Building up hype around the release of a new videogame is just part of the marketing process. There can be years between the announcement of a new game, and it actually being released. Companies have to find some way of keeping fans interested during that time. That is why developers will frequently head out to videogame conventions to promote their games with new information and by answering fan questions.
All this activity can create fervour or anticipation around a video game’s upcoming release. Good hype can lead to more sales, like the juggernaut success of Grand Theft Auto Five, which is rumoured to have made back more than its development budget on pre-order sales alone. However, developers must deliver on this hype, or you may end up being associated with one of the following games.
No Man’s Sky
There would be no point in discussing overhyped video games without mentioning 2016’s No Man’s Sky. This first-person exploration game promised fans a fully rendered and randomised galaxy to adventure through. Each of the thousands of visitable planets was supposed to be unique, with random alien encounters and new equipment to find and utilise. As you can imagine, these promises allowed the fanbase to conjure images of a never-ending game that would be unlike anything ever released before. Almost like a second life in the digital space.
What players got instead was a copy-pasted space simulator that many fans of the genre have played a thousand times before. The open world was a tenth of the size promised by developers, and each of the planets seemed to be mere copies of one another. The length and breadth of No Man’s Sky were nowhere near as deep as the developers had suggested during the hype, and the game also suffered from poor performance issues. Ensuring that you could always see your device battery levels also impacted the experience. All these problems meant that the positive hype for No Man’s Sky quickly turned to vitriol upon release. As such, negative word of mouth hampered the game’s sales, and No Man’s Sky is now infamous among people who discuss the hype train for upcoming video game releases.
Not every overhyped videogame leads to catastrophic failure. For example, take the fantasy epic, Fable, which was released for Xbox in 2004. This game had so much going for it, and its success led to two sequels and an upcoming reboot. So, what was the problem?
Anyone from around that time will remember that the hype and promises surrounding the release of Fable were far greater than it actually delivered. The head of Lionhead Studio at the time, Peter Molyneux, has made a name for himself by making outlandish claims about his upcoming releases. Some of these promises about Fable included the ability to plant an acorn and watch it grow into a real tree in real-time, an ageing civilisation, and the evolution of towns and their structure throughout the game. While none of this came to pass, the innovative morality system and open world prevented Fable from being another overhyped flop. Perhaps that is why the hype and overpromising followed into the promotion of all the following games.
Pokémon Go can be considered an anomaly on this list as the hype train for this mobile game only gathered momentum after the first trailer was released. This trailer showed a group of real-life Pokémon trainers discovering and interacting with highly detailed and animated monsters in unique environments. There were also scenes of trainers linking devices and having epic battles on the streets. This video was nothing like the reality of the actual 3D Pokémon sprites gently knocking into each other and the long loading times. However, the hype for Pokémon Go only intensified upon the game’s release, and Pokémon Go became a global sensation overnight.
Unfortunately, this hype died down quickly after the 2016 launch. The inability to see your device’s battery level while playing the game on mobile was enough to kill people’s enjoyment of Pokémon Go. The servers are still active and strong, with the company continuously releasing new content updates each year. However, Pokémon Go will never reach the same hype that it experienced on release in 2016.
The Fallout series has undergone a largely positive trajectory since it started. This post-apocalyptic RPG first hit the market as a basic top-down adventure. The series only gained more momentum when Bethesda bought the rights to the series in 2007, turning the series into a fully 3D triple-A title. After the success of Fallout 3, 4, and a number of other spin-offs it seemed that there was no stopping Fallout in its new form. The hype train only increased when Bethesda announced an online open-world version of the game in 2018.
Fans of the game were excited to experience the post-apocalyptic world of the Fallout series alongside their friends. Unfortunately, when the game was released, players were met with barren environments and a poor-performing server that inevitably killed the game.
There is nothing wrong with getting excited about a new video game. However, these examples should stand as a warning to manage your expectations to avoid disappointment.