SG Roundtable: Is it Okay to Hate Games Before They Come Out?

There’s been a backlash of negativity, and an anti-backlash towards that negativity, over the recently revealed
Pikmin 3DS (tentative title), Paper Mario: Color Splash and other spin-off games from Nintendo. Today, we are discussing how we personally feel about the trend (or anti-trend).

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I think it’s okay to hate games before they are officially released. I will often judge a movie based on its trailer. After all the purpose of a review or a trailer is to sell you on the product. If they don’t sell you on the product, then they have failed. However, there’s a line to draw. I think there’s a point where the hate on something has become too obnoxious, and is actually harmful to the community as a whole and possible future entries to the series.

Nintendo does like to try out new things with their series. Even within the Wario Land series, the way the original Wario Land plays and Wario Land 3 plays is very different. Then, it’s changed yet again in Wario Land 4! Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s not. With a lot of these new spin-off games, they are very clearly not being considered a “main entry” into the series. Federation Force did not replace a Metroid game. It existed within its own sphere. It’s the same with amiibo Festival. Sometimes, Nintendo has a general idea for a game and then slaps an IP onto it instead of building a new one (which takes more time, and is more risky from a business perspective). It almost happened with Splatoon.

A lot of the hate has been blown out of proportion by sites and people. It might be for some easy clicks for some content creators. But in the end it’s just perpetuating the circle jerk instead of having an actual discussion on the game. The petitions aren’t helpful, and are unlikely to change anything. Overall, I believe that the community would be a lot better off if we engaged in an actual discussion, rather than a screaming match.

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There’s controlled and uncontrolled hate for me. The former is the type that comes from following the game, listening to a broad range of opinions and maybe, possibly, trying it for yourself. Uncontrolled hate is just what it sounds like, bashing a game just because and labeling it, among other things, a betrayal, a franchise killer, etc. I think it’s perfectly fair to at least try out the product before coming to a consensus, but sometimes you can’t. In that case, people should at least try to provide substance as to why they don’t want to try it. If you’re going to hate, then at least keep it within the bounds of reason and don’t contribute to painting the community in a bad light. I have controlled hate myself; I very much do not like the concept behind
Yo-Kai Watch, and I played the demo several times to make sure my feelings towards it were well-founded. If you like it, more power to you, but just make sure there can be a mutual respect of opinion since this applies to many more cases.

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There’s a difference between having a bad first impression and disliking a game. While trailers often give insight on the gameplay and are decisive in attracting potential consumers, the full experience can only be obtained by playing the game itself, which is why I think demos are very important in solidifying a consumer’s choice. I have had this happen to me with games like Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate or Yokai Watch; although those games had some interesting aspects to me, judging by their promotional material, the fact the demos failed to deliver an engaging and fun experience was decisive in me not buying those games. Those games were not what I was expecting, but plenty of people do like those games and have invested into them far more than I would, because they appeal to them somehow.

When talking about Metroid Prime: Federation Force, it was very apparent that the game was poorly received and not for a bad reason given it is a spin-off in a series that hasn’t had a main release for several years after a release that was poorly received and controversial. People were expecting a traditional Metroid experience instead of a game focused on multiplayer missions. The genre shift isn’t a bad thing by itself, as trying out new things with a franchise is the only way to make it grow. Clearly, some ideas work and others don’t, but it is impossible to know without trying and taking risks. Nintendo knows this quite well and has had both successes and failures throughout the years. Moreover, the absence of a traditional Metroid game for years may have  not helped matters at all, but that does not mean that the chances of a new Metroid game are dead.

However, there is a difference between disliking something and forcing one’s opinions into other people. I’ve seen people being attacked by angry fans for liking Metroid Prime: Federation Force just because their opinion on the game was different. It’s okay to not like a game and, clearly, Federation Force was not what most Metroid series fans wanted in the first place. Still, that doesn’t mean people don’t have the right to play and enjoy the game for what it is. It doesn’t give the right to attack other people for their different opinions. There have been cases of people giving the game a try in spite of the bad first impressions and actually finding it fun for what it was. In the end, purchasing a game or not a game is an individual choice that ought to be respected. The sales and critical reception of the game are what will determine whether the game was a good investment or not.

