The future of video game press conferences is up in the air right now. With drop outs from this year’s E3, people are beginning to wonder whether or not the conference will continue. Furthermore, GDC has recently postponed its conference, which was meant to take place in March. With both of these losses this year, questions regarding the future of gaming conferences are emerging.
In light of all this news, we want to reminisce about some of the greatest moments gaming conferences have brought us. Events like E3 and Gamescom have had their fair share of these incredible crowd-pleasing, meme-generating, and surprising moments. Whether they’ve been watched by people in the audience or streamed to homes all around the world, they became yearly events for gamers to anticipate. However, publishers and developers had to bring their A-game if they wanted to please fans.
Here are some of the industry’s greatest onstage moments.
God of War Reboot Reveal
God of War was a franchise on hiatus — the last main series release was God Of War III, back in 2010. Fans had to be content with enjoying (or not) spin-offs and remasters of the older games. But there was a hungering for a sequel after the series left on a literal cliffhanger ending. Unbeknownst to anyone, Santa Monica Studio had been hard at work attempting to reinvent the franchise for almost 5 years.
It’s arguable that this reveal was E3’s greatest moment from 2016 — Snoop Dogg smoking and playing Battlefield 1 might come in at a close second, though. The crowd literally erupts into passionate howling when an older, gravelly-voiced Kratos emerges from the shadows (at the 5:50 mark).
The rebooted God of War would live up to the crowd’s reaction, making it one of gaming’s greatest triumphs.
Banjo-Kazooie in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Watch any wish-list for characters in Smash Bros. and you’ll know that Rare‘s Banjo & Kazooie were many a fans’ hopeful pick, especially with Microsoft and Nintendo getting closer and closer over the years. So along comes Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct, which ended with a massive surprise.
Nintendo and Microsoft decided to use this conference as a moment of wish fulfilment. They played it for laughs, having the Duck Hunt Duo take the place of the titular Bear & Bird as a silhouette. Watchers on Twitch thought their dreams were dashed — why would Nintendo do this? The tease of a golden Jiggy bouncing across the screen got fans hopes up, but nothing could quite prepare them for the fact that Banjo & Kazooie were actually going to be in Smash. Nintendo decided to pull the rug out from under watchers around the world, to amazing results.
If you thought that God of War reveal garnered a major reaction, Banjo & Kazooie got that the world over.
Nintendo Reveals Wii Sports at E3 2006
This next one stings a bit because whilst some would say the Wii’s general reveal was huge, I think this moment meant so much more for the industry as a whole. Nintendo has always been the best at innovating new ways to play, and their live E3 2006 conference was no exception.
Satoru Iwata, Reggie Fils-Aimé, Shigeru Miyamoto and contest winner Scott Dyer gathered on stage to show off the family-fun potential of Wii Sports. They’re all going to play a simple game of Tennis doubles on Wii Sports. With Iwata sadly passing away in 2015 and Fils-Aimé stepping down as Nintendo America CEO in 2019, this event is a reminder of a time long past. The genuine excitement from all of them perfectly mirrors how families would feel when the Wii arrived at their homes. These three exemplified Nintendo‘s focus on family, acting like one in their own right. It’s heartwarming and wholesome, and something you don’t see much of at gaming conferences.
The Legend of Zelda Goes 3D at Space World 1995 Conference
3D rendered games weren’t exactly a household regularity back in 1995. So one of gaming conferences’ greatest moments comes when a Nintendo flagship franchise finally entered the third dimension. Not only that, but it was here that Nintendo announced their newest console: the Nintendo 64.
The above image shows Link engaging in combat with a metal version of himself, marking Nintendo‘s first proper foray into 3D graphics (not counting the Virtual Boy), signifies a truly landmark moment in the industry. It might not have been met with the hype that other gaming conference moments were, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t important.
Sony’s Response to Microsoft DRM at E3 2013
E3 2013 marked the official reveal of both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It also solidified Microsoft‘s place behind Sony in this generation, as their press conference was plagued with poor decisions. Not only did Microsoft force the Kinect on consumers, but they also had to always be online and DRM would dictate that games could not be traded.
