Ooh, ahh! Wahoo! Hot take alert! Woawoawoawoah! I’m about to drop the most lukewarm-to-cold take that might be considered a hot take right now! It’s about the gamer’s desire to see everything, everywhere, all at once!
Editor’s note: Are you alright? — David.
So you don’t have to agree with me here. That being said, if you disagree, remember to be kind in the comments. However, after seeing this tweet exchange with a Spider-Man fan and Insomniac Games, the developers of Marvel’s Spider-Man series, I got to thinking.
Don’t. We’re making good progress and it’s still slated for 2023. Showing games takes time, effort, resources, and coordination.
— Insomniac Games (@insomniacgames) October 17, 2022
When developers decide to release raw, in-development footage, it allows those of us who don’t develop games to get a deeper look into the complexities of the creative process. Be it early on in the development or in the final stages, you’ll pretty much always see the ‘FOOTAGE NOT FINAL’-type disclaimer on the bottom of most footage because that’s exactly what it is. Not final. It’s a look at the skeleton of the boy, not the entire boy.
On the other hand, sometimes this isn’t what a developer wants. Sometimes the process is messy and looks like indecipherable doodoo before it becomes one’s masterpiece. In saying that, there are developers who choose not to show off this kind of footage for a multitude of reasons, Insomniac included.
In my eyes, the GTA 6 leak was a huge setback for anybody that wants to see developers showing off more of the development process. Considering GTA 5 was a rousing success that looked and felt polished upon arrival, and the next game in the series has been in development for quite a while, there were probably many people expecting it to look a lot different.
But of course, it didn’t. It looked like an unfinished game because that’s exactly what it was.
Folks from all corners of the internet talked about how shit it looked, and how they weren’t expecting it to look so shit. Take-Two’s stock prices dropped. It was a disaster. If you’re a developer and you see such poor reception to early development footage of a game that’s years in the making with a huge team behind it, why on Earth would you want to show anything off that you’ve made if it’s not absolutely perfect and flawless?
So to avoid the negative hubbub, studios need to not only work on the game itself, but also work on how and when they will present the game to the public through trailers, screenshots, and gameplay footage. It’s a whole thing.
And then there’s what actually gets shown to the public. Going back to the ‘FOOTAGE NOT FINAL’ disclaimer, chances are you’ll also see disclaimers that say the footage is not representative of the final product. While cinematic trailers can be a work of art in themselves, sometimes they can also give a false idea of what a final game really looks and plays like.
I’m sure you’ve seen at least one cinematic or gameplay trailer for a game that ended up not reflecting the final product. This too can be a problem.
I personally feel like it’s different when it’s a Kickstarter project for example, as its success relies on transparency and updates considering the pre-release development funding is not from a publisher but instead from a community. That being said, if you don’t like how a game looks in development and you haven’t put any money towards it yet, you can simply just choose not to buy it. If you like how it looks on release, you can just buy it. It’s whatever.
Finally, this point is a lot more personal than anything and is purely a representation of my own feelings. I miss the mystique of the gaming world, I miss when we knew absolutely fuck all about a game before it came out.
I love the Pokémon series, and there’s a good chance I will play and even enjoy Pokémon Scarlet & Violet. On the other hand, the constant leaks that have led up to the release have in turn meant that The Pokémon Company has gone balls-to-the-wall bonkers when it comes to revealing new stuff about the game. Sometimes, the beauty of a game is just how much it can surprise you upon release.
But alas, this is simply all my opinion. I think that those who make games should be able to release footage of their creations in their own time not only because it is a gruelling process in itself, but also because a creator deserves the time and patience to be able to show the best of their work. That being said, I too am intrigued by the creative process and I believe in transparency when it comes to games where you yourself are involved in developmental funding. It’s so very complex, and there is truly no right answer!
It’s all a bit of a mixed bag, but ultimately in my eyes, it seems like there’s probably a reason as to why developers pick and choose what they show. Sometimes it’s for the best, sometimes it’s for the worst, but ultimately it’s all a part of the process.
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