Less Hype , More Product
This week I thought I would take a different direction for the blog post. Over the decade or so we have seen the political process in this country expand to the point that it seems to never stop. We have candidates promising us the moon and then election day hits and we realize it is the same old thing again. We then set in to endure another long process of the same thing all over again. Well it seems over the years that tech and gaming companies have decided this was a great way to sell stuff, after all these people get elected.
Looking back at a lot of releases of both hardware and software over the last few years we have seen companies built hype over long and longer periods of time. The company will announce a new product is on the way and give us vague release times. Then over the next few months if not years the company will release will tidbits, teasing us at how great the product will be, claiming it will change everything. We will get emails weekly telling us about the latest video that has been put out and people will gobble up the material like it is candy. The company will leak information and do exclusive interviews building the hype machine up to a frenzy and then…. Well you know what happens next.
Over the last year or so we have had some real hype up and let down moments. One of the biggest was AMD and the all mighty FX chip. We were told this was the chip that would put AMD on top. We were promised an 8 core beast that would change the way we all used a CPU. What we got instead after all the secrecy, hype and waiting was a chip that was actually slower in everyday use than their previous model and was priced higher.
Bioware and EA did it to us with Star Wars: The Old Republic. A Bioware rep actually said something to the effect that other MMOs were broken and Bioware was about to show the world was what an MMO should be. They claimed we would see a game system unlike any ever created before and state of the arts graphics. We were promised that the full voice over system would not slow down the release of new content despite the pundits claiming it would. What we got was an MMO just like every other MMO except it had voice overs. We also have Bioware and EA now telling people to be patient because new content takes longer due to the full voice over. We endured tons of little videos and an amazing amount of hype to deliver just another MMO with a Star Wars skin.
Intel to a lesser extent got hit by the hype slap with the release of their Ivybridge processors. At CES we had displays everywhere telling us how get the onbaord graphics were and how we could get a great gaming experience using Ivybridge. We also hear how great the Ivybridge upgrade would be since it was using a smaller die we would see this great improvement over the Sandybridge chips. Go read the reviews, Ivybridge does okay but performance improvements and power improvements are marginal and the graphics is till the weak link in the Intel setup.
The reason for this article is because of the recent hype methods used by Bethesda, the maker of Skyrim. In March the team from Bethesda let some info trickle out that gave the impression the wait for the Skyrim DLC could soon be over. This trickle lead to an announcement that in April there would be a big surprise for Skyrim gamers. Well April is nearing a close and the only big news out of Bethesda is their new game and that Kinect users will get voice activation for Skyrim. The first has nothing to do with Skyrim and the second only effects a small percentage of the players and even then is not that big of deal since a mod that offers this same support is already out for the PC. Now with April about to end and Bethesda being silent the leak is that we “might” get word next week. This is classic hype building, I mean seriously an announcement of maybe an announcement?
Now in fairness to the above companies they are not the only ones to do this, a lot of companies in hardware and software are guilty of this hype campaign. The saddest part however is not that these companies keep doing this, but rather that we as consumers not only accept it but encourage it. We go to the rumor sites, we download the latest videos, knowing full well they are not going be representative of the game we look forward to. We listen to the BS the companies throw us through so called sneak previews that are closer to paid advertisements and eat it up like candy. Then when the final product hits the shelves and we see that they hype was just that we actually get mad at the companies.
So to us, the consumer I say it is time for us to wake up. Game trailers are NOT 90% of the time what you will see in game. They are specially prepared and scripted events to get you excited, not about the product itself but the dream of that product. When a hardware company spends time telling you that their next product will change the industry, smile at them and go on with your gaming, or work. If it changes things for real we will know it on release and if it is just another small step forward then at least you can feel like you did not waste your time in anticipation
To the companies I am begin you to please for the love of god lay off the hype. If you have an announcement to make then make it. We do not need forewarning it is coming just tell us what you have to say. Game companies, take the money and time spent in making the various trailers and put it into developing the game. You can make a trailer easy enough with Fraps and some real game play. It will mean more to us because we get the see the real game and will cost you the company less resources and time. I mean come on we can do it, why can’t you?
All of you companies out there pay a lot of money for marketing reps to help you build these strategies however they have taken you all for a ride. I will give you the following marketing advice for free.
1) Be honest with us, the consumers. We do not need hype and slight of hand to like a product, show us who and what you are openly and honestly, we will react better than you can imagine.
2) If you have an announcement then make it, nothing kills the impact of an announcement as much as making use wait and wait. We lose interest and move on and the impact of your announcement is lost. Surprise us with the announcement, show us something at the time that is real and the impact will be a hundred fold better.
3) Tell us about your new product when you are nearing release, not 6 months or more out. In 6 months your product might be meaningless to me and the hype train makes us all lose interest anyway. If you have a game announce it when you are in the last stages of a close beta so the launch is getting close. If it is hardware then practice the same idea. Announce in advance enough to let review sites and testers have played with it but we the consumers do not need road maps and wink and smile promises of performance.
4) Finally take all the money that you would put into your hype campaign and use it for putting finishing touches on your product. We would love games that do not need day one patches or hardware that needs a new driver release within days of launch. Put that money to use in a way that BENEFITS the consumer.
Listen we are geeks, we get excited about new hardware, software or games just because it comes out. We do not need you to stoke us up, we are stoked to begin with. Maybe if you spent less time stoking us up we would not be so let down and the negative forum posts would decline. Cut the hype, just give us the products.