Don't (Always) Believe the Hype

Love it or hate it, there's no doubt that release hype impacts game companies and players alike.

Do you spend almost as much time reading gaming news and announcements as you do actually playing games? If so, don't feel badly. You aren't alone. Video game companies deliberately leak information about “top secret” projects and release tantalizing screen shots of games to keep you interested and to fill those pre-order quotas. But how much of what you read can you believe? Here are just a few examples to remind you that sometimes even game companies get it wrong, and that knowing too much can actually hurt you.

Fans of the Duke Nukem franchise can testify here. 3D Realms originally created this iconic character to great reception by gamers. The sequels were released, much to the dismay of many parents, within a timely manor until – Duke Nukem Forever. Fans waited a full thirteen years for a game that was announced and repeatedly promised. In the end, it took Gearbox to finish and finally give us Duke Nukem Forever. The shame was that after waiting forever, we were only given a mediocre game. Lovers of the franchise were at least vindicated that it was finally available, but had it been released even five years earlier, it would have been outstanding.

Shenmue was an adventure game that those of us old enough to remember the Dreamcast fell in love with. It was a Japanese game that was dubbed for American release, and it gained a following. Unfortunately, the Dreamcast fell away before the sequel, Shenmue II could be released. Those of us who scour the internet for such tidbits knew that a Japanese version of the sequel had been made, but because of exclusivity rights, it would not be brought to the States until 2002 by Microsoft for the original Xbox. While yes, we did finally get it, the wait was agonizingly long. We may have been happier not knowing about its existence until it actually hit the shelves.

Finally, we come to the general feeling that we all get when our favorite games announce a new installment. The thing is,  that although we may truly love whichever game it is, there is always one element that we would improve. For example, Resident Evil games all respond to the controls as though they are on tranquilizers. Or no matter how hard you try to get Lara Croft to jump on the ledge, she will inevitably fall onto the cliff below. With each new installment of a game, the line “improved controls and features'' or some variation will be listed in the sales pitch. We get excited, buy the game, stock up on snacks, pop it in and... you know the rest. Leon still gets his head chewed by a zombie because it took him a second too long to move, though you were on the stick in a flash. Typical.

Gaming news is wonderful! It gives us something to look forward to, and alerts us to game innovations to be on the lookout for. The fact is, however, that we must view these announcements with the same scrutiny that we apply to everything else in life. Waiting decades for games that disappoint instead of trying a new indie game may actually keep you from finding your new obsession. Remember, even those games you read so much about started out as unknown.

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Published Nov. 6th 2012

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