First, the article from GamesRadar exposes its critical flaw early into its very first "preview" of BioShock 2:
We don’t know the story. We don’t know the setting. We don’t know any of the characters. We haven’t seen a single screenshot or a single frame of actual gameplay footage. The teaser hinted at the involvement of a grown-up Little Sister, but we don’t know if she’s the protagonist, antagonist, sidekick or twisted love interest of a seriously confused Big Daddy.OK, so that tells us...nothing. Absolutely nothing. But hey, at least there's lots of pretty pictures on the page to distract us as we read. In fact, the pictures and graphics take up more space than the actual text. As I was reading, I struggled to find tidbits of information within the text that couldn't be gleaned just from the pictures themselves. Let's see...
- Final Fantasy XIII is "heading in a direction we like." What this new direction might be is left unexplained.
- Resident Evil 5 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will have co-op gameplay
- Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and the Damned will have biker gangs
- Brutal Legend stars Jack Black
If it feels like I'm being harsh, it's because I expect more out of a preview article than, "Hey, look at the pretty pictures! Aren't you just bursting at the seams to buy this sucker already? No? Well, here's another screenshot! How about now? BUY IT!!" Writers are not supposed to sound like salesmen. That is not their job. If the GamesRadar writing staff was truly, honestly anticipating all 100 of the games they mentioned, then they gave themselves a whopping 3.65 days apiece to enjoy each game. Doubtful.
Next, let's examine the article from The Associated Press:
Video games expected to evolve in 2009The opening sentence made me roll my eyes a little bit, but other than that, I'm already intrigued. A gaming renaissance, eh? The article continues:
By DERRIK J. LANG, AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES – Don't hit that pause button just yet. Despite the tanking economy and an increasing number of video game-industry layoffs, many believe 2009 will be a year of evolution for games. The combination of innovative new titles, long-awaited franchise follow-ups and desire for escapism could spawn a gaming renaissance.
"While game makers providing traditional retail product will continue to concentrate on high-profile sequels and licensed properties in an effort to mitigate risk, many of the field's most exciting developments will actually be happening outside of your local GameStop," said DigitalTrends.com publisher Scott Steinberg.I notice the AP, like GamesRadar, doesn't give us much information about what the actual games will be like, but at least the writer doesn't sound like he's shilling the games to you. But what about the "gaming renaissance" promised in the top paragraph? Well, unfortunately, the writer doesn't get back around that until near the end of the article:
By focusing on surefire $60 sequels that are appearing on next-generation consoles for the first time — like "Resident Evil 5," "Street Fighter IV" and "God of War III" — gaming publishers are expected to avoid economic pitfalls while independent developers are poised to provide cheaper, quicker and quirkier alternatives, such as $20-or-less downloadable games like "Flower" for the PlayStation 3 or "Darwinia Plus" for the Xbox 360.
"Why pay $60 for a game you don't have time to play anyway when dozens of bite-sized, instantly intuitive and schedule friendly alternatives are available for $5 to $15 right from your couch?" muses Steinberg.
"Video games are poised to eclipse all other forms of entertainment in the decade ahead," Activision president and CEO Mike Griffith proclaimed during his [Consumer Electronics Show] keynote speech. He cited market statistics which stated that between 2003 and 2007, the cumulative number of movie ticket sales and hours of television watched fell by 6 percent, music sales slumped 12 percent and DVD purchases remained flat. Over the same four-year period, Griffith said the gaming business grew by 40 percent....So this "renaissance" still appears vague, but the end of the article nonetheless left me with a sense of anticipation, something the GamesRadar article did not come close to accomplishing.
Wedbush Morgan video game analyst Michael Pachter describes his outlook for the gaming industry in 2009 with one word: discovery. He believes the increasing number of diverse console owners, especially those with Nintendo Wiis, will demand new software — and publishers will figure out how to directly market their wares to such folks in exciting new ways.
"They must discover how to reach those audiences," said Pachter. "It's not like they won't want new games."
While the AP article isn't perfect, it is still miles beyond GamesRadar's masturbatory pablum. The bigger issue here, though, is that GamesRadar covers games exclusively. The AP is a news agency that covers practically everything. Why is it that they seem more knowledgeable, more genuine? It's clear to me that GamesRadar is passionate about games, but it looks like they cater strictly to those that share their level of passion. The AP, in appealing to a more general audience, is much more approachable.
Something I would have liked to have seen in both articles was a more in-depth analysis of the games themselves. What makes next year's games inherently different from 2008's? How does having co-op gameplay change the experience? What makes the downloadable titles so "quirky"? Ultimately, I'd like to see an article that can answer these questions while still maintaining the broad appeal that that AP brings to its writing.