The PC Gaming Show turns 10: Looking back at the biggest moments from each show

The hosts of the PC Gaming Show 2024
(Image credit: Future)

Wow! As of this June, the PC Gaming Show, our not-so-little summer showcase, is nine years old. Which means—because numbers are confusing—2024 actually marks our 10th PC Gaming Show. I keep pinching myself, but the number isn't changing. We've carried on through the death of E3 (RIP), a global pandemic, and the constantly changing makeup of PC gaming and somehow put on 10 livestreams highlighting everything we love about this wild, untameable platform.

If you're a PC Gamer oldbie, you may remember an article our global editor-in-chief Evan Lahti wrote in June 2014, imagining the E3 press conference PC gamers deserved. It's a tongue-in-cheek yet vivid concoction:

"A 32-piece orchestra moves silently onto the stage, led by a tuxedoed Warren Spector, who steps to a conducting platform in the middle of the stage. The musicians take their seats, Spector pays them a nod, and the instruments spring into motion, weaving a quiet introduction before bursting into the dramatic notes of the Deus Ex title theme by Alexander Brandon. Inexplicably, Command & Conquer series composer Frank Klepacki descends from the ceiling clutching a flying-V guitar to hammer out the final verse.

"Spector and Klepacki absorb the applause, take a bow, then clear the stage for the conference's host: StarCraft evangelist Sean 'Day[9]' Plott. Plott plays the crowd, charming and relatable as always, then breaks down the structure of the conference. To avoid favoritism, all presenters are given equal time, Plott explains, and the order of the presentations was determined by the results of a Minesweeper tournament that preceded the press conference."

You may notice a couple seeds were planted in this vision of a fictional E3 show. Sean "Day[9]" Plott has been our host every year since 2015, and at our second-ever show we invited Warren Spector to deliver an address on the past, present and future of PC gaming. After conjuring up our ideal E3 conference and being disappointed year after year by the PC's lack of representation alongside the big console manufacturers, we finally decided someone had to do it. So why not us?

The first show was a true miracle, put together by a tiny crew with virtually no experience creating this sort of event. It may have been rough around the edges (and an hour too long), but the positive response proved to us that PC gamers wanted our platform to get its time in the spotlight—and ideally in a show that was a little looser, a little more playful, and a little more reflective of just how varied gaming can be. Ever since that first show we've tried to channel the essence of PC gaming into an event (conference just doesn't have quite the right ring to it) that celebrates what we're most excited about in the coming year.

Unfortunately we've never quite been able to live up to the last paragraph of Evan's original 2014 pitch, which was my favorite bit of the imaginary PC gaming conference… at least not yet: 

"… Everything seems to be wrapped. The conference room goes quiet, the house lights come up, and Plott exits the stage. Attendees get to their feet, looking toward the exit. But there's a sound. A weird, rhythmic noise. What is it? The slow trod of a horse ? It can't be that.

"A unicorn clomps onto the stage, saddled by Gabe Newell. 'Hello, everyone,' Gabe says in his genial tone, 'I still can't show you Half-Life 3, but if you follow me, I'll show you something even better.' The room stands and empties, all attendees trailing behind Gabe Newell's unicorn."

But hey, there's always lucky number 11. And our first 10 shows have been packed full of wonderful moments we never could've dreamed up before we started this mad exercise. Here's a look back at the ones that stand out the most vividly.

2015: We actually made a show!

Ode to PC gaming - YouTube Ode to PC gaming - YouTube
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I was backstage for the first PC Gaming Show, and man was that a surreal moment. A who's who of PC game developers were waiting for their chance to go on stage. Phil Spencer, new to his role as the head of Xbox, was there to admit Microsoft had lost its way in PC gaming and intended to set it right. Cliff Bleszinski was hanging around nonchalant, by that point a veteran of a hundred on stage appearances. Fresh off the massive impact of DayZ, Dean Hall showed up to talk about his mysterious new game. Developers from The Creative Assembly, Blizzard, and IO Interactive were all in the mix.

I was mostly there to serve as a glorified usher, making sure the developers who arrived knew when they were going on and were equipped with a bottle of water. I hadn't been involved in organizing the show—that was all on the shoulders of PC Gamer bosses Evan Lahti and Tim Clark—so I just got to enjoy watching it all play out with none of the stress of putting it together.