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Personally, I feel it’s entirely justified to judge a product before it’s released into the wild. As creators and distributors of content, said party is responsible for making their product appeal to you through their advertisements and showcasings of the product. If they fail to do that, then as a consumer you have a right to dislike their product. But only to an extent.

To give some personal examples on this; I took issue with the recent Ghostbusters film trailer, but it was an issue of quality (poor CGI, acting etc). Compare this to Nintendo’s handheld Pikmin game, which has received a fair amount of backlash for its change in direction (genre). The idea that a game has to be a certain way is crippling to artistic vision. Change is healthy, and I hate the idea that companies would be afraid to try new things for fear of backlash. Games like: Resident Evil 4, Star Fox Adventures, Super Paper Mario or The Wind Waker could never have existed if they were to conform to their predecessors.

There has been a lot of talk about Nintendo fans being entitled. The criticism is that fans aren’t giving the games a chance. Consider this scenario for a minute. Let’s say you take your sweet heart on a nice date to a local Iitalian restaurant. You all look at the menu and decide to get fettuccine with a bottle of red wine. After some waiting, the waiter brings back burgers with beers. You protest, claiming you wanted the fettuccine. The chef rushes out, saying that the burgers are the best in town and you aren’t giving them a fair shot. But you came for Iitalian, not for burgers. This is essentially the problem fans are having.

Nintendo has had a bad habit of making a game and putting the characters later; however, players do not view the game like this. When they buy a game within an established series, they have some expectations of what that game will be. Take Pikmin. Players expect a strategy type game where you manage Pikmin, defeat foes, and collect treasure within a set time frame. But the new Pikmin title for the 3DS is more action focused, and your job is to get to the goal. Metroid Prime: Federation Force has a similar issue as it’s a co-op shooting game rather than one about exploration. Conversely, the reason Metroid Prime was so successful despite moving to 3D was because the game was about exploration and a sense of feeling alone.

Consumers only have so much money and time. In a perfect world, sure, players could give these games a chance. But we don’t have the resources to do so. So when we see a new Pikmin or Metroid game, we have an expectation of what they should be. People became fans of these series because of what the originals offered, and they want more of that. They want fettuccine at an Iitalian restaurant, not burgers.

In my humble opinion, the mere existence of “reveal trailers” give us the chance to get hype for an upcoming video game, movie, Netflix series, and so on. But this also opens the door for criticism. One, as a fan (and potential buyer) sometimes may feel betrayed by the revelation that “Your favorite” franchise is being butchered, derailing too far from the formula that gave it success, or showing a new art style that at first glance doesn’t resemble the tone of the past games. I’m sure that you may recognize some examples of those cases, and sure, some of those games ended being fan favorites even among the first detractors… but others didn’t.

On the other hand, in this era, showing a critical or controversial opinion may get you in trouble. But it also can carry a message, about concern and fear of failure, as not every franchise has the chance to whiff a shot, and a “simple marketing mistake” can end up risking the complete continuation of a beloved franchise. So it’s important to distinguish which are the problems: It’s just an aesthetic problem? Or does it have to do with “a new direction”? Is it even a “bad direction” to take?

Clearly a deep problem can end in an ugly crash, but the developers, publishers and producers aren’t blind to the criticism either, but they may not pay attention if our criticism is hidden behind “hate speech”. Because of this, it’s bad to let our feelings talk over our thoughts, so, if you don’t like something, think about an argument before shooting. No one cares about haters, even less when it’s about just the first glance at an unfinished project.

And in the end, the best way to criticize a finished video game (or movie, or whatever) is with your wallet. If you aren’t sure about a final product, wait for your favorite reviewers to tell their opinions and then decide by yourself. Nobody forces you to pay for anything in advance, unless it’s a haircut.

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To be honest, I think a lot of this has to do parts of the fanbase making knee-jerk reactions.  Newest Metroid game is a spinoff in a direction we haven’t seen before?  Franchise ruined!  New Pikmin game is 2D and slower paced?  How dare they!?  Most wanted character didn’t make it into the lastest Super Smash Bros.?  They’re putting their bias before what “we” really want!

