Don't Hype Games based on their Developers

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Karmum

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#1  Edited By Karmum

With the impending release of Valve's latest game -- Left 4 Dead, an idea crawled into my head. This is the idea of hyping games based on their developers. Everybody has one of those friends who don't get excited for the content that is in the game, but instead who is developing the game. First off, this is not a post about bashing Left 4 Dead or Valve. As a matter of fact -- I think Valve is a great developer. However, I'm interested at all for Left 4 Dead. I'm not here to blast Valve or Left 4 Dead. TF2, Portal, and the Half-Life 2 games are some of my favorite games to play, but Left 4 Dead isn't my cup of tea. However, this is NOT the point of this post.

Valve Corporation (or simply Valve for short), is known for their aesthetically pleasing looking and great first-person shooters. Powered by the Source Engine, they continue to prove that the Source Engine can still compete with the new engines of today. Their upcoming release, Left 4 Dead, is shaping up to follow down this path. However my problem is not Left 4 Dead itself -- but people who hype this game because of the developers behind it. In my opinion, it is OK to get excited for a game based on its content. It is OK to like a game for its content and be even more happy because it is by one of your favorite developers. What I don't think is okay is if you hype a game solely on its developers. Yes, Valve can be argued as the best developer in the gaming market, but this doesn't mean every game they will develop will be a smashing success. On the contrary, almost every game they have released has had universal acclaim. You see, I have a friend who is excited for Left 4 Dead. He constantly talks about how it is made by Valve and even persuades me to get excited for it as well. However he never mentions the content in the game (aside from the obvious -- zombies). Asking for further elaboration on his reasons for getting excited for Left 4 Dead, he came up with nothing.

This is when the idea of hyping games because of the developers solely crawled inside my head. Do you think it is okay to do this? I don't -- at all. There is always that possibility that you will either end up disliking the game or that the game will end up being a bust. Even though it is from the great developers of Valve. However, I do have to give Valve the thumbs up on creating success from game to game, because this works in their advantage. Whether or not Left 4 Dead becomes universally loved, whether or not Left 4 Dead sells well based on its content, it will sell because it is by Valve. Yes, it is going to. Valve consistently releases games that deliver on what they promise, so it shouldn't be a surprise when you find out the latest game by Valve is a first-person shooter. Think about the people who are only fans of the developers of Valve, and for instance, both TF2 and Portal. They are not fans of the HL2 games and dislike zombies in general. Heading into one of their gaming stores they notice an upcoming game being developed by Valve -- entitled Left 4 Dead. Again, they don't like zombie games, but they love Valve. Since they like Valve, the store and Valve will sell another copy of a game that the consumer might not end up liking. Don't get me wrong -- Left 4 Dead will probably end up being a great game by most, but I assure you there are people out there that don't care about the content of the game. But rather, the fact it is developed by Valve. Did you see people hyping Epic's Unreal Tournament 3, just because it was by Epic Games? What happened with that? Majority of the gamers disliked the game. Did you see people hyping Gears of War 2 because it was made by Epic Games? Probably not, but I'm sure the original Gears of War had an influence in it. That and chainsaws -- which is a ridiculous drawing point.

This brings me to the company that trumps Valve in the hype department -- Bungie Studios. Bungie's biggest game(s) is the Halo Franchise -- but are also known for the Marathon and Myth series. I'm not here to talk about Marathon and Myth, I'm here to talk about the trilogy that is Halo. The Halo series has had ridiclous acclaim, and also ridiculous accustations that pertain to bring back the FPS genre. Whether or not these awards and claims are deserving, I'm not here to discuss that either. I'm here to talk about the hype surrounding the Halo games. After the original Halo, it was safe to say Halo 2 had a good amount of hype around it. By the time Halo 2 was released, it was praised for advanced multiplayer (at that time), and is a game that people still play to today. When the rumors of Halo 3 were discussed, the hype-train began to load up all of its fans. Were most of these "fans" for the game or for Bungie? Do these "fans" honestly care if every new Halo game is actually different in any way, or as long as Bungie is making it? Contemplate these ideas, because the Halo franchise has also recieved alot of discussion about being overrated. We all know Halo 3 had massive hype around it, and when it came to the reviewer's hands it acquired critical accliam. Was this the acclaim of the people, though? With the impending release of Halo Wars, and Halo 3: Recon, is enough enough? You can definitely believe Halo Wars and Halo 3: Recon will sell just because of the Halo name, and H3: Recon will sell because it goes back to the FPS roots. While Bungie is not working on Halo Wars, you better believe it is going to sell.

