It seems that for every big budget game that is released now, we know almost everything about the game 4 months before launch. Be it through alphas, betas, early access copies, leaks, video series’ or extensive streaming of certain games, the trepidation of getting a new game and discovering something that hasn’t been shown off already is very rare. While some may view this as a good thing, as you get a clear feel for what a game is going to look like, play like and sound like, you rarely get sleeper hits or games that are genuinely surprising to play anymore.

Let’s look at leaks first. Take the new Smash Bros. game, which we have done extensive news on, including coverage of leaked footage of the game in action. While it is great to find out about the new and returning characters, it ruins that excitement that a player gets when the ominous ‘Challenger Approaching!’ screen appears and you know exactly who you are fighting. Due to the nature of Smash Bros. and the fact it is just a hotly anticipated title, it is nigh-on impossible for fans to avoid this news as it is plastered on every game or fan site. Everyone wants to break the cutting edge story, and due to this desire, players lose out on experiencing a genuine surprise while the effort that the designers of the game put in to add left-field characters or new stages is all for nothing. Everyone’s desire to be the first to report or know the leaks make eventual reveals either a let-down or just a confirmation of details which people already knew, which is nowhere near as satisfying.

As for alphas and betas, there are some games which do not need them. They simply don’t. The only reason they have one is because everyone else in the marketplace feels obligated to release one, and therefore all we see are alphas or betas for every AAA title. For example, there’s the recent announcement that Bloodborne is going to get a closed alpha for certain Playstation owners in Europe. If there is ever a game that does not need an alpha, it is a From Software RPG. It is a game that thrives on suspense and players not knowing what may be round the next dark corner, so throwing the doors open for an alpha seems ludicrous as it ruins one of the key underpinnings of that game’s design. Some mystery and suspense is good, so you don’t need to keep flooding the media with yet another live gameplay demo or an alpha after the technical alpha you’d been running for 8 months or so. It isn’t necessary; it just sets an irritating precedent.

No Man's Sky Screen 3

No Man’s Sky. Keeping surprise alive until a rip of the game appears online early next year.

Luckily, there are some people who are not following this trend. No Man’s Sky is a perfect example of going down the preferred route, by slowly drip feeding information about the game and keeping people in constant suspense. Even though this can be irritating for people who desperately want the game, by keeping information sparse and only releasing news or trailers when it is appropriate, Hello Games are preserving not only the element of surprise, but they are not saturating the market with coverage. As a result, people do not become exhausted by a constant slew of information, which will surely benefit the game in the long run.

So, this is a call to all AAA developers and publishers and wannabe leakers lying in wait; maybe we don’t need that new 14 part video series on a game’s crafting system or that massive info dump outlining a game’s entire story. Be sparing with your information and let games speak for themselves. We don’t need endless updates on how a game’s progressing and we don’t want massive leaks to spoil a game’s entire plot, which is then splashed all over every gaming outlet. Less is sometimes more, after all.