OPINION: Recently, Insomniac Games got into a bit of hot water over a supposed downgrade, after a screenshot was released from the finished version, showing off a familiar area. Only, it was missing some impressive puddles and water. This was enough to set the internet on fire, with people shouting Insomniac down, with some nicknaming it Puddle-gate. I mean… really? How is this sort of thing a surprise anymore?
We know that developers will make their games look their best in as much marketing as possible. We all know that pre-rendered trailers tell us nothing the majority of the time, because hey, it is pre-rendered, and we should be treating graphics in gameplay trailers the same way: with a heavy dose of skepticism. It should be obvious that developers will often add in graphical bells and whistles for E3 trailers and marketing for that wow-factor, to appear as the next game to knock it out of the ball-park… So why is it still happening? Has no-one learnt how to consume
video game marketing marketing in general? Does no-one recall Killzone 2? Aliens: Colonial Marines? NO MAN’S SKY EVEN?
It’s because most people, not just gamers, still haven’t learnt to take what they see with a pinch of salt. For example, Look at No Man’s Sky. Now, not to say I wasn’t victim to this particular instance of hype, but upon reflection, it should’ve been obvious it wasn’t gonna work. Hello Games was- and is still -a fairly small studio, and yet they were promising things like multiplayer, base building and vehicles. It’s not like we even saw these shown of in videos either, they were only promises, that’s it. I mean, even if you do have a paycheck from Sony themselves, it’s still takes time and staff to make it. I mean, how the hell did we expect a small studio of 16 people to develop a game with features that might take a significantly larger company years to make? Fully realized and fleshed out games aren’t easy to make people. Which is why that after three years in development, and a further two years of updates, that we finally have the game we were all expecting through the “Next” update that launched earlier this year.
Then you have games like Killzone 2 and Aliens: Colonial Marines who make their game, graphically, seem spectacular in trailers. Killzone 2 is notorious for showing off a “gameplay” trailer of Killzone 2, to which the actual game, failed to live up to, with some more washed out visuals, and less effects than what the trailer promised. Last year, in a documentary about Horizon Zero Dawn’s Development: “The Making of Horizon Zero Dawn” from Noclip Studio- Guerrilla, the developers of both Horizon Zero Dawn and Killzone, had one of it’s executive producers, Angie Smets, talk about the infamous trailer. Former Sony executive, Ken Kutaragi claimed the trailer was running in real-time on a PlayStation 3, Smets explained the studio’s reaction: “We were watching this back home, going, No! What did he just say? It’s not true! Then we figured, nobody will believe that, because it’s obvious that it’s all pre-rendered. Then we went online, and we found that lots of people believed it.”
Similarly, Gearbox Software showed off a “gameplay” trailer for Aliens: Colonial Marines. Oh Boy, this was grisly mess when it unfolded. The trailer showed off a dark, cinematically lit game-world with lots of blood decals– Something the game dramatically failed to deliver in addition to woeful AI models (that were caused with a single typo FYI). In fact, when the game came out, the was a huge class-action lawsuit against Gearbox and Sega, which ended in a payment of $1.25 Million USD to plaintiffs.
So, why haven’t we learned to take a pinch of salt before boarding that ever-enticing hype train? Simple, most consumers take things at face value. They believe that publishers will show them the game how it will be finished, and don’t think twice about what they see. And to be fair to Insomniac: This is hardly the most scandalous misrepresentation of a game we’ve seen? I mean, A puddle? Against the above three examples? It really doesn’t amount to much.
So please, think and analyse what you see, before buying a ticket onto the hype-train. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Image Source: Image from Insomniac’s Official Spiderman Page.