I promise this is not a eulogy but given the fact that PlayStation has dipped out of the last 2 E3s, it’s looking more and more as if they’re staying away for good. And if it is, well, PlayStation had a great run and a run filled to the brim with surprises. The brim was also filled with other things too, like awkward stage demos and outrageous announcements but let’s get down to it. Here are the most memorable moments from Sony’s E3 history.
1995 was a wild time to be a gamer. Chrono Trigger released, Nintendo was going all-in with its Virtual Boy and the first ever E3 was held. Sony, along with Nintendo and Sega were all present and ready to blow people’s minds but Sony had its sights set on something else. If you thought Sony’s swagger during E3 2013 was a sight to behold, E3 1995 Sony was on another level. Shortly before Sony took the stage to announce PS1 details, Sega had unveiled the $399 price point for the new Sega Saturn. Sony wasted no time in responding to this as SCEA President at the time Steve Race made a brief yet effective “speech.”
“$599 US DOLLARS”
Is there a way to write that without it being in all caps? I don’t think so and Kaz Hirai back in 2006 didn’t think so either. E3 2006 for Sony wasn’t particularly great. Their press conference was pretty much the antithesis of what press conferences have become today. Almost 2 hours of numbers, charts, and the occasional game demos sprinkled throughout. The demos didn’t look too hot either. Genji: Days of the Blade was instantly forgettable and the only reason it is even remembered today is thanks to a meme that was born because of it. Long live giant enemy crab. However, Sony’s E3 2006 wouldn’t even be mentioned here if it wasn’t for Kaz Hirai’s infamous declaration of the PlayStation 3’s price. It’s baffling how such a price got approved. The Xbox 360 had already been released and was instantly met with success all while sporting a cool $399 price tag. How would you have reacted if you were watching it live? Sony would later slash the price by $100 and saw a boost in sales but we can never forget that moment in time.
“This is how you share games on PS4”
After Microsoft’s tumultuous E3 2013 showing, Sony went in on the offensive and never let up. Almost every big talking point at Sony’s E3 2013 press conference was a counter jab and it ultimately paid off. Despite Microsoft’s attempts at reversing their ill-advised initiatives in the coming months leading up to launch, Sony had already ensnared most of the mindshare. By the time both consoles launched, gamers had already made up their mind. They made up their mind that night. June 10th, when Sony uploaded a cheeky 22-second “instructional video” on how to share games on PS4. The match had already been won during their press conference but this short clip which followed it truly cemented PlayStation as the go-to console that holiday season.
“E3 of Dreams”
Fancifully dubbed as the “E3 of Dreams”, Sony’s E3 2015 was a bombastic explosion of unlikely game reveals. Seemingly back to back, Sony was able to dole out Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Shenmue 3 and The Last Guardian. Oh and they also managed to squeeze in the introduction of a brand new IP from Guerrilla Games, you may have heard of it: Horizon: Zero
Freaking Dawn. Yes, it was a spectacle and a kind reminder of how great E3 once was. It was called “E3 of Dreams” for it’s near impossible unveiling of thought-to-be long dead titles. The Last Guardian had been announced as a PS3 exclusive back at E3 2009 with an initial release date targeted for 2011. Final Fantasy 7 had a harmless tech demo in 2005 to show off the prowess of the PS3 but rumors of a remake hit a fever pitch in 2014. And Shenmue 3, well, there was really no hope for it until it actually happened. As of today, 2 of the big 3 have been released as we patiently await Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s launch on April 10, 2020.
Sony brings the House down
I’ve referenced E3 2013 quite a bit in this article and with good reason. Sony rocked it. They rocked it hard. SCEA president at the time Jack Tretton and Sony Group CEO Andrew House both delivered huge blows to Microsoft. From their policies on used games to the overall pricing of the PS4, it was an absolute bloodbath. The crowd cheered louder than I’ve ever heard at an E3 Press conference. It sounded like a football stadium and the energy in the room can almost be felt just by watching the clip. When Andrew House announced the $399 price point, the crowd went wild.
Honorable mentions include Sony’s E3 2016 press conference which sported a live orchestra led by the venerable Bear McCreary and introduced us to God of War and Spider-Man; 2 games that became instant tentpole titles for the PlayStation brand. We also can’t forget the horribly, miscalculated live demo of WonderBook which felt like watching a trainwreck in slow motion. Man, how long was that demo? It felt like it would never end. Although Sony had some misfires along with their triumphs, E3 clearly won’t be the same without them and we can only hope there’s at least one more E3 press conference in them. Now, I know I prefaced this piece by saying this wasn’t a eulogy but damn the void is felt even now. Long live giant enemy crab, long live ridge racer and of course, long live E3…at least for the years it has left still.