History's Top 10 E3 Screwups

The games business is like the high-stakes table at a Vegas casino – for every big winner, there are some spectacular failures. And E3 2010 was no different. However, it wasn’t the first E3 to have us slapping our foreheads in disbelief. The following is a quick trip down memory lane, to revisit our favorite hubris-and-ignorance-fueled gaffes, goofs, and blunders from E3s gone by. You know – for science.

1. Nintendo sucks so badly it officially apologizes (2008)

Nintendo is known to be about as hardcore as a My Little Pony Day Care Center, but if the company’s 2008 presentation had been any more casual the presenters would have been arrested for public indecency. In 2008, Nintendo decided that people wanted Wii Music more than Mario, and then worked out ways to make things even worse.

Above: Not pictured: Mario, Zelda, Samus, or anything anyone sane would actually want to do

Wii Music was the most worrying game presented at Nintendo’s 2008 E3 event, but it wasn’t the first. The conference had started with an Animal Crossing presentation, and if you're leading off with a dubbed video of a Japanese man discussing how he invented talking animals you'd damn well better be presenting at Cannes or putting your toddler down for a nap. The orchestra swelled to the grandiose announcement "Animal Crossing is coming to the Wii", on par with "Our dog likes to lick its own genitals." The first reaction is "duh," the second is "Why are you telling us this?" Sure, Animal Crossing is a fine series, but we needed more than the one pole to hold up the tent.

2. Activision hires an insult comic to harass the audience (2007)

You're working for Activision, you're in charge of the biggest game presentation of the year, and you think "I know! I'll harness the star-power of Dr. Dolittle 2's supporting cast to insult my audience!"

You are also now fired.

Above: We have something for everyone, including masochists or people whose parents were murdered by comedy

Jaime Kennedy stumbled on stage like he'd just lost a drunken bet that landed him there, and his very first line was insulting the audience by comparing them negatively to the manly Comic-con crowd. The Icelandic volcano announced itself to the world better than that - at least it hadn't been paid to become a disaster. His second line was telling the audience to take a minute to understand the first one, an act which we’ve actually titled "Shit the Worst Open Mic Comedian in the World Might Do Before Going Back to Teaching Geography,” and his third was to cry "Oh God!" and rub his face. At this point it was obvious that someone backstage had told him bongs are great for curing hangovers. There are serial killers who got off to funnier starts than this.

Did we mention that Jaime helped "Son of the Mask", a terrible idea, lose thirty million dollars on release? Congratulations, you now know more than Activision apparently did in 2007.

3. The N-Gage girl (2003)

We want you to imagine an innocent time, a tender, rainbow-speckled childhood when side-talkin’ hadn’t yet become an internet meme and people didn’t yet realize the N-Gage would suck like a leech with a tapeworm. In 2003, the Game Boy Advance SP was $99 and only slightly less popular than free oral sex. The N-Gage entered the handheld market against Nintendo, the electronic equivalent of starting a “Who’s More Crazy?” contest with Kim Jong Il, and then found ways to make that even stupider. Which is like travelling back in time to make Anne Frank even more miserable: scientifically impossible and why would you do that?

The N-Gage presentation started off with a squad of hip-hop dancers looking about as comfortable at E3 as they would have been at an osteoporotic flower-arranging class. Nokia then made two serious mistakes in unveiling the N-Gage's price. The first was actually doing it: if you ever find yourself unveiling a portable product which costs three times as much as Nintendo's, go back to your engineers and start slapping them until it doesn't. The second was the method of the reveal, a marketing strategy that evoked mental images of prostitution and slavery.

Above: You're nerds, right? Seeing a quarter-naked girl makes you like things, that's how this work?

After that, we actually can't say anything worse about the N-Gage than market forces already have.


  • superstud - June 29, 2010 5:52 p.m.

    The sweat, the look of complete belief in himself being cool while drumming like a spastic and the greasiest hair I have ever seen - Ethnic Douche is my hero now.
  • wastedspace - June 27, 2010 11:33 p.m.

