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Pre-release hype, Demo fakery and Disclaimers - Or, how to have and eat your cake

GlassAwful

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I originally was going to post this as a response in a Cyberpunk thread but I realized it was a bigger topic than one game.

Namely, my point is that there has been an effort by publishers and developers over this past generation to discredit and silence complaints of graphical and gameplay "downgrades" or optimizations as they are preferred to be called from their pre-release demos.

Releasing gameplay right away would make the gamescom presentations pointless and would significantly limit our chance to build hype. Why do we need to build hype? To get more gamers interested in CP2077 and, hopefully, convince them to give it a go.
I just want to highlight this quote from the horses mouth for the true reasons CDProject Red had for not showing the Cyberpunk gameplay to us both this year and last. I do appreciate the honesty now as it's what I've always suspected and claimed...

However, this shit in combination with allowing the paid hypesters known as game "journalists" to set a narrative while also collecting preorders, retail sales space and simultaneously hiding behind a disclaimer of "this is all subject to change and you can't blame us for not living up to what we are showing you right now because its early alpha.. LoL. P.S. Dont forget to preorder!..." is fucking bullshit, dishonest and the literal definition of blatant false advertisement in the making.

There's two ways this could shake out in 2020:
Cyberpunk could release and live up to the trailers and everyone will be happy.
Or, theres the case of downgrades in either graphics, gameplay or otherwise and then what?..
We aren't allowed to be upset because they get to drum up free hype with a product they knew had no chance of meeting their "target" because of a disclaimer? So they get to have their cake and eat it too apparently? This is a common theme that has presented itself this gen after a litany of well deserved backlash following downgrades from suspect Ubisoft and other pre-release showings (Witcher 3 cough..)

Do not try to tell me that at the ass end of the generation with an engine they are intimately familiar with, on hardware they've know front to back for years, that they have no idea what is and isn't capable on them. These E3 demos are glossed up to look better than what is achievable to drum up hype and the developers and publishers fucking know it. The only time its in question is from early devkits of unreleased hardware or brand new engines.

This idea that devs don't know things like a combination of global illumination, hairworks, perfect reflections, NPC density, texture and poly count are not feasible on their target platforms until the last couple of months is a false narrative the publishers have successfully pushed to silence critics from calling out this sort of behavior and I say its time for that narrative to die. Downgrades are real and they should be called out for them, I don't care how many wag-the-dog PuddleGates happen.

Well that's my perspective anyway. Thoughts?
 

Abriael_GN

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If a game is good, it's good.

If a game is bad, it's bad.

If a game is good, whether it looks exactly as it did during an in-development demo or not is absolutely irrelevant.

If a game is bad, it's just as irrelevant for different reasons.
 
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GlassAwful

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If a game is good, it's good.

If a game is bad, it's bad.

If a game is good, whether it looks exactly as it did during an in-development demo or not is absolutely irrelevant.

If a game is bad, it's just as irrelevant for different reasons.
I agree that a game being good or bad is irrelevant to how it looked in an in-development demo. That's why I didn't bring it up anywhere in my post.

This thread is meant to be about the use of gussied up demos used to spur hype and presells on what is essentially a lie. Or a white lie at least.

Your response almost suggests it doesn't matter how marketing is conducted as long as the game releases... apparently. I guess I disagree with the sentiment in that case.
 

Zog

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If a game is good, it's good.

If a game is bad, it's bad.

If a game is good, whether it looks exactly as it did during an in-development demo or not is absolutely irrelevant.

If a game is bad, it's just as irrelevant for different reasons.

You must have missed the part about people pre-ordering based on false advertising.
 

Abriael_GN

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You must have missed the part about people pre-ordering based on false advertising.
You must have missed the part where pre-ordering is a choice. You're not required to do it.

If you pre-order a game, and it turns out to be good. Whether it's identical or not to pre-release demos is irrelevant. It's a good game, and it's money well spent.

If you pre-order a game and it turns out to be bad. You chose poorly.

