Let me be perfectly clear: no one entity, person, game, product, piece of art, company, or thing can “win” an E3. You cannot win a convention that isn’t a real competition or match or contest. The silly idea that every year us gamers chronicle, in magazines and on the internet, a “winner” to E3 is preposterous, ridiculous, and downright criminal. But there is some credence to the thought that one press conference stood out from the others, but it’s usually in the toxic way fanboys pit conglomerates against each other like sports teams playing against each other.
Yes, capitalism breeds companies to compete, but it’s not a war. It’s just rich companies getting richer by promoting their marketing materials directly to their loyal diehard customers. The whole thing is revolting, and yet somehow hype. Like a train wreck of Christmas gifts, exploding everywhere and hurting all the employees who make the games, but it’s still a spectacle you cannot take your eyes off of.
This is all my opinion, none of this is objective because how can it possibly be that. None of us should be celebrating the mega-corporations behind the games, just the games themselves, and the developers who crunched themselves to death working on these E3 vertical slices and barely functioning demos. But after not having an E3 last year, we desperately need it this year. No more delays, or COVID nonsense, it’s time for some god damn trailers and hype-ass announcements! Yes, I am a hypocrite but at least I know I’m one.
Who Won E3 1995?
Sony, with one single sentence.
This is the greatest moment in E3 history, by the way; it killed an entire console in one fell swoop. The Saturn ostensibly died at this very moment, and while Sega didn’t know it until 2001, its place in the console market also died that exact same day. The Dreamcast couldn’t compete with the PS2, the $399 Saturn and the super cheap N64 couldn’t compete with the PS1, and pretty much everybody hasn’t competed with the PS4 or PS5, or ever really will again.
Sony’s lead is so far beyond comprehension in terms of sales it’s hard to imagine anyone knocking off Sony from their throne, and it all started its gaming dominance at the very first E3 ever. Which I found out was nicknamed “E Cubed” by its creator until people told him it was super dumb and then he changed the name to E3.
Who Won E3 1996?
Nintendo and the Ultra 64 did! Did you know you could now control Mario in 3D using an analog stick? And that’s not even including the following line-up: the Game Boy Pocket, “Pilotwings 64”, “Wave Race 64”, “Shadows of the Empire”, “Donkey Kong Country 3”, “Kirby Super Star” (aka the best Kirby game), and “Super Mario RPG”.
Who Won E3 1997?
PC first-person shooters! And shooters in general, to a certain extent, I guess. Look at this list and tell me it’s not world-class stuff for reveal trailers and new gameplay footage: “Half-Life”, “Unreal”, “Quake II”, “Star Wars Jedi Knight Dark Forces II”, “SiN”, “Daikatana”, “Thief”, “SWAT 2”, “Duke Nukem Forever”, and “Prey”. Were half of those games good? No! Was “Daikatana” cool as hell back in ’97? Hell yes! The ’90s were extreme to the max, yo!
And if you just look at all the games that had shooting in it, you also get “Turok”, “Starcraft”, “Max Payne”, “Goldeneye”, “Metal Gear Solid”, “Tomb Raider II”, “Fallout”, “Panzer Dragoon Saga”, “Time Crisis”, “Shadows of the Empire”, “Doom 64”, “Grand Theft Auto”, and “Resident Evil 2”!
I might want to say gamers won this year, because if you look at the list of games that don’t include shooting, it’s bananas: “Banjo-Kazooie”, “Star Fox 64”, “F-Zero 64”, “Oddworld”, “Conker’s Bad Fur Day”, and “Final Fantasy VII”. Come on! This year is bonkers.
Who Won E3 1998?
Nintendo, because of the (possibly) greatest game ever made being shown off.
Not the first time the game was shown off at an E3, but it would be its last and best showing. Plus, Nintendo showed off the Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Camera, the Game Boy Printer, and at least mentioned the N64DD add-on, so a blend of both lightspeed software and hardware. Futuristic man, Nintendo with the cutting edge tech, that would be the last time but at least they also had “Pokemon Red and Blue”, “Perfect Dark”, “Super Mario RPG”, “F-Zero X”, “Bomberman Hero”, and “Banjo-Kazooie”.
