I’ve always been a huge fan of E3. While more cynical journalists and publishers continue to pull away from the bombast of the LA Expo in favour of other, more intimate means of communication, I’ll always carry a torch for what I see as a magical time of year.
With that said, it’s no secret that previous E3s have had more than their fair share of wince-inducing moments; whether it involves a failed tech demo, a crowd that just isn’t that into what’s being shown, or simply a host with all the charisma of a soggy crisp.
Come with me now, gentle reader, as we embark on a journey to discover some of the absolute worst moments E3 has had to offer over the years. Strap in, it’s going to be an embarrassing ride.
Battlefield 4 Technical Hiccups (2013)
It’s a given that technical hiccups can happen, especially during live shows and events. It’s kind of an unwritten rule that anything that can go wrong will threaten to go wrong at some point.
This was the case during Microsoft’s conference in 2013, when gremlins in the machine (or Sony spies) meant that DICE’s demo for Battlefield 4 simply refused to launch. Cue a lot of uncomfortable silence, awkward glances, and the overwhelming feeling that some poor sod was going to get fired for this.
The game eventually loaded, though at that point a lot of the hype died down. To be fair, the demo did provide a preview of sorts – for the absolutely mess that Battlefield 4 was on launch. You can’t say we weren’t warned.
Mr Caffeine Was… A Thing (2011)
I think we can all agree that one of the best things Ubisoft has done in the past few years is realising that Mr Caffeine is not a thing anybody ever needs to see again. Leave him with other shameful relics of the early 2010’s, like the Go Compare man, and faux super emotional acoustic covers of Mr Brightside.
Seriously, we get it, you’re deep. Go write your own damn songs.
Anyway, Mr Caffeine is best described as Ubisoft’s hype man, if hype men were typically over excited substitute teachers who never got a chance to put their performing arts degree to proper use. I’m sure he’s a lovely man in real life, but the Mr Caffeine we got on stage is the kind of man whose lifeboat I would gleefully sabotage.
Some have since suggested that the Mr Caffeine “personality” was supposed to be a knowing parody of super enthusiastic presenters at game conferences, but it really didn’t come off that way, IMO.
Jamie Kennedy Hosts For Activision (2007)
Actor and comedian Jamie Kennedy has done a fair few things in his career. Some of them have been genuinely good, while others have been (at least I assume) unintentionally hilarious. The most unintentionally hilarious thing Kennedy has ever done is probably a toss up between Son of the Mask, and his appearance at E3 2007 on behalf of Activision.
The majority of the show consisted of Kennedy making a bunch of tired jokes about how gamers are nerds and virgins (HAHAHA GREAT AND SO ORIGINAL), while also conducting painfully awkward interviews with a number of developers.
Hell, even Tony Hawk rolled his eyes at Kennedy during one particularly awful chat, which is something that would keep me up for the rest of my life were I in his shoes, quite frankly.
To be fair to Kennedy, I have no idea if he was simply reading pre-prepared lines or improvising and relying on his own inherent “charm.” Either way, everyone involved with the show should hang their heads in shame.
Konami’s Rock Revolution Mess (2008)
Konami, a company you might remember as being responsible for some genuinely classic video game franchises, hasn’t had the best run of press in recent years. It didn’t help that it seems to have put a bullet in the heads of both Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill, of course.
While it wasn’t always this bad for the company, there is proof that it has a history of making pretty awful decisions. One such example was at E3 2008, when Konami decided it was going to enter the already crowded and clearly unsustainable market of rhythm games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
Any chance Rock Revolution had at stardom was cruelly – if inadvertently – dashed by the presenters of the demo, who proceeded to attempt to play through The Ramones classic Blitzkrieg Bop. They failed. Spectacularly.
Sony’s Wonderbook Utterly Fails (2012)
I have to hand it to Sony, a company clearly has some brass ones if it thinks it can stand up on stage and attempt to sell a product that doesn’t work. At least, I’m assuming that it knew its ultimately doomed augmented reality peripheral was a broken mess, otherwise this is a lot more embarrassing.
Well, if Sony didn’t know that Wonderbook was a bust before its disastrous live demo at E3 2012, it surely managed to figure it out during one of the most excruciating 15 minute segments I’ve ever seen in my life.
It’s unclear if the poor woman attempting to create “spells” to no avail was given a dodgy PS Move controller, if the game Book of Spells was bust, or if the problem was with the Wonderbook itself. Either way, the above demo didn’t exactly help the device’s rep, and it was soon forgotten about. You know, beyond the occasional article from a git like me that likes to bring up how bad this demo was.
I know Nintendo got a ton of flak for the Skyward Sword demo not quite working a few years before, but the Wonderbook managed to make it look like Nintendo had successfully shown off time travel by comparison.
Xbox One Reveal (2013)
I’d like to make it clear I love Microsoft and I adore my Xbox One. With that said, Microsoft’s horrendous 2013 E3 briefing, made it look like the Xbox One was certain to fail before it ever had a chance.
The company talked up a series of baffling features, and never properly explained how or why we as consumers should want them. The idea that the system needed to always be online to work was perhaps the biggest sticking point for fans, and it didn’t help matters at all when Microsoft exec Don Mattrick basically told anyone who had a problem with that feature to stick to the Xbox 360.
Further compounding matters, Sony saw its chance to capitalise on Microsoft’s folly and absolutely torn into its rivals during the PS4 reveal. Ouch.
Konami’s 2010 Press Conference (2010)
Before Devolver Digital started holding its own (brilliant) press conferences that take aim at the self-aggrandising nature of the video games industry, Konami came out with an absolute belter of a show in 2010 that I was completely convinced was satirical for the longest time.
It was not.
I’m pretty sure there’s a book to be written on what on Earth went on behind the scenes of Konami’s 2010 E3 conference, and while I don’t think I have the nerve to write it myself, I would absolutely be first in line to pick up a copy.
Where do you even start with this one? From a series of truly terrible looking games (including a Saw video game and a Japanese shoot ’em up starring scantily clad women), to developers that either clearly didn’t want to be there, or were enthusiastic to the point of creepiness, the whole thing was a surreal mess.
“Now you can move your fat body freely.” Nah, I’m good thanks.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.