Before E3 kicks off tomorrow, take a stroll down memory lane and revisit some of the PlayStation brand’s biggest E3 announcements of all-time. Plus, get a preview of this year’s festivities as we take a look at E3s of year’s past and present.
SEGA, after having two poorly-received hardware offerings with the SEGA CD and 32X, needed to impress the crowd at the very first E3. SEGA had previously announced the SEGA Saturn before the show which had a scheduled release date of September 2, 1995. However, at the SEGA Keynote, it was announced that the SEGA Saturn was secretly shipped to retailers the night before, and was now on sale for $399. A move that left retailers unhappy, and gamers without many launch titles to choose from.
This, shortly after, was completely overshadowed by Sony. Steve Race took the stage at Sony’s keynote and announced the release date for the Sony PlayStation. The real shocker, and what could have been the death blow to Sega before the PlayStation was even released, was the announcement that it would release for the price of $299. Also shown during E3 were what soon became PlayStation franchise mainstays: Ridge Racer, Tekken, and WipEout. This marked the beginning of Sony’s reign over the gaming industry.
History repeated itself a bit with E3 2000. The Sega Dreamcast had been released in North America the prior year and was off to a rough start. Its CD-based software medium constrained the visions of many developers.
While the PS2 had already been announced in Japan, there hadn’t been a release date set for the American market. Sony took the opportunity to do so at E3 2000, and set the big day for October 26 of the same year. Although this time around, Sony’s console was priced higher than SEGA’s by $100; it offered DVD playback, as well as DVD-ROM as the software medium, allowing for larger games. The inclusion of the DVD player may have been Sony’s most genius idea yet. It helped introduce the PS2 into the homes of anyone interested in DVD players, as it offered a decent quality DVD player, along with PlayStation brand gaming for around the price of your average DVD player at the time.
E3 2000 wasn’t all about hardware, in fact it was the software that really stole the show. One title in particular had fans and media floored. That title was Metal Gear Solid 2, the follow up to the fan favorite Metal Gear Solid on the original PlayStation (now known as the PSOne). The sheer detail of MGS2 is what impressed the crowd, and it really showed of what the PS2 was capable of. While MGS2 didn’t make the PS2’s launch, Sony had plenty of other titles to show, 51 of which were scheduled to be available by Christmas of 2000.
Kaz Hirai took the stage at Sony’s Keynote during E3 ’03, and had plenty of major announcements to discuss. He started off with the announcement of a revised PS2 in the works. The revision boasted progressive DVD playback, a built in IR port for use with a remote, reduced fan noise, and would be bundled with a Network Adapter.
Sony continued to strut its planned online strategy, which was a direct response to the undeniable success of Xbox LIVE. Games that were shown included Final Fantasy XI, SOCOM II, and pledged support from EA Sports’ future lineup.
Of course Sony wasn’t done there. Dr. Richard Marks then took the stage and demonstrated the PS EyeToy. The EyeToy was a USB web cam that allowed for interaction with images on-screen by moving your body and appendages; no controller was needed, long before the Kinect became a thing.
Lastly, Sony announced its plans to take on Nintendo and its stronghold over the handheld gaming market with the PlayStation Portable. No Hardware or Software was shown, or demoed, but the announcement was big enough to shock gamers.
The PlayStation 2 was in its prime; a large amount of AAA games were shown. The current king of consoles was easily overshadowed by the announcement of its successor, the PlayStation 3. The PlayStation 3 was debuted, boasting some of the most impressive specs ever seen by console gamers. Specs at the time included the cell processor, 1080p High Definition gaming, 3 Ethernet ports, 2 HDMI outputs, 6 USB ports (4 front, 2 rear), Wi-fi, Bluetooth 2.0, and a built-in Blu-Ray drive.
Even with the massive listed specs, the thing that generated the most buzz was the new controller. The new controller wasn’t yet another iteration of the DualShock, it was a boomerang-shaped controller. Jokes galore hit the internet about how if you were angry after losing in a game, you couldn’t throw the controller, as it might come back and hit you.
There was no actual software, however there was plenty of technical demos ready to go that were running on PCs that had specs similar to that of what the PlayStation 3 would have. PlayStation staples such as Devil May Cry, and Tekken were shown (ironically, both went multiplatform). The biggest splash came from the confirmation of Metal Gear Solid 4 being in the works, and the showing of a technical demo of Final Fantasy VII. This immediately sparked excitement from the crowd, as fans thought a FFVII remake was in the works. However, that wasn’t true, as Square quickly make it clear that it was a tech demo only.
Not all E3 announcements are good announcements, despite how large they may be. In 2006, Sony announced the price of the now “gimped” PS3, which was set for $599. Although there was a less-expensive 20GB model announced, which was even more gimped with its removal of wi-fi, card readers, and a lower-capacity internal hard drive, the price shocked the world. Both Sony’s previous consoles had been released for $299, and history had shown that expensive consoles never fared well.