Who Won E3 1999?
Sega did, for the first and only time in their corporate lives! Good for them. Their company would only crank out awful Sonic games for other consoles for the next 20 years, shhhhh don’t tell them yet.
Without a doubt the biggest news of the show was the Dreamcast and its 9/9/99 release date. That thing was being trotted around like a technological marvel, the hydrogen bomb of its day, ready to obliterate the competition. It was supposed to have DVD tech at the time! Can you imagine being so short-sighted as to not include that?
But Sega had a few hits under their belts to bolster their reputation, like “Sonic Adventure”, “Ready 2 Rumble”, “Seaman”, “Ecco the Dolphin”, “Shenmue”, “Virtua Fighter 3”, “Sega Rally 2”, “NBA and NFL 2K”, “Soul Caliber”, “Bass Fishing”, and “The House of the Dead 2”.
Who Won E3 2000?
Konami? Wait no, that can’t be right, they don’t make video games anymore. Are we sure it wasn’t the PlayStation 2, Sony, or Kojima?
Apparently it really was just “Metal Gear Solid 2”, good job Konami! From all of my research, which includes wiki pages from Giant Bomb and IGN, and lots of YouTube footage, this was the hottest game of the show, the most talked-about title, the most-watched trailer, and the most buzzed-about product bar none. Not even other PS2 demos were any good, just this one game!
And it makes sense, looking at Sega and Nintendo’s slate, it just wasn’t the same as how thermonuclear hot that MGS2 demo was at the time. It might be the best demo in gaming history before “P.T.” destroyed Konami’s will to live. The booth was packed to the brim with people watching it over and over! People cried! This was the tulip fever of video games, you didn’t even play as Solid Snake you fools!
Who Won E3 2001?
This was a tough one, since apparently Sony had a killer line-up again, but I have to give the edge to Nintendo. Shout outs to Microsoft for showing up and offering a hands-on demo of “Halo” that had frame rate issues, though.
The Xbox, the PS2, and the GameCube all had a three-way slugfest at E3, which would begin the 20 year battle between the primary console makers. Most of the launch games for the Xbox were here, as well as Sony showing “Devil May Cry”, “Final Fantasy X”, “Dark Cloud”, “Jak & Daxter”, and “Grand Theft Auto III” (which no one gave any thought to because of “State of Emergency”? Morons.)
But Nintendo had its GC launch window games (“Luigi’s Mansion”, “Pikmin”, “Animal Crossing”, “Super Smash Bros. Melee”, “Rogue Squadron II”, etc.) which all turned out to be quite damn good. And the reason Nintendo gets the edge over its rivals is they also had a killer slate of GBA games, which was revolutionary at the time. “Advance Wars”, “Golden Sun”, “Castlevania: Circle of the Moon”, “Mario Kart Super Circuit”, and “Super Mario Advance”.
Who Won E3 2002?
It was iD Software and “Doom III”.
“Doom III” was the biggest name, the most anticipated sequel, and sported the most impressive-looking graphics at the time. It was…all the rage, pun intended, and was easily hands down the game of the show. Even I remember the hype levels for “Doom III” being off the charts.
Nintendo had an impressive year 2 line-up of GameCube games, and traditionally when we discuss who “won” E3 it comes down to a company putting on a press conference, but at the time there was hesitation about “Super Mario Sunshine”, “Metroid Prime”, and the art style of “Wind Waker”. Controversial then, as silly as it was, but at the time fans were pissed. They were wrong and stupid, but pissed nonetheless.
Who Won E3 2003?
Gabe Newell, Valve, “Half-Life 2”, and physics.
Listen, this entire list could easily come down to choosing Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft over and over again. We’ll get to them soon enough, since it was a real horse race for most of the decade. But “Half-Life 2” might be the greatest game ever made and this was the best demo ever shown, because it delivered the goods and was real. No smoke and mirrors, no BS, just the most advanced leap in gaming shown off live, and it would go down as the reason the game’s code got stolen and delayed it an entire flipping year.
