Massively Overthinking: Are you susceptible to second-hand MMO hype?

    
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So there’s a thing going around the MOP virtual offices lately: Elite Dangerous hype. Between Chris and Ben especially, the excitement for Odyssey is palpable. I didn’t do a formal headcount, but I bet half our staff seems to be hyped for it, and the other half is watching it with a curious eye. This doesn’t happen for every MMO, I can assure you.

Now, Elite Dangerous is one of my husband’s core games, and I’ve watched him play a lot, but I’ve never dipped my own toe in. And yet watching people I know and trust like Chris ramp up in enthusiasm for it, I can’t help but reconsider whether maybe I shouldn’t be in there too. They’re rubbing off on me – it’s like second-hand hype.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I wanted to talk about that concept. I don’t want to call it peer pressure because I don’t think anyone’s really pressuring anyone else, nor do I think I’d be judged if I didn’t go along with the Popular Thing. Are you susceptible to second-hand MMO hype? What games have you been sucked into thanks to a groundswell of hype or excitement for an MMO? And who usually does the hyping that sucks you in?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I don’t feel like I’ve ever had second-hand hype, especially for an MMO. I may give it, but never receive. I think a big part of it is that I’ve always been that I’m fairly critical, even of my own hype. That doesn’t mean I won’t try out a game people around me are playing; it’s more that I want to play with friends more than any real excitement over the game. With the latter, that’s been nearly every Blizzard game I’ve played except for Hearthstone, since I guess I had needed to feed my TCG roots, which did lead me to trying out Hex (RIP).

Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): I’m susceptible in a couple of different ways. If I see a game mentioned by several people within my gaming/Twitter circles, I’m more apt to give it a serious look. Besides that, the script has flipped a bit in my household. My kids are now old enough and have enough free time that they are better at keeping tabs on gaming trends than I am. Thus, on occasion, I have been introduced to/influenced to try a game by them!

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I am – but only from specific people. Our team for sure. My guildies. My kids, even, to an extent. And a handful of people on social media I follow and respect. I’d like to say I don’t follow the herd, but in reality I just follow a very small hand-picked herd, and if people I trust say, the thing is good and fun and you should play, I at least want to, even if I don’t have the time or dough for it right away. Heck, I’m in SWG Legends right now literally because commenters I trusted said it was a good egg three years ago. And they were right!

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I 100% have been sucked in to second-hand hype. The most recent instance of this was with Guild Wars 2, specifically the release of Path of Fire, which had all of the things I cared to see in the game — mounts, somewhere that wasn’t Heart of Thorns, and an interesting Guardian epic spec — and had me buy in shortly after details were expounded upon. Looking back, I don’t think I regret being drawn in to that whirlpool because GW2 continues to be one of those “never say never” games I keep on my system, but I also appreciate how susceptible I am to hype. Just something about that shared communal buzz that makes me happy, you know?

In fact, even if I end up falling back out of the hype train, I typically look forward to moments like that. People should be allowed and encouraged to be excited for new things in their favorite game, and as a person who usually tries to find the joy in MMOs (or at least the good parts of them), I think it’s impossible to not delight in second-hand MMO hype, particularly among peers, friends, or even the nebulous community wave.

Mia DeSanzo (@neschria): I am definitely one to go in for the game I am hearing about around me, as long as it is in a genre I enjoy. No amount of hype for a shooter is going to pull me in, but if everyone is talking about one strategy, simulation, or roleplaying game (MMO or otherwise), I will definitely check it out. It helps that my exposure to game hype is limited to MOP comments, a few podcasts, Discord channels, and family members.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): True confessions here! I know I am an oddball, but I am the opposite. I am all for folks being excited about things and sharing their excitement, but that doesn’t do much to influence how much I want something. My own hype is highly personal. In fact, if there is a real hype train for a game rolling along that I wasn’t already interested in, I am more likely to steer clear of those tracks and ignore it. I tend to reject the Popular Thing. It is in my nature and how I have always been: I would just lose interest in things when they suddenly became the thing everyone was doing. (RIP globe earrings.) I am that way for everything really, not just games. There is one popular book series that I still have never touched. And yes, all the “everyone’s doing it” for a certain game that shall not be named sealed its fate as a never-to-be-touched.

