The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is a major gaming event that started in 1995 in California and has been held every year since. Most of the major gaming companies hold press conferences at E3; fans will watch live feeds of the event in an attempt to keep up with the latest news and catch early glimpses of footage from upcoming games. E3 tends to be the preferred venue for unveiling new console and handheld designs, along with new IPs. Companies also like to talk up their sales statistics here. It started off as a sort-of spinoff of the Consumer Electronics Show, which used to be the place to announce new game stuff, but a separate show was created when CES said they couldn't create a private space at CES for game developers. Historically, E3 attracted large, somewhat unruly crowds. The use of "booth babes" (attractive women who draw attention to the games they're advertising) also added to the allure. In 2007, the event allowed only the media to attend and eliminated the booth babes in order to cut down on the noise and crowds. The 2008 event allowed some members of the general public into the convention hall again, but through invitations only. For E3 2009, booth babes made a return, but only if the game companies wanted them in there. This shift in regulations is what led Penny Arcade's annual expo and the Tokyo Game Show to become the new de facto expos for a little while, but things have settled over the past couple of years and the status quo has returned to what it previously was. Namely, that E3 is first and foremost a video games show for the industry at large, including journalists, marketing executives, and those watching at home. Other expos are focused on other aspects of gaming - community (and tabletop games) for PAX, developers for GDC, executives for DICE - but E3 is for both the producers and the consumers of the gaming industry. While E3 is immensely popular, backlashes within the gaming community can still occur (depending on what was said or shown in the events), in the forms of a Flame War, They Changed It, Now It Sucks, Unpleasable Fanbase, Fan Dumb, Broken Base, Accentuate the Negative, Internet Backdraft, and many others. A Memetic Mutation can also occur if something really silly, weird, embarrassing, or awesome happened during the event.
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E3 1995 - 2000
- During the first E3 in 1995, Sega made an announcement in their keynote address that the Sega Saturn, which was releasing on "Saturnday" (Sept. 2), would be $399. Another surprise announcement was that the console was actually already out at select stores. The announcement shocked and angered retailers, developers, and gamers alike, who were not prepared for the release so early.
- Sony, in their own keynote address the same year, also made a startling announcement: $299.
E3 2001 - 2007
- Around 2001, Nintendo presented several trailers for games to be made on the GameCube (this was before the console was launched). One of the trailers showed Link and Ganondorf fighting each other with realistic graphics for its time. About a year later, Nintendo presented a Zelda game at E3... except it now looked like a cartoon. Fans cried foul and declared war on Nintendo for taking away the realistic Zelda they were teased with previously. However, once the game came out (with improved cel-shading), most fans did a 180 and praised the game for its style and gameplay while others still bashed it for the kiddy look. Then came E3 2004, with a showing of the first trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Let's just say that the fanboys and fangirls were...ahem... amused. IGN's reaction to that◊, coupled with their Dull Surprise from last year's E3◊, became subject to Memetic Mutation.
- During E3 2006, the PR who discussed the PlayStation 3 mentioned how the system could do "real time weapon change" and showed a game that took place in feudal Japan where players could fight giant enemy crabs and flip it over to attack its weak spot For Massive Damage. If that wasn't embarrassing enough, no one applauded when Ridge Racer was shown, causing the spokesperson, Kazuo Hirai (now Sony Computer Entertainment's CEO), to shout "RIIIIIDGE RAAAAACERRRR!!!" This became a very popular fad across the Internet, as well as prime ammo for a troll to use in a Flame War. This presentation is the Trope Namer for at least four different tropes.
E3 2008 sparked outrage on all three consoles in the following examples:
- Microsoft's event showed many casual friendly features, such as avatars (which look similar to Nintendo's Miis), minigames in the forms of fly swatting or dancing, etc. This caused the fans of Microsoft to moan and complain that Microsoft was trying to copy Nintendo's Wii. When Final Fantasy XIII was announced to be released for the Xbox 360, Sony fans cried foul and claimed that Square Enix was a sellout. It didn't help when Microsoft boasted that most of its 3rd party games used to be with Sony.
