The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is a major gaming event that started in 1995 in Los Angeles, California and has been held every year since. Though dwarfed in attendance numbers by events like Gamescom and PAX (due to it being industry only), it has a unique place in gaming culture, as it is where the big software and hardware publishers hold press conferences and presentations, showing off new games and consoles for the upcoming year. It is traditionally where new franchises are shown for the first time, where new consoles are debuted and played live for the audiences, and where long-awaited new installments or franchise reboots are given their introductions. The entire gaming world watches E3, ensuring that these new debuts will have the most exposure possible. 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.note The first E3 was held by the Interactive Digital Software Association, now known as the Entertainment Software Association, after the organization was formed in 1994. It was originally devoted to retailers, but has since broadened. Historically, E3 attracted large, somewhat unruly crowds.note 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 and developers 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. The general public is allowed admission (for a high price), but members of the press and industry get in for free. In this era of social media, particularly notable bloggers are given free passes or brought along by attending companies, keeping a line of communication open between the new press and the general gaming public. 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 — PAX for the community (and tabletop/card games), GDC for game developers, DICE for executives — but E3 is for everyone, regardless of where they fit in the spectrum of gaming. The expo is immensely popular, and the entire gaming world has its eyes focused on Los Angeles for the roughly week-long event. It is a source of both joy and heartbreak, of incredibly ecstasy and mouth-frothing rage, and everything in between. Though fandoms the world over may feel elation at the announcement of a new entry in a long awaited franchise, other announcements (or a lack thereof) can easily cause huge backlashes, often in the forms of Flame Wars, They Changed It, Now It Sucks, Unpleasable Fanbase, Broken Base, Accentuate the Negative, Internet Backdraft, and many others. Due to the massive intersection of all aspects of games and gaming, controversial issues and events often spring back to up relevance around E3, since the issues tend to resurface or the events are referenced, directly or otherwise. For all that E3 unites the gaming community, it also serves as a stark reminder of underlying problems within gamer culture and business, with the various presentations and interviews subject to a large amount of critical and commercial analysis. The huge focus isn't all bad, though - all the attention means that certain events in the show are ripe for Memetic Mutation. Sony's disastrous 2006 conference is a good example of this, as that single event alone named three tropes and an index.
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E3 1995 - 2000
- Being E3 1995 the first edition, some iconic moments were bound to happen:
- 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, and it was one of the main contributing factors in the death of the Saturn - though the system had fans, a huge lack of product in the first six months meant that Sony had to do very little to catch up to the Saturn's pitiful lead. note
- Sony, in their own keynote address the same year, also made a startling announcement: $299 for the Sony PlayStation.
- Nintendo announced this year that the Nintendo 64 (then known as the Nintendo Ultra 64) would be released the summer of the following year. They also gave extensive publicity to the Virtual Boy, though it ended up being a huge hardware failure.
- The Mortal Kombat conference is remembered for a hilarious, over-the-top presentation that simulated a fight, which was more choreographic than anything else.
- One of the most famous chapters of E3's history took place in 1997, one of the few times when it was hosted in Atlanta, Georgia instead of Los Angeles, when Quake II was unveiled. Since it was the first Quake game developed without the input of John Romero, who left id Software after some publicized conflicts, Romero himself aimed at stealing their spotlight by showcasing his long-coveted pet project, Daikatana. However, the latter game was running on the engine of the original Quake, while the newer sequel was premiering a more advanced one, so when both games were exposed, Romero and his game were ridiculed. You can learn more here.
- From 1999 onwards, the event has since been held in Los Angeles. E3 1999 itself is remembered positively for giving fans and journalists a first-time tease on what would be the sixth generation of consoles, including the announcements of games that would expand on online play, the public showing of the Sega Dreamcast, and details of the then-upcoming Nintendo GameCube (codenamed Dolphin at the time) and the PlayStation 2.
E3 2001 - 2007
- Around 2001, Nintendo presented several tech demos for games that could be made on the GameCube (this was before the console was launched). One of the demos 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. With that, the fanboys and fangirls were amused. IGN's reaction to that,◊ coupled with their Dull Surprise from last year's E3,◊ became subject to Memetic Mutation.
- Sony's E3 2006 press conference was infamous for the following reasons:
- 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 a Giant Enemy Crab and flip it over to Attack Its Weak Point.