Beyond not really being affected by second-hand hype, I know there is an easy and quick way to get me not to like something: telling me I should! This really gets under my skin. It all stems from me having a complete aversion to folks telling me what I have to do/like. And by aversion, I mean I instantly and reflexively do a 180. Example: When young, my mom walked by as I was cleaning my room and told me to clean my room. My response? I immediately dropped what I was holding and stopped. Phrasing here really matters; insisting I do/say/feel something is a dependable way to get the opposite. You can guess my reaction when a coworker many years ago told me that if I had any intelligence I’d read Harry Potter. I recognize that I am innately contrarian (even when I read something like “Don’t touch the glass,” often my very first fleeting desire is to touch the glass!), and I have to work to overcome that so my reaction isn’t so strong. I mean, there are times and places where people need to tell you what to do — laws, jobs, safety — and you need to do it! Thankfully I am better now at just ignoring, but sometimes I still react by doing the 180 flip. (And no, I can see through your reverse psychology, so that won’t work!)

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I am totally susceptible here. The first few messages about a game that people are excited about, I can usually appreciate and move on. But then it comes up again, and again, and again, and suddenly I am seriously thinking about playing too.

Elite Dangerous just isn’t my typical genre. I love high-fantasy, but science-fiction has always been pretty “meh” for me. So I normally wouldn’t look at it twice. But it sounds like folks are having so much fun! All the while I’m over here just begging for something to hold my attention for more than a week.

So yes, I can be swayed as much by other people’s hype as I can my own.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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PhoenixDfire

Ironically, the closer we get to the release of Elite:Dangerous – Odyssey, the less hyped I’m getting. Before Christmas, Fdev gave the impression that at least the Alpha was just around the corner but since then we’ve had a covid surge over here and they’ve put the release date and the alpha back another quarter.

As more and more information comes out, the actual product looks to be far away from what some people were hoping for. Maybe that’s what they mean about managing expectations because for me, they’re certainly lowering a lot.

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Crowe

Second hand hyper is what got me excited for SWTOR despite the fact that it was run by EA. So that’s a great example of “should have gone with my first impression” for you!

EmberStar
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EmberStar

I don’t think I’m particularly influenced by hype at all, anymore. At one time, yes, I did buy into the hype, and buy the pre-order.

Such as for Deus Ex… just before Eidos announced the “upgrade your pre-order” promotion, where I could pay for the choice of which two-thirds of the bonuses I wanted to never get. (Got a Steam Refund the day they announced it.)

Or for No Man’s Sky… whose disappointing launch has been extensively discussed. (Played it too much desperately trying to “find the fun” to qualify for a refund.)

Or for Shadow of War… where I suffered an incredibly rare but game-breaking bug where, once the intro cutscene ended and Talion was supposed to cliff dive into the orc camp, he simply wouldn’t move. At all. Ever. Spent an hour and fourty five minutes in-game, and a week and a half doing research and asking on forums, before having to refund it just before Steam declared I was no longer eligible. Then had to argue with Steam, to get the refund anyway, because apparently they start counting the 14 days from *when you buy the pre-order.* And not the actual release of the game.

Along with getting soundly burned by a fair number of Early Access survival games (which ranged from “totally abandoned” to “just not actually very good,” I don’t pre-order. And I don’t pay attention to hype. If a company wants my attention now, then I want to see a released game where the reviews don’t indicate I’d find more entertainment value scooping out my own eyeballs with a spork.

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Anstalt

Not in the mmorpg world. I long ago set myself some standards for this genre and stick to them rigidly, as I know from personal experience that if I deviate, I’ll just end up disappointed and wasting money.

