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The Best Moments In E3 History, RIP Edition

Welp, that’s it. The casket’s shut, the nails hammered, the grave dug. The Entertainment Electronic Expo (E3) is dead, and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is issuing a do-not-resuscitate order for its once-annual convention. Since E3 is done for real this time, now’s as good a time as any to look back at some of the awkwardest, funniest, and hypest moments of the tradeshow that the video game industry orbited around for some 25 years.

This post originally appeared 06/11/15.

Of course, the showcase wasn’t just all games all the time. While there were plenty of memorable trailers that defined E3, the convention also gave birth to plenty of infamous misfires, making the show a spectacle worth watching. You never knew when the next legendary meme might drop.

Unfortunately, no one will be watching anymore as the ESA lays E3 to rest. Increasing signs of trouble emerged for the convention in the 2010s, with publishers increasingly questioning the need to spend massive money for a presence at the event. Huge companies like Nintendo and Sony reduced their involvement, and after covid canceled E3 2020, the once-vital event never regained its footing, leading to multiple cancelations, postponements, and this, the inevitable death of E3.

That makes this collection of moments more poignant than ever before, as we aren’t getting any more of them. So, pull up a chair and bask in all the glory of E3 as it was, and will never be again.

SONY 2006: The Sky Is Falling

If I’d broken this conference’s individual highlights into their own moments, we’d be here all day. So here are all your favourites, from $599 to MASSIVE DAMAGE, in the one video.

NINTENDO 2004: Miyamoto’s Finest Hour

Relative to the time, the system and the series, no other E3 trailer in history has made people lose their shit like the Twilight Princess reveal in 2004. Throw in the fact series creator Shigeru Miyamoto wandered on-stage with a quality Master Sword and Hylian Shield and you’ve got maybe Nintendo’s strongest ever E3 performance.

MICROSOFT 2009: Kinect Goes Bam

Microsoft’s Kinect needed to impress in its first major live performance. It did not.

KONAMI 2010: One Million Troops

Tak Fuji enters E3 folklore with this presentation.

BETHESDA 2019: Ikumi Nakamura, That’s It That’s The Tweet

E3 has always been so much about manufactured excitement that in 2019, when Ikumi Nakamura took to the stage to talk about Ghostwire: Protocol, she damn near stole the entire week’s show with some actual, bonafide enthusiasm. This is, of course, as much an indictment on the rest of E3 as it is praise for Nakamura’s own infectious presentation.

NINTENDO 2008: Wii Music

You know how I said up top that 2004 was Nintendo’s strongest E3 performance? This was the opposite.

SONY 2009: The Translator

Gran Turismo boss Kazunouri Yamauchi takes to the stage and, in Japanese, tells the world all about the PSP version of his classic racing series. His translator, meanwhile, gives no fucks (and still does not, even to this day).

NINTENDO 2004: Hi Reggie

As if Miyamoto’s antics weren’t enough, E3 2004 also the public debut of the Reggie Fils-Aime. He’s a part of the corporate video game furniture now, but in 2004, this was a breath of fresh air for a company that was in a bit of trouble!

UBISOFT 2011: Mr. Caffeine

Someone knew about this man. Someone suggested booking this man. Someone approved that suggestion. There are so many people to blame for this.

UBISOFT 2017: Davide-San

Imagine growing up a huge Nintendo fan. Imagine then working for a company that isn’t Nintendo but gets the once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a Nintendo game. Then imagine that, during E3 and with the world’s eyes upon you, Shigeru Miyamoto himself singles you out for praise. You’d cry too. Just beautiful, and a rare moment of genuine warmth from a show that’s otherwise obsessed with the most soulless aspects of the human experience.

SONY 1995: $299

Long before the disaster of $599 or the triumph of $499, Sony made the most memorable price announcement of all time. In 1995, Sony’s Steve Race walks to the podium, says a single word (announcing the launch price of the PlayStation) and walks off to a room full of applause. That’s how it’s done.

NINTENDO 2001: Please, Stop

A writer for Nintendojo—which is still around!—thought it would be a good idea to ask Shigeru Miyamoto a question in Japanese. Bless him for having the courage to try, but it was not. Excruciating viewing, even after all these years.

NINTENDO 2007: His Body Was Ready

If you’ve ever seen the image and wondered where it came from, this is where it came from. From anyone else, it’s a weird thing to say. From Reggie, it’s simply a statement of fact.

MICROSOFT 2007: Rock Band For Beginners

Hey, Peter Moore. I know you were probably super busy in the lead-up to E3 2007, but it couldn’t have hurt to put in a little more practice (BONUS: here’s the story behind this demo).



SONY 2015: By Popular Demand, FFVII Remake

Push Square

What is there to say about this epic reveal? Rumors had been circulating for a while that Square Enix was cooking something delicious in the Final Fantasy kitchen, and the studio presented an amuse-bouche during Sony’s E3 2015 showcase. Former SIE vice president of publisher and developer relations Adam Boyes took to the stage to announce a bevy of games, with one of them being the official reveal for Final Fantasy VII Remake and everyone, myself included, lost their shit.

XBOX 2019: ‘You’re Breathtaking!’

Game Clips And Tips

Cyberpunk 2077's showcase during the E3 2019 Xbox presentation was hype shit. You had a CG trailer setting the stage for the game’s opening hours and a look at Keanu Reeves as the hot ex-military rockerboy Johnny Silverhand before Reeves himself emerged from a gale of light and smoke to a cacophony of screaming fans. Reeves talked about his involvement with CP2077, told everyone in the audience they’re “breathtaking,” and revealed the game’s April 2020 release date (that CD Projekt Red would inevitably miss…it came out in December 2020). We always remember the game for its busted launch, but nothing tops getting called breathtaking by one of the sexiest men alive.

It’s funny, looking back on these and how so many of them are from a very specific point of time, around the mid-2000s, right before and after the show’s great upheaval (younger readers may not know/remember that E3 scaled down then nearly went away entirely around 2007-08).

Over its final decade E3 mostly got its shit together, or at least learned to smooth off (or outright avoid) the rough edges. Good for business, sure, but a shame in some ways for the rest of us, since as the show grew ever more professional, we were deprived of memorable/terrible moments like these.

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