There was the argument that you get what you pay for, and Sony’s newest console was surely a beast. While that was indeed true, the massive price tag scared away many long time PlayStation fans over to the other HD console on the market, the Xbox 360. The price tag was the target of media outlets, which soon started questioning Sony’s motives about the console, claiming it was more about Blu-ray penetration than making another successful gaming console. To this day, the PlayStation 3 is the most expensive console. Anyone can see that because of this, the sales have been less than Sony (perhaps foolishly) hoped for in comparison to the ridiculously fast-selling PlayStation 2.
2009 was a major year for Sony, or at least it seemed that way at the time. Not so much in the way of software announcements, since we already knew Uncharted 2 and God of War III were coming, both of which were highlights of E3. The only surprises in terms of software came from Rockstar with their PS3 exclusive Agent and Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV. Both of which have yet to be released on the PlayStation 3. What did make a big impact was the announcement of the PlayStation Move (then called simply PlayStation 3 motion controller) and the on-stage demo of Dr. Richard Marks. The PSPgo was also officially revealed for the first time, despite being leaked many times during the weeks leading up to E3. Too bad the PSPgo never really found its legs and has succumbed to some seriously lackluster sales.
Here we are, years later, the two biggest game reveals of the show never even released on the PS3; Agent in particular has all but gone completely missing (at least it is still in development). PlayStation Move has been, for the most part, a dud. Not just in sales, but in the software line-up. Tacking it on to regular PlayStation 3 exclusives isn’t enough to drive the format. The PSPgo… is dead. Turns out 2009 was a terrible year for Sony’s E3 plans.
Sony took a strange approach to E3 in 2010. They revealed most of their biggest titles — LittleBigPlanet 2, Killzone 3, inFamous 2 — before E3 even began. Many wondered what Sony could possible have left in store. That’s when David Jaffe took the stage and revealed a new Twisted Metal, making one hell of an entrance in a Sweet Tooth ice cream truck.
It wasn’t just Jaffe taking the stage. Valve’s Gabe Newell made a surprise entrance to announce that Portal 2 would be coming to the PS3, with Steam support, for the first time ever. This was such a shock because Newell had been very vocal against the PS3, saying Sony should just cancel it and start over. Although, Kevin Butler may have stolen the show; Sony’s VP of Everything “mascot” was full of jokes and digs.
The PlayStation Move official name was already revealed earlier in the year, but there were still plenty of questions surrounding Sony’s new motion controller: How much will it cost, when will it release, and what about games? Sony cleared the air and provided details to all unanswered questions. As for games, Sorcery was shown, and wowed the audience in attendance. But sadly, that didn’t end up turning out so well.
In 2011, Sony played it safe with the PlayStation 3, focusing on already known titles such as Uncharted 3, Starhawk, and God of War: Origins Collection. But that’s because almost the entire show was spent solely on the PlayStation Vita, revealing games and hammering out launch details such as the price. The crowd cheered aloud at the Vita’s $249.99 price tag, but just as loudly jeered and booed when Sony mentioned that they would be partnering with AT&T for the Vita’s 3G data plans.
It was a slower year for Sony at E3, and the company was apologetic and still reeling from the major PlayStation Network hacking fiasco that preceded the annual event in Los Angeles.
If it weren’t for The Last of Us stealing the show, E3 2012 wouldn’t have made this list. And all it had to do was demonstrate some gameplay. It went on to winner a number of Best of E3 awards, including ours, and just look at how the review scores turned out for that game. It’ll go down as one of the best games available on the PS3, if not across all consoles, in all generations. Beyond: Two Souls also made a big splash, which was quickly washed away by Wonderbook. Sony spent far too much time on it, and… did anyone even buy it? The PlayStation Vita was mostly shunned, and left to wither away.
Not only could this year’s E3 be the biggest E3 for Sony ever, it’s also the biggest year for the industry and Sony’s competitors. The Wii U is in danger, so Nintendo is going to come out swinging (at Nintendo Direct). The 3DS is really picking up steam, a stark contrast to Sony’s handheld, which has been mostly a dud. Sony needs to come out big and show why the PlayStation Vita is worth owning, on top of making it more affordable to do so.
Sony will also have to prove that the PlayStation 3 is still going to be a viable platform long into the PS4 launch, and will do so by boasting about The Last of Us review scores and the upcoming Gran Turismo 6. We may even hear about The Last Guardian.
But the biggest news of all, will be surrounding the PS4. We’ll find out what the console looks like, what other games will be available during the launch window, and beyond, and Sony will finish off announcing all the available features it’ll have. Three systems, one E3. Sony’s got a lot on their plate, and I don’t think they’re going to disappoint. The Xbox One on the other hand…
For all our in-depth Sony E3 2013 predictions, go here.