This isn’t to say the Big 3 didn’t have good years, they did! Nintendo had a nice list of games (“Double Dash”, “F-Zero GX”, “Star Fox”, “Metroid Zero Mission”), Xbox had “Halo 2” blow people’s minds, Peter Molyneux lied about “Fable” a whole bunch, and Sony bested them all with the PSP announcement, the EyeToy, “Gran Turismo 4”, and “Ratchet & Clank 2”. They easily would have won if not for Valve, back when they made video games.
Who Won E3 2004?
Peter Moore and his guns, baby.
“I got your release date…right here.” The most epic thing anyone has done in video games. Still gives me chills. Yeah, sorry, this tattoo of Halo 2’s release date on Moore’s arm is easily the 2nd greatest moment in E3 history after “$299”, even though it crunched Bungie to cut out the ending. But “Halo 2” remains maybe the best FPS ever, so it’s a close call.
But in reality, in all fairness to Mr. Moore and his tattoo artist, the real winner of E3 2004 was Nintendo. Reggie Fils-Aime’s famous introduction to kicking ass and taking names, Miyamoto’s Master Sword introduction to screaming and crying fanboys, the DS’s introduction to the world, and of course, Link’s re-introduction to the gaming world.
Has there ever been a moment as hype as this for Nintendo? No, no there hasn’t. This will never be topped again, sorry Nintendo Direct presentations.
Who Won E3 2005?
The most infamous trailer in the history of video games, “Killzone 2” and its fake gameplay.
I might get a lot of crap for this, especially in retrospect, but it’s impossible not to give in to the following trailer and not think Sony single-handedly won the “next generation” with these graphics, at the time. This trailer looks good now! This was the most discussed thing all E3, which is saying something because it competed with the Xbox 360 and “Gears of War”, the Nintendo Revolution and “Twilight Princess”, “Perfect Dark Zero”, and that fake “FF7” tech demo that would spark the idea of a remake a decade-plus later.
Who Won E3 2006?
Microsoft. Why? LET’S BRING BACK PETER MOORE’S GUNS, BABY!
Many words on the internet have been written about Sony’s infamous 2006 press conference. I won’t bother to spend time dismantling it or the PS3’s price. And I also won’t get into the announcement of the name Wii because I can vividly remember being on a basketball court when I found out and calling everyone in my address book to dunk on how bad of a name it was. It still is, change my mind.
But the Xbox 360 was out, people bought it, it had “Halo 3” and “Mass Effect” and “Blue Dragon” and “Crackdown” and “Fable 2” and “Forza 2” and “Dead Rising” and now “GTA IV”. I decided to change allegiances from my beloved PS2 to a 360 instead of a PS3 and it was a really heavy/important decision to make. My friends list mattered, the controller mattered, the price mattered, and looking back I made the right choice. The PS3 kinda sucked, all-in-all.
Who Won E3 2007?
Ubisoft and the original teaser for “Assassin’s Creed”.
It was much easier back in the day for a single game reveal to “win” the E3 hype, rather than us grading all the press conferences. And Ubisoft, when they were presumably protecting predators and sexual abusers and did nothing about it, managed to spoil the twist to AC1’s premise. Did that slow down the hype train from leaving the station?
Not one bit, and the demo got everyone talking including Shigeru Miyamoto, who attended a demonstration of the game at the Ubi booth. No word on if he was sexually harassed by any executives there, though.
Shout outs to Reggie and his body being ready, Jaime Kennedy at Activision, and Peter Moore playing “Rock Band” and accidentally pausing the game mid-song.
Who Won E3 2008?
Microsoft, for nabbing another exclusive franchise from Sony’s gargantuan stockpile of third-party IPs.
I started watching E3 in the early 2000’s on G4, so I did in fact watch every second of footage from this E3. However, upon revisiting the press conference videos and reading about the games shown off, I have no recollection of anything Nintendo did nor anything Sony did besides that really cool “God of War III” trailer.
But I think this was a slam dunk for Xbox; they had “Gears of War 2”, “Halo Wars”, “Castle Crashers”, “Resident Evil 5”, “Fable 2”, “Geometry Wars 2”, “Fallout 3”, and a third Banjo-Kazooie game! It was okay, I liked it, but a vehicle-building game and not a platformer? Who the hell decided that, the same person who approved of a Jak and Daxter racing game? The hell?