Incidentally, equating in-development demos to false advertising is extremely ignorant, and means knowing absolutely nothing of game development. Today's games have a ton of moving parts. The only way to avoid showing things that may change is not showing gameplay at all before a game goes gold, which is frankly an absolutely silly idea.
 
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Can't wait to see the retail version of 2077 vs. all these trailers............... look how bullshotted Witcher 3 was in those preview vids. Even a top of the line PC with maxed out sliders didn't look like those old 2012 videos.
 

Zog

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You must have missed the part where pre-ordering is a choice. You're not required to do it.

If you pre-order a game, and it turns out to be good. Whether it's identical or not to pre-release demos is irrelevant. It's a good game, and it's money well spent.

If you pre-order a game and it turns out to be bad. You chose poorly.

Incidentally, equating in-development demos to false advertising is extremely ignorant, and means knowing absolutely nothing of game development. Today's games have a ton of moving parts. The only way to avoid showing things that may change is not showing gameplay at all before a game goes gold, which is frankly an absolutely silly idea.

I hate pre-orders and I think people shouldn't pre-order anything but why are you pretending the blame is 100% on the consumer. The publishers spend lots of money trying to convince people to pre-order and they show off what may NOT be the final product when doing it but somehow they are 0% responsible?
 

Lanrutcon

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I don't mind people pre-ordering based on bullshots. Let them be stupid on their own dime.

What I do mind is people vehemently arguing that no, the obvious bullshots are not in fact bullshots and the game will totally look that way on release. It was that way when Watch Dogs was revealed. It was that way when Deep Down's fire was shown. The "power of the cloud" and "coding to the metal" didn't magically appear and make your bullshots a reality.
 

Zog

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I don't mind people pre-ordering based on bullshots. Let them be stupid on their own dime.

What I do mind is people vehemently arguing that no, the obvious bullshots are not in fact bullshots and the game will totally look that way on release. It was that way when Watch Dogs was revealed. It was that way when Deep Down's fire was shown. The "power of the cloud" and "coding to the metal" didn't magically appear and make your bullshots a reality.
What do you think about it when people pretend that corporations are not responsible for their actions when they promote pre-orders with bullshots?
 

GlassAwful

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You must have missed the part where pre-ordering is a choice. You're not required to do it.

If you pre-order a game, and it turns out to be good. Whether it's identical or not to pre-release demos is irrelevant. It's a good game, and it's money well spent.

If you pre-order a game and it turns out to be bad. You chose poorly.

Incidentally, equating in-development demos to false advertising is extremely ignorant, and means knowing absolutely nothing of game development. Today's games have a ton of moving parts. The only way to avoid showing things that may change is not showing gameplay at all before a game goes gold, which is frankly an absolutely silly idea.
I'm not ignorant to the development process. I understand sometimes things do not work out and sacrifices have to be made. I'm talking about the instances where pubs intentionally misrepresent the games in pre-release media knowing full well what they are showing isn't going to happen and I'm arguing that it goes down like that more often then you would think.

Now you can say, so what? We can judge the game at release, fine. But in this industry of hype culture, a reliance on presells, collectors editions, securing retail space, and finally overly excitable, not very bright game "journalists" setting narratives to conveniently stir up more hype leading into and just after release, it just a bit dishonest to me. Because while that shit may not work on securing a sale from the likes of my cynical ass it certainly works for thousands if not millions of others.
 

Lanrutcon

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What do you think about it when people pretend that corporations are not responsible for their actions when they promote pre-orders with bullshots?
I think that in today's industry a lot of that shit if mandated by the powers above, as opposed to the developers below. While we should hold corporations responsible, I do think we need to keep in mind that a lot of people who work on those games are like us and don't like bullshots one bit.
 

Zog

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I think that in today's industry a lot of that shit if mandated by the powers above, as opposed to the developers below. While we should hold corporations responsible, I do think we need to keep in mind that a lot of people who work on those games are like us and don't like bullshots one bit.

Agreed. we should hold corporations responsible for selling pre-orders based on bullshots. It also sounds like you are ok with corporations using developers as shields for criticism though?
 

