Dead Space 3 is coming sometime. After several months of anonymous rumors about the game featuring co-op play and being set on an ice planet, EA released a screenshot and started a countdown timer on the game’s official website. The image shows a lone space person–armored in metal and carrying a gun-like engineering tool–floating toward a planet whose surface appears icy blue and white.
It’s sometimes dizzying to recall just how many news stories about videogames tend to basically be commercials. Perversely, so much investigative effort in the newsmaking business focuses around getting confirmation that a product exists before a company’s ready to publicly confirm that it exists. The biggest stories are always bound to corporate product cycles and, looking backward, the history of game news is a history of the products that were available to buy in a given period.
Speaking at the All Things Digital Conference yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company was going to “double down” on product secrecy in the coming years. Like videogame consumers hungry for a crumb of news about next year’s edition, Apple consumers have turned speculation about the company’s yearly product iterations into a global industry, perhaps most famously when Gawker offered $100,000 to anyone willing to offer proof of the iPhone 4’s existence.
Earlier this month, Gawker’s Nick Denton announced a new strategy to open the doors even wider between news content and product placement, creating a department of “branded content.”
We all know the conventional wisdom: the days of the banner advertisement are numbered. In two years, our primary offering to marketers will be our discussion platform. Expanding on our existing sponsored post program, Ray’s team will recruit and identify a client’s spokespeople and advocates, advise them on web etiquette and language, and help make their most persuasive case.
The announcement recalls Roland Barthes’ preface to Mythologies, in which he claimed “to live to the full the contradiction of my time, which may well make sarcasm the condition of truth.”
When the products of corporations supersede the stories of people in newsmaking capacity, there is no response but sarcasm and no escape from its essential truth. To wit, Dead Space 3 will soon be here. It will be a lot like the first two games, but set on an ice planet. Let us literally count the minutes until EA is ready to share more information.