Hype. It’s a buzz word in the entertainment industry. Whether that be video games, movies, or your nephew’s local theatre production, generating hype for your product is an essential component of marketing now.
Which is pretty obvious since your end goal every time is to make as much money as possible, and the more hype you generate, the more likely that more people will buy your product. But generating too much hype can overbuild expectations, resulting in critical disappointment at launch.
I don’t think there is a better case study of this than the recent launch of Cyberpunk 2077. Say what you will about the game itself, but it’s quite possible that it is was the most hyped game of all time, judging by it’s financial success and broken records at least.
Hype fuels expectations, and high expectations means a smaller margin for error that the customer will be satisfied with. Obviously hype will generate more excitement for your product, leading to more sales, but potentially hurting your reputation for quality can lead to decreased sales in the long term.
One way to combat this would be to not give into the hype generation, and instead keep low expectations. That way, if something comes out and it’s bad, you won’t be disappointed. And if it turns out to be great, then it will feel even better to you. It’s a win-win situation right?
But if you always have low expectations, then there’s never anything to get excited about, and it’s fun to get excited about stuff, hell it even feels good to get excited. So maybe there’s a balance that needs to get struck there?
What’s also tricky is that hype can be generated by the audience rather than the studio itself, which means it can end up being hard to control. As a developer you can't help it if loads of people are excited about your product, in fact that probably feels great when that happens. But then is it really your fault if your audience’s expectations were too high? Should you have managed the hype yourself to lower everyone’s expectations?
Anyway, it’s a difficult subject to touch on because of it's volatility, and you can absolutely argue for either side. What would be interesting is to see the general consensus from you guys considering we’ve all most likely had first hand experience of hype in one way or another.
So what do you think? Does hype make or break a game? Is it good to get excited about stuff? Or should we always keep low expectations? And are companies mostly responsible for hype? Or the fans? Let’s debate!