There are some low rumblings out there that something isn’t quite going according to plan with God of War, the reboot of the infamous series coming soon to PlayStation 4. It’s a total departure from the God of War of the past, a serious attempt at adding more depth to the Kratos character. There’s no telling if it will be successful or not, but Sony seems to have been banking on this thing doing well, giving it plenty of marquee treatment at industry events ever since it was announced. But is everything really going well?
Colin Moriarty, previously a big deal at IGN and currently a stale jar of mayonnaise on YouTube, seems to believe there’s trouble afoot with the mythological brawler. While out of journalism in official capacity, Moriarty still has his contacts and recently claimed on Twitter that he heard on the grapevine God of War has “soft” pre-order numbers. Let’s take this at face value for a moment. Has the gaming community simply cooled on the IP?
It’s certainly not controversial to suggest the original idea was pretty well run into the ground. The first two games on the PlayStation 2 were considered groundbreaking at the time, although personally I never really saw the appeal. That said, the series is often attributed for popularizing “QTEs,” using them pretty effectively at the time to add some visual pizazz to character action combat sequences. But by the end of the PlayStation 3, there were several more God of War games, and considering one of them ended up with a hamfisted multiplayer mode, it’s apparent Kratos had some evolutionary struggles towards the end.
But as far as everything out so far for the new God of War, it looks like it fits right in. From the over-the-shoulder perspective, extremely sad dad story tone, and sluggish, heavy combat. Also, there’s a bow and arrow. God of War looks “late-2010s SSS video game” as hell. So there’s probably a line of marks wearing Sony t-shirts lining up for every bit of information they can get their mitts on for this game. But there’s one crucial piece of information missing.
And there's the release date! Where the heck is the release date? There’s no date, no pre-order bonuses, no garish special edition bundles, and none of the usual marketing fluff that gets the fans clicking on YouTube unboxing videos and online journalism comment submission forms. It’s January, Sony insists God of War is an “early 2018” game, and yet the “okay, now it’s time to buy this game” hype train-style marketing push hasn’t really started yet. Recent leaked flyers from GameStop even show a thoroughly garish special edition (with a $149.99 price point even), so it may be right around the corner.
Right now, the only people pre-ordering God of War are the serious series fans, of which there probably aren’t that many. While each game did well, God of War was never the kind of game to really build and curate fandom like a lot of others. This is historically a blockbuster, a mass market game that checks all the right boxes for focus-tested sales generation. Regardless of how you feel about it, that’s what it is. Also, after so many delays hit big, exclusive games earlier in the PlayStation 4’s life, Sony has been much more coy with release dates as of late.
Once that date hits, and the pre-order advertisements start, I feel like this particular brand of scuttlebutt will quickly become a non-issue. The discourse will quickly go from, “what’s wrong here?” to “oh cool,” people will play it, then move on to the next big release. Will it be any good? Who knows? I think God of War will have to be pretty special to stand out against its peers, and so far I’m not getting “special” vibes. But it seems pretty silly to be worrying about sales at this point.