It’s the start of a brand-new year, and you know what that means: getting hyped for all the games coming out this year! At my last check, the front page of N4G was awash with “Top X Most Anticipated Games of 2018” lists. Some were even for specific consoles and genres; I didn’t know there were at least ten different horror games to be excited about this year! Plus, a new year brings with it the possibility of new announcements, potential release date confirmations (Death Stranding, anyone?), and more.
However, like the contrarian I am, I’d like to make a case for dialing things back a notch. Maybe you don’t have to catch the hype train right now. Stop, grab yourself a coffee and a sandwich, and save the trip for another day. Because you have effectively nothing to gain from boarding early.
Pretty much every form of mass media feeds off hype. Companies will estimate the success of a product by looking at its preorder numbers. Fans make videos and articles breaking down announcements into their individual components, in the hopes of learning some elusive piece of information. Yet preordering games rarely gets you more than a couple throwaway cosmetic items. Fan theories often end up extrapolating so much that they barely resemble the original announcement. At the end of the day, people simply set themselves up for disappointment.
Not to beat dead horses, but remember No Man’s Sky? How about Star Wars: Battlefront II? Both were highly anticipated titles due to their impressive scope and their promise to atone for past mistakes, respectively. However, when they came out, they were massive disappointments. Obviously, that’s not entirely on fans; particularly in the case of Battlefront II, few likely foresaw how egregious its monetization system would be. And yet, much of the fan outrage came not from what the games were, but what they weren’t. No Man’s Sky wasn’t lambasted for its freedom of exploration, but rather for its failure to make the world worth exploring. Because it consistently topped “Most Anticipated” lists in the years leading up to its release, every delay was a stab in the back, and every flaw in the finished product a slap in the face.
Additionally, this immediate switch to “2018 Mode” can have a detrimental effect on games that release towards the tail-end of 2017. I understand that game popularity can vary wildly, and that the industry moves quickly; titles rarely stay relevant for more than a week unless they develop huge fanbases. However, who’s still talking about Okami HD? How about Gorogoa? Bridge Constructor Portal? In general, the conversation seems to have died down. None of these are necessarily “Game of the Year 2017” contenders, yet they’re interesting, entertaining titles that showed up towards the end of 2017, and have since been glossed over by many as we look to the future.
I get that a new year of gaming is exciting; I know I’ve got quite a few games that I’m keeping an eye on. However, by focusing so narrowly on what’s to come, I think that the value of what’s already here is lessened somewhat. Many people have called 2017 one of the best years in gaming, so I don’t think we should be so quick to jump onboard the 2018 hype train. Take some time to appreciate the smaller titles that you may have missed in the struggle to keep up with the newest AAA releases. Look forward to upcoming games, but don’t become blinded and consumed by passion. 2018 will have amazing games, and it’ll have complete duds. Why not sit back and enjoy the ride, instead of frantically hopping between bandwagons all year? It definitely leaves more time to stop and appreciate what you’re playing.