Every year, developers from around the world gather in June to showcase their most secret and anticipated projects. In the months leading up to E3, gamers witness the spectacle of influencers and industry veterans discussing the rumors of what might be, further fueling their desired announcements come to life. In the spirit of fun and excitement, E3 allows for the passion of gaming to be broadcast on a world stage and recognized for its influence on the entertainment industry.
Now that the industry is approaching the eve of E3, OnlySP is counting down the days remaining in a segment we like to call ‘12 Days of E3’. Please join OnlySP in celebrating an event that can be described as Christmas for Gamers, as we come together in anticipation for E3 2019!
E3 is not famous solely for its positives. However engineered hype around gaming’s “big moment” is every year, the controversies that this once modest trade event creates play an essential role in maintaining its legendary status. From the awkward to the tone deaf, E3 sometimes serves as a reminder for how out of touch companies can sometimes be, as well as provide a hefty dollop of unforgettable, nightmare-inducing cringe.
1. E3 1995 – Sega Saturn’s Surprise Release
Surprise releases of games are a common concept nowadays, but a surprise console release? Nobody would be crazy enough to do that, right? Well, Sega did. 14 years ago. Why? Who knows? The nineties were wild.
Sega, following the huge success of the Sega MegaDrive, was a little torn on what to do with the Sega Saturn. Shaken by the rumoured power of the PlayStation and the influence Sony had, Sega entered what could be termed a panic. With the console already released in Japan, Sega took steps out on the stage to announce the Saturn for US release the same day as the conference: May 11, 1995.
The motivations for the early launch were to give the Saturn an advantage over the PlayStation in terms of immediacy and price in the West, coming in at roughly USD $399. The problem? Retailers weren’t informed, so they didn’t stock the item. Oh, and since PlayStation had the later show, Sony just axed the price to $299. The result? A dead console. Could the Saturn be the first and only time a console released and died in tandem at E3? The Saturn did manage to make some headway in the future, but Sega’s “stop gap” was ultimately a failure. At least we’ll always have these acid-flashback-inducing Saturn ads to remember:
2. E3 2013 – Xbox Becomes Television
You know what gamers enjoy the most? Television. Nah, seriously – not playing games, television!
As successful as the Xbox One went on to be, its reveal at 2013’s E3 was shrouded in controversy. While Sony was announcing games, Microsoft decided to head down the “all-in-one entertainment box” angle for the Xbox One, except it went a bit too far with the messaging. The result was a consumer base who, even by 2014, were sick of being fed non-gaming guff at gaming conventions being met by a conference dominated by discussions about anything but games.
Combined with confused messaging about the console’s “always online” requirements, an almost beautiful clash between corporation and consumer occurred, leading to an almost two-year headache for Microsoft to recover from. “Xbox is about to become the next watercooler” was an actual quote that came out of the presentation. Just stare at that quote, breathe it in.
3. E3 2006 – The PlayStation 3 Announcement
Things people took out loans for in 2006: a car, a house, credit card debt, a wedding, and a brand-new PlayStation 3.
Sony’s entire conference for E3 2006 was a rush job. In a way, E3 rush jobs are a bit of an artform and, in that sense, 2006 was probably Sony’s magnum opus. The entire conference just felt so fragile, as though the entire stage was put together by tape. The worst point, though, was when jaws literally dropped, and not for the right reasons. The PlayStation 3’s 60GB model would launch at $599 RRP and, upon that announcement, the whole room fell silent.
Looking back, what was Sony thinking with that price point for the PlayStation 3? $599 is nothing to gawk at by even modern standards, but the fact that the price point was delivered in such a nonchalant, easy way suggests Sony was entirely disconnected in 2006.
Since I listed a favourite quote from the Microsoft’s conference, I’ll list one from Sony: “It’s Ridge Racer! RIIIIIIIIIIIIDGE RACER!” – an exhausted, battle-weary Kaz Hirai.
4. E3 2007 – Jamie Kennedy
Standards of presentation have been raised at E3 in recent years. While some may lament the conference’s shift to a squeaky-clean aesthetic, at least embarrassing moments like actor Jamie Kennedy’s inebriated Ubisoft presentation won’t happen again. Not much is to be written about Kennedy’s lack of professionalism, but at least the presentation is preserved as a sort of time capsule for a time when people like him could get on stage at E3, as well as a record for how far the trade show has evolved in just 12 years.
5. E3 2010 – Konami
Have you ever seen Twin Peaks? Well, the show has a place called ‘The Red Room’, which is an anomalous extradimensional space, kind of like a personal hell. The Konami conference of 2010 is my personal Red Room. Sometimes this conference comes to me in dreams and I awake, doused in sweat, begging for it not to be real: