(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?