- 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.
- The reveal that the 60GB console would cost $599.
- During E3 2007, Jamie Kennedy hosted Activision's press conference. It was a complete disaster as he was apparently drunk, heckled the crowd, and was upstaged by a developer at one point. Adding insult to injury, someone in the crowd could clearly be heard saying that the developer was funnier than Kennedy.
- The above two conferences are often cited as the worst E3 press conferences of all time, though one or two of Nintendo's later ones and some of Microsoft's are in the running as well.
E3 2008 sparked outrage on all three consoles in the following examples:
- Microsoft's event showed many casual friendly features, such as avatars (which looked 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, it shocked everybody. After the announcement, 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, then Nintendo marketing VP Cammie Dunaway 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 Fils-Aime 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 was now saving most of their good stuff for their own conferences, PAX, or the Tokyo Game Show. Even the game publishers 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 E3 was in 2008.
- Microsoft announced a new device codenamed "Project Natal" that supposedly surpassed the Wii's motion controls by detecting full body movement, and even insulted Nintendo by saying that you wouldn'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: Dark Dawn, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Dead Space: Extraction, The Conduit, and Metroid: Other M (The latter 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 the PlayStation Network.
- Outside of the major conferences, Scribblenauts made a massive impact for seeming to deliver on its promise of allowing the player to summon anything and everything they wanted. Most people who tried the demo attempted to stump the in-game dictionary, and failed more often than not.
- Microsoft: The main focus this year was the controller-less system announced in '09, now titled the "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 remake of GoldenEye, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and most shockingly, Kid Icarus: Uprising. The showing can basically be summed up in this link.◊
- 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 PlayStation 3 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 PS3. The true highlight of the conference, and in some cases of the entire show, was when Kevin Butler (who was starring in their ad campaign at the time) (from the commercials) to give a speech onstage, one that crossed generational and console lines and spoke to gamers everywhere.
- 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, relied on the Kinect in some way, though it should be noted that not all of these games required the peripheral - such as Mass Effect 3 and Minecraft, which only had 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 was that the PlayStation 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, Satoru 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 would interact in some fashion.
- Ubisoft's press conference became infamous thanks its host, Mr. Caffeine. It featured him telling uncomfortable jokes throughout the conference, mispronouncing Tom Clancy's name several times, and repeatedly using the phrase "Doodly Doodly Doop" while making a hand gesture to imitate the sound effect of time travel.
- 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 with a gameplay debut 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 II 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 Assassin's 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 Assassin's Creed III, a 4-player co-operative campaign in Far Cry 3, and a trailer for Assassin's 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. Afterwards, Nintendo started 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 would 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 had 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 was 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 then new DRM policies, proclaiming that the PS4 would have no DRM that wasn't on the PS3 and mocked Microsoft for adding complications. Sony promised that the PlayStation Network would continue to work on the PS4, carrying over from the current generation to the next; unfortunately, online multiplayer still required a PlayStation Plus subscription for the new console. To end off the conference, Sony listed the retail price of the PS4 at $399 US to cheers from the audience.
- Nintendo shook up their entire E3 strategy; replacing the traditional live presentation with a pre-recorded webcast and partnering 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, "X" (a successor to Xenoblade) and the fourth Super Smash Bros. installment featuring the Villager from Animal Crossing and Mega Man. Other games shown included 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 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 PlatinumGames debut the exclusive Scalebound, with a new Crackdown ending off the conference.
- Nintendo built on their previous strategy, making their announcements through a "Digital Event" 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.
- Bethesda showed off a good slew of games at their first E3 press conference, including the previously announced Doom Reboot and Fallout 4, complete with gameplay footage, as well as a trailer for Dishonored 2. Other announcements included new content for The Elder Scrolls Online and a the debut of a Trading Card Game entitled The Elder Scrolls: Legends in the vein of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Also notable is that between the official streams on Bethesda's YouTube and Twitch channels, over six hundred thousand people watched it live, making it a fantastically successful debut conference for the publisher.
- Microsoft had what is widely considered to be one of their strongest press conferences in years:
- They kicked things off with campaign gameplay for Halo 5: Guardians and a new multiplayer trailer for its "Warzone" game mode. Other first-party showings consisted of Forza Motorsport 6 (with a second-generation Ford GT brought down from the ceiling for promotion), confirmation of an "Ultimate Edition" for the original Gears of War on the Xbox One, and closing off the conference with a live preview of Gears of War 4.
