As a trend of modern game design, the average amount of time between announcement and release has begun to shrink. What used to be gaps of multiple years, is now only a handful of months. Being someone who tries to stay abreast of video game industry news, this is a blessing. No longer do we need to wait for the drip-feed of new information to slowly come out. Instead, the flow of information for upcoming releases is far more truncated: the game is announced, a few in-depth videos and short playthroughs explaining the game are made, and its eventual release comes some months later. Everything is compact and timely, if you are interested, you can expect new information on the upcoming title in a few weeks, not a few months.
While this practice is largely becoming the norm in the current marketplace, there still remains a few notable and upcoming titles that seem hellbent on keeping the older philosophy of having a drip-feed release. With the sheer amount of titles releasing at any given time and all of those games fighting for attention, the drip-feed style release seems only directed at only the hardcore fans to keep up with. For the rest of us who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid just yet, the drip-feed release can quickly become a chore in keeping up with the news of a game we are interested in, but not devoted to; having the opposite effect developers and publishers were hoping for.
Hardcore Fans vs. Interested Consumers
The best way to explain the problem is with one’s own personal feelings and interest in a game. In my case, I will use two franchises as examples:
- Resident Evil
In the case of these two games, Resident Evil is a franchise I would consider myself a hardcore fan. For Pokémon—a franchise that I enjoy—but wouldn’t call myself a hardcore fan of, I simply enjoy and am generally interested.
This comparison of games will look different depending on each individual’s tastes or interest (if you are trying to build your own list to compare, make sure the selections match mine for the reasons I will explain below) but the effect should be the same.
The Pokémon series is perhaps one of the worst offenders of the drip-feed release, taking it to its extreme. When a mainline title is in the works, the several months leading up to it becomes an excuse to create small bundles of information in easily digestible videos continuously until the release. Some may contain new features, new lands, and always contain at least one new Pokémon, but considering how large a Pokémon game is (in just Pokémon alone), these videos quickly become a love-hate relationship. Take, for example, Sun & Moon:
This video marks the start of a playlist on the Pokemon Youtube channel that contains at least 20+ videos that are only a few minutes each, highlighting some new aspect of the game in each one and releasing on average of about every two weeks. If you are a hardcore Pokémon fan, this drip-feed of information is fantastic. It is something new to look forward to about every other week that will tell you more about a franchise you care for deeply.
For the rest of us, this may not be the case, in fact, it most likely is the opposite. As someone who is a self-described casual Pokémon fan, trying to keep up with news in this fashion takes effort, an effort that I generally don’t care to exert for this franchise. There are higher tier items on my list that I am interested and care about, putting Pokémon as a franchise on the back burner. So when I finally come across information on the latest Pokémon series, I want it to count. I want to be able to intake some valuable information in a time-friendly manner, and not feel like my time is being wasted. But when the information is broken up like this:
I simply don’t have the desire to keep up with the information in this format. Where is the compilation? The structure? The easy to find information? Nowhere to be found by the company that is actually producing the title. What makes it perhaps the most damning is that the value of the information varies wildly from one video to the next with bits of different information scattered throughout. If I wished to keep along in this fashion, I still wouldn’t know how valuable that time watching would be until I actually watched the whole video; by then it’s too late and I have certainly lost a certain level of interest to stay up to date.
Resident Evil 2
Conversely, Resident Evil as a franchise is one that I adore and have fond memories of playing through the ages. It is the type of franchise that I have played over and over again and one that I would certainly subscribe myself to being a hardcore fan of. The Resident Evil 2 remake has been a long time coming for Capcom, especially considering that it was announced three years ago:
For a fairly extensive time, the game remained behind closed doors with little to no information being revealed. That was until a few months ago where the game’s trailer was shown at E3. Finally, this is when information began to pick up and Capcom opted to start showing off different changes to the gameplay through, again, a series of videos. Some would include how sections changed from the original, new mechanics, and what people can look forward to. But this was all spread out in different outlets, at different times, and all covering a slightly different aspect.
Here we have a video focusing on the initial changes at the start of the game and how the flow changes just through general gameplay. Followed not too long by a promo that shows Claire for the first time.
This promo not only exists as a promo but also as an announcement for how Clare will look in Resident Evil 2. And once again, not too long after, Capcom showed more pictures of how Clair will look in the actual game.
At this point, we are still at least 4-5 months away from release, and we have already begun to see the signs of a drip-feed release. A little gameplay here, a picture there, a promo over there, all coming together to fill in the picture of what Resident Evil 2 will look like. Again, there is no sign of a cohesive “This is Resident Evil 2 Information” if you are just a passerby or only interested in the franchise. If you wanted to see how Claire looked (if you even knew to look for it) in the game, you would have to go dig for that information and keep up to date with the constant slow feed of information to stay up to date.
As a hardcore fan of the franchise, this information to me is fantastic. It gives me something to look forward to for a game I am already excited for and making an effort to stay up to date on. This slow release of tiny bits of information works because I am already committed to a point where I know what came before and am looking forward to what is coming up.
The drip-feed release only works when committed to keeping up to date with a franchise or upcoming game. If you are not, the information gets lost in the sheer amount of other game news that comes out on a daily basis. If you are simply someone interested in a franchise, there is simply no easy method provided by the developer to find out all the information one may want when looking for information on a game. Instead, they have presented these small tidbits of information that is going to push away everyone except the hardcore fans of the franchise.
This is the main problem with the drip-feed release, information is spread too thin that only those who are most invested can follow. If companies hope to have information available and ready for those interested in an upcoming title to consume, it needs to be presented in a cohesive and easy to understand system. Spell out what the content is for and make it as extensive as it needs to be so you don’t alienate your less invested fans. Otherwise, they risk simply spending their time elsewhere.