When Hype Kills

The newest trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 released this week. Leading to increased talks around the internet about its potential to be one of the greatest games of all time. Hype for the game is sky high and for good reason. It does look good. At least from what I’ve seen. I still haven’t seen the latest trailer. There’s a good reason for that.

Hype is a wonderful thing. The feeling of getting giddy over the upcoming release of a new title in any medium can put anyone into a strange child-like wonder. But it does have its limits and we’ve all been burned by hype in the past. Sometimes hype has a detrimental effect on how the end product is received.

Let’s go back to 2016, and the release of No Man’s Sky. This game was highly anticipated at release. Hello Games had promised a universe teeming with life, but could only deliver a speck of what was promised. No Man’s Sky was panned by critics and players alike for its repetitive gameplay, boring procedurally generated planets and missing features. No Man’s Sky and Hello Games fell victim to the hype beast.

Of course, you could say the impossible promises made by Sean Murray of Hello Games is what killed the launch of No Man’s Sky and to an extent you’d be right. Those promises are what created the hype. But I believe that hype is what really did it in.

I think about it this way. If No Man’s Sky was released without the media attention. Without the appearance on the Late Night show. Without the internet building a gargantuan hypeball. It would have been a neat little experiment in procedural generation; a simple indie game among many. Of course this doesn’t come with the glory that the hype beast can bring, but it doesn’t come with the infamy either.

No Man’s Sky does have a happy ending at least. Last I heard, Hello Games really knocked it out of the park with their response to criticisms and turned No Man’s Sky into something worthy of praise. But it does come as a cautionary tale, at least for me. I try not to hype myself up for things. Cautious optimism is my mantra. I try to avoid watching too much promotional material or let the thing occupy too much space in my mind. That way, a game, a movie or a book will at least meet my expectations. I hate having my expectations crushed.

I hope Cyperpunk 2077 will live up to the hype. It certainly has a lot.