    Tdar, none of your articles have the option to chose the page number anymore. Wat do?
  • soren7550 - June 27, 2010 1:24 a.m.

    Great article, but I'm surprised that Peter Moore (I'm pretty sure it was him) and the rest of the Rock Band Band failing miserably at the on-stage Rock Band presentation wasn't here, or one of Microsoft's 360s Red Ringing on them during a presentation (if I remember right).
  • philipshaw - June 26, 2010 12:33 p.m.

    Great article, the memories are coming back. Jaime Kennedy= epic fail
  • shadowarrior99 - June 26, 2010 3:19 a.m.

    "Famous battles which actually took place in ancient Japan, so here’s this giant enemy crab, and you attack its weak point... for massive damage." lmao so funny every single time! Some of these times makes you think, what were they thinking? recaptcha: bordeaux in. These famous wines which actually took place in ancient Claret, so here's this big friendly bottle, and you drink from the top... for massive drunkage. lol.
  • Mexiflan - June 25, 2010 9:38 p.m.

    I loved the metaphors in this article.
  • Fuzunga - June 25, 2010 9:08 p.m.

    Playstation was 32 bit? That makes the N64 twice as powerful?
  • superstud - June 25, 2010 6:55 p.m.

    Aw man, if ancient Japanese samurai hadn't of made all those giant crab things extinct then Pearl Harbour would have been an infinitely more awesome movie.
  • pr0tostar - June 25, 2010 3:39 p.m.

    Kaz and Sony's conference should have just been one screw-up, because obviously that whole conference was a bomb. The real All-time greatest E3 screwup was Konami's conference this year. PR much?
  • GodofPS314 - June 25, 2010 3:10 p.m.

    Wow what i expected PS3 and Wii fails but only one hilarious Xbox fail. i am beginning to hate your site... "Were not biased, but the Xbox kicks PS3's ass." That is what I think of when I think of your site. .!.. BAM THERE IT IS.
  • R_U_Guys_From_British - June 25, 2010 11:47 a.m.

    Super Review: Great Article and a fun read! 10/10
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - June 25, 2010 11:33 a.m.

    that nintendo drum thing is worse than i remembered, i could have done that shit
  • NeonSalmon - June 25, 2010 10:22 a.m.

    "he's funnier than you!"
  • jmcgrotty - June 25, 2010 8:45 a.m.

    Microsoft and Sony 2010 both should have been added to the list, for continuing to push this bullshit Natal and Move. And as someone who bought a PS3 at launch, I can say that the price announcement of the PS3 should have been much, much higher on the list. Around 2 or 3.
  • Meted666 - June 25, 2010 8:14 a.m.

    i find it funny that the ps3 being $599 us was so crazy yet if you own a xbox 360 and play live you will be playing way more than a ps3 after about 3-4 years...... btw i had a ps3 and now have a 360
  • theemporer - June 25, 2010 4:59 a.m.

    Everything's more expensive in Canada :(
  • garnsr - June 25, 2010 4:07 a.m.

    I had a hard time getting all the way through this article, all the similes got to be way too much.
  • The_Tingler - June 25, 2010 3:53 a.m.

    Wow, I'd forgotten about the N-Gage slavery photos. I was going to ask about how that guy bragging about pretending to be disabled and groping women was an E3 screw-up, but then I realized he was the very definition of the term. However, what was with that dig at the N64? I still don't and never will own a PS1, and at the time neither did anyone around me, the N64 was the one everyone played.
  • ZenRobot - June 25, 2010 3:43 a.m.

    RIIIIDDDDGE RACER!!!!!!! classic
  • D0CCON - June 25, 2010 3:28 a.m.

    If the success of an e3 presentation was by how well people remember it, then 2006 would have been the best year EVARZ for Sony. No other press conference has so many things people remember. From Giant Enemy Crab to Ridge Racer to $599 US dollars, it was all classic.

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