Managing Expectations: The Hype Train Is Bad For You


We’ve all been there. A trailer, a poster, maybe even just mention of a game’s name or premise gets to us, makes us feel all tingly inside, the words “YES!” ripping out of our throats in response. We eagerly await the game’s release, following it at every turn, salivating over every new gameplay video, trailer, developer interview.

Finally, the day arrives. Maybe we pre-ordered it. Maybe we just plan to buy it day 1. Either way we finally get our mitts on it and all we feel is…disappointment.

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Mind you the game might not even be bad. It may even be good. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING can live up to the expectations set by the hype train once it leaves the station and gathers speed. It happens time and time again and we collectively don’t learn to temper our expectations, and it almost always leads to the same result. It’s a bad cycle for everybody involved. For us as gamers, and for the gaming industry as a whole. This cycle of immense hype and promotion followed by…just a game. Not a phenomenon, not the second coming, just a game. It kills enthusiasm in the worst ways, and makes anticipation greater than release. This cycle of hype is why publishers have gotten away with pushing more and more ludicrous special edition bundles and selling shell games for $60. It’s also why perfectly decent games released in the past year (like Yooka-Laylee) were met with such divisive hatred and love, both overreacting to the hype just as bad in different ways. One expecting too much and let down, and the other having expected so much they won’t LET themselves see the flaws because it would make all their excitement meaningless.

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I’m not saying don’t get excited, far from it. But this rollercoaster of judging a game before it even comes out and piling expectation upon expectation until nothing can possibly live up to it needs to end. It’s been a problem for a while, but it seems to be all the worse now. In large part, I believe, because publishers are more than ever actively exploiting this cycle. E3, PAX, and other expos are noticeably different now than they used to be. Sure, there was still hyping to be had, and disappointment to follow, but the unnecessary theatrics and embarrassing stunts pulled are in many ways new and troubling. There was goofy stuff before, but generally only on years with a HUGE reveal, like new console generations. Now? It’s every year, each year spending as much time and effort hyping things that would have simply been allowed to stand on their own five or ten years ago.

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Buying into it? Just feeds that behavior. If we all collectively make an effort to put a temper on our reactions (good and bad) , we’d all enjoy games more. Ignore the hype, let the game stand on its own merits, and you WILL have more fun. Being pleasantly surprised is always better than the alternative. And maybe if people stop exploding with anticipation at each announcement, publishers will temper their attempts to ride that explosion as well.

What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments below

#Managing Expectations: The Hype Train Is Bad For You

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