- The company gave audiences a surprising treat by addressing one of the Xbox One's complaints, announcing backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 titles using retail discs of the console via a unique roundabout method of reading the disc then downloading an Xbox One-compatible version of the 360 game. They also showed off a new customizable "Elite" version of the revised Xbox One controller to be released for retail, which features attachable paddles on the back, interchangeable control sticks (with PlayStation-esque convex sticks provided alongside the traditional concave sticks), and a disc-based variant of the directional pad.note Finally, Microsoft demonstrated its working HoloLens augmented reality glasses using Minecraft.
- Ex-Metroid Prime devs Armature Studios and Keiji Inafune showed off ReCore, a new science fiction game about a girl and her robot - the first installment of a new IP for Microsoft. Rare followed them by announcing another new IP called Sea Of Thieves, a multiplayer-based swashbuckler, along with a thirty-dollar Compilation Re-release of thirty of its classic gamesnote in celebration of their thirtieth anniversary.
- Capping off the remainder was timed-exclusive third-party game Rise of the Tomb Raider demo, and Bethesda announced Fallout 4 would have official support for mods made on PCs available on consoles, along with some new footage that wasn't present in their conference the previous day.
- Notably, and for the first time since it was debuted back in 2009, not a single game was shown or mentioned as using the Kinect. This unofficially marked the end of the device's tenure, and though it is unlikely to be abandoned or retired officially for a while, the push to sell the device or integrate it heavily into Xbox games ended there.
- Electronic Arts:
- With a large focus on sports at the expense of nearly everything else,note the company had an overall disappointing show, with many of its titles unveiled being new installments in their various yearly franchises.
- Fortunately, a few gems were buried within the mire of sports, such as a long-awaited teaser for Mass Effect 4 (now titled Mass Effect: Andromeda). Furthermore, a adorable 2D Platform Game, Unravel, marked a new IP for the publisher; notably, the presenting creative director of the game told audiences about the inspiration behind it and his family vacation, even bringing a small model of the main character with him. It didn't take long for Unravel to become a highlight of the show.
- Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 was shown, complete with awkward on-stage mascot reveal and use of Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone", while a new mobile title featuring the Despicable Me Minions failed to excite the crowd.
- Things bounced back with a trailer of Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, including discussion regarding its background, new features and talks of the open-world nature of the reboot. Finally, Star Wars: Battlefront showcased the environment of the Battle of Hoth from the perspective of several Rebel and Imperial combatants.
- With the exception of host Aisha Tyler awkwardly asking a cosplayer for a meme (which, naturally, became a meme), Ubisoft had a decent showing:
- New titles showcased include a trailer for South Park: The Fractured but Whole, a sequel to South Park: The Stick of Truth, switching to an Avengers-esque theme as opposed to the fantasy Role-Playing Game of the latter; a demonstration of For Honor, a Bushido Blade-inspired new IP that mixes Multiplayer Online Battle Arena elements with Player Versus Player duels; and an announcement for the next installment in the Anno Domini Simulation Game series called Anno 2205.
- Capping off the conference was Ghost Recon Wildlands, taking a few pages from recent Far Cry releases and, unexpectedly, set in South America.
- Ubisoft's Racing Games received a few spotlights, detailing an expansion for the The Crew called "Wild Run", additions and further enhancements to Track Mania Turbo (along with being brought to other consoles), and a Trials Fusion expansion pack entitled "Awesome Level Max" allowing players to ride a unicorn, among other things. Similarly, the popular Just Dance series got stage time with talk about the mobile platform.
- After having apparently not learned from their Usher debacle a few years ago, a brief Jason Derulo concert and interview went about as well as one would expect for a video game conference. Maybe next year, guys.
- Meanwhile, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate and The Division unveiled additional trailers, with the latter revealing "Dark Zone" areas in the game and the ability for players to turn on their friends during Co-Op Multiplayer was welcomed, promising to rival Mario Kart and Mario Party for friendships ended. Finally, Rainbow Six Siege (originally showcased in 2014) was demonstrated on-stage, including a brief chat with Angela Bassett, who is cast in Seige as "6", the leader of Team Rainbow.