- Nintendo's event wasn't any better, either. Fans who expected announcements of big name games like Mario and Zelda were met with disappointment as Nintendo revealed more casual friendly games like Wii Sports Resort and Wii Music. This caused a huge Flame War between fans who claimed Nintendo abandoned the hardcore gamer and fans who believed that Nintendo would have the good games coming eventually. During Nintendo's event, a Nintendo employee named Cammie told a personal story on how she broke her wrist during a vacation with her kids. The broken wrist story became a fad on forums. A similar fad also began to pop up when Cammie joked to Reggie about liking the full throttle when he tested a jet ski game. Everyone started to hate Cammie, feeling that she represented all the horrible qualities of casual gamers. Cammie did improve in E3 2009 where she mostly ditched her cheesy act and focused more on the facts and what Nintendo wants in the future, but people still haven't forgiven her. It got so bad at that time that the Wii board on GameFAQs exploded in fury, resulting in numerous topics about how Nintendo was a backstabber, literally lasting for days on end. Hilarity Ensues does not◊ even begin to describe this◊.
- This was mostly due to the tonedown of E3 after E3 2006. Everyone is now saving most of their good stuff for their own conferences, PAX, or the Tokyo Game Show. Even the game publishers have formed a Unpleasable Fanbase about it, wanting it to be toned down in 2006 and then wanting it back to its old form after the disaster that E3 was in 2008.
- Microsoft announced a new device codenamed "Project Natal" that supposedly surpasses the Wii's motion controls by detecting full body movement, and even insulted Nintendo by saying that you won't have to "sit on the couch and waggle". As if repeating last year's E3 reaction, trolls and fanboys alike had wildly claimed Nintendo was now finished, as seen here◊, and here◊.
- Nintendo made quite the turnaround with this year's E3 compared to 2008. While they did show several casual games, Nintendo appealed to the core fans with several new Mario games (Super Mario Galaxy 2, New Super Mario Bros. Wii with 4 player co-op, and a 3rd Mario vs. Donkey Kong game), The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, a new Golden Sun, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Dead Space: Extraction game and The Conduit, and Metroid: Other M being developed by Team Ninja. Nintendo also showed off Wii Motion Plus, an add on for the Wii Remote that added more precision with motion controls. While most fans were very pleased with the showing, many became upset over New Super Mario Bros Wii looking too samey compared to the DS version, and how Super Mario Galaxy 2 was supposedly just a lazy rehash, while ignoring the fact that you can ride Yoshi.
- Sony's PlayStation Move (PlayStation 3's motion controller) was revealed, as well as Final Fantasy XIV (a MMO), PSP Go, Gran Turismo 5 and GT PSP, Mod Nation Racers (Mario Kart meets LittleBigPlanet), Peace Walker (a new Metal Gear game for the PSP), The Last Guardian, MAG, God of War III, a new Ratchet & Clank, and a portable versions of LittleBigPlanet. Final Fantasy VII was also announced for PSN.
- Microsoft: The main focus this year was the controller-less system announced in '09, now titled "Kinect". Kinect games shown were casual titles that showcased using your own body instead of button inputs (such as playing with a baby tiger or navigating a river in a raft). A new model of Xbox 360 hardware was also announced, which would feature a smaller and quieter (and shinier) design, as well as built-in Wi-Fi, at the same price as a regular 360. An Oprah-like event occurred at the end of the presentation, where each member of the audience got a free 360. Fans have naturally mocked this, their main complaints being that Microsoft was basically ripping off Nintendo and its E3 presentations, and quite a few people have compared this event to Nintendo's event from 2008. The girl playing with the pet tiger ("Skittles!") and the people showing off Dance Central had already became a meme.
