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Game Trailers....what do they mean to you?

Posted by garrett Wednesday June 30 2010 at 8:23AM
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At E3 we got to see a whole bunch of game trailers. From the seven minute epic trailer of Star Wars: The Old Republic “Hope,” to the two minute Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millenium first time game play trailer. Game Trailers are critical in catching their audience and play an essential part in whether or not gamers buy your game.
In my opinion the best game trailer ever was Warhammer Online’s trailer from Blur Studios. Not the first one, the second one with the huge battle. This was one of the best Warhammer pieces ever made. The same can be said for last year’s Old Republic Trailer with the Sith storming out of the ship inside the Jedi Temple, pure awesome.
The issue is, how much of these movie trailers actually portray game play? While Blur Studios is insanely talented, are these trailers an accurate portayal of how the game will play out? They are epic don’t get me wrong and they also create just enough hook to get you into the game, but then it is up to the game deisgners to keep you there.
Blizzard has a history of epic trailers as well, and while WoW originial trailer was very cool, the game play was quit different. The Wrath of the Lich King trailer was a huge disappointment for me as I expected more action, oddly enough, Northrend turned out to be much more fun than its trailer.
As a gamer, I want to see game play. I want to know what I will be looking at for 3-4 hours a night and generally months on end as I level up, play in the end game, and make decisions about my character. I want to know how the game works. For me, a trailer needs to give me that information and lately more and more game trailers have not.
This is one area where the movie industry has influenced the game industry. Someone, somewhere in some board room has decided that games need an epic trailer to pull the audience in. I like to think as gamers we are much smarter and look much more closely at games before we decide to buy them, than just being sold on a few minute movie. They don’t make bad movie trailers, but how many times have you seen a movie when all the best parts are in the trailer?
Overall I do feel there is an important place for game trailers in the world. However, I do feel strongly that the trailer should reflect the game, not some stirred up movie. You spend endless hours developing and designing the game, show us that instead of a movie which is costing a fortune.
Although I have to admit, the movie trailers do rock, they don’t give us the in depth look we deserve as players who will spend hours upon hours in the game.
huntard writes:

Although i personally like game trailer, unfortunately somewhere down the line they started to become false advertisements and nothing more than hype-o meters for a game which then never turns out to be anything like the trailer showed.

Wed Jun 30 2010 9:19AM Report
Senadina writes:

Movie-like game trailers mean nothing. If they don't show actual gameplay, they are pure hype and nothing more. Pretty useless. Do they really think we are that stupid? I don't get it actually.

Wed Jun 30 2010 9:19AM Report
uncus writes:

I agree with the first two posters - if it's a movie, it's crap; if it shows actual gameplay, then it's worth watching.  Since most do NOT show gameplay, most are crap - so I rarely watch them any more.

Wed Jun 30 2010 9:23AM Report
onelesslight writes:

Like a lot of art it may illustrate a thematic concept but it should not be confused for being the same as seeing the real thing.

Wed Jun 30 2010 9:40AM Report
Rohn writes:

"Wrath of the Lick King"?  Is that like the porn knockoff of a popular movie, like "Rambone"?  :P

Seriously, while I usually enjoy a good cinematic trailer, usually they don't say much about how the game actually plays, so is mostly worthless in that regard.  If it's a gameplay-built trailer, those are usually (but not always) more informative.

Wed Jun 30 2010 9:42AM Report
Liltawen writes:

I don't care if some company can make a movie; I care if they can make a game. If it doesn't show in-game footage whats the point?About all you can get is maybe some locations and costume design.1 good screen shot is worth more than an entire movie to me no matter how much the movie cost. A movie as expensive as 'Hope' makes me very suspicious about the actual game.

Wed Jun 30 2010 9:46AM Report
Coman writes:

I love trailers as they normally are (Really) short movies and often created very well. I do not value them as an source of information (have stopped doing that for years), but I do appreciate them as a peace of art, with tells you a bit of the games story and background. 

Same actually counts for the intro's of games (With in a lot of cases has been an trailers as well). Also for some odd reason Warhammer games always have awsome trailers!

