The Electronic Entertainment Expo, commonly referred to as ‘E3’, is the largest and most broadcasted press event for the games industry in the world. Since its inception in the summer of 1995, the expo has grown to host over a hundred thousand media guests annually. Conferences held by the largest publishers and console manufacturers serve as the public eye of E3 with each conference streamed live to millions around the globe.
Many players see E3 as a magical time of year where their next favourite games are unveiled – sometimes even without a firm confirmation of their release dates. During these shows, presenters are willing to do just about anything to make their product stand out as the innovative and new must-have title. Promotions in the past have seen celebrities, stand-up comedians, and even real-life cars brought in to spice up the programs. But, because of the pressure of announcing new games to a wide audience, sometimes things go wrong in the presentations. Worse still, the presenters completely fail their delivery.
In an industry where first impressions mean everything, bad presentations and mediocre hosts can completely derail the unveiling of even the most compelling AAA title. Though there are many excellent game and service reveals each year at E3, it is the failures that prove to be the most intriguing parts. The following examples represent the absolute worst aspects of the E3 press conferences over the years. From incompetent hosts, cringe-worthy catch phrases, lackluster performances, and a slew of technical glitches, these are the absolute biggest fails in gaming history.
15 Kinectimals Acting (E3 2010)
When Microsoft was still trying to sell its loyal following on the promise of motion gaming with the kid-friendly Kinect, one game was discussed more than the rest. Kinectimals was introduced with a girl on stage speaking to and interacting with a virtual tiger cub in the game. Unfortunately, Microsoft missed the mark in their casting choice because the girl, though animated, seemed to get too into her role to the point that it became awkward to sit through. There is a certain phony eagerness in her expressions and laughter, making it apparent that she was very much aware of the attention she was getting on stage. Perhaps the worst example of a cringe-worthy moment in her acting is how the young actress pretends to be tickled by the tiger cub. What was Microsoft thinking?
14 Battle Tag Reveal (E3 2010)
At their 2010 press conference, Ubisoft attempted to branch out of video games a bit with their augmented reality laser tag game, Battle Tag. As one could expect at this proposition, things did not go well. The game was demoed with a makeshift laser tag arena on stage with gymnasts jumping around, showing off the alleged intensity and fun energy Battle Tag would bring. Though the game’s demo functioned as it should, many were left with a feeling of total indifference for Battle Tag and its upbeat presentation. It didn’t help matters that the launch price was a steep $130 – over double that of full-priced AAA titles at the time. Joel McHale's constant banter only proved to add to the tedium of this boring novelty knockoff to real laser tag.
13 Wii Music And Drum Solo (E3 2008)
Miyamoto introduced their latest gimmick with Wii Music at Nintendo’s 2008 E3 show, and its problems were soon made clear. It was a game filled with 50 instruments that encouraged the buttons to be pushed at random for people to share in the joy of music. It gets better: Ravidrums and a few others join Miyamoto to form a band of six that presents a song to the spectators. They proceed to play the original Super Mario Bros. theme, which quickly ends up being one of the worst renditions of the song in recent memory. Aside from just the music, watching a group of adults wildly shaking controllers in the air hoping to form a melody is just painfully awkward. Even though that is how the Wii Music presentation concluded, it began with Ravidrums performing a sweat-induced solo for a full minute to drum up the audience’s excitement.
12 Skyward Sword Connectivity Issues (E3 2010)
Two years after the awkward Wii Music demo, Miyamoto returned with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and faced a much more straightforward technical issue. Promising a Zelda experience with full motion controls, this demo quickly turned into a mess. The Wii-motes did not seem to be calibrated correctly or were suffering from interference. The input was so bad that if someone were to casually walk into the conference without context, they would quickly assume the game was a broken mess. Miyamoto even went so far as to ask if somebody in the audience is using ‘wireless.' The worst part is that the demo begins with Bill Trinen feigning ignorance on Zelda’s controls only for Miyamoto to reveal himself and have him teach Bill how to play. Too bad it was actually broken after that! Fortunately, this showcase did not reflect in the final release of the game.
