Like you'd do any better?
It's tough to present at an E3 press conference. Whether you're an executive, developer, or professional dancer, you're in charge of making a specific product look good to hundreds in attendance and millions watching around the world. One awkward moment, and BOOM! Twitter, NeoGAF, and a GamesRadar feature are poking fun at you.
As with the undersole of an Xbox Avatar's shoe, we'll never really know what it's like to face the unique pressure of being on-stage for an E3 showcase. But as the people behind the following moments can assure you, it's not all fun and games. Typically, E3 is full of cringe-worthy moments--and while E3 2014 wasn't nearly as awkward as its predecessors, there were still plenty of wince-inducing gaffes and painful jokes. Here are those moments that made us pause, before uttering "Uh...what was that?"
The Microsoft E3 press conference gave us a closer look at some impressive games, but the showing wasn't without its strange phrases and awkward moments. Click on to the next slide and see what we're talking about.
Conker telling us to make his next game
Hey guys! Conker's back! Sorta. Some 13 years after his last original adventure (remember, 2005's Live and Reloaded was a remake), Rare's foul-mouthed squirrel made (the opposite of) a triumphant return as part of Project Spark's game-maker system. So is there going to be a pre-made game featuring Conker? Or is he just going to be a personality-free prop we can put in our adventures, like a wall texture or a fence? If there's a way you shouldn't reintroduce a character after nearly a decade, it's as an afterthought for a game that doesn't play to that character's strengths.
#myfavoritegame is on another system
While we give kudos to Microsoft for acknowledging the video game ecosystem outside of the Xbox, asking people to share #myfavoritegame in little vignettes kinda blew up in its face. Why? Pretty much every presenter and speaker highlighted a game that wasn't a notable Xbox release. From Insomniac's Ted Price and CD Project Red's John Maimais to SNL's Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam, almost everyone of note named a game that's better played elsewhere. We'll accept industry vet and Killer Instinct supervisor Ken Lobb when he gave props (and some foreshadowing) to Crackdown, but Phil Spencer declaring his love for Voodoo Vince is flat-out unbelievable. It's a nice game and all, but, er, really? You have Limbo on your shirt, dude.
As obscure as Phil Spencer's "favorite" game was, it's freakin Super Mario Bros. in comparison to the weirdest revival ever. A decade ago, Microsoft wouldn't even publish the in-house, already translated Phantom Dust in the US, instead leaving it to Majesco to bring the game to the OG Xbox for $20 just months before the 360 made it irrelevant. So when Ken Lobb threw to the reveal of this obscurity, did anyone at Microsoft actually expect the fans to jump and cheer in anticipation of a new Phantom Dust? Good thing the trailer looked awesome, or this reveal would've been a total bust.
EA's E3 press conference might not have had a ton of new reveals, but there were definitely some odd times that made us bury our faces in our hands.
Bruce Lee in UFC
First off, EA Sports UFC is out next week. Why is this game taking up more than a minute of time during a major press conference? Oh--it's because most of EA's other games are more than a year away? Fair enough. Anyone who's paid attention to this MMA revival already knew famed martial artist Bruce Lee was a posthumous part of the roster. With nothing new to really reveal, EA showcased a match featuring the dearly departed movie star as he dispatched UFC Featherweight contender B.J. Penn without much fanfare. It wasn't nearly as tasteless as Activision's use of Kurt Cobain in Guitar Hero, but it still made us feel... weirdly uncomfortable.
Sims 4 commentary
Popular as the Sims franchise is, it doesn't do well in front of crowds. No matter how you slice it, no one in the core gaming audience--y'know, most people an E3 presser--wants a casual game like The Sims taking up precious stage time. So this year, when the executive producer of The Sims 4 came on stage to tell a story about hot-head bodybuilder Chuck and the eccentric Gladys (oh, Gladys!) and the ensuing party they attended, EA's conference momentum died an on-stage death. Hey, just like Chuck!