Tim Clark, Brand Director: "Back when all this started in 2015, the debut show was live from the Belasco theater in Los Angeles right before E3. It was insanely overlong because none of us on the editorial side had ever produced anything like it and weren't sure how many games to book. Sitting backstage, I knew that things could and definitely would go wrong. My girlfriend saw the state of me—imagine a man simultaneously completely still yet also vibrating furiously—and slipped a Xanax into my hand. The rest is both a blur, and history."

The history was: Overall, it went well! We survived putting on a 2+ hour show, and Day[9] handled the hiccups so well that his easygoing hosting ended up becoming the defining characteristic of the show. To me the standout moment of 2015 was this one, when Hitman developer Hakan Abrak's microphone crapped out, and Day[9] leaned in to share his lapel mic, quipping "Whisper the hits sweetly into my ear." 

Hitman interview - PC Gaming Show 2015 - YouTube Hitman interview - PC Gaming Show 2015 - YouTube
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That's quality live TV! 

2016: Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord debuts siege combat 

Mount and Blade 2 siege trailer - PC Gaming Show 2016 - YouTube Mount and Blade 2 siege trailer - PC Gaming Show 2016 - YouTube
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For a game first announced in 2012, this was a long time coming: the first look at sieges in Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord. The original Mount & Blade was a big hit, and sure enough this proved to be one of the most popular—and most "PC"—games featured at the PC Gaming Show in 2016. We're all about giving the people what they want, and what they want is siege towers with multiple ladders on them. 

2017: Microsoft announces Age of Empires: Definitive Edition 

Age of Empires: Definitive Edition interview at the PC Gaming Show - YouTube Age of Empires: Definitive Edition interview at the PC Gaming Show - YouTube
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It doesn't get much more heartland PC gaming than Age of Empires, and this felt like Microsoft making good on its renewed commitment to PC gaming, revisiting one of its all-time greats. Age of Empires 2 is still getting DLC to this day.

Tim Clark: "Easily one of my favourite reveals was the surprise announcement in 2017 that Microsoft was working on a definitive edition of Age of Empires, remastered with 4K graphics and tweaked gameplay. In the theatre it was a proper gasp-and-cheer moment from the crowd, and felt like a big payoff for the trust Microsoft had put in us (and for me personally the hours spent on conference calls)." 

2017: Brendan Greene stops by to talk PUBG

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds trailer and interview at the PC Gaming Show 2017 - YouTube PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds trailer and interview at the PC Gaming Show 2017 - YouTube
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Remember those innocent days when PUBG was just a huge hit that sold 3 million copies and not an industry-altering monstro-hit that sold 75 million copies? It was still technically in beta when Brendan Greene dropped by the show to announce new features like the ability to, yes, that's right, climb over small fences and walls. And yes, silly as it sounds, we were all incredibly excited about fence-hopping in a battle royale game. 

2017: XCOM 2: War of the Chosen reveal and interview

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen trailer - PC Gaming Show 2017 - YouTube XCOM 2: War of the Chosen trailer - PC Gaming Show 2017 - YouTube
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Not only did we get to debut the first showing of the expansion to one of our favorite strategy games, but creative director Jake Solomon joined us to talk about making an expansion centered on the "ultimate enemies" for XCOM. 

Evan Lahti, Global Editor-in-Chief: "Videogames are great because a few million people will be on the edge of their seats, genuinely enthusiastic as I was, about what are basically three new villain action figures being added to the XCOM 2 Alien Counter-Insurgency Playset. I love that we're all that passionate about the granular stuff that makes up games. The Assassin, Hunter, and Warlock (The Chosen) are the closest that the series gets to tangible villains you have to confront, it's insidious and so great the way they pop up and wreak havoc. 2017 was definitely the peak of XCOM's reputation, still in the afterglow of the sequel having improved significantly on the 2015 reboot." 

2018: Satisfactory builds hype for building

Satisfactory reveal trailer - PC Gaming Show 2018 - YouTube Satisfactory reveal trailer - PC Gaming Show 2018 - YouTube
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I had no idea that this trailer presaged my crippling game addiction of 2020 and 2021, Coffee Stain's assembly line manufacturing game Satisfactory. While the initial early access release was a bit feature-light, within a few updates Satisfactory delivered a manically compelling optimization game. Much of what makes it so fun to build and optimize is visible in this first trailer, though, which wisely focuses on the detailed animations of assembly lines at work, conveyor belts in motion and the awe-inspiring scale of a massive factory chugging away. 

