Stop the Hype Train Pt. 2: Enough Way-Too-Early Announcements

Enough, guys, do we really need to know about a new game that we won't play for... like... 5 years? Enough already. Seriously. Stop.

cyberpunk 2077 bug
Lookin' good, bro. | © CD Projekt Red

A year ago I wrote a column titled "It’s Time to Stop the Hype Train (and Stop Preordering Games!)". It was a fun little piece put out two days after Christmas which combated the idea that players should continue to preorder games, and should put their personal and financial trust in the developers. The thing about preordering games is that it's an investment into a product that you have no guarantee will be good, that you have no guarantee will even meet the promises set out in its marketing material. Ironic, isn't it, that a year later nothing has changed?

When I wrote "Stop the Hype Train Pt. 1", Cyberpunk 2077 had been released a few weeks earlier. It was a disastrous launch, certainly the worst in CD Projekt Red's history, and certainly the worst of the last few years. The company was ashamed, legal action was in the works, bug fixes were coming, and no one was happy. It's fitting, in a way, that 2021 has been a year that followed the trend set by Cyberpunk 2077. In a year that followed such a disappointing release, a release that put a permanently sour taste in our mouths, 2021 has been a year of follow-up disappointments.

From the complete lack of major-scale releases in the early half of the year, to the insane number of remakes and remasters that we were subject to, nothing rang more hollow this year than the utter disregard developers seemed to have for their fans. Now, I want to correct that last sentence in a way, because I want to be brutally honest, but also fair here: the developers themselves are not usually to blame. They are not the ones who choose to push out broken and unfinished games, and they are not the ones who decide on which Triple-A releases get the green light. They pour their heart and soul into their game, but it is rare that they get much of a say on whether it releases in the state they desire.

Day One patches are a thing for a reason, as are follow-up patches. Our absolute obsession with things like patch notes are indicative of that. Why are we so interested in this stuff, in the content of these updates that get introduced to fix problems that – in many, but of course not all cases – should have been resolved before we got the game in our grubby little mitts? The disaster and honest embarrassment of Battlefield 2042 is a perfect example of this. It's a complete mess, but other than a few more honest journalists, the general message is "it's okay, they're going to fix this stuff". Well, no, we're not here to sell games for you, we're here to be critical, and that game should never have seen the light of day in the state that it is (still) in.

The reality is that in a year of Battlefields, Call of Duty: Vanguard's, Back 4 Blood's, and more, there is a lot to complain about. But this is just the context of this-here column. For I, as you all know, like to go off on tangents. Let's dive into part two...

And so we come to part two of this discussion: let's stop it with these way-too-early announcements. The Game Awards were great this year, but it was pretty crazy that virtually all of this big announcements we at least a year and a half away, and that there really wasn't much revealed for the near-horizon that we didn't already know about. Seriously, I don't want to know about a game that's due for release in 2023 right now. Tell me about next year, tell me that 2022 will be a better year than 2021. Up until this year, every year of gaming was generally getting better and better. Now? There are some exciting games coming up, but a whole lot way off on the horizon that are at risk of over-hype.

There is absolutely no way that Grand Theft Auto 6, nor The Elder Scrolls 6, will meet expectations. Whilst the former hasn't been announced, it seems like ages ago since Elder Scrolls was revealed, and we haven't heard a blip out of Bethesda since. It's honestly insane that companies are allowed to get away with this. We don't even know what these products are, yet we are so unbelievably excited for them. What is Mass Effect 4? What the hell is it? It has been a year since the announcement! What is it? When is it coming? Why did they show that to us?

Well, it's to get that dreaded Hype Train a-rollin'. Just like Proud Mary rolling along the river, these game announcements gather steam as they trundle towards their distant, but inevitable release date. They will be a disappointment, and I will not shed a tear for those who fall for their trickery. It's utterly predictable, and no surprise, that many of these games end up being trash. Do you remember Watch Dogs? Do you remember Assassin's Creed 3 (jeez, Ubisoft had a rough few years)? Do you remember Cyberpunk 2077? Do you remember all of those many games that got on the Hype Train for so long that the driver died of old f**king age, and the train crashed head-first into the gates of Alice's S**tland. So yes: stop the Hype Train. Again, stop it. Please just stop. That's quite enough of that.

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