E3 is a magical time of the year where game announcements, demonstrations, and insanely intricate booths collide for an entertaining and revealing hand-full of days. We’ve become used to certain press conference staples. Slick (but uninteresting) sizzle reels. Hardware unveilings that dominate news coverage. Game announcements that can make or break a company’s upcoming lineup. But sometimes you need some crazy E3 gimmicks to shake things up a bit.
Five Crazy E3 Gimmicks (That Totally Didn’t Work)
We recently listed Five Crazy E3 Gimmicks (That Totally Worked), but here’s where the fun really begins. Sure, Earth-shattering announcements and creative presentations are what we watch E3 for. But we stay for the implosions, the awkward moments, and the decisions that make you shake your head. With E3 2017 just around the corner, here’s The Game Fanatic’s list of 5 crazy E3 gimmicks that totally didn’t work.
Microsoft’s E3 2010 Kinect Robes
By 2009 Microsoft were pros at the press conference circuit. Just one year prior they knocked it out of the park by showing off games like Alan Wake, Halo Reach, Left 4 Dead 2 and more. They also announced Project Natal – a multi-array camera that was their answer to the Wii’s insanely popular motion controls. We would come to know it as the Kinect. Though there was still an air of mystery behind the device (the totally-not-fabricated Milo “AI” demo comes to mind) it would be another year until Microsoft revealed exactly what they were cooking up.
But then E3 2010 came around. The night before Microsoft’s press conference, they held a séance of sorts, produced by Cirque du Soleil no less. Every industry professional and press member in attendance were made to wear a white satin poncho equipped with Saiyan-esque shoulder pads and lights to go along with the show. It was weird.
Unfortunately, there’s not much photographic or video evidence of just how weird the event was – Microsoft chose not to stream the event, an odd choice considering the money they must have dropped on it. Still, members of the press could not stop talking about how creepy and cult-like the whole thing was. Then the next day they showed off Kinectimals at their real press conference, which has gone down as one of the most cringe-inducing demos in E3 history. Don’t believe me: just watch.
SEGA’s E3 1995 Saturn Shadow Drop
The first E3 was pretty eventful for an expo in its infancy. The original PlayStation was announced, given a release date, and priced at $299. Nintendo showed off Donkey Kong Country 2 and Killer Instinct. And, unfortunately, SEGA decided to “shadow drop” the Saturn.
A shadow drop is a release that occurs simultaneously with its announcement. Beyoncé’s Lemonade was shadow dropped to considerable success. Horror game and would-be-Silent-Hills-demo PT was shadow dropped during Sony’s E3 2014 conference. The Saturn was shadow dropped and it continued the downward trend of SEGA’s hardware sales.
The Saturn was originally set to release four months later on September 2, 1995. Software developers knew this. The gaming press knew this. Fans knew this. But then, during their conference, they announced that the Saturn would be $399 (for those who don’t like math: this was $100 more than the PlayStation) and was already available at many retail outlets. This move infuriated companies who were working on software for the console’s launch and now had to scramble to release their hard work to the public.
Though SEGA had first-party heavy hitters like Panzer Dragoon, Virtua Fighter, and Daytona USA available at launch, third-party support fell by the wayside and eventually Sony swept the gaming world with the PS1’s library. Even the ahead-of-its-time Sega Dreamcast couldn’t come back from the Saturn’s market failures and SEGA’s hardware ventures quickly came to an end. Lucky for us, it looks like SEGA is planning to revive some of their classic franchises for us to play in the near future.
Literally, Every Celebrity Invited on Stage Ever
Pretty much every press conference throughout E3 history has included some sort of unnecessary celebrity appearance. EA brought actor Aaron Paul on to their stage in 2013 to introduce Need For Speed: Rivals. Kobe Bryant demonstrated the PlayStation Move controls for NBA 2K12 during Sony’s 2011 conference. Heck, even Steven Spielberg crashed Microsoft’s 2009 conference to talk about motion controls.
It’s not hard to understand why publishers do this. Although invested video game fans groan every time a celebrity struts on stage like the crowd owes them something, the mainstream media will pick up on celebrities. Still, sometimes the celebrity appearances just don’t make sense.
What in the world do Zac Efron, Jamie Foxx, and Snoop Dog have to do with Battlefield 1, and why did they show up (almost definitely) high to the EA Play event in 2016? Does Drake really love FIFA so much that he’s the best person to represent it on stage? Who got fired for letting Jamie Kennedy host an entire press conference?
There’s little to no chance that random celebrities will ever stop showing up during E3 press conferences, but this is one of many crazy E3 gimmicks that just needs to die already.
Nintendo’s Wii Music Jam Session
What did we do to deserve this?
On stage demonstrations happen all the time during E3. It isn’t unheard of for things to go awry either. Nintendo has suffered from technical difficulties during demonstrations many times throughout the years, perhaps prompting their switch to Nintendo Directs in lieu of proper conferences at E3. But this? What was this even supposed to sound like? What was the “good” version of this demo? Who is DJ Ravidrums and is he okay?
This was one of those crazy E3 gimmicks that could have made sense had the game ever functioned properly in the first place. Unfortunately, Wii Music wasn’t quite the runaway success that Wii Sports was. It was an odd moment that Nintendo probably ended up regretting as soon as they saw how fans reacted. Still, it’s fun to watch the train wreck that was the Wii Music demonstration if you don’t die from cringing in the process.
Ubisoft’s E3 2010 Laser Tag Stage Demo
I’m sorry to put you through this, but history must learn from its mistakes. Never do a stage demonstration of a laser tag game during a press conference. This is first-grade stuff.
These five crazy E3 gimmicks totally didn’t work. But you know what? They’re just one of the many things that make E3 so wonderful to watch. Keep your eye on The Game Fanatics for all things E3 2017.