2018: The Forgotten City goes from mod to full game

The Forgotten City reveal trailer - PC Gaming Show 2018 - YouTube The Forgotten City reveal trailer - PC Gaming Show 2018 - YouTube
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The debut of The Forgotten City was not only a big hit at the PC Gaming Show, it went on to be one of our favorite games of 2021. A Skyrim-mod-turned-Roman-era-mystery may not have fit into your usual Xbox or PlayStation conference, but it was a perfect fit for the PC Gaming Show. The Forgotten City's standout showing even helped net it an Unreal E3 Award that year. 

2019: Frankie rocks the shark suit for Maneater

Maneater interview - PC Gaming Show 2019 - YouTube Maneater interview - PC Gaming Show 2019 - YouTube
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Frankie Ward joined Sean Plott as the co-host of the PC Gaming Show in 2018 and brought incredible charisma and good humor to every wild situation we threw at her. In a later show we'd put Frankie in the pilot seat of a mech, but there was no topping this moment, in which Frankie conducted an interview with Tripwire while wearing a floppy shark suit. Don't miss her knowing wink to the camera when John Gibson says "there's an awful lot of maneating going on in this game." 

2020: The pandemic made everything harder, but we still somehow put on a show and also built a robot

The PC Gaming Show 2020 - YouTube The PC Gaming Show 2020 - YouTube
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Our formerly live-and-in-person show had to pivot to a remote stream in 2020 while we all grappled with our new pandemic reality, but that somehow didn't lessen our team's ambitions for the year. 2020's PC Gaming Show introduced DevBot, an actual functioning robot who made his way to Los Angeles to join host Day[9] in the underground gaming bunker he was broadcasting from (while wearing an excellent tie and smoking jacket as opposed to the pajamas I surely hadn't changed out of for week-long stretches at that point, I might add).

Evan Lahti: "One of the sentiments I've never liked when it comes to games is this idea that they're 'an escape' from life's hardships, as if the most we can draw from a game is to be distracted for a few hours. We didn't want the show to feel like it was in a vacuum from everything that was happening in the world in 2020, but we also understood that we were making a lighthearted, two-hour broadcast about computer games. DevBot is one of the pieces of PCGS we're proudest of—hopefully we can chart some return to Pee-wee Herman-inspired animatronics in another broadcast without the burden of apocalyptic baggage." 

2020: Valheim goes big

Valheim trailer | PC Gaming Show 2020 - YouTube Valheim trailer | PC Gaming Show 2020 - YouTube
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While survival crafting game Valheim was playable in alpha as early as 2018, this trailer at the 2020 PC Gaming Show was really its proper debut. It ended up being one of the most popular trailers from the 2020 show and one of the most popular videogames of 2021. Some viewers were skeptical of the lo-fi aesthetic in the moment, but we always thought Valheim was a looker. 

2021: We turn a graphics card into a spaceship

Put on one of these kinds of shows for long enough and you eventually have to start coming up with ideas just to entertain yourself. Like, what if the PC Gaming Show was broadcast from space? And our spaceship was a graphics card? This was during the height of the cryptomining craze, so it turned out to be pretty tough to get our hands on a space-worthy ship-sized graphics card, but we went full Star Trek (okay, more like full Mystery Science Theater) this year and I loved every second of it. 2021 also marked the introduction of cohost Mica Burton, who brought a great energy (and a big wrench) to the show.

2021: Gabe Newell bumps New Blood's Dave Oshry

He didn't arrive on a unicorn, but we finally got Gaben. Valve founder Gabe Newell appeared via satellite from a location we have to assume can be described as a hacienda, lair, or château to talk about Steam Next Fest, which is now a pillar of this new golden age of game demos.

We did unfortunately have to end one segment a little early to squeeze Newell in, cutting off New Blood CEO Dave Oshry before he could finish giving us the latest on immersive sim Gloomwood. The boomer shooter mogul wasn't too happy about it, muttering something about Gandalf and yelling at his mom before Day[9] cut him off.

That was a joke, obviously, but its origin was in a teeny tiny little mistake we actually made in 2020: We were supposed to show a Gloomwood trailer midway through the show, but, well, we forgot. A good deal of scrambling happened behind the scenes, and we appended the trailer to the end of the broadcast, but it was too late: like the appeal of '90s graphics, the slight would not be forgotten.

