The Electronics Entertainment Expo is an industry trade show that began in the mid-1990s. Although the event isn’t quite what it used to be, developers and publishers are largely delaying their major digital events, it has been the annual destination for top video game news for more than two decades. During this time, the event has seen its share of industry-defining changes that have changed the space forever. These are some of the most important events of E3.
“299” (Sony’s E3 1995)
E3 1995 was the very first, and it didn’t take long to leave its mark on history. With Nintendo showing off its fledgling Virtual Boy, and the Nintendo 64 still over a year away, the focus of the event was primarily on the other two major players in the hardware space: Sega, which was emerging from the massive success of the Genesis, and Sony: a mysterious new competitor. Sega spent its presser discussing the Sega Saturn, which was released in Japan in November of the previous year.
Sega had done just about everything wrong this E3. Not only did they announce a $399 price for the Saturn, but they quietly dropped the console in the United States. the day before. While this definitely surprised consumers, who hadn’t planned to prepare for a major electronics purchase for several months, it also surprised retailers.
AFTER – The Secret PS1 Feature That Saved My Childhood
Many retailers couldn’t announce the console and get it ready for sale on such short notice, and the immediate nature of the console’s Western release meant that much of the console’s library from Japan wouldn’t sell. wasn’t ready either. After Sega’s conference was over, Sony development manager Steve Race took the stage and spoke the now-famous number: 299. The crowd cheered and he was gone: a mic moment without a single microphone does not let go.
The Saturn never took off in either Japan or the west, and it would be another four and a half years before Sega tried another major home console release again with the Dreamcast in late 1999.
Smash Bros. Brawl Trailer (E3 2006)
While the Wii’s own Smash Bros title would have been huge on its own, it wouldn’t have been enough to seal its place as one of the most important events in E3 history. The end of the trailer, however, was. Solid Snake’s big surprise, a non-Nintendo IP, featured in a Super Smash Bros. game. completely opened the doors to what could be included in the game from then on.
As Twin Snakes, a remake of the original Metal Gear Solid, was released on Gamecube, this revealing trailer has opened the floodgates to massive speculation and hype generated by potential future third-party entrants to the Super Smash Bros series. .
“My Body is Ready” (Nintendo E3 2007)
While the world of video games was first introduced to Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime at E3 2004, it wasn’t until 2007 that Reggie would leave his mark on fans for good. At Nintendo’s press conference, they had followed up the massive success of the Wii with Wii Fit, a new title packaged with their own quirky balance board peripheral.
Reggie took to the stage to demonstrate the balance board, saying his famous phrase “My body is ready”. His and Nintendo’s embrace of the internet meme changed the way Nintendo looked at its image going forward, opening the door to E3 presentations anchored by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and Mega64.
“$499″ (Sony’s E3 2006)
Given Sony’s success with ‘299’ at the very first E3 conference, who would have thought they would go into the opposite existence 10 years later? The original PlayStation’s price announcement alone won them at E3 1995, but the realities of hardware gaming in 2006 were much different. Nintendo was heading in a completely different direction after two consecutive disappointing financial periods for its hardware, and Microsoft was now a major player in the industry.
Although the inclusion of a DVD player in the PlayStation 2 helped make it the most successful home console ever, this trend hurt them in the long run. The inclusion of a Blu-Ray player in every PlayStation 3, while helping Sony’s multimedia format become the flagship product in the future, dramatically increased the console’s manufacturing costs. These days, consoles are sold at a loss to gain market share and make money from software sales. At the time, it was anything but commonplace. In order to recoup some of their money from the consumer side, Sony announced a shocking $499 for the 20GB version of the PlayStation 3 and an astronomical $599 for the 60GB version.
The PlayStation 3’s high price and architecture made it less attractive to third-party developers at first. While the console eventually caught up to and overtook the Xbox 360 in terms of sales at the end of their life cycle, the rough presentation in 2006 nearly sank the brand.
Nintendo’s Last Stand (E3 2011)
Aside from Nintendo’s first public presentation of the Wii U and their still unshakeable hopes of its success, not much happened at E3 2011. Rather, it was the final press conference traditional Nintendo at an E3 event. E3 2011 was the last time Nintendo held a conference at E3, before switching to its digital event, “Nintendo Direct”. It’s proven to be a great way to avoid unwanted signals, awkward presentations, and the general lack of control over all the things that can go wrong in a public presentation.
Someone at Nintendo clearly posed the question: why not control everything? If the human element doesn’t look right, register it again. Something changed at the last minute and you decided not to announce anything? Just cut it from the live version. Although it took many years for the rest of the industry to realize that this was the easiest format to relay information around the E3 season, it was the beginning of the end for the E3 presser.
Xbox One’s Downfall and Sony’s Status Quo (E3 2013)
Rumors had been circulating for months that Microsoft’s new console would limit gamers to an always-online infrastructure, making it nearly impossible for those with limited internet connectivity to reliably use their new machine. They also planned to put measures in place to make it impossible to play second-hand games or lend one to a friend. Sony spent the entire conference reaffirming what had always been the case for them: no restrictions on using used games or borrowing from a friend. This was shown again in simple English for everyone after the conference with this famous Youtube clip:
Don Mattrick, then head of Xbox, reaffirmed this in interviews around E3 that year, saying:
“We have a product for people who can’t get some sort of connectivity, it’s called Xbox 360”
Ouch. These two brief chunks of E3 history forever changed the industry and doomed Microsoft to trail far behind Sony throughout the gen. While they’ve done a lot of groundwork since then with their massive catalog of backward compatible games and their Game Pass service, the disparity between Xbox and Playstation sales dates back to around that time.