Is Too Much Preview Footage a Bad Thing?

We’re not going for controversy today, we’re going for thought provoking.

As most of you are probably aware, we’ll be getting our hands on Codemasters’ upcoming rally simulator DiRT 4 by the end of the work week, but I can’t help but feel a lot of the excitement surrounding the title when it was initially revealed to the general public has now completely faded away. Sure, I’m looking forward to playing DiRT 4, as are many others who greatly appreciate the willingness of Codemasters to drop some of the dudebro elements in favor of a more traditional, hardcore rally sim experience, but the giddiness of having a new simulator to play – one which also gives you an entire campaign to explore and flashy graphics to complete the experience – isn’t really there.

And the problem I’m hinting at, is that we already know too much about DiRT 4. YouTube and Twitch are fantastic tools for gamers to share their experiences with others in a variety show-like format, but I feel as if they’re actively working against the mystery that comes with ripping the shrink wrap off a product and exploring what the developers have created; being genuinely surprised by features, cars, or tracks that were hinted at but not fully revealed until the disc was physically in your hard drive. In the summer of 2017, we’re at the point where multiple gaming websites and hardcore sim racing publications have played through the first few hours of the game several times over, to the point where one doesn’t even have to own DiRT 4 to easily recite what players can expect from their initial experience. We’ve seen almost every class of car in action, every new rally cross track, and experienced a large portion of the unique stage generation tool that has been promoted so heavily – to the point where most racing game communities aren’t taking part in a shared child-like excitement, they’re instead bickering about virtual reality support as if we’re two months into launch and the game has already blown past the initial new game hysteria.

That’s really lame.

It’s made me pose the question of whether too much preview footage can be a bad thing, and I feel that yes, it certainly can be. I’m excited for DiRT 4 because I think we can agree that everyone wanted a sequel to DiRT Rally, but I’m going into it knowing that there are just three landrush locations, there’s no WRC cars, I know exactly what my team livery design and colors will be, I know the preferred line through the Gymkhana challenges at the DirtFish driving school compound, and what sponsors I can expect to have on the side of my car. It’s the equivalent of buying movie tickets for a show later in the evening, and then on the car ride there reading the entire Wikipedia article while simultaneously listening to four different podcasts discussing sub-plots you might not pick up on.

DiRT 4 has been spoiled by the gaming community, but it’s not the first game to receive that treatment. Project CARS 2 has also been granted an abundance of pre-release coverage, and it’s kind of taking away from that new game hysteria. Instead of surprising people with an entire IndyCar field as an “oh by the way, we got this license” surprise, or a platter of Group C cars that traditionally don’t make it into other games, we’ve seen so much raw gameplay that people are meticulously analyzing cornering speeds because they literally have nothing else to do. I personally know of some stuff Slightly Mad Studios have planned for Project CARS 2 that’s both implemented and functional within the game, but after seeing what’s happened with DiRT 4, I’m kind of hoping they’ll continue to keep it under wraps.  And that’s because we no longer have a hobby where just taking it all in – from the art style to the menus to the content not announced in promotional material – is part of the fun in purchasing a title on launch day or soon thereafter. A return to that style of marketing would be a lot of fun for customers; you have to selectively release information, not just fill people with videos upon videos that basically spoil the entire software.

By comparison, I’d like to take a look at another Codemasters title, Formula One 2017. We haven’t seen any moving footage of this game in action; just teaser shots of four historical Formula One cars, and talk of an improved handling model from those who have tried out the game behind closed doors. People are jacked for what this game might contain, because their imaginations are allowed to run wild and there’s this whole mysterious atmosphere surrounding the title. Hype for F1 2017 is also at an all-time high, because unless you’re a snob who hates fun and will avoid any title that doesn’t label itself as a hardcore simulator boasting a userbase of less than 300 people (200 of which run five laps in offline testing, then hit up the forums bragging that the cars are so hard to drive), Formula One 2016 was one of the best racing games of our time, and it’s only natural to expect Codemasters will improve upon it. This is marketing done right; people know the game will be good because the last one was phenomenal, and there’s just enough information out there to pique the curiosity of gamers into giving the new release a go. As a gamer, it’s fun to boot up a game and be genuinely surprised, rather than have the first two hours of the game memorized.

