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E3 Classics: PlayStation’s Biggest E3 Triumphs

Gone but not forgotten

As exciting as this year’s E3 is going to be, there’s no denying it’s going to feel a little emptier with the absence of Sony.

The PlayStation platform holder has opted not to take part in E3 this year for the first time in history, meaning fans will have to wait a little longer to find out more about the likes of the PS5.

Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t still look back at some of Sony’s finest E3 moments, and think of what could have been had Sony decided to come along this time.

The Price is Right (1995)

For this one you have to cast your mind way back to 1995, when Sony was taking its first precarious steps into the dog-eat-dog world of video game hardware.

Sony’s first attempt at a console, the eccentrically named PlayStation, had wandered onto a battlefield split between Sega and Nintendo, two powerhouses getting ready to fight for dominance over the fifth gaming generation. The idea of a third contender was silly.

Sega caught the world off guard by announcing its Saturn console was already finished and was actually in some stores with a price tag of $399. But what Sega assumed was a clever marketing idea was actually a disaster.

The immediate launch of the Saturn was a nightmare for the retailers who weren’t in on the secret, and the lack of marketing meant most customers had no idea what the Saturn was.

Worst of all, though, was Sony’s conference, which followed shortly afterwards. During this presentation, Sony’s Steve Race took to the stage, simply said: “Two ninety-nine” and walked off. The self-sabotage and Sony’s undercutting was a swift one-two combo that knocked Sega on its backside, and despite gaining some momentum back with the Dreamcast it never really recovered from that day.

A Solid Presentation (2000)

Hideo Kojima’s trailers are famously lengthy and cinematic, but this habit had to have started at some point. That point was Sony’s E3 press conference in 2000.

Showing off Metal Gear Solid 2 for the first time, Sony ran a cinematic trailer for the game that lasted roughly 10 minutes, a duration that was unheard of then.

Not that anyone cared: the trailer was good enough to stun everyone in attendance, and by the time it rolled out to other gamers (be that those who spent hours downloading it on their slow internet connections or those who watched it on on free VHS tapes and DVDs given away with magazines) the consensus was that this was something very special.

You Remind Me of the Gabe (2010)

These days it isn’t an E3 without some sort of famous face trotting out onto the stage. Whether it’s Pele, James Cameron, Paul McCartney or (if you’re EA) a host of NFL players, loads of non-gaming faces want a piece of the E3 glory.

The best reactions, though, are reserved for the famous faces within the games industry, and fewer moments have elicited more gasps than the time Valve’s Gabe Newell took to the stage during Sony’s 2010 conference.

Given that Newell had spent the previous year making fun of consoles (particularly the PS3), the fact he was now on stage showing off Portal 2 for the first time ever and declaring that it was coming to Sony’s system was a hell of a surprise.

The Sharing Burn (2013)

At both its own event in May and then its E3 conference in 2013, Microsoft caused massive controversy by declaring that its upcoming Xbox One console would include a game licensing system in which all games bought would be locked to your console.

This would also include physical games: players could install the game to their console but the disc would then essentially be useless and they wouldn’t be able to trade it in.

Although its plans surrounding digital games actually weren’t a million miles away from how gaming is now, its strange way of handling physical games was perhaps a little extreme and fans revolted, turning against the previous generation’s leader.

Sony took advantage at its own conference later on, by showing a short instructional video on how to share PS4 games with friends: by just handing them the game.

Microsoft changed its policy shortly after E3 and stuck with a more traditional system but the damage had already been done: that one video had potentially changed the balance of the next generation.

Dropping all the Bombs (2015)

A good conference is one that ends with an absolute bombshell. Something everybody wants, but nobody really expects. The sort of thing that really doesn’t happen too often.

In 2015, Sony dropped not one, but an unprecedented THREE bombshells, starting with a trailer for its thought-to-be-dead project The Last Guardian. Its return led to whoops from the crowd but they wouldn’t be the last.

Later came a cinematic trailer set in a location that seemed oddly familiar. As the trailer went on, pennies started to drop: this was the Final Fantasy VII remake that everyone dreamed of but never knew was actually happening. More whooping.

That wasn’t all, though. A short while later, Sony revealed that gaming’s holy grail, Shenmue III, was also on the way. Granted, it was going to be a Kickstarter project (one that was funded almost instantly), but it didn’t matter: people were already pulling their own faces off with sheer glee to care.