Every year gamers look forward to the Electronic Entertainment Expo known as E3. Many great reveals take place during these three days that the convention is held; a lot of news and information flood the gaming community. E3 is like the Academy Awards for gaming. Throughout its 19 years of existence, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly that developers have to offer at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Typically the gaming industries biggest reveals happen during these three days at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Join me as I take a look at the biggest reveals of these past 19 years, taking a trip down the proverbial memory lane.
The Biggest Console Reveals
The big new systems at the first E3 conference in 1995 came from Sony and SEGA: the Saturn and Playstation. Even though these were the first big systems, Nintendo came clean just a week before the show, delaying their console until 1996. This announcement did not leave Nintendo much to say during the conference itself. This left room for SEGA to wow the audience with the SEGA Saturn. It was quietly shipped to retailers for the price of $399.99, even though the original release date for the console was supposed to be in September.
SEGA was not the only one with surprises at this first ever E3 conference. Sony came to the plate, announcing the price of their new Playstation console to be even cheaper than that of the Saturn, pricing in at $299.99. Everyone had expected the Playstation to cost more than the Saturn but as you can see, this was not the case. Thus, the infamous console wars began, with the first two big competitors being SEGA and Sony.
These were not the only things revealed during the E3 of 1995. After all, Nintendo didn’t come empty handed to the conference. Instead of a console, they revealed their handheld: the very first Virtual Boy. They also revealed plans for their own upcoming console, which was set to debut the following year in 1996 – The Ultra 64, which would eventually become the Nintendo 64.
The next console to be revealed at E3 was the SEGA Dreamcast in 1999 that was set for launch later that September at $199. Sony also brought something to the plate with new demonstrations for their next Playstation console, though the Playstation 2 wouldn’t be released until the following year.
This console wars from 1999 to 2000 proved to be a loss for SEGA. Despite the fact that Sony had only distributed to Japan (with the United States’s release date being later in 2000) and had a limited game library to back up its power, Sony was still winning when it came to their new console, the Playstation 2.
What could SEGA bring to the table in 2000 to rival this? Not much, other than showing off a lot of games for its Dreamcast. Would SEGA loose the console wars indefinitely? Yes, they would. By 2001 the Dreamcast was dying, and SEGA had to do something to keep the company afloat. Their decision was to pull out of the console wars and focus on killer games.
It was the next year, in 2001 that Nintendo and Microsoft stepped up to the gaming plate with new consoles. Microsoft with its brand new Xbox, and Nintendo sporting the Game Cube. At first it was speculated that Microsoft was making a mistake by jumping into the gaming industry with the Xbox. However, it did not prove to be a mistake as Microsoft is still one of today’s leading console gaming giants. It was in 2001 that the dominance of console gaming really prevailed.
Console gaming became more and more popular with this sixth generation of consoles.
The next big year for console releases was E3 2005, where all three gaming giants released their consoles. Sony releasing the Playstation 3, Microsoft releasing the Xbox 360, and Nintendo releasing “Revolution” which later became known as the Nintendo Wii. Its hard to say which console won this generation of wars at the start during E3. Ultimately, I believe a mixture of Microsoft and Nintendo won the console wars of 2005. Granted, Sony’s new Playstation 3 was an extraordinary machine with impressive specs. But… that price tag though. $599? True, we were getting a blu-ray player combined with the console. And, at the time, blu-ray players were a lot more expensive than they are now. So, while it could be said to have been a bargain, and though the console did sell, the initial price was an evident shock to gamers.
In 2011 only one of the three companies released their next system in the genre, Nintendo’s Wii U. Overall, the system was a flop. The console itself seemed to have the specs for a machine of the current gen, but some of the launch games were unimpressive, with Nintendo announcing some games that companies like Sony and Microsoft had already received. The biggest thing that Nintendo had going for them in this year was the fact that they were the only ones presenting a console while Sony and Microsoft bided their time in releasing information on any new consoles.
And then finally, that generation of consoles lasted up until 2013 with the release of the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One. Both consoles were revealed before the conference, with coverage of each during E3. As per tradition, the consoles were released later that year. Microsoft was hit with a lot of controversy because of their new console, specifically their policies relating to always online gaming. The damage was so much so that the company revoked the policies just a few months before the release of the actual console itself. E3 2013 was a time of great disappointment with Microsoft, as many had believed they won the previous generation console wars. The company came to E3 ready to discuss policy more than games. In contrast, Sony came to the table wanting to discuss the gamers, going back to their roots of being a company for gamers first.
