Awesome Nix: Spare the Pre-Release Reveals and Surprise Me

I should be far more excited for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 than I actually am. It’s the first comic book movie since 2014 that I’m genuinely excited to see, but as we inch ever close to release, I’m worried about the amount of information getting out there.

While no plot spoilers have been revealed, various members of the Guardians team have been happily talking to the press and public about specific elements of the movie, and they’re being posting them without any warning or way of avoiding spoilers. Details about the soundtrack, casting and even the amount of post-credit sequences have become public knowledge ahead of the movie’s release.

It’s becoming an increasingly worrying trend amongst tentpole Hollywood releases to reveal more and more about a movie ahead of release. Spider-Man: Homecoming recently came under fire for effectively revealing a majority of the plot in its two minute trailer, and  Ghost in the Shell’s trailer all but revealed its plot twist.

Sadly, this has been proven to work. In a 2015 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Matt Brubaker (president of theatrical at PR agency Trailer Park) offered this: “Nine times out of 10, the more of the plot you give away, the more interest you garner from the audiences. Audiences respond to the trailers with more of the movie.”

While Brubaker’s belief didn’t exactly hold true for Ghost in the Shell’s box office performance, it’s also a belief I wholeheartedly disagree with. There’s no greater power than surprise, and it’s something that’s been especially true in the recent gaming landscape.

My frontrunner for 2017’s Game of the Year is Nier: Automata, and while I certainly would’ve enjoyed it had I gone into it knowing its key moments, there’s no way it would have become my fervent and unwavering pick for 2017’s best game if I’d known those specifics. From the very first moment, I wasn’t sure where the game would go and I was exceptionally happy that I didn’t know. Whenever director Yoko Taro sharply turned the game on its head, it left me wanting more.  It’s a game I have recommended to people and told them explicitly to not read up on anything prior. Very few games have made me speak this way.

Even before Nier: Automata, From Software made themselves household names with the Souls games, a series that thrived on letting players figure things out for themselves. Game Designer and Podcaster Jim Crawford has made something of a career of making games about discovery and surprise in the age of spoilers. There’s a reason why his games, Frog Fractions and its sequel, are lauded and yet not really spoken about.

While I have no doubt that revealing key information about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 won’t affect its box office performance or how people perceive it, it’s unfortunate that this has become the norm. There’s still a place for surprise, and maybe I’m old fashioned, but it’s depressing to see this go away with so little resistance.

After all, everyone remembers the first time they learnt about Luke Skywalker’s father, or the truth about Dr. Malcolm Crowe, and it sure as hell wasn’t before release.