Is Hype Really So Bad?

As E3 grows ever-closer, the eternal conflict between cynical games journalists and PR specialists wages on. The former warning us against the dangers of getting excited for unreleased products, and the latter trying to get us all to board the hype train for these new releases, keeping the community buzzing. While hype can, in fact, be dangerous to the consumers,¬†it’s not necessarily the evil that some make it out to be.

Nobody can argue that it’s the responsibility of companies to make their products look appealing to consumers, whether the end product is good or not. Games like Fable, and more recently Watch_Dogs, remind us time and time again that hype is a strong tool wielded, often maliciously, to pull the wool over the eyes of communities. This much is a certainty. But while we can so confidently condemn hype under these circumstances, what about the positive ones?

When The Last of Us came was announced at Spike’s VGA’s two years before its release, ¬†myself and a large portion of the gaming community were beyond excited. We experienced hype at its very best, and we were able to create a strong community before the game released, and when it did, we were afforded a unique privilege. The release of The Last of Us didn’t create its community, but it was instead a shot in the arm to a community that had already built its foundation, all thanks to the hype that its trailer created.

If The Last of Us were announced a week before it came out, then the game would have likely fallen on its face not unlike the Wii U, being a fantastic product whose only crime was a lack of advertising, and total absence of hype. But because of its announcement, and because of the hype it received, it was immediately received as a massive success, and the community around it was already strong and supportive of it.

Hype might be the bane of some consumers, when companies use it to trick people into supporting a product doesn’t deserve it. But when it works, it supports the industry in all the right ways and makes sure that communities are strong, and become healthy and positive forces in the industry. As an industry it’s out obligation to make sure that we, the consumers, don’t get misled by malicious hype-mongering. But it’s equally as important to ensure we get to be excited about good products, and let communities grow strong.