- Nintendo's big item was the 3DS handheld, with 3D capabilities and other enhancements as well as an impressive list of third-party support. As for games, in addition to showing off The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Epic Mickey, Nintendo also announced revivals for several long-dormant franchises: Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, a new GoldenEye game, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and most shockingly, Kid Icarus: Uprising. The showing can basically be summed up in this link.◊ Nintendo's event also provided a Crowning Moment of Funny when they revealed their trailer for the Nintendo 3DS, showing Satoru Iwata (current President of Nintendo of Japan) and Shigeru Miyamoto (the man behind Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, and other titles) each interacting with characters from the 3DS before getting sucked inside. Then Reggie Fils-Aime (current President of Nintendo of America) enters and laughs almost evilly as the handheld shows Iwata and Miyamoto running and jumping from Bowser. Just before Bowser emerges from the screen and burns Fils-Aime to a crisp. The trailer finished up with the real life Fils-Aime coming back on-stage in a scorched jacket.
- Sony's presentation was pretty average. Aside from a crossover game featuring Ratchet, Jak, and Sly, the biggest announcement came from Gabe Newell, who announced that Portal 2 would come to the PS3 in spite of his previous dislike for the platform, as well as a new Steam-like program to play it on. Oh, they also announced a new Twisted Metal game for the PlayStation 3. However, Sony did manage to have Kevin Butler (from the commercials) to give a speech on stage. The speech culminated in an epic Crowning Moment of Awesome that must be seen to be believed.
- Konami's E3 2010 also deserves a mention by virtue of being So Bad, It's Good, thanks to vast amounts of Gratuitous English. One. Million. Twoobs.
- Electronic Arts started off their press conference with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and caused the fandom to rejoice when the trailer was posted online. They also showed off their previously-announced NBA Jam revival, and the consensus was that it captured the spirit of the old games perfectly.
- Ubisoft showed off a Michael Jackson game that put an emphasis on dancing using motion controls, as well as a breathing simulator, a new Rayman game, a Reboot of Driver set in San Francisco and Child of Eden, a Spiritual Successor to the Cult Classic game Rez.
- Surprisingly, Konami's E3 event was pre-recorded and shown before the event actually started. Some highlights include compilations of Metal Gear and Zone of the Enders games, which include the miracle of transfarring, as well as a reboot of the Contra series. Aside from that, however, nothing of major value (or comedy) was released.
- Microsoft's press conference can be summed up by one word: Kinect. Almost every game announced, from Mass Effect 3 and Fable to Minecraft and Sesame Street, relies on the Kinect in some way, though it should be noted that not all of these games require the peripheral - such as Mass Effect 3 and Minecraft, which only have added features with it. In fact, the only new games shown that weren't Kinect or Kinect-enhanced were Halo: Combat Evolved: Anniversary and Halo 4.
- Sony's press conference was adequate. The good news is that the Play Station Vita handheld was named after being revealed last year (and now priced at $250), which has touch screen controls and can suspend play to pick up later on the PlayStation 3 and vice versa. In addition, Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time was announced, more LittleBigPlanet and ModNation Racers games are on the way, and Cole McGrath was going to fight in Street Fighter X Tekken.
- Nintendo's press conference was (for Nintendo fans, at least) pretty awesome, with the chief announcement being the reveal of the Wii U - the next home console. The primary innovation of this one was the controller, which looks like a small tablet PC with more buttons, allowing ideas like "asynchronous gameplay" (where the player with the new controller has vastly different gameplay/objectives/experiences than the ones using Wiimotes), or things like not even requiring the TV if someone else wants to watch a show.
- To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the The Legend of Zelda series, Nintendo had plenty up their sleeves. A free version of Four Swords for DSiWare, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for the new 3DS Virtual Console, and two soundtracks - one from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, if people were one of the first handful to register their copy of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D on Club Nintendo (also free), and one of fully orchestrated Zelda tunes for those who plan on getting The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Nintendo also announced they would hold live orchestra shows (titled The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses), conducting music from the Zelda games, in various regions of the world.
