It’s that time of year when gamers put aside their differences and come together to lovingly roast the Christmas equivalent of video games: the Electronics Entertainment Expo. Since its inaugural show in 1995, E3 has become a hub for major industry announcements, new hardware and studio showcases, and of course, a bottomless pit of memes. There is always an advance of hype and speculation about what’s going to happen each year, which sometimes ends up being noise and fury.
E3 has played a huge role in how audiences interact with studios and developers. Even Nintendo’s popular Nintendo Direct streams were a response to the long-standing influence of E3 press conferences. Today, E3 is no longer a trade show reserved for companies, but an extravagant marketing production that plays for hurry and Fans. Here’s a look back at the ups and downs of the world’s largest and most famous video game show.
The 90s: So it begins
1995: $ 299
The ’90s were a relatively pure and serious period in E3 history, when it was still a trade show focused on building businesses. In 1995, Sony’s Steve Race announced the historic price of the first PlayStation at the first E3 keynote. He walked up to the podium, just said “$ 299” and walked away.
1995: virtual flop
Nintendo released the doomed 3D Virtual Boy, which ended up being its best-selling console (above, a clip from spokesperson Alan Belardinelli discusses it at the show).
1995: Can you just … buy a Saturn?
Sega Saturn was a surprise drop, making their debut with this incredible video. The Saturn had already been released in Japan for a year and had been released in the United States to compete with Atari’s Jaguar.
The 1995 showroom
Who were the other big names of 1995? Killer instinct; Mortal Kombat 3; Beavis & Butthead; Cherry Coke. Start the video above for the dance number and stick around for more on Williams Entertainment’s “surround ’em strategy”.
The 1998 showroom
The following years saw E3 prove that gaming was an unstoppable force in the electronics world. E3 1997 was marked by first-person shooter classics like Half-Life, Prey, Quake II and it golden 007. The mid-90s gave us Metal Gear Solid and old-school peak Lara Croft with Tomb raider 2. At E3 1998, the show would have sent stretch Hummers to pick up prominent guests and reporters at the airport. Above, a tour of the 1998 exhibition hall.
The 2000s: the edgelord years
E3 2000 kicked off a new decade with a bang. Attendees marveled at the visceral visual details of the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo, which drew enthusiastic crowds to the Konami booth (of course, MGS2 performed at E3 2001 again). 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 infamous for hosting a separate side event in a nearby parking lot that they called the “Promised Lot.” Grit your teeth and read that old press release.
Lot’s promised antics would have included, among other gimmicks, dwarf performers dressed as KISS members, ostensibly KISS: Psycho Circus – The Nightmare Child. GoD also had one of the earliest examples of schoolgirl stand girls, an abomination that thankfully died out (E3 officially banned stand girls in 2006).
2007: The infamous Kennedy show
Even beyond publishers like GoD, the 2000s was a time when E3 decided to start getting nervous. Comedian Jamie Kennedy has been invited to host E3 2007, now aptly known as A Huge Mistake. “This is the only place the guys at ComicCon look like Ocean’s 13,” Kennedy muttered at the Activision press conference. “Neversoft… wasn’t that the first name of Viagra?” he added. Yes, everything goes downhill from there.
2004: Meet Reggie
On a less squeaky note, E3 2004 was also the start of a now familiar face: Reggie Fils-Aime, who introduced the beloved Nintendo DS and excited the crowds for a new Metroid game (and the wi -fi integrated).
2003: Half-Life 2 is demo
Gabe Newell announced Half-Life 2 at E3 in 2003 and showed it to the world. It looked as amazing as a year later. Half-Life 2 was slated for release in September, but had to be postponed to 2004. It also appeared at E3 that year.
The huge announcements of 2006 included the Nintendo Wii and the PS3, and now cult classics like Bioshock, Gears of War, Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed. There was the highly anticipated Halo 3 trailer for the Xbox 360, which sold out the following year. Never forget that moment from Genji: Days of the Blade, the historically accurate giant enemy crabs, or CEO Kaz Hirai’s proclamation to death of “Ridge Racer!” during Sony presser.
The 2010s: clumsy and awkward
2010: Konami holds the best press conference ever
2010 started off strong with the sheer absurdity of Konami’s press conference, which nourished the soul of every memelord across the internet. Come on for the complete silence that comes with the sloppy intro, stay for the live luchadors and Naoki Maeda absolutely kills him during the Dance Masters demo.
2011: Mr. Caffeine has a bad time
Not content with leaving Jamie Kennedy’s memory unchallenged, Aaron “Mr. Caffeine” Priceman, the hype dude from Ubisoft, made the studio’s 2011 press conference nearly impossible to watch. Honestly, this is one of the most painful E3 events etched in our collective memories. “I’m not afraid of a few dick jokes, thank you” is one of the dozens of zingers who haven’t aged well (no more than that).
2012: Who remembers Wonderbook?
Flashing E3 moments and you’ll miss it: Sony tried to make Wonderbook, a sort of AR-powered spell book by JK Rowling. It was a total flop. In the shadow of the PlayStation 4, priced at $ 399, Microsoft’s 2013 presentation described the Xbox One as an over-designed entertainment device for a whopping $ 499 (boy, do we miss that price? it today). Remember when people got blown away by Bioware’s anthem at E3 2018? Yeah, so do we.
Towards the end of the decade, E3 became a noticeably smoother affair that some say marked the end of an era, and in 2017 it became open to the public. Gone are the days of camera blunders, live missteps, and technical mistakes – as of now, E3 was mostly made up of polished, pre-recorded segments. Most notably, 2019 was a shock to longtime mainstay Sony, who ditched E3 altogether and revealed PS5 news in an interview with Wired.
Gaming aside, E3 2019 was probably best defined by the massive data breach that compromised the data of more than 2,000 journalists, financial analysts, and Tencent staff. Ouch.
2020s: serious business
2020 was a year without E3 thanks to Covid-19. But 2021 is already a new world for gaming, as many people have adapted to a new social and cultural paradigm that revolves almost entirely around digital life. Gaming today is serious business, and E3 has adjusted accordingly, although some have questioned the continued need for E3 as we know it.
E3’s pivot to direct an all-digital show hasn’t been smooth. It’s now up against a lot of competing events, like Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, and it’s unclear what benefits the E3 host body ESA has to offer publishers or viewers that they don’t. can not get it independently.
The exhibition site for “participants” has been messed up. First, the virtual press portal only the pronouns “he / him” allowed. The friend search feature apparently allows you to see the personal information of other users. The portal’s impressions were so bad that it deserved this absolute roast from a review.
Honestly, there is nowhere to go except this year. Let the games begin.