Thursday, August 13, 2009
HOW MUCH HYPE DO I NEED, DOCTOR?
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.