To say expectations are high around E3 is an understatement. Everybody has their personal wish list of what they want announced by major developers, and, at the same time, every participant has a voice in the back of their head knowing they’re going to be let down.
Year after year it’s normal to have an equal divide between those satisfied with announcements and those enraged by a lack of what they want to see. But, lately, it seems that rage is beginning to outpace the hype and excitement as developers struggle to find a middle ground between delivering what fans want and delivering what is feasible.
So why the rage? We’re getting new games, revisiting fan favorites and seeing some of our favorite characters in new adventures—why do so many people seem angry? Beyond personal expectations, you have to look at how we’re programmed culturally. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Uber, Blue Apron—all these immediacy services are changing how we perceive the amount of time it takes to get what we want.
Netflix has found a way to combat this, in a sense, by creating an enormous pipeline of content—but not teasing it until release. Granted, there are titles that have been teased, such as the adaptation of The Witcher or the series adaptation of The Dark Crystal, but for the most part Netflix doesn’t announce a new show until it is ready for a release. This plays into our expectations—we see something we want, we see it coming out soon, we’re happy.
This doesn’t work out so well when it comes to E3. With game developers each competing for who has the best show and who can make the biggest headline, who can resist releasing titles and teasers of a die-hard fan’s wildest dreams? Therein lies the problem—they’re setting the bar that by showing this, it means it’s going to come out “soon.”
When a developer makes an announcement, they make a promise, and for fans who have both high expectations and a lust for immediacy, those promises become a ticking time bomb. Every year, if the promise isn’t delivered upon, the rage boils up. Every year that a developer doesn’t show progress or doesn’t give an update on a title for which they’ve already set the bar, our rationality turns further into rage.
So whose fault is it? Is it the long development cycle video games have fallen into with pristine graphics and animations? Is it the fans who expect too much? It’s a little of both—but at the same time it’s how we’ve been programmed to expect immediacy. Everything is striving to be immediate—especially our patience.