The years of E3 have always been a race to win the console wars each new generation. Are there any solid winners? Not always, but sometimes. SEGA was thoroughly wiped out of the console wars early on, starting to focus more on games and letting Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft duke it out among themselves. Whatever the case, some gamers love the console wars, while others dread hearing about it. No matter what side you’re on you can be sure E3 will be filled with news of new consoles every few years.
The Biggest Game Reveals
Now, the idea of the biggest game reveals is a subjective topic for everyone. The things I would view as the biggest game reveals may or may not be the same as what you would consider the biggest game reveals. However, there are some games I believe we can all agree were seen as big reveals, even if we did not personally play them.
For example, in 1996 Super Mario 64 was announced along with the Nintendo 64 console. Super Mari 64 was the biggest game release at the time for Nintendo, so it made sense that the cartridge would be bundled with the Nintendo 64, which was set to release later on that year. Mario titles have always seemingly been launch titles for Nintendo’s new consoles, so of course they just had to have Mario for the Nintendo 64. Super Mario 64 would also highlight Nintendo’s new analog control on the Nintendo 64’s controller. Arguably, Super Mario 64 was the most significant game reveal of that year. It showed demonstrated the new technology of the console while showing off another great Mario title.
During 1997’s E3, the publisher Valve released information about their new game, Half-Life. This game was to become a legend, however Half-Life was not to be released immediately during this year’s E3. In fact, Half-Life made another appearance the following year at E3 1998 with a playable demo. This demo was the nearly completed version of the game and it was eventually released that year in November of 1998. This was not the only game featured at both E3 1997 and E3 1998. Duke Nukem Forever premiered at both as well. And then the iconic Metal Gear Solid debuted at the same 1998 show for Playstation on the second day of E3. But the show of 1998 was not in Los Angeles. Instead, it was held in Atlanta Georgia from 1997 to 1998. This would be the only Half-Life until the 2003 conference, where Half-Life 2 was revealed. Gamers are still waiting on Half-Life 3.
The next game I would like to call attention to is Devil May Cry, which was revealed at E3 during 2001. This game holds a special place in my heart because I would classify it as the first game I ever really played. Yes, I got a late start in the gaming industry but I absolutely fell in love with the Devil May Cry franchise. I loved everything about the game, including the character, storyline, controls and all. It’s because of this that Devil May Cry will always hold a special place in my heart when it comes to gaming. This is why when I saw it as an E3 release, I had to classify it as a classic game that deserved mentioning. However, it’s notable that during the 2001 E3 releases, games weren’t really the primary aspect since most people were talking about the new consoles that were being presented from Nintendo and Microsoft.
The next year in 2002, the E3 conference belonged to one game that was showcased, and that was DOOM 3 from ID Software. Third in the series, yes, but it was built on a brand new engine that had participants drooling over, and it was the first DOOM game to be revealed in nearly a decade. With amazing graphics and game mechanics for its time, DOOM 3 won the hearts of gamers in 2001. In this game you could see reflections in glass and monsters could break through walls – two things that hadn’t been done before that made this game soar through the charts.
Skip ahead to 2005, when Bethesda showcased The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This game was another one that consumed my life, and the lives of millions of other gamers throughout the country. It was just in time for the newest generation of consoles, the Xbox 360 from Microsoft and the Playstation 3 from Sony. It was gorgeous, it was noteworthy, and it was an Elder Scrolls series. Elder Scrolls has always been popular amongst the gaming community, and when Bethesda showcased The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion it was amazing. It would run on the power of the new consoles, with astounding graphics for its time and a huge open world. Also, as a first for the series, it featured fully voiced NPC’s with an award winning soundtrack to add to it. Since the E3 of 2005 was pretty much about the next generation and the console wars, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion almost seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. Still, it somehow managed to become a fan favorite and an iconic game of the time. I know I still enjoy hopping into my version of Elder Scrolls from time to time.
The E3 in 2005 was certainly the year for Nintendo. Thrilling games like Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Metroid Prime 3 were on display. All of these games became legends in their own right. I mean, come on, who doesn’t like Zelda, Mario and Samus? They’re the three legendary video game characters that almost everyone seems to knows about.