Sony, in an absolutely brilliant marketing move, quickly changed some of the details of their conference. Microsoft set them up, and Sony easily knocked it out the park. All they had to do was say they weren’t going to do what Microsoft was doing, and they could comfortably dominate this console generation. It was almost too easy for them. A total pro gamer move like this deserves to be on the list of gaming conferences greatest moments.
Kevin Butler Delivers the Sony E3 2010 Conference
Keeping up with Sony knowing exactly what they’re doing, here we have another crowd-pleasing conference. Kevin Butler was Sony‘s fictional marketer in their It Only Does Everything and Long Live Play marketing campaigns. It seems fans really resonated with Kevin’s weird comments and dry wit. So props to Sony for committing to the bit live on stage at E3. Kevin talks about why he loves gaming, and whilst he pokes fun at the fans, Sony knew that they enjoyed his character.
There’s no doubt it was cheesy. No doubt it poked fun at the industry. But it symbolised a time when companies were truly unafraid to say, “We know you love gaming, and we do too”. So, thank you Kevin Butler, for showing us it was alright to wear a suit and tie and still love video games.
“My Body Is Ready” — E3 2007 Conference
It’s undoubtable that Reggie Fils-Aimé is a meme machine. With titles like “The Reginator” and phrases such as “I feel just like a purple Pikmin”, Fils-Aimé has become the epitome of a living meme and a Nintendo marketing tool to boot.
However this all started back in E3 2007, with Bill Trinen and Shigeru Miyamoto showing off the Wii Balance Board. It wasn’t Reggie’s first appearance, but definitely his most famous. He exudes a carefree nature, and one that’s fully aware of what he’s both saying and doing. That’s part of Reggie’s charm, and people instantly warmed to his passion and sense of wonder on stage. This moment shares a lot with all other Nintendo moments on this list., where the company’s warm and welcoming image shines through.
Sony Reveals the PlayStation at E3 1995
E3 1995 marks the first year of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and one of gamings’ greatest moments. Whilst the conference was in its infancy, E3 wasn’t quite at its yearly hype train status. Most showings were short 20-30 minute sizzle reals of products and demos. However it was here that Sony learned how to easily one-up their competition by simply doing what they weren’t.
What is touted as a “brief presentation” on stage amounts to SCEA president Steve Race standing at Sony’s podium and simply saying… “299”. This was the PlayStation’s price point. Sega‘s new console the Sega Saturn was coming in at $399. Sony knew that simply emphasising their $100 difference would be met with general audience approval, and they were right.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Reveal
This list has mainly featured Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. But Square Enix may just take the cake with this one. They released this pre-rendered trailer for Final Fantasy VII all the way back in 2015.
Square played it so well, giving players a glimpse of Midgar in its full HD glory, and teasing teasing them with the return of Tetsuya Nomura as the director. If all that wasn’t enough, the game’s iconic opening theme plays just as Cloud and Barret step into frame, tugging at fans’ heartstrings. After that blissful couple of minutes, what were the people watching met with? One word: REMAKE. Almost 5 years later and it’s finally real.
Shigeru Miyamoto Dresses as Link at E3 2004
If you haven’t watched the clip of the final moment on this list, here it is.
Nintendo‘s E3 conference for the year has ended, but Reggie Fils-Aimé teases that there’s one more reveal for the GameCube.
The crowd’s reaction when they realise that this is a teaser for the next Legend of Zelda game speaks for itself — although that’s not the reason this moment makes the list, as most Zelda games are guaranteed that level of excitement. This stands as maybe the greatest gaming conference moment because as the trailer ends and Link sheathes his sword, the screen fades into another figure pulling the same pose, surrounded by smoke.
Out jumps Miyamoto, pure elation on his face, holding a Master Sword and Hylian Shield. This action is one of pure elation and magic. It seems so simple, yet it quickly gained a reputation as of one of E3’s greatest moments. Watching the clip you can see why. The combination of music, timing, and reveal all built to something truly spectacular. Which is why this list ends with this reveal.
This moment even has a Know Your Meme page, so that speaks for itself.
So that was gaming conferences greatest moments! We hope you enjoyed reading it. What are your favourite on-stage gaming moments? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter. As always, thanks for reading COG.