Sunday Thoughts: Teasers

I absolutely adore Doctor Who. I know I might catch a little flack for that, and to be honest I’m not enjoying this series as much as others, but anyway I really do love Doctor Who. What I really love, more than the show itself, is the way that as the series progresses gentle teasers are continuously dropped by the writers and actors. It really keeps you guessing about what’s coming next, and reveals just enough to let you speculate wildly about where the time-travellers might be going next. For me chatting with friends about just what might happen is as big a part of the show as actually watching it.

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that way about games this way, even in the build up to E3. Of course I’ll speculate about what might be at the show and what’s going to get revealed in the press conferences, but I feel we rarely get teased like TV shows regularly do. If we know anything before the show it’s little tidbits of information like the news of Sony’s domain registrations.

These little morsels of information very rarely come from the companies themselves, normally either someone digs up some domain or trademark registrations, or something just leaks. Of course, you can argue that leaks may be a form of PR teasing without leaving themselves too open to follow up requests for information, although often they are genuine leaks. Teasers for other media often come this way as well but it seems PR is more willing to drop little hints officially than they are with games.

[drop]I suppose partly this is to do with the completely different schedule that games operate under. If you look at the games that will be announced at this year’s E3 (no, I don’t know what they are) it’s very unlikely we’ll see more than a tiny handful this year. Games are announced so far in advance that it would seems a little odd to tease before the announcement. Generally we get teasers once a game’s actually out, it’s far rarer to get something before the game’s actually out and that approach does make sense.

With E3, and a few other expos, being the main places for gaming announcements it does make sense that companies want things to go off with as big of a bang as possible. Whilst teasers can help to build the anticipation and increase the impact of an announcement, they can also completely ruin it. If you let too much information go too early then someone’s going to piece together the entire thing and your press conference at the big show will land with a damp splat rather than the world-shattering thud you’d hoped for.

Take last year’s announcement of the Xbox 360 S or the PSP Go in 2009. Microsoft managed to keep the 360 S mostly under wraps until a day or so before their press conference, and still it lost its bombshell feeling. It was more a sense of just waiting for them to actually unveil it. Of course, these weren’t teases from Microsoft or Sony but they do show just how dull things can be when you know what’s coming.

However, if you can get the balance right, if you can appropriately misdirect before the announcement, then it can land to an even bigger response than if the announcement had been made by itself. This is exactly how magic works, there’s no impact if you just hand someone’s watch back to them. You’ve got to make it look like its smashed before you make the big reveal that the watch was on you assistant’s wrist the whole time. That’s what getting you buzz right can do for an announcement, point your fans in one direction and unveil something that genuinely surprises.

Although a lot of us moan at the use of countdown timers, look at just how much anticipation Konami’s countdown for Metal Gear Solid: Rising built. It revealed just enough to speculate but also misdirected fans enough that we didn’t get quite what we were expecting.

I guess what I really want is to be excited again, have someone make me feel genuinely excited for E3 rather than dreading the work load. Then again that’s not exactly a common situation.

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37 Comments

  1. This is the second time I’ve been a bit confuzzeled at how your mind works on these articles Kris. You have no interest in Uncharted 2 but lots in Uncharted 3 and you love Doctor Who when it has lots of teasers yet you arent as keen on the current series, which has more teasers in than ever before!

    On the subject of E3, I kind of feel like this year is less exciting than the previous. I just cant see anything properly exciting coming from it, or much we dont know already know a bit about. I really hope I’m proved wrong though, otherwise I might come away feeling a little disappointed.

    • Know what you mean about disappointment, especially feeling that we already know almost all there is to know, thanks to a multitude of pre-E3 reveals, or just years leaks & teases

      Sony’s keynotes for the past 2 years have been great, Uncharted 2 and all that followed by Move & stuff last year. Before that MS’ keynotes were mind-blowing.

      Remakes, HD re-releases and bringing old franchises back, whilst good and all that, its a little difficult to go overboard about something we’ve all played before.

      EA have Battlefield3 which we’ve already seen loads of videos of and of course Madden/FIFA/NHL which we all know about already leaving just ME3 to be shown off properly
      Microsoft’s biggie is Gears3, which we’ve not only already seen, but plenty of people have played and of course there’s Forza4 which whilst presumably excellent isn’t exciting
      SEGA’s Colonial Marines has already been revealed
      Sony have already shown off loads of vids of Uncharted3 (meaning it will never have the same impact that Uncharted2 had during e3 2009) and a ton of Starhawk info which would have been mind-blowing to be revealed during the keynote but has already landed along with plent of Res3 info & vids
      THQ have already dropped Metro The Last Light, Saints Row 3 & Red Faction info
      and Ubisoft have already teased plenty of their stuff, with perhaps gameplay of the new Ac game the only thing missing, however can we be excited by that… the fourth time around?

      I can’t see what’s left for us to be shocked about, like I have been in previous years…The only thing we haven’t seen yet is proper MW3 gameplay, which I’m looking forward to seeing, but live gameplay on stage is often rubbish (remember the ice climb reveal of MW2?)

