Having been gaming for the past 20+ years, there are some trends I’ve noticed along the way. During the early PS2 era and prior, essentially before the Internet really took off, gamers had to purchase games relying on very little info. The most for some would be simply analysing the back-cover of a video game case and hope that the information provided was accurate enough about the game contained within. It was a daring time, when you had to simply trust your instincts as to what would be good and what would be bad. Only if you really knew where to look and what magazines to buy (money that could be used for games!) would you get some semblance of information about games. Even then, you had to trust someone else’s judgement.
The best part about this, was that we never fully knew what we were getting into. Gaming genres were still vague at that time, and quite possibly confusing rather than informative. Best of all, we were never given spoilers about the game. Everything we would come across in the game world, be it gameplay or story, would be fresh and exciting. There were no constant streams of previews and trailers to spoil us as to what to expect in a game. Nowadays however, in our thirst for up-to-date information, that experience is long gone. I feel it is a fair question to ask; are gamers spoilt?
With so much information thrown at us nowadays, from ramblings by various gaming CEOs to gaming reviews on websites, there’s no way we can avoid spoiling ourselves with not just information, but with hype too. It’s certainly not purely the gamers fault themselves, as it takes two to tango. Game developers play a key role here too. They provide constant trailer after trailer, preview after preview, in hopes of building up hype for their games. It is a valid tool, but when these early previews take away a hefty chunk of excitement from the final product, something is clearly wrong somewhere.
A good example from a recent game would be Far Cry 3. We saw many trailers and previews prior to the game’s release showcasing various parts of the game. One of the most standout features was the villain shown during those trailers, Vaas. We all came to love this crazy villain and just couldn’t wait to see what the full game had in store for us. When Far Cry 3 was released however, there was so little interaction with Vaas outside of what had already been shown during those trailers for the game. There are what, 5-6 instances where we come across Vaas in the entire game, yet around 4 instances were already shown in various trailers promoting the game beforehand. What was the point? A great villain wasted by bad marketing strategy. Nothing Vaas did in the final game was exponentially better than what we saw in those trailers. And in the end, practically every gamer felt that Vaas was under-utilised in the game.
Granted, Far Cry 3 is a huge game. There were plenty of other story twists until the very end of the game, but we as gamers had been spoilt. No other villain in the game was as memorable as Vaas, and Vaas didn’t quite live up to the (perhaps too high) hype. This is just one example, but there are plenty of others. I recall watching the Final Fantasy XIII International trailer that was shown by Square Enix before the release of FFXIII. And in that trailer there were so many spoilers. Some direct, and unfortunately some indirect. One example here being through the trailers, we know that Serah and Vanille have interacted together at some point in time. The reveal for this cutscene comes very late in the actual game, and should be a story twist, but falls flat on its face because practically everyone who saw the trailer knew it had happened. Heck, in the older FF days, we didn’t know who could and couldn’t join our party. Most if not every recruited (and lost) member was a surprise. Nowadays, we know the full party member cast before the game is even out.
My rants here have been centered on story spoilers, but I feel the same can be said of gameplay spoilers too. Taking the recent trailer for God of War: Ascension, we’re shown a number of boss fights and also a number of Kratos’ abilities. Truly, how much left is there to experience on our own? I do feel that this effects how people perceive games too. If you go into a game already knowing 50% of the gameplay and story, it’ll feel less satisfying when you actually play the game. It’ll feel like it didn’t build enough upon the concepts it laid out.
Nowadays, I tend to stay away from trailers and previews for games I am definitely going to purchase. For other games, I try to read snippets of reviews without getting into too much detail to see whether I would like a game. If I’m not too bothered (for instance in fighting games or sports games), then I have no problems watching trailers. I’m also fine with watching early release trailers of games just to know what a game is about.
What about you guys? Do any of you restrict yourself on purpose? Or do you prefer the flood of info?