The question of this rant is simply: should you hype games based on their developer? Do YOU hype games based on their developer, solely? Do you know anybody like this? Are you one of the logical and free type of person that gets excited for games based on their content? Time for you to decide.

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Sweep

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#2  Edited By Sweep  Moderator

Its completely natural to form certain assumptions about a title based on the limited information you are given. Its the same with films, books, music - its hardly unreasonable. If I see a film is directed by Steven Spielberg then I walk into the Cinema with the assumption that the directing is going to be of a high quality. Similarly there are several authors whose writing style works for me. Why should the same not apply to video games? Each developer is individual in terms of style, aesthetics, support and philosophy - and having distinguished itself a developer is likely to continue on a similar path. (That's also why I am sceptical of Valves 360 support in Left 4 Dead). Each of these factors contributes to the foundations of Hype itself. Its natural to assume that these elements will influence our expectations.

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PureRok

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#3  Edited By PureRok

To hype a game solely based on the developer is wrong, but I don't think the developer should be ignored, either. Pretty much I agree with Sweep and have nothing more to say, really.

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Willy105

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#4  Edited By Willy105

I thought the developer was the best reason to hype a game.

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roushimsx

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#5  Edited By roushimsx

I fail to see a problem with being excited for a new product from a team that's proven to know how to build a good game. Hell, it's no different than being unexcited for a game based on the inability for the developer to kick out anything decent. Spark Unlimited is everyone's favorite whipping boy right now, but when was the last time you heard anyone getting hyped for a game being developed by Tamsoft or Darkwoods SA?

If a team is well known for putting out a good product (Surreal Software with the Drakan and Suffering series, Starbreeze with Chronicles of Riddick and The Darkness. Oh hell,  DMA with Lemmings, Body Harvest, Space Station Silicon Valley, Grand Theft Auto III, etc) then why wouldn't you be excited for their next product, regardless of the source material or theme?

Using the previous examples:


Regarding Left 4 Dead, I wasn't terribly excited for it based on Turtle Rock's previous game (Counter Strike: Condition Zero), but once I found out that Valve had acquired the studio I knew that something had to be up. Sure enough, there's been nothing but damn praise for it ever since they started showing it off and letting people play it. Got excited then and it looks like it's really going to pay off.

Anyone that ever downloaded Narbacular Drop knew that Portal was going to be something real special. Those that didn't...well, they found out soon enough, didn't they? :) Can't wait to see what those guys and gals turn out next.
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Karmum

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#6  Edited By Karmum

Getting excited for a game simply because of its developer (regardless of their reputation), I thought was wrong. In my opinion, anyways. I don't even think many people do this, but I knew somebody who did and wanted to get it off my chest.

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roushimsx

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#7  Edited By roushimsx
Karmum said:
"Getting excited for a game simply because of its developer (regardless of their reputation), I thought was wrong. In my opinion, anyways. I don't even think many people do this, but I knew somebody who did and wanted to get it off my chest."
It's the only rational reason to be excited for a game. Why else would you be excited for a game, after all? Based on the premise? Spark Unlimited has shown twice in a row that they can take an awesome premise and flush it down the toilet. Irrational Games took a fairly generic premise in SWAT 4 and turned it into a remarkably enjoyable experience.

Or would you just rather get excited based on the license? Ask James Bond fans how well that's worked out for them. Ask the Tom Clancy junkies what they thought of Ubisoft Shanghai's entries into the series (especially UbiShanghai vs UbiMontreal versions of Double Agent). Any Starfox fans in the house?

A lot of people like to dump on Treyarch's entries into the Call of Duty series, but both Big Red One and Call of Duty 3 were developed in under a year each and for multiple platforms (especially impressive for Call of Duty 3, considering how well it turned out in the end). World at War is widely considered a very good game, even if it isn't ultimately quite up to snuff with Call of Duty 4.

Look at the various Resident Evil games throughout the series and pick apart the ones that were developed by various teams (Capcom Production Studios 1, 3 and 4, Cavia, Nextech, etc) and see if you can correlate which games you enjoyed best and least from the series with each studio.

