I made up a new thing!
No, the Hype Cycle isn’t a cool motorbike that shoots lasers and slices of pizza. It’s what I’m starting to use to describe the trend in the gaming industry where publishers and media outlets generate hype for a game before it releases, and how those hyped games inevitably fail to deliver on the promises that were made in one way or another.
The Hype Cycle isn’t new, but it came to mind once I finished watching the trailer for the newly announced Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War.
In Come The Trailers
I’m reminded of No Man’s Sky‘s announcement and interviews with Sean Murray. With No Man’s Sky, the idea was that each player would experience a massive galaxy of star systems to explore, complete with the task of reaching the center of the galaxy. Looking back, it seems foolish in retrospect that I bought into the hype over No Man’s Sky; that I believed the marketing for it. That the procedural generation algorithm that Hello Games put into play would create memorable experiences for players.
Obviously, No Man’s Sky didn’t deliver. It’s a serviceable game, but it didn’t make for the experience that it was hyped up to be.
Similarly, I remember the marketing for Destiny, which charged gamers to “Become Legend”.
Bungie’s goal for Destiny is to create nothing less than an action shooter sandbox in which you can experience practically any type of game you would ever want to experience. Part shooter, part MMO, part open-world action game, Destiny is hard to define succinctly, by design. –Polygon
Bungie made promises that Destiny would be a gamechanger in the industry, melding MMO elements with the console space. Players would have the ability to do whatever they wanted to do, and would be able to drop into their friend’s game at will, complete with their ship swooping in to drop them off.
Most of what Bungie teased for Destiny – just like with Hello Games and No Man’s Sky – is technically in the game, just with much of the flair removed. No players getting dropped in by their ship, finding exotic weapons on the ground and using them immediately, enemy ships knocking over scenery, or being able to play Public Events whenever you want.
Another example? What about Rainbow Six: Siege?
Ubisoft showed a gameplay trailer for their tactical shooter featuring pre-match camera shots from a helicopter, the hostage panicking in front of the drone and begging for help, a helicopter insertion, the enemy team being able to move the hostage, traditional style Rainbow operatives, closed doors, being able to blast through floors, and being able to provide cover from adjacent buildings.
None of that made it into the final game, and that was supposedly gameplay footage.
So why am I ragging on released games that failed to deliver? Watch the gameplay trailer for Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War and listen to the commentary.
How much of the trailer is actually going to make it into the final product? Is an enemy that cheats death going to keep the wounds from their past battle with you? Are your minions going to really save you when you need them? Are the “stories” really stories, or just happenstance that you’d have to make note of for them to actually be considered stories? How much of the trailer was scripted?
“No two players of the game will experience the same story… [This is] one small example of the millions of unique stories players will create in Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War“
The trailer depicting every element of the mission being both dynamic and unique reeks of PR BS. Yes, the mission will not play out the same for every player, but the same could be said for any other game. It’s a half-truth that exaggerates the facts to get people excited for the game. It doesn’t inspire confidence in me at least, knowing that they’re attempting to capitalize on hype and clever wording to score preorders.
So why do we keep allowing this type of marketing to work? The games never completely live up to the hype, thus completing the Hype Cycle. What sucks is that the Hype Cycle only continues because hype works, and even though the excitement never lives long after the launch of a game, the complaints are drowned out. People forget that they were duped and the next big thing takes the spotlight.
I personally just cringe whenever I see a “gameplay” trailer for an upcoming title now, especially once the PR speak starts. I’m just hoping that the day comes soon when a game can be shown off without hearing the used car salesman pitches.
What are your thoughts on the Hype Cycle? Are you buying into the Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War trailer? Do you like my MS Paint graphic? It took me a whole two minutes to make!
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