Why We Love Video Game Teases

When spring and summer hit in video game land, people can expect one thing: teases. Leading up to all the major events and conventions, companies start rolling out hype trains. After all, it is the perfect time to catch people's interest before events and maybe get them salivating over the titles they can buy later in the year. But a good tease needs the right sort of execution. There must be finesse. It has to tap into nostalgia. It needs an element of mystery. Fortunately, a lot of great teases have appeared in 2019 to show how it should be done.

A big one had to do with Borderlands 3. For weeks ahead of its reveal, we knew something was coming. Gearbox Software made a big deal about its PAX East 2019 presentation. We saw clips of highway signs. Familiar iconography was shown. New characters were highlighted. It was a drip feed leading up to a main event, and it was super effect. It also helped that Borderlands 3 was the biggest news to come out of the convention. All of the images were familiar enough for people to catch on that it could mean an entirely new, numbered entry, but was vague enough where someone could be skeptical. It was a wink and a nod. PR was telling us, "You all know what we're talking about." We were in on something big.

That's similar to the approach EA took with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. It was a slower burn, sure. It kicked off at E3 2018, when Respawn Entertainment gave us a name. We also learned it would take place between Episode III and Episode IV. After that, it was smoke and mirrors until days before the April 13, 2019 Star Wars Celebration began. Three days before it, we received an image and a tagline. The message? "Don't stand out."  That seems counterintuitive. Especially since it is paired with an iconic lightsaber. It may have helped people get invested and wait for the real announcement, which revealed that we follow Cal Kestis, one of the last Jedi after Order 66 wiped out almost all the Jedi.

Sony's Santa Monica studio offered a major one too. God of War ended on a cliffhanger. However, no DLC is planned for the game. But, one year after its launch, a free theme was released. Kratos and Atreus are in a boat, something we see often in the adventure. It seems normal, right? Except the runes on the boat are new. They read, "Ragnarok is coming." People who completed the adventure know that the father and son participated in an act that, in mythology, led to that earth-shattering event. This theme is a constant teaser for things to come. Anticipation is building.

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Then, there were the Resident Evil teases. Capcom decided in April 2019 to begin posting suggestive images on social media. Not in a bad or offensive way. Just that people would eventually see a reference to Jill in Resident Evil, with the phrase, "Ever feel like somebody's watching you…?" It was followed by a Resident Evil 2 picture of a wall damaged by Nemesis. It is leading up to another Resident Evil reveal, clearly for Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Which, when it comes down to it, is a welcome prospect. After all, it is an installment that only appeared on early consoles and isn't available in any sort of modern form. The hints are enough to get folks fired up.

Teasing done right can be amazing. A subtle burn that perfectly manages hype can work wonders. Especially if a company doesn't over promise anything it can work. Something subtle that alludes to a desired thing, but is enough for a real fan to understand what is being said? It's like getting a wink and a nod from someone you respect. It is a situation where it feels like your boss, respected friend, or senpai has noticed you. Let's hope 2019 and the years to come are filled with plenty more.

Jenni Lada
Jenni Lada

Writing Team
Date: 04/23/2019

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