Sony’s big press conference at E3 2006 rapidly became the stuff of legend. Awkward, baffling, hilarious, and stilted all at once, the presser—which touted the PSP and revealed the price point for the PlayStation 3—was easily one of the company’s most memorable, albeit unintentionally so, spawning an early, viral YouTube video memeing its most absurd moments, as well as other widespread mockery. And now, thanks to the preservation work of documentarian Danny O’Dwyer, you can watch the broadcast in stunning 4K.
Through his crowdfunded documentary channel Noclip, O’Dwyer has been slowly digging up and publishing decades of video game history. From gameplay of unreleased titles to a scrapped 10-year-old Hideo Kojima interview to never-before-seen trailers, he’s got it all. And on July 21, he uploaded Sony’s two-hour E3 2006 presentation in the highest possible quality: 2160p at 60fps. Y’all, this is a time capsule worth watching for the first time if you’ve never seen it,, or reliving in HD if you have. Trust me, you’re in for a great time. So strap in, and let’s briefly remember this silly conference.
There were some pretty cool games shown during the presentation. Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, the fifth entry in the now-dormant third-person stealth-shooter series, was featured, along with PS3 launch title Genji: Days of the Blade. The best God of War clone, Heavenly Sword, was revealed with some cinematic gameplay. And we got our first look at what would become Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, a game that would go on to introduce one of Naughty Dog’s most iconic IPs. On the games front, Sony’s E3 2006 press conference was serving it up, period.
But in between these gameplay demos and teaser trailers were some truly stilted moments. Then-president and CEO Kaz Hirai trying to hype the crowd up by yelling, “It’s Riiiidge Racer!” The Genji: Days of the Blade presenter touting the game’s historical roots before fighting a giant enemy crab with a weak point you could strike for massive damage. Some random guy on the street talking about how it’s going to hurt when he beats you in PS3 games because “I don’t know.” It was a bonkers presentation that was as legendary as it was hilarious.
While the presentation opened with the high of Hirai talking about the fantastic success of the PS2, the best-selling console of all time, the ending was a serious dud. After all this boasting about the previous generation and showing off dope games for the next, Hirai revealed the PS3's price: $500 for a 20GB console and $600 for a 60GB one. The announcement went over like a ton of bricks, perhaps in part due to the fact that the Xbox 360, already on the market for months, was considerably cheaper. It was a baffling price point that left me gagging, but the PS3 still wound up selling slightly more units than the Xbox 360 across its lifespan.
In an email to Kotaku, O’Dwyer detailed the work that went into uploading this memorable press conference. Saved on two HDCAM tapes by a video game website and bound for the landfill before O’Dwyer rescued them, he said that he “did basically nothing” to the footage, merely ripped it from the tapes and converted it to HD.
“The process is pretty simple, we use a professional HDCAM tape deck to pull the signal from [Series Digital Interface (SDI)],” O’Dwyer said. “I used a converter to swap that to HDMI and use a high-grade capture device to record that. Once I have it on a PC, I export a 4k version for YouTube (to access the higher bitrates available) and a 1080p version for archive as that’s its native resolution and we can upload the file to archive without it being re-rendered.”
Asked why he thought Sony’s E3 2006 presentation became so notorious, O’Dwyer theorized that because memes were a lot rarer back then, it was easy for phrases as simple as “Riiiidge Racer” and “giant enemy crab” to live rent-free in our heads. Whatever the forces behind it, conferences like these are among the coolest pieces of video game history he’s stumbled upon since embarking on preserving the “few thousand tapes” that were almost lost forever.
Speaking of other favorites, O’Dwyer said, “The Nintendo Spaceworld demo is another because it’s such a beloved piece of footage that nobody had a clean copy of,” O’Dwyer said. “My personal favorite may be the Knights of the Old Republic E3 demo that had never been seen before. Especially given where that franchise is.” [A remake announced in September 2021 has been indefinitely delayed.] “I know that fandom has loved dissecting that video. A few days ago, I found a cache of E3 2004 press kits full of screenshots and videos, too. So every day we stumble on exciting new stuff.”
What O’Dwyer is doing is incredibly important work. Considering that 87 percent of classic games are being lost to time, mostly because old hardware is difficult to find and hard to maintain, there’s some comfort in knowing that there are folks out there working to preserve video game history. Because if we don’t remember where we’ve been, we can’t ever know where we’re going.