- On the more meta side: similar to 2014, Ubisoft got flak from social media for showing nearly no women (and even less playable ones) in their games (though having two women of color on stage at the same time was a welcome sight). After the much appreciated announcement pre-E3 that Syndicate would include a playable female assassin as one of the protagonists, not a single woman was visible in its primary promotional trailer, though a second trailer shown during the Sony conference focused on Evie. Wildlands, which takes place largely in South America, had no Latinx protagonists shown; accusations of Mighty Whitey due to the the predominantly Caucasian squad were abound.
- Sony's conference was quite possibly the highlight of what many are now calling "the E3 of Dreams" with multiple megaton announcements of games that people had previously thought would never see the light of day:
- After years of radio silence, The Last Guardian was not only alive and well, but playable. It kicked off the conference in the form of a gameplay trailer.
- Following well over a decade of speculation, teasings, assertions it was never going to happen, and many disappointing absences from E3s of yore, the long rumored Final Fantasy VII remake was announced to be making its debut first on the PS4 before moving on to other platforms. The crowd went absolutely bonkers, and so did most of the internet. Contrast the reaction from the PlayStation Experience last year regarding the VII PC port on the PS4 against the reaction to the remake announcement.
- Finishing off the trifecta of "Games No One Thought Would Ever Actually Get Made" was an announcement from Yu Suzuki himself: the launch of a Shenmue 3 Kickstarter, which hit its funding goal in less than nine hours.
- Guerrilla Games, best known for Killzone, unveiled Sony's new IP: Horizon: Zero Dawn, an After the End action/adventure featuring a tribal hunter fighting animalistic robots.
- LittleBigPlanet developer Media Molecule showcased a playable version of Dreams, based on player creativity and sandbox tools in the vein of their signature work.
- The Hitman franchise received a trailer for its next entry, simply entitled Hitman, while Square Enix debuted a new cutesy, Super-Deformed Final Fantasy Gaiden Game called World of Final Fantasy, where players use Mons elements to form powerful combat teams.
- The conference closed with a demo of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, which underwent some minor technical difficulties after the person who was supposed to be playing it grabbed the wrong controller.
- Third-party titles included a Street Fighter V trailer which revealed two returning characters and the promise of an exclusive beta for the PS4, Destiny expansion "The Taken King" with exclusive PlayStation content, the No Man's Sky team demonstrating the further scale and open-world nature of their game, and additional footage of Star Wars: Battlefront and its single or co-op mode called "Survival". In what could be considered a shot against Microsoft, Sony announced a deep partnership with Call of Duty producer Activision, giving PS4 owners first access to map packs and a beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops III, with trailers highlighting its cooperative campaign and multiplayer aspects.
- Nintendo continued their strategy of using webcasts via Nintendo Treehouse, public demos at nationwide stores of Best Buy (this time featuring Super Mario Maker), and a tournament. While the headlining Digital Event wasn't bad, it disappointed fans due to a lack of big, exciting announcements - two such items (the next major Zelda game and home console) were specifically being held for next year (and the home console didn't even show up at E3 2016), and most things that were shown were either already known (Mario Maker and Star Fox Zero were discussed in 2014) or not really what fans were looking for (mostly multiplayer spinoffs when fans wanted regular installments - Metroid Prime: Federation Force in particular angered fans that were desperate for the franchise to get back on track after Other M).
- On Sunday, new Super Smash Bros. Downloadable Content was showcased, including Roy and Ryu, almost all of which was available that day. A few hours later, in the same vein as their Smash Bros. Tournament a year ago, a revival of the Nintendo World Championships (last seen in 1990) was held, where they revealed both the official English release of MOTHER (after a whopping 25 year gap since its 1989 debut!) as EarthBound Beginnings for the Wii U Virtual Console and a multiplayer game called Blastball for 3DS.
- In the Digital Event, they showed off upcoming titles Star Fox Zero, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, along with an Updated Re-release of Hyrule Warriors for the Nintendo 3DS, Metroid Prime: Federation Force (of which Blastball is a minigame), two installments to the Animal Crossing series called amiibo Festival and Happy Home Designer, a Paper Mario/Mario & Luigi crossover called Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, and Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash. This was followed by further looks at Fire Emblem Fates (including the reveal of the final title), the at-the-time untitled Shin Megami Tensei/Fire Emblem crossover, a launch date for Xenoblade Chronicles X, Yoshi's Woolly World, a localization of Yo Kai Watch, and a somewhat surprising announcement of amiibo/Skylanders crossover figures featuring Bowser and Donkey Kong.
