Why fan expectations and reactions can change how we view games

Grand Theft Auto IV Screenshot - Why fan expectations and reactions can change how we view games

The Royal Rumble is regarded as one of the most popular WWE PPVs of the year. In the eyes of some, its popularity eclipses even Wrestlemania due to its entertaining and unpredictable main event. Sadly, this year’s Rumble was a bit of a letdown for many reasons, with one standing out in particular: Batista won the Royal Rumble and Daniel Bryan didn’t.

If I were to compare Daniel Bryan’s popularity to the video game world, he’d be Gabe Newell. Bryan is universally loved, cheered, and accepted with such enthusiasm in the ways the wrestling world hasn’t seen since the days of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Yet, he didn’t even appear, never mind win, the Royal Rumble Main Event. Instead Batista, who has just returned after a failed MMA stint, has won. It’s as if EA took the crown the people expected Gabe Newell to wear.

What does any of this have to do with the world of video games? A lot, actually.

We don’t have to go far to look at how the fan reaction changed the perception of a video game. Everyone surely remembers the public outcry from the ending of Mass Effect 3, so I won’t spend much time on it. Instead, I’ll take a look at Grand Theft Auto IV. The franchise was making its long awaited debut on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Early returns were good. The world was impressive, the action entertaining, and the characters enjoyable.

Well, except for one.

I’ll give you a hint as to who I’m talking about: he wanted to go bowling a lot.

Once we all got past the Roman Bellic jokes, some realizations were made about Grand Theft Auto IV. It wasn’t the second coming of the messiah, it was just okay. We expected the world and got a very serviceable video game. Yet because our cousin always wanted to play pool, some look poorly at the game. Our reaction to one little thing has affected the entire perception of the game.

Going back to the point about the Royal Rumble, the negative aftermath of the main event has greatly shadowed over a fantastic opening fight between Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan. Not only was it the best match on the card, but it was one of the best matches in the past twelve months. Here’s to hoping it won’t be forgotten.

Here‘s hoping that the fantastic narrative of Star Wars: The Old Republic isn’t forgotten either. My friends and I like to make a running joke about the Star Wars MMO: it’s the best single player MMO on the market. The amount of time and money put into the class quests show; its narrative is truly one worth exploring. Once your story is over, however, the game sadly turns into World of Warcraft in space. For that, we look back at SWTOR in a somewhat negative manner. It wasn’t the WoW killer we thought it would be, it wasn’t the ultimate Star Wars online experience we were hoping for, and it wasn’t a fresh experience in the MMO genre. The early positives were buried by the later disappointment.

Games like Mass Effect 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Grand Theft Auto IV, and other examples (Assassin’s Creed III, Diablo III) aren’t necessarily bad games. They’re all titles that I, at one point or another, enjoyed. Yet for one reason or another, there was something about the reactions they got or the expectations people had that dragged them down. No matter how much I enjoyed the playing through parts of Mass Effect 3, despite how much I enjoyed Roman Reigns in the Royal Rumble, they’ll both have a taint on them. That’s the power of the voice of the consumer.

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Jake Valentine
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