Grand Theft Auto was another franchise that got this balance absolutely perfect. Prior to the launch of both Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V, there was absolutely no raw gameplay footage available; just well-crafted trailers from Rockstar themselves that demonstrated a quality product, yet left a lot for the players to discover by purchasing the title and putting it through it’s paces themselves. Remembering back to the launch of Niko Belic’s time in Liberty City, part of the magic in playing through GTA IV for the first time was just physically seeing everything – from the HUD design to the driving physics to the narrative elements – and being able to take it all in with the controller in your hand, rather than some YouTube video where a kid flown out to some exotic location by Rockstar was allowed to screech at the camera for 45 minutes and limp around the game world.

I’m hoping that developers shy away from this kind of promotional campaign in the future. Yes, there are a lot of customers sitting around on Twitch and YouTube streams, so those will warrant the most return on your investment for paying somebody next to nothing to demonstrate the game well ahead of launch, but it’s ironic how these developers will then complain that gamers go and act so “entitled” on their official forums, aggressively demanding more and more. Look, you’ve shown them 95% to 100% of the game before they’ve even spent money on it, to the point where it’s killed all excitement and the pendulum has now swung in the totally opposite direction where they’re now nit-picking like crazy. That’s not fun for either side.

And the proof that “less is more” is a viable marketing tactic, lies in Codemasters’ 2015 title, DiRT Rally. There was absolutely zero indication that this game was in the pipeline aside from an ATI Catalyst Control Center update, so when it dropped, it sent sim racers into complete hysteria. It didn’t matter that there were only three locales and seventeen cars in version 1.0; part of the fun was in the “holy shit Codemasters you did WHAT??!?!” element that came with the old Colin McRae team dropping a hardcore rally simulator seemingly out of the sky, and they were able to ride that momentum so long it resulted in a proper, fleshed out sequel worthy of being inserted into the main DiRT series. It took a solid couple of months for any profound level of criticism to surface about the game because sim racers were too busy exploring it, rather than what we’re seeing with DiRT 4, where people are crying about a lack of VR support, the omission of WRC-spec rally cars, or a questionably small track roster for the support series. And maybe I shouldn’t use the term “crying”, because some of these are valid complaints, but the fact that they’re surfacing before your average person has spent money on the game is obviously not a direction you want to progress in.

So maybe it’s time to revisit this marketing tactic. Some people obviously don’t give a shit about spoilers and will invest long hours into a game regardless, but if developers want to re-capture some of that launch day magic, it’s time to keep a lot more of the game under wraps, and not hand out early access keys to everyone with a YouTube account or a vagina that agrees not to give the game a final score until June 6th.

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72 thoughts on “Is Too Much Preview Footage a Bad Thing?

  1. being genuinely surprised by features, cars, or tracks that were hinted at but not fully revealed until the _disc was physically in your hard drive_.
    What?

    Like

  2. > a snob who hates fun and will avoid any title that doesn’t label itself as a hardcore simulator boasting a userbase of less than 300 people (200 of which run five laps in offline testing, then hit up the forums bragging that the cars are so hard to drive)

    This is such a depressingly astute observation. Why *do* sim racers have to be so fucking cringey?

    Is it the superabundance of midlife-crisis-age-males? I mean, who else pays $800-1200 for a toy steering wheel?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yesterday you were defending the posting of anti-Semitic posts. Today you criticise peaceful people who spend money on a harmless hobby. You, young lady, have serious priority and moral issues to contend with. Take a holiday, eat a peach.

