Fallout 4’s Announcement Is a Prime Case Study for Other Publishers

Fallout 4’s Announcement Is a Prime Case Study for Other Publishers

It’s not too much of a stretch to say that a lot of people like Fallout. It’s an even smaller leap to conclude that these people would lap up any news on the franchise like thirsty birds around the only puddle in Nuketown. You would forgive Bethesda, the developer of said franchise, for milking the customary hype cycle to its maximum extent.

A countdown clock? I’ll wait patiently. A 30 second teaser once it expires? It’s a start! A cinematic trailer at E3 that doesn’t yet show the game? Hey, it’s something. A inaccurate representation of the game’s visuals half a year down the road? Hey, I’ll complain after the game launches.”

Besides implementing the aforementioned countdown clock (I get it, it built the hype), Bethesda completely bypassed the controversial cycle that EVERY AAA game gets embroiled in these days. The Fallout 4 announcement hit all of the right notes and gave off the right vibe.

First off, notice the title. This isn’t a “Teaser”. A “First Look”. A “Cinematic Announcement”. It is, simply, the “Debut Trailer.” That was Good Thing #1.

Good Thing #2? It was all in-engine and in-game. How could I tell? Frankly, it didn’t look “amazing.” The dog, a focus for most of the trailer, didn’t exhibit any fancy fur physics as you might find in a game such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The last shot was even somewhat jarring, exhibiting a very simplistic, clay-looking character model and some drab draw distances. It’s great that Bethesda isn’t overinflating expectations early, and it’s not like technical mastery was ever the focus of their games.

"Hey, we're not very good at the graphics thing... At least we're honest!"

“Hey, we’re not very good at the graphics thing… At least we’re honest!”

Good Thing #3? They showed a lot of good things. Good gameplay things. Around 2 minutes of them. That rarely happens with most announcements, with good reason. Obviously, the game is far enough along that there’s a lot of content ready. It’s a very impressive sequence of shots, showcasing a huge variety to environments that are, on average, more colorful and detailed than you would find in Fallout 3.

Good Thing #4? It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it looks like we’ll be getting a 30 minute gameplay demo at E3, two weeks after the game was announced. That’s insane. Bethesda is really going out of their way to show how confident they are in what they’re building. It’s brilliant.

While too late for this E3, I hope the other video game publishers take notice at what has been an extremely smooth and positive announcement cycle for Bethesda and apply these lessons to future projects. If you don’t overpromise or disrespect your audience, you’ll have a better time once your game does eventually hit shelves. I’m sure that Bethesda loves all of the focused attention they got and the 10 million views that came with it.

In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to Bethesda’s press conference on 6/14.