- For the Nintendo 3DS, a slew of games were announced. New Super Mario Bros., Mario Kart, and Luigi's Mansion games, (later titled Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, respectively), Star Fox 64 3D, Kid Icarus: Uprising, and a handful of 3rd-party games. They also announced a Pokédex app.
- The 3DS' Virtual Console was detailed to be selling Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, with Super Mario Land, Alleyway, and Radar Mission being the first games released. Nintendo also announced that several classic Nintendo titles (and those Older Than the NES) would get a 3D facelift, starting with Excitebike, as part of the new 3D Classics series - and that this first one would be complimentary.
- Finally, Iwata slipped in some brief words confirming that a new Super Smash Bros. game had been discussed for both Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, that the two will interact in some fashion.
- On the whole, one noticeable trend was the sheer amount of Darker and Edgier Bloodier and Gorier games on display, including Splinter Cell: Blacklist, a Tomb Raider reboot, God of War: Ascension, and The Last of Us. There also seemed to a high number of chin stabbings in trailers and demos. Journalists wrote articles discussing whether this was a good thing, a bad thing, just boring, or so on for weeks.
- Microsoft started this E3 with a gameplay debuts of Halo 4 and a new Splinter Cell, Blacklist. Additional game announcements included Gears of War: Judgment, Forza Horizon and South Park: The Stick of Truth courtesy of creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The rebooted Tomb Raider and Resident Evil 6 rounded out more on-stage presentations, with the expected Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 ending off the conference. "Smartglass" was the new technology presented as a means for other devices like smartphones and tablets will be capable of connecting to the Xbox console via specific apps either for new modes of play with particular games (ie. using a tablet to create custom strategies in Madden NFL) or other features.
- Electronic Arts' conference began with a co-op presentation of Dead Space 3, followed with gameplay of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Need for Speed: Most Wanted (once again helmed by 2010's Hot Pursuit developer Criterion Games) and Crysis 3. The developer unveiled further content for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Finally, Battlefield developer DICE announced Battlefield Premium, a clone of Call of Duty Elite.
- Ubisoft's conference was very strong, especially considering how many of their games were held until other conferences to trumpet their host systems. Just Dance 4 started it off and Far Cry 3 got showcased (as well as the bare breasts of a character, triggering some controversy), alongside the much-anticipated Assassins Creed III. A Rayman Origins sequel, Rayman Legends, was demoed on-stage with the Nintendo Wii U of the upcoming releases. The presentation was capped by Watch_Dogs, which many considered the best announcement/game of the show.
- Sony started with the latest project from Quantic Dream - Beyond: Two Souls. They quickly followed that up with showcasing a few things not shown during Ubisoft's conference - naval combat in Assassins Creed III, a 4-player co-operative campaign in Far Cry 3, and a trailer for Assassins Creed III Liberation, as well as announcing special PS3 and Vita bundles for III and Liberation respectively. About midway through the conference, Sony announced that they were pulling an Oprah and giving everyone attending the conference a free month of their PlayStation Plus service. This segued into the Vita side of their presentation, which started off with a showcase of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and its Vita functionality, capped off with the trailer announcement of Nathan Drake and Big Daddy as playable characters. Dipping back into the PS3 side of things, they showed off a new peripheral called the Wonderbook - an augmented-reality 'storybook' that can be interacted with using the PS3's camera and PlayStation Move. To show off this new gadget, they demoed the latest entry in the mass-multimedia Pottermore campaign, Book of Spells. Finally, they ended the show with a playable demo of The Last of Us.
- Nintendo's conference was rather sparse. The final version of the Wii U was shown and playable. Nintendo's first party offerings were dominated by Mario; New Super Mario Bros. U, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, and Paper Mario: Sticker Star were exhibited. Pikmin 3 and Wii Fit U were announced, continuing those franchises, and Nintendo Land, a theme-park styled game featuring mini-games drawn from other Nintendo franchises, and meant to be the Wii U equivalent of Wii Sports. This was the presentation finisher, capping it with an anemic in-game fireworks display. Everything else was third-party titles, overwhelmingly from Ubisoft, but Warner Bros. also had a good presence with Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition, and Scribblenauts Unlimited.
