Too much, too soon?

I remember a time, 25 years ago, when Radio 1 would spend a large part of Sunday afternoon counting down the top 40 singles of the week. The big highlight was the top ten, of course, but also a lot of focus was given to the highest climber with a single often improving their position by twenty places or more.

As for the Number One, it was always a question of whether a song had climbed high enough to topple the previous incumbent or how many weeks said incumbent had remained in top spot. A new entry at the top of the charts was extremely, extremely rare.

Over the years the dynamic of the charts has changed. Assessment is done on airplay as well as sales and the digital marketplace also factors alongside physical copies. The biggest difference between then and now, however, is that there is a new Number One every week. A new entry at the top of the charts and those that didn’t make it to the top spot littering the nine places beneath.

Top of the Pops, logo, icon, title

The main driver of this shift revolves around how singles are released and marketed. In my teenage years, singles were released to the public on the same day as radio stations. As the popular ones got more and more airplay, the buzz around them would increase and so would the sales. Hence the high-climbers and long stays at the top. In the 21st century the singles are being played on the radio long before release, social media and other avenues used to market the song loudly proclaiming the release date.

And when that date comes everyone rushes out to buy the single which in turn pushes it to the top of the charts before an immediate drop off the next week.

Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead. You have been warned.

I see parallels to this in the video game industry. Games, especially the big blockbusters, are revealing more and more about themselves in advance of a formal release. Usually I can deal with the barrage of trailers, demos, beta trails and social media exposure but there have been a couple recently that, in my opinion have gone too far.

I don’t want to see any gameplay of Mass Effect: Andromeda at all, let alone 17 minutes of a key plot point for one of the characters. Surely as gamers we want to explore the vast worlds and meet the people there ourselves? Do we really want to know what happens months before release and have the mystery of those moments stripped away? I’m not a fan of spoilers in any medium but given how central loyalty missions were to Mass Effect 2, the logic of revealing this footage so early baffles me.

Speaking of spoilers, here’s a cracker. Horizon Zero Dawn had been out for less than 12 hours when the Official PlayStation Magazine started tweeting about a hidden scene at the end of the game. 12 hours! And that’s counting from midnight. It was sent out at 11.15am on the day of release of the biggest exclusive game of the year so far. Unbelievable.

What do you think, am I being unreasonable? Or in the wake of the No Man’s Sky outcry, are we seeing a new trend of too much information too soon?

7 thoughts on “Too much, too soon?

  1. I tend to avoid the media surrounding a game I’m hyped for as well but mostly because I place story, character development, and exploration far above anything else. If the wonder was taken away I would lose interest in the game. There are a wide variety of gamers who couldn’t care less, however, and focus on the action.

    I think the beauty of it is that we can choose to click on these links and videos if we desire. It definitely crosses the line when the title of an article or a wall of text (ie tweet / facebook post) contain spoilers but I look at it as a fine line between marketing and loyalty. At the end of the day it’s a business and if developers aren’t making returns, they can’t continue on future projects.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with this point, I avoided all news of Watch Dogs 2 and got it for Christmas, unfortunately it didn’t meet the standard behind the hype I had for it. I think these videos are good if you’re new to the series and want a taste to see if it’ll be a game for you. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a prime example of this because I never played an Uncharted game before that (Xbox 360 owner), and I love the Uncharted Series now. I also agree with tweeting and writing spoilers to a recently released game is annoying and it’s almost like the websites reporting it are trying to get ahead of the competition and report it 1st, that’s just what I think. Great post tho, sparks a lot of discussion

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, on the one hand, having easy access to info about Games etc is useful but then, on the other, finding out about Games used to be a pretty exciting event in itself; counting down the days until you could run to the newsagents, excitedly lob your pocket money at the counter, and start reading GamesMaster before you’d even left the shop. Or settling down for your weekly fix of ‘GamesMaster’, ‘Bad Influence’ or ‘Movies, Games and Videos’ and hoping they’d have a snippet of a Game you had your eye on for a Christmas or Birthday present.

    In a weird way, I think things might’ve been easier then. Sure, there were fewer sources, and it took longer to get your information etc, but there was a lot less “noise” to wade through, and I certainly don’t remember ever feeling duped by a(n engineered) hype train that had hurtled out of control.

    *shakes fist at the internet, grumble, grumble, etc, etc*

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I try to avoid any and all coverage about games I’m looking forward to. They released so much damn Breath of the Wild footage that it started to drive me a little bit nuts. “First Two Hours of Breath of the Wild!” Why the heck would I want to watch that a month before I have it for myself?

    I’m playing it practically blind right now and loving every unpredictable moment of it! The most I ever watched of it was the original teaser trailer from way back in October.

    Fact is, they’re trying to capitalize on ad dollars and the free marketing, nothing more. I don’t even think they know why they release these things.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As someone who has been personally hyped for Horizon Zero Dawn for awhile (I’ve been following the game since announce), I would have been ticked-off had I read an article discussing a hidden scene towards the end of the game. You’re exactly right, too much information upfront destroys any mystery or suspense the game could have offered.

    It may all be a result of the gaming community’s backlash to developers remaining too tight-lipped about their titles. However, I also believe the social media race has developers striving for more views and likes than their competitors is also a major driving force.

    The world may never know.


  5. Definitely agreed. I found the first hour or so of Breath of the Wild incredibly boring as I’d seen everything it had to offer in promotional footage well in advance of release. I’ve seen a bunch of articles popping up in the days since release outlining secret weapons and mounts and how to get them and that’s been kind of a bummer too, having it shoved in your face like that.

    I appreciate that it’s in these pages best interest to get their information out first, and the act of discovering what a new game has to offer in tandem with thousands of other people will inevitably lead to the odd spoiler, but it would be nice if the games official pages weren’t the ones to deliver them.


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