11 Pele and Academy of Champions (E3 2009)
The year prior to Joel McHale’s tedium streak solidified in Battle Tag, Ubisoft unveiled Academy of Champions in conjunction with the legendary soccer player, Pele. To his credit, McHale does his best and appears humbled to be in the presence of a legend, but the problems begin when the trailer for Academy of Champions fails to play. McHale needs to keep the audience interested and tries discussing the game with Pele. Fortunately, Pele has a translator with him and begins to discuss a bit of his life and his work to improve the education of children in Brazil. If Pele were not that engaging, McHale would have had to fill in for 6 minutes of awkward dialogue before the trailer would finally run. This is one of the better examples where the awkwardness could have been a lot worse if the guest had less charisma.
10 Dance Central 3: Usher's Performance (E3 2012)
To promote the latest Kinect game, Dance Central 3, Microsoft brought on barely relevant pop-music idol, Usher, to drum up interest in their dance game. Within the first few seconds of his full performance of the song, “Scream," it was apparent that he did not know the room was full of press and not his fans. Usher kept yelling, “Get Up!” as if to drum up enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the only energy in the room came from the seizure-inducing light show behind the dancing artist. To add insult to injury, Usher’s song was being played over the speakers so it was blatantly obvious when he missed words and was out of tune. In fact, most of his real performance was timed differently, so it felt like Usher was competing with himself. Eventually, the song ended with the Dance Central 3 logo displayed on the screen behind the action.
9 Battlefield 4: "We're Continuing?" (E3 2013)
During the 2013 Microsoft press conference, Patrick Soderlund of DICE presented Battlefield 4 on stage…or tried to. Shortly after boasting about an impressive gameplay demo at 60 frames per second (fps), the audio for Battlefield 4’s demo never came, leading to several ‘boos’ to fill the theater instead. The video quickly cuts and Soderlund announces that they will start over. With nearly a minute gone by and still no Battlefield, the presentation is replaced by the impatient crowd’s escalating volume. Soderlund hastily announces that they may see it later and attempts to leave. He is signaled to stay and asks with perfect clarity and shock, “We’re continuing?” In this moment, it is clear that he does not want to be there and is very embarrassed. Fortunately for Soderlund, the game demo restarts with sound, and the show continues as planned.
8 Kinect Issue: "Bam! There it is!" (E3 2009)
Another Kinect-oriented blunder from Microsoft (noticing a pattern yet?), is actually from when it was still called ‘Project Natal.' At the 2009 conference, Kinect creative director Kudo Tsunoda came out on stage to introduce the power of full-body motion gaming. During an explanation of the motion capture, Kudo gets a little carried away and asks, “You ever wonder what the bottom of an avatar’s shoe looks like?” He kicks his foot up to show, but the Xbox has other ideas. Kudo’s avatar appears to have some sort of ragdoll-inspired seizure, contorting the body wildly and only showing off part of the bottom of the shoe. Since Kudo was so excited as he kicked his foot in the air, he also yelled the now infamous, “…well BAM! There it is!” No, Kudo: there it isn’t, but thank you for showing us an honest look at how broken the Kinect would be down the road.
7 Sega Saturn Shadow Drop (E3 1995)
The oldest entry on this list takes us back to 1995, which included the likes of the Sega Saturn, Sony’s PlayStation, and the Nintendo 64 (then the Ultra 64). During Sega’s press conference, it was announced that the console was shipped the day before and was already on the market with 10 games to be released within days. To understand the reason this was a terrible idea, one must look back to the state of the industry at the time. The Saturn was rushed out before enough games were finished because Sega needed to compete with the launch of the original PlayStation. Unfortunately, shortly after Sega announced a price of $399, PlayStation shot back with a $299 price tag. Rushing the console at a higher price point with a weak launch line-up, effectively sealing the fate of the doomed Saturn.
6 There Is An Offline Console: The Xbox 360 (E3 2013)
Shortly after the unveiling of the Xbox One and its first E3 showcase in June 2013, Xbox executive Don Mattrick took an interview with games journalist Geoff Keighley. The subject: the launch of Microsoft’s new console. Over the presentations, it was driven home that the latest Xbox was an always-online device that required constant Internet connectivity. It also did not allow Xbox One games to be traded at stores due to digital licensing of the games. These announcements were not taken to favourably by anyone. Unfortunately for Don, the backlash did not end there. During the interview with Keighley, Don said, “…fortunately, we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity – it’s called Xbox 360.” Yes, you read that right: the top Xbox executive said that you could continue to enjoy the older hardware, segregating the Xbox community in half. Great job, Don.
