A reader looks at the way publishers reveal new video games and who does it the best, from Bethesda to Nintendo…
Before I start this semi-rant I’d like to state that I am aware that nothing to do with video games is in anyway important. They are, by design, a trivial form of entertainment and it really worries me when it seems like they’re the most important concern in people’s lives. Although I think that’s really just the Internet magnifying everything and you can see the exact same attitudes in movie, comic book, and music discussion. And heck, probably gardening and crochet for all I know.
That said, there are two things that really annoy me about video games and two of them cropped up in GC’s recent interview with Bethesda’s spokesman Pete Hines. I found this interesting on a number of levels, not least because these issues are very rarely discussed by publishers. The problems are release dates and previews.
We all know how crazy release dates are, with multiple major games often releasing on the same day or week, and the majority of all big name games all coming out within a three month period at the end of the year. Not only is this madness in terms of money spent and time needed but it also guarantees that smaller, less mainstream games get frozen out – something that has happened multiple times with Bethesda games such as Dishonored 2 and Wolfenstein II.
Sadly, Pete Hines refused to really acknowledge this as a problem, although he did grudgingly admit that Wolfenstein II had not sold as well as it could have. His only defence of the practice was, bizarrely, that things have always been like this, which seems a shockingly lame excuse to carry on regardless. So if the company most affected by the practice doesn’t show a hint of change I don’t think anyone else will.
The other issue is previews and when to reveal a game. Again, Bethesda are the perfect people to comment on this as they inspired the recent fad of announcing a game only six months or so before release. They never really explained why, but the assumption is a mix of not wanting people to get sick of a game before release and… wanting to hide something that didn’t look all that great. (Fallout 4 was the first game treated this way and while the game was fine in the end the graphics were very disappointing, which is I think what they were trying to hide.)
But at E3 Bethesda completely changed tactics and announced Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI while implying that they wouldn’t be out for years, and probably not until the next gen. Again, they didn’t really explain themselves (and this isn’t a diss of Pete Hines, talking around the subject while not really giving an answer is a lot better than most publishers do) beyond the idea that they were sick of people asking about the games.
I’ve heard some say that they don’t want any spoilers and that it’s ‘obvious’ that a new Elder Scrolls was coming but I think that little bit of showmanship at E3 was well worth it. Nothing was given away by the reveal, the implication is we won’t hear about it again for a year or so at least (so no constant drip feed of information), but we now know exactly what Bethesda Game Studios is working on.
I guess the argument against doing this is that people like a surprise but I don’t feel Fallout 4 really came as a surprise, it just felt slightly shady and I ended up worrying more about its quality than I otherwise would have.
You could see Microsoft struggling with these issues at E3, where they kind of half-announced a few games but didn’t want to admit that none of them were coming out on Xbox One. If all things were equal though I would’ve preferred they had announced Fable IV and whatever else they’re working on, as when they don’t it makes you worry they aren’t actually working on anything – which for Microsoft has certainly been true for the last several years.
Surprisingly it’s Nintendo who seems to have got the balance right the best lately, as they’ve announced long term projects (Metroid Prime 4 and Bayonetta 3) just the once, like Bethesda, and not brought them up again. Then this week they’ve also announced medium term projects (Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Animal Crossing) that are out next year with a little more of a hint of what they’ll look like. And they have smaller projects, like the New Super Mario Bros. U port, that they’ve announced just a few months before release.
To me this is the perfect way of doing things and one I hope other companies follow. And yes, you read that right: I am praising Nintendo for their marketing and saying other companies should follow them. Truly we live in strange times…
By reader Sanza
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Source : https://metro.co.uk/2018/09/16/how-to-announce-new-video-games-readers-feature-7948233/