Feature

This Generation's Big E3 Announcements

by Jeff Marchiafava on Jun 04, 2013 at 12:05 PM

E3 2013 is just around the corner, and with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One already announced, much of this year's conference will likely be focused on next-gen gaming. In the meantime, join us as we reflect on the biggest E3 announcements from this generation.

Next-Gen Consoles Revealed

2005 marked the first year E3 was televised to the masses, and Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all stepped up to the plate with reveals of their next-gen consoles. The unveiling of the PlayStation 3 was accompanied by some incredible trailers for games like Motorstorm and Killzone 2, which turned out to be "target render" footage – i.e. pre-rendered video of what they wanted the games to look like (but never quite achieved).

Meanwhile, Microsoft showed off its new next-gen IP Alan Wake behind closed doors, though the game would take another five years of development before releasing to generally positive reviews. In hindsight, the Revolution's debut may have been the most interesting announcement, as Nintendo didn't reveal the soon-to-be-renamed console's controller, or make any mention of motion-based gaming. Those revelations would be saved for 2005's Tokyo Game Show.

GTA IV Goes Multiplatform
E3 2006 was a big show for Microsoft, with announcements for Xbox 360 exclusives like Halo 3, Fable II, and Gears of War. However, Microsoft's biggest reveal came when Peter Moore announced that the 360 version of GTA IV would be releasing on the same day as the PS3 version, and that the company had snatched up exclusive rights for all of the game's DLC. After Sony had previously enjoyed timed exclusivity for GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas, the role reversal came as quite a shock for 360 and PS3 owners alike.

The Price of Next-Gen Gaming
Not all E3 announcements are happy ones. In 2006, Sony announced during its press conference that the PlayStation 3 would cost a whopping $599. This put the expensive console at $200 above the Xbox 360's initial $399 price tag, and more than twice the Wii's modest cost of $249. Unsurprisingly, the reaction from gamers was decidedly negative – and we wonder why companies no longer include price announcements during their press conferences.

Microsoft Lands Final Fantasy
During its E3 press conference in 2008, Microsoft once again shocked PlayStation 3 owners with the announcement that Final Fantasy XIII would also be coming to Xbox 360. The project started development as a PS2 game before shifting to next-gen hardware in 2004, and was long thought to be a console exclusive for Sony. While the 360 version ultimately suffered from some minor technical limitations, the title ushered in a new, multiplatform era for the beloved series.

The Year of the Weird Peripherals
Much to the chagrin of many gamers, E3 2009 introduced Sony and Microsoft's foray into motion gaming, with bizarre announcements for Move and Kinect, which was then known as Project Natal. While the Move's debut consisted of a few demos showing off the precision and augmented reality capabilities of Sony's strange, glowing controllers, the Project Natal reveal finally showed gamers what the bottom of an Avatar's foot looks like. Not to be outdone, Nintendo introduced its own stupid peripheral to E3 goers in the form of the Vitality Sensor.

Skyward Sword Revealed
Nintendo's E3 2010 announcement of Skyward Sword may not have left journalists blubbering in the aisles like 2004's reveal of Twilight Princess, but seeing a new Zelda game designed specifically for the Wii was still pretty cool. Shigeru Miyamoto took to the stage in dramatic fashion to showcase the MotionPlus-enhanced gameplay, which admittedly suffered a few glitches on stage. Nintendo has a history of announcing new Zelda games at E3 – will the company have a new title announce during this year's show?

3D Gaming Without The Glasses
Although Nintendo officially announced the 3DS a few months before E3 2010, we still had no idea how the company would create a stereoscopic 3D effect without glasses, or how well it would work. The E3 reveal gave viewers a look at the system's design, while hands-on demos on the show floor convinced us that the 3D visuals are surprisingly effective – even if the functionality has proved to be something of a novelty.

Valve Loves Sony
Once upon a time, Gabe Newell was a major critic of the PlayStation 3, going so far as to label it a "total disaster." All that changed at E3 2010, when Newell took the stage during Sony's press conference to announce that Valve would be supporting the console in the future, starting with Portal 2. Not only that, but Newell stated that the PS3 version of Portal 2 would be "the best version on any console," and would connect to Steam Cloud for automatic updates and online save functionality.

Halo Returns
The Xbox 360 has seen no shortage of Halo reveals, but the E3 2011 announcement of Halo 4 gave viewers their first glimpse of Master Chief since Bungie put Microsoft's super soldier into a deep sleep at the end of 2007's Halo 3. Along with a rousing look at Master Chief's action-packed awakening came the revelation that Halo 4 would be the first installment of a new Halo trilogy, ensuring fans Master Chief still has plenty of new adventures in his future.

Ubisoft Unleashes Watch Dogs
Last year's E3 conference contained very few surprises. Both Microsoft and Sony chose to forgo next-gen system reveals, and many of the show's biggest games – including The Last of Us, Assassin's Creed III, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown – were well-known commodities. Watch Dogs provided viewers with at least one triple-A surprise, and Ubisoft's live demo showed off a richly detailed open world and high-tech gadgets at the player's disposal. Although initially announced for current-gen consoles, many believed Watch Dogs would also be appearing on next-gen systems as well, a fact Ubisoft confirmed earlier this year.

Which E3 announcements surprised you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below.