The Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as E3, has had its fair share of issues over the past few years. Discussions over its relevancy have plagued the event and its cancelation this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic certainly doesn’t help. Regardless, E3 has been one of the most important and influential events in the video game industry for 25 years.
E3 grew into something both those on the inside and fans at home looked forward to seeing or attending. Massive reveal trailers and gameplay demonstrations turned it into one of gaming’s most cherished occasions. The very first E3 was held May 11-13, 1995. In honor of E3’s 25th anniversary, here are the expo’s best moments.
The Nintendo Switch hit the ground running and never really stopped. It launched in 2017 with new Zelda and a new Mario was out later that year. Fans everywhere wanted to know what wonders the second year would bring. The answer came in the March 2018 Direct: Super Smash Bros.
By the time E3 arrived a few months later, the game was undoubtedly the most anticipated for Nintendo fans. While each entry in the fighting franchise is well-regarded, the buzz of a new installment brought countless discussions about which characters players would be able to fight with. Nintendo blew everyone away with its answer.
Every single character that had ever appeared in the franchise was playable. Characters missing from the Wii U Smash, like Ice Climbers, Wolf and Solid Snake, returned. No matter the playstyle, Nintendo insured Smash on Switch would please everyone.
Sony’s first console was a monumental achievement for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons came before its release at the first E3 in 1995. Sega had just decided to stealth-launch its newest system in the US, the Saturn, during the very same conference in order to get ahead of Sony. While both consoles were already out in Japan, the American audience was undoubtedly coveted. Unfortunately for Sega, it had settled on a price point of $399.
Then came Sony’s press conference. Steve Race, then-president of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, was called to the podium for a brief presentation on the PlayStation. He walked up confidently, said only, “$299” and walked off to the crowd cheering. The lower price point was an early inciting incident to the Sega Saturn’s failure, but it’s also one of the most swagger-filled moments in E3 history.
In 2015, Konami and Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima ended their long-running professional relationship. It wasn’t a very clean break-up either, with Kojima Productions’ title being removed from promotional materials for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It also caused the cancelation of Kojima’s Silent Hills, a highly-anticipated new entry in the popular horror franchise.
It was certainly a low point in Kojima’s career, though it didn’t take too long for him to bounce back. At E3 2016, Kojima took the stage during Sony’s press conference to thunderous applause before declaring, “I’m back!” He announced Death Stranding moments later, which quickly became one of the most talked-about games of the show. Kojima is an incredibly well-respected game creator. Seeing him get a win after he and Konami split was a heartwarming moment in a stellar conference that also revealed God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man.
The reveal of a new Zelda game will always be a cause for celebration, but the announcement of Twilight Princess at E3 2004 was something special. Some fans were unhappy with the lighter tone and cel-shaded look of Wind Waker, the previous game in the main series, so the more adult look was welcome. The brief footage was combat-heavy and showed Link slaying a bunch of enemies, some while on horseback.
However, it was more than just a trailer reveal. After the footage, series creator and video game royalty Shigeru Miyamoto appeared wielding a Hylian Shield and the legendary Master Sword. The footage was enough to get the audience cheering, but it was Miyamoto who received a standing ovation. It was a moment of pure, simple joy, reminding the world of how powerful video games can be.
To say the Xbox One had a difficult launch is an understatement. At E3 2013, Microsoft chose to focus on too many features no one cared about or wanted instead of games. Sony took great joy in poking fun and Microsoft had to work hard over the generation to earn back the trust of its fans.
One of the biggest steps in earning their trust back came two years later. Phil Spencer, Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft, announced that Xbox 360 games would be playable on the Xbox One. Despite the announcement not being a game reveal or exciting trailer, it naturally brought out cheers from the audience. For consumers, being able to play older games they spent hard-earned money on is a big deal. Backward compatibility is still an important issue going into the next console generation. In 2015, it showed that Microsoft was listening to their fans and it helped them course-correct a problematic launch.
Reggie Fils-Aimé is definitely one of the coolest people to ever work in video games. The former President of Nintendo of America took part in many memorable E3 moments, from his 2004 introduction to an odd but wonderful collaboration with Robot Chicken. However, it was in 2007 that Reggie became a fan-favorite exec with four simple words: “My body is ready.”
While introducing the Wii Fit, Shigeru Miyamoto and Senior Product Marketing Manager/Translator Bill Trinen invited Reggie onto the stage for a “body check.” Before stepping onto the balance board, Reggie uttered the now-famous words. For years, “My Body is Ready” was used as an in-joke by Nintendo fans and it became a widespread meme.
It wasn’t part of a big game reveal people had been waiting for: It was a simple, natural statement that showed how personable Reggie could be. He even poked fun at it himself at a later conference, proving for the millionth time that his charisma helped boost Nintendo’s public image.
It may not be what it once was, but E3 helped shape the gaming industry into what it is. Here are the best moments for its 25th anniversary.