There is a man whom some speak of in hushed whispers and others in angry shouts. There is a man who conducts a train, the word ‘HYPE’ emblazoned upon its side in garish colors. There is a man who said to the world ‘You can do anything!’ through his teeth with a beaming smile. Head of 22 Cans Peter Molyneux, best known as the man behind the Fable series (in which you can do “ANYTHING” har har) has begun to leak out teasers for his upcoming project Curiosity — and when I say teasers I mean claims that surpass even the infamous hype of the aforementioned series.
The game revolves around teaming up with the entire world to slowly chisel away at a big black cube to reach the center and uncover it, and that’s it. That sounds interesting, sure. But if we scroll down Peter’s twitter page, we get such wonderful claims as “ I can assure you the center of the cube is far far more valuable than a meager $100k” and “whats in the cube is truly amazing. It’s not a message, it’s not an advert, it’s not a job. I am loath to give more clues.” That’s just the Twitter. In other talks about the game, Molyneux has stated that whatever is in it will be “Genuinely life changing.” To be quite frank I really don’t think that there is any way at all that a free iPhone game is going to genuinely change anyone’s life, and this is the kind of (unfulfilled) hype that has been circulating around every piece of work Molyneux has been involved in.
While we certainly have an interesting concept here I refuse to step on board the hype train, as our conductor has a vicious history of flying off the rails as soon as he leaves the station. This looks to me like over-marketing, and the simple fact of the matter is that good products don’t need to be over-marketed — a good product will attract consumers on its own merit. This is a major part of the problem with the head honchos who run the big companies that dominate the industry, and seeing it come to our little corner of the market doesn’t sit well with me. It isn’t an ethical practice to sell a product on the merit of its advertising rather than its merit as a product. And since Curiosity has already been stated to be in and of itself a teaser for another upcoming project, the whole thing reeks of triple A Hype SQUARED.
I obviously can’t guarantee that Curiosity wont live up to the promises made, but given the history, I wouldn’t bet on it. I can tell you that if this sets a precedent for the way indie studios start to market their products, it won’t end well if they want to keep their supporters. The general difference between an enthusiast for indie gaming and your standard Xbox live casual gamer is a big one. You can’t treat them the same way. Basically it all comes down to the old proverb, “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and I’m not buying Fable 3. ”