Also, Nintendo had that “Wii Music” demo. Enough said.
Who Won E3 2009?
This was the hardest choice to make so far, because initially on reading the list of announcements, I thought it was Microsoft. They had a good show! Minus the “bottom of an Avatar’s shoe” thing. A ton of games, the Beatles showed up, it was amazing.
But apparently, the internet remembers Sony’s showing to be the better of the two, even though (in total hindsight) the PSP was a big flop and a waste of time and money. But in 2009, the PSP Go was hip and cool, and games for it were also wanted. Weird to type that out, no one bought a PSP Go, come on now.
This was the year “Scribblenauts” won Game of the Show, I remember that being a huge deal. I also very vividly remember Xbox coming out strong with “Halo Reach” and ODST, the Milo Project Natal demo, Kojima and “MGS Rising”, “Left 4 Dead 2” (when Valve made video games), “Alan Wake”, “Splinter Cell Conviction” (when Ubisoft made Splinter Cell games), “Crackdown 2”, “Shadow Complex”, and “Modern Warfare 2”.
But Sony had that “God of War III” trailer, “The Last Guardian”, and “Uncharted 2”. That’s hard to beat, those games were gigantic back then, and the hype levels were off the charts. As good as Microsoft’s showing was, Sony was able to build some serious momentum behind them. Nintendo had nothing, let’s ignore them for now. Let’s say Sony and Microsoft tied, congrats to them both.
Who Won E3 2010?
No one? Everyone? Gamers?
You can make a case for every show, honestly, but this was one of the worst years I’ve seen in my life. Microsoft had the typical sequels, but that awful Kinect showcase really stunk the joint up (and would sink their next console).
Nintendo had “Kirby’s Epic Yarn” and “Donkey Kong Country Returns”, and the 3DS reveal, but the terrible motion controls on “Skyward Sword” was just too awkward for me. Looked embarrassing then, turned out to be a disaster now. And don’t get me started on “Metroid Other M”.
Sony had some nice surprises with Gabe Newell and “Portal 2”, Kevin Butler showing up, and the big Twisted Metal psyche-out. But otherwise, it was a boring showing, too long and chock full of nonsense. Konami pooped the bed with an infamous presser, EA showed “Dead Space 2” (and then immediately killed the franchise afterward), and Ubisoft had nothing.
I might say Nintendo came out ahead barely, but I can’t stomach most of their line-up: “Wii Party”, “Mario Sports Mix”, “Just Dance 2”, that disgusting GoldenEye remake, or “Nintendogs and Cats”. Just pathetic stuff.
Who Won E3 2011?
No one, again? How is that possible?
Honestly, I think I might give it to EA, out of everyone. Sony was close, they had some good stuff to show like a new Sly Cooper game, but all of the announcements were either leaked or well known ahead of time. And the line-up for EA was on fire! Look at this list: “Mass Effect 3”, “Need for Speed: The Run”, “Star Wars The Old Republic”, “SSX” revival, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning”, Insomniac’s “Overstrike” (before it turned into “Fuse”), and “Battlefield 3”.
That’s a good slate, I don’t care if half of those games turned out to be bad, in 2011 it was hype as hell! And then yeah we all know how it turned out, but in the moment, which I was in, it was hella hype.
And least we forget to mention Mr. Caffeine. Yeesh.
Who Won E3 2012?
Ubisoft and that god damn “Watch Dogs” demo.
A slew of bad years for E3, in the early 2010’s. Sony got close, again, with “The Last of Us” winning a lot of awards. But no one was coming out of that week long show talking about anything BUT “Watch Dogs”. It turned out to be all lies and smoke and mirrors, and ultimately was a mediocre GTA knock-off, but there was no denying its impact on how we viewed the way too long PS3/360 generation and how appetizing “the next generation” truly was. It was so mouth watering, we could taste it. It was so close!
Who Won E3 2013?
Do we even need to discuss this? Sony!
