Announcing Games Way Ahead of Launch is Not a Big Deal

Sony has gotten a lot of flack thrown its way due to the company announcing games way ahead of release. Example: Sony announced The Last of Us Part II and Death Stranding way ahead of launch; Sony stated that the two titles were still in early development. Is this good or bad? I think it’s great for the consumer, as it is futureproofing the consumer’s purchase.

Obviously, Sony isn’t the only ones guilty of this. Microsoft announced Crackdown 3 during E3 2014, and the title still isn’t set to launch until next year. Also, Nintendo has delayed pretty much every Zelda game for years before they finally hit the market. There are tons of examples from just about every publisher.

The Fallout Effect

Up until recently I always thought it was a poor decision to let the cat out of the bag extremely early. Especially after Bethesda announced and launched Fallout 4 (and somehow kept it all under wraps) within 6 months of each other — and received major props and applause from fans, critics, and developers alike. I have to give it to Bethesda as well, it was an incredible feat. But does it really matter in the end?

Let’s take a look a the film industry. It’s a totally different mindset for creators. Not only is there rarely any secrets, but movie studios are actually eager to tell fans what they have in the works. We know the Disney/Marvel movie rollout plan all the way until 2020. Does that sour the movie experience? Not at all. Movies like Captain America: Civil War were known about for years leading up to they debuted. During those years of production, no one was angry at Disney for announcing it way ahead of release. Why are video games treated differently? I personally am more satisfied knowing a game is for sure coming for years rather than wondering if it’s happening at all.

Business As Planned

One word, business. Many studios, especially mid-tier studios rely on their game’s big rollout announcement, in order to gain as much hype and chatter around their title as possible. So it makes sense for them to keep everything under the wraps until it hits the market. Basically, they want the time in between the game’s announcement and launch day to be as small as possible, in order to keep gamers interested. It can be a do or die situation for smaller publishers.

But what about the big guys? Sony, as you know, has the tendency to announce games way ahead of schedule. Which I use to think was a bad idea, but after seeing games like The Last of Us Part II, God of War, and Death Stranding are in fact coming to PS4, my hype/excitement level is through the roof — even though they’re still ways away. Just knowing the future is paved with a slew of (presumably) amazing games has the PlayStation brand on everyone’s minds. Seriously, who isn’t excited for those games?

I’m kinda weird, I’m a bit obsessed with press conferences. When Sony has a press conference coming up, I know that I’m going to get more teases of the PS4 exclusives I’m excited for, it gets me extremely stoked. The other big publishers like Nintendo and Microsoft could also pull this off. While lately, Nintendo has been paving the way for future Switch titles announcing games that are far out like Metroid Prime 4 and Pokemon, Microsoft is still very hesitant. Phil Spencer is fully aware of the lack of AAA exclusives, but he has stated that he’s not comfortable announcing games that are at least two years out. Phil’s quote:

We are investing in new things, we signed things just recently that I thought, ‘Hey, from a PR standpoint it would be really easy for me to put a trailer on screen’, but then I know the game is not coming for another two and half or three years, so I didn’t want to do that.

 

I understand some people would say, ‘Hey, that would give me confidence in the future of Xbox’…

 

This is a cheesy line, but I’ll just say, trust that this is important to us as a platform. From the top CEO of the company down, if you talked to Satya [Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO] he would say ‘I understand, we need to invest in content in the gaming space’.

What do I say to that? I think they should let the cat out of the bag and tell us what’s in the works, as I believe it can only help Microsoft in their current position. Similar to the Disney/Marvel situation, why not just spill the beans? With Xbox, I’m hoping sometime in the near future Microsoft goes into great detail on what new first-party and/or exclusive titles we can expect on the Xbox One X. What’s it going to hurt? As I said before, I’m glad Nintendo is testing the waters with this strategy. It definitely has me more excited about my Nintendo Switch.

Why are video game announcements treated so much differently than films? Are you affected by games being announced way ahead of launch? I’m very curious to find out, I may just be the odd one out. Leave all your thoughts in the comments section below, or on our social media page!

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