Whenever a new major video game is announced, there is always some degree of hype surrounding it as people like getting excited about new things. Most major releases follow a very similar pattern in this regard, which can basically be summed up as the following:
A new game is announced and people get excited for it. As time moves on, some footage or new information about the game is revealed, prompting people to speak about the upcoming game again and raising excitement levels once more. Finally, the game is released and people purchase it and ultimately decide whether it has actually lived up to expectations or not.
Over the past few years, the gaming community has seen several situations where hype resulted in the vast majority of the gaming community being highly disappointed in a particular game because players just expected so much more from the title.
These situations often lead to many pondering on why exactly a particular game is so disappointing and where the misrepresentation of its contents came from.
Quiet often, the responsibility for this misrepresentation is placed in one of two areas: the marketing techniques of the developer/publisher of the title in question or the general nature of consumer reception of new media products – getting overly-excited for new content in turn raising community expectations.
The large number of highly-anticipated titles that generally tend to be released during this period of the year has had me thinking about hype quite a bit and who, more often than not, is more at fault for creating these misrepresentations of products as well as hype overall.
So, who is truly to blame? Is it the developers and publishers with their sometimes purposely misleading marketing campaigns? Or is the gaming community as a whole and the manner in which they treat newly revealed products?
In order to answer this question, the manner in which both of these stakeholders generate hype will be looked at and relevant examples provided.
How Developers/Publishers Create Hype By Misrepresenting Their Games
There have be many different instances in which publishers have advertised a game as having certain features that were not actually present in the final version of the game that was released to the public.
Arguably, most games see some sort of change over the development process that may see the final product deviate somewhat from what was first displayed when the game was first revealed to what is actually released, but this should never be to the point where people quite simply cannot relate the preview footage to the actual game.
We’ve seen people react in this manner to several different games and for several different reasons.
For example, when Watch Dogs was released in 2014, there had been a load of excitement surrounding the title because the footage of the title displayed at E3 2012 suggested that the game was going to be an amazing experience with great gameplay mechanics and a good narrative with graphics that quite simply pushed the boundaries of even the best high-end PC rigs.
What was eventually released was a game with a rather boring narrative, uninspiring gameplay and the same Ubisoft open-world tropes a good part of the gaming community had grown tired of through playing Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry. The game also did not come anywhere near what was expected of it in terms of its graphical quality.
The sole responsibility of this whole situation can only be placed on Ubisoft because if their advertisements had been a more realistic representation of the final product, perhaps, people wouldn’t have gotten so angry.
Then, there’s No Man’s Sky, which was probably the most anticipated game of 2016 and also probably the most over-hyped game of all time.
This game was being advertised to have features that were quite simply unbelievable to most gamers, some of which included 18 quintillion planets to explore which are infinitely procedurally generated and vastly different from one another, five billion years’ worth of gameplay and a chance to explore this all with your friends in the same world.
With this in mind, there is no surprise as to why No Man’s Sky created a load of excitement within the gaming community because these promises sound absolutely incredible – but they were all lies.
There are several available interviews with Sean Murray – the director of both the game and Hello Games (the title’s developer) – lying about what the game would contain and a very good guess as to why he was lying was to maintain hype for the game.
The amount of backlash No Man’s Sky received from the gaming community really needs no mention.
Advertising campaigns are there to make people excited about a new game, but one should never lie about what a game will entail because, unsurprisingly, it creates expectations that the game will actually contain the features advertised.
If the results are not possible to produce and a product that does not meet the advertised standards, it could not only create resentment towards the actual product, but also perhaps a culture of distrust with regards to the developer/publisher’s future products.
Perhaps, an example of this can be seen with Ubisoft and the Watch Dogs series, where people were so angered by the first entry that they decided not to purchase its sequel, which is supposedly a really fun experience.
How The Gaming Community Creates Hype
Some may believe it rare, but it’s true that there are some games that are advertised in a generally honest manner, but are still perceived to be overhyped.
The reason for this is often that prior to the release of a new game there is consumer excitement and discussion surrounding it and this often raises expectations for the game in some degree.
For example, read the comments on any sort of news or trailer of Red Dead Redemption 2 and you’ll find a load of people expressing their excitement for the game and declaring that this game will obviously be great because the first entry into the series was and Rockstar is a reliable publisher – and this is literally only after Rockstar released two trailers for the game.
It’s difficult for one not to take part in community excitement and somewhat believe that a game will be as great as what has been suggested it will be when there is this much excitement surrounding it.
Some games don’t necessarily need a publisher/developer to create much excitement surrounding them because the gaming community will already do it by themselves – perhaps, in the process creating their own misrepresentations of the title.
Perhaps, a terrible example of this can be seen in something like the Call of Duty series.
Personally, I can say that I have never felt cheated by watching a trailer for a new Call of Duty game, but I have felt some negative feelings after purchasing a new entry into the series on the basis of one of my friends suggesting it captured the magic of the ‘old COD days.’
In these situations, it is not the publisher/developer of a game misrepresenting the game to you, it is somebody else in the community whose opinion you perhaps shouldn’t have trusted.
It can be suggested that even critically acclaimed games that have been generally positively received from the gaming community as a whole (for example, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt) also tend to be affected by hype by making many players ignore the flaws in them, which, again, has the potential to prompt disappointment in the players that play these games on the basis of a glowing recommendation.
So, Who Creates The Most Hype?
Both of these parties at different times are responsible for raising the expectations for a game to unattainable heights.
Admittedly, more often than not, a lot of the disappointment related to hype often stems from a developer lying about the content of an upcoming title, but this is definitely not always the case.
Most people have probably dealt with a situation where a friend recommended a game that got notably high-praise from the community that failed to meet their expectations.
In such cases, you are always reminded that you should never buy a game on a singular recommendation as all reviews are influenced by some level of bias and that to get a better consensus of the game it may be better to listen to the opinion of several different people.
Quite simply, hype will always exist within the gaming community on some level and there will always be some person who was disappointed in a particular game, no matter how much praise that game got.
The only thing that one can really hope for with regards to hype is that publishers/developers stop lying about their games in order to increase sales numbers on the basis of excitement. One can hope, right?
Has hype ever influenced your decision to buy a certain game? Was it based on an advertising campaign or recommendations from the gaming community? Please share your opinion in the comments down below.