- On the whole, though, Nintendo appeared to start shifting their announcements from one big blowout to multiple smaller events, such as the occasional "Nintendo Direct" webcasts that they had started the previous fall. Before the show, the Wii U had been showcased in New York City, later the day of the presentation a project codenamed Project P-100 was shown (later officially titled The Wonderful 101), as was a new WarioWare game called Game & Wario. Another presentation dedicated to the 3DS happened the next day, which included a confirmation of a North American release for Fire Emblem Awakening; and in the weeks after the show a Nintendo Direct video announced a new 3DS XL model, details on the dev team for the new Smash Bros., and retro game releases on the 3DS eShop.
- Microsoft basically had to do some damage control, as the Xbox One reveal a few weeks prior failed to impress gamers, partially from its actual gaming capabilities being Out of Focus in favor of TV and movies, but also the reveal of its restrictive DRM features. Their presentation addressed the former point well, with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and its open-world mechanics, Respawn Entertainment's new Titanfall First-Person Shooter/Mecha Game, Ryse: Son of Rome, an exclusive-Xbox One reboot of Killer Instinct (though oddly enough, not developed by Rare), Crimson Dragon (now headed to the Xbox One), Dead Rising 3 exclusive to the console, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Battlefield 4 with timed-exclusive Downloadable Content, and Minecraft. To compete with the PlayStation 4, Microsoft will partner with Twitch for live-streaming integration (by comparison, Sony will use Ustream on their console), getting rid of the dreaded Microsoft Points once their console launches, offer Xbox Live gold members free games every month and a re-designed Xbox 360 with a look similar to the Xbox One. However, the DRM issue still loomed large, and pricing for the console has been called steep by the audience at $499 US, and quite a bit more in other territories. Post-conference, further details regarding the launch of the Xbox One in only 21 countries was not pleasing to certain audience members.
- Notably, after the jabs they received throughout E3 over the new DRM system (particularly Sony's, see below), Microsoft announced the week afterward that they were abandoning it in favor of the policies used on the the Xbox 360.
- Sony debuted the PlayStation 4 for the first time since its official reveal a few months back, including showing off the physical console for the first time. Sony representatives continued to reiterate their stance on supporting independent developers with exclusive releases for the console. As far as other games go, while The Last Guardian is still missing-in-action, Final Fantasy Versus XIII was officially retitled as Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III was finally announced as in development, alongside the world premiere of gameplay from Destiny. Sony then made one of the most talked-about moments of the show by taking dead aim at Microsoft and its new DRM policies, proclaiming that the PS4 would have no DRM that wasn't on the PS3 and mocking Microsoft for adding complications. Sony promises the Play Station Network will continue to work on the PlayStation 4, carrying over from the current generation to the next; unfortunately, online multiplayer will require a PlayStation Plus subscription for the new console. To end off the conference, Sony listed the retail price of the PlayStation 4 at $399 US to cheers from the audience.
- Nintendo dropped a bombshell early, announcing ahead of time that they would forgo the regular keynote presentation in favor of their smaller events tailored to different audiences. In another unprecedented move, they partnered with Best Buy to hold nationwide events during the expo that would allow the public to play E3 game demos. The lineup of games on display, on the other hand, was considered solid but predictable; with few surprises: their main presentation, a Nintendo Direct webcast, featured known games Pokémon X and Y, The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD; and new announcements Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze , and the fourth Super Smash Bros. installment featuring the Villager from Animal Crossing and Mega Man. Other games shown include Pikmin 3, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, a new Yoshi's Island, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds; finally, to add to the Smash Bros. roster, a third new character was unveiled as the Female Trainer from Wii Fit.
