Hype, is somewhat of a double-edged sword, on the one hand it's an incredibly important marketing tool that allows company's to make potential customers aware, that a certain product they may be interested in will be becoming available in a disclosed or undisclosed amount of time, and more importantly it gets those potential customers
excited about that product.
We see hype in many forms, from countdowns on websites for potential new games, or elaborate marketing stunts like Kojima and his gradual unveiling of "Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeros" and "Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain" respectively, to short trailers of Master Chief wandering alone in a desolate wasteland.
But on the other hand, hype often allows for misrepresentation of a product. How many times have you seen an ad for a game on TV or while trying to watch a Youtube vid, and some small text appears on screen that reads "The following is not actual gameplay footage"? It's funny isn't it? I mean why show an advertisement for a game that doesn't show us the actual product we'd be purchasing?, well that's basically because the ad they did show us was most likely some fancy CGI trailer specifically created to get us all excited for that game, OK that's fair enough right?, they did put the small print there after all (Due to legal reasons mind you) and we do have the Internet at our fingertips now so most of us will just search for any available gameplay online anyway if the game looked interesting enough.
This is what I would call acceptable hype, we know what we saw is not what we'll be getting so if we end up disappointed with our purchase we can't really blame the publishers for false advertising, after all they took the necessary steps to make us aware that the footage shown was not in fact representative of the actual game. So what would be unacceptable hype? Well you can probably already guess but for the sake of this blog I'll explain. Unacceptable hype is when a game is advertised and the footage shown is used to "deliberately" mislead consumers into believing that the game they purchase will look, sound and play the same way.
Hype as a marketing tool will only get you so far, even when you manage to sucker in consumers they will more likely than not call foul when they realise they have been duped. Need an example of this? how about Gearbox's now infamous blunder with their public trailer for Aliens: Colonial Marines? You'd be hard pressed to find a more textbook example of how not to go about hyping up your game, if you don't want a mob of angry fans knocking at your door or a lawsuit filed against you for false advertisement that is.
I still to this day hear some gamers defending A:CM but In all honestly I have no idea why, sure the game might be genuinely enjoyable in some places but is it really worth defending? or better yet is it the game we were promised? do you remember sitting through all those developer diaries and listening to Gearbox employees tell us all about what big fans they are of the Aliens franchise? well I sure do and I can tell you I was very disappointed with how the final product turned out. Maybe I let the hype get to me with that one, maybe I would have been more cautious with my purchase, but let me ask you this, what good is an ad or trailer for a game if it fails to make you anymore aware of what the game is about or plays like before you even watched the footage? Still I would rather that than no genuine gameplay footage and getting flat out mislead.
Now I don't really want to keep bashing Gearbox, it's just most of us know the story already and it's just that much easier to use them as an example. Obviously Gearbox are some pretty talented devs, they've done great work with Borderland and Borderlands 2, but that in no way excuses them from the travesty that was A:CM and its ad campaign, Gearbox certainly weren't the first to go about misrepresenting their product but what made the whole situation worse was how they kept defending their actions, the cost of making such a mistake can usually be lessened by admitting you were wrong, apologising to everyone you wronged, and then explaining to them how you intend to make up for falsely misleading them, but needless to say that's not Gearbox's style.
I think I might have wondered slightly off topic there for a bit, but anyway.
The best form of hype I would say that a company can generate, is when they can allow potential consumers to be as sure as reasonably possible that you know exactly what they'll be getting, case in point, take a look at Ubisoft's Watch Dogs trailer, well over 10 minuets of un-edited gameplay footage of a very intriguing and genuinly fun looking game, that can't help but generate hype and interest in most gamers that witness it, the same can be said of Konami's MGS V, the trailer offered some genuinely interesting gameplay footage along with the franchises trademark cutscenes to help explain events show, and also we have Sucker Punch's Infamous: Second Son amongst a few others that actually managed to captain the hype train right.
Will all of those games I just mentioned from E3 live up to all the hype? well who's to say really, but given the fact the trailers shown for them offered a good glimpse of what playing them would feel like, I think it's safe to say that we shouldn't be too worried, but if all else fails always do try to make sure to look up a trusted reviewers opinion first before finalising a purchase, and that goes for pretty much any game.
And so now to summarise some of the points I just made.
Hype isn't a bad thing but it does exists to part you with your cash, and now with the advent of pre-orders that parting has never been easier, just remember that a fancy looking CG trailer isn't worth getting duped over, and that even when footage is shown we never truly know how representative it may be to the final product.
Thanks for reading my blog and I hope I made some good points, if you have anything you'd like to add or disagree with anything I've said please feel free to leave a comment.