A fiasco happened a few weekends ago – the calm before the E3 storm. IGN, the internet’s largest game related site, reported that The Last Guardian was cancelled. The same day it was published, Sony’s Scott Rohde confirmed that the game wasn’t cancelled, and after a small internet meltdown, Steve Butts issued an official retraction and an apology. This misstep is unlike the outlet, who is normally pretty reliable as far as news is concerned, but EiC Butts apologized for the wrong thing. Instead of expressing remorse for potentially damaging the trust of IGNs readership, he should have apologized for reporting the story in the first place.
It’s his job to report news that seems relevant to the gaming industry, as well as content that drives traffic. This was very clearly a story that only fulfilled half of that obligation. So, maybe, we should apologize to him. He wouldn’t have even given the rumor the time of day if he didn’t think us, his community, wouldn’t eat it up. These shenanigans are really our fault because we can’t seem to accept one real, pervasive truth: we need to stop being excited for this game.
I come from a position of mourning and bitter frustration when I say that. When describing the raw power of the PS2, I often use Shadow of the Colossus as an example of a “big” game done right. When I speak of the overall crossover appeal of PS2’s library, I point to the North American success of the very Japanese ICO. Team ICO’s projects are some of the best of their generation and hold a unique and reverent place in the minds of gamers, myself included. When The Last Guardian was finally announced in 2009, I was among the millions eager to be a part of the next chapter. Despite Mr. Rohde, Yoshida-san, and many other Sony suits claiming the opposite, it’s time for us to start acting like there won’t be another chapter.
It’s a hard thing to do. Especially with the impact left by Team ICO’s former games. Especially with all of the investigation and rumor mill navigating fans had to do to prove the game’s existence before it was officially announced. But, since the hype train left the station, the buzz around this game has been exclusively based around one reel of pre-rendered teaser footage, and collective imagination. Since 2008 (when folk’s extrapolated a call for employment opportunities as evidence of the game being developed), we’ve been jumping on every shred of press, no matter how minute or trite, about this game and have only jumped to rash and largely anecdotal (i.e. unfounded) conclusions about said game.
Our entire relationship with The Last Guardian began with hearsay and speculation. It should be no surprise then that five years later – seven years of development time – our relationship is still based solely on fond memories and lofty expectations. We can’t let this still be a PR lynchpin or an easy click magnet for us. We have to stop giving this property power.
This isn’t to say we should abandon our memories, but The Last Guardian isn’t our memories. It’s the product of a good developer’s implosion. It’s a product of an incredibly confusing PR designed to both keep us excited about the potential release of this tumultuous titleand simultaneously keep us in the dark about what is taking it so long. It’s a failure of SCE to keep Team ICO on a tight enough leash to turn this game from conception to discs on shelves in an appropriate length of time. The Last Guardian has become the drama surrounding it, and much more than a mysterious adventure starring a boy and his cat bird.
All The Last Guardian is right now is a game that hasn’t come out. It’s the Mad Max game, Fortnite, or Chroma except I have no reason to believe that the aforementioned games won’t beat Last Guardian to shelves. It’s ok to want games to come out; it’s not ok to treat the situation like anything more than that.