Summer Game Events Prove There’s No News
Partly because of leakers, partly because of Covid – the Summer game events over the past few weeks have proven that the era of megaton gaming news is basically gone.
That might sound extreme, but it’s true. Outside of billion-dollar acquisitions, when was the last time we were truly surprised by something? And acquisitions aren’t something we want often enough to make up for the quiet.
Everybody wants to announce their new game like it’s a megaton. The Last of Us: Remake, for example. A game we’ve played before. It needs a remake, don’t get me wrong. But we knew about it, and even if we didn’t, is a remake of a ten year old game one of the biggest announcements of the year?
It turns out that yes, it is. And that’s a little bit sad.
A Changing Time
I don’t necessarily blame developers and publishers for this. Game development is hard, and it’s getting harder. It’s expensive too. The standards we have are sky-high. You can announce stuff too early or you can risk it getting out, announcing it on your own time.
So there’s less to announce and we need more to impress us. That isn’t a great mix.
On top of that, we have a constant stream of leaks and hints, some of them far more interesting than publishers would ever be able to do. Hype control is not a problem in the Gaming Leaks business.
Personally, I’m not too fussed about leakers. Publishers should see it as a catalyst for change, and begin to try to work out how gaming marketing should work in the social media age. Unfortunately, their only takeaway so far has been “we can control our own message”. That’s bad news for E3. For the rest of us, it just means following a dozen different channels on Twitter.
The end result is this: the biggest gaming week in the year has become trailers for games we know exist, that have already been officially announced, or which won’t live up to the hype we/leakers/marketing departments have given them. Starfield was the latest victim of this. A perfectly good game that will be well worth playing, and it’s been torn apart.
The End of Summer
Gaming marketing seems to live off a very simple concept. Hype = Sales. And there are honestly times when that is true.
Sony have gone all in on this. The same piece that leaked The Last of Us Part I spoke about Sony’s ‘obsession’ with blockbusters.
If you make a big enough game with big enough characters and plenty of “cool” then you will have a hit. Marvel are trying a similar thing in cinema.
But you can’t push out trailers for games as quickly as you can for films. You can’t have four PlayStation Universe stories a year. But that’s the same model PlayStation and most other publishers are chasing. Where every drop they offer us should be analyzed and longed over until the next drop, usually months or even years later.
That doesn’t work, and this year has proven it. The summer game events was a good time. It wasn’t a great time.