- Ubisoft had additional live demonstrations for Watch_Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Splinter Cell Blacklist and announced several new games, including The Crew, an open-world Racing Game with a heavy focus on car tuning for just about every aspect of the vehicle and co-op and Competitive Multiplayer. Perhaps unexpectedly was the annoucement of a new IP: entitled Tom Clancy's The Division, this Massively Multiplayer Online Third-Person Shooter RPG set in a dark future New York City has been praised for its setting and bleakness, with many proclaiming it another game of the show for Ubisoft (note that like Watch Dogs at E3 2012, The Division was not known by the public, nor leaked out prior, until its reveal at E3).
- EA's conference unveiled 11 new games, alongside Titanfall for the Xbox One. The arguably biggest announcement was of a new Star Wars Battlefront being developed by DICE (who also showed Battlefield 4). As usual for EA, they also showed off a new Need for Speed, this one named Rivals, a new FIFA, NBA, Madden, and another UFC. DICE also, shockingly, announced a sequel to their cult classic Mirror's Edge, which had been requested for several years now. Dragon Age 3 was also renamed to Dragon Age Inquisition, and the first trailer was announced.
- Having learned from the reception they received in the previous year, Microsoft showcased the entire conference on games, kicking it off with a multitude of third-party games, including Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Assassin's Creed: Unity, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Sunset Overdrive. Their first-party lineup detailed Forza Horizon 2 and Fable Legends, with a follow-up Project Spark, a game-creation tool kit in the same vein as Little BIG Planet (notably, Conker makes an appearance). News regarding Halo 5: Guardians is a multiplayer beta bundled with the Master Chief Collection, an Enhanced Remake of all four primary installments of the Halo franchise on the Xbox One (Halo 2 gets the "Anniversary" treatment). Proving they haven't forgotten the independent scene, Limbo developers Playdead unveil their next project Inside, including many other indie games. Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Tom Clancy's The Division cap off the last of the third-party entries. Original Xbox title Phantom Dust gets an Updated Re-release, while Hideki Kamiya of Platinum Games debut the exclusive Scalebound, with a new Crackdown ending off the conference.
- Nintendo built on their previous strategy, making their announcements through a webcast and offering nationwide demos (this time strictly of the new Super Smash Bros.) through Best Buy. They also broke new ground by running a continuous stream from the show floor hosted by their Treehouse localization team, and held a Smash Bros. Invitational Tournament in order to hype the WiiU/3DS installment. As you might guess, Smash Bros. was at the center of Nintendo's announcements; with Mii Fighters, Palutena from Kid Icarus, and Pac-Man being announced for the roster. There was also the official unveiling of their amiibo NFC figure system, to be used with Smash Bros. and other games. Another major announcement was Splatoon, not only a rare new IP from the company but their first entry into the popular multiplayer shooter genre. Other games covered during the Digital Event were Yoshi's Woolly World, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Bayonetta 2, Devil's Third, Mario Maker, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Hyrule Warriors (along with the first look at the next major Zelda game), and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Shigeru Miyamoto dropped by the Nintendo Treehouse livestream to talk about his new projects codenamed Project Giant Robot and Project Guard as well as confirming that he is working on a new Star Fox game for Wii U. And the following day, finished their gaming announcements with Codename STEAM.
- Ubisoft had a controversial E3 and a bad follow up; while trailers and gameplays demos for games like Assassin's Creed: Unity and Far Cry 4 were met with good reception, both games suffered controversy for the lack of female characters (one developer saying it'd be "too hard" to do it in Unity was met with open derision from fellow Ubisoft employees), and when asked about it, a member of the Far Cry team had a Stunned Silence reaction. Coupled with Watch_Dogs being met with a mixed reception earlier that month due to a perceived downgrade of graphics from its E3 2012 debut, and June wasn't kind to Ubisoft. Despite this, other demos and trailers like The Division and Rainbow Six: Siege (a replacement to the prior-announced-several-years-ago-Patriots) were met with good reception as well.