I don’t remember a single thing after that, but you don’t need to do much if you’re Sony after pulling maybe a top 3 all-time moment at E3. They might as well just have announced the price and ended the show two hours early. Who cares about launch line-ups or “Titanfall”? Pack it up and leave, go home, it was over after that. That ended Don Mattrick’s whole career, do you know how hard it is to pull that off TWICE? First with Sega’s hardware division, then Microsoft’s Xbox leadership, hot damn that was cold-blooded!
If not for this, the guy who announced “Peggle 2” would have won.
Who Won E3 2014?
Eiji Aonuma did.
Just him, that one man, by himself won it all. This was the first year I professionally wrote about, and podcasted about, E3, and got paid for it, at this website’s previous entity. I wrote at the time that Nintendo won, so I’m going to just go ahead and regurgitate what I jotted down in 2014:
“Nintendo won E3. Period. Not that we should go by “who won and who lost” because that’s reductive, but after one of the worst E3’s in recent memory, Nintendo brought it, guys.”
Smash Bros., Amiibo, “Yoshi’s Woolly World”, “Captain Toad”, “Breath of the Wild”, “Bayonetta 2”, “Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire” remakes, “Hyrule Warriors”, “Kirby and the Rainbow Curse”, “Mario Maker”, “Splatoon”, Robot Chicken, “Star Fox”, “Mario Party 10”, and “Xenoblade Chronicles X”. Nintendo might not ever have that kind of line-up ever again. And the other games at E3? Bad! “Evolve” won Game of the Show, that’s so laughable now, no one could take on Evolve. Ha!
Who Won E3 2015?
This is by far the most controversial take in this entire article, but E3 2015 was dominated by the “Summer of Dreams” announcements at Sony’s show. “The Last Guardian”, “Final Fantasy VII Remake”, and “Shenmue III” were among the biggest bombshells dropped in succession on an E3 stage. But I contend that the Sony show itself wasn’t all that amazing. Sure, it ended with “Uncharted 4”, it showed “Horizon Zero Dawn”, and grabbed “Street Fighter V” as an exclusive, but when you look at everything else shown, and think about that Shenmue Kickstarter, I think other shows were slightly better.
Microsoft had a killer showing, with backwards compatibility being the first real reason Xbox turned the ship around for our Captain Phil Spencer. This was also the first time we saw “Cuphead”, “Gears 4”, “Quantum Break”, and “Scalebound”. EA dazzled us with “Mass Effect Andromeda”, “Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2”, and “Battlefront”. Ubisoft quietly crushed it with “South Park The Fracture But Whole”, “For Honor”, that awesome “The Division” trailer, “Rainbow Six: Siege”, “AC Syndicate”, and “Ghost Recon: Wildlands”.
Square Enix brought “Just Cause 3”, “Nier Automata”, “Rise of the Tomb Raider”, “Hitman Go”, “Kingdom Hearts III”, “Hitman”, several Final Fantasy projects, and Project Setsuna. Nintendo had a bad show, let’s continue to ignore them like we did the last few years where they made games for the floundering Wii U. But the real winner, to me, is Bethesda.
Adam Sessler, Morgan Webb, Pete Hines, Marty Stratton, Lucas Davis, Harvey Smith, Matt Firor (and the screaming woman), and Todd Howard might have ended E3 with the very first presser of the week. The first gameplay footage of “Doom” was flashy, “Battlecry” was a new IP that excited, “Dishonored 2” looked fantastic (still does), and of course there was the surprise drop of “Fallout Shelter”. And who could forget the hype machine that was “Fallout 4”, which got me to buy a real life Pip-Boy. I think that ended up being the Game of the Show, and for good reason.
Who Won E3 2016?
It would be simple to hand this off to the first real footage of “Breath of the Wild” and call it a day. But I’m not a simple man, and you’d know that if you’re still reading by this point. Microsoft had Project Scorpio, EA had “Titanfall 2” and “Battlefield 1”, but the real winner this year was Sony and the orchestra playing in the “God of War” music to start the show.
