Remembering E3's Biggest And Best Moments And Announcements

Here are GameSpot's favorite moments from E3's long and extensive history

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E3 is one of the biggest yearly events in the games industry with an extensive history packed with exciting and memorable moments. While it may be canceled this year, that won't stop us from reminiscing about E3's from days gone. After all, there's a lot to talk about.

Below you can find GameSpot's personal favorite moments from E3's over two-decade long history. But what are some of your favorite moments? Which announcement or press conference got you to flip your living room table, or cringe at the awkwardness? Shout out your picks (and broken living room table stories) in the comments section below.

Sony Dunks On Microsoft (Sony Press Conference E3 2013) - Steve Watts, Associate Editor

We've come a long way since E3 press conferences were dull affairs filled with sales figures and charts, but for the most part the presentations from platform holders are polite, non-confrontational affairs. That wasn't the case in 2013, the last time Microsoft and Sony were primed for a head-to-head outlining their dueling visions for the next generation. Microsoft had gone first, but it set the stage days earlier with a blog post clarifying rumors about its licensing policies on Xbox One. And sure enough, the rumors were largely true: aggressive DRM had been put in place that would allow publishers to require online checks, effectively killing used games.

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Microsoft was careful to note that it wasn't personally charging for this and so the restrictions were entirely in the hands of the publishers. This was years before the advent of live games and the rise of digital sales, and publishers had been struggling to deal with the used game market with ideas like Project Ten Dollar. Regardless, it put Microsoft in the lurch, and left Sony an opening to pointedly go a different way at its own E3 press conference. It was the first time I had ever actually been inside a publisher press conference in person, and it had the raucous energy of a pay-per-view event.

"For instance, PlayStation 4 won't impose any new restrictions on the use of your game discs," Jack Tretton said, to such boisterous applause that he had to remain silent for several moments before he could resume his speech. When he could speak again, he playfully quipped about the audience's reaction. "Yes, that's a good thing. We believe in the model that people embrace today with PlayStation 3 and continue to demand--I just heard you there." He subsequently received even more applause for announcing that you can give your disc to a friend or sell it, and that it would not have an online verification check.

It was a knockout blow and many agreed Sony "won" E3, merely by promising to continue the status quo. Microsoft changed its policy plans soon after, so the potential unforced error never really impacted consumers. But it was an incredible moment to witness, if nothing else than because the hardware titans rarely come to blows quite so directly. | Twitter: @SporkyReeve

Halo: Infinite Reveal (Microsoft Press Conference E3 2018) - David Ahmadi, Video Producer

E3 2018 was two months before I accepted the offer for my first job post-college at GameSpot. At the time I was running a small, failing family-owned business and distinctly remember eagerly closing the store early and avoiding all news updates and Twitter posts so I could rewatch the keynotes and presentations in their entirety. The moment holds a particularly special place in my heart despite being fairly recent because it was the last moment I had with gaming news as a casual fan, before I was granted the privilege to experience this industry as a young professional.

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Of course, in that moment, all I could think about was what Microsoft would reveal at E3 2018. I was always taking particular pleasure in watching Microsoft’s gradual redemption throughout this past console generation and I felt that Microsoft did not hold back. Right out the gate they showed off what was really more of a technical demonstration for the SlipSpace engine, and I was left in awe. Images of animals in nature and textures with superb lighting and a moving score had me captivated and it reached this magnificent peak when the reveal finally happened: Master Chief’s infamous spartan helmet hanging by his side.

Several words come to mind when I try to describe the franchise but the one that stands out so well when I saw the helmet was legacy. It was so fitting! A brand new Halo with a brand new engine, which, not only triggers curiosity and hype for the game itself, but lights the path forward for the future: Halo Infinite would be the beacon at E3 that announced loud and clear: a new console generation was upon us and it is now closer than ever. | Twitter: Roshby57

Ikumi Nakamura (Bethesda Press Conference E3 2019) - Matt Espineli, Editor

During E3 2019, Bethesda's big press conference seemed business as usual. It started the proceedings by bringing out Todd Howard to run damage control Fallout 76, discussing much of what the company still intended to do with the divisive online spin-off. Then came Resident Evil series mastermind Shinji Mikami to unveil the next project his studio, Tango Game Works', is working on. Titled Ghostwire: Tokyo, I was already eager to hear about what this new game would be all about, especially as a fan of the first two The Evil Within games. And then something spectacular happened: my new all-time favorite developer walked onto the stage. Okay, maybe I didn't know that at first, but I would in time!

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Her name was Ikumi Nakamura, and she was the creative director of Ghostwire: Tokyo at the time. As someone speaking English as a second language, she prefaced her speech with the nervousness she felt to be presenting to so many people on a stage, which instantly won over my heart and many others--humility has a magical way of being instantly relatable, after all. But it was Nakamura's infectious enthusiasm and sense of humor that proved so captivating and adorable. As she made jokes about how spooky the game would be, it was difficult not to wear a warm smile from cheek to cheek. I can't do justice to how extraordinary the moment was; you have to watch it yourself. It's crazy how a single person can unexpectedly become the highlight of an entire E3, but somehow, Nakamura pulled it off.

