A major issue I’ve seen over the past few years with the gaming industry is blind hype. What do you mean by blind hype, you ask? Well, read on and I’ll explain.
This year we’ve had a number of high profile releases including Metal Gear Solid V, which was arguably one of this year’s most hyped up games. Fans of the series have been waiting for the next entry in the Metal Gear Solid series since MGS4 released all the way back at the start of the PS3’s lifecyle. Who could blame those fans? Kojima is one of the most respected game developers in the industry, and every game he’s ever released has been of exceptional quality.
However, no game is without its flaws and Metal Gear Solid V is far from a perfect game. For that matter, there will never be a perfect game in that sense of the word. However, when a game receives almost universal praise, one has to wonder whether certain aspects of said game are being overlooked for the sake of blind hype.
Blind hype pushes you, as a gamer, to turn off your critical eye and enables you to overlook obvious flaws that other games wouldn’t be able to get a pass on. Unless there’s glaring problems, like a game not working for example, sometimes it’s hard to see some fundamental problems within a game.
Am I telling you that you need to be overly critical of the games you play? No, I am not. This article is actually more directed at the gaming press and their coverage of certain titles. When a gaming website has turned off their critical eye to a game and only releases unabashedly positive coverage about that game, that should raise some eyebrows. Without a critical eye, games will never improve. We are supposed to be critics, not promoters, and with quite a few reviews that I’ve seen over the past few months, they are becoming more or less promotional materials for game developers.
I recently wrote an editorial discussing Metal Gear Solid V’s apparent repetitiveness, which 90% of other outlets seem to have completely glossed over. The main complaint that most critics had with Metal Gear Solid V was the story, which I have to agree with. But quite a few outlets have been treating the game like the best new thing since sliced bread, and in my opinion, the game isn’t anything that we haven’t seen before. You can read more about my thoughts on that here.
Many of these same websites lambasted other open world games for being repetitive and not having enough variety in their mission structures. So, why do some games get a pass when others don’t? Well, that’s where the blind hype comes in.
It’s a bit formulaic, so to say. The games press gets a preview of a game and provides almost universal positive coverage about the game. Readers of said website take that information and run with it, and begin hyping themselves up for said project – especially if it’s a long running and exceptional series like Metal Gear. The press previews the game again, says mostly positive things about it, maybe criticizes a thing or two and readers point out those criticisms as non-issues, usually. Then, the review comes out and with a game as popular as Metal Gear Solid V, you as a reader probably already know what the scores are going to be.
For a time, there’s only positive discussion about the game. After a while, more and more people begin to analyze the game and discuss its flaws and the opinion of the game starts to shift – not always, but I’ve seen it enough now to know that’s usually how the process goes.
As a gamer, your blind hype comes in the form of disagreeing or agreeing with a review of a game before actually playing it yourself. How can you agree that a 9.5 for MGS V is an appropriate score without laying a hand on the game? Then, when another website scores it lower than you’d like to see and criticizes it a bit more than the overly positive review, you call out that site for creating a controversy for hits.
Metal Gear Solid V was also reviewed by most major outlets at a review event where you’re given an allotted amount of time to play the game and write a review. Most major outlets took advantage of that to have their reviews out on release day. Most even noted they never finished the game. That speaks volumes to me about the accuracy of some of those reviews, even if they were “reviews in-progress” baloney. At the end of the day though, those traffic jumps are what matter the most though, right?
Blind hype is bad for the games industry. It closes our critical eye to fundamental issues in games, and thus we get the same experiences over and over again with a different skin. As much as I enjoyed Batman: Arkham Knight and am enjoying Mad Max and Metal Gear Solid V, I feel like I’ve played them all before.
With the rising quality of games coming out, being critical of them is more important now than it ever has been before.