Many Icarus have burnt their wings under the sun of untenable promises. Often the consequence of a messy communication, we can no longer count the number of video games to have taken a bowl when they were released because of a final result far from the ambitions announced and clubbed weeks (if not months) before their release. An execrable syndrome that Cyberpunk has recently paid the price for and which raises serious questions about the not very healthy relationship between publishers anxious to sell their product and players who are decidedly too quick to hype.
Recently, Thomas Mahler, creator of Moon Studios (Ori and the Blind Forest) made the powder speak on the Resetera forums by openly attacking sellers of “dishonest” video game dreams, but also the general public, according to him, always ready to swallow the most beautiful snakes of the world. An observation that he loathes and reports to Peter Molyneux (Fable trilogy) grandmaster of “instead of telling you what my product is, let me tell you what I think it could be and get you all excited!”.
A man of good word if there is one, who will be followed by others, like Sean Murray and its No Man’s Sky which will have taken years to get closer to the announcements shouted loudly yet months before the game’s release, or the CD Projekt team which is struggling to recover from the puddle of burning oil that is Cyberpunk 2077. Examples that he (and us) have in common: lies. A fault that Mahler seems to have a hard time taking now:
”Cyberpunk. Made by the guys who made Witcher 3 this shit had to be good. Once again we tell you: “This is our Cyberpunk universe and – believe us – you can fucking do anything!” and once again, we end up with a whole public communication department that was inspired by Molyneux and Murray and started doing anything. Players had to believe it was a “Sci-Fi GTA first person”. What’s not to like? Every video released by CD Projekt has been carefully crafted to create an incredibly compelling image in the minds of gamers. They almost came to say that this thing would cure cancer. This strategy resulted in an absolutely staggering 8 million pre-orders. And in the end, the product was only a fraction of what the developer had imagined while affording the luxury of barely running on the consoles it was supposed to “perform amazingly well” on. ”
A bitter and straightforward observation towards an industry that has flirted with lies for too long. Because yes, in the end, it is neither more nor less than a lie. So of course, for anyone working in com ‘, the art of showcasing things is often synonymous with leaving out their weak spots. But ! But, there is a difference between praising the qualities of a product and inventing others that it does not have.
An unfortunately common practice in the world of video games, where hype is essential for good sales of a work. And if there’s something that bothers us here, it’s how easy it is for the general public to move on, as if none of it was serious.
As said very well Mahler, it doesn’t matter if the game is still good (in the case of Cyberpunk 2077) the guys blithely lied to us, and we’re almost the only sector in which it goes without too many problems. And then, even without talking about lying, internally such a marketing policy can only be devastating for teams of developers who, although armed with the best intentions in the world, will see the media lynching happen from afar, and will learn the chimeras that we will expect from them via a live speech from a man who is a little too visionary in need of adrenaline.
A sort of vicious circle from which we have to get out. We players first of all, since as you are probably well aware, the capacity of our wallet miraculously seems to interfere in the decisions taken in the upper echelons, which after two or three big commercial slaps, will perhaps begin to review their communication strategies.
And we journalists, editors, testers also have our share of the responsibility. If on one side ne are here to judge video games objectively on what they ultimately are, however, we can no longer put aside the broken promises of com ‘services desperate to sell their stuff.
So, of course we can imagine the bitterness in these lines, but yet, we love to dream too, we whose video games are an integral part of our daily lives. We whose pleasure also passes in the expectation which precedes the discovery of a work. In the end, we have no complaints about the dream. We simply have a justified anger at the certified untenable promises.