YOU HAVE THE LOOT
While the first gameplay for Battlefield Hardline was action-packed, there were a few weird moments in the demo. First off: what in the world is this crew stealing that necessitates millions of dollars in property damage, hundreds of deaths, and a downed skyscraper? All we know is that it's "loot." Because anytime the on-screen player had the loot, Battlefield Hardline reminded us that "YOU HAVE THE LOOT." Minutes later, having toppled half of the L.A. skyline without dying, it remained on-screen. "YOU HAVE THE LOOT." Visceral hopefully doesn't need a beta to understand that the prompt doesn't have to plastered front-and-center 24/7, right?
Melodramatic sports trailers
EA Sports UFC's demo featured a famed action star who died a tragic death at a young age. For some reason, that was the only sports demo of the entire presser that didn't have a melodramatic trailer. Does NHL 15 need a song proclaiming "We'll see creation come undone/These bones that bound us will be gone"? We know the entire world likes football, but Idris Elba comparing the sport to family and a soccer match to an epic battle is probably a tad too much. The worst part? You know EA will have even sappier intros to the trailers for the handful of annual updates coming next year.
The Ubisoft E3 press conferences are notorious for having embarrassing and downright awkward moments bombarding our eyes and ears. This year, it was no different.
Just Dance crowd of backup dancers pretending to be normal
Here's a few words of advice to any publisher planning on having a live musical number to hype their upcoming motion-controlled dance game: Stop. Please. Whether you have devs playing or trot out E3 celebrities like Usher and Flo Rida, no amount of wacky frolicking will keep the attention of a crowd thirsting for more important reveals. Unfortunately, Ubisoft decided to double down on the dancing and not only filled the stage with gesticulating gamers, but added a bunch perched on adjacent balconies. It was a full on dance invasion, which we neither wanted nor enjoyed.
Also on the "not so fun to watch at a presser" list: fitness games. It seemed as though that genre had run its course, but Ubisoft decided to give it one more rep with Shape Up. The demo dived into awkwardness right from the start, as the rail-thin developer ran and played floor piano without a real-life partner. But things shot up into the stratosphere of strange as Ubisoft staged a US-versus-France push-up contest. Fortunately, the US won the competition, bringing enormous, unbounded pride to our fair country. Um, yeah...
Way-too-intense developer talking The Division
We understand: years of development will make you impassioned about a project. But when you're showcasing a game to a group of people who may be completely unfamiliar with it, your seriousness can come off as just a little creepy. Or, in fact, extremely creepy. Case in point: the presenter for Ubisoft's open-world shooter, The Division. As he started to discuss the conceit of The Division, explaining the sleeper cell of Americans set to rise up and defend the country during an outbreak, his grave, solemn tone made us wonder: Is this real? Is he an actual member of The Division? Why are we sitting here watching a press conference? MY GOD... THE OUTBREAK IS ALREADY HAPPENING!
That's not how hostage rescues work, Rainbow Six
If you're trained in hostage handling, please correct us if we're wrong, but the otherwise stellar Rainbow Six: Siege seemed to break a pretty big rule in that regard. Mainly; if you're trying to extract a hostage, wouldn't you try a little harder to actually, y'know, protect them? Any time a member of the heroic SWAT team found a hostage, they'd hold the innocent girl right in front of them like a shield. Um, that's where bullets go. Wouldn't a better plan be to have the hostage stand behind you? And why didn't you bring an extra flak jacket to protect her? In Ubisoft's defense, short of putting a mirror on a soldier's shoulder, it'd be tough to visually represent the hostage in first person if she was standing in any other spot.
Aisha Tyler has to navigate the worst segues ever
If there's an E3 Hall of Fame, three-time Ubisoft press conference host Aisha Tyler is very likely to be a first-ballot inductee. She's extremely enthusiastic about games, and isn't afraid to call out moments that are a tad awkward with a bit of quick wit. That said, even Aisha had trouble traversing the minefield that was the awful segues of Ubisoft's 2014 press conference. Bringing up the need for dancing in a post-apocalyptic New York was brutal enough, but following up Far Cry 4's exhilarating intro by saying things were only getting bigger and better, knowing full well that dancing and fitness games were on the horizon? That's a tall order. We salute your courage, Aisha.
There were some pretty hard hitting announcements at the Sony E3 press conference. We got a look at a ton of games we definitely have to play, but the developers didn't help build the hype when they were making us cringe.
