Hype is a fickle spirit in the video games industry, dispensing fortune with one hand and ruin on the other at a whim. The fan base is huge and devoted, and a prospective game can gather a huge following while it's still in early development, those watching, reading, and eagerly anticipating the Next Big Thing. Trailers, screenshots, interviews and previews fuel the hype machine and keep it rolling. All going well, your game could launch with a legion of fans and a ready-made community. And then of course, there's that cautionary tale of hubris for developers everywhere... #NoMansSky
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#TheLastGuardian's PS4 release date of December 6 is almost here, but the game has been near a decade in the making, and it's got quite a legacy to live up to given the popularity and critical acclaim garnered by Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. People are expecting The Last Guardian to be as revolutionary and engrossing as its predecessors were.
Fumito Ueda and his team began working on The Last Guardian back in 2007. In those 9 years, fans waiting for the game have had a long time to build their expectations. When the The Last Guardian finally releases, it might be great, but can it live up to the fantasy game that fans have constructed in their heads?
In an interview with engadget, Ueda shared his thoughts on fan expectations:
"Obviously there's a level of expectation, and it's really down to each and every person's level of expectation and imagination that they've created based on what they've seen."
The Last Guardian E3 2016 Trailer sets high bar:
No Man's Game
No Man's Sky wanted to be many things, and ended up being a the poster boy for failure due to excessive hype. During over three years of conference speeches and press releases Sony hyped No Man's Sky, an indie title developed by a tiny studio, as a huge open world experience that could compete with AAA games for content
When No Man's Sky finally launched in August, it didn't (couldn't) live up to the fantasies of all the thirsty fans who'd bought a seat on the hype train. The backlash was severe, with outraged players trashing the game and clamoring for refunds. The UK's Advertising Standards Agency is even investigating No Man's Sky for false advertising.
No Man's Sky the game is what it is, but No Man's Sky the warning will echo for years to come. Ueda is not deaf to such warnings. He is aware of the potential trap that awaits for a game that releases after years of anticipation. Although the creator of Ico tries to not think about the pressure to exceed his previous masterpiece placed on him by fans and Sony's marketing, he also acknowledges a positive aspect to it.
Perhaps the crucible of pressure that the The Last Guardian finds itself in right now will produce a diamond. They're aiming for a big hit and won't settle for anything less. Ueda isn't shy about his ambition to have the game played by as many people is possible. In fact, he admits that Trico, the central feature and selling point of The Last Guardian, was designed in order to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible.
"We found out that a lot of people are very curious and interested in animals...if we introduced an animal or living creature in this game that hopefully it would appeal to a wider audience."
Trico is that huge creature you've seen plastered all over trade show floors, posters and promotional images for The Last Guardian. Possessing both canine and avian elements and programmed with painstakingly realistic animal behavior, Trico isn't just a gameplay conceit, but also a deliberate attempt to tug on the heartstrings of animal-loving gamers the world over.
Instinct for Success
Ueda is banking on the player's relationship with Trico to captivate the masses. And his instincts might well be spot-on. Ico saw players build a relationship with the princess through play, and Ueda knows how to make this kind of gameplay emotionally affecting. How much more impactful will Trico be, given his puppylike demeanor towards the protagonist, and Ueda's experience in making games that grab players right in the feelings and don't let go?
The game ships on December 6th, and Ueda, for one, isn't going to be up all night reading customer reactions online. He actually does want to hear feedback from fans, but says that he is especially interested in the opinions of those who take their time with the game to finish it.
This could simply be a dismissal of fair-weather fans that aren't going to give the game a chance before rushing to a harsh judgement. Or it could be a hint that The Last Guardian will have a story with particularly rewarding developments for players who see it through to the end, and Ueda wants to hear from players who have been through that twist or big moment.
The units are being boxed and shipped to stores, so there's no further delays that can further tantalize the waiting fans. Time will tell if The Last Guardian is the rightful successor to Ico, or to No Man's Sky.
Are you looking forward to The Last Guardian?