The Different Flavors of Video Game Hype (and the Different Aftertastes of Disappointment)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the times I’ve succumbed to Video Game hype and found myself burned for it. There are two big examples that I think affected me the most; Fallout 4 and Bioshock Infinite.
But the more I think about them, the more I realize that they were two very different circumstances, and as a result, two very different flavors of disappointment.
In the case of Bioshock Infinite, Ken Levine just flat out lied. Seriously go back and watch the gameplay demos for that game and you’ll see just how different the ending product was from what was promised. Maps are much smaller, Elizabeth’s abilities completely change, gameplay elements like timed choices and stopping enemies from calling for help were cut, and enemies like the Siren and Boy of Silence were limited to single encounters. This partially has to do with Bioshock Infinite’s long development process that was hit with multiple delays and staff changes.
Meanwhile, Fallout 4’s hype was generated completely by its pedigree. Say what you want about “sweet little lies” Todd Howard, he actually didn’t promise a single thing that didn’t end up in Fallout 4. He merely used the momentum of the Fandom’s thirst to pump up the crowd and get them buying 90 dollar plastic toys they could put on their wrist. Notice how Todd opens the e3 conference with “look at all the concept art we made for the game.” He’s not saying it will be in the game, that’s not what concept art is for. He’s merely saying it COULD be in the game. Got to admit the guy is an excellent marketer. Add to this the extremely short announcement-to-release time period that left little time for development to shift or change. The game was practically finished when Bethesda had its E3 conference.
So what is my point in all this? Well I think it’s why people felt so much more hurt at Fallout 4’s mediocrity. It’s one thing to get excited for a game then be lied to. It’s not your fault you fell for it. You were excited for what you were promised (this has also recently come up with the mediocrity of No Man’s Sky. The reddit post detailing all the gameplay elements that were cut from the game is some blood boiling material). It’s another thing to get excited for something then realize the joke was entirely on you. You got excited for something that never was that impressive to begin with.