It sure seems like a lot of game announcements are leaking ahead of schedule, doesn’t it? Like, way more than usual, especially in the last couple of years. Is it a problem? Sure, if you work for a game publisher or PR firm. Otherwise? Not really. The problem is how much game marketing relies on secrecy. Why does everything have to be so locked down until some arbitrary date, even when a game is still months or years away from launch? Why is it that almost every other entertainment medium has no problem letting people know a Thing is being worked on? It boggles my mind, and clearly it’s becoming unsustainable.
Seriously, it’s getting so bad, and people are getting so sick of lame game marketing that even marketing materials are the source of leaks. Between inside sources feeding information to investigative journalists and companies essentially spoiling their own material, why bother? Why blacklist sites and get all bent out of shape when something gets out into the public before intended? When a movie starts pre-production, we know about it. The conversation starts and interest in projects builds over time as the cast and crew are able to give interviews and provide details. With games, there seems to be this odd mysticism associated with announcements.
Only in video games do we so often see announcements for announcements, things like countdowns, and Twitter accounts telling us “some x number of days from now, we have an announcement!” Why not just make the announcement? Why not just be up front about projects so your employees aren’t constantly signing NDAs, unable to tell people around them what they do for a living? I wonder how much is lost to history from unfinished, unannounced game development projects. How many people worked on something they’ll never get credit for because their work was canceled before they could tell anyone about it?
This hype train stuff has to stop. It only feeds bad business practices like huge pre-order campaigns, where we happily pay for things before knowing anything about them. It contributes to people leaking and stealing material to get it to people so they can fawn over grainy images of posters and release dates. It’s nuts. I can go to IMDB right now and find out, years ahead of time, what films are in development. I can follow my favorite writers on Twitter and find out what they’re working on while they’re still writing it. You get this with games too, eventually, but not before a bunch of grandstanding and obnoxious teasing made to stir people up so they spend as much money with as little information as possible.
Maybe if this kind of stuff went the way of the stone age, gamers can calm down a little bit. Maybe a steadier feed of information from the source would make people less ravenous for every little thing. Maybe we’ll learn more about the medium we love, and gain a deeper understanding of how the industry works. We could all get a long so much better!