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Useful Notes / E3 in the 1990s and the 2000s

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The original E3 logo, used from 1995 to 2017.
This page covers moments of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) from 1995 to 2009.
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    E3 1995 - 2000 
  • As E3 1995 was the first edition of the event, some iconic moments were bound to happen:
    • Sega made an announcement in their keynote address that the Sega Saturn, which was releasing on "Saturnday" (September 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 its fans, a huge lack of games in the first six months meant that Sony had to do very little to catch up to the Saturn's pitiful lead.note  The move was calculated to try to cut into Sony's upcoming PlayStation release by being "first on the street", which had helped Sega get the edge over the Super Nintendo Entertainment System a couple of years earlier. Unfortunately, their keynote was scheduled first.note 
    • Sony, in their own keynote address the same year, also made a startling announcement: $299 for the PlayStation.note 
    • 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.
  • 1996:
    • Nintendo showed off the Nintendo 64 and a few games (including the anticipated Super Mario 64). They announced that the console would cost $249.95. Additionally, Nintendo unveiled the Game Boy Pocket as well.
    • Sony announced a price drop for the PlayStation from $299 to $199.
    • Sega announced that the Saturn would drop to $199. This was done in order to counter Sony's announcement.
    • The game of the show was Final Fantasy VII, a Role-Playing Game with groundbreaking 3D cinematic production values.
  • 1997:
    • The game of the show was Metal Gear Solid, the first 3D stealth game and the Trope Codifier of the Stealth-Based Game genre, with its mixture of 3D stealth gameplay and cinematic production values.
    • One of the most famous chapters of E3's history took place this year, 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.
    • Several video games which would eventually enter Development Hell were announced or shown in this edition for the first time, such as Paper Mario (then known as Super Mario RPG 2, released eventually in early 2001), Twelve Tales: Conker 64 (early 2001 as well, by then as a heavily revamped game oriented to adults) and most notoriously Duke Nukem Forever (released in 2011).
  • 1998:
  • 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, further details of the then-upcoming Nintendo GameCube (codenamed Dolphin at the time), and the PlayStation 2. Regarding current-gen software, the first-person genre had a major presence with the showing of Perfect Dark, Quake III: Arena, Team Fortress 2, Unreal Tournament and a still precarious Daikatana (it was finally released in April 2000, to negative reception).
  • 2000:
    • Sony got fans excited with a video trailer for the much-wanted Metal Gear Solid 2. They also dropped the PS2's U.S. release date (October 26) and price ($299). The anticipated Silent Hill 2 and Final Fantasy X were shown as well.
    • Nintendo showed off their latest Game Boy games and introduced a heavily revamped version of Conker's Bad Fur Day (previously shown in other events including old E3 editions as a family-friendly platformer), a sharp turn for the family-friendly company. Other notable games shown by them were Pokémon Gold and Silver, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and Banjo-Tooie, very anticipated sequels to popular installments released in prior years.
    • Sega, still a major player, was fighting for survival. They brought in a wide variety of games and had one of the biggest booths that year, showing off the Dreamcast's graphical and network prowess. It was here that they unveiled SegaNet, their network infrastructure.
    • Microsoft had their first ever E3 show this year, promoting the recently revealed Xbox console and marking their entry into the console wars in the wake of Sega's departure.

