After lots and lots of #hype in the form of a livestream digital painting reveal that was the precursor to a proper trailer which was also just a precursor to what we were assured would be a first look at actual gameplay, folks were a bit let down by the not very gameplay-looking new video for Assassin's Creed Valhalla during Microsoft's Xbox 20/20 event yesterday. Microsoft's big marketing man says that's on them and perhaps they "set some wrong expectations" prior to the event.
Yesterday's reel of trailers and developer interviews was just the first in a series of monthly video events that Xbox have planned for the rest of the year which they're calling "Xbox 20/20." Xbox originally announced the event saying that the May edition would focus on "a first look at next-gen gameplay, trailers and sneak peeks." They specifically touted Valhalla as a big-name participant in the showcase.
Since we were already up to our ears in trailers and sneak peeks of Valhalla, I suppose folks were hoping to see more of viking protagonist Eivor sneaking and slashing in a less trailer-y context. Games marketing manager Aaron Greenberg responded on Twitter to say that setting expectations too high was on them. He thinks reactions might have been different if they'd said less ahead of time.
Had we not said anything & just shown May Inside Xbox show like we did last month, I suspect reactions might have been different. Clearly we set some wrong expectations & that’s on us. We appreciate all the feedback & can assure you we will take it all in & learn as a team. 🙏🏻💚— Aaron Greenberg 🙅🏼♂️💚U (@aarongreenberg) May 8, 2020
Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail made his own statement, saying "you rightfully expected to see more today," but also asked for patience and kindness. He says there's plenty of that good, good marketing juice ahead during which we'll see "in-depth gameplay" and such.
If anything, this will probably help to set expectations not just for the next Xbox 20/20 livestreams, but other events like EA Play Live. Game companies and publishers alike have been adjusting to the cadence of working from home during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic so it's not terribly surprising that they're going with a drip-feed strategy. In the meantime, maybe we just ban the word "gameplay" and go into every announcement in the dark.
Even though yesterday's Valhalla sizzle reel wasn't quite what we'd bargained for, that hasn't stopped resident Creed expert Alice B from picking out the best bits from the Valhalla no-gameplay trailer, among which are dual axe-wielding and boats.
Good spot, VGC.