A major part of video game marketing, some may say the most important part, involves promotional trailers. From dramatic cinematic or CGI footage, to gameplay, developer insight or online virals, each style provides material that should aim to get people talking and anticipating a game’s release.
One key factor in this process is that very first trailer, the special something to get the eyes excited and wanting more. Screenshots are all well and good, but the moving picture is better, well, it should be anyway, and that first trailer can reveal what potentially lies ahead for the player.
From the game’s setting, such as the American Revolution is Assassin’s Creed 3, or the new and improved gameplay features such as First Touch Control and Attacking Intelligence in FIFA 13. The characters and storyline in Splinter Cell: Blacklist, or the explosion of weapons, vehicles, locations and Cold War-themed action in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. We’ve seen these first official trailers clock-up a chunky number of views, be hugely popular and get people talking, with the likes of the new Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto V falling into this top bracket too.
It’s easy for these established franchises though, it doesn’t matter what material they show in their first trailer, unless they do a really bad job, I’ll still part with my money and buy it. At least that’s what some may say. The big games do have the big established fan bases, sell it right and the pre-orders will fly in. How many times have you read “Shut up and take my money” as a trailer comment?
What is trickier though is for a brand new IP or franchise to make the right impact. That’s where the first trailer can be so crucial. The debut trailer for 2011’s Dead Island generated a huge deal of interest and it won awards its creativity, helping to give the game a head start in its promotion. The use of zombies helped of course! At this year’s E3, Ubisoft introduced Watch Dogs, with its first trailer showing the technological surveillance-style theme where everything is connected. It will be interesting to see how it competes further down the line and whether it is given a chance based on its first coverage, but early signs where promising, which means the trailer did its job.
The bottom line is that very first trailer, that very first promotion, it is vital to get the tone right, as it can potentially make or break a game before its release.