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Feature: The Highs and Lows of PlayStation 3 at E3

Posted by Robert Ramsey

Third time lucky

With the PlayStation 4 set to dominate the industry's attention over the coming week, we thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to look back on some of the highest highs and cringe-inducing lows from the PlayStation 3's time at E3. We’ve been astounded by gameplay demonstrations, shocked by surprise announcements, and reduced to disappointed, broken husks after witnessing disastrous presentations. Join us as we root through the press conference archives, and offer a reminder of just why the Los Angeles show is considered the most memorable event on the gaming calendar.

The Good Memories

LittleBigPlanet Sales Presentation – E3 2008

First on our list is Sony’s ingenious method of relaying sales figures and stats during its 2008 E3 keynote. Usually when it comes to discussing the business side of gaming, we’ve come to expect a boring slideshow of tables, graphs, and bullet points – but not this time. With Media Molecule’s Alex Evans on stage to assist the ever-enthusiastic Jack Tretton, we were guided through the typically mundane portion of the presser in style, as the developer directed Sackboy through an extremely well made LittleBigPlanet level in which the math was brought to life. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this was the fact that it all went swimmingly – there were no glitches or awkward physics in sight, and it was a brilliant method of demonstrating the flexibility of the first-party release.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Gameplay Demonstration – E3 2009

Naughty Dog’s awe-inspiring Uncharted 2: Among Thieves gameplay demonstration was easily the highlight of Sony’s 2009 conference, giving gamers around the globe a reason to scream about the soon-to-be blockbuster. Treating us to the gloriously chaotic helicopter chase in which protagonist Nathan Drake finds himself avoiding certain death, this particular showing was largely responsible for setting a new benchmark in terms of cinematic gameplay. It was the moment when many realised just what the developer was capable of, and epitomised the publisher’s renewed focus on core software. But above all, it’s a scenario that was, and still is, simply amazing to watch.

Kevin Butler’s Speech – E3 2010

Sony’s immensely popular and charismatic advertising mascot took to the stage during its 2010 presser, reinvigorating the show with a superbly executed speech that solidified his place in the gaming hall of fame. Actor Jerry Lambert’s rousing monologue was a sight to behold, as he delivered every line with confidence and flair, demanding the audience’s attention for over five minutes. But despite upstaging some of the Japanese giant’s most important executives, Butler’s PlayStation Move push didn’t quite have the effect that the company was hoping for – although no one can dismiss this outstanding performance.

Gabe Newell’s Surprise Appearance – E3 2010

Before this particular event, Valve co-founder and game development guru Gabe Newell wasn’t shy when it came to expressing his opinion about the PlayStation 3 – once stating that the console was “a waste of everyone’s time”. However, in what was to become a landmark moment in Sony’s 2010 conference, Newell took to the stage to announce that the hugely anticipated Portal 2 was to make an appearance on the hardware. Not only that, but he stressed that the PlayStation 3 version would be the best found on any console thanks to its integration with Valve’s own Steam service. It was a drastic change of heart from a man that had been so outspoken when it came to the Japanese giant's machine, and was no doubt a massive statement of intent from the company to strike a deal with such a well-known figure within the industry.

The Last of Us Gameplay Demonstration – E3 2012

After Naughty Dog’s mind-blowing Uncharted 2: Among Thieves demo back in 2009, it was hard to imagine how the American developer could ever top its own output. But at last year’s E3 presser, Sony opted to finish up the show with a live showcase of The Last of Us – and it was absolutely stunning. We’ve never seen an audience so large kept enthralled by sheer tension alone. Watching main character Joel cautiously round each corner in an abandoned building made for an incredibly gripping spectacle, and every unforgivably brutal melee attack was met with gasps of disbelief. The clincher, though, was how it all ended, with a bandit pleading for his life as Joel steadied a shotgun aimed squarely at his head – and then pulled the trigger.

The Bad Memories

“599 US Dollars” – E3 2006

A phrase that has garnered legendary status since it was casually declared by Kaz Hirai during Sony’s E3 2006 conference, it was the low point of the company’s rather embarrassing display that year. After the unprecedented success of the PlayStation 2, the electronics behemoth had every right to be confident in its newest machine – but with the announcement of such an expensive price tag, it was clear that its confidence had turned into arrogance. This costly sum would also contribute to the PlayStation 3’s troubled launch, as many potential buyers simply weren’t ready to hand over such a large amount of cash for the device.

The 3D Push – E3 2011

This wasn’t so much an embarrassing moment as it was an arduous ordeal. At its 2011 E3 presser, Sony pushed 3D integration into just about every announcement that it made. For example, Resistance 3 had to settle for a short stint of gameplay footage topped off by the news of a 3D display bundle. While there was nothing inherently wrong with this, many argued that the market just wasn't ready to adopt the technology – especially since high definition televisions had only recently become the standard within most households. Given that the third dimension has all but dropped off the map when it comes to mainstream gaming, this particular tech push looks even worse in hindsight.