In the single player world, however, yeh, definitely susceptable to second-hand hype. Thats how I ended up buying the Bioshock series, despite not enjoying FPSs. Thats how I ended up buying Diablo 3, despite not liking pretty much everything about that game.

As a fan of gaming, I don’t mind it so much in the single player world, even if I don’t like the game I do at least feel more “educated” when I come out the other side. However, the time committment involved with MMOs means I’m much less willing to take a risk on a game that doesn’t meet my standards.

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Rndomuser

No. I certainly pay attention to new games and I do watch other people playing those on stream and give it a try if I like what I see on stream, however I don’t really care if other people like it and if they want to play it together, even if they are a members of small community I am a member of. For example, I tried Path of Exile out of curiosity, I disliked it, so I don’t play it and don’t have it installed anymore even though I still see plenty of people playing it on various Discord communities.

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IronSalamander8 .

Not so much these days. But then, my regular group of gaming friends aren’t getting super excited about much these days anyway. Too many modern games are such massive letdowns that we’re all pretty wary. Back when we were teenagers and in our 20s and 30s, it was definitely a thing though.

I do have a friend who is practically gushing about Oxygen Not Included, but I had it before he did, and while it’s not bad it’s not really grabbing me either, and it’s single player only so less of an issue.

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TomTurtle

Oh for sure. Other’s praise and enjoyment catches my attention at least. It’s what got me to return to FFXIV after all these years what with the insane amount of praise it’s gotten, especially for Shadowbringers.

Second-hand hype can bleed over from places like YouTube, Twitch, Reddit and even a little ol’ place called Massively OP. MOP Podcast anyone?

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Danny Smith

Nope i’m a very cynical “hope for the best, expect the worst” kind of guy when it comes to modern videogames. I expect some form of other shoe dropping hustle as baseline and get pleasantly surprised when thats not the case. If someone i know starts getting over excited my default is “okay what marketing/streamer dropped the right payload trigger words to set you off?” rather than some massive innovation actually occurring. Because especially in mmo’s companys don’t want to risk money on the big gamble. So what “they said you can go anywhere and do anything!” ur-game bunk have they been sold on now that wont be in at release is my own no fun allowed balloon deflating reaction.

MasterOfPuppets
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MasterOfPuppets

Knowing and loving your friends doesn’t mean not being aware of their biases; especially if they’re rather nerdy, as they’ll tend to emotionally over-invest in games… and if I jumped into every game they’ve enthused about my already huge Steam back catalogue would require another lifetime to even begin to not get around to playing through them all.

Especially with regards to Elite Dangerous’ coming expansion. It’s on my wishlist, but don’t pre order games, especially not this one. Anyone who has actually been playing ED knows how badly Frontier fluff their content; my favourite was the storage patch that could entirely brick your account and needed to be restored by hand to get it back. And so many of the systems have been abandoned once people stopped playing it; Close Quarters Combat is the obvious one, you’re lucky to get 8 people in a game in that any more.

Now on the forums, and amongst the fans, anything about Space gets hyped to the literal heavens… hence the success of Scam Citizen. But there’s a huge swathe of actual content that would appeal to space fans we know for sure isn’t coming. No ship interiors. No Fleet Carrier interiors. No new planet types, just light atmospheres on some of the rocky worlds. No full VR support on foot…

As far as I can tell, it’s just going to be a bolted on First Person Shooter. And I already have hundreds of those. But this is where peer pressure kicks in. All your fellow Commanders will be playing that, and without the expansion, you won’t be able too. I fortunately find it very easy to say “No thanks” even to friends. Expansions such as these work on those that don’t.

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SmiteDoctor

A good friend of mine hyped me back into ESO after I had written it off, fell in love with the game and my friend predictably went back to WoW like he usually did; ESO became my MMO axle that my game rotation spun on.