Hype is a funny thing. Marketeers will tell you that it’s one of the prime results of a good campaign and I can certainly vouch for that in the film industry. I fell hook, line and sinker for the hype machine that Disney threw at Star Wars in particular. But what about games? In my humble opinion there’s a fine balance to be made in gaming when it comes to hype. No doubt you want to make sure that everyone is clambering for your product come release day but you then have the massive and potentially destructive outcome if your product fails to live up to expectations. This, then, is the blind dating of the gaming world. Picture it now. You’ve had the teasing images, the messages promising the world. You expect Anne Hathaway but end up with Ann Widdicombe. Of course it’s not a new thing at all. I always fell into the trap with games in the late 90’s that used large amounts of CGI or in the case of Gran Turismo enhanced sounds. The latter gripped me by the wallet every time. One thing Polyphony definitely do well is soundtracks to their trailers. However, it’s when you get into the game, excited as if it’s Christmas morning fire up one of the Super GT cars aaaaand are welcomed with the sound of a Whirlpool on fast spin. Well damn! It’s socks for Christmas after all. We’ve seen this more recently with the release of a number of titles with a lot of expectation and big promises behind them. Forza Motorsport, Project CARS and Assetto Corsa have all promised much but failed to deliver on all points. Forza 5 was half a game that failed almost in its entirety to encourage sim racers to move to the next gen consoles. Forza 6 although significantly better still failed to address the core missing features that racing communities had lost after Forza 4.
Project CARS had perhaps the most protracted release ever witnessed and when it did finally come it was utterly broken. Some soldiered on and much credit does go to the developers who turned it around and now it’s a fantastic product. The horse, however had well and truly bolted and I fear many racers won’t give it a second chance, fickle as they are when parting with their hard earned cash. Assetto Corsa is another PC to console title that promised much and played heavily on it’s laser scanned this and accurately modelled that. Yet the most fundamental feature, private lobbies, were omitted from the title on release? That’s like releasing a supercar to the roar of a crowd only to then point out that it doesn’t actually have seats….or a wheel.
Perhaps we, as a community, are too fixated on our requirements and maybe we don’t accept that this is business and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Bollocks! It is the sim racing community that extends the life of any given title. The casual gamer will buy it, play it for a few weeks, get bored and trade it in for the next shiny thing their magpie-like eyes see on the shelves. Members of the sim racing community put hours and days into their racing. They buy all the additional DLC, take part in many online competitions, promote their racing and the title through various social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and Pea Interest. They are the type of gamer who will remain loyal to the brand if the product remains strong, and often even when it doesn’t. They are the people developers should listen to and build titles for. Casual gamers are like one night stands. They’re fantastic for short term thrills. You get what you want and they go off and no one’s feelings are hurt. The hardcore gamer is like a good marriage. They stick with it through thick and thin, support you for the long term and will work with you to make sure the best comes from the relationship. So don’t always believe the hype. Do your research first and check out user reviews before you commit otherwise it’s your own risk if you end up with a Widdicombe. And nobody wants to play with that.