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What Makes A Good Game Trailer?

by Koen Deetman on 10/01/13 08:13:00 am

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutras community.
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Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's hard to capture a glimpse of your game that explains the audience how cool your game is going to be. So what is important to keep in mind? I attended "Control Gamelab" last week, a show in Amsterdam about the Dutch game industry that goes together with nice insights in different categories. This time they talked about "Game Trailers". I would like to highlight a few tips they gave and describe what elements I find important when I create or watch a trailer.


Great Game Trailers

I would like to show you two trailers that did a great job promoting their game. First of all, I like to show you one of the best trailers that shows gameplay while setting up a cool 'vibe'. I am talking about the GTA IV tv spot.; background-position: 50% 50%; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;" width="520" />


The great thing about this trailer is, they captured nearly everything you can do in the game. You can see the start of the game, the main character, explosions, different outfits, bowling, helicopters, airplanes, shootouts, calling, stealing, the possibility to enter buildings and of course their main element driving. All of this together with a great song and a video that only takes one minute to watch! GTA IV is a Rockstar production and they are able to invest a lot of money in a feature like this. I think it's still important to take an example of this.

Another great trailer is from developer Paradox Interactive. Personally this type of game isn't my favorite, but I loved the trailer because of the humor.; background-position: 50% 50%; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;" width="520" />


They deliberately used this slow-paced voice-over and visuals. The game is obviously more action packed, but this difference attracts our attention because it's not what we would expect in the first place. Besides all the nicely placed humor, they still explain what the game is about. I think they focussed on players who are already known with this type of game. That's why the humor really hits their target audience. The explanation part isn't that important although they still show this to showcase what their game is able to do.

Bad Game Trailer
At Control Gamelab they showed what I also think is one of the worst trailers of all. I think I can make a complete series of these trailers. I don't know what is wrong with Tecmo Koei and this Kinect trailer (btw Microsoft doesn't perform better with their Kinect presentations). Why do they have to be so damn cheesy and embarrasing?; background-position: 50% 50%; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;" width="520" />


Seriously, what is wrong with them? How could this pass 'QA'? Besides the really bad animations and graphics, why would 'we' after watching this trailer, want to act like a complete morron behind our tv sets? I know it's hard to find a great control scheme when developing for Kinect, but do you think direct imitation is the best way to go for this game? I don't think so. I remember a presentation Microsoft gave about their Kinectimals. The acting with the child on stage was so embarrasing I had to stop watching. Besides some great products Microsoft also creates a set of monsters.

What do I think is important in a trailer?
One of the most important things in a trailer is what the games 'focus' is. So what makes your game stand out from others? If that isn't the 'recycled' gameplay, why bother showing this? For example, if your focus lies on the great and awesome atmosphere, create a trailer that showcases this. When you know your target audience and type of game you are creating, try to create a trailer that suits these aspects. Some argue that trailers need to be short and powerfull. They say they have to be under a minute. I think this depends on how long you can keep your audience attention. If this works for 1,5 minute, why not make it 1,5 minute? Instead of cutting out important assets just to get it under a minute. I have to agree with them, that some trailers are best showcased when they are kept under 60 seconds. One of the best tips I heard is to attract a huge amount of attention, or build up a lot of suspension, in the first 5 seconds of your trailer. Cut the crap with all the company logos or at least show them really 'quickly'.

I want to end this post with a trailer I think is a great work of art. It used to be my favorite franchise, but they ruined that with their third installment. I am talking about 'Assassin's Creed Revelations'. It's a CGI trailer, so it doesn't show any in-game footage. Therefore they launched this trailer as a debut and 'hype opening' to please their 'waiting' fanbase. I think they succeeded by choosing a great soundtrack, mixed sometimes precisely on the fighting scenes. It shows an old experienced Assassin, a character you have played with for so long. Even at the verge of death, he's still able to work his way out!
I was definitely hyped after seeing this. Enjoy!; background-position: 50% 50%; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;" width="520" />


What do you think is important in a trailer? What is your favorite?


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