Kobe Bryant Plays NBA 2K12 Using PlayStation Move - E3 2011

Inviting celebrities on stage to show off their skills in a particular title is never a good idea – the sheer amount of embarrassing moments that spawn from these scenarios are proof enough of that. Unfortunately for Sony, NBA legend Kobe Bryant's gaming prowess wasn't quite as refined as his on-court presence, and he struggled to get to grips with the PlayStation Move during the company's 2011 keynote, resulting in an embarrassing showing from the sports personality.

"Great Job, Jeremy" - E3 2011

The PlayStation Move played a large role during Sony's 2011 E3 presser, which, rather unsurprisingly, led to a lot of awkward gameplay demonstrations met with moans and groans from the audience. Perhaps the most cringe-inducing of these was the showing of Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest. While the game itself didn't look entirely terrible, it was the on-stage developer's commentary that made this difficult to watch. With almost every arrow fired, every sword swung, and every puzzle solved, we were treated to the phrase, "Great job, Jeremy," which promptly started to grate.

Wonderbook: Book of Spells Live Demonstration – E3 2012

Sony undoubtedly had a good E3 in 2012 – there was a steady stream of exclusives on show, with God of War: Ascension and The Last of Us headlining an overall solid conference. There was, however, one low point that unsurprisingly sucked away much of the event’s positivity – the demonstration of Wonderbook: Book of Spells. While the accessory itself was indeed quite clever, its drawn-out presence put a substantial dampener on an otherwise briskly paced presser. The camera-heavy nature of the software also presented the perfect opportunity for something to go wrong, as the sorry souls on stage learned the hard way when the game refused to acknowledge the PlayStation Move's inputs.

Did we miss any of your personal favourite high or low points? What do you think will be the best and worst moments from this year's press conference? Let us know in the comments section below.

User Comments (15)



get2sammyb said:

Fun article, Robert. I think Uncharted 2 will always go down as one of my high points from the PS3's time at E3 — that demo absolutely blew me away, and, of course, everyone else that was watching. At that time, Uncharted wasn't really considered a "blockbuster" by any stretch, but I really think it put the franchise on the map.

A bad moment for me was the very first demonstration of the PlayStation Motion controller. It's clear that Sony hadn't planned to include it in the press conference, but when Microsoft announced Kinect, they were forced to wheel it out in order to avoid being left behind. The technology on display was undoubtedly impressive — and they deserved kudos for actually offering a live demonstration — but the whole presentation seemed so amateur compared to 'Project Natal'. Stuff like Milo may have been fake, but it got people talking.

My hope this year is that it maintains the same pace as E3 2012, minus the Wonderbook demo. The best part of last year's showcase was when it just rolled out God of War and The Last of Us in quick succession without pauses. I want it to do that again. I understand that Tretton needs to say a few words, but if you look back through the conferences, Sony ALWAYS talks too much. They need to cut out the chatter, and show.



ObviouslyAdachi said:

How about all the talk of Remote Play? You know, that feature that's seldom used? Sony pretty much set themselves up to win and decided to crash and burn. In hindsight, definitely a low point considering the current state of things.



ShogunRok said:

That The Last of Us demonstration is still the best live gameplay I've ever seen at E3. I was absolutely blown away.



rastamadeus said:

"With PlayStation 4 set to dominate the industry's attention over the coming week"? Sorry to nitpick but that sounds highly dismissive of Microsoft and Nintendo, no? I know it's a Sony news site but it just sounds a bit arrogant (I know its not meant that way). PS4 will get around a third to 40% of attention, the same as Microsoft will while Nintendo will get 20% a third. Same as it has been the last few years. Apart from that one line though, nice article and a good read.



rastamadeus said:

@charlesnarles Done just after the calamitous Xbox One reveal when we all thought Sony wouldn't do what Microsoft would regarding pre-owned games. Also done by one website to people on Twitter. Were you asked? Was the woman down the road? No. Of course not. Also that is done to FANS. Not the industry. The industry wants all both Xbox One and PS4 to succeed to get them more money so will give them equal attention, which is what I said in the first place.

But you seem to misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm not debating what is best or wanted more, just that one sentence as there are two new consoles at this E3.



get2sammyb said:

@Epic I did already mention it in the article:

"We should probably stress that the version of Uncharted 3 that's being offered is not actually the full game, but the single player component with its free-to-play multiplayer extension. As such, you’ll have to pay extra if you want to access the complete online offering."

Thanks for the heads-up, though!



Gamer83 said:

Given some of the stuff that I believe will be announced, good chance this E3 will be the lowest point for the PS brand since that entire 2006 press conference. I hope Sony proves me wrong but the best thing to do is expect the worst.



Zombie_Barioth said:

Its a shame the 3D display didn't do very well, from what I've heard its a pretty good display for its size even without the 3D. I think the main probelm with it was the same as most 3D technology at the time, active shutter 3D and glasses don't mix.

other than that I don't like how they touted a bunch of features only for them to hardly see the light of day or flat out remove them after the fact. I'd really hate to see them over-hype cloud gaming or some other feature only for things to not work out as planned.



divinelite said:

No love for Beyond last year?
I'm blown so hard because of that. That and of course Last of Us.

don't have ps3 so only can... watch, hope someday it could be streamed to ps4 and playable by psvita by whatever way

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