Lanrutcon

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Agreed. we should hold corporations responsible for selling pre-orders based on bullshots. It also sounds like you are ok with corporations using developers as shields for criticism though?
Explain that second bit, and I'll comment on it. Not sure what you mean (example?).
 

Zog

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Explain that second bit, and I'll comment on it. Not sure what you mean (example?).
Well when you say that we should keep in mind that alot of people who work on games (developers) are like us, what does that mean if it doesn't mean that we can't criticize them?
 
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Lanrutcon

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Well when you say that we should keep in mind that alot of people who work on games (developers) are like us, what does that mean if it doesn't mean that we can't criticize them?
It means to direct our complaints/criticisms/twitter attacks over misleading marketing at the corporations, not at <developer guy/gal X>.
 

Zog

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It means to direct our complaints/criticisms/twitter attacks over misleading marketing at the corporations, not at <developer guy/gal X>.
If you can single out the execs responsible that's great.
 

#Phonepunk#

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downgrades happen for every game. pretty much every single game.

basically it all boils down to being an educated consumer. these days there are thousands of ways to discover how a game actually plays. the day it releases, you can watch live video of gameplay, you can see reviews from dozens of people. heck, sometimes games leak before release, and you get to see what it actually looks like weeks before it comes out.

trailers, previews, e3 drops, tv ads, etc. all of it is just there to sell you the product. similar to movies. often i will go to a movie, yet the scenes shown in the trailers are not in the final film. if it's a bad experience, i eat the money, i remember the company that pulled this shit, and i just treat everything they do from then on with a grain of salt.

complain all you want, they aren't stopping any of this, they will never stop doing CGI trailers, etc. yelling at companies on social media will never get them to stop trying to make their games look the best they can. best option is to be a skeptical consumer. and not one of these "skeptical consumers" that pre-orders everything then cries like a baby when it didn't turn out right. LEARN HOW TO HANDLE YOUR MONEY
 
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Abriael_GN

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I'm not ignorant to the development process. I understand sometimes things do not work out and sacrifices have to be made. I'm talking about the instances where pubs intentionally misrepresent the games in pre-release media knowing full well what they are showing isn't going to happen and I'm arguing that it goes down like that more often then you would think.

Now you can say, so what? We can judge the game at release, fine. But in this industry of hype culture, a reliance on presells, collectors editions, securing retail space, and finally overly excitable, not very bright game "journalists" setting narratives to conveniently stir up more hype leading into and just after release, it just a bit dishonest to me. Because while that shit may not work on securing a sale from the likes of my cynical ass it certainly works for thousands if not millions of others.
You just demonstrated that you are.

1: it's not "sometimes things do not work out." In any relatively complex game things change even from months before release nearly ALL the time. Sometimes you notice it, sometimes you don't. But the moving parts need to be swapped around during nearly every development process, simply because that's how development work in any environment with finite hardware and manpower resources. Incidentally, even what is perceived as a downgrade, most of the times isn't. What's taken from somewhere is normally added somewhere else.

2: If you think intentional misrepresentation is anything more than a fringe case like the Killzone demo from that E3 many years ago, you're simply wrong. Developers give their best guess about what the game is going to look like in months or years to publishers, and publishers show that. It's normally that simple.

3: None of the hype you describe deprives people of free will. If someone follows the hype like a drone, the responsibility for bad purchases lies squarely on them. It's not "this industry". It's any industry dedicated to selling product.
 
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Zog

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You just demonstrated that you are.

1: it's not "sometimes things do not work out." In any relatively complex game things change even from months before release nearly ALL the time. Sometimes you notice it, sometimes you don't. But the moving parts need to be swapped around during nearly every development process, simply because that's how development work in any environment with finite hardware and manpower resources. Incidentally, even what is perceived as a downgrade, most of the times isn't. What's taken from somewhere is normally added somewhere else.

2: If you think intentional misrepresentation is anything more than a fringe case like the Killzone demo from that E3 many years ago, you're simply wrong. Developers give their best guess about what the game is going to look like in months or years to publishers, and publishers show that. It's normally that simple.

