FFD: Hype! Does it help or hurt video games?

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game with as much hype and expectation as No Man’s Sky. From its first showing at VGX all those years ago, No Man’s Sky has captivated the world’s imagination. It’s also, unfortunately, set up expectations that are impossible for the game to live up to.

That, for better or worse, is how the gaming industry operates. Set up a cycle of hype – usually announcement trailers, followed by previews, more trailers and then reviews – to try and push pre-orders and sales.

The problem with hype is the expectations that people have will never be fulfilled, leading to reactionary vitriol. When people feel like they’ve been let down, they tend to spread that – which can ends up being an own goal by the marketing machine.

One game that’s done well enough to spawn a sequel, but crumbled under its own hype is Watch Dogs. When it was first shown off at E3, it was a graphical revolution – but its release showed significantly downgraded graphics, and its much-touted hacking mechanics devolved in to simple button presses.

Of course, the reverse is true. Take a game like The Witcher 3 – which had an exceptionally long cycle of hype. Middling combat (and its own visual downgrade) aside, it’s largely lived up the expectations people had for it.

That said, I think that Hype is largely good for the industry – and is part of the joy of video games. The excitement and anticipation for new games are an integral part of the experience. So too, unfortunately, is the grumbling about it afterwards. The relationship gamers have with the games doesn’t begin when the disc enters the drive, or the Steam key is redeemed. Rather, it begins with that first announcement trailer.

Hype! Is it good or bad for games? Does it set up too much in the way of expectation? Is it something that needs to be perfectly fine tuned and balanced? Let us know what you think of videogames and the use of the hype machine.

Last Updated: August 12, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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