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      1. I was defending the right to free speech without censorship. The nature of the speech itself (Anti-Semitic nonsense) is beside the point entirely. Typical straw man argument, but thanks for playing.

        I’m criticizing obnoxious middle-aged men who seem to have forgotten that games (even those which purport to simulate something) are all about having fun. These are the people who insist that this-or-that game can’t be enjoyable just because it’s missing some esoteric feature that serves (primarily) to reassure them that “Yes, I could’ve been a real race car driver”.

        For some reason, these people tend to own a lot of DD wheels and wear a helmet while playing iRacing. I also don’t think they get to fuck very often, but that’s just my personal opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The fuck are you to set the bar for “fun”?
          Ive watched hordes of my younger peers spend a entire days on games like fucking LoL,apparently child like pokemon games are fun to ppl in there mid twenties, FUCK…… THAT, id rather spend a day learning to take off without crashing while failing horribly then 30 mins playing shit like that,

          And if ppl want to spend money on hobbys you consider “not fun”, the fuck are you to complain? I rather hear complaints of “middle aged” men with too much money then the constant high pitched whine of over opinionated soft millennials normie twats who dont even have a driving license or couldn’t change a light bulb to save themselves.

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          1. You’re really not doing yourself any favors with this comment. Actually, you’re just demonstrating the
            exact kind of insecurity and rage that tends to be a hallmark of these 40 and 50-something delusional sim racers.

            Liked by 3 people

          2. Did critical reading skills just go through the floor around here, or has it always been this way?

            You’ve missed my point entirely because you so identify with these pudgy man-children that your feelings got hurt. I bet your fingers were trembling uncontrollably as you pounded out that defensive, exasperated diatribe.

            So here I go for one last time (and then I really must get back to my strap-on):

            It’s not about what anyone considers fun. It’s about being boorishly pretentious and doing exactly what you’re now (falsely) accusing me of doing:

            Telling other people that their games aren’t good enough because they don’t model whatever bit of simulation minutia that you’ve latched onto in lieu of, you know, having a fucking Life.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Haha mention lol in a bad light and get all the tweens upset,anywho

              ————————————————————————————————————————————–
              “You’ve missed my point entirely because you so identify with these pudgy man-children that your feelings got hurt.”
              ————————————————————————————————————————————–
              I dont identify with pudgy cunts, I eat pudgy cunts, Im a 30 year old shit kicking rugby playing kick arse foreman and tradesman that grimaced at having to spend a couple of hundred on a g27 that I have bolted to my kids play table, but ill defend those pudgy “man children” instead of just the children,becasue the alternative is a industry (already dominated by LoL/COD playing dweebs) pumping out COD knocks offs, press X to win games and the latest fucking phone game craze.

              ——————————————————————————————————————————–
              “Telling other people that their games aren’t good enough because they don’t model whatever bit of simulation minutia that you’ve latched onto in lieu of, you know, having a fucking Life.”
              ————————————————————————————————————————————–
              If you are talking about the odd obsessed forum dweeb that comes in all shapes and forms,from both sides of the fence fair point, but those ppl are irrelevant, and if they upset you,boohoo , playing a fucking victim by implying their words have some kind of negative effect on YOU ,that YOU”VE latched onto in lieu of, you know, having a fucking Life.

              You also make the assumption these people that demand (and are willing to pay for it unlike their broke arse children) for the best possible simulation are “gamers” many arent and are simply extending a outside hobby or interest,so yeah quality simulation matters to others,not “games”.

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        2. Stop right there!

          I’ve noticed that if you click on Emma’s name, the date of the first blog post is June 3rd, 2017. Considering this user shares similar opinions to James and that he also used this name in some of his virtual racing exploits, I can sense the samefaggotry already. Unless the IP logs prove otherwise (which may indicate use of proxy/VPN, who knows.)