I really can't understand why you wouldn't be excited for a game if knew it was from not just a developer that you enjoyed, but from a specific team at that developer that consistantly develops high quality games.
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AkumaX

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#8  Edited By AkumaX

That hype leads to better reviews. L4D is no doubt a good game, but because Valve are known for such their games will get viewed less harshly than others. Some may say it has the microscope on it more, but to my mind games from a revered developer often get slightly better than they deserve (with the exception of the original game or games that put them in that position to start with).

What if L4D was a Treyarch developed, Activision published game?

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Karmum

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#9  Edited By Karmum

I still wouldn't look it as "Oh, made by Treyarch, it will be bad." I will looked at it based on its content inside the game.

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roushimsx

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#10  Edited By roushimsx
AkumaX said:
"What if L4D was a Treyarch developed, Activision published game?"
If Activision was publishing and Treyarch was developing, it probably would have been out last Christmas or early this spring and not be nearly as good. Activision's willingness to grant Treyarch two years to work on World at War is completely out of character; Treyarch seems to generally get stuck with short time tables and making the best games that they can within that period. More often than not they pan out as something good (if not great) and sometimes they make Spiderman 3.

You're sort of starting to dip into the "7 sucks, 8 is awesome" territory.
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BiggerBomb

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#11  Edited By BiggerBomb
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#12  Edited By pause422
Sweep said:
"Its completely natural to form certain assumptions about a title based on the limited information you are given. Its the same with films, books, music - its hardly unreasonable. If I see a film is directed by Steven Spielberg then I walk into the Cinema with the assumption that the directing is going to be of a high quality. Similarly there are several authors whose writing style works for me. Why should the same not apply to video games? Each developer is individual in terms of style, aesthetics, support and philosophy - and having distinguished itself a developer is likely to continue on a similar path. (That's also why I am sceptical of Valves 360 support in Left 4 Dead). Each of these factors contributes to the foundations of Hype itself. Its natural to assume that these elements will influence our expectations."
When the hell was the last time Steven Spielberg came out with a high quality movie? Anyway, if you want to get up in arms at people who like certain developers, and get excited when they come out with something new, when all of their previous titles are high quality, go right ahead and be against it, but it makes no actual sense. Almost anyone that enjoys video games and actually have a favorite developer would be excited when they come out with a new project.
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crunchUK

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#13  Edited By crunchUK

i think it makes plenty of sense to be honest - if a developer has pleased you time and time again of course you will look out for future games from them aand vice versa. suure it's a form of predjudice i guess but hey at least you're basing it on SOMETHING

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#14  Edited By Bear

So basically, what you are saying is; don't hype a game solely based on the developer because you might influence others to buy a game that they won't like?

If this is what you are saying, then I feel that hyping based solely on developer is both good and bad. The good and the bad both cancel each other out, leaving the end result neutral.
Psychonauts is a great example. I didn't like the art style of the game; I didn't like the idea of playing as a kid in a summer camp; I haven't liked platformers since playing my Nintendo 64. I looked past all those deterrences simply because it was created by Double Fine, a company that was run by some guy that used to make really good adventure games for Lucasarts that I never played. Turned out, I really enjoyed it; it was a great game. I would have never chose to pick up this game based on content alone. Without knowledge of Tim Schafer and his track record, I never would have given the game a chance and would have rejected it based entirely on my first impressions.

I am very excited about the next Team ICO game, despite not knowing anything about the content. Even after seeing what it is, if my intial reaction is "ugh"; I will still buy it. Many games give bad impressions based on content, whether it's the visuals, gameplay, or style of the game. Sometimes the game is wholly representative of those impressions, other times it's completely different that what you were expecting. At least that's my opinion.

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#15  Edited By Rorschach
Sweep said:
"Its completely natural to form certain assumptions about a title based on the limited information you are given. Its the same with films, books, music - its hardly unreasonable. If I see a film is directed by Steven Spielberg then I walk into the Cinema with the assumption that the directing is going to be of a high quality. Similarly there are several authors whose writing style works for me. Why should the same not apply to video games? Each developer is individual in terms of style, aesthetics, support and philosophy - and having distinguished itself a developer is likely to continue on a similar path. (That's also why I am sceptical of Valves 360 support in Left 4 Dead). Each of these factors contributes to the foundations of Hype itself. Its natural to assume that these elements will influence our expectations."
This makes total sense. The quality of a developer's previous work will mos def give you an idea of what you're heading into. Like Sweep said, you go to see a Spielberg flick, regardless of content or story, and you expect quality. That and aliens, of course.