Friday, 29 July 2011

Deaths of the Salesmen: Why everyone will be disappointed by Mass Effect 3 - Ben Winterton

The following post is a completely untouched prediction Mr. Ben Winterton made prior to the release of Mass Effect 3. I can't speak for Ben but I can safely say that the man they call 'Spoon' called this one pretty much dead on. - Jak

I’m aware talking about marketing strategies may not sound like the most interesting of topics, but here me out. Remember my article on pause screens? It was a zinger. To be fair though, I think me showing why Mass Effect 3 will be disappointing is probably a little more interest than the article I was going to write on "contact damage". Yes, really.

Now, I try to stay relatively clued-in on what's going on in the gaming world, and as such I inevitably end up encountering various gaming marketing strategies, some of which really annoy me. And that's before Robin Williams
has entered the picture.

When Robin Williams was playing this, he was also voicing the Genie in Aladdin's Math Quest.  True fact
Now, before this turns into a rant, let me say first off that I actually quite like gaming marketing. It’s interesting and different. I think demos of games are frankly brilliant, and it’s very easy to take such a luxury for granted. Furthermore, games offer way more insight into the development process than any other medium, and even offer opportunities to shape the product itself, via beta tests and the like. Therefore, I find it very disappointing when companies sink to lazy marketing techniques, particularly in relation to sequels.

One of the most cynical of these is blatantly inappropriately branding. I've moaned about Bioshock sequels before, but I think Bioshock Infinite is a prime example. It doesn't have any of the hallmarks of a previous Bioshock game; it's not a survival horror, it takes place in a different time and place, it has none of the same characters, it doesn't even have a silent protagonist. So why call it a Bioshock game? So gullible idiots like me buy it in the hope that it somehow resembles one.

BioShock Infinite
The next Bioshock game will be a flight sim. Mark my words.

Another thing that developers keep doing is insisting that sequels will "appeal to everyone" and that "you don't need to have played the prequels". Now, I recently played through Resident Evil 5 (I'm still not racist), and whilst I did enjoy it, I had no clue what was going on. I clearly did need to play the prequels to find out why Wesker was basically just Neo. Don't lie to me again Capcom. You already told me I could beat Megaman games.

But I've been dancing round the seductive title. You WILL be disappointed by Mass Effect 3, for three reasons. One, the massive hype is impossible to live up to. Two, it is a sequel to an already brilliant game, and as such either has to stick to the formula and not really develop, thus being disappointing, or somehow miraculously innovate and improve on a near-perfect game, and in the process lose the Mass Effect-iness.

Mass Effect? More like Mass Marketing! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

But the big problem is it having to wrap up the story. I'm not going to lie, I shed a silent tear at the end of number 2, and honestly didn't know how I was going to wait for the conclusion. However, no matter how well written the ending is, it is still an ending, something which will never be as exciting or invigorating as a cliffhanger. Don't get me wrong, Bioware are doing the right thing to have a well-crafted trilogy over an endless spate of sequels, but that doesn't remove this insurmountable obstacle.
Oh yeah, and sorry for being absent for the last few weeks, I've had some technical issues. Will be back into the "every Friday update schedule" now. So next week you can look forward to an article on title screens or, if you're really lucky, navigation of memory devices*.

*This closer was a joke, based around the inanity of some of my former articles. However, if people interpret it both literally and positively I will use this as an excuse to write thos two articles.