However, looking deeper shows that much more is going on under the surface.  Metroid Prime: Federation Force started out as a basic concept for co-op multiplayer before the parties involved decided it would work best as a Metroid title that would set up future main line games, a point that was made clear early on.  The Pikmin title revealed at the end of the recent 3DS Direct seems to be a harmless spinoff entry, not the “Pikmin 4” that has been repeatedly teased in past months.  And a whole complicated list of criteria go into which characters are considered for Smash, and many simply fall short of the cut.

For one reason or another, we tend to cling to what we know.  The games we grew up with become a standard for us, something we can come back to when we want to relax and feel at home.  Over time, it puts expectations in our minds of what certain series will be like: whimsical platforming from Mario, exploring vast alien worlds in Metroid, going toe to toe with friends and acquaintances with beloved characters in Smash.  It’s familiar, and comfortable, and when that comfort gets dislodged by a spinoff title with a strange new style, it feels as if something is wrong.

And yet…these new creative directions should still be given the chance to exist.  These games can shake up a tired formula, leading to new ideas that improve the franchise as a whole, adding depth without subtracting what the original titles bring.  I’m sure people balked when they first found out about a new Mario game that had the cast racing around in go-karts, but look at how much Mario Kart has grown since!

This is why the rigid “genwunner” mentality is so flawed.  Appealing only toward a series’ first set of fans, without ever changing or trying anything new, can lead to it stagnating and fading into obscurity.  In fact, one big reason Star Fox Zero stumbled was because it felt like yet another retread of 64 (though an unwieldy and impractical control scheme didn’t help matters, either).  The franchise’s future is just as uncertain as it was before, because it clinged too hard to prior expectations.

It’s okay to dislike how a game looks before its release, and it’s okay to express said disappointment…to an extent.  But starting a crusade over a title that dares to defy one’s expectations is shortsighted, immature, and reflects poorly on Nintendo fans as a whole.  There’s already a stigma in the West against Nintendo and its fanbase for being “childish”.  The last thing we need is for a small number of us to give people reason to justify treating us all like strawmen.

We’re better than this, damn it.

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I have a slightly odd stance on this but I will try to explain it as best I can. I think it is very possible to dislike a game, or any form of media, before it comes out. If you watch a trailer for a game and nothing grabs you or makes you want to buy it then that’s fine. However, hate is a very strong word and I think in the cases that have led up to this debate now have been unfairly treated to certain regards. Let’s tackle each one step-by-step, starting with
Paper Mario.

When Sticker Star was announced people thought it looked really good. People were excited with what they saw. Unfortunately when the game came out and players got their hands on it they realized it was not something they wanted. That is fine and so I can understand the caution and disdain some people have over Color Splash, a game that looks to be a successor to Sticker Star than Thousand Year Door. But let’s get real here, Sticker Star had problems but it was not a bad game. It received 7.5 and above in most critical reviews and there are clearly people out there who enjoyed it. The people who hate Color Splash only hate the game because it is not what they want and not because the game looks objectively bad. But, with Color Splash I accept people’s feelings more as they had a chance to play Sticker Star. They already know if they will like or hate this game based on its predecessor and are disappointed because it’s not different. This ‘hate’ – as long as it is not disturbing those who are looking forward to the game – is fine by me. How the other games were received however is unacceptable.

Metroid Prime Federation Force, Chibi-Robo Zip Lash and now Pikmin 3DS (tentative title) are all games that received unfair treatment before their launch. This hate even went as far as trying to get the games cancelled and prevent others from enjoying what could be a good game (and funnily enough the first two both turned out to be great and good games respectively). People’s reasoning for hating these games were that they were different from the norm. They didn’t judge the game based on its gameplay, music or graphics (Federation Force got a bit on graphics but that got better over time and people chose not to care) but instead chose to judge it purely because it was not what they wanted without even giving it a chance. That bugs me. A game should be based solely on its own merits and not be forced to be compared to its predecessors. Zip-Lash might not be as good as the original Chibi-Robo but that does not make Zip-Lash a bad game.