In the wake of her appearance was a wave of attention that instantly skyrocketed Nakamura into popularity as a games personality. People wanted to know what she was about, what she had worked on, and how come they'd only heard of her now. And it turned out, Nakamura had quite a fantastic portfolio, having worked as an artist not only on The Evil Within, but games like Okami, Bayonetta, and the more recent Street Fighter games. And for me, it was an incredible feeling in itself to discover that she was someone who helped design the art of some of the games I love most.

Nakamura's popularity is warranted; she's talented, and it's just a joy to watch be her most authentic, passionate self. But like so many developers, she's only a small example of the brilliant and hard-working people who help to create the games we adore--people we don't ever get to see or hear about. While she's since left Tango Game Works, the spark of her appearance on Bethesda's E3 stage alone makes it one of the biggest and most memorable moments in E3's history in my mind. | Twitter: MGespin

FF7 Remake Reveal (Sony Press Conference E3 2015) - Mike Rougeau, Managing Editor of Entertainment

It's easy to get cynical after attending so many E3 press conferences that they all start to blur together, and after a while, it becomes rare for one to stand out. It doesn't help that these pressers can often feel more like glorified commercials than meaningful demonstrations or a way to convey actual information to fans. But there's one I can remember where the hype actually felt real: Sony's E3 2015 presentation.

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Almost two years into its lifespan, the PS4 was in a really healthy place in 2015. This is the presentation that featured both Shenmue 3 and The Last Guardian, but because that apparently wasn't enough, Sony also used the opportunity to showcase and confirm yet another near-mythical white whale of the gaming world: Square Enix's Final Fantasy VII remake.

When PlayStation's Adam Boyes proclaimed that they had "a very special treat for everyone," the trailer that followed, featuring a strange voiceover that discussed a long-awaited reunion, was a bit confusing. But as FF7's iconic opening score began playing and the logo appeared--followed unequivocally by the word "Remake," just to quash any doubt--the massive crowd roared with elation. Five years later, we're finally getting the game this coming April, and the hype lives on. | Twitter: @RogueCheddar

Twilight Princess Reveal (Nintendo Press Conference E3 2004) - Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor

So many E3 moments have become burned in my memory over the past 20-plus years, but Nintendo's E3 2004 press conference remains my favorite. The presentation was rife with memorable moments. Future Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime made his iconic debut; we got our first look at Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (two of my most anticipated games at the time); and Nintendo unveiled the DS. But the most exciting reveal was saved for the very end of the presentation.

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As Reggie was wrapping up the press conference, he invited the audience to step into "one more world for Nintendo GameCube," leading into a trailer for what would eventually become The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. The excitement was palpable. The audience erupted in cheers as Link, riding into battle atop Epona, came into focus, and that fervor only grew as we saw him battling realistic Lizalfos and facing off against a towering fire beast. I can't begin to guess at how many times I watched that trailer that summer.

Of course, a big reason for the excitement was that the game felt like a direct response to The Wind Waker, which stirred up quite a bit of controversy at the time due to its cartoony visual style. I was among those initially turned off by Wind Waker's art style (what can I say? I was in high school), and while I eventually came around to the visuals and enjoyed the game for what it was, I still thought it was much too easy. Seeing that the next Zelda would discard Wind Waker's aesthetic and return to the more realistic, darker tone of the SpaceWorld 2000 tech demo was a dream come true for my 17-year-old self.

Twilight Princess wouldn't arrive until two years later, and while its standing among fans seems to have fallen over the years, it's still one of my favorite Zelda games, and I'll never forget how excited I felt when it was first revealed back at E3 2004. E3 may have become long in the tooth over the years, but it's moments like these that serve as a reminder of just how magical the expo could be.

Sony’s E3 2006 Press Conference - Ashley Oh, Sr. Social Producer

Where to even begin when talking about Sony's E3 2006 press conference? I’m blown away by how many iconic memes came from a single event. Yes, this was the Giant Enemy Crab one. But it’s also so much more. I mourn the jankiness of old E3 press conferences. They’ve since evolved into more polished, high-budget spectacles, which is inevitable given the current popularity of games.

Picture this: the year is 2006, Kaz Hirai is president and CEO of PlayStation. We are about to see PlayStation’s first foray into handheld consoles, the PSP. The camera zooms in on Kaz’s hands, the light glaring off the front of the device (because that was the state of technology back then). And then I heard it: “Rrrrrridge Racer!” It was a moment so quick, so fleeting, but unforgettable. It’s been looped into oblivion in so many YouTube videos, permanently ingrained into my brain.

“It’s Ridge Racer,” he declares proudly. “Rrrrrridge Racer!”

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Towards the end of his presentation, the PlayStation 3 is finally revealed. A huge jump from PS2’s release price, the high-end model of the PS3 debuted at $599. Once again, this moment is burned into my memory forever. Five-hundred and ninety-nine US dollars. Five-hundred and ninety-nine US dollars. Five-hundred and ninety-nine US dollars. A stunned silence fell on the onlooking E3 crowd. A few people laughed.

