The Endless Stream of New Game Releases Is Exciting, but Also Exhausting


#1

Postscript is Cameron Kunzelman's weekly column about endings, apocalypses, deaths, bosses, and all sorts of other finalities.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/8x7x93/the-endless-stream-of-new-game-releases-is-exciting-but-also-exhausting

#2

The rapidness with which games come out is one of my least favorite things about them.

There’s obviously the financial pressure that occurs when you try to stay current, but for me, it’s all about how it kills discussion. We can’t really think about what Tomb Raider got wrong because here comes Red Dead and then we can’t think about what Red Dead might get wrong because here comes Fallout. All the declarations have to be big and the takes gotta be hot or else it’ll all be forgotten and good fucking luck getting a word in edgewise a month after the fact. And as someone who really wants to try their hand at writing about games, it’s all extremely intimidating.


#3

Word. On the one hand, it’s great that we have such an embarrassment of riches — on the other hand, it’s so deeply overwhelming and how can I stay current on the last video gaming culture discussions with these new releases when I’m also trying to finish KOTOR 2 & Fallout 3? There ain’t enough time in the world.


#4

I’m really enjoying how the Switch is popular enough as a platform to reignite discussion of a game whenever the Switch version drops. A game like Hollow Knight feels fresh to me and everyone else that was holding out on the Switch release, but there’s already an established culture around it, takes are already pretty solidified and people who have already 100+%'d it can relive it through all the new players sharing their first impressions. Love to join in the Switchcourse.

One of my major gripes I have with pretty much all mainstream games journalism is how focused it is on what’s current, when there is so much quality stuff that falls into obscurity. It feels like a holdover from the 90’s when game magazines were basically just unapologetically advertising new games to consumers. It’d be nice if it was more common for ports or price drops to be seen as a great reason to take another look at a game. Shouts out to Danielle for doing this a lot for Waypoint, Anodyne and DK: Tropical Freeze both deserve some love.


#5

Being poor really helps me deal with this problem.


#6

I mean, my BPD doesn’t give a FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK that I don’t really have the money to buy the games I do, so yeah…


#7

While I totally agree that the constant release schedule is exhausting (and one that I get inevitably caught in each year in the run-up to GotY), I will say that there is nothing wrong with revisiting a game’s discourse months or years after the fact. The articles and forum posts are all still there, and oftentimes people are willing to circle back to older game discussions in many communities (including here). Granted, there is something about seeing the conversation around a game develop immediately after release, but I’d argue that relatively few games warrant the full price of entry for me to be in the zeitgeist.

Also, shout out to the various patient gaming communities online keeping up the discourse for those of us who wait for sales.


#8

I think this cycle is really interesting. While true, the initial discourse has a way of becoming deeply settled. To use a relatively non-controversial example, Dark Souls II is still discussed under the terms of an unappreciated sequel with a good PvP scene, even if the critical consensus on that game has bounced back considerably.

Not necessarily saying you are right or wrong, but it is an interesting wrinkle to the tail of discussion around games.


#9

For me the “rat race” has resulted in me largely checking out of actually playing modern AAA titles and having more interested in the coverage thereof.

I think the design of games themselves has moved in this direction, too. Path of Exile is a game that’s so large, and so complex, that once you’ve wrapped your head around the rules for what’s what, the game gets a massive patch and you have to start all over. And that is basically the selling point of the game. Most games-as-a-service model games are in a similar race to get ahead of their playerbase at every turn. Look at how angry people get when companies stop updating a game, regardless of how good the game was to being with, and often the only salve is a newer, better, shinier thing on the immediate horizon. Call of Duty has that figured out to a T.

It’s fascinating and also exhausting just to keep up with a handful of existing titles.


#10

It’s like that Hannibal Buress bit from the Eric Andre show: what if we like, just didn’t release any movies for a year so everybody could catch up. Games would be like that but for a decade


#11

If most games where shorter self contained experiences instead of the sprawling live service open world games, the rapid pace they come out at wouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem. But that’s where we are, and to be fair I honestly don’t think that the open world game fad this industry is going through isn’t the worst fad the games industry has ever experienced, in fact I’d say I prefer it much more than the gritty brown call of duty clones that infested the last generation of consoles. I just think that this eventual exhaustion is one of the big downsides of this fad. I’m hopping that with the success of AA games like Hellblade and A Way Out (which far exceeded EA’s expectations) we will see a more healthy mixture of shorter more unique experiences instead of just an endless slew of massive multi-hour games.


#12

Okay, so Cameron’s article supposes (correctly, in my opinion) that the frontline of the video games ‘war’ is the preview cycle, in which speed is expressed through demonstrating the technology that is to come, whether it be a new console or a new video game. We then wage battles of prediction, guessing at what a game will be like, drawing conclusions and defending those conclusions before the game is even finished. In my observation of games discourse, it’s true: a large part of the conversation around a game is concluded before the game is released, and if a released game differs from conclusions drawn during the preview cycle, much of the conversation then becomes how the game is different now that it’s out. Think about the absurdity of that statement! We compare the game to before it even existed!

I am having a hard time writing “games preview coverage is ultimately meaningless”, though this is how I honestly feel. I get that press cycles are themselves interesting; however, they aren’t themselves the game. They’re some of the flavor around the game. For some, they don’t matter at all, while for others (myself included), they inform how we approach the game on release. Regardless: the game eventually exists, announcement or not. How the press cycle prior to its release affects our experience with the game is up to us. Sometimes, it’s worthwhile (Far Cry 5 is almost exclusively interesting because of its press cycle), but other times, it’s a total disservice to the game, to have it judged prior to being in a player’s hands. And (critically, not financially), to what end?

So I wonder: what would games be like if there was no pre-release press cycle? If the games industry only reacted after a ‘weapon’ was launched, rather than simply previewed, I feel that the attack/counter-attack cycle (sorry, trying to stick with the framing here) would be a more rewarding cycle to participate in as a fan, and as a critic. We’d spend less time expending emotional and psychic energy on a layer of a game that, once its released, has no bearing on the game any longer. We’d not enter game experiences with expectations of success or failure. And, personally, I would prefer it if press cycles were not considered part of the work itself. For one, they’re cynical and I don’t like them. More importantly, they aren’t considered part of the game’s canon once the game is released, and even the pre-release scandals are often eventually lost to time. If I am about to play Tomb Raider 2 on PSX, I don’t go look up preview coverage of the game in scans of Playstation Magazine. I just play the game as-is, which is the way it should be.

The press/release cycle is an interesting subject to cover, and should still be covered. However, with trailers, trailer breakdowns, longform preview articles, private alphas, public betas…coverage thereof is beginning to outweigh coverage of the games themselves. Whenever I see a 50-post thread debating the concerns raised by this trailer or whether or not what that developer said means this or that about how the game will play when it’s out in 2+ years, I read through 20 or 30 posts before thinking: yo why don’t we just wait for the fuckin game to come out? Is this argumentation always interesting, or fun? Sometimes it is, but sometimes it just feels mandatory, and it’s those times that I am truly exhausted.


#13

I also often feel that “the discourse” is the most exhausting thing about gaming. (not on waypoint, of course…). gamers are the most exhausting thing about gaming. my relationship with the games themselves and the rate at which they come out is close to 100% chill.