In our chosen hobby of playing video games, it is fair to say that the Internet is a major component. And the internet is good at several things, but the thing it excels at more than any other is buzz. Nothing gets word moving faster than the InterGoogle and game companies and fanboys alike take advantage of this. But hype comes in more forms than that.
Let’s take a look at Halo 3. It had the kind of buzz reserved for a major box office movie. When I saw all the cross-promotional tie-ins, I started to wonder if Bungie was being run by George Lucas. I mean, seriously: Halo energy drinks?
I saw so many commercials and trailers and ads with Master Chief pleading with me to finish the fight that I honestly was ready to join the Covenant.
What made this all the more strange was the fact that Halo was an established franchise. If there was one game for the Xbox 360 that didn’t need this kind of massive advertising budget, it was Halo 3. That game was going to sell like nude photos of Jessica Alba to TMZ, but that didn’t stop Microsoft from bombarding us with such a Shock and Awe campaign of hype that its amazing the game was able to live up to it.
On the other side of that equation, let’s look at Sony and LittleBigPlanet. This was a game that was generating massive amounts of buzz from the Internet, from rival game developers and from the gaming media. It is the kind of game that comes along only once in a great while and Sony blew it. They had tremendous hopes for LittleBigPlanet and while it has sold 2 million copies, which is great for a brand new franchise, it took a few months to achieve that goal.
See, Sony said that they were relying on LBP to get more people to buy PS3, but their actions showed otherwise. How many LBP commercials did you see on TV? At the movies? Did you read any articles in USA Today about it, like I saw for Grand Theft Auto IV and Halo? Sony knew they had a special game, but they marketed it on the cheap, relying on the buzz created from inside the gaming community to spill out into the mainstream media. It didn’t happen and LBP and Sony took a hit. If there was ever a game that needed the kind of hype that Halo 3 got, it was LBP.
Which brings us to Killzone 2 and my rather unusual reaction to it. I played Killzone. It was a fun, average FPS with some cool moments, but nothing special. Even when I saw the much-maligned “target” trailer way back when, I still didn’t give it much thought. Trailers don’t excite me until I see actual gameplay footage, not CGI cut scenes. So when the recent buzz started to become overwhelming and the reviews proclaiming it to be something truly amazing trickled in, I took notice.
Now, I read every little article I can on Killzone 2. I read any review, preview, impression and fanboy love and hate letter I can about it. Why? Because it is largely an unknown to me and I would like to know as much about it as possible before I make my decision on whether to purchase it or not. I am not a rush out and buy things on the first day without doing lots of research kinda guy, so I enjoy reading up.
On the other hand, take a game like Final Fantasy XIII. Huge FF fan, have played and beaten every game in the series. It’s my favorite game series of all time. And I don’t care about the new trailer that much. It was exciting to see real gameplay footage for once, but all the rest doesn’t get me going like it’s meant to. I don’t go out of my way to scour the Net looking for every little morsel I can find on the game. Why? Because I am going to buy it on the first day, reviews be damned. I am a FF fan. I don’t need hype to get me excited.
Which brings me back to my original point about Halo 3 and its marketing machine. I don’t think it was really needed, but Microsoft was leaving nothing to chance. That is something Sony should rethink because I have not seen them go out of their way to really market Killzone 2 yet, either. For their sake, I hope they get their act together.
How do you guys feel about this? Has a game’s hype ever caused you to purchase it when you otherwise would not have? Are you immune to the buzz or do you drink it up and ask for more?