My all time favorite...Dawn of War:

Wed Jun 30 2010 9:50AM Report
Bunnyking writes:

I like cinematic game trailers for what they are. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't expect to see gameplay when I watch one; I expect to be entertained and maybe even get a 'holy sh!t' moment,

For what they are, they're fine. People who get lured into a game by a trailer, thinking that was what they are going to get in the game itself are too dumb to probably play the game itself anyway.

Wed Jun 30 2010 9:51AM Report
viditorum writes:

Now even though a movie type game trailer will likely never accurately represent the game play of the game as rather educated people we should be able to see it for what it is and be entertained by it and not place any weight on it as far as the game play is concerned.

Wed Jun 30 2010 9:58AM Report
Korithian writes:

For me a game trailer has to depict the game the player will be experiencing, imagine a movie trailer being nothing like the movie. People would come out feeling like they had been ripped off, and the same goes for a game trailer. Sure you can show CGI cut scenes or an action orientated master piece but if the game doesn't offer CGI style graphics or an action orientated game then its lying to those fans that have purchased it based on an awesome trailer.


You mention the WAR trailer and this is no doubt a good example of when things go wrong. An amazing trailer only for people to get in the game and find a very limited character customisation, a cartoonish world and very little of the combat in the trailer. Instead spamed rain of fire while your side lines up against theirs and gets owned by ranged aoe attacks.


If the product is good enough you show gameplay and people want to play it cause it looks amazing. If the product is poor then you use smoke and mirrors or in the case of trailers don't show any game play and opt for a trailer that has nothing to do with the game and often half naked women in it. Much like the Dark Elf in the WAR trailer, turned out she even appeared to be a bit of a lesbian so much the better.

Wed Jun 30 2010 10:14AM Report
JV1023 writes:

I prefer YouTube fraps videos of game-play to professional studio cg cinematics. In fact, the only trailers I've seen have been purely by accident when clicking links in articles here. I'm just not interested in two minutes of footage that exist in a void.

I don't like cinematics for single-player games, either, because they simply don't reflect anything that you'll actually experience in the game other than cutscenes, which also don't depict actual game-play. If anything, advertising a game with high-resolution, high-poly trailers just leads to disappointment when you realize the game you purchased looks and behaves in an utterly different fashion than the pitch that was used to reel you in.

Wed Jun 30 2010 10:27AM Report
Kuatosune writes:

Trailers are just used to hype the game.  Unless it shows actual game play there's no relevance to the game iteself.

Wed Jun 30 2010 10:39AM Report
indiramourn writes:

I avoid game trailers and movie trailers like the plague.  What I'm really trying to avoid is the formation of preconceptions from looking at those trailers.  Man I hate spoilers which every movie trailer I've ever seen exposes.  And game trailers my not give the "plot" of a game away, like movie trailers do, they have a tendancy to over-hype a game and create massive expectations from the game which it can never live up to.

Wed Jun 30 2010 11:30AM Report
eye_m writes:

I like the cinematic trailers and I think they serve as important of a purpose as an actual gameplay trailer. They may not be showing me what the game is like, but they are what keep me checking in on a games progress.

A good example is The Secret World trailers. SOE had told us very little about the game for the longest time but the trailers kept me checking back, wanting to know more. I may not end up buying the game, but I'm following it.

"The force has a strong effect on the weak minded" still holds true with the cinematics as well, and there is no doubt that a substantial number of people will play a game just because they seen one they like.

Gameplay trailers are helpful, and I would prefer to see one before I bought any game, but they don't always give you an accurate feel for the game either.  I find that with most gameplay trailers they just don't show me enough, and with the compressed / lower resolutions I don't get to see how nice the game actually can look. 

The cinematics are what grabs my attention,  the gameplay seals the deal.

Wed Jun 30 2010 11:41AM Report
swich329 writes:

I am not interested in game trailers.  I want to see what the game is really going to look like.  If I am really interested, I will research on youtube.

Wed Jun 30 2010 12:27PM Report
Toothman writes:

Like political speeches.  Nice to experiance but worthless for anything but entertainment.