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          1. Thanks for pointing this out! James is not half as clever or funny as he seems to think he is. He is even using his Emma Sulkowicz account to troll RD’s “Can Women be Competitive in Modern Formula One Racing?” thread. Poor, poor hurt man-child…

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              1. So it is confirmed not samefaggotry. Since using an US-based VPN is generally frowned upon nowadays, that also takes that out of the question.

                Must be a shitter.

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              2. Hi James, thanks for clearing up it’s not you. Point about poor man-child crying in his basement still stands. That it is not you, but another guy, makes the whole affair even sadder.

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        3. Are you really having a temper tantrum because of people that have other hobby preferences than you in the gaming world? At this point you’re not having any critical thinking, you’re just passing judgment to other people.

          Sim racing hardware that consists of wheel, pedals, shifter, that cost between $1000-3000 are no longer toys. Much of this equipment touches the professional grade or is indeed equipment also suited for professional simulators. Will you really call the Heusinkveld pedals toys? I doubt those pedals and DD wheels are safe for kids.

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  3. I must agree with you James , I have been watching the flood of video’s coming in over the past week !

    I do feel by watching the first hour or two of the game I have taken some of the initial excitement away from release day .

    It must be a tough decision to let the game out in the wild a week early for some you tubers , what they have done right as far as I can tell is who they gave it too in most cases they are reputable .

    I still think either way the title will be sweet .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Maybe watching all these previews is like watching too much porn.

    Eventually, real sex can’t quite measure up, you start noticing your partner isn’t all that great, and you’re left dissatisfied and vaguely disillusioned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first and only racing game I very regret buying it. The physics just sucks and even F1 in pCars is better than this Bullshit.

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      1. You do understand that the F1 games are meant to be simcade, and aren’t trying to be a realistic barebones racing sim that has nothing to offer besides physics.

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    2. It was fine. I got a significantly higher amount of enjoyment out of it than something like AMS, and even AC has been sitting unplayed in my library for a while now. It has severe issues with the AI (too slow, too crashy), the game performance (lots of bugs on the PC release) and the like, but I was very happy with what it did and found it to be a much more enjoyable driving experience than AMS and on par with AC, without having to bother with the latter’s awful pub lobbies or signing up for a league.

      Like

  5. While you certainly have a point, about most story driven games, where stuff goes around evolving a char(untangling a story), i don’t think it applies to race/car games…

    They essentially are about the driving experience and racing against mp/ai. You can see all you want about those 2, you have to play the game to really know what they are about.

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  6. Eh you know, just because there’s content out there doesn’t mean you have to consume it. Looking for that content to be regulated for you is, well a bit rich given the nature of this comment section.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s mostly about how every sim racing site over the past 2-3 weeks has basically spoiled all of DiRT 4. Hell, ISR just put out a video today entitled “DRIVING ALL 5 RALLYCROSS TRACKS.”

      Like

      1. Come on James , you will love it once you have it .

        The one thing with racing games you make your own experiences in a way as not a lot is predetermined when its you making mistakes and no story in site to follow.

        You will enjoy it as much as you did dirt 🙂

        Like

      2. I agree with you for the most part dude, there’s certainly an over saturation problem. I also have an issue with how qualified these, eh YouTube personalities opinions are in the first place. I mean you changed your mind about the Ford trans-am in p-cars 1 after spending a day testing so I have to ask myself how accurate was your review of MXGP? So it’s all subjective and the best any of us can do is find someone who’s perception matches your own and go with that while avoiding all other marketing. Confirmation bias at it’s finest. I just didn’t think there was an article here but hey that’s subjective too

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  7. A question that occurs to me is: why do you watch all that preview material? I mean, I don’t. I saw Chris Meeke and Petter Solberg having what seemed to be quite a lot of fun, and thought that’s good enough for me.

    Part of what you write about is also simply the vivious circle of wantmore and hereyougottit. The solution is easy: don’t watch it. You can do even bettwr to yourself: do not read (or write) any reviews until after you’ve had some solid game time in, and have been able to revise your first impression two or three times, and only then start finding out what others have to say about it.

