The Electronic Entertainment Expo, commonly known as E3, is the largest video game trade show in the universe, held every summer in downtown Los Angeles. It’s legitimately one of my favorite times of the year—not only because I’m a huge, insufferable nerd, but also because it leads to some of the most awkward, ham-fisted, corporate attempts at marketing you will ever see.
E3 features a ton of press conferences where sweaty suits have to pretend they actually care about this business beyond the fiscal value once a year. This leads to a ton of bad teleprompter reads, delayed cues, and misappropriated “Internet talk.” It’s glorious, and even if you don’t play video games, I think you’ll be able to appreciate some of the cringeworthiest E3 moments we’ve gathered here.
The Peggle 2 Bomb
Peggle was released in 2007 by former casual-gaming juggernauts Popcap Games. It was a simple, likable pachinko variant that did reasonably well. Popcap went on to farm Peggle out to every platform imaginable, much like the Bejeweleds and Angry Birds of the world. By 2013, nobody cared about Peggle anymore, but somehow Electronic Arts didn’t get that information, which lead to this all-time great E3 fail.
Just fucking crickets. He even jumps! There’s revelry! For absolutely nothing! The entire Peggle franchise might as well have stopped existing the second this announcement happened.
All The Feels
Here’s another gem from EA. I don’t know who this man is. Maybe he’s some corporate shill getting paid top dollar to pretend he knows about video games. Maybe he’s somebody famous. Or maybe he’s just a bewildered nerd trying to authentically relate with an IRL audience. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter, because it’s still the worst thing I have ever seen.
I just want to know what the marketing meeting was like.
EA Bigwig: “Okay, man, once she finishes playing the song you have to say ‘all the feels.’”
Shill: “What? What does that even mean? ‘feels’ isn’t even a noun!”
EA Bigwig: DOESN’T MATTER, WE GOTTA TALK TO THE KIDS THE WAY THE KIDS TALK.
Nobody does a cringey press conference quite like Ubisoft. Nobody. Between the weird Frenchness, the tone-deaf attempts at synergy, and the random celebrity hosts, Ubisoft has elevated the press conference uncanny valley into an art form. Yeah, they’ve gotten better—the last two years their host has been Aisha Tyler, who seems to have a rough idea of what she’s talking about, but let us take you back to 2011 and Mr. Caffeine.
This is literally what the whole show was like. Ubisoft, a multi-billion dollar company, hired a fucking ShamWow guy doppelgänger and livestreamed it across the globe. The dude couldn’t even say “Tom Clancy” right. To this day, when I close my eyes, I can still see Mr. Caffeine staring back at me. Diddlydodiddlydodiddlydodiddlydo.
The Giant Enemy Crab
It’s hard to remember now, but Sony’s 2006 E3 press conference, which served as the formal unveiling of the Playstation 3, was a total disaster. Just the worst, obtuse laziness from a company that had grown fat on its PS2 success. There are many moments to highlight, like when that even-more-ridiculous-in-retrospect $599 price tag was announced, but my favorite is a little bit subtler.
Genji is an action game based on Japanese history.
The levels will be based on battles that actually happened in ancient Japan.
Here’s this giant enemy crab.
As you may expect, we haven’t heard from Genji since.
Imagine that you’re Joel McHale. You don’t really play video games, but you’re famous and funny, and Ubisoft calls your agent and offers a bunch of money for you to host their press conference. Whatever, it’s only a couple of hours—right? You don’t even have to fly anywhere! So you accept, because honestly, why not?
But then, about halfway through, this happens.
This wasn’t in the script? Are they playing laser tag? Why would a video game company be involved in laser tag? Oh god, am I supposed to be saying something? OH GOD THEY’RE HANDING ME A LASER PISTOL.
Joel McHale is so genuinely mystified by what’s happening, and it’s beautiful. I love it when these things go off the rails, and this is probably the best example we’ll ever have of that.
Two Calloused Children and a Kinect
What do the consumers need in order to understand the principles of a motion-controlled Disneyland game? A demo? Sure. A businessman listing all the features? Yeah, that helps. How about a trailer? Works for me! What about two child actors pretending they’re flying in front of a TV in the worst impression of youthful enthusiasm you will ever see?
Goddammit, watching Microsoft attempt to create kids games is the acutal saddest thing.
The Least Impressive Thing in the World
Somebody at Nintendo thought this was a good idea.
Oh E3, never change.
Photo via purplesbutt/YouTube