A year later, Gloomwood was bumped to make room for Newell, but the year after that, Oshry finally got to show a full Gloomwood trailer during the 2022 PC Gaming Show. Gloomwood also happens to be one of our favorite early access games right now.

New Blood Interactive showcase (PC Gaming Show 2022) - YouTube New Blood Interactive showcase (PC Gaming Show 2022) - YouTube
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2022: Half-Life Alyx: Levitation brings a mod to the forefront

Half-Life Alyx: Levitation gameplay trailer (PC Gaming Show 2022) - YouTube Half-Life Alyx: Levitation gameplay trailer (PC Gaming Show 2022) - YouTube
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A full-length campaign mod for a Half-Life VR game is as PC gaming as PC gaming gets, and we knew we needed to devote a good chunk of time to this first-person walkthrough of Alyx expansion Levitation. Not many gameplay clips can hold my attention for a full eight minutes, but this one really let viewers soak in the atmosphere of Levitation's new custom environments. Or in the more to-the-point words of YouTube commenter AmyDentata: "It's a mod.... PC Gaming is awesome." 

2022: We debuted docuseries Tales From the Hard Drive

We Tracked Down World Of Warcraft's Legendary Angwe | Tales From The Hard Drive | PC Gamer - YouTube We Tracked Down World Of Warcraft's Legendary Angwe | Tales From The Hard Drive | PC Gamer - YouTube
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The 2022 PC Gaming Show also served as the launch vehicle for one of my favorite things we've ever made at PC Gamer: a series of short documentaries called Tales From the Hard Drive, featuring incredible true stories from across the history of our hobby. These stories are all about how people interact with games, from the legend of WoW serial ganker Angwe to the deep, years-long scams of EVE Online's most devious plotters. Producing this series was a huge effort from across the PC Gamer team, and the real cherry on top was getting Disco Elysium voice actor Lenval Brown to serve as our narrator. 

2023: The PC Gaming Show goes bi-annual with a winter showcase

PC Gaming Show: Most Wanted 2023 - ENG - YouTube PC Gaming Show: Most Wanted 2023 - ENG - YouTube
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So remember how I said this year is the 10th PC Gaming Show? That was kinda a lie—it's the 10th summer show, but technically the 11th overall, as we debuted the PC Gaming Show Most Wanted in November of 2023. If you crave new PC games when it's cold or when it's hot, we've now got your back. With Most Wanted we introduced The Council, an "elite cabal" of industry luminaries who voted on the most anticipated games of the coming year. If you don't want to see Sid Meier doing his best Emperor Palpatine impression, well, I just don't know how to make you happy. 

2024: The PC Gaming Show is still going strong

PC Gaming Show 10th Anniversary Logo

(Image credit: Future)

The 2024 PC Gaming Show kicks off on Sunday, June 9, full of new game reveals and a few returning favorites. Hosts Sean "Day[9]" Plott, Frankie Ward and Mica Burton are all back to lead the way—without any disruptions from known puppy threatener Dave Oshry this time, god willing. This year also marks the addition of a new member to the production team, PCGS Editorial Director Jake Tucker, who brings a frankly frightening amount of energy to bear in organizing this whole endeavor. 

Jake Tucker: "Stepping into the team for the 10th anniversary show means I get to enjoy the mammoth event put together by Evan, Tim and the combined forces of our production team and PC Gamer's diligent editorial team. It's going to be a great show and I'm happy to have played a tiny role in bringing it to life.

"Hopefully everyone watching it has as much fun as we had making it, because despite a few stresses along the way this has been a joyful experience and I'm hyped to see everyone's reaction."

We'll be streaming the show on Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Steam, and Bilibili, and you can also watch via one of our co-streaming partners⁠.

Tim Clark: "Truthfully, the greatest moment for me is each year when the credits roll and the stress rushes out of my body like a dam that's been hit by a cruise missile. I think everyone who works on events probably feels that way. And without getting to 'It's-the-friends-we-made-along-the-way,' a decade of working with Frankie and Sean, the mad genius that is my colleague Evan Lahti, and all the tireless, talented production staff has made all the stress worth it. Okay that last bit is a lie, but it's made it more fun. See also: Frankie in a shark suit." 

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).

With contributions from