- Sadly, E3 was also the final appearance of sorts of company president Satoru Iwata. Though he was not personally present due to health reasons and was not shown in person in the Digital Event, said Event was interspersed with short skits featuring puppet versions of himself, Reggie, and Miyamoto. However, the health issues proved to be worse than he had let on, and he regrettably passed away about a month later.
- Square Enix held their own conference this year, but had the same big issue as EA did: most of their headliners were revealed elsewhere at E3 (such as the Final Fantasy VII remake).
- Fortunately, Just Cause 3 kicked off a series of next installment releases, with details regarding the game's location (the Mediterranean island of Medici, where the protagonist was born). A gameplay/story trailer for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, new Spin-Off Tomb Raider Go (based on Hitman Go), additional footage of Rise of the Tomb Raider and the next Hitman game followed. All of them showed a few bits of new content, such as Hitman having assassinations that will be permanently missable if left uncompleted.
- In what seems to be a bounce back into the company's signature genre, mobile game Kingdom Hearts X got a Western release announcement, and a gameplay trailer for Kingdom Hearts III demonstrated a world based on Tangled and revealed Sora's new outfit. Gamers got an early look at the fifth Star Ocean game, titled Integrity and Faithlessness, and a new IP called Project Setsuna (later titled I Am Setuna, in production by a studio called "Tokyo RPG Factory" that bore no small resemblance to Chrono Trigger. Finally, a sequel to NieR was announced, being developed by PlatinumGames with Taro Yoko returning as director. Yoko addressing the audience while wearing a mask of No.7 from NieR seems like a Big Lipped Alligator Moment, but this is standard for him.
- The realm of PC gaming got its time to shine with its debut conference, thanks to computer processor developer AMD and PC Gamer. It was creatively called the "PC Gaming Show". The conference was akin to a talk show, with noted streamer "Day9" acting as host, and a parade of developers coming up for interviews or to discuss their products. It was a decent debut conference for the PC crowd, though as with EA and Square Enix, most presenters showed off titles the audience already knew of already. The show also ran uncommonly long, overclocking in at around two and a half hours, at least an hour more than any other presentation at E3.
- For the first time, a secondary event called "E3 Live!" was held alongside the main show, allowing the public to experience a number of games on display. However, it was largely a disappointment, as is was much smaller than expected and most exhibitors didn't even feature game demos, focusing more on selling merchandise.
- Both Electronic Arts and Activision decided not to have booths at the expo this year. EA did have a press conference as usual, and held their own public events in Los Angeles and London in place of its booth; while Activision had Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare present as part of Sony's booth instead of its own. Disney Interactive also announced that they wouldn't be present at E3, and by the time the show took place they had broken the news that they were getting out of game development entirely.
- As with 2015, EA's focus on sports was to the detriment of almost everything else:
- Well over half of the conference was devoted to their sports line up, particularly FIFA. The inclusion of a full-fledged story mode to FIFA was interesting, but most of the sports talk was about their usual gameplay/graphical updates and new esports events that EA is hosting. Repeated crowd shots showed a largely unexcited group of journalists/developers, mirroring the general reaction of the gaming public.
- Titanfall 2 was first, showing off some of the new features, mobility changes, and a campaign for the single-player campaign, which will center around a man and his mecha.
- A behind-the-scenes peek of Mass Effect: Andromeda was slightly better than last year's short trailer. A few bits of gameplay and in-engine shots were interspersed with developer footage and interviews (plus 15 to 20 seconds of NASA stock footage), and while what was seen was good, Mass Effect fans were left clamoring for more - especially given the amount of time EA managed to devote to sports.
- Building off of Yarny's breakout appearance last year, EA announced the start of their EA Originals program, which will seek out and publish original games by smaller, more indie studios. Their first game is Fe, an exploration platformer that takes place in a large, mystical forest and has a strong music focus.
- EA showed a look at their Star Wars lineup, with appearances from Battlefront and The Old Republic. The segment was mostly made up of developer interviews and behind-the-scenes looks, with very little new information given aside from news that Visceral and Respawn are both working on original action-adventure titles, one of which takes place in a different era than what we're used to.
