Monday, August 20, 2007

Wanted: More Informational Screenshots

When I am thinking about buying a game, I generally do my research, and a major part of that process involves browsing a lot of game review sites. However, I've noticed that in large part, my needs aren't being served in a very specific way.

You see, when a game is being previewed or reviewed, the kind of screenshots I really want to see are interface, menu, presentation and information graphics shots, especially when it comes to strategy and sports games because, to me, they provide a much more accurate impression of a game than the kind of images that are usually presented.

For instance, I feel I derive a lot more information about a title from a shot like this:

than five to fifteen like this (I wish I was exaggerating):

I know that the latter shot isn't real gameplay, but rather a replay, and it doesn't accurately reflect anything substantive about the game. Contrast that with the first shot, which reveals an actual gameplay feature (that a player will be asked to make team related decisions between games), and I think you can see what I mean. They are an important part of the review process because a significant portion of the experience of playing these games takes place outside off the field or between battles.

I guess that game companies want to show potential buyers how good their graphics look, or in the case of sports, how close the presentation is to the real thing, but it doesn't serve the entire customer base. Informational shots aren't "sexy" but they do serve a definite purpose, and while I can understand that perhaps a company doesn't want to tip their hand or potentially make some of their customers mad if they show a feature that doesn't make it into the final product, I still think that these kinds of images are just as important as gameplay when trying to give a potential customer a true sense of a game.

But generally speaking, isn't a more accurate demonstration of gameplay provided by the movies that game companies release. And in all honesty, I can think of maybe two times that seeing the informational/presentation part of a game before I went out and bought it changed my mind negatively towards a game, but I can think of a lot of games that I was sold on after seeing some of the menus(and the features therein), so the rewards surely outweigh the risks in giving your potential audience this kind of information. To me, doing otherwise is basically like hiding 20-50% of a game from those who might buy it, and that is never good form.


Mr. Fabulous said...

Very well said. They assume most people are drawn to the sizzle, rather than to the steak itself.

MC said...

But I am buying the steak dammit. I want the meat AND the potatoes in the previews.