Our Favorite E3 Moments

by Kimberley Wallace on Jun 07, 2014 at 09:00 AM

For almost two decades, the Electronic Entertainment Expo has been a highlight for gamers to see what companies have in store. The show is full of press conferences, game announcements, and demos – some for the better, others for the worse.  Either way, E3 provides more than its share of memorable moments. We thought it would be fun to share our personal favorites. Expect hilarious press conferences, unexpected demos, and the adrenaline rush of covering the show to surface.

The Bizarre N-Gage Reveal 

Andy McNamara: My favorite moment in E3 history was the Nokia N-Gage announcement back in 2003. It was by far the worst press conference I ever had to sit through, but that doesn't mean I didn't have a great time. It was so bad it was comical. There was breakdancing, miscues, awkward fumbled segues; it had it all. And just when you thought it was over, one of the girl dancers ripped her shirt off, which I believed to be another unbelievable embarrassing mistake, but it was actually the price reveal for $299. But from where I sat and the position of her belly button, it looked like $2.99, which just made the whole surreal experience all the more memorable.

Photo Credit: The Next Level, learn more about the conference at their site.

The “Dear Friends” Concert

Joe Juba: After a while, E3 events blend together.  The press conferences, booths, and parties start to look the same. Maybe that’s why – after 10 E3s – my favorite memory is still from my first one. “Dear Friends” was a live concert of Final Fantasy music performed during E3 2004, and I managed to score one of Game Informer’s seats. As a fan of the Final Fantasy series and Nobuo Uematsu’s music, this concert was already a dream come true, but that isn’t the only reason it sticks with me. It was one of the first major events I attended, and a perfect look at gaming culture at its best. Everyone was gathered out of a mutual appreciation and enthusiasm for Final Fantasy. Tickets sold out in three days, so the hall was full of fans who wanted to be there. Some audience members cried during emotional numbers, others laughed during the Chocobo piece – and the eruption of cheers and applause when the “One Winged Angel” encore started up was nothing short of thunderous. Unlike many corners of gaming culture, I couldn’t detect any cynicism at all – it was just a big room full of people whose love for Final Fantasy brought them together. That kind of unabashed enjoyment is what got me into gaming in the first place, but seeing it on such a large scale was a rare and unforgettable treat.

A Beatific Interview

Matt Miller: In 2009, we were prepping a cover story for The Beatles Rock Band. When a particular interview was offered, it was hard to turn down. At Microsoft’s press conference that year, I found myself waiting backstage in a well-appointed trailer watching on a monitor as two of The Beatles stepped on stage to thunderous applause. When they were done, they strolled off the stage, and Paul McCartney continued his stroll to the door of my trailer. He stepped inside, shook my hand, and sat down next to me on the couch. He was pleasant, charismatic, and enthusiastic about the potential of the Rock Band game in which his virtual likeness would appear. He shared anecdotes about his memories of recording the songs, and how different the music business was back when The Beatles were together. When we were done, his smile seemed genuine as he wished me well and rose to leave. 

I’ve interviewed a number of surprising individuals I never thought I’d speak to, but it’s hard to beat the surreal experience of having a one-on-one casual chat with a living legend of popular music. A few weeks later, I was off to London to play Rock Band in Abbey Road’s Studio Two, where The Beatles recorded some of the same songs I was playing, except I was playing them on a little plastic toy guitar. But that’s another story.

Sony's E3 2013 Smackdown

Jeff Marchiafava: I've seen enough E3 press conferences to generally know what to expect; canned speeches, awkward executives, and flashy game demoes to get viewers excited for the year to come. But Sony's press conference last year was a different beast. Like many gamers, we had watched Microsoft stumble in the media all week before E3, thanks to its originally planned always-online requirement and used game restrictions. Microsoft responded by canceling many of its interviews with the press at the show, and by avoiding the hot-button issues during its morning press conference to kick off a tumultuous E3.

Gamers weren't the only ones watching, however, and Sony capitalized on the competition's silence in an unforgettable way. The company knew exactly what to say during its press conference, and the crowd erupted in thunderous applause at news that the PlayStation 4 wouldn't have any used game restrictions, could be played offline, and - above all else - would cost $100 less than the Xbox One. After the show, Sony even released a short tongue-in-cheek video showing how easy it was to share PS4 games with friends, which consisted of SCE Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida simply handing a game to Sony's Adam Boyes, then smiling at the camera.

I never expected Sony to show up on stage at E3 with knives out, and I would love to know how much of the presentation was changed at the last minute to take advantage of Microsoft's PR gaffes. That stage presentation was not only one of the most exciting briefings in E3's history, it kicked off the competitive one-upmanship of the next-gen console race that ultimately all gamers have benefited from, no matter which system you ended up buying. 

Meeting A Video Game Legend

Tim Turi: Working at Game Informer has presented me with a variety of “I can’t believe this is happening” moments. From visits to my favorite studios to walking the humid floors of the Tokyo Game Show, I am constantly offered reminders of how awesome my job is. A very special E3 interview sits high among the best of the best moments in my career. During E3 2011 I sat down with Shigeru Miyamoto, one of the few developers in the industry who truly needs no introduction. I talked to the developer of freaking Super Mario Bros. about the Zelda franchise, dove into the history of Nintendo, and more. Miyamoto was a joy to interview, never far from a smile, laugh, or interesting insight into his past. Even better, our video producer Ben Hanson was there to photograph the entire occasion and offer me something amazing to look back on. You can read the interview from 2011 here, but be sure to check out the gallery of Miyamoto pictures at the bottom of the story.

Up Next: Playing a game we'll never see, a surprise at Spore, and a reaction to a long awaited announcement...

