Anyone else beginning to notice that games are starting to show us more and more before a game’s release? I keep seeing live streams of games that are months away. I know Monster Hunter Generations had many leading up to its release. I noticed today that there was one for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided coming in August. Then another for Persona 5 coming next year in February! Is there a reason for this need to show the game before release?
I have not watched any of these live streams. Some of you might be thinking why I am talking about this if I don’t actually watch them. Just because I do not watch them and others might not, doesn’t mean we cannot be spoiled by them. The information is now out there it can be stumbled upon. The higher profile the game the more chance of this occurring. On the flip-side to this, I see other developers paranoid of leaks about their games.
I consider the live streams to be a symptom to modern technologies and trends. Do developers see Let’s Play as being popular so they decide to do it too? Then get those streamers or their own group to play their game, even though their game hasn’t released to the public? Even as someone who regularly watches Let’s Play, I cannot comprehend this train of thought.
Of all the games I’ve played I have gotten maybe 6 that I have seen played on streams and in videos by YouTubers. Of those 6: I’ve completed 2, returned 2, and the remaining 2 are collecting dust. That isn’t to say these games are too hard or bad in anyway. But I already watched it. Why do I need to waste time playing the game for myself when I can just watch these videos? I already experienced it. Is it as fun as playing for myself, depending on who I’m watching.
Live streams might not give all the details to the story and plots of these games. Some developers will create separate areas of the game, that show of the game visual and the gameplay without giving any story elements for these streams and footage. Additionally, I will accept the need for there to be some footage of the game itself. Going in blindly to how a game will play doesn’t work for most people anymore. Growing up all I really had was the back cover of game cases. I only had looking at the style of graphics and the description to decide on. There were many games that ended up returning because the gameplay and style of the game was not something I would enjoy. Part of why sites like Bit Cultures exist is for those who maybe want to get a feel for a game before committing to it. Whether one reads the whole review or just check the scores listed, it gives an idea to the game that people can decide on if they want to play it or not from there.
Horizon Zero Dawn’s 2015 Extended Trailer in my opinion has a great footage of their gameplay. It starts right after the beginning narrative that introduces the world. There is no commentary over the portion of gameplay. It gives a feel of real gameplay that can be experienced in the game with little context. It doesn’t give a tutorial on how it is done, why, or give any info to the plot. As I said before going in blind is not an option, but knowing everything isn’t ideal either. The last thing I want is to be waiting for some twist in the plot or development. Those are items that I want to be surprised about. Cause that’s the way they were meant to be experienced.
My only other big gripe with seeing these Let’s Play announcements are I could be playing the game! All 3 of the games I’ve listed at the beginning of this article are ones I now have or plan to get! Even if these live streams are done with beta versions of the game still! Having a beta or demo for the game would go a lot further in gaining interest.
Overwatch had killer betas that left players wanting more and excited for the release. The open beta potentially pulled in even more players to the game that might not have considered it before. The Final Fantasy XV demo gave players a feel of the combat, movement, and look of the game. Do I feel spoiled for having played it? No; it gave minimal details to the story and really only made me more curious as to what the final product will be. It gives a feel of the gameplay, but nothing extremely advanced that I would think I could take on the final boss right away. These demos do have some backfire, but when they are plays it is something to note that it isn’t the final product of the game. And if I have choice to play a demo or watch someone else play it, I would rather play it.
I understand the attempt and reason for these live streams is to widen the audience. Give a view of the game potentially through similar eyes to people who will be playing the game when it does come out. Live streams and Let’s Play do not give that connotation to me at least. If I’m going to watch then it is either because I played the game already or have little to no interest in playing it for myself, mostly due to game-play I do not enjoy playing as much on my own. The reason I write this is because I worry that these live streams will have a back fire effect, and spoil the game for people. Either like myself who are already on board to get the game. Or the newer audience that they’re trying to attract. In the end hurting the games more than helping them.
I do understand there is a want for more from fandoms of the series, but that isn’t something I feel is needed in the advertising and promotions. Rather the ‘more’ is related to the content of the game for players to experience for themselves. Not in the advertising and showcases the game before they can experience it.