The Problem with Hype
Think of the last E3, or the last Gamescom, or the last Tokyo Game Show. What was the main thing shown at the press conferences held there? The trailers, gameplay videos, and everything else shown are done so to get you excited about a certain game that they want you to be more interested in. If the trailer is well-done and people like it, the hype of the game goes up and people talk about it more and more. But what happens next? More trailers and details for the game are released, just hyping you up more until the game comes out. But sometimes, when the game comes out, it’s not everything you expected. It’s not as fantastic as you had hoped. It’s not all that it’s hyped up to be.
This isn’t coincidental. While the companies releasing the trailers must make people as excited as possible to buy the game, it is difficult and uncommon for a game to follow up on everything the trailers have shown, and the games that do are critically acclaimed and talked about for a long time. The hype can, however, change someone’s perspective on a game, making them think that the game is actually better than it really is just because they have convinced themselves that it is. This can even affect professional critics, who may give the game higher scores than the game really deserves, just because it looked great in trailers. Moreover, some fans will make an early judgment on a game and become violent if they don’t see what they want to see, especially in reviews and review scores.
All Hyped Up
The hype a game receives is normally well-deserved. The team behind the game has put together a trailer, gameplay section, or whatever is shown that gets everyone’s attention and makes people excited for their game. The unfortunate part comes when the game does not live up to these expectations. One main example of this is Aliens: Colonial Marines. The game was first announced nearly five years before its release, and a few of the pre-release trailers made the game look promising and became a source for excitement. However, the final version of Aliens was less than satisfying, and some people became mad because the game looked worse than the trailers had previously shown and that the trailers did not reflect the final game accurately.
Another great example of this is Assassin’s Creed III. It was said to be one of the most ambitious games from Ubisoft and had twice the production value of any other Assassin’s Creed game. The final game was good, but everything that had been shown before its release made it seem underwhelming. Even though it received generally positive reviews, the hype made the game seem like it would be receiving perfect scores across the board; so when it didn’t, disappointment settled in and it was looked on by some as a setback for the series. Assassin’s Creed III was still a huge success, but if the game didn’t have so much hype, its problems could have been overlooked and the community might not have criticized it so harshly.
As for upcoming games, another Ubisoft game seems like it could fall into the hype trap. The Watch Dogs reveal at E3 2012 was astounding, becoming the surprise of the show and causing chatter around the industry of how great the game looked and how interesting the game’s main idea seemed. However, since the reveal, the game has not been playable to the public at all, and it was recently delayed until next year. It seems like Watch Dogs may not turn out as well as we hope and have come to expect, and the hype for the game will only worsen this.
Expectations and Anger
Some games can have so much hype and excitement that if it receives any scores below perfect or nearly perfect, people will become angry and at points even violent. Even with a game like Assassin’s Creed III, some people were mad that the game got lower reviews than they had hoped. It’s important to note that some got angry even before the game was released to the general public. Another example of this was The Last of Us. It had some of the best review scores ever seen for a game, getting perfect scores virtually across the board. However, when the occasional negative review of the game came along, readers became outraged. Polygon gave it a 7.5/10 and the hate comments came flooding in, a full week before it was released. It was as if the game looked so good before release that it automatically had to receive a perfect score or else that review and the reviewer’s opinion were invalid. Some people even go so far as to call for the reviewer to be fired and even send violent threats just because they didn’t say what the person wanted to hear.
The same thing happened, on possibly a larger scale, with the recently released Grand Theft Auto V. Again, it received many perfect scores, and is one of the highest rated games ever. This made the few scores that weren’t perfect for the game stand out, and again, readers were angered and became violent in some cases, especially with Carolyn Petit’s 9/10 review. Although a lot of the anger and threats were a result of the content of her review, there were still many who were angry the game did not receive a 10/10 before the game was even released.
A Grain of Salt
The love of games and the excitement we buy into is enough to constantly produce bias. Whether the hype comes from an established franchise like Grand Theft Auto that will be expected to be great automatically, or because pre-release trailers make the game seem fantastic, hype can hurt a game if it becomes overwhelming. Of course developers want there to be excitement for their game, as they would like it to sell as well as possible and getting the word out is the best way to do that. However, the way that this happens can sometimes cause a false idea of the final quality of the game. It can cause a certain stubbornness in people because they want to know that their judgment on the what the quality of the game will be is right, which can sometimes end in violent threats against the reviewer if they disagree. Hype will always be a part of the gaming industry, and some developers will continue to over hype their games. We just need to take all hype with a grain of salt.