Thursday, August 13, 2009


Bionic Commando was one of the failures of (now extinct) Grin. Everyone assumed it was going to be a huge hit. I’ve been told it’s not a bad game at all, but somehow it has been perceived like a flop since it was released. Not sure, but I’d say that the hype was badly managed, and it made journalists give it worst reviews than deserved.

Let me explain this point: Since they started showcasing BC (something similar also happened with Wanted: Weapons of Fate) all the Grin/Capcom spokesmen said it was going to be an amazing game, a unique experience, one of the most remarkable games ever… That created so high expectations that when the game was released, and it was not that amazing, journalists were somehow encouraged to ‘attack’ the game instead of just saying how good/bad it was.

I can understand these spokesmen, they’ll probably say ‘Hey, I did my job! I created a lot of buzz around the game! It was the studio’s fault not to reach the expectations!’. Bullshit, in my opinion. You see games, like many other leisure products, are impossible to know if they’ll eventually be great or poor. You can suspect, but you can never be sure, particularly since there are some many ‘smoke-sellers’ in this industry. That’s why I think an excessive hype around a title can later be dangerous for ratings and sales.

So, in my humble opinion, unless you’re extremely sure that you’ve got an amazing game in your hands, I think hype should be kept relatively low while you’re developing. Just enough to let the press know that you’re working on a title, and let them figure out if it’s going to be good or bad (of course provide the best materials – screenshots, videos, etc – you’ve got, so their perception is good). Once you’re approaching to the final stages of the development, then you can decide if it’s going to be great or not, and create the appropriate buzz.


Isilion said...

Once you’re approaching to the final stages of the development, then you can decide if it’s going to be great or not, and create the appropriate buzz.

Wouldn't then be too late?

It happens the same when you are told that a movie is "incredibly good". I often end up deceived and disappointed, but, hey, they already have my money.

I suppose that it is a good strategy if you just want money today, but it will not work on the long run. Anyway, if you change slightly your hype from time to time I guess it would work again and again. That is what cinema does and it works for them, isn't it?

Alvaro Vazquez de la Torre said...

I don't think it's too late. Let's take 'Lost Planet' as a example. I was at that E3 when the game was first presented to press/public. No one knew about that project before, and the game was almost complete. Eventhough it's not an amazing game it's impressive in some of their mechanics, created a lot of possitive buzz and no one felt betrayed for previous statements saying 'It's going to be the best game ever'. Good work for them.

For the comparison between movies and games I'm not an expert, but I'd say that the different price of each product (a full-prized game costs like 60 euros, while movies cost 7-8 euros) make people be more cautious when buying a game, relying in reviews and more importantly mouth to mouth. If a game is crap people will know it and sales will suffer.

Let's take Terminator Salvation as a example (It was developed by Grin by the way). The game was released at the same time than the movie. That increased their sales substantially... Totalizing more than 300k copies. That's nothing. The game was crap and sold poorly even though they had the publicity of the movie behind them.

Isilion said...

I hadn't considered the different prices. Yep, I believe you are right. I'll remember it.