The key moments in the history of E3 - article

The key moments in the history of E3 - article

There is no gamer who does not have a moment of E3 in his heart. You will certainly have held your breath for the announcement of a long-awaited sequel or at the sight of a new (unexpected) logo, perhaps above a verdant expanse of Tamriel. Over the years on the stage in Los Angeles there have been the ups and downs of the generations of consoles and we have seen characters who have given us moments in the balance between ecstasy and embarrassment. The only fixed point? At E3 you get a taste of the future.

Between epochal events and others a bit more lukewarm, E3 is above all a moment of global aggregation, as periodic as the sunrise. But last year there was an eclipse, we missed that stage with strobe lights. It is true, however, that digital events have increased visibly and at very frequent rates. Precisely for this reason we want to remember what made the Electronic Entertainment Expo (from this 2021 Experience) memorable and why there is still a need for its concrete presence.

The Convention Center in Downtown Los Angeles.

Saturn vs PlayStation: at what price do you lose the next-gen.

Let's start right from the origins, 1995. We are one year before the birth of the Tokyo Game Show and in an era in which the protagonists of the War consoles were Nintendo, Sega and the new entry: Sony. The venue is the usual Convention Center, where the Anime Expo is still held today. The event has never moved from this all-glass and curved structure, except in 1997 and 1998, the two-year period of the World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Before these dates, fans gathered in Las Vegas, at the CES (Consumer Electronic Show): a fair that still amazes today with its presentations of drones and Hi-Tech rediscoveries. E3, however, caused a shift in public attendance, to the point that the technological event, in which video games were just an accessory, from summer to winter.

Watch on YouTube. Already in this first stage the spirits were hot: in the single-shot duel between Tom Kalinske and Steve Race, intent on presenting Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation respectively, only one came out unscathed. Sega had made superhuman efforts to anticipate the release of the Saturn by a semester and following his market research had set the price at $ 399. Imagine the reaction of the public and executives when in a quick, concise and almost cruel sentence, Race reveals the price of the PlayStation: $ 299. E3, already in the first edition, proved capable of influencing an entire fiscal year.

Kojima defines a trend and raises the bar for trailers.

In 1997 the West begins to meet a game designer who, today we know, is one of the fundamental pillars of the industry . Perhaps this could already be understood at the time. The presentation of the first Metal Gear Solid, in fact, taught players from all over the world at what level of direction, storytelling and metanarrative game design could be desired with the videogame medium. The consecration of the saga and the author is obvious in 2000, when Hideo Kojima appropriates the stage of E3 with a mammoth trailer of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Nine minutes ... Nine minutes in which Raiden does not appear even once!

Over time Kojima has become the great awaited of the party, especially in the lean years where there are no trailers capable of capitalizing on the attention and the hype of the public. Kojima is capable of alternating humor and pathos. For example, at the presentation of Metal Gear Solid 4, in a funny gag, Snake and Raiden compete for a chair and the title role. At E3 2016, with Death Stranding, on the other hand Kojima was of few words and let a mysterious, disturbing trailer speak. And he let the ensuing roar of applause speak.

Watch on YouTube.

2001, odyssey in the console war.

On Kazuo Hirai, former CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, we would have to remember the embarrassment, at E3 2006, during the presentation of PSP and Ridge Racer. Moment in which, expecting applause, he received the cold reception of an audience very different from that typical of Japanese conventions. But it is more interesting to remember the time he declared the console war over, even before it began. It was 2001. The PlayStation 2, according to Sony, would have won the sixth generation without even fighting. But you know how lightning wars end.

Satoru Iwata, not at all convinced, presented the Nintendo Game Cube along with a motto that will set the standard. The "Nintendo difference", in fact, still defines the success of the great N today: a company that has managed to move away from the logic of the hardware duel and carve out a following of its own, of players fond of certain IPs, characters and game feel. The same year Microsoft had unveiled its cards, presenting the Xbox at CES 2001. A rival was born that should not be underestimated.

Kazuo Hirai. It is true that reading the industry as a console war can be harmful, but it is equally true that this was the "official" language of the time and that at E3 entire marketing strategies were defined and changed in the running. In this regard it is worth remembering how in 2003, when Ken Kutaragi presented the PSP, Nintendo did not expect a competitor in the portable field at all. In fact, it will respond only the following year, with the innovative Nintendo DS.

Half-Life 2, Halo 2, Killzone 2.

Speaking of Kojima we mentioned the importance of a trailer capable of surprising. With the hat trick we are presenting now, let's instead mention that something that in the eyes of a seasoned gamer can smell like next-gen or a big rip off. In fact, conferences have two faces: cinematic trailers and gameplay. And as for the gameplay, over the years we have seen something that looked incredible and then turned out to be built ad hoc, or something that looked incredible and then turned out to be Half-Life 2.

Jokes aside , in 2003 the trailers for Half-Life 2 and Halo 2 had one thing in common: they were shocking, absurd, they promised something incredible for the years they appeared. Over time we have had to draw conclusions. Half-Life 2 was truly the non plus ultra of single player FPS, with mechanics that will make school like the Gravity Gun. Halo 2 was aiming too high and some mechanics will be removed from the final game, because the Xbox was unable to hold them all at once. Of course we're still talking about a great title, but it wasn't the game seen at E3.

