When was the last time you got excited about something? And I mean truly excited about something, like when whatever it is you’re excited about doesn’t leave you the mental capacity to think about anything else. For many, these moments are few and far between; for fans of video games, moments like these have become part of everyday life.
From the initial announcement phase until its inevitable release, the timeline of counting down to the arrival of a new video game is unlike anything else.
From the slow drip-feed of information and accidental ‘leaks’ to the moments when review and preview embargoes finally break, waiting for a new video game is an emotional rollercoaster.
The Wait Changes but the Hype Stays the Same
There’s a sense of nostalgia that’s difficult to shake surrounding many of the bigger video game franchises. The way we source our information has changed. Years ago, the first point of call for first-hand information was gaming magazines. I remember running down to my local shop to buy monthly issues of the UK Nintendo Official Magazine.
I remember experiencing Resident Evil 4 for the first time via a free demo disk that was bundled with a magazine. I remember seeing my very first shots of the Nintendo GameCube when I was 10 years old – Luigi’s Mansion, Resident Evil and that Zelda footage of Link battling Ganondorf in an aesthetic that Nintendo is still yet to match to this day.
Nowadays, the majority of information is sourced elsewhere. That’s not to say that gaming magazines have disappeared entirely; but the accessibility of platforms such as YouTube and Twitch, alongside the growing popularity of online media, means you’re much more likely to hear about things online from vloggers or social media influencers than you are from the majority of gaming publications.
Blowing Things Outta’ Control
Fans often do their best to decipher what little information is available in order to learn more about video games. Sometimes, it’s a well-executed and methodical approach that allows us to preempt the next bit of information we might learn about a title.
One example is when Metal Gear Solid fans tore apart the mysterious The Phantom Pain trailer shown at the 2012 video game awards, revealing it to be the next installment in the Metal Gear series.
Sometimes, we can end up waiting so long for something that the hype surrounding it dissipates entirely. Games can enter a period of development hell and that cloud of anticipation quickly becomes a thick, messy, smog of dread — just look at the messy 10-year development period for the painfully below-average Duke Nukem Forever.
Recently, we’ve also had the likes of Final Fantasy 15. Despite its marketing triumphs, fans were waiting so long for it they weren’t sure of what to expect. The end result proves that it’s pretty difficult for the hype surrounding a video game to stay relevant over the course of a decade-long development period.
Sometimes the hype surrounding a game can ultimately destroy it. No Man's Sky is a science-fiction game set in an infinite, procedurally generated galaxy. As far as a mission statement goes, that’s pretty ambitious.
And with so much mystery surrounding its initial announcement, fans were quick to come up with their own assumptions about what they would and wouldn’t be able to do in the game. As a result, the unprecedented hype surrounding the game, along with a complete lack of PR support, meant No Man’s Sky didn’t stand a chance when it came to living up to the expectations of its imaginative fans.
Video Games and Social Bonds
Video games are known for bringing people together. Research has shown the strong social bonds that can arise as a result of sharing gaming experiences together, so it’s only natural that talking about and sharing our excitement about upcoming video game releases ultimately plays into that.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a PlayStation fan who can’t wait until the release of the next Crash Bandicoot or Uncharted game. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Xbox fan who can’t wait until the next release of a Halo or Gears of War game.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Sega fan who’s stoked for the next good Sonic game (God bless you) or a Nintendo fan waiting for their next Super Mario or The Legend of Zelda fix; anyone who’s ever been remotely interested in video games knows what it’s like to be really excited about something.
For many of us, the excitement surrounding these future video game releases comes as a result of them creating such fond memories in our lives when we were younger.
For those who have grown up playing video games and sharing these experiences with your best friends, the overwhelming sense of nostalgia that comes as a result of a new Mario Kart announcement is simply too much to shake off.
There's Never Been a Better Time to Be Excited About Video Games
Some people may call us geeks — be it queuing up for midnight releases, or spending an entire month camping outside of a store waiting for the Nintendo Switch. But, right now, there’s never been a better time to be excited about video games.
In the past few months, we’ve been blown away by the surprise announcement of The Last of Us 2 at this year’s PlayStation Expo. Alongside the hype surrounding a new The Last of Us, we’re currently waiting to see what Metal Gear mastermind, Hideo Kojima, has up his sleeves, as we eagerly await more information on his mysterious Death Stranding project.
If that wasn’t enough, fans of RPGs and foul-mouthed humor have something to look forward to this year with a new South Park game on its way, and everyone’s favorite marsupial makes his high-definition return in June with the release of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.
What’s in store for the rest of this year? We’ve got Super Mario Odyssey, State of Decay 2, Tekken 7, and even a new Shenmue game, to name just a few. As it stands, there’s never really been a better time to be playing video games, has there?
The Excitement Ends
Yet, in the midst of all this exciting news, there’s also a reason to be upset. At the time of writing, I’m counting down the days until the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. To say "I’m looking forward to it" is an understatement; I’ve been following this game since the first day it was announced.
It’s been on my mind for the past week — non-stop. To me, and many others out there, this could be one of the most anticipated releases of all time.
And soon, after many years of waiting — by the time this article is published — I’ll be playing it. Then, not too long after, my journey will be over. It’s a strange feeling, having the game you’ve spent the last few years of your life waiting for to suddenly arrive.
The time we spend waiting for our favorite video games can make up some of the best moments of our lives. Time spent wondering, wishing and anticipating what could be. The hours spent bouncing off of friends as you each present your own idealized version of your ‘perfect game.’
But when the game finally arrives that’s all over, and it’s gone — at least until the next release.