When it comes to major video game releases in 2022, Sony Santa Monica Studio’s “Ragnarok” reigns supreme as one of the biggest fish in a conspicuously empty pond. Delays born of covid-19 and the legacy of the disastrous launch of “Cyberpunk 2077” have pushed heavyweights like Bethesda’s “Starfield” and the sequel “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” to the distant reaches of 2023.
This context was looming before the “Ragnarok” release date was announced. Fans anticipating news during last year’s Summer Game Fest were disappointed to see neither hide nor beard hair from PlayStation’s worst mascot, dad-est. All along, “industry insiders” of varying (and often dubious) reputations have been urging fans to reveal the June 30th release date.
The uproar prompted Santa Monica creative director Cory Barlog to ask fans to “please be patient.” Twitter.
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The June 30 reveal didn’t happen. Fans began harassing the Santa Monica-based developers, including film producer Estelle Tigani and writer Alanah Pearce, in an attempt to get information about the release date. The former described unsolicited fan backups on Twitter.
“You send me [illicit pictures] asking for the release date of ‘God of War Ragnarok’ doesn’t really make me reveal the release date,” Tigani he said on Twitter. “To the people who do this, when has it ever worked for you?”
In response, Santa Monica released a message discouraging harassment.
“Our fans inspire us and we understand the passion and desire for more information,” wrote the studio. “But this passion should not be toxic and should not be at the expense of the dignity of any human being.
This kind of dynamic has played out around many hotly anticipated video games, even just in the last few weeks. After the trailer for “Return to Monkey Island” revealed that the PC adventure revival will have a new art style, fans lit up the comments section of game director Ron Gilbert’s personal blog. Ultimately, Gilbert decided to end the comments on his post about the trailer and said that he would no longer be sharing information about the game on his blog.
“The joy of sharing drove me away,” Gilbert wrote. “Play it or don’t play it, but don’t ruin it for everyone else.”
As the news and culture website Inverse points out, some of this is a natural outgrowth of the video game industry’s reliance on years of drip marketing cycles, compounded by a voracious online content machine that demands fodder for Twitter feeds, YouTube videos. and Twitch streams.
“This market of expectations is exploited to the advantage of publishers,” wrote Willa Rowe, author of Video Game Trends, “but leaves developers to suffer the consequences.”
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