The Beginning of Kinect: The Project Natal Presentation

Ben Hanson: My favorite moment from E3 took place two years before I ever attended the insane show. I was watching the live stream with some friends as Kudo Tsunoda took the Microsoft stage in 2009 to debut the futuristic technology that was code-named "Project Natal.” The clip of him attempting to show the bottom of an avatar's shoe only to have the arms glitch and flail through the avatar's body makes me so happy; I've seen it so many times and it still makes me laugh. It's bizarre to think that the Kinect technology that was shown that day was the first step towards the new-gen price difference at launch and why the PlayStation 4 continues to outsell Xbox One today. Who the hell ever wanted to see the bottom of an avatar's foot anyway? 

Playing StarCraft: Ghost

Ben Reeves: During E3 of 2005, I wasn't working for Game Informer; I wasn't even working in the industry, but I managed to sneak my way into the show anyway (no wonder they cracked down on attendance a few years later). As a lifelong gaming fan, the show was a powerful experience – the lights, the noise, and the giant booths were like one giant love letter to video games. Back then I wasn't getting all of my news from the Internet, so everything I saw seemed surprising and exciting. One of the most intriguing games I saw was StarCraft: Ghost. Years before, I had fallen in love with StarCraft – staying up for about a week straight playing the game. I also loved Splinter Cell, so that idea of combining the two games sounded like the best thing since Reese’s combined peanut butter and chocolate. I waited in line for at least an hour to play the game, and walked away more excited than ever. Unfortunately, that game was doomed to never release, but I've never forgotten my time with it. It serves as a reminder every time I see something excited at one of these shows that nothing we see at E3 is guaranteed to release.

Meeting Maxis Co-Founder Will Wright

Matthew Kato: At E3 2005, most of the industry got a first look at Spore. I'd heard about the game all convention long from colleagues trying to explain just what it was and why it was so exciting. I didn't count myself a Sims or SimCity fan per se, but I knew I had to see this game that sounded too good to be true. After pulling all the strings at EA that I could, I got a spot in one of the small-group appointments.

A few of us crammed into a meeting room erected in scaffolding above the EA booth. The room was crowded and dark, and I was surprised to be immediately greeted warmly by Will Wright himself. He gave me a meteorite fragment, which he explained was part of a collection that he was uncollecting, so to speak. The demo itself was astounding, revealing the scope of the game, but what really struck me was Wright himself. Demos like this are usually handled by producers, but Wright clearly relished the chance to personally introduce the game. As he explained Spore, it didn't reel like the usual scripted game pitch that I've experienced a million times; it felt like we were sharing in the marvel of this man's vision coming to fruition.

I never met Wright again (nor is it likely that I ever will since he's now out of the industry), but I'll never forget meeting him and seeing a glimpse into the mind of one of video game's true geniuses.

Square Enix Finally Announcing Kingdom Hearts III

Kimberley Wallace: This upcoming E3 will only be my fourth, but when I think back to the shows I’ve attended, nothing comes close to my excitement when Square finally revealed Kingdom Hearts III. I waited for this moment ever since 2006’s Kingdom Hearts II. Over the years, I kept myself at bay by exploring more of the story with a prequel and spin-offs teasing where Sora was headed. However, I kept wondering about the project, especially as the PS3 was closing out its long run. Not seeing or hearing anything from Square was starting to get worrisome.

Going into E3 2013, I expected more of the same from Square. I had been conditioned not to get my hopes up, so when the reveal came on the screen, my elation couldn't be put into words. I gasped, jumped, and did a victory dance. Hearing that Square was finally set to talk about Kingdom Hearts III was an adrenaline rush, and it reminded me of my passion for the franchise. To this day, I've never had such a reaction to an announcement. It took me by complete surprise and remains the only time I’ve jumped to my feet during a press conference. Now I just hope that Square doesn’t keep us waiting too long to actually play the game. 

Getting Hands-On With Injustice 

Mike Futter:  This will only be my third E3, and I remember overbooking myself (even more so than usual) the first year. Despite that, the very last thing I saw before leaving Los Angeles was Injustice. I was lucky enough to also get a chance to play it behind closed doors and had something to look forward to over the coming nine months. The title was released right after I started at Game Informer, making it a fantastic segue from old to new. This year, I’m hoping to recapture a little of that magic when I visit the WB booth, since our first chance to see Mortal Kombat X will be at the show.

The Fun Of Covering E3

Kyle Hilliard: My favorite E3 memory doesn’t actually have anything to do with a specific game or announcement. Instead, it has to do with the insanity that occurs when covering E3. I watched from a distance for years, but it never really prepared me for the gauntlet of endless writing and sprinting across the show floor to make meetings. You inevitably hit a point of exhaustion, surrounded by the people you enjoy working with. For me, it all came to head at E3 2013, and Ben Hanson was there to capture it in a Vine.

I have no idea what we’re talking about or what day of E3 this is, but I know it occurred late after the show had closed, before we left for dinner. We were all finishing up our final posts of the day, and the hall was basically empty, save a few other exhibitors gathering up their things, and some janitorial staff doing some vacuuming and cleaning. Tim Turi decided, for whatever reason, to start blasting the theme from Seinfeld in our booth as loud as our speakers would allow. The idea that folks would be around, going about their business and hear the Seinfeld theme mysteriously blasting from a booth in the corner of the hall, echoing for all to hear, made me lose it. I rarely laugh as hard as I do in this video. It takes a special recipe of sleep deprivation and Tim Turi to coax it out of me, and I love that Ben Hanson had the foresight to grab a seven second video of it.

What were some of your favorite E3 moments? Let us know in the comments!