- Closing off the show was some Battlefield 1 information and in-game footage - biplane flying, attacking mammoth vehicles, running through exploding houses, and dynamic elements (such as weather conditions) that make every battle unique.
- Also notable for EA's presentation is that they showed exactly one new game - everything else was known before the conference happened.
- Bethesda opened with the surprising reveal of Quake Champions, a revival of the long-dormant franchise with the promise to bring classic FPS multiplayer to its roots.
- Hearthstone competitor The Elder Scrolls: Legends was next, with the introduction of a story mode and more details on the card game.
- Todd Howard made a video appearance to show off three more DLC packs for Fallout 4 - one to add a bunch of complex machines to your settlements, one that lets you build and run a Vault in a full-scale version of Fallout Shelter, and one that takes place at the post-apocalyptic amusement park Nuka World.
- Doom (2016) was given a few moments of discussion, and Bethesda announced plans for a lot of new multiplayer maps and modes. They also opened up the entire first level of Doom to play for free, for everyone, for the week of E3.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim got a graphical upgrade with a Special Edition, which will also bring mods to consoles in the same way Fallout 4 did, and which will be free for anyone who owns all of Skyrim's DLC and/or the Legendary Edition.
- The Elder Scrolls Online got some screen time: some details on the Dark Brotherhood expansion, and the opening of the entire map for all players regardless of level were the highlights.
- Fallout 4 for HTC Vive was announced, coming 2017, and a playable VR version of Doom (2016) was on the show floor to try out.
- Bethesda revived the long-dormant Prey franchise with a debut cinematic for a reboot, also titled Prey. This came as no small surprise, as since cancelling Prey 2 back in 2014 after it languished for a few years in Development Hell, the franchise was presumed dead. The reboot is a Psychological Horror Sci-Fi First-Person Shooter starring Morgan Yu, a female or male (at the player's choice) test subject on a space station where things have Gone Horribly Wrong.
- Dishonored 2 got a good chunk of time and attention, with plot details, a gameplay trailer, and a live demo. New mechanics include cool new powers, playing as either Emily or Corvo, and a time travel device. A collector's edition for Dishonored 2 was also announced.
- While all three console makers were confirmed or rumored to be preparing new hardware, Microsoft was the only one who chose to reveal theirs at the show:
- First was the announcement of the Xbox One S to be released later in 2016. The S model is 40% smaller than the original model, can be placed vertically on its side, moves the side USB port and controller sync button to the front, no longer uses the bulky "power brick", is colored white, and includes a revision of the Xbox One controller with textured grips, increased signal range, and Bluetooth support to allow for gaming on PC without a separate adapter. The new S console also introduced 4K video support and high-dynamic-range (HDR) coloring. Showing further signs that Microsoft is distancing itself from Kinect, there is no longer a dedicated proprietary Kinect port, but Microsoft will give out USB 3.0 adapters for existing owners of the sensor.
- The second, more significant, hardware announcement was "Project Scorpio", an upgraded version of the console meant to support 4K gaming and virtual reality to be released sometime in 2017. Games already released for the console such as Halo 5: Guardians will see performance improvements on "Scorpio". Journalists, who've also said that the announcements of both S and "Scorpio" in the same conference was rather confusing, saw thisnote as console gaming becoming a tiered platform like smartphones and PCs, with the consistent performance model that console gaming was known for on its way out.
- A new "Xbox Play Anywhere" program was announced, allowing gamers to play some Xbox One games on their Windows 10 PCs without having to re-purchase the game, with cross-platform play capabilities between console and computer.
- Dead Rising 4, State of Decay 2 and Forza Horizon 3 were new announcements. Dead Rising 4 sees Frank West return in a Christmas-themed setting, while Horizon 3 will take place in Australia and feature a four-player co-op campaign.
- While all three console makers were confirmed or rumored to be preparing new hardware, Microsoft was the only one who chose to reveal theirs at the show:
- Sony's press conference was widely well-received, consisting of a near constant stream of trailers and demos backed up by a live orchestra.
- The orchestra first played an unknown song, which was revealed to belong to God of War (PS4). Kratos is back and has a young son, and the focus this time is on Norse mythology. His Blades of Chaos have been replaced with a new ice-themed axe.
