How much responsibility should Blizzard have in generating (and controlling) hype?
We’re officially in the same week as BlizzCon, and while that fact in itself seems boggling, I still find it less boggling than the roller coaster of hype Blizzard has put Diablo fans through over the past few weeks. For the longest time, Diablo’s biggest news pertained to what armor sets would be appearing in the next Diablo 3 Season. That was slightly upped when themes were introduced to Seasons but… well, you can only get so much mileage out of that sort of thing.
Fans were understandably frustrated at the lack of meaningful updates — but at the same time, BlizzCon was a known date in the calendar. Even if ultimately insignificant, BlizzCon was surely to reveal some sort of information bigger than anything we’d had since the last BlizzCon. In my mind, BlizzCon — and the accompanying datamining/in-game rewards — would have generated enough hype in the preceding months all on their own.
But then Blizzard went and released a video talking about their “multiple Diablo projects.” No, there weren’t specifics. Yes, they made it clear not everything would be ready this year. However, as far as “get hyped!” moves go, it was both successful and fairly unprecedented for Blizzard. Many took this to mean Diablo 4 was close. Many more took it was some wildly out-of-left-field announcement the likes of which are only found in fan speculation. Hype had been achieved.
Then Blizzard decided, “Oh hey, maybe people are too hyped. We should probably quell that a bit.” Then they went out of their way to call attention to everything Diablo that would be happening at BlizzCon. All in all, it’s made for some crazy hype-related whiplash. And if you ask me, it’s all because of that very first hype video.
Blizzard didn’t have to release it. They would have had to put up with a couple more weeks of disappointed — but still-within-the-emotional-status-quo — fans. But then the hype would have generated itself as it always does. As it stands right now, it feels like that first hype video has done more harm than good. This whole debacle got me thinking.
Whose job is it to control hype before BlizzCon? If hype is too low, should Blizzard try to increase it at the risk of over-hyping fans? If hype’s too high, should they drum it down? Or should Blizzard leave the hype entirely up to the fans, who will do a good job all their own of inflating or deflating their hype based on what they see from fan sites? How much responsibility does Blizzard have in controlling pre-BlizzCon hype?
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