3: None of the hype you describe deprives people of free will. If someone follows the hype like a drone, the responsibility for bad purchases lies squarely on them. It's not "this industry". It's any industry dedicated to selling product.
So for corporations it's 'anything goes' and for consumers it's 'caveat emptor?
 

Abriael_GN

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So for corporations it's 'anything goes' and for consumers it's 'caveat emptor?
It's not "anything goes." It's "show what you have at the moment with the caveat that it may change." That's normally what happens, and that's all that CAN happen because knowing exactly what a game is gonna looks like at release several months before would literally require a crystal ball. This whole idea that evil corporations intentionally show misleading footage is simply not accurate beyond fringe cases.

The "product in development may change" caveat is there because that's simply what it is. It's the nature of game development, and if you don't like it, good luck finding another way, because there isn't.
 
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Zog

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It's not "anything goes." It's "show what you have at the moment with the caveat that it may change." That's normally what happens, and that's all that CAN happen. This whole idea that evil corporations intentionally show misleading footage is simply not accurate beyond fringe cases.

The "product in development may change" caveat is there because that's simply what it is. It's the nature of game development, and if you don't like it, good luck finding another way, because there isn't.
They shouldn't be selling it until what they are showing is the final product.
 

Abriael_GN

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They shouldn't be selling it until what they are showing is the final product.
The "final product" is only when it goes gold and at times not even that. Pre-orders exist to give publisher an idea on how many product to print and retailers how many product to order.

Expecting that to be done only when a game goes gold is bereft of any kind of logic or realism.

Incidentally, most pre-orders aren't pre-purchases. You can still cancel them until the game is shipped. And even in the case of pre-purchases, you can literally do them literally the day before release (when the state of the game is much more solidified) and still get all the bonuses.

If you're willing to do a full pre-purchase months before a game releases, again, the issue is with you. You have free will. Use it. You're not being hypnotized.
 
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DunDunDunpachi

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I'm fine if they use trailers to hype fans up about the art style, the intended themes of the game, and to give a general idea of the genre (is it a shooter? Is it a sport's game?). I don't need the action in the final game to match 1:1 with trailers.

However, too often trailers are used to deceive. I guess there's nothing new about the practice but it puts the onus back on the consumer to be wary of it.
 

Zog

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The "final product" is only when it goes gold and at times not even that. Pre-orders exist to give publisher an idea on how many product to print and retailers how many product to order.

Expecting that to be done only when a game goes gold is bereft of any kind of logic or realism.
Don't sell a product until it's finished is unrealistic now? That's sad.
 

DigitalScrap

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They shouldn't be selling it until what they are showing is the final product.
That isn't the standard across all other business, so why would we expect games to be held to a different standard? Concept cars, paid beta releases of software (hell, or simply software being sold with "roadmap" features that likely have not even begun development), press releases about products that are still in development with renderings or engineering samples shown.

Don't get me wrong, I don't like the practice myself, but everyone should know by now that the CGI movies that are created and shown will not be indicative of the final product. Anyone pre-ordering a game a year before it is actually shown based upon some CGI sizzle reel produced by an animation studio that isn't even connected to the gaming industry except for producing such videos should certainly bear some of the responsibility for not getting what is shown. Do people ignore the "Not actual gameplay footage" disclaimer at the beginning of these overly dramatic mini-movies?

While I personally would never pre-order something based upon a CGI trailer, people do, so the companies will not change their marketing methods. The only way it will stop is if people stop pre-ordering games before they actually see the game. People going into twitter rampages against devs who are NOT in the marketing departments at companies is not justified.

If you can single out the execs responsible that's great.
And since we can't, maybe the outrage should be simply pointed at the company's main Twitter handle, and not individual dev team members who have nothing to do with marketing decisions. Most execs are not very active on Twitter, and I don't know of any marketing depts that have their own Twitter accounts, so misplaced raging doesn't help anything.

Rather than rage, I simply don't pre-order. Done.
 
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