- Horizon: Zero Dawn showed off more gameplay, including a dialogue wheel similar to Bioware's RPGs, a vast open map, and an Enemy Scan feature. It also showed that you can "tame" machines to ride them, and had a fight against a new enemy type - the Corruptor, which could enrage other machines and turn them violent against humans. It was given a Feburary 2017 release date.
- The Last Guardian was back with a new trailer, showing off fantastic locales, giant-sized enemies, and another one of the large creatures that works with the young boy protagonist. It also confirmed an October 25th, 2016 release date.
- To the audience's delight, Sony announced that they are working on high definition remasters of the first three Crash Bandicoot games for release on the PS4. Crash will also be playable in the new iteration of Skylanders.
- Quantic Dream was next with a story/gameplay trailer for Detroit: Become Human. It showed one of the main characters, an android police negotiator named Connor, trying to talk down a rogue, possibly malfunctioning android who had taken his owners' daughter hostage. As with their other games, player actions and choices can heavily influence and determine the narrative and course of the story - finding clues to the rogue android's motives and additional equipment (such as a gun) can open up vastly different dialogue options and actions to take, such as choosing between trying to talk him down or shooting the android and trying grab the girl before she fell.
- PlayStation VR got a massive push with a confirmed 50 games at launch on October 13, 2016. It comes with a $400 price tag, and the games lineup includes Star Wars: Battlefront, Final Fantasy XV (controlling Prompto instead of Noctis), and a trailer for a Silent Hills-esque survival horror game set in a decrepit bayou mansion. This turned out to be Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. They also announced a new game in the Batman: Arkham Series which is also going to be a VR launch title.
- Gameplay from Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare showed up, featuring a campaign mission which had both space dogfights and the shooting that CoD is known for, with a magnetic grappling hook to aid in zero-g mobility. Reactions to this demo were far, far more positive than the reveal trailer from well before E3, resulting in a large upswing in public opinion to the title.
- A trailer showing the next title from Insomniac Games confirms that they are working on a new PS4-exclusive Spider-Man game.
- Hideo Kojima came out on stage to massive applause and revealed his new game which he is developing for Sony - Death Stranding, starring Norman Reedus. It featured Reedus, oil, dead whales, a beach, a baby that may or may not have been birthed by in-game Reedus, and five floating figures. It was far and away the most confusing and strange trailer featured this year, and the Internet meme machine went bonkers over it.
- Finally, there was Days Gone. A story trailer was shown early on in Sony's conference, but they closed with prerecorded gameplay.note The game itself bears no small resemblance in style and look to fellow end-of-the-world game The Last of Us, with Days Gone being another open-world survival horror game, albeit with bikers and more traditional zombies. Lots of zombies. Lots and lots and lots of zombies.
- Also, in related news to Microsoft's "Project Scorpio" announcement, Sony announced before E3 that they too were working on an upgraded version of the PS4 under the project name of "Neo". Both consoles are expected to debut at around the same time, and both of them serve roughly the same function (to provide better performance for 4K gaming and VR).
- Nintendo announced before E3 that they would forgo a conference and their by-now-usual Nintendo Direct for livestreaming from the show floor:
- Their original announcement specified that they would not be showing the NX at all, and their their primary focus would be on the upcoming Wii U Zelda. This prompted concerns from fans who were worried Nintendo would be focusing only on Zelda. Nintendo later clarified that they would not, though it would be a major component of their booth and livestreams. This game was later confirmed to be an NX launch title as well, and would carry the full name of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Featuring a huge open world, numerous gameplay changes, and a beautiful graphical overhaul. The focus on Zelda by Nintendo proved to be a very wise move - the game was a smash hit with attendees and the press, dominating social media and topping many Game of the Show lists. Their booth was also elaborately decorated with Zelda statues, photo ops, and scenery.
- Nintendo also made additional announcements throughout the day: Mario Party: Star Rush, some new Mario and Zelda amiibo, a new IP called Ever Oasis, a Western release for BoxBoxBoy!!, and a release that day for Rhythm Heaven Megamix. Nintendo also did extended looks at Pokémon Sun and Moon, Pokémon Go, Paper Mario: Color Splash, Monster Hunter Generations, a Dragon Quest VII remake, and Yo-kai Watch 2.
- As with 2016, EA decided to forgo a show floor presence and host their own event, EA Play, held at the same dates and times as E3.