I feel as if the excitement that used to surround the video game scene has been somewhat lacking the last few years, and whilst it could be due to the changing landscape of the entertainment industry, specifically having a larger focus on online ‘influencers’, the, dare I say it, laziness, has become apparent. Without sounding like everyone’s elderly relative, back in my day, things weren’t like this. Not one bit.
I’m referencing a time where E3 had been revived after it’s initial cancellation, and welcomed the electric atmosphere that surrounded the new console generation that bought us the (initially) overpriced PlayStation 3, the superior Xbox 360 and, eventually, the system that everyone, their Nan, and even their Nan owned, the Nintendo Wii. Console gaming’s first true foray into HD gaming was upon us, and with it came online play, downloadable titles and, more importantly, the first look into what is now considered the norm. Brace yourself for the following hyperbolic phrase, ladies and gentlemen, but the possibilities were considered endless. The likes of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Crackdown, and… Err… Wii Sports were some of the flagship titles for their respective consoles, and when compared to the games that we consider to be the swansong titles for the systems, the jump is dramatic. That excitement has turned to a flavour of cynicism, canned up in distrust. When titles are marketed as the Coca Cola of gaming, when in reality you’re getting good old Virgin Coke. Nothing wrong with it per se, but when you’re expecting the best, you’re left with a flat end result that doesn’t live up to what you wanted.
I’m not going to solely point the finger at Ubisoft for this, then, but they do appear to be the company that have mastered this undesirable art. The likes of Watchdogs, Assassins Creed Unity, even, albeit partially, The Division, fell victim to their own marketing, much in the same way that Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky spectacularly has. Bullshots, the art of sending PR material to prospective reporters that don’t represent the actual quality of the title, were prominent throughout the start of the last console generation, and are still so to a much lesser degree nowadays. Whilst this is indeed good, the discussion and hype that it generated has obviously lessened, meaning that the buzz for potential sequels, such as Watchdogs 2, will never hit the dizzying heights the former had.
There are still companies, though, that still produce excitement effectively, with Blizzard coming to the forefront of my mind. If I can direct you to ‘A Moment in Crime‘, you will be greeted with a virtual loading bar that has been created to announce when Sombra, Overwatch’s presumably next character, will be released, or at least officially announced. This comes after months of investigations, looking at lines of hidden code, transferring them to QR codes, even further binary-based investigations, and a whole host of other minor details that I would have never even dreamt to have existed, let alone be employed to simply tease. Back throughout my days at Secondary School, Nintendo would update a Smash Bros Brawl website with a new item, character or stage each and every week. No press releases to go live at a certain time, no YouTube personas to give people an exclusive hands on. Just the trickling of news; Enough to keep us wanting more, and never enough for us to gorge and become fat on knowledge. The art hasn’t disappeared, then, but it appears to have taken a backseat to predictability and guaranteed results. And in doing so, has possibly diminished said results, when they could have been doing something truly spectacular instead. That, out of all things, would get me excited for a product. Who needs PewDiePie, aye?
What do you think of the gaming scene at the moment? Let us know!