Regardless if you agree with my choices for the biggest games presented at E3, I think most people can get behind the idea that all of these games were huge, especially in the time in which they were developed and put onto the market. Each game, while they all may seem like old games now, were new and exciting, pushing the consoles to the brink of their power.
Some of the funniest moments of E3 didn’t happen because of the video games themselves, but because of the hosts and the people at the event. For example, in 2007 a drunken Jamie Kennedy stumbled through hosting Activision’s Conference. Slurring his words and stumbling through interviews for Tony Hawks Proving Grounds and Call of Duty, Kennedy’s drunken jokes seem to permeate through this event, ultimately making this E3 even funnier. Jamie Kennedy is arguably the worst E3 host in history.
“So it…immerses you into the skater lifestyle…so….does that mean you have to play it high?”
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To add to the pile of negativity, in 2003 Nokia premiered the N-Gage. This is not to say that the console itself was a bad idea (even though it was), but the way they revealed the price certainly was. Nokia’s method for announcing their the console was a little sketchy, with a young girl removing her shirt to reveal the price of the N-Gage system. She wore a bikini and across her stomach was written the price tag of $299. Though the girl was known to be about 20 years old, she looked much younger. But really? Girls in bikini tops to reveal the prices of games? Way to keep it classy, Nokia. Not only was your system grossly overpriced but you also decided to go with a classless reveal.
Lest you’ve forgotten the E3 2008 conference, I’m here to remind you. Remember Wii Music? The game that made you look like an idiot while playing it? Yeah, it made its debut in 2008 on Nintendo’s stage. Somehow Nintendo decided that the people wanted to see more Wii Music instead of the newest Mario game. Seriously Nintendo? Gamers wanted to see their favorite plumber, not Wii Music, Nintendo. In the past Nintendo had put on some great E3 conferences. Iconic games like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Metroid Prime 3 have all been showcased within the E3 events, but, their 2008 event with Wii Music was just simply a flop on Nintendo’s part.
Next, it’s Konami’s turn in the “oopsies spotlight”, thanks to their game, Rock Revolution. Obviously they were trying to compete with Rock Band, but ultimately failed in 2008 with their view of Rock Revolution. We love Konami, we love the things they do. Well, not all the things they do. Rock Revolution was a flop, not quite anything like Rock Band. It could be compared to Rock Band… I suppose. Not very well, but I suppose. Konami really let the ball drop on this one. The horrible stage performance of the demonstration was a whole different flop all together. Truthfully, I feel bad for the people who were performing, trying to keep up with “Blitzkrieg Bob”. Due to faulty equipment the performance resulted in some massive booing from the audience. (Really though, how much of it was the equipment and not you, Blitzkrieg Bob?)
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How much can we say about this next E3 flop from 2009, called the PSP Go? It was supposed to be a step forward for Sony – a new play on their iconic PSP device. But it ultimately became another flop. The handheld was not only $250 in price (making it only $50 cheaper than a Playstation 3 console at the time), but it was also a download-only console. It was the first real console to attempt to switch from having a choice of disc-based games and digital to all digital. This made current PSP owners not willing to make the upgrade, as they didn’t want to loose their UMD disc games.
Some even go as far as saying that the PSP Go was the most useless handheld that had ever been released. I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say that, but it was pretty bad.
To top it off, the E3 of 2013 was my least favorite of all with the release of the Xbox One. Not entirely because of the console or because of the actions on stage, but because of the sheer feeling attributed to the console and its policies lacking steam. The policy discussed for the Xbox One did not make players feel more at-ease with the new console. And, ultimately they lost a lot of fanbase by not answering key questions that people had. Apparently, Microsoft had not learned from Sony’s past mistakes with the PSP Go. Gamers were not ready to go all-digital all-online just yet.
Whether you view this as a flop or not, I feel as though Microsoft was lacking in 2013 with their new console, thus making 2013’s E3 my biggest disappointment in E3 history. I watched E3 wanting to love the new Microsoft console, not hating it.
Every year E3 can either wow us or disappoint us. Everyone tends to have high hopes for the conference. Some companies can surprise us, while others can disappoint us. Regardless of history, we always hope for the best and sit anxiously as we await the latest in E3.