Game journalists occasionally grumble about “the hype,” the overwhelming (and duplicitous) marketing of major franchise games. The hype is presented as an unfortunate fact of consumer life, something we all endure together. Reviews of big titles usually begin with some variant of the eternal question: “does this game live up to the hype?”
By referring to “the hype” — an amorphous, agent-less hype — game journos are being too modest. The hype couldn’t have done it without them. Game journalism is hype’s primary conduit.
Game sites give AAA titles months if not years of breathlessly-uncritical pre-release coverage: unveilings, announcements, updates, interviews, teaser trailers, developer’s diaries, screenshots, first-looks, demos, hands-on previews and more, a carefully orchestrated hype crescendo. Any and all hype generated by game publishers is posted, tweeted, podcasted and video streamed, with matching banner ads and “sponsored content” if they purchase the deluxe package. It’s money well-spent: the veneer of journalistic objectivity is absolutely essential to the hype.
So, game pundits, don’t ask if the game lives up to the hype. Ask if the game lives up to your hype. Better yet, ask if you can possibly be trusted to evaluate a game you’ve been hyping.