Finally, how can we possibly forget the Genji: Days of the Blade demonstration? A producer took to the stage, stating that the game will be “based on history” with stages “based on battles which actually took place in Japan.”

Smash cut to: “So here’s this giant enemy crab. You attack its weak point for massive damage.”

Incredible.

If you watch the archived version of this presentation, there’s also a VOD in the corner showing only his hands on the controller while he games extremely hard. Why don’t we have this anymore? Why can’t we bring this back?

I am afraid Sony will never top its 2006 press conference for me. I might be OK with that.

Titanfall Reveal (Microsoft Press Conference E3 2013) - Jordan Ramée, Associate Editor

I think we can all agree that Microsoft screwed the pooch when it came to E3 2013. Even as a long-time fan of the Xbox 360, Microsoft's marketing strategy for the Xbox One during E3 2013 wasn't...great. But despite my misgivings for the Xbox One as a console when Microsoft showed it off at E3, it had an exclusive I wanted to play more than the ones being offered on PS4. And that exclusive was Titanfall.

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Long before the release of the unfortunately underappreciated Titanfall 2, squad-based battle royale Apex Legends, and surprisingly good Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Respawn introduced itself to the world through the E3 2013 reveal trailer of the original Titanfall, which would go on to launch as a limited-time exclusive for Xbox One in 2014.

At the time, the reveal trailer and the follow-up gameplay demo didn't show off anything revolutionary. Titanfall is a great game, but it's not the powerhouse of a first-person shooter that it's sequel would end up being. But you could definitely feel something from those first few trailers--there was a sense that Respawn wasn't a developer to be overlooked. The company was moving in on a space that had been (and would continue to be) dominated by Call of Duty for years, and doing it with a style all its own.

Titanfall looked really good. The shooting appeared solid, the parkour mechanics seemed satisfyingly fast but not uncontrollable, and the mech-like Titans looked to offer an asymmetrical twist to the FPS genre. For me, Titanfall was enough of a reason to commit to Microsoft for one more console generation and pre-order an Xbox One--seeing those early Titanfall trailers for the first time was the highlight of my E3 2013. | Twitter: @JMRamee

The Hoop Gawd (EA Press Conference E3 2015) -- Tamoor Hussain, Senior Editor

EA's E3 2015 press conference. The Hoop Gawd appears. Gaming is never the same again. Where is he now? Who knows, but never forget: The Hoop Gawd is out there. | Twitter: @tamoorh

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Konami's Infamous E3 2010 Press Conference -- Alessandro Fillari, Editor

Over the years, many E3 press conferences have had their fair share of awkward moments and flubs. These instances are mostly fleeting and are usually forgotten about once the next game takes the stage, but during E3 2010, there was one press conference that stood out amongst the rest--and not for the reasons this particular publisher hoped. In what could be described as a total trainwreck, Konami's E3 2010 press conference is the best example of what happens when awkward moments, poor planning, and a variety of bizarre decisions collide during a livestream intended to show off the latest from a storied developer and publisher.

Despite having a decent suite of games including Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Silent Hill: Downpour, Ninety-Nine-Nights II, and a quick demo of the canceled Metal Gear Solid: Rising (pre-reboot from Platinum Games), the conference was doomed from the start. Things quickly went off the rails when issues with language translation and the stage's teleprompter turned otherwise simple presentations into clumsy affairs.

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It didn't get much better as it went on for the next 90 minutes. Much of the humor didn't land, and the pacing of the show--which featured a grabbag of anime-inspired RPGs, a masked luchador wrestling game, and a set of gritty western-developed action titles--just felt off. The presentation was a disaster, completely, yet I still can't deny that I enjoyed myself watching it. After it ended, I thought to myself, "what the hell did I just watch?" But then the encore presentation began, and that only served to highlight the strangeness even more.

10 years later, it still serves as a benchmark for how not to do an E3 presentation. In many ways, it was like Tommy Wiseau of The Room fame channeled his bizarre sensibilities and strange jokes into producing a video game press conference. Witnessing this bizarre and unintentionally comedic press conference with an online audience was a real highlight as well. No one in the chat, nor even on message forums knew what to make of it. We were all, as a collective, witness to the creation of new internet memes in real-time, such as Ninety-Nine-Nights II producer Tak Fujii emphasizing "ONE MILLION TROOPS'' during his presentation, and it was a delight.

It quickly became the talk of E3 2010, and with Jeff Gerstmann and the folks at Giant Bomb recounting their experience at the show, it would go on to live in infamy. Despite Konami's E3 2010 presser being an awkward and somewhat cringy affair--which I had to watch again for this write-up--I like to think it had a more positive impact than most people would expect. They really tried to have fun with it, and it showed--even when it didn't land as intended. In retrospect, I sincerely appreciate how different it was from other shows back then. Today, we have publishers like Devolver Digital producing fictionalized and highly-exaggerated presentations that show some echoes to Konami's infamous showing, and honestly, that's not a bad legacy to leave behind. | Twitter: @afillari

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