Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
1886 clashes with 2015

Friday a much-hyped PS4-exclusive game called The Order: 1886 comes out. But in spite of a review embargo until Thursday the launch is already in trouble: Somebody with a review copy played through the whole game and posted the full length Let's Play videos on YouTube (now taken down). YouTube is where many people get their information in 2015. Problem is that on seeing the game life, many people didn't want to buy it any more.

Part of the criticism is exaggerated. While the videos showed 5 hours 30 minutes for a full completion of the game that was very obviously a speed run. I totally believe the devs saying that a regular player is more likely to need 8 to 10 hours to finish the game. That still isn't very long, but saying that you shouldn't buy this only because it is "only 5 hours" isn't right.

On the other hand the videos showed very well the gameplay, and people complained about the number of quick-time events, and the re-use of boss battles for example. I think those are valid concerns. And the interesting thing is that due to the review embargo combined with the leak the raw information about how the game played was out way before the filtered opinions of any game journalist. I might be a cynic, but I'm pretty sure that some journalists have now secretly lowered the score they game The Order: 1886 in their draft review. If you already know that your readers hate the game, don't post a too glowing review about it, however much advertising money you get from the game company. The whole thing is likely to hurt Ready At Dawn / Sony badly.

For me it would be perfectly fine if we got such a video leak for every new game. It didn't help me for The Order: 1886 (would never have bought it anyway, don't owe a PS4). But for the few games I'm still tempted to buy on release, I'd love to see a gameplay video before. That would be a lot more helpful for me to evaluate my purchase decision than some day one review. So here is my proposal to all game developers: If you really believe in your game, why don't you publish a full Let's Play video playthrough on YouTube yourself before release? It would get tons of views, you could show your game played as intended by you, and if it is really good then this should only increase your sales. How about it?

I don't know, for a campaign heavy game would you really want to look through the whole game ahead of time as a let's play video? If I did that, I wouldn't be interested in buying the game regardless because I already "played" it.
A couple comments: First, this reminds me of when Metal Gear Solid released on the PS1 back in the day. It was a big deal that people said you could finish the entire game in under 7 hours and the devs were fiercely defending it saying it was well worth the play evne if it could be short. I had reservations but got the game anyway, and that was when I discovered the enigma of idiot speed playthrough gamers, and that they do not reflect my reality; it took me 19 hours to finish MGS on easy mode, and I will always use that as my reference point when I hear about "this or that game took X hours from speed player Y" from now on.

Second, when people wonder why some publishers place an embargo on their games, keep this event in mind. I think posting a full playthrough by a speed player online is a shitty thing to do, and reflective of a game culture that is completely out of touch with the point of their own medium. Why the hell anyone would speed through a title like The Order: 1886 without stopping to enjoy all elements of its story is beyond me. Seriously....why is the guy even bothering to play games if his only satisfaction comes from timed completion? Also, did he have to spend time prepping to get that good? I don't know, but I suspect you don't just rip through a game like this with no prep or need to play through a couple time first to get that quick, right?

After all, there's someone out there who finished Skyrim in slightly over two hours....imagine if they had done that a few days before Skyrim's release.....I wonder how sales would have been impacted by people not even trying the game under the assumption it therefore only had 2 hours of content.

Stupid concept. And as a developer no, I would not post my entire game walkthrough on youtube anymore than a film producer would post his entire movie. It sort of defeats the point, doesn't it? Isn't this really just another example of the jerk spoiler telling you what's happening in the movie before it happens?
Oh and I have already pre-ordered the Order: 1886. If it turns out that even on my first playthrough I finish in 5 hours I'll post back and let you know....both if that happens, and if it was still worth it or not.
Just because someone derives a different kind of enjoyment from a game than you do does not invalidate their enjoyment, Nicholas. Denigrating a speed gamer because they like speed and you don't is very rude. As long as you're both having fun playing the game the way you each want to play then all the power to both of you!
Didn't somebody do an 11 minute speed run of Morrowind? Mind you, it took a long time for anyone to figure out how to do that!

Developers releasing playthroughs would be a bad idea.

1. It would tempt players to spoil the game for themselves.

2. The play experience would be contaminated by the developer's thoughts. Novels may have afterwords, but the author should not intrude before the start.

3. It would make reviewers very very lazy. Or at least, lazy reviewers would drive out good ones.

@Nick Page okay true, and apologies to speed gamers everywhere, but when they actively try to indicate a game's not worth it because THEY could finish it in 5 or 2 hours and then post the whole thing online, I feel justified in calling them out for being creeps. Now, if the guy included details like "It took me 12 hours three times to get good enough to do it once at 5 hours" I'll apologize and say he's showing it took time and skill, but the impression I got from the articles on the recent debacle was that the speed-player was specifically implying that he finished it in only 5 hours on a single try, and that the game was not worth the time or effort, despite the fact that (again, all hearsay as the video was down before I could see it) he didn't stop to engage with the story/flavor elements of the game.

To contrast: the Skyrim guys were part of a competition to speed play, sponsored by Bethesda. The press on that was to show off how damned good they were, not use it as a measuring stick to trash a game prior to release.
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