5 Ubisoft's Meme (E3 2015)
Ubisoft always tries to mix up the formula when presenting their show. For a couple of years running, comedian Aisha Tyler would take to the stage and bring her own brand of awkward humour to host the Ubisoft press events. In 2015, she decided to try to create a meme on the fly with a cosplayer dressed as then-current Assassin’s Creed protagonist, Jacob Frye. Tyler pitched a meme for The Division: “Who kept the Christmas lights on during the Apocalypse, but there’s gotta be…just Captain Picard screaming that out.” Then, Tyler asked the cosplayer if he had a meme he wanted to pitch. Unfortunately, the cosplayer really did not understand what Aisha meant, replying: “Well, if you were talking Picard, it would be ‘Engage.” After, Tyler hastily tries to cover it up with an awkward segue into the next announcement.
4 Jamie Kennedy Hosts Activision's Press Conference (E3 2007)
Hosts do not get much worse than Jamie Kennedy. Within the opening minutes of the conference, Kennedy points out that there are several virgins in the audience and repeatedly insults Neversoft for their company name. Of course, this second-rate comedian did not even try to maintain an image of decent professionalism as he drunkenly mumbled his way through interviews. Worse still, Kennedy’s microphone was on during game reveals and would comment on the games, yelling “Ow!” when the skateboarder in the latest Tony Hawk game got injured. By the end of the conference, several developers had poked fun at their host. When Kennedy asked one developer if he could do the interview as Ozzy Osbourne, the guest asked, “Aren’t you doing that already?” In fact, even the audience joined the fun, accusing Kennedy of being unfunny, which the host took to great offense on stage. Fortunately, Kennedy has not hosted any conferences at E3 since.
3 Mr. Caffeine And His Sound Effect Transitions (E3 2011)
Ubisoft, at it again with their in-your-face exploits, introduced a man who was only slightly more cringe-worthy than Jamie Kennedy: Mr. Caffeine. Aaron Priceman’s over-enthusiastic presentation as Mr. Caffeine has become infamous for the annoying energy he carried each Ubisoft game announcement through. Consistently mispronouncing Tom Clancy’s name as ‘Tom Callancy’ was about enough to send avid fans up the wall. However, what truly made the conference a painful viewing experience were Mr. Caffeine’s constant Wayne’s World-esque transitions to the game showcases. These made the audience breath a collective sigh of relief with each featured video in this horrid presentation. Mr. Caffeine even went as far enough to continuously ask for applause despite constantly trying to throw varied game-related penis jokes at whoever would listen. How desperate can you get?
2 Sony E3 2006 Press Conference
Much of the Sony 2006 conference is now infamous. In fact, the entire conference is cringe-worthy. Like the Sega Saturn, the PlayStation 3 was pitched for an astronomical price compared to its competition. With a base unit price of $499 US and a 60GB model for $599, things for the latest Sony console were immediately off to a rocky start. Things did not improve for Sony as the conference went on with numerous embarrassing quotes like, “…you attack its weak point for massive damage” and “it's Ridge Racer…Riiiidge Racer!” to a mostly unenthused crowd. Sony even attempted to take advantage of motion gaming with their six-axis controller in the gameplay reveal of Warhawk, which was terribly executed. Sony’s overconfidence in the event was obvious, and their presentation left a lot to be desired for their future as console manufacturers.
1 Konami E3 2010 Press Conference
With so any cringe-worthy moments across the entire history of E3, there is one that is unanimously associated as being awful. Without question one of the worst moments in E3 and in gaming history, the laughably bad Konami 2010 press conference is something that you need to see to believe. Who can forget the Silent Hill developer death-stare? What about the conference opening with Tak Fujii’s ‘extreme’ hack and slash Ninety-Nine Nights II announcement? Of course, the show also features an unenthusiastic developer demo for Dance Masters, and Lucha Libre AAA: Héroes del Ring’s presentation featured 3 Luchadors getting into a fight. Did you forget the Glee: Karaoke Revolution sing-along performance? What about the Neverdead head gag? Konami had a rough time and, though their show featured many new games, the management and execution of the show was sloppy. It may have actually benefitted from Mr. Caffeine’s transitions, and that idea alone is disconcerting.