E3 2013: our top 10 moments from gaming's arms race

E3 2013
That special time of year

E3 2013 was the most controversial, competitive and downright crazy show we've seen in the recent history of gaming. The Xbox One went toe-to-toe with the PS4, and even though the two aren't even in stores yet, many are ready to declare a winner.

New gaming IPs were launched while familiar brands were confirmed for the next generation. We also saw a slew of indie titles take the stage, and Google's Android enjoyed a growing presence on the show floor.

Nintendo, leader of the pack turned underdog, opted out of a traditional press conference. It still revealed some great games from its core franchises, but now runs the risk of being trampled under all the new hardware announcements.

And as always, PC gaming marched forward. Eye-popping graphics, slick hardware and inventive new titles littered the show floor.

It was all at E3 this year, and we've rounded our top 10 moments. So go ahead, peruse our list, and tell us what you think was the best, or worst, moment of E3 2013.

E3 2013

Sony rejects subtlety

1. Sony makes PS4 the Xbox alternative

If a great history book is ever written about console wars waged between video game hardware manufacturers, then E3 2013 will be regarded as the moment when the arms race reached its fever pitch. The vicious competition between Sony's PS4 and Microsoft's Xbox One was the defining theme that ran through all of E3 2013, and Sony used its press conference to tell the world that it would be taking no prisoners.

The show started slowly, easing into gear with plugs for the PS Vita and current generation titles like The Last of Us. Then we got what we'd been waiting for, our first glimpse of the PS4.

It was sleek, black, and other than a slightly asymmetrical design, not far from PlayStations past. Then Sony showed us something we'd never seen from it before: a price tag that beat Microsoft's.

After saying that the PS4 would be $399/£349 ($100 cheaper than the Xbox One) Sony got really nasty. Up came slide after slide of touting the PS4's lack of online requirement and support for used games.

The crowd was practically on its feet and we could've sworn we saw a tear in the eye of Sony executive Jack Tretton. While this console war is only just beginning, the first battle has been won by the PS4.

E3 2013

Oh hello Halo

2. Microsoft's press conference starts E3 with a bang

Sony and its PS4 may have "won" E3 with a point-by-point attack on the Xbox One, but that doesn't mean Microsoft was chopped liver. Far from it.

Microsoft stuck to its guns during its June 10 pre-E3 press conference, hammering out the game titles, including a curiously un-numbered Halo due out in 2014.

There was talk of "drivatars" and a Twitch partnership, and using mobile devices as to check in on and alter game play. Nothing revolutionary, but the rotating repertoire of executives and developers tried their darndest to give gamers what they wanted.

The press conference was bombastic and quick paced, and while it didn't have the satiating quality of a full meal, it served as a more than adequate appetizer that set the tone for E3 2013.

We give the company kudos for sticking to the script, throwing some eye candy up in the form of heart-racing demos and a mouthwatering McLaren, and getting the conversation rolling on which console will reign supreme come holiday time. Consumers got a release month and a price as well, the two biggest unknowns about the Xbox One until last Monday.

Microsoft may have stumbled on its "always on" and used game policy messaging, but at the end of the day gamers are going to have a mighty hard decision to make between the Xbox One and PS4.

E3 2013

The Razer Blade is now even thinner

3. Razer in the house

PS4, Xbox One. Xbox One, PS4. And what's up with Nintendo?

There were a few major themes running through E3, though one not to be ignored was the state of PC gaming, especially in the face of some serious console competition.

We got the chance to catch up with Min-Liang Tan, the always-affable co-founder and CEO of Razer, which focuses on gaming laptops yet also produces a gaming tablet called the Edge.

Tan's enthusiasm for gaming in general is infectious. Nevermind that the consoles shown at E3 come at a price that's less than half of most gaming computers. Tan sees the PS4 and Xbox One not as threats but as a boon for gamers and the industry as a whole.

He was honest about the screen deficiencies of the new 14-inch Blade laptop, and admitted that mobile will happen for Razer only if the gaming quality can come in a smaller package. Plus, he let us in on why he went from being a lawyer to running a tech company.

Talking with Tan was a breath of fresh air in what can become, after awhile, a stale console conversation. We look forward to catching up with him again.

E3 2013

4. Mad Catz brings Android Mojo to your TV

Every since the Ouya made its millions pledging openess and affordability on Kickstarter, it seems like you can't throw a rock without hitting some sort of Android gaming device. We've seen Nivdia's Shield, the Moga Android controller, and now peripheral maker Mad Catz has entered the fray with its Mojo "mini-console."

While we're not sure what's up with the Mojo moniker, min-console is certainly apt. It's console alright, plugging right into your TV with HDMI. And its certainly mini, small enough to fit right in your hand.

It's not a portable gaming system though. It's meant to hang out in your entertainment system and bring the same Google Play-powered experience you know on your Nexus 7 or Galaxy S4 to your big screen.

That means that any movie, album, game or app you've got on Google Play, the Mojo will be more than happy load up. Giving consumers another way to access content they're already purchasing could very well become the key to the Mojo's success, and that CTRLR peripheral it's being packaged with probably won't hurt either.

