I am not sure on who started it, but my first encounter of development change started with the reveal of the PlayStation 3. With the announcement of the PlayStation 3, they showed off a trailer to Killzone 2 at E3 2005. The trailer Sony showed off was to show the capabilities of the new PlayStation system. It was met with skepticism because it looked better than anything the Xbox 360 was coming out with their system. The hype the trailer garnered made Killzone 2 the game to look forward to for the new Sony system. In 2009, Killzone 2 is released for the PlayStation 3. Did it look like that infamous E3 trailer from 2005? No. It looked good, but nowhere as good as was promised.
Nearly nine years later, we are still dealing with the aftermath of the promises of E3. One of the biggest controversies of the past few weeks has been the new trailer to Watch Dogs. The first time Watch Dog is announced 2 years ago, the game looked stunning. People wondered if this was next gen or PC. All signs pointed to PC because the next generation of gaming systems was not announced yet. Now, as we finally know the release date in a form of a new trailer. What showed off at E3 and the latest trailer is completely different. Personally, I do not see the big deal is. The game still looks good and we do not know if that was last gen or current gen. Too many factors need to take account of before damning the game without playing it. Watch Dogs and Killzone 2 is not the only game to change.
If you watched all the trailers of South Park: The Stick of Truth it was expected that a character, most likely the player, would grow as big as a building and the town of South Park would have been in ruin. While a few places did end up being destroyed, it was not as it was in the trailers that were released. Sometimes changes come in the most subtle ways. The first time The Last of Us gameplay were shown off it had a different HUD compared to the retail copy of the game. Probably the biggest change from announcement to retail was Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Lines lost, scenes change, and Snake’s apparent suicide never came to past. While there was a golden hue in the game, in the final game had a grey look to it. If you watch the 15-minute announcement trailer and see gameplay footage now, it is apparent that things no doubly change.
While other developers like to show off what they are working on, the worst offender is Gearbox Studio with their Aliens: Colonial Marines game. Not only did it not look like it would be an amazing game, they showed off the same footage all the way to release day lying to everyone. While I do not mind a graphical downgrade or upgrade, but showing off gameplay that is not even in the game weeks before the game releases is a good way to lose the trust of everyone. While Dark Souls II, South Park: The Stick of Truth, The Last of Us, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and Killzone 2 all looked different compared to what was first announced at least they did not lie about the gameplay.
No matter the game, there will always be changes during development. While developers should be careful about what they should show and what not to show, we also need to know that a game will look completely different from their announcement. As great as The Witcher 3 looks, it is entirely possible for it to look different when it is released next year. The same goes for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain whenever that comes out, and any other game that is announced in the future.
What I would like publishers to do is do not announce a game so early. I understand that you would want to build hype in a new game, but sometimes that will backfire as your developers continue working on it. What we need to do is take everything with a grain of salt and hope that the finished product has good gameplay. If the game does not have good gameplay then all that pretty graphics does not mean a thing. This is just scratching the surface of changes developers go through when making a game. Half Life 2, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and many more go through changes when going through development.