To hate a game solely because it’s not how you imagined it to be without giving it any chance is wrong in my book. It shows that gamers are too afraid to leave their own bubble and try new things. Don’t give me rubbish like ‘It’s ruining the reputation of the franchise’ because it’s not. Every series is allowed to have black sheep or try something new and now Pikmin is no exception. Pikmin 3DS is not Pikmin 4, not even the same team. If you thought that and that is why you are mad then just get your facts straight and calm down. If it’s existence ‘hurts you’ or is a ‘slap in the face’ then you need to grow a thicker spine and remember that these are just video games at the end of the day.

As my contemporaries have provided more than enough concurring opinions, I’ll keep my thoughts short.

Hate is a funny word. Oxford dictionaries define the word as “to feel an intense or passionate dislike for something or someone” with synonyms like loathe and despise. It’s a fairly common word, accounting for the majority of reactions towards certain recent video game spin-offs (Metroid Prime: Federation Force, Pikmin 3DS). If reasonable material has been provided to prove a game or other media a waste of time, talent, or resources, I can understand a general or even intense dislike towards something before its release. However, because none of the previously mentioned titles have proved this, I do not believe any of these reactions are justified. The recent Metroid and Pikmin titles were disliked at reveal because it wasn’t what fans wanted or expected. No information was gathered and no interviews were conducted (and if they were, disregarded). Instead of rationality, a hate culture has arisen around knee-jerk reactions. When expectation meets a cold reality, there can be friction, but that should never grow into the bonfires of unchecked passion.

I understand that individuals and groups have a strong drive to protect what they understand as comfortable. But for God’s sake, we’re talking about video games, not anything worth losing our minds over. The creative integrity of your favorite pastime is not worth acting like a child over. If we decry anything as terrible before we actually have the product in our hands, we kill the potential it has.

Hate is a funny word. It’s serious in some situations and laughably frustrating in others. That’s why I oppose any use of it before a sound judgement can be given. I do not think it is “okay” to hate games before they come out.

What do you think. Is it acceptable to hate a game before it releases? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. To an extent. Of course, outright hatred is pretty ridiculous for something you’ve never played. The strongest emotions I’d ever feel towards a game reveal I don’t like would either be that of indifference or disinterest.

    When a game is shown off, they have a duty to make it look appealing or interesting. If it’s not, just flat out don’t buy it, the sales will speak for themselves. In the case of Federation Force and Color Splash, I don’t think it’s inherently wrong for dev teams to want to be more experimental with their franchises (though Federation Force started as a normal co-op shooter). What is the problem, however, is the tendency of fanbases to default to the usual, tired kneejerk reactions. Then, when said devs look online for constructive feedback, any meaningful positive or negative criticism gets lost in the void, and at that point, why even bother hearing fans out in the first place?

  2. SmashChu’s analogy is flawed. Fans choose what games they want to buy, not what gets developed in the first place; that’s the restaurant’s job. Ordering from a menu is the equivalent of going to a store and choosing what game to buy. If you’re informed enough to get mad, you can’t claim you didn’t know what you were getting into. It’s the restaurant’s loss, not yours. Moreover, vocal fans don’t always know what they’ll end up liking (people were excited for Other M, while nobody asked for Splatoon), aren’t always articulate, and aren’t a representative sample of the consumer base.

    Fans can like or dislike, buy or don’t buy whatever they want, but using fallacies and cognitive biases to justify how “bad” a game is damages any hope of having a reasonable conversation about it.

  3. I believe it’s perfectly fine to dislike a game before it comes out. In a way, it shows that the fans care for the series, as they wouldn’t have bothered to voice their dislike if they didn’t care about the game and the franchise.

    Take Paper Mario Color Splash, the initial outcry was justified as it seemed to be very similar to Sticker Star, which was widely seen as lackluster. However, as we’ve seen more details emerge, a lot of people have warmed up, now that we seem to have better designed characters (the Toad Power Rangers, for example). More people are willing to give Color Splash a chance.

    In other words, I’m very much against blind hate just someone is/seems different. It’s fine to be skeptical of changes, because we don’t know yet if it’s for the good or the bad, but do give it a chance. See if it works. And then voice your opinion of it.

