Press Pass: How Hype Helps (and Hurts) High-Profile Hits

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?

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