Wow, this Aliens: Colonial Marines thing has really gotten people riled up about previews. It's gotten me thinking about what it'd be like were "the preview issue" fixed. Would the content for gaming websites become a lot more negative like all the other types of news that are out there?
The headline: "Development in trouble?" "I asked him how the development was going, and he paused, then continued his hands-off preview. What could be going wrong? We dig deeper."
I guess in that world, PR people would be even more cautious than they are now, maybe resulting in management doling out much tighter milestones for game development to ensure that there are no development skeletons to dig up. Stricter NDA agreements for former employees.
Would that result in even less risks taken on more experimental games? Would less former games journalists be working in games production and marketing now if they hadn't been as friendly to developers and marketers at preview events?
Maybe preview events would die out all together. If all the publishers want to do is get their message out, get their trailers and screenshots out, why don't they just release them on their own? After all, it's easy enough to get a website up and if its yours, hype all you want. Or maybe it's not easy, and some of the smaller developers who can't get the attention of gamers without the press would just die out.
Or maybe without the press all playing cheerleader for the big players, the little guys will finally be on equal footing.
What would happen to E3? In recent years, with live streams of all the press conferences anyways, what were the press there for? In most cases, the press just told us what we'd all seen for ourselves. The PlayStation Meeting tonight is going to be livestreamed directly on the PS3, directly from Sony to consumers, so why all the competition for game sites hosting their own streams?
There's a lot to think about in the coming games generation. Perhaps the arrival of Colonial Marines can still be a good thing; the push games reporting needed to becoming more than what it's been. Somehow, I get the feeling I've said that before...
What I Read:
"Previews mostly suck because they rarely serve any of the constituencies we want them to serve."
"Why have we let first-look culture train us to scratch furiously at sources so we can be the first to publish pictures of intransible black cubes, next-gen dev kits, at the risk of the hardware-maker's business? Who does that serve? Is it valuable for game fans to see that stuff eight weeks ahead of E3 instead of during it? Is this still the best way to drive traffic, or something?
"Have we ever thought about this stuff, or are we just racing blindly to enforce consumer product culture around something we stridently claim is an experiential art form, a communications medium?"
"For the love of God, donít pre-order a game based on a preview."
"The problem isnít that PR creates a wall, thatís their job. The problem is that in most cases weíre not willing to break through it. Previews are often handled by younger reporters en masse at shows at PAX or E3, and those are the people who are often unwilling to get aggressive in their line of questioning or push for hands-on access. This is the sort of job thatís best done by a reporter with a few years of experience under their belt, but previews are often seen as something of a commodity: get them out, get them done, get them up, try to get some hits."
Just the other day, a GameStop employee tried to get me to preorder Destiny, which he assured me was coming out this year, despite not being able to tell me anything about the game.
And I've read the previews. All I know is that it's a first person shooter from Bungie. Is that enough for you guys to preorder these days, just a respected developer name and a game mechanic you enjoy?