Powers for hours
If you've never heard of Brian Michael Bendis' award-winning comic book Powers well you've probably long forgotten about what you were told about it at Sony's E3 press conference. During an already depressingly empty stretch of the overlong PlayStation press conference, Bendis explained how the upcoming TV adaptation of his comic will revolutionize watching a show on your game console. Would've been nice if he actually had more than a bunch of sketches to show it off, though.
Adam Boyes' dad jokes
In between some pretty epic indie announcements, PlayStation VP of Publisher & Developer Relations Adam Boyes let loose with some pretty groan-worthy jokes on-stage. Whether it was the string of "bro" puns to celebrate Bro Force or performing the ultimate act of feeding the trolls by acknowledging the existence of NeoGAF, there were more than a few points where we wanted less of the gags and more of the games. However, he was there to tell us Grim Fandango is coming to PlayStation 4, so all is forgiven.
Shawn "Mr. Hands" Layden
Worry not, Jeff Bell. You may have just been unseated as the worst-performing on-stage executive in E3 history. Shawn Layden may have a long and storied history with Sony dating back to Vib Ribbon, but it's pretty obvious he hasn't been on stage at a game conference during his tenure. Between his constant hand motions straight out of a Communications 101 handbook, and the fact that it took what seemed to be 20 minutes to reveal two things (YouTube sharing and PlayStation TV), Layden laid waste to our attention spans. With incessant flicks of Layden's wrists, the momentum Sony had built via impressive demos and reveals over the previous hour was demolished.
It's Free To Play! [certain features available for a fee]
Look, most gamers keen enough to catch a live E3 press conference know what's what. They know that yes, you can technically play a free-to-play game for free--but the temptation to spend on certain items and features will require cold hard cash. However, as a capper to Layden's awkwardness, he made sure to boast about the PlayStation 4's free-to-play lineup, making sure to accentuate how FREE these FREE-to-play games are, you game-loving FREEaks. Sadly, once the sizzle-reel started, a "YOU HAVE THE LOOT"-level overlay made sure to remind us, "CERTAIN FEATURES AVAILABLE FOR A FEE." Oh, like every other free-to-play game in existence, then?
The award for the coolest intro definitely has to go to the Nintendo Digital Event at E3, but between the Dragon Ball Z-style fight between the company execs and mind-blowing reveals, there were still a few moments that were embarrassing.
"His tongue is his most powerful weapon"
It's always a little weird when a developer makes an unexpected innuendo in front of an audience of thousands. And when you're describing a hero that uses his tongue as his primary weapon, the slip-up is understandable. It might just be our dirty minds spending too much time in the gutter, but when the developers at the Good-Feel Company said Yoshi's tongue is "his most powerful weapon," we just stopped everything for a second and said, "What?" Actually, there's no excuse for this happening. The phrase was translated from Japanese and then edited into American English for a pre-recorded video. As in, this wasn't live. Get it together, Nintendo.
Peach and Bowser both want the last donut
This one was a bit of orchestrated awkwardness, but nonetheless it was quite the awkward confrontation between villain and damsel-in-distress. We just had to feel a little bad for Bowser. Sure, he did kidnap Peach countless times over the decades, but the big guy just wanted that rainbow sprinkled doughnut. He even wanted it enough to apologize for years of being a jerk. Then it was just snatched away. Awkward.
Miyamoto runs out of things to say
It wouldn't be an E3 without the legendary game developer Shigeru Miyamoto showing up and teasing us about some project he's been working on. At the end of the Nintendo Direct, Miyamoto did just that: teased some current projects while playing a blurred-out screen of Star Fox Wii U. Nothing wrong with that--but the awkward moment happened just as he finished his little tease and turned back toward the screen. Instead of playing it smooth, he sort of just stared blankly at the camera for a second, before bashfully spinning around real quick right as the silence got uncomfortable. The moment was just a touch on the odd side, but we totally felt awkward.
Well, that was awkward
There you have it. Those were the most awkward and embarrassing moments from all of the E3 pressers. Did we miss any? Were there any times when the developers and presenters made you feel uncomfortable? Let us know your favorites in the comments below.