What Game Developers Can Learn From Todd Howard.

            At the time I’m writing this E3 2015 is underway and all the press conferences are out of the way. For those who don’t know what E3 is it’s the video game industries own Apple Event, where game developers share the games they are working on and the latest hardware, all while trying to be professional as professional as games can get. This year’s E3 was not the best but it wasn’t the worst. I’ve shared my small amount of watching E3 from home on a 15-intch-laptop computer screen, starting back in 2011, reading articles, listening to interviews, and watching every major gaming company do their presentation; trying my best at never skipping a beat that E3 pulsated.

            There is a lot that E3 gets right, but there is a whole lot more E3 gets wrong. And every year developers fall back to same old habit of announcing a game 2 to 3 years before it is actually released. They announce a game then show gameplay but never a release date, and when asked in interviews when gamers can get their hands on the game they respond as a politician would respond, vaguely.

            Let’s look at the game The Division that was announce back at E3 in 2013. Take note of the year 2013. My friends and I were excited for the release of the game. We wanted more once we saw gameplay for it. It goes dark after E3. Enter E3 2014, The Division makes another appearance and our response is “Looks like it is coming out this year.” Again, the game goes dark. The Division shows up again at E3 2015 and we just brush it off without a care in the world. We no longer want that game at this point. We are sick of it.

            This is a bad habit game developers do. It is the equivalent being blue balled. They build up so much excitement but they never deliver, and you are left to move on to the next big thing. I’ve seen a number of games that I saw back at E3 2013 make an appearance at E3 2015 and it felt like passing by your ex-lover who still wants you. The best you can do is briefly look at it and move on because you know you will never feel the same for it like you did when you first laid eyes on it. However, there is a developer who knows how to announce a game and his name is Todd Howard.

            During the Bethesda presentation Todd Howard walked on stage and gave us what gamers have so desperately wanted, more footage of Fallout 4 to go with the trailer that was released a week before Bethesda’s press conference. It goes without saying that gamers were already hyped for Fallout 4 before that Sunday of the press conference. The whole presentation felt like the Ludovico technique from A Clockwork Orange, our eyes never blinking or moving away from the screen as Todd Howard feed us images and video of the game. In the end all we wanted and all we cared about was Fallout 4. They could have shut E3 down and we would have been happy.

            The only question that remained was, “when can we get it?” And with out a hesitation he announced it. He announced an exact date and not the Fall 2015 or Early 2016 bullshit that most developers tell their consumers. We were given a date to look forward to. A number we can mark off. Even better it was a date that is not too far from us but feels like an eternity from now, 11.10.15.

            Here is how Todd Howard wins at E3. He gave us what we wanted even though we knew it was coming. There is not doubt we knew Fallout 4 was going to happen even before the trailer was released. We knew Fallout 4 was coming someday we just want wanted somebody to tell us that it exist. Once we got our confirmation that it was happening we wanted to see more of it. Again, Todd Howard delivered and gave us what we wanted. Finally, we wanted to get our hands on it and soon, and Todd Howard did not fail. In an interview with Geoff Keighley, Howard believes developers talk about their games too early “I like the moment of finding out about something and that swell of excitement.” Howard knows how a gamer’s mind works and he knows what we want and when we want it.

Developers take note.


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