The ‘AAA’ industry uses hype as a key tool in the marketing of video games in recent times. But does this hype help push sales, or does the weight of expectation then turn a good game sour?
The first point I think we have to touch on is that hype as a major marketing tool isn’t new in any industry. Hollywood has long used hype and excitement to drive whatever film they please. The key difference in the modern era, is social media. The grandest echo-chamber of them all has resulted in an increase of ‘hype’ for all mediums of entertainment. Everything these days has at least one trailer, if not more. Think, how many times have read, said or heard ‘I’m so hyped for this game’ in some variation over the last 5 years? The rise of social media has exponentially increased the amount of ‘hype’ for most art forms, but video games especially.
Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of the developers and publishers (most of the time anyway) hype often kills a game before it’s even done. For instance, the original Titanfall is a good Multiplayer only shooter. However, the hype behind that game, with some dubbing it the ‘Call Of Duty Killer’ caused what was a good game to fall under exceedingly high expectations (and a serious lack of content). There’s a whole section of games that fall under on that list, Evolve, Destiny (I realise Destiny got good after DLC but I’m not but I’m not paying for the full game after buying the full game) just to name two. The marketing campaign for these games must have cost a significant amount of the games budget (it certainly would explain the lack of content in each of the games listed). So it makes you wonder, if they just pulled back on the marketing budget and invested more into the game, would it have made more long-term cash for the publisher and developer?
From a more personal perspective, hype has damaged a game for me, Fallout 4. Now, I love the Fallout series (well 3 and New Vegas anyway), and 4 is great, but it’s lacking something for me. I’m aware of how good the game actually is, it just lacks some of that Fallout essence for me. When that game was announced, I was beyond excited. I couldn’t wait to venture into the wasteland once again. The reality of the situation however, was I got myself so excited that my expectations of what was a truly fantastic game, were far too high. This made my opinion of a game that was actually very good, worse.
Hype does have its positives though. Imagine if there wasn’t a buzz on social media about that game you hadn’t heard of but love now. That game wouldn’t be in your life. That probably makes you sad (or at least a little less happy). Hype has driven lots of people to wonderful developers, and given them the platform they deserve aswell.
All in all, hype is a good tool, when used properly. However, we as consumers, need to temper our excitement/expectations for a game and take everything we see before a games release with healthy cynicism.