  4. Hating something before release is perfectly fine as long as the hate is directing towards things that we actually know. A game’s pre-release material is supposed to make us want to buy the game and know what to expect from it, so we can totally judge it if it looks unappealing. The anti-trend of people calling those who dislike the games “haters” who dislike change is stupid if the changes from previous games look like they’ll be for the worse. Consumers should not be sheep that always “give the game a chance” by buying and playing it before criticizing any part of it. Most people don’t want to buy games that gave them a bad impression during its pre-release period.

    It’s okay for me to say that Color Splash looks like it’ll be a bad game based on several trailers and hours of gameplay demos showing us that the game is incredibly similar to the awful Sticker Star (which was a bad game on its own, not just as a Paper Mario game). It’s not okay for me to say that Pikmin 3DS will be a bad game as a whole, as we have little info to go off of. All I know is that Pikmin 3DS is currently giving me bad vibes with its apparently slow pace, unreliable developer, and structure unlike any other Pikmin game. Pikmin 3DS looks like it’ll be a slow, boring version of Kirby Mass Attack, but I can’t say any more than that until we get more info.

  5. Of course it’s fine. I mean, compare it to anything else. Is it fine to dislike Trump or Clinton before they’ve become US president? Most people would say it is.

    Same applies to video games. You can tell based on past experience, what’s been promised and what’s been shown so far whether you’ll likely enjoy it or (in a lot of cases) whether it’s gonna turn out to be good at all.

    Also, Color Splash gets most of its criticism for being a bad ‘main series’ Paper Mario title. If it was a spinoff, the criticism would be ten times less. Same with if Federation Force came out alongside/near a non spinoff Metroid game.

  6. Well, it depends. It’s fine to dislike a game for it’s fundamental standards, like if you see a game like Federation Force, there are some good reasons to think poorly of the game, as long as it has something to do with the design, or the genre of the game. Even the characters in a game can be distasteful before launch. As long as these are reasons someone refuses to acknowledge a game, it’s fine.

    I can list a few more justifiable reasons why it’d be okay to hate a game before launch; the game just isn’t appealing to you, runs terrible in trailers and such, e.t.c.However, hate shouldn’t be driven to the gameplay of a game before it’s released (unless you find footage of early demo gameplay or play a demo yourself, but even then, demos are usually pretty shallow.)

    Hating a game based off of it’s gameplay, is however different. Hate doesn’t justify a bad game before release. No one can really justify bad gameplay until they know how the gameplay is by watching someone play it after release, or playing it for themselves. And when I mean play the game, I mean actually experience the game enough to make a solid opinion of it, or the game was just so bad you just had to quit and it was a waste of time.

    While we’re on this topic, I would like to spotlight a game like No Man’s Sky, a sad example. The fans blew up and tore this game appart… but only because of what was promised. The problem with what happened here is that a ton of people who haven’t played the game saw it only for what it was supposed to be, but from my experience with No Man’s Sky… I find my opinion about it totally different. No Man’s Sky is a pretty chill game. It does really suck that the developers misdirected what the game really was, but what’s actually there isn’t all as bad as it’s emphasized to be if you like exploring and you’re a Sci-Fi nut like me. So basically, bandwagon hate is the worst kind of hate, and it’s toxic.

  7. it would be missing the point entirely if one said that they couldn’t form an opinion of a game, or any type of media, before it was released. The whole point of all the trailers, demos, or whatever, is to give the consumer an idea of what the full product will be like once it has been released. As much as I’ve felt that the response to Color Splash, Federation Force, and the new Pikmin was overblown, I have no choice but to respect people who’ve expressed their negative opinions over those games. However, as has been said before, there’s a point where it stops being legitimate criticism and instead becomes “this isn’t what I want so it’s bad”. That’s not helpful, nor is it indicative of what the game will be like. For example, a lot of the hate for Color Splash seems to be trending towards the fact that it looks a lot like Sticker Star. However, for people like me who didn’t think Sticker Star was bad (in my opinion, it was mediocre at worst), that’s not a legitimate reason to hate the game before it’s even been released. Sure, there have been things that I’ve disagreed with so far in the trailers and stuff we’ve seen already, but none of that has anything to do with the fact that it might play like Sticker Star.

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