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The eight biggest flops, fails, and blunders in E3 history

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Every year, gamers around the world tune in for E3 for exciting game and hardware reveals. While there has been a myriad of awesome E3 moments throughout its history dating back to 1995, it can’t all be good. Some E3 press conferences have been comically bad. From cringe-worthy segments to insanely terrible jokes to incredibly disappointing announcements, E3 has seen it all. Following in the glow of E3 2019, we compiled eight of the most memorably awful flops, fails, and blunders in E3 history.

Microsoft’s Xbox One messaging – E3 2013

Embarrassing Moments of E3 2013

Though the Xbox One has become a huge success for Microsoft, its first day in the spotlight played out in spectacularly bad fashion. Most of the conference disappointed, but the most outrageous aspect was Microsoft’s proposed approach to physical games. Microsoft said Xbox One disc-based games would be locked to a single console, effectively killing the preowned games market. Thankfully, Microsoft quickly backtracked on the feature after an overwhelmingly negative response.

Microsoft also centered a huge portion of its E3 2013 presentation discussing the Xbox One’s entertainment features, propping up the idea that you could watch TV through your Xbox One. Weird messaging to say the least, as Microsoft talked about the Xbox One as more of an entertainment box than a dedicated gaming system. To add to the issues, Microsoft said the Xbox One’s huge $500 price tag was a result of the system requiring the Kinect. Just six months after launch, Microsoft started selling the Xbox One without the Kinect, for 100 bucks less.

PS3 price and a giant, historically accurate crab – E3 2006

Sony's Embarrassing E3 2006 Press Conference

When Sony took the stage at E3 2006, everyone expected the PS3 to fully unveiled. That happened, but wow, it left a mark in a bad way. After announcing that the PS3 would launch for the obscene price of $600 (the console was also ugly), expectations went down a notch or ten. But that wasn’t all that happened during Sony’s E3 2006 debacle. Sony Computer Entertainment boss Kaz Hirai hilariously overhyped Ridge Racer, yelling the title like a stadium announcer would introduce LeBron James.

But the worst fail of all came during the reveal of Genji: Days of the Blade. Moments after touting how the game was historically accurate and included battles from Ancient Japanese history, the greatest thing happened. The gameplay demo loaded and almost immediately we were greeted by a mammoth crab. “So here’s this giant enemy crab,” the developer said. And that was that. Realism at its finest. But if we’re being honest, the giant crab is one of our favorite E3 moments ever.

Mr. Caffeine’s time machine – E3 2011

Mr Caffeine -- yikes

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Ubisoft held a novel press conference at E3 2011 featuring videos of current franchises — if they had been made in 1986. An interesting concept for sure, but host Aaron Priceman made everything a bit weird. Priceman went by the name Mr. Caffeine (seriously) on stage. His high energy hosting efforts included a myriad of male genitalia jokes and many other very unfunny bits that drew little to no reaction from the audience.

His sound effects and hand motions induced the most cringe, though. Each time a trailer was about to run, he said, “Doodly Doodly Doop” and waved his hands around, attempting to mimic a time machine. You really have to watch it. The video above compiles a smattering of Mr. Caffeine’s most awkward moments, including several “Doodly Doodly Doops.”

Jamie Kennedy calls E3 attendees virgins – E3 2007

Jamie Kennedy Activision's E3 Press Conference 2007

Activision doesn’t hold E3 press conferences anymore, but the Call of Duty publisher will always have a special place in E3 history for the absolute disaster that was 2007. Activision hired stand-up comedian Jamie Kennedy to host its show. Terrible idea, Activision. You wouldn’t know that Kennedy was a comedian by watching the show. From the moment he took the stage, he appeared extremely annoyed to be there. He punched down at the audience and even developers, making lame jokes about nerd culture that went as far to call attendees virgins.

Kennedy came off as woefully unprepared. He walked on stage to collect and check and go home, and it showed. The audience hated every moment of it, and Kennedy even managed to make skateboarding legend Tony Hawk look uncomfortable on stage. You can relive the “highlights” above.

Wii Music drum solo – E3 2008

Wii Music E3 2008 Gameplay Part 1 (DJ Ravi Drums) (HD)

Nintendo’s E3 2008 press conference had little to get excited about. The entire show revolved around casual games, which were booming for Nintendo thanks to the popularity of the Wii. But casual fans don’t tune in for E3. And nobody tunes in to watch a dude play an imaginary drum solo. Yet, that’s what happened when the spotlight cast over DJ Ravi Drums, who held a Wii Remote in one hand and a Nunchuck in the other.

For the next minute, DJ Ravi Drums played a drum solo that sounded so, so, so awful. But it wasn’t really DJ Ravi Drums fault. The blame falls on Wii Music, which produced drum sounds on par with music toys designed for toddlers. DJ Ravi tried to sell it and look cool while banging the air with plastic controllers. We salute him for his effort. Poor DJ Ravi was destined to look foolish.

Konami’s death stare  – E3 2010

E3 2010 Konami Press Conference Highlights

Konami no longer holds E3 press conferences (or makes console games, really), but in 2010 the Metal Gear Solid developer apparently wanted to get people talking. Arguably the worst E3 press conference of all time, it was a total disaster from start to finish. At one point, a developer stood behind his co-worker and stared at him with laser focus, as if he was trying to melt his brain. Multiple wrestlers, tights and all, took the stage, one of whom wore a skeleton costume. A pair of developers danced awkwardly on the floor while showcasing Dance Masters.

The crown jewel of the conference came when Ninety-Nine Nights II producer Tak Fujii said this: “If you just continue to press the same button like the X, X, X, and Y, Y, Y, and X, X, and Y, Y, Y again, you will be sucked.” Is that the greatest sentence in E3 press conference history? Probably.

Sega Saturn’s surprise launch – E3 1995

E3 1995 - Sega Saturn Announcement Reel

During the inaugural E3 in 1995, Sega had a huge surprise for fans. Right there on stage, Sega announced its new console, the Sega Saturn, would be available in stores across the country that same day. The Saturn was supposed to launch in North America roughly four months after E3. While a very cool surprise indeed, Sega’s strategy ultimately doomed the console.

With just six games available at launch, there wasn’t much of a reason for consumers to rush to the store. On top of that, developers were under the assumption that they had time more time before launch to get their games ready. Furthermore, retailers weren’t ready, so it was hard to actually find a Saturn. The Saturn underperformed throughout its lifecycle and was discontinued just three years later. Sega would be out of the console business just a few years later after the Dreamcast flopped as well.

Ubisoft’s meme attempt – E3 2015

Pitch-a-Meme Ubisoft 2015

From 2012 to 2016, comedian and actor Aisha Tyler hosted Ubisoft’s press conference. She almost always put on a great show, but at E3 2015, one of the most awkward moments in E3 press conference history occurred between Tyler and a man dressed as Jacob Frye from Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

In a seemingly unscripted detour, Tyler sat next to the cosplayer and tried to create a comedic moment. After commenting that his costume made him look “insanely hot,” the cosplayer looked quite uncomfortable. Then she added to it by saying that “a guy from your era probably has rickets or something I could catch, but you look amazing.” For some reason, she then wanted the cosplayer to create a meme to encapsulate the show. She pitched: “Who kept the Christmas lights on during the apocalypse?” He was utterly confused, and so was everyone else in the audience.

Editors' Recommendations

Steven Petite
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven is a writer from Northeast Ohio currently based in Louisiana. He writes about video games and books, and consumes…
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