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The Runaway Hype Train

The hype train is out of control. It has permeated every facet of entertainment, and none more than gaming.
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information

Several years ago there was a game for the original Xbox called Brute Force. It was a four-player co-op game that was lauded to be one of the best games of all time. After several delays and many enthusiastic previews, it released.

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It was bad.

I was upset.

This was my first experience with what I not-so-affectionately call “hype burn.”

**Haven’t heard it but im sure they NAILED the sound of disappointment.**

Since then things have gotten progressively worse. Game advertisements envelop the Internet, television, movies and cell phone tie-ins now, forcing every gamer to stare at the game until it releases. Obviously sometimes this is beneficial to the games, but most of the time it just makes things worse.

Let’s bring it back to Fable; when it was in development, Peter Molyneux said it was going to change gaming. He said it would be an endless experience where no road was unreachable and nothing impossible. Long story short I beat the game in less than one day and was disappointed to say the least. Fast forward to Fable II and Fable III where the same thing happened. The games were okay, and probably would have been considered great if the hype had not been endless. 

**Anyone remember Too Human? All I remember is the relentless hype.**

Hype Type Problems

The formula of hype is simple: Hammer this game in to people’s heads as quickly and intensely as possible. Companies use buzzwords like “revolutionary” and “game-changing” to entice us, and if we’re honest with ourselves we will probably admit that it works a lot of the time. Take BioShock: Infinite for example: The game itself is phenomenal but coming up to the release I thought it was going to be the next Half-Life. Yes, the storytelling in Infinite was some of the best in the industry, but it was by no means reinventing the wheel, as much as I wanted it to. And as much as I loved that game I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth after I beat it as I felt like only 60 percent of the hype had been delivered to me.

Then try looking at The Last of Us, which was also hyped, but to a lesser extent: It left me shocked in the best possible way. It was like I was expecting someone to hand me a $10 bill and instead they gave me a briefcase of $20’s and a private jet. I seriously wonder what the industry’s reaction to The Last of Us would have been had the hype train gone into overdrive with it; would we still be looking at countless 10 out of 10’s, or would we have more 8’s and 9’s?

To Fix The Hype Train

This problem is primarily due to the extremely high cost of games. Publishers need to hype the living daylights out of any title with potential in the attempt to make back their money, make a profit and create a consumer base to hopefully build in sales for the inevitable sequel. 

To remedy this problem, the men upstairs need to relax and trust that we’re smart enough to buy good games without them holding our hands. Look at Portal. All it started out as was a little side experiment to the Half-Life universe in The Orange Box and it arguably became the happiest surprise of this gaming generation. After the release of the first game the series didn’t need any hype; Portal 2 was guaranteed to sell like crazy because it surprised people in a good way. Not to say that Portal was perfect, because it wasn’t, but the was original, funny, well written and challenging. But most of all it was unexpected.

What was the worst hype-burn that you’ve ever experienced, and how do you think we can reel in the hype train on the cusp of a new generation? Sound off in the comments down below and maybe I won’t force you to play Brute Force and seriously and retroactively ruin your childhood!

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Max Jay
I am an aspiring video game journalist and a professional awesome person. My words make knowledge parents in your brain that give birth to baby-smiles on your face. You can listen to my podcast by going on iTunes and searching Video Game Podcast Show!