    Try it, it’s refreshing.

    Like

  8. My little birdie has brought to my attention that wmd members who had paid good money to become one. Are being banned for criticizing pcars2. And jet no article has bin made here. Sounds like something prc should be all over. And jet you say that you’re sponsoring by Ian bell hasn’t shut you up…………….. Make one wander.

    Like

    1. We’ve banned one person in the last 3 months. For breaking NDA by releasing footage we haven’t licensed fully yet… Don’t let that stop you though, because the ‘innocent poster removed for doing nothing wrong on a forum’ is a really huge issue that everyone cares about… It really needs much more scholarly articles.

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        1. That’s why you now put in the nda. That you get banned for sharing details off other people getting banned. Damage control in full effect that’s wat it looks like to me.
          You might want to put that kind off energy in bringing out a quality game. Instead producing the same bugs every time.

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  9. Codie has nothing to proove. I know the Game they sold is complete and working. Unless SMS who finish a game by 75% with broken features. Showing gameplay is not relevant for a Racing game cause There is no story to reveal. It s different from a game like GTA who have story.
    For PC2, trust your boss James He has a very planned marketing plan. The lone thing he is good at.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. No, not all YouTubers got a copy. P1TV from Germany with 36k subscribers and over 120 Dirt Rally videos didn’t get one. He’s one of the few who can talk while driving very good in DR and I thought he gets money from Codemasters because since F1 2016 he’s almost only playing this two titles.

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    1. Anindo, stop spreading major disinformation! Of course P1TV has a pre-release copy and he has already started reviewing DiRT 4 on his YouTube channel.

      Like

        1. Reading comprehension failure! Thanks for proving my point. You stated he did not get a copy which was an incorrect statement. Please grab a towel for the egg on your face.

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  11. Your DiRT Ralky analogy doesn’t add up. DiRT was released in Early Access and surprised just about everyone.

    There is too much coverage of DiRT 4 but at least it is actual gameplay. pCars 2 on the other hand just pushes out lots of screenshots and shows nothing reliable or independent of the gameplay.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Emma why did you talk about sex twice in 3 posts there’s something fishy here you should get laid instead of complaining about dd wheels

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  13. Nobody forces anyone to watch any of these youtube videos or livestreams, if you dont want to know about any of it which spoils the surprise then dont watch it, your in control of what you click on. Dont see a Youtube video a week before release which says “The first 2 1/2 hours of Dirt 4” then be angry or surprised when it shows you exactly that.

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  14. Can’t say i really give a fuck. So watching some previews ruins the surprise for you, what are you like 11 years old?

    Like

  15. Have to say I agree with the main sentiments of this article. Certainly makes a change from the usual drivel this site hosts.

    Like

  16. Your article is shit and wrong.

    Why would I buy a cat in a bag? I want to know exactly what I’m paying for before I pay for it. If the game’s content can be ran out of in a few YouTube movies, doesn’t that hint the content is not plentiful?

    Showing lots of footage may be bad for the seller (if there’s not much to show), but it’s good for the customer. I’m a customer, so it’s good for me.

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    1. Truth. Had I not seen multiple people on YouTube describing the arcade feel and commenting on what seems to be a sever lack of launch content, I might have made a mistake and purchased this.

      I rather be just disappointed instead of both disappointed *AND* short the cost of a pre-order or launch price. Same limited stage size issues as seen in DR, cookie cutter “Your Stage” set pieces that you’ll learn and recognize, fewer modes when compared to the prior regular Dirt series title, etc. I’ll pass for now. Maybe some DLC, fleshing things out or a sale down the line will change my mind. We’ll see.

      Like

      1. But, but, would you be less disappointed if they offered a long list of goodies when you pre-order? Then even if the game sucked you’d still have something to play with!

        Like

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