Watch on YouTube. Killzone 2, equally jaw-breaking and presented by Ken Kutaragi in 2005, had something wrong with it (a lot, a lot of GGI). According to official statements, it was the result of an internal communication error. The trailer was to be, according to Angie Smets (Guerrilla), for internal use by the team to define the objectives to be achieved in the next-gen, then upon us. Ken Kutaragi will be guilty of another (similar) marketing mistake: the revelation of falsified and too ambitious specifications for the new PlayStation 3, to be launched the following year. Shadows of a straight market on the creation of hype.

Reggie Fils-Aime. His body of him was ready. Since 2004, Reggie has been one of Nintendo's most loved and charismatic faces. Could it have been his joking way, his lending to meme culture or his stage presence? If we think of his opening sentence ("I'm about kicking ass") the answer is obvious: Reggie was the right person in the right role. In addition to the ability to give a new, less serious face to the stage of the Japanese production house, Reggie was part of the "Reggielution", focused on the launch of Nintendo Wii and even before the Nintendo DS, two of the best-selling and particular consoles ever. .

In 2006, on stage with Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto, Reggie played Wii Sport. An event that in the company of the fathers of the video game is emblematic and that has conquered the stage for its unpredictability. Obviously the scene was built to enhance the Wii Mote, but it is certainly not the only technology that makes the events memorable: it is no coincidence that in 2009 Microsoft, to present the Kinect (then Project Natal), will resort to nothing less than Steven Spielberg .

Watch on YouTube. At E3 2015 Reggie, Miyamoto and Iwata are part of a digital presentation in which they appear as puppets. Reggie trains with pushups (and repeats his proverbial "My body is ready") and counts 64. It was not the first attempt at an animated video: the previous year there was a short stop motion show where Reggie burned a fan clamoring for the western location of Mother 3 and a new Star Fox. Unforgivable.

Kevin Butler, Gabe Newell and Sony's revenge.

Sony also finds a strong voice to advertise the PlayStation 3 and its stock. He is a fictional character worthy of The Office, played by Jerry Lambert and self-styled executive of some divisions of Sony. Let's talk about Kevin Butler, the undisputed king of E3 2010. Not that it was difficult: 2010 is also the year of Konami's first conference (a disastrous and bizarre meeting of characters out of context) and the year in which Miyamoto fails. to make the Wii Mote work, during the presentation of Skyward Sword.

Butler presented a little influential PlayStation Move, but its entry on the scene was enough to give life to the stage, to awaken the attention of the public. But beyond the excellent comic times, his speech in defense of casual gaming was basically a declaration of unconditional love for video games, regardless of their technical sector and target. A comic curtain certainly more successful than other clumsy attempts that E3 has seen over the years, including two particularly impressed (in negative) are Jamie Kennedy for Activision, in 2007, and Mr. Caffeine at the presentation of Ubisoft in 2011.

Watch on YouTube. Sony, among other things, that year gave us another perfect moment, however absurd. Gabe Newell appears on the stage of the then historical rivals, under the confused and amused gaze of the onlookers. Thanks Sony for not punching him in the face and presents the PS3 port of Portal 2. It is a moment that seen today, in hindsight of the consequent development of Valve and Steam, also makes you smile, but that at the time underlined the success of the strategy. marketing strategy adopted by PlayStation, focused on making the audience laugh and then amaze them.

In the year with Pele at E3, Bethesda enters the field.

2015 was a charged E3 of surprises. After World of Final Fantasy, with a thrilling video Square-Enix announced Final Fantasy 7 Remake, the dream and at the same time the nightmare of the fans of the final fantasy. Yoko Taro showed up with her NieR themed mask. Microsoft was starting a strategy focused on backwards compatibility. Shenmue III and Uncharted 4 are in the air. Pele took the stage of Electronic Arts.

Bethesda, for the first time determined to go it alone, holds a conference that marks a change of course from the past. Unlike the terrible precedent marked by the 2010 Konami event, plagiarized by embarrassing moments due to an inability to read the wishes of the public, Bethesda understood perfectly what the air was like.

Bethesda and Xbox travel this year together. Not only did it feature particularities such as a Pip Boy gadget, but also three highly anticipated titles. Dishonored 2, bastion of the Immersive Sim and workhorse of Arkane Studios (ready to present Prey not even a year later). DOOM and Fallout 4, new IP chapters that have been brooding silently for years. If we think that Bethesda will see her alongside Microsoft this year, we can only remember that first, effective proof of identity.


And finally, it's time to remember the unexpected guests. Did you know that in 1999, at an Eidos conference, David Bowie was present during the presentations of Omikron? That ten years later, to present The Beatles: Rock Band, something similar happened with Paul McCartney, Ringo Star and Yoko Ono? To tell the truth they departed quickly, but over the years there have been other guests from the world of music, from Drake to Snoop Dogg.

We still remember Aisha Tyler, who enthusiastically dominated the Ubisoft stage for several years. And it could go on and on, with Robin Williams sponsoring Spore and Zelda or James Cameron for the Avatar game. Were it not that by doing so we would arrive at 2019. The E3 of the great promise, of Cyberpunk and the appearance of Keanu Reeves at the Microsoft event.

Watch on YouTube. Because after all the most important elements of every E3 are the explosive energy it releases, the passion shared with millions of people, the dream of an increasingly breathtaking virtuality. E3 is a party, whether experienced in Downtown Los Angeles or miles away. And also this year we will witness the bursting advertisements, the more timid ones, those who shoot big and those who perhaps have prepared, secretly, some nice surprises. After this journey into the past, we just have to go back to the present and invite you to join us at E3 2021!

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