The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, is a trade show meant to exhibit new and upcoming developments in the video game industry. The first E3 event was held in 1995 and featured Nintendo, Sega, and Sony as featured presenters. E3 has only grown from there and has since become the site of many exciting announcements of new gaming hardware and software from the biggest video game companies in the world.
Over the 25-plus year history of E3, the gaming industry has only grown larger. As the industry evolves, there have been noticeable changes in several game companies between their first E3 appearances and today.
10 Sony Launches The PlayStation To Become The Largest Gaming Company
Already a giant in consumer electronics, Sony used E3 1995 to establish its place in the gaming industry. Sony showcased the PlayStation at the event, and with it an impressive lineup of games, including Resident Evil and Twisted Metal. Sony clearly came out of the gates swinging, as the PlayStation became the first video game console to sell over 100 million units.
Sony’s foothold in the console market only grew from there, with the PlayStation 2 becoming the highest-selling console of all time. In terms of revenue, Sony currently sits as both the largest console manufacturer and the largest video game publisher.
9 Microsoft Expanded Into The Console Market And Became One Of The Biggest Gaming Companies
Microsoft’s role at E3 1995 was much more limited than it would be in the years to come. At the event, Microsoft presented a lineup of games for their then-upcoming Windows 95 operating system. While Microsoft found success in publishing games for Windows, they would soon enter the console market with the release of the Xbox in 2001.
Since then, the Xbox brand has continued to grow, and Microsoft has acquired developers like Rare, Mojang, Bethesda, and Activision Blizzard. This allowed for Xbox Games Studios to become one of the largest video game companies, being behind only Tencent and Sony in revenue.
8 Sega Dropped Out Of The Console Race To Focus On Game Publishing
At the time of the first E3 in 1995, Sega was seen as Nintendo’s main competitor in the video game console race. At E3 1995, Sega revealed that the Sega Saturn was to be released immediately in North America, 4 months ahead of its scheduled September 1995 release date.
This started a downward trend for the sales of Sega consoles as both the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast failed to live up to the success of the Sega Genesis. Sega has since dropped out of the console race. Nowadays, Sega dedicates its efforts to publishing games, maintaining several popular game franchises, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Persona, and Yakuza.
7 Electronic Arts Focused On Successful Franchises To Become One Of The Largest Game Companies
Electronic Arts got their start developing games for home computers. By 1995, their presence on home consoles was growing thanks to their EA Sports division, publishing series such as Madden and FIFA. At E3 1995, EA showcased games for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, as they were the console’s primary developer. EA soon abandoned the 3DO in favor of the PlayStation.
EA continued to develop original franchises on both consoles and PC, including Battlefield and Mass Effect. In 1997, EA purchased Maxis, the developer of the various Sim franchises. EA has held the license to produce Star Wars games since 2013. All of this has led to EA becoming the second-largest American game company.
6 Naughty Dog Went On To Develop Several Hit Franchises For The PlayStation Sytems
Naughty Dog made their first E3 appearance in 1996. At the event, Naughty Dog’s breakthrough game Crash Bandicoot was unveiled as a part of Sony’s showcase. Crash Bandicoot not only kickstarted a hit game franchise for PlayStation, but it also gave them a mascot that rivaled both Mario and Sonic.
Naughty Dog was acquired by Sony in 2001 and would become an integral part of the PlayStation brand, developing original game franchises like Jak and Daxter, Uncharted, and The Last Of Us. Naughty Dog has grown to become one of the most revered studios in the gaming industry, with their games achieving great critical and commercial success.
5 Bethesda Grew An Impressive Portfolio Of Games Before Being Acquired By Microsoft
At E3 1997, Bethesda showcased two spin-offs of The Elder Scrolls series, Battlespire and Redguard. While these spin-offs couldn’t live up to the success of the first two Elder Scrolls games, the series would only grow in popularity, with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim being one of the best-selling video games of all time. In 2009, Bethesda became the publisher for id Software, the developers of the Doom and Wolfenstein franchises.
This, coupled with Bethesda acquiring the Fallout series in 2007, allowed for an impressive portfolio of games that quickly grew Bethesda’s profile within the gaming industry. Bethesda became a part of the Xbox family in 2021 when its parent company, ZeniMax Media, was acquired by Microsoft for over $8 billion.
4 Take-Two Interactive Has Grown A Stacked Roster Of Franchises
Take-Two Interactive had a small presence at E3 1997, showing off a game from developer DMA Design, Space Station Silicon Valley. DMA Design did have another game at E3 1997, Grand Theft Auto. Take-Two would publish the Grand Theft Auto series starting in 1999 before finally absorbing DMA Design into its Rockstar Games label in 2002. Rockstar Games has thrived due to franchises like Red Dead and Grand Theft Auto, which are among the best-selling video game franchises of all time.
In 2005, Take-Two founded another major publisher, 2K, which boasts popular franchises such as BioShock, Borderlands, and the various 2K Sports series. In addition to their expected acquisition of mobile developer Zynga, Take-Two’s stacked roster of franchises has led to it becoming the third-largest American game company.
3 Valve Continues To Dominate The PC Gaming Market
Valve showed off their debut game, Half-Life, at E3 1997. Once released, Half-Life was revered as a revolutionary game for the FPS genre and helped kickstart Valve’s continued success in the PC gaming sphere. Valve would continue to create successful franchises like Portal, Counter-Strike, and Team Fortress, but would also branch out into other types of gaming software and hardware.
In 2003, Valve launched Steam, a service for distributing PC games. Steam has since become the largest digital distribution platform for PC gaming, housing over 50,000 games and over 100 million active users.
2 Epic Games Went On To Release One Of The Biggest Games Of All Time
Epic Games demonstrated Unreal Tournament at E3 1999. It proved to be effective marketing for their signature Unreal Engine, as several studios soon began to license the engine for their own games. Epic Games is expected to release Unreal Engine 5 in 2022, with hundreds of games having run on previous iterations. Unreal Engine has even been adopted by filmmakers to create virtual sets for productions like The Mandalorian.
Epic Games’ flagship product may now be Fortnite Battle Royale, which they released in 2017 and has become nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Fortnite has made over $9 billion in revenue during its first two years and has over 350 million registered players.
1 CD Projekt Red Has Become The Largest European Game Company
Developer CD Projekt Red made their first E3 appearance in 2004 to promote their debut game, The Witcher. They did not even have their own booth, instead being offered a space in BioWare’s booth. The Witcher went on to become a popular game franchise with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt being particularly successful, selling over 30 million copies since its 2015 release.
CD Projekt Red’s next game, Cyberpunk 2077, was highly anticipated. Although the technical issues on the console versions were a blemish on Cyberpunk 2077, it still managed to have the biggest digital game launch ever, selling over 10 million copies in its first month. CD Projekt Red has now surpassed Ubisoft as the largest game company in Europe.
NEXT: 10 Years Nintendo Had The Best Event At E3