5. Nintendo says 'play the game,' but not on your phone

Your finger doesn't have to be on the pulse of the video game market to know that things have slowed down a bit for Nintendo. Whereas the affordable and intriguing Wii flew off the shelves, the Wii U seems to be at a standstill.

With no new hardware to be announced, Nintendo opted out of the pomp and circumstance of a giant E3 presser. Instead it went for smaller, more intimate meetings that place focused on the games.

Nintendo would tell you that this is what really counts, the games. It showed the lay of the land for the Wii U and the 3DS's coming year, with releases like Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, a new Super Smash Bros., Pikmin 3 and a new Donkey Kong.

The company also reminded gamers that the Wii U is still managing third-party support. Big action titles like Batman: Arkham Origins and Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag are still on there way.

Finally, if you've ever dreamed of grabbin' mushrooms with Mario on your HTC One, you should probably just let that dream die already. Nintendo Satoru Iwata said that would never happen, "not on [his] watch." Or tablet, for that matter.

E3 2013

Ouya or oh no?

6. The ESA picks a fight with Ouya

Android console and Kickstarter darling Ouya didn't have a booth at E3 2013. Instead, it rented out space across the street from the LA convention center. There it hosted hands-on time with games and even poured some free beers.

Apparently, this didn't sit well with the Entertainment Software Association, the folks who run E3. The ESA attempted to rain on Ouya's parade by moving big trailer trucks in front of the so-called Ouya Park.

It didn't last long though, as Ouya managed to get banners in front of the trucks, and continued to attract a steady flow of visitors. This must have burned the ESA, since it called the LAPD to come ruffle Ouya's paperwork.

Apparently everything was in order though, as the Ouya folks were not made to move. This kind of dirty maneuvering is surprising no matter where you see it, but we were really shocked to see the ESA do it to little old Ouya. Does it really consider this Android console this much of an annoyance, or even a threat?

7. Sony keeps indies top of mind

So that no 24-hour check in requirement and hand-it-directly-to-your-friend sharing policy may have caused a few cheers and chuckles at E3, but Sony's Adam Boyes had a mission slightly different than slamming the competition.

He was there to hoist up indies.

As Boyes told it during a roundtable discussion June 12, nine independent titles got stage time during the company's pre-show press conference, and Sony plans to keep games not developed by the big-name studios front and center moving forward.

Sure, the PS4 has great hardware, but what's a console if you don't have a myriad of game choices to pick from?

Hardware is only part of the equation, and Sony actually seems committed to keeping what Boyes' called a developer-friendly console just that.

There's a shift taking place at the company, Boyes said, one that won't just help Sony or game makers, but gamers as a whole. While we liked hearing the message straight from the executive's mouth, we're even more intrigued to see if Sony can fulfill its promise.

E3 2013

My god, it's full of games!

8. Oculus Rift keeps on impressing

We tried the virtual reality headgear on prior to E3, but leave it to Oculus Rift to keep us interested with two major updates: a full HD 1080p prototype and (gasp) something that's actually close to a video game.

The 1080p visuals were extremely impressive: We were totally immersed, able to sense depth of field and causing us to thirst after what could have fooled us for real snowflakes. Consumers should expect the same HD we experienced at E3 when the console is ready for sale.

We also got to fiddle around with a demo developed by CCP Games, the same group behind EVE Online. While shooting lasers targeted by our VR glances was cool enough, the sense of space was so mind-boggling astounding, we tried to control our in-game avatar's arm movements with their real-world counterparts, though to no avail.

Oculus Rift truly impressed us (again) and we think that the tech on this product is only starting to scratch the surface. There is much, much more to look forward to in the virtual reality space.

E3 2013

9. Nvidia explains how new consoles bolster PC titles too

Hardcore PC gamers have probably been their rolling eyes and turning up their noses at all this new console nonsense. They've been experiencing the graphics we drooled over at E3 on their pricey gaming rigs ever since DirectX 11 launched.

However, if you can't see how newer, more powerful consoles are good for all of gaming, you're being short sighted, and Nvidia would like to explain why.

"Developers can now build really awesome content that can then scale to the PC," Nvidia Senior Vice President Tony Tamasi explained. "Consoles are great because they catch up from a features perspective."

Basically, the console, with its fixed set of specs, will always be the lowest common demonitor. And now that the lowest spec sheet out there is fresh and beefy again, developers can start busting out tricks that would've melted your PS3 or Xbox 360.

Of course, we'll see how long consoles can stay within striking distance of PCs, but at least a console port to PC won't feel like a total downgrade, for a while anyway.

Nvidia claims game consoles closing gap with PCs

10. Celebrity sightings

We try to stay objective as possible when bringing you the latest from the world of tech, but even we get a little star struck from time to time.

E3 was teeming with celebs, from TV host and funnyman Conan O'Brien to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to director Guillermo Del Toro.

That's not even touching on the high-profile people trotted out on stage during company press conferences, like Drake and Aaron Paul at EA's get-together.

We spotted Conan riffing on Google Glass and caught a glimpse of America's Next Top Model winner Adrianne Curry yapping about PlanetSide 2.

Sure the show is about games, the people that make them and the consoles that play them, but a little star power lends an extra layer of excitement that makes us just that much more excited to come back next year. You never know who you're gonna see, right?

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.