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Default General News - The Use of Previews

February 20th, 2013, 14:05
In an editorial on Gamasutra the question what a preview of a game is for is asked. The intro describes things nicely:
The traditional game preview event is a no-win situation. On one hand, it's interesting to get an early look at what a studio's been up to, hear them talk about their goals, see some examples of the work in progress. On the other hand, the process is so tightly-controlled that the only possible outcome is usually that we, the press, dutifully hand forward to our audience only what a company wants them to see.

What can one learn about a long-form, interactive product from standing at a plush, crowded display for prescribed minutes, directed through a sequence by a "helpful" marketing professional? That's when we are allowed to touch it at all, which is rare.

The consumer press watches theoretical gameplay segments that have been carefully prepared for the preview day. These demonstrations are bookended by one-sided conversations: An executive proffers canned statements, lists the names of writing talent intended to engender our confidence, sketches out the promise — and it's our job to convey that promise to our readership. Often we do this without asking questions. Often we are only allowed to ask so many.
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February 20th, 2013, 14:06
One interesting sentence from one of the comments there :

Remember: Like the development staff, most of the writers also represent a product, team or corporate entity larger than them.
Like a Hive.

So true.

Another one :

Christian you mentioned this in passing but I think its worthy of elaboration: The historical momentum of the industry has publishers treating the press as nothing more than high-value marketing tools ready for manipulation, explicitly if they can get away with it, or implicitly if they can get away with that. Or to any extent possible that they think they can get away with. Whatever works, they'll do it, and they are only not doing some of those things right now because it's too obvious that they won't get away with it.

It's up to the press to have enough soul and wisdom and courage to put that kind of corporate relentlessness in its place. It's too bad that all three are in short supply.

Outside of some notable exceptions, the press are the cog in their marketing wheel only because they have accepted that role. This doesn't mean that the press should smash at the machine at every turn. It does mean that there was a really important reason why free press traditionally had a set of core values, and it drives home the meaning of those values. When we compromise those things, we lose the meaning of press itself.
The term "spin doctors" comes to my mind.

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February 20th, 2013, 15:19
Next installment: The use of reviews.

Will reveal that, when the process of reviewing a released game is over, the bulk of sales has already happened.
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