This year has brought something new to the industry. In the past twelve months, both Bethesda and Ubisoft had unveiled games and announced that their release will be within the same year. It is unusual to see this commitment to a release schedule, as well as the confidence in a product to reveal it so late into development. These days it is often common for developers to announce a new title two or so years in advance, very early into development. Watch Dogs is a perfect example. This title was revealed very early in development, and the end product ended up being pretty poor. There are countless examples of games being announced needlessly early to drive pre-orders and build hype. One of the biggest offenders at the moment has to be No Mans Sky, developed by Hello Games.
(Shawn Murry playing No Man’s Sky at E3, something we have become accustomed to seeing over the past couple of years)
No Mans Sky was unveiled in 2013; I was still a wee boy with career hopes. Sean Murray showed us an amazing looking world, without actually showing us anything. Two years later we are still getting the same footage we got two years ago, on a slightly different planet. I understand that the development process can be arduous and full of unexpected surprises, but two years is too long. This deceptive marketing strategy is doing nothing but harming the game and likely its sales upon release. The worst thing about revealing a title so early is that by the time it releases, it is often a completely different game. So that initial concept is often only a shadow of what it was by release. So all those people that put in pre-orders upon that initial teaser trailer or gameplay, are often left pretty damn disappointed (Although it’s arguably their fault for falling into the hype trap so early)
Bethesda executed Fallout 4’s reveal perfectly, creating just the right amount of hype before telling us we will be able to play it soon. That’s great marketing. Rather than dangling the title at just more than an arm’s reach, they are letting it move towards us on a conveyor belt. Terrible analogy aside, this is probably one of my favourite things to happen this year in the industry. While I understand that Fallout is already an established IP and doesn’t need a whole lot of marketing, it doesn’t mean other developers can’t follow suit. For me, it shows absolute confidence in the game they are developing. This is why I am nowhere near as bothered about No Man’s Sky as I once was.
Even Ubisoft, one of the evil dictator like publishers of the industry followed Bethesda with its release of Far Cry Primal. Announcing the game last month, and announcing the release date at the same time. Regardless of the finished product and most of Ubisoft’s business practices, this is good marketing. I thought Bethesda’s approach to Fallout’s release would be a one off, but with Ubisoft following suit I am hopeful of a more consumer-friendly approach to marketing in the industry. Imagine an E3 convention where every game revealed was going to be released within the same year, how freaking cool would that be?
Keep up the good work Bethesda & Ubisoft.