Ah the good old fashioned hype-train. It’s been around for decades y’know. Maybe even longer (alas there are no cave drawings of hype; or maybe we’re just misinterpreting them and they are all ancient adverts). We all love it. We all buy into it. When we don’t engage with it we are disappointed; but is hype slowly killing the games industry?
Watching dogs is bad?
Remember e3 2012? Remember that ending of Ubisoft’s press conference? here let us remind you what we saw…
The world premier of ‘Watch_Dogs’ a game that was so stunningly beautiful it must be next gen! The hype had begun. It would be 23 months from the initial reveal to release; this would prove to be detrimental to the perception of the game. ‘Watch_Dogs’ is NOT a bad game, far from it; yet it received middling reviews from the critics and scathing ones from Joe-Public. Why? It had fallen victim to it’s own hype. People had; naturally enough, built up an expectation of what this game was. Even with minimal information they created a game that could not exist…’Watch_Dogs’ could not even live up to what people had seen two years prior…they were pissed.
Would ‘Watch_Dogs’ had reviewed as poorly if Ubisoft had followed Rockstar’s lead and release tiny snippets of information about a game close to release? After-all GTA:IV was a worse game than ‘Watch_Dogs’ yet it has a higher Metacritic score (massively so in fact 98% currently to Watch_Dogs’ 80). The difference? Rockstar released two teaser trailers that showcased next to nothing of their game, no expectations were set and people were happier to play the final product.
You’re not alone doggy
There are other examples of hype killing a game before it can get going, the world famous (or should that be infamous?) release of SimCity 4. The hype was so strong with that one that so many people purchased and logged on…only to flood servers and crash the whole thing…oops. This led to a complete stand still of sales as people waited for the server issues to be resolved…was alright in the end. Only took 6 months.
MGS 2 pulled the old bait-and-switch trick on us gamers. We were pissed. All the preview materials released showed Snake on a tanker; hilariously enough this was only the first hour of the game. We got to control Raiden for the vast majority of the game, and he sucked! If only Kojima hadn’t shown us this awesome section of game (and allowed us to play it if we bought ‘Zone of the Enders’), we would have been much more lenient on him. It nearly killed Raiden’s career as a video game protagonist.
Any game released by Peter Molyneux this guy…
…is king of the hype train. Every time he announced a new game he would come out with grandiose statements of intent, remember when he was interviewed during development of ‘Fable 2’? He said this…“I’m trying to make Fable 2 the greatest roleplaying game of all time.. again.. but this time, I´ve learned from my mistakes.” While i’m sure he was genuinely trying, he certainly overshot the mark with his hype, Fable II was a far, far distance from the greatest anything. Look for his quotes, every game he makes is a disappointment, because he over hypes them. Poor Peter.
Can we please think of the children?
Let’s face it, hype isn’t going away. If anything it’ll get more vociferous because games need to be noticed now; more than ever. There are hundreds of games released every year and they all need to sell, marketing is getting more aggressive and games will be announced earlier and earlier in their development. Games like ‘The Order: 1866’, ‘The Division’ and ‘Uncharted 4’ all have/had a good 18-24 months gestation period after their initial reveal. Hype isn’t going anywhere and I fear that we are doomed to disappointment after disappointment.
Over the past few years i’ve enjoyed games that take me by surprise more than I have enjoyed many AAA titles, games like ‘Olli Olli’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ surprised me as i knew very little about them.
I don’t want to build unreasonable expectations, I don’t want to over sell game mechanics and i certainly don’t want to be over exposed to a game before i play it. Hype makes me (and most people) do all these things and it’s killing our enjoyment of these titles…i just want to watch e3 and hear the words “out this holiday season”…is that so hard to ask?
As our lives become more and more digital it is also becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the hype, and all those details. M. Night Shyamalan famously said the internet ruined movies, I feel it’s slowly killing games too.
Please developers, take it easy with us…we want to enjoy our games, not resent them.
Would you enjoy games more if they were surprising?
Were you disappointed by ‘Watch_Dogs’ or any other title?
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