Devil, Thy Name Is Marketing

I had an idea on what I was going to write about this morning, but when I focused in on the specifics — you know, like, words — I realized that I didn’t really have much to say. Instead, I’ll Bob-Ross-Brush-Slap my widest brush and talk about generalities.

My gaming diet as of late could generously be referred to as “a fast”. I have been spending more time watching TV or working on other projects than I have been immersed in a game. Sometimes people on social media would follow up on a similar sentiment with “…and it’s the best decision I’ve made in a long time” as if games are the third-worst blight on society after gun violence and the opioid crisis.

This is not me. When I have been playing something, it’s been a little more off-center of the mainstream. As stated, I’ve been playing some indie titles like Duskers and as of last night, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, or have recently spent some time in what I feel I have to admit is my favorite MMO of all time at this point, Guild Wars 2. One I start playing, my time spent with these games is even less than it has been historically, but the impetus to smash that icon, yo, and fire something up is about as strong as my desire to patronize any YouTuber who actually and unironically asks anyone to “smash” any kind of button.

I’ve talked about this before so I won’t belabor the point, but I was thinking about it because last night I played about 30 minutes of the new Gears of War 5. I am a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber for reasons I’m trying to untangle, which net me a 5 day headstart for what is charitably Xbox’s younger tentpole child (second only to Halo, although since Halo moved out of the basement GoW might now be the favored sibling, I don’t know I’m just trying to solidify this metaphor). Microsoft spends a lot of time and money on promotion of a few very particular franchises Halo, GoW, Assassin’s Creed, any MilSim shooter from Activision or EA — to the point of nauseating oversaturation. I think I was lulled into the sense that “yeah, Gears isn’t all that bad, right?” because it seemed to always be there when I turned around. Chalk one up for marketing psychology, right? I had liked Gears 1 just fine. 2 was OK. 3 I borrowed from someone for a week. 4 I think I played for about 15 minutes. Still, I allocated disk space to 5 and watched the clock in anticipation of the 9 PM EDT unlock and…quit and uninstalled after dying once to the first big boss monster.

I’m thinking that tentpole games aren’t my thing right now. I’m not going to say “I am SO over the mainstream!”, because I’m not some kind of hipster. In fact, you don’t even need to know all of this. What’s the point of me relating this story to you? Well, Cyberpunk 2077, for one.

Cyberpunk is, without a doubt, either my first or second favorite genre (the other favored binary star would be what I refer to as “urban fantasy” in the Felix Gilman/China Mieville/Neil Stephenson type vein). I played the original Cyberpunk 2020 TTRPG when it was brand new (sorry, that was hipster of me), which I say only to show that my love of the genre stretches way back. 2077 is basically a slam-dunk for me, and I am still considering scraping together the cash for the CE, as ridiculously priced as it is.

But now I’m concerned that while the world is as conscious as it is about 2077, is this game going to actually appeal to me? Most of the time I can make peace with buying a game and only playing for about an hour before I shelve it for a later date, but with a game as close to my heart as 2077 should be, if I fall off that wagon then I’d have to question exactly what I’m doing here. I know that my concern is how high levels of marketing seem to equate to low interest on my part right now, but a concern is a concern. Also, I wanted to write a post and had nothing else to write about so here ya go!

2 Comments

  • Stargrace

    September 6, 2019 - 8:06 AM

    As a strong lover of Wurm Unlimited/online and many other off the road games, I have to say I recognize and appreciate the appeal of going off the beaten path and playing what no one else really seems interested in – and they have an audience because no one is playing them! Glorious age that we live in where there is such selection (too much?) Also the husband is so hyped for 2077 it’s painful and I hope it lives up to everyone’s expectations.

    • Scopique

      September 6, 2019 - 8:34 AM

      I like that smaller, less patronized games have the tighter audiences. After everyone falls away once the hype dies down, or because there never was any hype, those who are left are the ones who really want to be there.

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