Hype and anticipation have been prevalent in the gaming industry for as long as I can remember. As soon as a new game is revealed, whether it be a sequel to a beloved franchise or a completely new IP, fans are quick to drive expectations through the roof.
However, developers often reveal games too early. When a game like The Elder Scrolls 6 was announced in 2018, and the studio has nothing to show for it five years later, I can’t help but ask, was it really worth it?
Why it matters: The gaming industry can benefit from minimizing the time between a game’s official announcement and release date.
A Lot Can Change In A Few Years
When a game like Cyberpunk 2077 was revealed in 2013, CD Projekt RED was still working on The Witcher 3. Before this game, the studio had not released anything that rivaled this success. The Witcher 3 eventually sold millions of copies, reaching a milestone of 50 million sales.
Following this release, a new audience was suddenly interested in Cyberpunk 2077, and expectations gradually rose. While Cyberpunk 2077 was revealed before consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One were released, the game’s marketing campaign kicked off in 2018.
These consoles ultimately became one of the reasons for the failed Cyberpunk 2077 launch, but the studio had already promised a current-gen launch in 2019. I feel CD Projekt RED could have skipped these consoles entirely had the developer waited a few more years to reveal this game.
Clearly, the game wasn’t ready in 2018 or 2019 because it was delayed multiple times. However, since the audience had already been sold on the idea of a PS4 and Xbox One launch, CD Projekt RED could not change course at the last moment.
In my opinion, The Elder Scrolls 6 also illustrates why such early reveals can be detrimental. When Bethesda revealed the game five years ago, all of ZeniMax’s titles were being released on PlayStation.
With The Elder Scrolls 5 selling over 60 million copies, the game’s fanbase was spread across all platforms. This likely meant that many bought a PS5 hoping to play the RPG at some point.
Only a few days after Sony opened up pre-orders for the PS5, Microsoft announced its acquisition of ZeniMax Media. Following this acquisition, the game is no longer expected to arrive on PlayStation platforms, with Microsoft hinting at the exclusivity of all ZeniMax games.
Hype And Expectations
I believe another downside to revealing a game too early is the fact that publishers are willing to mislead consumers. This can come in the form of CGI trailers, overly ambitious promises, or massive downgrades upon release.
When a veteran developer like Peter Molyneux can admit that he overpromised and often sold his games on a concept, it isn’t hard to imagine that other studios have done the same.
Back in 2017, EA showcased Anthem. Its breathtaking environments, awe-inspiring mech suits, and dynamic flight immediately impressed millions of viewers, myself included. However, as we would later learn, the game was created in just 15 months, being far from ready in 2017.
The concept of development hell can also be used as justification for shorter marketing cycles. Beyond Good & Evil 2 was first revealed in 2008. Since then, many people excited about this trailer have likely graduated from college or reached other significant milestones.
However, 15 years later, this game is nowhere to be seen. The same can be said for Ubisoft’s Skull And Bones, which was announced as early as 2017.
Shorter Marketing Cycles Are The Future
Fortunately, developers are beginning to move toward shorter windows between a new reveal and launch day. For example, recent AAA titles like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor were released less than a year after being revealed.
The concept of shadow drops has also been introduced, with Microsoft finding incredible success with a game like Hi-Fi Rush.
I believe such practices will become more common moving forward. Games take longer than ever to produce in the modern industry, and many studios have realized that an early reveal is usually futile.
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Avinash is currently pursuing a Business degree in Australia. For more than three years, he has been working as a gaming journalist, utilizing his writing skills and love for gaming to report on the latest updates in the industry. Avinash loves to play action games like Devil May Cry and has also been mentioned on highly regarded websites, such as IGN, GamesRadar, GameRant, Dualshockers, CBR, and Gamespot.