Getting hyped for video games is fun. It is. It’s fun to watch trailers for new games. It’s fun to speculate with other interested gamers about those games and what they might be like. Getting excited and full of anticipation for cool new games a big part of the fun of being a gamer. However, it is possible for hype to go too far. Last month Cary discussed the shocking “fan” backlash towards the delay of No Man’s Sky, a very highly anticipated game due out in August. It was a routine delay, but the judging by the reaction one would think that Hello Games had done something unforgivable. It would be one thing if this was an isolated incident, but it doesn’t feel that way. Rather, it feel like the natural next step in a direction we’ve been walking in for a long time now.
Marketing, especially video game marketing, is all about generating excitement for the product you’re selling. It’s a necessary tool for just about anything that wants to gain widespread attention and interest. Video game marketing today isn’t all that much different from how it’s always been. They put out trailers and make announcements, and we all discuss and share those trailers and news. It’s always been about getting players hyped for the next big game. Always. Yet, today it feels as though it’s all getting a bit out of control. Something has changed in the past few years, and it’s not the marketing. Sure they may be pumping more money into it than before, and they have more tools at their disposal, but game marketing is essentially the same as it’s always been. No, what’s changed is us, or rather how we react to gaming news and trailers.
It used to just be a matter of excitement, disappointment, or disinterest. That was all the emotion needed for video game news. Nowadays though, it feels like it’s become so much more than that. Games are now developing huge followings and “fandoms” months and even years before the product is even released. There’s nothing wrong with following a game pre-release, but one can’t help but wonder how so many people are able to summon such intense emotions for things that have not even had the chance to earn such intense loyalty or dislike. I ask you: how is it that one can be a fan or detractor of a game that has yet to even be played by anyone?
I think that perhaps we’re all letting the hype go to our heads a bit. We’re watching trailers and gameplay videos, and deciding to do much more than just get excited about something we think is going to be fun. We’re trying to get involved. We’re deciding to become brand champions and are in a sense staking our reputations as gamers upon the quality of these games. To a degree there’s nothing wrong with that, but getting in too deep runs the risk changing your perception. Once that happens, even the smallest, most reasonable criticism into a personal attack, and anything that keeps you from getting the game into an unforgivable offense. In the past, maintaining our distance was easy, but now it’s all too easy to get way too involved.
I’m just thinking that gamers as a collective would do well to take a step back from video game media. Hype is fun. Getting hyped is fun. However, it may be that many of us are letting that hype get to us. The internet has made it so easy to react and discuss that maintaining distance has actually become a conscious decision. We just need to realize that we need to consciously choose not to get swept along rather than having happen by default like it used to. We can return to the days of fun excitement and hype without the vitriol of emotion run-rampant. It’s just a matter of exercising a little bit more control than we’re used to.
What do you think of video game hype? What do you think can/ should be done about it? Should anything be done about it?