If you follow any news at all about English gacha games, then you’ve heard about the upcoming Tower Defense Waifu/Husbando collector game Arknights. All the major youtubers and gaming news outlets are talking about it, and if you visit any community of gacha gamers and ask: “What is an upcoming gacha game that you are looking forward to?”, one of the first answers you will hear will be: Arknights.
Publisher Yostar is happily feeding the hype machine, as it has posted on its EN Twitter page since July 3rd:
43 character bios
9 official trailers
6 clue puzzles
1 merchandise promo
1 Pre-Registration Campaign
1 bunny in a pear tree
Ok, maybe not the last one.
But when Arknights published their most recent trailer, some of the hype buildup seemed to be creating signs of impatience and strain on a sizeable number of the fanbase. A certain response from @EnigmicAzn summed up the sentiment well:
This got me thinking about over-hype, the dangers of over-hype in gaming, and the reasons we should avoid it.
I’m putting this one first because I think it is the most common and most important. When there is a lot of hype, we imagine the feeling of playing our perfect game, and build high expectations in our minds about what that experience will be like. Then, when the game is released, we don’t judge it by the game we are actually playing, we judge it against the impossibly perfect gaming experience in our imagination, and we hate it for not living up to it and disappointing us.
Turns out this is an incredibly common phenomenon, and we do it all the time in every aspect of our lives. This is not just some boomer game writer’s opinion, it’s science (sometimes too big brain science). Here are some words from a professor with a super high INT stat and a PhD:
… human beings have a natural tendency to pin their hopes for happiness on fulfilled expectations.
The problem of expectation occurs when we expect something to happen without good reasons for that expectation.
This article, and others that I ran across, often had a bunch of touchy, feely, huggy stuff about acceptance and happiness. I won’t go into that, because we are all gacha gamers here, so we are heroes that kill internet monsters, attract waifu and husbando admirers at low rates, and keep universes safe from harm one top-up at a time, so we don’t need that stuff, right?
However, the point here seems to be, supported by science, that the more hyped we are for a game, the less likely we are to enjoy it when we finally play it. Seems lame. Clearly science has never pulled an SSR waifu with a .7% gacha rate.
Arknights hasn’t even entered their CBT yet and people are already foaming at the mouth (New rumor is Dec 19th though! *foams at the mouth*). If we are going to get upset and frustrated every time we hear something about the game that isn’t a launch date, we have a long road of anger ahead of us. It is possible we will eventually associate this P.O.-dness with the game itself, until we can no longer separate the anger of waiting for the game from anger at the game. It could become our pavlov’s response to an Arknights sandwich.
Ok, maybe this section title is a little sensationalized. Everyone has “that person” on their discord or forum. You know, the one that loses their mind and attacks anyone that even so much as implies that their pet game isn’t the second coming of whatever god you believe in? As Anthony Burch said in his article about hype in gaming:
People like this don't necessarily defend a game because it's good. They defend it because they want it to be good. They want the real game to match the game they've invented in their minds, and they will attack anyone who prevents them from playing that imaginary game.
This might seem kind of funny and ridiculous at first, but this is exactly why writers, bloggers, or youtubers sometimes get death threats when reporting not-positive things about popular upcoming games. This actually happens. (PS I think Arknights is going to be Ah-mazing and wonderful, and great, and whatever else I need to say to not get any death threats).
Now I’m not saying everyone is going to take it to this extreme, but hype and expectation can greatly bias the way we think, talk, and come across to others, without us even realizing it.
This one is clearly not meant for those with the following IGNs: F2PKilla, F2P4Life, IMBetterCuzF2P, HeyLookWhatIPulledBTWF2PLUL, etc. And, to be honest, it’s a concern more for premium games that have an up-front price tag or pre-order purchase. That being said, there is still a risk here.
Whale, dolphin, narwhal, or whatever manner of sea creature one may be, we will be more likely to spend faster and over our personal budgets the more hyped we are about a game, possibly before we’ve figured out if we even like it. Then we could be faced with the prospect of choosing between guilt for wasting money if we quit, or suffering through a game we don’t like out of feelings of obligation.
To be honest, I couldn’t come up with a true 5th reason, 4 reasons isn't a catchy title, and Conclusion is lame, so this is going to be a little of both. The point of this article is not to tell you that you shouldn’t look forward to the Arknights release. I’m looking forward to it. The point is to be realistic about our expectations. These words from the Destructoid article linked below really stuck with me, so I’ll share them with you to wrap this up:
Because, though the majority of games marketing tells us that all upcoming games are goddamned incredible, the vast majority of hyped-up games are f***ing fine. Not great. Not horrible. Fine. Most games aren't utterly amazing and mind-blowing. They're fine.
Maybe, instead of shouting "THIS GAME WILL BE AMAZING" and throwing s**tfits when it gets delayed, we could instead draw upon our years of experience with games that are just fine and instead think, "I hope this game will be good," or "This game will probably be okay but I'm willing to be surprised."