Is video game hype a boon or a bane?

Written by Culture, Gaming

Video-game news, especially from developers who have good track records, tends to generate a lot of hype, but this spotlight’s impacts are a topic for contention.

ConcernedApe, the developer of highly successful farming sim Stardew Valley teased on Twitter that he was working on two new projects. This unsurprisingly generated a huge buzz among fans, to which ConcernedApe followed up with tweets telling everyone to calm down. They have not. This begs the question, why bother teasing projects like this at all if this can be the expected reaction?

The gaming industry has many lessons to learn regarding the dangers of hype.

Hype is a double-edged sword. It is natural for people to get excited about games that they think will be particularly good or sequels that they have been waiting a long time for. This hype helps spread word of a game and is essentially free advertising. However, the release of Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky has shown that the gaming industry has many lessons to learn regarding the dangers of hype.

No Man’s Sky was so hyped up – it had people going wild. The developers even kept stoking the fire by confirming little bits and pieces about the game that only made people more excited. The developers did not stop to consider even once that they might not be able to meet these lofty expectations. When the game finally came out and it turned out to be repetitive and buggy, the developers were accused of lying about the inclusion of all the missing features. Overall, the game was nothing more than mediocre at best.

The fans were out for blood, at one point sending death threats to Hello Games staff – a trend across social media that’s been on a worrying increase. I believe this was the developer’s fault for lying about the game having features it didn’t, but a more important lesson to be learnt from this story is about taming the beast of the hype train.

Credit: IGDB

Another game that fell victim to this phenomenon was Watch Dogs, which is a personal favorite of mine. A lot of gamers I’ve personally talked to recall being disappointed by Watch Dogs and always speak of it with a sour tone. I think this is because of how much it was hyped up. It was advertised as revolutionary and game changing which raised expectations, leading some to be disappointed. Not to mention that the graphics of the game seemed to downgrade when it was released from when it was shown at expos. I played the game years after release, oblivious to all the hype before it was released and enjoyed it a lot more.

Sometimes though, you have games like Red Dead Redemption II, or really any Rockstar Game. Ludicrous amounts of hype, preorders reaching record numbers, and fans combing through every frame of teasers to glean as much info out as possible before release date; these are all hallmarks of a Rockstar release. But the difference is that Rockstar very rarely disappoints. This is because they never promise anything that isn’t in the game. They know how to tame the beast that is the hype train.

Related: The Last Of Us Part II Delayed Until Spring 2020

Hype is a powerful tool that developers and publishers must know how to use to their advantage. It’s a balancing act. It can help a game shoot to the top but it can also tank reception if you let it. Concerned Ape has been smart with managing hype by telling people to calm down, because at this point we’ve all seen how over hyping can go badly wrong.

Featured image credit: IGDB

Last modified: 27th February 2020

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