It was ten seconds until the big announcement.
As the counter ticked down, there was a palpable sense of excitement in the air. Twitter was abuzz with various leaks, completely accidental leaks that always seem to show up before these kinds of announcements, thereby always maximizing press coverage. The Twitch chat had evolved from memes and neo-fascist slurs to simply typing out strings of vowels in an attempt to properly convey their unbridled excitement. The hype was real, and I too was caught up in it as the music swelled and the counter hit zero.
Then the Battlefield World Premiere began, as a fairly unassuming chap bumbled his way onto a poorly lit stage with ‘Battlefield’ printed on the wall behind. He then invited DICE’s design director onto the stage, and they began a ‘bit’, jostling with one another and reminding the audience, an audience consisting entirely of die hard Battlefield fanatics – lest we forget – of just how exciting the occasion was.
My heart sank. It was like counting down the last seconds of the year at Times Square, and, immediately after the ball drops, realizing that everyone had somehow forgotten about December 29th and the celebrations are therefore null and void. The fireworks of an immediate trailer release were kicked aside in favour of some vainglorious boasting.
After some more confirmation of how exciting the occasion was, the hosts took it upon themselves to describe the history of Battlefield. Bear in mind, this is in the same stream that for the past six hours had painstakingly raked through each and every previous Battlefield release. Not only did the people who have just joined for the news not give a shit, but the people who would have given a shit had already seen it all, and therefore also didn’t give a shit. The only two who did seem to give a shit were the two presenters – not a good sign for any kind of event.
The discussions continued to an extent that defied logic. They talked at length, possibly for longer than any other human being had ever talked previously. Rambling, incoherent sentences continued to pour out of their mouths. I’ll be damned if I can recall what any of them were, so disillusioned had I become with the whole process of trailer reveals, with Battlefield, with any kind of talking in general.
Then we had the obligatory EA executive bursting in like an unwelcome uncle on Christmas Day. Greeted by the tepid applause fitting for one who doesn’t actually give a shit about the artistic merit of video games, this was the kind of man who says “passion” and “creative vision” but who actually means “profit margins” and “profit margins”. He was a man in search of a PowerPoint presentation. He traipsed to the left, then to the right, then to the left again, over and over. Occasionally he’d actually leave the camera’s field of view, offering up a glimmer of hope that he might have finally left and let us watch the damn trailer, but alas, like a chronic disease, he always came back.
There were words upon words about how Battlefield is the market leader, always has been the market leader, and will remain the market leader. I’ve always been of the opinion that corporate posturing and cronyism is harming video games; how thrilling it therefore was to see a real life metaphor of that exact thing playing out on my screen. Sorry, did I say thrilling? I meant eye-gougingly infuriating.
As the trailer finally came on, you couldn’t help but feel that this was a botched launch. It was so easy: Count down, show the trailer, sit back and watch as oodles of free marketing come your way. But that’s the game industry we have today. On one hand, it recklessly encourages orgies of rampant, unfettered hype. On the other, it’s just crushingly dull.