Who Killed the Video game?

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Let’s just say that right off the top, hype kills the video game.

Don’t get me wrong, if there is a game I am really interested in, I’ll pick up every magazine, read every on-line article, download every in game picture and video posted.  But I think in this day of blog journalism and pod-casting that video  game companies cause themselves more of a disservice by hyping their games, especially MMO’s. 

But is it the hype that the video game companies produce or is it the hype generated from the bloggers?

Let’s look at Warhammer on line.

It’s not the first RvR game or even the first PvP game to come out.  DAOC and WoW covered both those aspects respectively.  But it’s being hyped as something new and innovative in its style and scope of RvR.  Bloggers are very excited about this game, that apparently doesn’t have anything really new as far as combat is concerned. I mean, by the time its released with siege weapons, which is something new, WoW will have them in their new expansion.

Could it be the graphics? I don’t think so.  I’ve not seen anything that’s jaw dropping or new.  But yet the release pictures and video showing off their creation as if we are going to be getting something we haven’t seen before.  And I have to say, they completely blew it with the RvR video they released not to long ago. Most people in the blogosphere slammed it for not being realistic.  I mean, who’s going to line up like that for an epic city battle.  Players are tricky and devious, the last thing they are going to do is battle toe to toe.

Again, the hype machine back fired, especially since lots of bloggers are getting, not only the hard info but their opinion out there about the game, I believe its killing the prospect of a great release.  But who is at fault, the company that releases the information or the bloggers that interpreter the information?

People were very excited about the idea of Pirates of the Burning Sea, but I haven’t seen one truly positive review in the blog community yet. I don’t see a lot of people banging down the doors trying to get in the game.  The problem is that when the information or hype is flowing prior to release, people are gobbling it up and writing about it, but if the game doesn’t deliver on any of its hype, it gets slammed.  Its almost better if they limited information about the game till its ready for release.

For this reason, I just don’t get the reason for hype, especially in this age of electronic information . To me, I haven’t seen one case where hype helped a game

 Look at Vanguard.  It was hyped just about as much as New Coke was, and you see what happened to it.  I think that both the company and the bloggers hyped this one up beyond expectations, but If the hype juggernaut had not been there and people didn’t rush to make the game more than it was, would it have been a decent game, warts , bugs and all?

Now, look at Age of Conan, another game getting hyped left and right, but none of its good.  They cut down on the gore and nudity for the U.S release.  Never a good thing if you want the teenagers to buy your game. Oh and marking it “M” for mature, won’t keep a teen away from a game they really want to play.  The Conan people could d learn a few things from RockStar games.  But again, the hype isn’t helping, it’s hurting.

Was there a lot of hype when WoWand Everquest 2 started to approach their launch dates? 

I wasn’t that interested in WoW at the time, I was a true SoE fan, but other than a handful of in game pictures, I didn’t see a lot of hype from the Sony machine.  Well, none that I can remember and not being interested in WoW at the time, I only saw a few magazine articles about it. As I suspect is the case with most Blizzard releases, they don’t hype anything about the game till they are sure it will meet expectations of said hype.

But would it have made a big difference if hype was there?

One has to remember that the blogosphere wasn’t as big then as it is now.  Only a handful of people knew what pod-casting was or even had the ability to listen or produce one.    The Internet was big, but I don’t think game companies knew fully how to exploit it for their Hype machine.

Would Everquest have been as popular if there were tons of people pod-casting or blogging about its bugs and problems?  Would any game for that matter?

Remember the song, “Video killed the radio star” by The Buggles , well, today I believe in this age of blogging , podcasting, and electronic information that, “ the Internet killed the video game” is more fact than fiction.

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~ by oakstout on March 3, 2008.

6 Responses to “Who Killed the Video game?”

  1. As you mentioned early on, hype is more than just what is ‘officially’ coming from a company.
    Blog-o-sphere buzz and anticipation from preview articles and what not.
    Hype from the company or hype from the bloggers, both produce buzz.

    Blizzard might not have directly hyped WoW, but the months leading up the release there was a HUGE HUGE HUGE amount of Buzz. Everyone who was currently unhappy with an MMO they were already playing (DaoC, EQ, Ultima, Asherons Call, etc) was looking to WoW as the savior.

    Pirates of the Burning sea also had a lot of buzz as well. Gamers were intrigued by the non-fantasy non-sci-fi aspect of PotBS and hyped it a lot, creating a significant amount of buzz.

    WoW reached 10 million subscribers, PotBS not anywhere close to a tenth of that.

    Why? Quality.

