by Nolan Leahy
In the early 90s, console manufacturers and developers went to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is, for them, solely remembered as an unpleasant experience. The organizers of CES didn’t recognize the growing importance of the gaming industry. According to an article from Kidzworld, a statement from Tom Kalinksi, the CEO of Sega America said that in 1991 “The CES organizers…” had “put us in a tent, and you had to walk past all the adult-entertainment vendors to find us. That particular year, it was pouring rain, and the rain leaked right over our new Genesis system. I was just furious with the way CES treated the video games industry,…”
With that type of feedback, it’s difficult to imagine that an annual showcase for video games with such poor quality could last so long. Thankfully, it didn’t.
In 1995, Infortainment World and the Digital Software Association, which is now known as the Entertainment Software Association, put on a showcase program known as E3. E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is a video game conference that’s usually held in the Los Angeles Convention Center where the top video game development companies gather from all over the world to make announcements and updates on the latest video game hardware and software.
During that first year at E3, Nintendo, Sega, and Sony all showed up with incredible new information and nearly 50,000 people attended. Nintendo started discussing the “Ultra 64” which became the Nintendo 64 and Sega unveiled the Sega Saturn. Sony also stepped into the ring and showed its highly praised first PlayStation.
The annual attendance records haven’t quite shifted because of the normally strict standards of entry. Despite these strict standards, it doesn’t mean that the big announcements stopped coming. In some highlighted years, these gaming companies made some of the most groundbreaking announcements of games that would alter the expectations for the consumer all the way up into today. To make more sense of this, here is a list of some of the best E3 announcements and years:
1. 1996: Nintendo reveals the Nintendo 64
The Nintendo 64 was the first 3D console for Nintendo. Some of the greatest games ever created were solely onto the Nintendo 64. Nintendo showcased the launch title Super Mario 64, where critics raved about the dynamic camera controls. Three years later, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time released and is still considered by many to this day to be the greatest game of all time.
On a side note for the 1996 E3, Sony displayed Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider made its first appearance, and Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft was also shown, which is a competitive game that is still holding massive tournaments to this day.
2. 2001: Microsoft and Nintendo steal the show
During this E3, Nintendo revealed Super Smash Brothers Melee, a fighting game featuring characters across a variety of Nintendo titles. The game is still heavily played today considering that tournaments like the Evolution Championship Series still have thousands of players come to compete in Super Smash Brothers.
Xbox made its first appearance at this E3 as well as Bungie’s First Person Shooter game Halo: Combat Evolved, which was the phenomenal beginning to a multibillion-dollar franchise. The Xbox host at the time said that it was so confident in the Xbox because of its design of the online broadband environment, which paid off with Xbox Live and the release of Halo 2 to take full advantage of its features.
3. 2006: Anticipation for the next generation
Video games for new upcoming consoles got people excited. Nintendo presented Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. The Wii also received an official release date.
Microsoft proudly showed off Halo 3, which featured the first installment of forge mode, allowing players to edit multiplayer maps to their liking with relative ease. Improvements upon this mode came along later with downloadable content, and later installments of the franchise. This mode spawned a massive creative community that made crazy maps filled with tons of weapons in addition to more casual, innovative creations like Rube Goldberg machines and even golf courses. Yes, that’s right, a First Person Shooter game that allows you to make a golf course. It was a great time.
Lastly there was Sony’s PS3. Introducing the next generation for PlayStation meant big changes for Sony; however, they introduced it with the massive asking price of about $500 for a 20 GB console. This set the stage for Microsoft to take over the market in the console wars in the seventh generation of video games.
4. 2011: Announcing Phenomenal Third Party Games and Sequels
2011’s E3 introduced games that shook up the industry as to what a video game narrative could actually mean in the entertainment medium. Not only were these games continuations of various universes made in previous games, but also many of the following were highly praised by critics. 2K made incredible impressions on viewers when showing Bioshock: Infinite. Electronic Arts revealed Mass Effect 3. Warner Brothers gave us Batman: Arkham City and Square Enix had Tomb Raider (2013).
It was a huge year for video game storytelling, and it shifted the mood to how well the gaming format would spend so much effort into something more real with these stories. When Bioshock: Infinite released, it featured classic Disney-like animations with its character movement. Batman: Arkham City has one of the best graphic novel video game narratives to date with it’s multitude of villains, character bios, a well constructed world, and phenomenal voice acting by Mark Hamill in his role as the Joker.
On top of all that, Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and From Software’s Dark Souls appeared at this E3. It was huge, and there were many, many games coming to consoles that both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 owners could look forward to.
There’s a great deal to come within this year’s E3. Electronic Arts already had their press conference and showcased Star Wars: Battlefront II and A Way Out. Microsoft will present on Project Scorpio, which will be the most powerful console to date and will be featured during a 90 minute press conference. Super Mario Odyssey could very well make an appearance from Nintendo. Sony will show the Final Fantasy VII remake, and Bethesda’s announcements are still relatively unknown, but could very well make an intense announcement such as an Elder Scrolls VI or a rumored game called “Starfield.”
Whether you’re a gamer or not, the industry is constantly changing. For many people, it’s the preferred medium of modern entertainment and it’s growing so fast that it’s making more money than the film and music industries combined. With that much of a monetary foothold in today’s entertainment, it’s definitely worth paying attention to, because these annual conferences are a glimpse into the future of how we’re going to be consuming content.
Keep up with live coverage of E3 @ByteBSU
- KFVS News