      Unless MS drop the bombshell of a new console it looks like Ninty & Project Cafe will storm this year’s E3.

      Because of my current feelings on E3, I’ll probably end up being blown away again just like the good old days of 2009 http://www.thesixthaxis.com/2009/06/02/tsa-cry-like-babies/

      • The other thing that could bring some excitement would be not only a new GTA revealed but gameplay shown.

      • I’m hoping for surprises, I really, really, really want Half Life 3 to be announced although its pretty much a no, and remember we know nothing about Insomniacs new multi platform universe.. That may turn out to be awesome..

      • Rockstar know how to build anticipation, especially when it comes to GTA, they are very good at teasers.

    • You sound like I know how my brain works!

      On Doctor Who I like the teasers around the show (although those in the show are cool as well), but the show itself feels weaker.

  2. I really wish Sony would release a boomerang version of the DS3…

    • Or Nintendo release a boomerang version of the 3ds. Thing is, if you were to throw that, you wouldn’t want it to come back (im hear a lot of people are highly disappointed with the total lack of good games).

      • Funny, I’ve been playing Dead or Alive Dimensions more than any console game recently. A lot more.

      • Or total lack of “games” ?, meh, its typical of new consoles. It’ll get more success once it gets a good supply of games monthly, hopefully better than half of the shovelware that plagued the DS.

    • I think it looks cool, but apparently they tested it and it was super uncomfortable and gave hand cramps or something, so I’m happy with the DS3..

      • Ds3 forever. * grabs ds3* Playstation, playstation, playstation. hooooooooooooo!

      • I think it looks horrible and cheap compared to the brilliant and ergonomic Dualshock, well over a decade old and it still looks and feels modern. The saying ‘If it aint broke, don’t fix it’ certainly applies in this case. I hope they keep it for the PS4.

      • And I hope they don’t accidentally forget to include the DualShock function next time too. :P

  3. I’m hoping for more footage of Resident Evil 4 HD & Code Veronica HD Collection, Tomb Raider too!

  4. Just like everyone else, I want some nice surprises.
    The main thing for me this year is the NGP though.

    • I think the NGP has the potential to steal the show. Just hope that the games are there to keep it standing after it comes out. I hate the feeling when something with so much promise fails to deliver. Fingers crossed for this time, eh guys?

      • Yup.
        I think it’s between the NGP and the Nintendo Puu to steal the show.
        Hey, don’t look at me like that, they named the last one Wii, didn’t they? :P

    • Well all that it needs is a version thats below £199, of course I’d gladly part ways with cash for the dearier option which should have alot of memory.

  5. Nothing surprises me anymore. Im only 29 but I feel ive seen it all. You can throw out a teaser and i think ive seen it 100 times before… “nothing new here”.

    E3 doesnt excite me, not at all. It will be a whole bunch of stuff we kinda know is coming with the odd bombshell that will attract my attention. Either way its a load of games we cant play for ages (Sorcery and Last Guardian anyone?).

    Not buying what E3 sells.

    • Totally with you there Roy , its just a few extra news articles on my favourite site confirming in the main what we already know , I never understand the fuss . It’s just basically one big jolly for the gaming industry.

  6. although i don’t like leaks i dislike it when someone announces an announcement first. that to me just ruins the point and instead of getting excited about the game i get kind of annoyed and tend to block it out and ignor it

    • Completely agree. There is nothing worse than when devs and companies etc announce when they are going to announce something.
      By announcing that they are going to announce something then surely that is them announcing it anyway?
      Hope that makes sense when read back.

  7. Interesting choice of homepage picture, it’s unlikely to be announced but Sony were developing some sort of new controller.

    • It’ll be interesting to see that.

  8. When TLG was leaked before, i still enjoyed the E3 announcement and trailer, probably my favorite E3 memory.
    I like to see some surprises so it can seem slightly annoying when all these ‘leaks’ appear in the week leading up to E3 but as long as there’s plenty more info to be revealed at E3 i don’t mind too much.

  9. The more i know the more excitied i get even if it includes spoilers. Know it ruins the surprise but i like knowing the set up.

  10. Nothing can beat last years Portal 2 announcement. NOTHING. Absolutely no speculation, out of the blue, Boom Gabe Newell and Portal 2. Best ever.

    • Final Fantasy XIV in Sony’s 09 conference was the biggest shock I’ve seen at E3.
      Although… where is it?! :P

      • Sorcery and TLG were mine. Where are they? The title says it all “Teaser”. Hence my lack of interest in announcements of new games that the next E3 will be more likely to give info on other than its existence.

      • Sorcery looked really good, but we’d already heard of TLG.
        But a lot of the talk before E3 was Final Fantasy XIII going from PS3 exclusive to multiplat, and suffering because of it, when bam! FFXIV.
        Don’t even know if it’ll be released on PS3 at this rate though…

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