5 of the biggest announcements from previous Summer Game Fest shows

Unreal Engine 5
(Image credit: Epic Games)

From the ashes of the ill-fated E3 2020 rose the first ever Summer Game Fest. Similar to Gamescom and the Game Developers Conference that same year, restrictions levied by the COVID 19 global pandemic caused the cancelation of the Los Angeles event – a gap that Summer Game Fest 2020 hoped to fill – and, over the course of four months, the Geoff Keighley-created showcase hosted a slew of game developer livestreams and remote digital events to the world. Fast forward three years, and we're now on the cusp of Summer Game Fest 2023

Now a single-day event (complemented by its off-shoot in-person SGF Play Days), held this year on Thursday, June 8, Summer Game Fest takes its place among the biggest-hitters filling out the E3 2023 schedule. We've already taken a stab at our Summer Game Fest 2023 predictions – but now, as Summer Game Fest stares down its fourth successive year, it's time to cast our minds back at the most memorable announcements of old. Here are 5 of Summer Game Fest's biggest announcements from previous years.

Elden Ring (SGF 2021)

Elden Ring

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Revealed in 2019, our first proper look at Elden Ring came during Summer Game Fest 2021. With a gameplay trailer that ran for just shy of three minutes, the then incoming collaboration between Dark Souls developer FromSoftware and A Song of Fire and Ice author George R.R. Martin teased new information about the game's world, story and combat – and even dropped a release date of January 21, 2022. That proposed launch date slipped into February in the end, but suddenly the twisted open-world game that fans of both worlds had been waiting for was within touching distance. Elden Ring arrived with a five-star reception on February 25, 2022, and the rest is history.

Unreal Engine 5 (SGF 2020)

Unreal Engine 5

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Summer Game Fest's maiden year unveiled a number of cool projects – not least remakes of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 – but the show's most impressive reveal was arguably Epic's Unreal Engine 5. Teased ahead of the then upcoming next-gen console launches, the PS5 and Xbox Series X, Unreal Engine 5 promised to make development easier for the studios using it, with the ability to load in cinema-quality assets without impacting fidelity or compromising gameplay. All of this was showcased with a playable PS5 tech demo whose protagonist made their way through a crumbling cave-like setting, with beams of sunlight cutting through shadows, and close-ups of the character's super-realistic facial expressions. From Fortnite to Layers of Fear, Immortals of Aveum, and the forthcoming Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl among many others, loads of games now look prettier than ever running on Epic's flagship tech.

The Last of Us (SGF 2022)

The Last of Us photo mode

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

Rumors that Naughty Dog's enduring post-apocalyptic survival horror series would show face at Summer Game Fest 2022 were plentiful beforehand – but The Last of Us really did step up to the plate on the day nevertheless. The Last of Us: Part 1 was announced as a means of bringing the Sony-exclusive 2013 original game – one that'd been remastered for PS4 a few years prior – in-line with modern current-gen hardware standards, in turn better-reflecting the visuals of its 2020 sequel, The Last of Us: Part 2. The Last of Us' then incoming Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal-starring HBO show gave us our first official look at what was in store, with creator Neil Druckmann describing it as "the most authentic video game adaptation yet". After that, Druckmann teased concept art for The Last of Us' long-awaited multiplayer mode, suggesting the project has now evolved into something "as big as any of our single-player games". There's been nothing concrete on that since, but it was a big reveal for SGF 2022 all the same.

ID@Xbox Demo Event (SGF 2021)

The ID@Xbox logo against a swirling vortex of indie games

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Restrictions enforced by the global pandemic were still pretty firmly in place in 2021, however ID@Xbox’s Summer Game Fest Demo Event aimed to bring the showfloor to players' homes. During a seven-day window between June 21 and June 27, 2021, Microsoft offered access to over 70 unreleased games on Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S, and said: "These 'game demos' are not the norm. Typically, the demos you see in our Demo channel are created after the game is completed (or nearly completed) and represents an almost final to final version. Think of these as akin to 'show floor demos' and not necessarily indicative of the final product." The full list of games available at the time can be perused here. Today, Xbox of course has its own dedicated showcase, but the ID@Xbox Summer Game Fest Demo Event was a great opportunity for players to get involved with SGF from the comfort of their own homes.

PlayStation's Future of Gaming (SGF 2020) 

PS5 controller

(Image credit: Sony)

If you've eyed our E3 2023 schedule, you'll already know that not-E3 season is more streamlined today than it once was. Today, SGF, Xbox, Ubisoft, and PlayStation among others all have their own dedicated events – the latest PlayStation Showcase ran on May 24 – but a few years back, when Summer Game Fest debuted in 2020, Sony showed off the PS5 for the first time in an event hosted by Geoff Keighley. The 'PlayStation 5: The Future of Gaming' event showcased the then incoming PS5 console hardware, its games, and its promise, with the full GamesRadar+ team of the day sharing their thoughts in the immediate aftermath. Three years on, this remains one of the standout moments of Summer Game Fest's lineage.    

If you're after something more specific, the Starfield Direct and Ubisoft Forward 2023 events might tickle your fancy

Joe Donnelly

Joe Donnelly is a sports editor from Glasgow and former features editor at GamesRadar+. A mental health advocate, Joe has written about video games and mental health for The Guardian, New Statesman, VICE, PC Gamer and many more, and believes the interactive nature of video games makes them uniquely placed to educate and inform. His book Checkpoint considers the complex intersections of video games and mental health, and was shortlisted for Scotland's National Book of the Year for non-fiction in 2021. As familiar with the streets of Los Santos as he is the west of Scotland, Joe can often be found living his best and worst lives in GTA Online and its PC role-playing scene.