Coupled with “Days Gone”, “The Last Guardian’s” final E3 appearance, “Horizon Zero Dawn”, “Detroit: Become Human”, the shocking RE7 trailer, “Final Fantasy XV”, PSVR, Call of Duty being at Sony’s show and not Xbox’s, and ending with Insomniac’s “Spider-Man”, Sony had a hell of a show and a hell of a PS4 line-up those next 12 months.
Who Won E3 2017?
Nintendo and Mario.
I cannot believe they won. Stunning how short and sweet and simple it all was. Let me be clear: the moment of E3 might have been “Beyond Good and Evil 2”, but Nintendo HAD TWO METROID GAMES. TWO. One was 3D and one was 2D! Are you kidding me? The one-two punch of present and future with “Metroid Prime 4” and Cappy the hat on a taxi and a dinosaur, that was just too much to handle.
I do not remember the last time my jaw literally dropped watching a trailer, for a game I have already seen! Incredible, “Super Mario Odyssey” is my Game of the Show, the Best of E3, and Nintendo just crushed it. I had to buy a Switch the moment I saw New Donk City.
Ubisoft had an awesome conference, but I gave the edge to Nintendo here. Even though Miyamoto showed up to both, which makes both a winner in my book! Figuratively, not literally.
Who Won E3 2018?
I had Microsoft written down as my best showing at E3 that year, and apparently, the competition was so lackluster a single “Cuphead” DLC trailer won me over. It hurts knowing we still have no idea when that’s coming, by the way.
But it wasn’t just Cuphead, or there being any other real press conferences that were worthwhile, MS had a good show! “Cyberpunk 2077”, “Gears 5”, “Battletoads”, “Dying Light 2”, “DMC 5”, “Shadow of the Tomb Raider”, “PUBG”, “We Happy Few” was hype back before it came out, “Forza Horizon 4”, “Battlefield V”, “Sea of Thieves”, “Kingdom Hearts 3” on Xbox was a big deal, “Nier Automata”, “Fallout 4” coming to Game Pass, “Sekiro”, “Halo Infinite”, and “Ori and the Will of the Wisps” were all dynamite.
Who Won E3 2019?
I so want to say Keanu Reeves won E3. I want to be able to tell you CD Projekt Red won, “Cyberpunk 2077” won, and that Microsoft showing Halo, Gears, “Elden Ring”, “The Outer Worlds”, “Ori 2”, “Minecraft Dungeons”, “Jedi Fallen Order”, “Psychonauts 2”, “Phantasy Star Online 2”, “State of Decay 2”, Project Scarlett, and Cyberpunk was enough, I truly wish I could tell you that.
But I can’t. I can’t tell you that, because looking back at Nintendo’s Direct, they brought the goods. “Animal Crossing New Horizons”, two Smash Bros. DLC character reveals where one of them was Banjo and Kazooie, “Luigi’s Mansion 3” and Gooigi, Link’s Awakening remake, “Witcher 3”, “Pokemon Sword and Shield”, “Astral Chain”, “Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3”, “Cadence of Hyrule”, and some other fun surprises were enough to edge out Microsoft.
Who Won E3 2020?
No one. There wasn’t a show.
Who Won E3 2021?
Microsoft had it! They had it in the bag! And it slipped right through their fingers, like sand dissipating in the wind. It was theirs to lose, but another company managed to win it outright. No, not Miyazaki and “Elden Ring”, although that was the best trailer of the show. No, the winner was…
The fifth official 2D Metroid game, “Advance Wars 1+2 remake”, new “Warioware”, BOTW 2 gameplay, another “Mario Party”, Tekken in Smash Bros., and a Super Monkey Ball collection remaster? And that’s all like, this year? Nintendo wins, hands down. Super easy, sorry Microsoft, you had a great show too, but, “Metroid Dread”, come on. That’s an automatic win.
Who Won E3 2022?
Capcom, “RE4”, and “Street Fighter VI”.
It’s going to be hard to do this when the ESA doesn’t actually run the E3 event live in person, and it’s all just a bunch of YouTube trailers being dropped during June per tradition. This whole Summer Games Fest mess, and the non-E3 that’s been going since the pandemic…such a headache. I hate it. The whole industry should support each other at one consumer trade show/convention but that won’t ever happen again. Stupid greedy corporations, all buying each other up.