Can you have too much hype?

Last week at Kotaku, Stephen Totilo wondered if too much hype for good games can kill the buzz? His reasoning is that as a reporter, he is most excited by the games he knows the least about. If he’s overloaded by demos and game information well in advance, it’s not exciting to write about any more.

Thinking about this with respect to Warhammer Online, a game that’s already been delayed twice, I’m awed and impressed (in a fangirl way) by those people who have been able to keep the buzz going for so long. As human beings, delayed gratification isn’t one of our strengths. We get excited about something, then we want the thing to actually happen.

PR people are very adept at managing the buzz. For example, big blockbuster films are advertised a long time in advance, just to remind people to keep that calendar spot in mind as something to look forwards to. But they don’t start the media blitz until about a month out. Before that, it’s mostly teasers. I figure that’s because it’s just too hard to keep that level of buzz going, and also people are pragmatic creatures and will prioritise. Why get excited about next Christmas’ films when there’s another blockbuster out next week?

But, a game isn’t a film. And a MMORPG in particular is a big big game. A triple A release is such a big event for MMORPG players that, like a blockbuster, you can keep the momentum and excitement going for a long time. There’s a lot of information that can be given out to keep the fans chatting and the buzz rolling. We see this in the monthly newsletter for Warhammer. More information each month on classes, scenarios, crafting, podcasts, developer blogs, and so on.

Fans are also easier to please with hype than reporters. They already know that they’re interested in this specific game and this specific genre. The game doesn’t have to compete for their mindshare with lots of other games. They’re interested in every little snippets of information and screenshot that comes from the horse’s mouth.

But can it get too much? If we get overloaded with detailed information about talent trees and scenario tactics and the minutae of crafting, do we just switch off? I know I get to a point where I’d like to just play the game already instead of trying to figure out how it will play. So for me, I’m glad Mythic aren’t being too detailed in their interviews and press releases. Of course, another reason they don’t do that is that the minor details can and probably will change before release. But still, we have been getting a lot of information recently, and it’s a lot to digest when you have to do it all hypothetically.

Do you feel overloaded with information, or does it just make you more excited about the game? Do you prefer to discover more about the game by just playing it?


8 Responses

  1. While some game companies like EA Mythic will try building and sustaining hype long before their product hits the market, other companies like Blizzard take the more traditional “movie industry” approach you described above.

    And actually, though I’ve never been a part of them, I think certain films garner huge underground followings (like of like us WAR fans) who crash filming locations and speculate endlessly about movies that have only entered pre-production. Cloverfield is a pretty good example of this.

  2. And to actually answer what you asked… 😛

    I usually don’t buy into all the hype and even though I’ve been blogging about WAR for a long time (by WAR-blogging standards), I technically only began a couple month before it was supposed to be released in Q4 07. I’ve just been trying build and sustain momentum since then due to the multiple delays and as a hobby.

    One good way to get recognized in the community is to be one of the early adopters, so I think this has kind of worked in my favour.

  3. I actually studiously avoided the hype until about week ago. Too much hype just makes me think the product in question is all sizzle and no steak. “Why are they trying *so hard*?” I ask. Thing is, I know I get burned out very easily if there isn’t fuel being thrown on the interest fire. It’s a very fine balancing act for me.

  4. I like Warhummer because you get to drive around in big tank and smash stuff. Or did I get that wrong?

  5. My great hype for AoC might have single-handedly been the reason why I now hate it. That, or because it was a game that released in what should have been early beta stages.

  6. I posted LAST night on our guild forums that I have hit some sort of wall that I have maxed out my excitement level for WAR. I have never been so excited about something that won’t be even released for months to come.

  7. @cb Haha, now that’s a game I want to play!

  8. Oddly enough, I pretty much ignore a lot of the hype as well, even if I’m contributing to it. I’m like that whenever I’m excited about something happening in the future — I shove it down internally and stop anticipating it so hard. Like Christmas!

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