The top 10 greatest moments in E3 history


We here at AOL Games absolutely love E3. In fact, it's our favorite time of year. It's an annual pilgrimage to gaming Mecca that we embark on, and it's like a week full of Christmas mornings. Or a regular sized Hannukah of press conferences, demos, and news; whichever way you want to slice it, E3 2016 is just around the corner, and we figured it was high time to revisit our favorite moments from the show in its 21 years of history, and rank what the best were. If you need a primer on what E3 is exactly, check out this article right here.

A woman attends the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles, California, United States, June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A woman attends the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles, California, United States, June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

10. Final Fantasy XIII comes to the Xbox 360 (E3 2008)

Back when the Xbox 360 and PS3 were battling it out on store shelves, both Sony and Microsoft were trying their hardest to capture the attention of gamers everywhere. One of the franchises that had been on the Playstation for years as an exclusive series was Final Fantasy, and Microsoft blew minds in 2008 when they finally got the first FF game to appear on an Xbox, a major point in US-Japan relations.

9. Valve's Gabe Newell shows up on stage (E3 2010)

Valve, one of the best game developers in the world, is very shy about showing their games at E3. In fact, the company didn't show up for years and years, and so any Valve related news in June is very rare. Head of Valve Gabe Newell, back in 2009, had been very critical and vocal about his dislike for Sony and the PS3 at the time, so when Gabe showed up unexpectedly with Portal 2, it sent fans into a riot at the show.

8. Sony's trio of bombshells (E3 2015)

Our most recent entry on the list is a pair of back-to-back-to-back trailers and announcements that many people in the industry thought were never going to happen. But Sony made dreams come true when they showed the first gameplay footage of The Last Guardian in almost a decade, then had the trailer for the Final Fantasy VII remake, AND THEN helped in announcing and producing the Kickstarter for Shenmue 3, a sequel to the cult classic series that fans have been clamoring for since the late '90s.

7. The surprise Super Smash Bros. trailer (E3 2007)

Trailers for big games usually happen at the beginning of the show, at the press conferences. And usually the best trailer of the show is saved for a very special moment, and gets a lot of attention. But Nintendo sprung maybe the best surprise on us when they dropped the sizzling hot trailer for Super Smash Bros. Brawl on a random Wednesday, in the afternoon (west coast time, it was night here on the east coast). Not only was it the talk of the town, it had Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid in it! No third party character had ever been in Smash before, especially not one that big.

6. The infamous Killzone 2 trailer (E3 2005)

There has never been a trailer that has been more dissected, debated, hailed, hyped, analyzed, praised, or fought over. Nobody, and I mean nobody, on the planet thought that trailer could be real, but we hoped it did. Before the Playstation 3 was officially revealed, we got tech demos of what the games could look like, and Sony told us this was actual gameplay. It turned out it wasn't, but it looked like it could be, and for a decade this was the gold standard for graphics, and E3 trailers.

5. Reggie Fils-Aime introduces himself (2004)

Nintendo has always been a company about making games, but since the early '80s, they've been catering to a more youth friendly audience. Not that there is anything wrong with making games for both children and families, but the crowds at E3 are not kids, but rabid, adult Nintendo fans. So when Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime first got to be on stage and introduce himself, he took the internet by storm by saying what he was about, which was a bold step into maturity for Nintendo at the time. Reggie has been a superstar and an E3 favorite in the gaming industry ever since.

4. PS4 beats the Xbox One (2013)

When Sony and Microsoft had to both present their new consoles, they were in a fierce competition with each other over the market share of gamers and their money. So when the stakes were at their highest, Microsoft focused on a new philosophy of consoles: always online internet connection, no discs or used games, no trading or sharing games, and embracing downloadable content. It was bold, and ahead of its time, and Sony decided to crush on their throats with a direct shot that ended the console war before it even started. Ever since, PS4 has outsold Xbox One by a two-to-one margin, and one can link it back to this earth shattering moment on stage.

3. Miyamoto enters with a sword and shield (2004)

One of the all-time best press conferences in terms of games and hype was Nintendo, firing on all cylinders, during the peak of the Gamecube era. They came out with a slew of memorable games that ended up being classics, and to cap off the entire show that year, they introduced the new Legend of Zelda game, which looked amazing at the time (and still does, to be fair) to a ravenous crowd of fans. Allegedly, people were so swept up by the game and the music, they cried in the stands. But, at the end, Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto came out on stage with a fog machine, a Hyrule shield, and the master sword. The reaction was legendary, and we'll never forget it.

2. Sony drops the mic (1995)

This is the oldest moment on our list, and is not quite as well known, since it was caught on tape in 1995, back when E3 was just starting out and not the colossal mega-deal it is now. But, this moment was the birth of creating buzz-worthy and memorable moments that would give the gaming industry its edge, its swag, and breed the type of competitiveness that we still love to this very day. Sega and Sony were introducing their new consoles, the Saturn and the Playstation, respectively, and price points were a huge issue back then (they still are, but in the '90s, super important to price your tech right).

In a moment of sheer brilliance, and brevity, and wit, Sony rep Steve Race gave the shortest and most electric presentation we've ever seen. A completely epic way to undercut their rival's higher price point, that would send shock waves throughout the history of the industry.

1. Peter Moore's tattoos (E3 2004 and 2006)

There has never been a release date announcement that has, or ever will, live up to Halo 2's November 9th being tattooed on former Xbox executive Peter Moore's arm. That is a testament to not only launching a product on time, but to your flesh and blood, and to gaming. E3 has never been the same after he did that in 2004.

Until 2006, when he one-upped himself! The Xbox brand had a lot to live up to back in the day, being the clear underdog to Sony's massively successful Playstation brand. And it was legendary moments like this that led to the biggest upset in console war history, the Xbox 360 outselling the PS3. The name of the game back in the early '00s was to get as many high profile games and franchises to be exclusive to your platform, and Sony had collected them all. But, after Final Fantasy jumped ship, Microsoft got the Grand Theft Auto games to come over to the Xbox 360, and this is why it lands on our list as the most baller moment in all of E3 history. I could watch these clips all day, they never get old.

And then he does it again! With the other arm! That's permanent folks, not coming off. That is dedication to your job and to your love of gaming. And to all-time classic E3 moments we will never forget.

Originally published