You must defeat videogame news to stand a chance.
In this issue:
- Bethesda announces BioWare’s Fallout 4 for 2018
- MadCatz’s new GameBot promises to play holiday releases for you
- ESA announces “drunken bacchanal” to replace current E3
- Activision preparing exclusive deal with the Monkees?
Can pure hype prop up a clunker in the reviews? Do overhyped games get punished by critics? Press Pass investigates.
Sometimes it seems like the game industry is drowning in pre-release hype. Before a major game hits store shelves these days, potential players can look forward to months, sometimes years, of slowly leaked information, screenshots, trailers, interviews, gameplay videos, demos, developer diaries, blogs, events, flashy print and TV ads and more. It’s all designed to breed familiarity among gamers so that, by the time they’re able to actually buy the long-hyped game, they’re already intimately comfortable with its look, its feel and, most importantly, with the idea of owning it.
But while the end-consumer is the main target of all this promotion, the critics are definitely an important secondary audience for promotionally-minded game publishers. Even the most secluded reviewer can’t help but be exposed to the deafening roar of pre-release hype for the biggest releases. But does this hype have an effect on the final critical reception of a game? And if so, is the net result good or bad?
It might be handy if you, the master of videogame news, take this with you.
- Tokyo Game Show Diary
- Physicists using LittleBigPlanet in search of “holy grail” theory
- “Citizens for Earthbound” stages second sit-in at Nintendo HQ
- The Tetris Company announces Toastris: Tetris for your Toaster
If games like Halo 3 and Super Smash Bros. Brawl were small pushes, then consider Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet a huge shove into a content creation renaissance.
Up to this point, level design in console games has more often than not felt like a half-evolved, useless appendage — if even that. While PC gamers have for decades been able to craft complex, fully-realized experiences on top of their games, console gamers have been stuck puttering around with simplistic level creation tools that seem added as an afterthought. From the ultra-simple course editor in NES’ Excitebike to the Skatepark Editor in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, console level editors have been characterized by strictly limited set pieces, restrictive construction grids and the inability to easily share creations with the world.
It’s hard to blame crappy level creators solely on console developers: Consoles have only recently enjoyed the processing power, built-in hard drives and Internet connections that have allowed PC gamers to easily create, test, store, and share their own levels. With a game like LittleBigPlanet, we seem poised to enter a new era in which millions of console gamers can finally discover the power of their creativity.
In August 2008, four separate versions of a single game took up four of the top 10 spaces in NPD’s monthly game sales report, including the three top spots. These sales were seemingly unaffected by the previous month, when a similar game in the same genre took two of the top 10 sales rankings spots, including the top spot. During the summer release doldrums, you’d think that such sales domination would merit blanket coverage in the gaming media — coverage of the sort seen for marquee releases like Halo 3 or Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
For one reason or another, though, the gaming press largely ignored top-sellers Madden NFL 09 and NCAA Football 09 this summer. For the most part, it focused instead on yet another fighting game sequel, a long-expected, arguably overhyped role-playing game and, of course, the upcoming holiday releases. The press’ cold shoulder for this year’s football releases is just the latest example of a consistent pattern of neglect that the big name publications routinely have for sports games. Despite better-than-healthy sales and a huge fan base, sports games, for some reason, can’t seem to get any respect from the gaming press.
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In this issue:
- Analysts agree: Console wars won’t matter in the long run
- Game journalists hold petition drive for Jack Thompson
- EA proposes “army of spybots” to settle DRM issues
- Nintendo, Sega sue Media Molecule for facilitating copyright infringement