from the bait-and-switch dept
Pay attention to the gaming scene and the way gamers interact with game companies and journalists and you'll see that times are a little tense these days. Without diving into any of the debates currently being had throughout Gamerdom (Gamerstan? Gaming Nation?), let's just all agree that there is a big fat trust vacuum at the moment and that this vacuum is being filled by all kinds of reactions, some of which are reasonable, some of which are silly and overreaching. What's happened since in the last year or so has exacerbated the distrust to the point where companies operate on tip-toes with their audiences or they suffer the consequences. What cannot be done in a time like this, if a company wants to make money and keep its fanbase loyal, is to further breach that trust.
Take Microsoft, for example. The Xbox-maker recently pimped The Witcher 3 for its Xbox console on YouTube...using footage from the PC version of the game.
Today, the Xbox YouTube channel released a rad new video for the upcoming role-playing game The Witcher 3. There’s just one problem: it’s not actually running on an Xbox. Whoops. Yep, despite that XBOX logo stamped on the bottom right corner of the above video, this is actually footage from the (presumably better-looking) PC version of the game. The easiest way to tell? You can run the YouTube video at 60 frames-per-second; the developers of The Witcher 3 (out May 19 for PS4/XB1/PC) have specified that the console versions are actually locked at 30 FPS.Now, I can already hear every person on the planet who either isn't a gamer at all or is a casual gamer at most screaming, "There's no way this is a big deal!" And, ultimately, they're right, it's not the hugest issue in gaming today. Game-makers play these kinds of tricks all the time, whether it's showing the wrong version of the game, passing off cut-scenes as gameplay elements, or promoting features in games that aren't present upon release. But the tolerance for these tricks is completely gone. It's now common to see disclaimers that footage isn't actually of gameplay, or that the footage is from one version of the game or another. And, while the Xbox channel did eventually edit to include a disclaimer that the footage was from the PC version of the game, the bait-and-switch nature of all this seems more inexplicable when it appears on the YouTube page for the console itself.
Next thing you know, prospective customers are crying foul and the game developer, CD Projeck Red, a company that is generally awesome in terms of being customer friendly, suddenly has to scramble to assure its fans that it had no idea Microsoft was doing any of this. Again, no reason not to believe them, but in the trust vacuum everyone might be in on the conspiracy and blowback is done via carpet-bomb instead of in a measured way.
Is this false advertising or an inadvertent error? I have no idea, but I do know that gaming companies can't make these errors and think they can get away with it at the moment.