    E3 2001 - 2007 
  • 2001:
    • Grand Theft Auto III was revealed here, a little game you may have heard of.
    • Hardware was the talk of the town - Nintendo and Microsoft were gearing up to launch consoles that year (Nintendo pulling double duty with the Game Boy Advance and GameCube), the Dreamcast was dead, and Sony's PS2 had been a huge hit.
    • Nintendo presented several tech demos for games for the GameCube. One of the demos showed Link and Ganondorf fighting each other with realistic graphics for its time.
    • Microsoft's press conference on the launch of the Xbox was fraught with technical issues and bad timing - held early, the morning after Sony's late-night party, many attendees were still hung over.
    • Sega had gone software-only by this point. As a result, they showed up in almost everyone's conference. While the Dreamcast had been discontinued by then, they still had a solid lineup of franchises to license out, which they did so with gusto.
  • 2002:
    • Doom was back in the form of Doom 3, a major source of hype for the PC crowd. In fact, PC gaming sprung back in a big way in 2002. Other games of note: Ninja Gaiden, Battlefield 1942, Unreal Championship, and TimeSplitters 2.
    • Sony was high on their horse after having sold over 30 million PS2 consoles so far, numbers that Nintendo and Microsoft would never reach with their respective consoles.
    • Nintendo showed off advanced trailers and playable demos from their first-party titles, though many of them, which were previously unveiled at Space World 2001 in Japan, were still controversial at the time for different reasons. Metroid Prime, a long-awaited return of Samus Aran, caused concerns among longtime fans due to its first-person perspective and its development being handled by then-beginners Retro Studios). They also debuted a controversial trailer for the next Zelda (a then-untitled The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker) - long gone were the realistic graphics of 2001's tech demo, replaced by a artsy, cel-shaded style; finally, they showed a more polished version of Star Fox Adventures (previously Dinosaur Planet, now an action-adventure game with Star Fox characters). The internet was less than pleased overall, and while all those games were well-received upon release, the prior controversy left a permanent effect on the already-struggling sales of the GameCube.
  • 2003:
    • Valve Software showed up with Half-Life 2, which was the darling of the show. Doom 3 wasn't MIA, but it wasn't as big as it was last year.
    • Microsoft ended their conference with a movie for Halo 2, the first sequel in a now-iconic series for them.
    • Sony showed off Gran Turismo 4 and ended their press conference with the announcement of the PlayStation Portable, blindsiding Nintendo as their first real competitor in the portable gaming market since Sega released the Game Gear. We all know how it ended up, but at the time, it was a hell of an opening volley.
    • Nintendo had a less than stellar E3. Their big focus was on the GameCube/Game Boy Advance connection, which was neat, but hardly as flashy or interesting as the PSP was by itself. This candid shot of IGN's journalists sums up the overall crowd reaction.
    • Nokia premiered the N-Gage. It was predicted to go nowhere, a prediction it rather swiftly fulfilled.
  • 2004:
    • After Sony fired the opening volley in 2003, Nintendo responded with force in the form of the Nintendo DS. The graphics weren't as good as the PSP's, but it had Nintendo's solid hardware and games behind it, and the touchscreen feature got many people hooked. They also showed off a gorgeous and realistic-looking trailer for the next Zelda game, turning public opinion on the company around by a large margin, especially after their pretty bad 2003. Compare this candid shot of IGN's journalists watching the Twilight Princess trailer to the above shot from 2003. It was also the public debut of Nintendo of America's new marketing head, Reggie Fils-Aimé, who quickly became a well-known personality amongst the Nintendo fanbase.
      "My name is Reggie. I'm about kicking ass, I'm about taking names, and we're about making games."
    • Sony brought along the PSP, but it wasn't playable just yet - except for a prototype that Kaz Hirai had with him on screen. They also introduced the very first God of War.
    • Microsoft's big show was Halo 2, and for good reason, given what it introduced to the series.
    • Electronic Arts was very much a rising star by this point, having grown steadily in size over the past few years. The Sims hit it big, and they had The Sims 2 to show off this year.
  • 2005:
    • All three big console companies showed off their new editions this year, with the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360, and the not-yet-finalized Revolution making their debuts.
    • Microsoft had been teasing the Xbox 360 for a while, so it was less of a surprise. Most of the big features had been known.
    • Sony showed off the PS3 with a wonderful sizzle reel and boasting technical specs superior to Microsoft's. The gauntlet had been thrown.
    • Nintendo only showed off the console itself - the controller was MIA, but Nintendo promised backwards compatibility and announced what would become the Virtual Console, along with Super Smash Bros. Brawl. They also gave a major spotlight to Nintendo DS games that would take advantage of its online features, such as Mario Kart DS and Metroid Prime: Hunters.
  • 2006:
    • Sony's E3 2006 press conference was infamous for the following reasons:
      • The PR who discussed the PS3 mentioned how the system was powerful enough for Real-Time Weapon Changenote  and showed Genji: Days of the Blade, “an action game, which [was] based on Japanese history”. This was immediately followed by gameplay of a battle with a Giant Enemy Crab where you could flip it over to Attack Its Weak Point for massive damage. In just a few sentences, he named three trope pages and an index.
      • No one applauded when the original Ridge Racer was shown running on the PSP via emulation, causing the spokesperson, Kaz Hirai, to shout "RIIIIIDGE RAAAAACERRRR!!!" This became a very popular meme 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.
    • Nintendo showed the Wii, this time alongside the signature motion controller, along with several new games (such as Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl). It was one of their strongest E3 performances overall, especially because the Smash trailer included the reveal of its first non-Nintendo character ever (Solid Snake of Metal Gear fame). It was also revealed that the long-awaited The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess would see a Multi-Platform release for both the GameCube and Wii.
  • 2007:
    • Overall, E3 2007 was scaled down heavily, moving from LA to Santa Monica and cutting attendance down to about 10,000 people total. This move was in response to several complaints over the large number of attendees and large expense for exhibiting companies, which locked some of them out entirely due to cost.
    • Jamie Kennedy hosted Activision's press conference. It was a complete disaster as he was apparently drunk, heckled the crowd and some of the guests, 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.
    • Nintendo showed more advanced trailers of the games shown in the previous year that had yet to be released, alongside the reveal of Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit. This E3 also saw the birth of one of the most popular Nintendo memes, during the Wii Fit demonstration when Reggie stated that "My body is ready."
    • Sony showed off PlayStation Home, LittleBigPlanet, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and inFAMOUS.
    • Microsoft, in an interesting move, showed off only games that would be releasing in the calendar year. This included the first Rock Band, Mass Effect, and Halo 3, among other anticipated titles.
    • In important third party news, the Assassin's Creed franchise made its debut this year.

    E3 2008 
  • While no longer in Santa Monica, E3 2008 was still pretty small. Due to the toned down nature of E3, everyone started saving most of their good stuff for their own conferences, PAX, or the Tokyo Game Show. This was disastrous as many fans and publishers were unhappy with the results.
  • 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.
  • Sony actually had a decent conference. They used Sackboy to help their presenter through the financial segments and sales numbers, and showed off a strong library: Resistance 2, Killzone 2, inFAMOUS, and a debut for God of War III, with a closing trailer for a 256-person shooter titled MAG.
  • Nintendo's event was, at best, controversial. 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.

    E3 2009 
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