Wed Jun 30 2010 1:01PM Report
Renkov writes:

I enjoy both cinematic and gameplay trailers. Former, because they convey the style and the story better than the later. But the later shows how it is done. 

A purely gameplay trailer can't draw you since all you see is 5 minutes of "go from A to B". That is why most publishers release cinematic trailers before gameplay trailers. They Spark interest. After that, they try to maintain it. 

A good combination trailer I have seen is the intro cinematic for Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. The first 30 seconds is cinematic, nothing but exposition. Alone it doesn't show much. The other 2 minutes is in-game graphics gameplay. One without the other would seem pointless. The first part might make you go "... Now what?"  And the other part alone will make you go "Wait... the hell is going on?" 

Gameplay vids rarely if ever show content, as in story and characters. Cinematics are just for that. Some games, like the Battlefields, lack pre-rendered cinematics because there is little to no story involved. But story based games use pre-rendered to show the setting and hint at the plot. 

Wed Jun 30 2010 2:52PM Report
Yamota writes:

Not much, it is like movie commercials, they show only the good parts and leave out the bad parts, which there could be alot of.

Wed Jun 30 2010 2:53PM Report
ppovoa1 writes:

Game trailers are getting more and more meaningless, because most of the times they are movie trailers instead of real in game trailers, that make the trailers false advertising

Wed Jun 30 2010 3:01PM Report
NightCloak writes: Meh... If a game doesn't give me a sense of how the game will play then I will pass it up. Cinematic trailers are fun to watch and gameplay trailers are what I want to see. That and player videos. Player-made videos tell me more than the studio made gameplay trailers. Wed Jun 30 2010 3:59PM Report
Alberel writes:

I agree with what a lot of people are saying above about cinematic trailers but I don't really see any alternative. MMO gameplay is generally quite dull to an outsider looking in; the entertainment value can only really be understood when actually playing the game. This is why most official trailers are either cinematic works of art or general concept trailers like a zone fly-through or something.
The most you could get from a genuine gameplay trailer is that a certain skill looks cool... it doesn't tell you anything about the actual mechanics.

Wed Jun 30 2010 4:04PM Report
RelGn writes:


Wed Jun 30 2010 4:55PM Report
stayontarget writes:

Sometimes they spend too much time on these trailers that can be at times misleading.

Wed Jun 30 2010 6:37PM Report
Ziboo writes:

Game trailers are fun to watch, some quite glorious in fact. But, it's all hype.  

Show the 'real game' play if you want to convince me.

Although movie trailers you show too much, I do assume the movie will suck and I just saw the best 2-5 minutes of the movie.

Wed Jun 30 2010 11:00PM Report
Mordacai writes:

As a game designer, I think that the trailers do their job they're meant to do and that is build hype about your game to get the word out there to say "hey look at me" and then just like a fish they reel you in with flashy movies cinimatics to bring you in for a closer look at the game mechanics and game play. It's in those secondary features where the real game player will be looking to see hwo the game really looks and feels. The trailer is nothing more then hype generator/advertisement to bring the gamer  in for a closer look at your product.

I've personally worked on trailers that have taken several months to complete, just so it could wing-ding the crowd in a presentation, but that hook mid way through the presentation is what generated more looks and others to gather round as you started to demo what you really had to play with in the product and that's where the players get to make up their minds. Hey that looks interesting or ugh, what a pile of poo..

Wed Jun 30 2010 11:12PM Report
Codenak writes:

Hype isnt always a good thing, unless the game being hyped actually delivers on EVERYTHING it promises in a non buggy way.

Thu Jul 01 2010 2:56AM Report
Shealladh writes: Trailers are a dim a dozen these days and never properly show the game for what it is any more. They should either be ingame content orientated, or done as a background filler to enhance the storyline. Not a trailer as such, but the best movies where from Diablo II imho. Although a close second would be the warhammer trailer which had the emporer surrounded. Thu Jul 01 2010 8:40AM Report
Shinami writes:

I liked the trailers, but I personaly liked the ones that showed actual gameplay.

Sun Jul 18 2010 7:43PM Report writes:
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