(Not game­play footage)


Dur­ing one stu­dio visit some years ago, af­ter walk­ing the de­vel­op­ment floor, we were led around a cor­ner. Here was the back of­fice: HR and of­fice man­age­ment, the ad­min team and, sat all alone, some­thing we hadn’t ex­pected to find, at least not here. Some­one em­ployed – by the pub­lisher, not the devel­oper – specif­i­cally to make trail­ers and screen­shots. The per­son re­spon­si­ble for show­cas­ing a game to the pub­lic was sat as far away from the ac­tion as the per­son who or­ders the sta­tionery.

While that may sug­gest dis­dain for the role of bull­shot­ter-in-chief, many in­die stu­dios would kill to have such a staffer. Toronto stu­dio Capy­bara Games, maker of Be­low (p36), has been can­did about the dif­fer­ence be­tween a good game and one that works well in the con­text of a ten­minute showfloor demo. Capy makes ex­cel­lent trail­ers and great demos, but three years af­ter the stu­dio an­nounced Be­low on Mi­crosoft’s E3 stage, the game is still not ready for re­lease.

In that re­spect, it’s in good com­pany. Hori­zon Zero Dawn (p42) was an­nounced in 2015 and was ex­pected to launch this year, but re­cently slipped to early next. Cre­ative di­rec­tor Cory Bar­log has put an aw­ful lot of him­self into the new God Of War (p52), but he has no idea when it will be fin­ished.

The no­tion of a game an­nounced and re­leased within the same year is, it seems, go­ing out of fash­ion. It’s no co­in­ci­dence that Bat­tle­field 1 (p50) is one such game, and not just be­cause of pub­lisher EA’s rel­a­tively colos­sal de­vel­op­ment re­sources. It is, by its very na­ture, de­mofriendly, able to be sliced up into showfloor chunks with­out un­nec­es­sar­ily in­trud­ing on pro­duc­tion; take one map and mode to E3, an­other to Gamescom, and re­peat un­til launch day. Un­for­tu­nately that has not been enough to pre­vent EA be­ing one of the in­dus­try’s big­gest of­fend­ers when it comes to high-gloss, art­fully framed bull­shots. But then ev­ery­body needs a job, right?

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