Here in the United Kingdom, we Brits love disappointment. We thrive on it. It's warm glow sustains us through our bleak, miserable hours. Thick grey clouds embalm each day, soundtracked by the synthetic buzz of daily televisual reminders that we are all on a steady conveyer to the sodden dirt, and we embrace this. The reason for this is simple; it unites us, all of us, each and every miserable one of us.
Living in this country, I have become saturated with this mentality, and as I recently discovered, this has left me pessimistic and disillusioned. There are many like me, and tackling this widespread pessimism is a challenge for every single game developer in the market.
So how do you overcome something so devastating and so ingrained in the psyche of your consumers, even before your product has been released?
Simple, you make your game good, surely?
To this market, every product is under strict scrutiny in every aspect of its development cycle. In cold numerical form, your product will be stripped, dissected and tossed to the harsh consumers. These results will then be chewed, compared and critiqued to the point were all passion and soul is ignored in favour of a mathematical scoring system. Aspects of your game usually seen as great, are now good, good is okay, okay is bad, bad is terrible. Usually, all this is decided before people even play your game.
So even making your game good is not enough, as pre-programmed decisions influence the audience. Thus making first impressions crucial to your games reputation. A perfect example of pre-programmed judgements, I found, was in the unveiling of Project Natal at E3 this year.
After purchasing an Xbox Vision Camera almost two years ago, I was promised functionality with dozens of titles (including Fable II), facial mapping on many more titles and overall continued focus on the product as a key part of Microsoft’s marketing for its console. Shortly after its release, no further implementation was used, the product falling quickly into obscurity.
Years later, Project Natal is demoed, and I am left cold and judgmental, as its reminiscence of past products and their promises come rushing back.
Other such cases include the distrust of many game development companies, console platforms and peripherals, and even key figureheads in the industry. Left 4 Dead 2, Wii Vitality Sensor, PSP Go; all fell victim to initial negative impressions based on several different factors infused with the pessimism of the current audience of gamers.
So how do you prevent this?
It is impossible to change the mindframe of the market. Acceptance of this is the first step to preventing your development company from being bogged down in the murk, and staying impassioned and driven in this industry. However, there are many different methods that could help reduce such negativity surrounding your product.
Mainly, don’t lie. Or in other words; staying honest about your goals, your methods and your product’s soul. There is much too much “marketing speak” infused with the advertising of many titles, usually in a frantic bid to overcome the negativity of the audience's searing glare.
It is understandable, the desire to protect your creation, but honesty will prove much more useful than hype. We have seen hype sink many ships, and I for one, am ready to keep my dark, clouded head above water.