    When WoW finally shipped it was a very solid, very fun game. Sure it had issues at the end game, but getting to the end was a very fun process.
    Pirates on the other hand was not very solid. Lots of bugs, game design issues, and several mechanics just not being fun (sword fighting, fleeing from combat, etc)

    One of the questions you asked was: “But would it have made a big difference if hype was there?”

    Yes.
    The amount of buzz generated by the hype for both WoW and PotBS almost certainly and significantly increased purchases and subscribers. I never would have tried PotBS if not for the buzz generated by the hype for the game.

    If Mythic can deliver a strong, solid and fun game with Warhammer they WILL have a hit on their hands.

    However Age of Conan has less buzz and less hype.
    Thus even if Age of Conan is an amazing game, it won’t be as successful as Warhammer.

    Well, that’s how I see things 🙂

  2. I think they feed off each other. Companies make statements and bloggers analyze each word, picture or video. But I think thats the way companies want it, they want bloggers to be their own private press machine. Pumping out more and more articles about the game, keeping it fresh in everyones minds.

    But these bloggers can’t be controlled, and when the company doesn’t deliver, they get slammed.

    What I want to know is Why? If you can’t control the press or in this case bloggers, why pump out information, when you already suspect that it won’t live up to the hype once its released?

    Vanguard is a prime example. It was hyped to be something it really wasn’t upon release. Sony had to come in, bail out the failing company. They are currently trying to save the game, by making it live up to the hype by patching the hell out of it.

    Then there is the reverse problem, like in the case of Tabula Rasa. The game, once the NDA was lifted, got pretty much mediocre reviews, before the official release. Only to find out later that all the bugs in beta got fixed or story lines that sucked got modified. Again, hype from the blogosphere almost sent a game to its grave.

    And then there is the person that posted while on AoC while under a NDA. Is this person trying to sabotage the game, or just show up all the other bloggers who have morals? Has blogging become that competitive?

    But who is responsible? Its clear that companies want bloggers to post information they disperse and bloggers are more than happy to provide this service. Bloggers say they aren’t press, but they report on the same things that gaming magazines report on, they just don’t get paid for it.

    Its real madness to think this goes on. What can a company get from dispersing information to a rabid yet loyal community of gamers?

    Hype, I suspect is the only answer to that question. keeping the game in the front most of gamers minds is the goal here, good or bad.

    The only thing I’m certain about is that bloggers are for the most part looking out for the best interest of the players, not on the side of the gaming companies.

  3. There was a huge amount of hype for World of Warcraft, even though a lot of their coolest stuff, like tokens you could by that could let your group compete in the arena against monsters, never were released. It was in beta so long that nearly everyone was pretty acquainted with zones like Blackrock Depths long before the game went live. There was nothing that was not known about WoW prior to release, except the raids and stuff they soon added.

    EQ2 had a nearly complete lock on actual gameplay, but they released their character creator ahead of the game, so you could make your characters in advance (and I did!). They had the opening movie play before actual movies in theaters, and they very much hyped the fact that any subclass of the four archetypes (fighter, mage, priest and scout) would be as effective in a group as any other, just in different ways (for example, brawler dodging-based tanking as compared to mitigation-based tanking for the plate tanks).

    And the voice acting and the music. They were big on that.

    So yeah, both games had plenty of pre-release hype, but WoW had more information on the actual gameplay. I don’t think EQ2 even HAD an open beta. I had played WoW for three or four months in beta, leveled up a couple of characters, but as an EQ1 player I was far more interested in what EQ2 would do, and I couldn’t get in the beta or find much real information out about it aside from the fact that they were changing it a lot in its final weeks before release, never a good sign.

    WAR hype is about at the same level as WoW and the original EQ’s was. Both of those games lived up to their hype.

  4. I guess what my real question is, if bloggers do have an impact on game hype, how does that really effect the eventual success or failure of a game?

  5. Well, I think it’s become clear that companies feel bloggers cannot help a game much pre-release, but have endless ability to harm it, such that known bloggers are being denied a chance to see a game before open beta.

    That makes me, for instance, hype-proof, because I assume they are lying (see Vanguard) until I can see it in game. So hype to me just sounds like lots and lots of potential lies.

  6. I think your the minority Tipa.

    I too, wouldn’t voice an opinion about a game until I see it, but there are some that regurgitate every scrape of information they find about a game pre-release, then voice an opinion on it, whether it’s good or bad, without having some kind of factual proof about the information.

    I understand that all they are doing, to some degree, is “reporting” or recaping the news thats out there, but without any personal fact to back this up how do they know what they recycle is true? And to that same end, this form of blogging keeps the game in the public eye, which results in hype.

    I am not trying to pass judgment, but I believe this recycling without personal proof just throws more gas on the hype fire.

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