This week I showed a copy of Edge to a fellow student at City Uni, talking about the layout and design. He doesn't play games really - a bit of Pro Evolution Soccer whenever he is around a Playstation and a pad. He saw a screenshot for Quake 4 and he almost died.
I quote: "Fucking hell that looks good."
And it does. Thing is, we "hardcore" (I hate that bloody word) think of so much more than aesthetics when buying a game, but for the majority of the game buying public, some snazzy screenshots, a game trailer running on a plasma TV in GAME or a FMV filled advert on Sky One is all it takes to convince.
This is the reality of the market unfortunately. This is why publishers and marketing managers laborously pour over screenshots and footage packs until they get that magic "money shot". The casual market only has a limited time to be convinced - and each game is fighting with a thousand others for attention. The screenshot needs to be right on the money - you only have one chance.
Strange. This logic implies people buy games to stare at them, not play them, but there you go. The challenge is to seduce them with glory visuals, then take their breath away with amazing gameplay. Off you go.