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The Elden Ring Hype Is Real

Occasionally a game will come out that helps define a generation. Ocarina of Time. Metal Gear Solid 2. The Last of Us. Red Dead Redemption 2. And now, perhaps, we can add Elden Ring to that list.

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I say perhaps because I haven’t played it yet. I wasn’t planning to play it for some time. Trailers and discussions have been ignored… But today the Metacritic score got to me and I loaded up my Amazon account and purchased the launch edition.

Going by that score alone, this is one of the top 15 games ever made. If there was some way to break an overall score of 97 down even further, it could potentially be one of the top six games ever made. Take out platform duplicates and it could be even higher.

Whether that score is deserved or not, this is going to be an important game. It’s interesting that hype breeds hype. People were excited for this game before a single second of it had been shown. I still haven’t thought about this game any more than the short reveal trailer during the Game Awards.

And yet I’m a cool £45 lighter than I was this morning.

The Elden Ring hype is real. Actually, physically real. And suddenly viral marketing makes way more sense.

Advertising and Elden Ring

Elden Ring has got my attention by making a really, really good game. The masters of a specific genre – a genre I’m not even overly fond of – have pushed further than they’ve ever pushed before and come up with something that re-defines everything.

But not every game can do that. Not every game is generation-defining. Very few even push their genre. Most just follow whatever trends are popular at the time, and that’s how we end up with tower defence levels in your third-person action-adventure stealth title.

That hype still needs to exist though. So how do marketeers emulate the idea of their game being hyped and therefore a must-purchase?

The days of publishing a press release and watching it get shared as gone. There needs to be the illusion that other people want to play your game. This can be done more easily than ever thanks to streaming platforms. Crack into the influencers circle and you will sell copies of your game.

And that’s just for the games that don’t already have a built-in audience. For the likes of Rockstar – who recently sold 10m copies of a broken collection of twenty-year-old games – the fans will do the work for them. To tease Red Dead Redemption 2, all they had to do was change the colour of their Twitter profile to red and black. It was picked up by news outlets, trended on Twitter and Facebook, and caused wild speculation.

Now, keep in mind, everybody knew it was a Red Dead Redemption tease. There wasn’t anything to speculate on. But by the time the game itself was revealed, it could have been anything. The hype had already risen to breaking point.

Conclusion

Less successful examples include Destiny and No Man’s Sky. Two games where the hype rose so high, the developers could never really live up to it. And that’s before mentioning something like Fable. Imagine planting a tree…

Gamers are particularly susceptible to hype. Like fans of action movies or genres of music, we want to love our hobby. We want to be needlessly excited. That can be great for a games marketing strategy, and it can be lethal if more is promised than delivered. We’re a famously shit bunch when we’re disappointed too.

But this is a thing to remember: you are being manipulated. Billion-dollar companies are paying millions to make you feel like part of a tiny grassroots community that understand something others don’t. They are building hype because hype – over quality – sells games.

I hope Elden Ring lives up to the hype, if only because I’ve bought it now and I’ll be really annoyed if it’s not a 97 out of 100 game. I hope the critics could separate their own hype from the reality of the title itself. But most of all I hope this trend of good games capturing people’s attention catches on. Because that’s a video gaming trend I’d really like to see.

 

Article By

blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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