Gaming Hype Cycles
Due to the process of creating video games typically being longer than other types of media, hype is usually generated in order to preserve interest in the property. While hype can be healthy in smaller doses, it can very easily spiral in both directions. If there is no hype towards a game, a potentially amazing game is experienced by very few people. If a game receives too much hype, the expectations will be raised to obscene levels that the developers have little chance of reaching.
Though the concept of hype isn’t unique to the medium of interactive entertainment, the waiting periods in between entries tends to be longer than movies or TV shows. This can be supplemented by delays that can span from a few weeks to several years. This urges companies to continually attempt to renew interest in the property with new teasers, trailers and reveals about the status of their project.
One of the most famous examples of this is Duke Nukem Forever. The game was first announced in 1997 with the intention of being released the following year. However, the developers continuously shifting the game engines they were working in resulting in the game being delayed for years, finally resulting in the game being released fourteen years later in 2011. During this tumultuous development cycle, numerous E3 demos and trailers released that had heavily conflicted gameplay ideas that caused confusion for the gaming populous. When the game eventually released, the game failed to live up to the immense hype it created and failed commercially.
This year contains two of the most curious examples of managing hype. With an initial premiere trailer upholding it as one of the most exciting Xbox One exclusives, Crackdown 3 seemed to have the potential to make the Xbox One come back from its sales slump in 2016. The hype wasn’t tremendous but it was enough to satisfy players of the previous games. The game’s release date was moved from October 2016 to November 2017, then to August 2018 and ended in a final release date of February 15, 2019. During this extensive period, Xbox had cancelled development of numerous exclusives and had been failing to make a big impact on the gaming landscape. Now that the game is finally releasing, the dwindling hype has fully evaporated since the developers had no new developments to discuss with their potential customers.
The other notable example is Kingdom Hearts 3. The hype surrounding this game was still enormous despite the last sequential numbered game in the series, Kingdom Hearts 2, releasing in 2005. Instead of releasing the game immediately, developer Square Enix released an abundance of side games on other consoles that expanded the overall story of the series. This has initially satisfied fans but became tedious as the story become overly convoluted, leading to people simply wanting Kingdom Hearts 3 to be released in order to tighten up loose ends created by other entries in the series. This culminated in the game ultimately releasing on January 29, 2019 to the applause of millions of fans who loved it and were ecstatic with what they had received.
As with most things in life, hype should be dealt out in moderation. Amidst months of waiting, gamers will gravitate toward the dozens of other games releasing each year. A reasonable amount of hype allows for games to still linger in the minds of people. Too much of it can make the game a disappointment for people who waited so long and the other side too little of it leaves the game with very little impact. As video games and their development cycles fluctuate over time, companies will hopefully learn how to properly manage how to build hype for their games.