other big names from 1995? Killer instinct; Mortal Kombat 3; Beavis & Butthead; Cherry Cola. Start the video above for the dance number and stay close to learn more about Williams Entertainment’s “surround ’em strategy”.
The exhibition area from 1998
In the years that followed, the E3 proved that games were an unstoppable force in the electronics world – the E3 1997 was marked by FPS classics like Half-Life, Prey, Quake II and GoldenEye 007. The mid to late 1990s brought us Metal Gear Solid and the top class of old-school Lara Croft Tomb Raider 2. At E3 1998, the show allegedly sent Stretch-Hummers to pick up high-profile guests and journalists at the airport. Above is a tour of the exhibition space from 1998.
The 2000s: The Edgelord Years
The E3 2000 started a new decade with a bang. Attendees were amazed at the visual details in the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo, which attracted an enthusiastic crowd at the Konami booth (of course, MGS2 could be seen again at E3 2001). The 2000 show was all about PS2 and Xbox; Major game announcements included Diablo 2, Neverwinter Nights, and Halo (and a little treasure called Vagrant Story).
The now-defunct publisher Gathering of Developers became notorious for hosting a separate side event in a nearby parking lot, which they called the “Promised Lot”. Grit your teeth and read in this old press release.
Promised lot antics allegedly Among them were actors with dwarf stature who were supposedly disguised as KISS members KISS: Psycho Circus – The Nightmare Child. GoD also had one of the earliest cases of schoolgirl stand babies, an abomination that luckily has died out (E3 formally prohibited Stand babies in 2006).
2007: The infamous Kennedy Show
Even beyond publishers like GoD, the 2000s were a time when E3 decided to get nervous. Comedian Jamie Kennedy was invited to host at E3 2007, now rightly known as A Huge Mistake. “This place is the only place the guys at ComicCon look like Ocean’s 13,” Kennedy said vaguely at the Activision press conference. “Neversoft … wasn’t that the first name for Viagra?” he added. Yes, from there it goes downhill.
2004: Meet Reggie
A little less terrifying, E3 2004 was also the debut of a now familiar face: Reggie Fils-Aime, der introduced the beloved Nintendo DS and got the crowd excited for a new Metroid game (and built-in Wi-Fi).
2003: Half-Life 2 is demonstrated
Gabe Newell announced Half-Life 2 at E3 2003 and showed it to the world. It looked just as great then as it did a year later. Half-Life 2 was supposed to be released in September, but had to be postponed to 2004. It also appeared at E3 that year.
The big announcements of 2006 included the Nintendo Wii and PS3 as well as cult classics such as Bioshock, Gears of War, Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed. There was that highly anticipated Halo 3 trailer for the Xbox 360, which sold out the following year. Never forget this moment from Genji: Days of the Blade is historically correct huge enemy crabs, or Kaz Hirai’s CEO death-like proclamation from “Ridge Racer!” during the Sony presser.
The 2010s: embarrassing and embarrassing
2010: Konami holds the best press conference ever
The year 2010 started strong with the absurdity of Konami’s press conference that fed the soul of every memento on the internet. Come for the utter silence that accompanies the botched intro, stay for the live Luchadors and Naoki Maeda who absolutely kill it at the Dance Masters demo.
2011: Mr. Caffeine is having a bad time
Ubisoft’s hype Aaron “Mr. Caffeine” Priceman was not content to leave the memory of Jamie Kennedy unchallenged and made the studio’s 2011 press conference almost bleak. In all fairness, this is one of the most painful E3 events burned into our collective memories. “I’m not afraid of some cock jokes, thank you” is one of dozens of zingers who haven’t aged well (it didn’t either).
2012: Who remembers Wonderbook?
Blink-and-You’ll Miss E3 Moments: Sony tried to make Wonderbook, a sort of AR-powered magic book by JK Rowling. It was an absolute flop. In the far shadow of the PlayStation 4 – priced at $ 399 – Microsoft’s 2013 presentation portrayed the Xbox One as an over-engineered entertainment device for an exorbitant $ 499 (boy, are we missing that price today). Remember how people felt pumped over Bioware’s anthem at E3 2018? Yes, we aswell.
Towards the end of the decade, the E3 became a noticeably smoother affair in what some felt was the end of an era, and it was opened to the public in 2017. Gone were the days of camera errors, live faux pas and technical errors – from now on, E3 consisted mainly of polished, pre-recorded segments. Above all, 2019 was a shock to long-standing Sony, which completely abandoned the E3 and revealed news about the PS5 an interview with Wired.
Games aside, E3 2019 was probably best of the massive data leak that compromised the data of over 2,000 journalists, financial analysts and Tencent employees. Yikes
2020s: Serious business
Thanks to Covid-19, 2020 was an E3-free year. But 2021 is already a new world for games as many people have become accustomed to a new social and cultural paradigm that revolves almost entirely around digital life. Games today are serious business and the E3 has adapted accordingly, although some have questions the continuing need for E3 as we know.
The pivot of the E3 to run a fully digital show didn’t go smoothly. It now competes with many competing events, like Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, and it is unclear what benefit ESA’s E3 organizing body gives to the editors or viewers who cannot receive them independently.
The “attendees” expo site was messy. First the virtual press portal only “he / he” pronouns allowed. The make friends feature apparently lets you see Personal data of other users. The impressions of the portal were so bad that it deserved it absolute roast a review.
In all honesty, there is nowhere else to go this year. Let the games begin.