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The Art of Video Game Hype in a Post-Pandemic World

While many things have changed over the course of this year, thanks to — you guessed it — the ongoing pandemic, one of the biggest shifts has been in the growth of hype for video games.

Video games has always been a place of intense fandom, for good or for ill, and while it certainly wasn’t the birthplace of this fandom, one of the key elements stoking the flames of hype has always been the yearly press conferences seen at the Electronics Entertainment Expo, or E31. It’s the birthplace of memes, seen all across Reddit, Twitter, and gaming haunts like ResetEra and its progenitor NeoGAF, but it’s also the place where games are showcased, highlighted, and most of all, teased for the upcoming year or years to come.

I’m certainly not above the hype myself, having breathlessly covered these press conferences here or sharing my own thoughts on Twitter, but the excitement and joy that these events have brought fans over the years has certainly been something to take in.

Heck, even Nintendo opened their flagship store in New York on the day of these events, so fans could lose their mind together in person. A video I’ve found myself revisiting during the Time of COVID-19 is that of fans reacting to the reveal of the most recent Smash Bros game, a true “Audience reacts to Avengers: Endgame” of its time:

What’s interesting however, is how post COVID, video game developers and publishers alike, have shifted with the lack of E3, and lack of in-person gatherings. Many have gravitated to Summer Game Fest, a series of streams hosted by head of The Game Awards, Geoff Keighley, a man used to creating game hype himself.

Microsoft and Sony have, unsurprisingly, continued to follow the path of Nintendo and their incredibly successful Nintendo Direct series, with Microsoft hosting Xbox Games Showcase events on the road to the release of the Xbox Series X, and Sony alternating between Direct-esq State of Play events, or a major one off streams a’la the very hyped, and very well received PlayStation 5 “Future of Gaming” reveal2. Even indie games have gotten in the act. Looking at you, Wholesome Direct.

What’s particularly interesting, however, is the relative innovator of the space may have accidentally defined its future, with Nintendo thus far having revealed two, highly anticipated titles…just by sharing them on Twitter, in Paper Mario: The Origami King and the forthcoming Wii-U remake, Pikmin 3: Deluxe.

Some have argued that this is because of Nintendo’s inability to produce a proper Nintendo Direct, but I’m not sure how true that is, given that they’ve always at best, been a series of trailers cut together with some fancy graphics and occasional talking head moments.

Instead of wondering what games are coming, who’s developing what, we had two great looking titles (and since one has already come out, that delivered in and of itself), and we didn’t spend an entire year or two chasing the next teaser, hint, or wink from the developers.

If anything, I think that this sort of anti-hype is exactly what gaming needs right now.

Why stoke the fires of the ongoing fan debate, when you can just drop the reveal, the trailer, the name, the date, and no longer do we sit wondering “ANIMAL CROSSING SWITCH WHEN”.

Heck, Batman: Arkham developers Rocksteady Games might even agree with me, having finally confirmed their long-rumored Suicide Squad game today with a simple Tweet…

What say you, dear reader? More hype, or just announce?

  1. Which, in and of themselves, always felt like a take on the Apple press conferences showcasing the next line up of MacBooks, iPads or iPhones.
  2. Coincidentally, Apple’s own WWDC Keynote this year kind of felt like a hybrid of their pre-existing press events and a Nintendo Direct.

Pixar Announces Next Film, ‘Luca’

From Twitter today:

Ah, but there’s a twist. Per the full logline, as posted by Deadline:

Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, the original animated feature is a coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. Luca shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: he is a sea monster from another world just below the water’s surface.

The movie is directed by Enrico Casarosa, who previously did the short La Luna.

That promo image is gorgeous.

Luca is set for a June 18, 2021 release.

‘Paper Girls’ Receives a Series Order from Amazon

Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter:

Amazon has given the green light to a series based on Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s graphic novel Paper Girls.

The show is the third TV adaptation for one of Vaughan’s comics, following Runaways at Hulu and FX’s long-gestating Y: The Last Man. Amazon gave a series commitment to Paper Girls in 2019 ahead of Thursday’s formal pickup. 

Extremely excited to see this series get a live action adaptation.

A lot of people will just think of it as a Stranger Things rip, but it’s so much more than that…for one thing, no monsters, more time travel.

’Bill & Ted Face The Music’ Now To Hit Theaters AND VOD on September 1, New Trailer Released

Adam Chitwood, Collider:

Rejoice! We have been gifted with a new Bill & Ted Face the Music trailer along with the news that the film will be released both theatrically and on demand. Indeed, after originally being set for release in August, Orion Pictures announced today that the film will be released both in theaters and on demand on September 1st — meaning it’ll be opening in whatever theaters are open at that time, but will also be made available to watch from the comfort and safety of your living room.

Honestly, this is for the best. I think all movies should embrace such a release format in our “new normal”.

As for the new trailer (above), it looks really fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing Brigette Lundy-Paine (Atypical) as Billie, Ted’s kid, and Samara Weaving (Ready or Not) as Thea, Bill’s kid.

Bill & Ted Face The Music finally arrives on September 1, 2020.

Apple TV+ Reveals ‘Ted Lasso’, Starring Jason Sudeikis

Jason Sudeikis plays Ted Lasso, a small-time college football coach from Kansas hired to coach a professional soccer team in England, despite having no experience coaching soccer. In addition to starring, Sudeikis serves as executive producer, alongside Bill Lawrence (“Scrubs”) via his Doozer Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television and Universal Television, a division of NBCUniversal Content. Doozer’s Jeff Ingold also serves as an executive producer with Liza Katzer as co-executive producer. The series was developed by Sudeikis, Lawrence, Joe Kelly, and Brendan Hunt, and is based on the pre-existing format and characters from NBC Sports.

I like Sudeikis, I usually love Bill Lawrence’s shows, and the show itself looks to be gorgeously shot and produced for a comedy.

Considering I still have this free year of Apple TV+, why the heck not?

Ted Lasso hits Apple TV+ on August 14, 2020.