It is a question often asked, but difficult to answer. Is it possible to announce a game too early in its development? Many people believe not, even so, a game can receive less attention as a result. Or more. Seen the past examples, it is hard to form a representative answer. It depends on the game, developer, publisher and marketing budget.
At some point during its development process, a game studio or publisher has to make the decision to present a game to their audience. Those events can often count on a lot of exposure, at least the presentations of the larger publishers.
The question when is the hardest to answer
However, it is a difficult decision to make. When should a publisher announce a game in the development process? CD Projekt Red announced the game Cyberpunk 2077 about 8 years ago with a teaser trailer.
If you take a look at this teaser afterwards, it shows little information about the game, in comparison to the latest trailers. Yet this single trailer and the reputation of the game studio proved to be enough to make a lot of gamers look forward to Cyberpunk 2077. However, after 8 years these gamers are still waiting for the game to be released.
Years of waiting, little information and delays
The decision to announce a game in the beginning of its development is a serious risk. The game may change a lot due to adjustments in the gameplay concepts, story and game design. Some elements can still be modified or deleted from the game. The end result may not be consistent with the information from the first teaser.
The gameplay of Cyberpunk 2077 and the many trailers of the last few months demonstrate a good and extensive game. Nevertheless, it could have been different. Too often adaptations are made which are in sharp contrast to the expectations of the gamers.
Never show the pre-production process
Also, a publisher may not release enough information at the reveal of a game. As a result of which both gamers and the press remain disappointed. A good example of the latter is the reveal of The Elder Scrolls VI. The reveal trailer shows a cinematic landscape from a game that is still in pre-production.
From experience we know that a game that is in pre-production still requires years of development. So is it a good idea to announce the game at this point? As a publisher you are unable to give concrete information and continue to test concepts and gameplay experiences to see what works in the game, and what does not.
Too much information and updates
However, some games try to involve their audience in the development process and provide frequent updates on the progress of the game. Diablo III is a good example. Throughout the development period, gamers were often given small bits of information. These smaller updates often require more time and work from a marketing team than a one-time larger update. And that is not the sole drawback.
The benefit is that gamers know a lot about the game on the release of the game. The downside is that as a result of this content, gamers and press lose their interest in the game. In particular if the development process lasts for several years. Depending on the available budgets for advertising and marketing of a game, you can overcome a longer period of time.
One question remains to be answered
Do gamers and press have to be involved in the entire development period of a game? Not at all. Sometimes it is better to announce a game later in its development process and create a hype in the months before its release. If you look at it from a marketing perspective, that may be the best method to maintain the hype around the game.
In the short-term, you can release a lot of information and show more information and gameplay that is close to the final product. As a result, you are able to avoid the discussion about modified gameplay elements and downgrades. And yet, some publishers will not learn from their mistakes.
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Disclaimer. This post contains copyrighted images from Cyberpunk 2077, a video game developed and published by CD Projekt Red. The fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting or research is not considered as an infringement of copyright.