Marketing Stimuli, Previews and Chicken Feathers

October 18th, 2008

revolting tymes

It’s expo-mania! In the proximity of the past two weeks there have been no less than 5 significant game expos and conventions scattered all over the world. About a week and a half ago Nintendo held a special conference showcasing several new titles and a new(er) iteration of the DS (the third pillar’s third pillar, supposively), shortled followed by a press summit in the US. Following up on some pleasent surprises from Nintendo, the Tokyo Game Show appears to have been a great success with a barrage of new annoucements. In amongst the two titans there’s also been E for All (almost invisible this year) as well as the lesser known Virtual Worlds Forum in London.

I’m sure you’ve all got your favourite picks out of what’s been on show? Punchout, Sin and Punishment 2, Halo: Recon, Resident Evil 5? Wanna know what mine is? Metal Gear Solid 3.

snake eater
Metal Gear Solid 3 (Subsistence) has to be one of the most filling game experiences I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. The game sets a remarkaby high standard for itself and consistently hits that mark without a hitch. There’s a handcrafted quality to the play, seen in the attention to detail and organic feel that the native environment brushes onto the ‘swiss army knife’ framework of the Metal Gear Series. It’s these qualities that make the game feel so complete as a product, as though anythng more would spoil the brorth. I’m just melting thinking about playing this game when I return back to Australia in a few months.

Oh wait, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence came out not quite 2 years ago (going by PAL release), what does this have to do with anything? I’ll tell you what, it’s a ridiculously dry way of me expressing my hatred towards ‘the preview’.

The problem with this industry is that the only time we ever talk about a game is when it is out of our hands. The “professional” games media waste our time fueling “promises” and “expectations”, second guessing pre-released games with nonsense like this. They are fiddles to the marketers, if not the same. And then we do it some more, we pretend that we’re all enthusiasts and go on messages boards to masturbate over it for a while. We throwdown the money for the rare, super deluxe, pre-order only iteration and then after two days of sinking it in, we don’t care and move onto the next piece of overbloated tripe.

We, both the enthusiast and media, throw the game in the spinner for 30 seconds (reviews) and are then done with it. From there it is all mute, the four year production has had it’s 20 seconds in the sun, now it’s time for it to move aside for the next one.

And yet throughout this process, we completely discredit the games that we “cherish” so much. Once a game has been spun in the marketing mixer, served up as a preview and then scratched around for the review, we are done, there is nothing left. There are no more PR reps or PR reps in the guise of game developers there to plug the game to us, it all comes to a halt.

These problems exist for two reasons. This industry is easily vunderable to marketing and there are professionals open to exploitation. The preview, scoop, first in game screenshots, Famitsu scan, teaser trailer are all examples of that. We eat it up without a second thoght. We all buy this nonsense and submit to the marketers by making our judgements premeptiviely. Which is why people buy those ridiculous limited edition pre-order packs.

What I find to be the most disheartening result of this vicious cycle is that once we’ve discarded a game all talk about the game stops. There is frankly no more discussion to be had. Yet the game still is burried wthin it’s own merit and remains undiscovered.

This is one of the main reasons why this blog is never bleeding edge. Except for when Metal Gear Solid 4 was released, but that was a special occasion. There is so much undiscovered treasure within our past and yet we keep walking forwards, ignoring it. Someday we will retread our path and make sense of these games that we don’t yet understand, but I’m not interested in waiting around for that. Long live the “past hit”.