Giving a Book a Good Cover (Pt. 2): Effective Game Play Trailers

Some of the questions that were left unanswered in the launch trailer should be answered by the game play trailer, but not all of them. The trailer should peel back the consumer’s eyelids and let them read chapter 1, tempt them enough so they want to read chapter 2…and cause them to purchase the game.

What persona will the player be immersed in when he or she sets down to play? Game play trailers should attempt to open up more clues to the games actual storyline. It should expose the player to playable locations not seen in the launch trailer. Most importantly it should show actual GAME PLAY. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed “Cello” trailer (below) did all this well and successfully intertwined music with game play to provide an atmosphere the viewer wanted to return to.

Game play and how it is presented in a trailer can make or break a games success. All the teaser trailers and launch trailers presented prior will not make a difference if the game play shows poorly. Game play chosen for these trailers should include a broad range of in game action but should highlight the more unique aspects of the game play. As in Assassin’s Creed “Cello” trailer, the more unique game play definitely benefits from being cued in with the music. Keep in mind trailers are creative spins on the final product so, as was the case for some with Assassin’s Creed, don’t purchase the game purely from game trailers or you might find yourself a little disappointed. Game reviews and word of mouth still hold the most clout over a games commercial and player embraced success.

If you see a game play trailer that shows very little game play, be wary, and hold off on a purchase until more is revealed. Hiding actual game play from the gamers should be a sign of a poorly made game. This also holds true for game trailers that misrepresent their game play by only showing climatic gaming moments.

When a game is bold enough to release trailers that are made up entirely of in game footage/play then you can assume it will be a quality product. The developer is no longer teasing you with possibilities or brief glimpses of what will end up in the consumers hand but is showing game play you will be missing if you decide not to buy. Strictly game play trailers should immerse the player in the games world and attempt to connect you to the story – make it feel personal. The upcoming Battlefield 3 (due to release Fall 2011) has successfully been presenting game play through episodic trailers with the most recent (at publish) provided below.

Just like a drug dealer, Battlefield’s episode 3 trailer presents you with intense moments and tries to create euphoric feelings within the viewer with the hopes they return for more.

Although we shouldn’t judge a game entirely by its “cover” we should pay close enough attention to what they present so we can decide if we want to “read” more.

*Thanks to GamingNerdHerder’s board of consultants for insight on this post.

Giving a Book a Good Cover (Pt. 1): Effective Launch Trailers

Launch trailers are the book covers of video games; something we shouldn’t judge but sometimes do anyways. Launch trailers (trailers for a game soon to be launched) are supposed to make us pick up that book and open its cover.

How many game trailers have you come across that motivated you to post them via your social network or instantly purchase the game? More likely, how many times have you stopped a game trailer before it finished?

Game trailers can have a huge impact on awareness for a new franchise or create the necessary buzz at the start of a stretch marketing campaign. Some trailers can cause instant purchasing, especially when it is presented via a digital download service like STEAM (the leading digital PC gaming download service and social network with 25 million+ users).

If your looking to generate awareness amongst potential buyers and get them to open the cover, then how should your game trailer be presented? It needs to contain a good representation of the games atmosphere and create interest by leaving somethings, like game play, unknown. A launch trailer captures and holds your interest but leaves you with some questions. Perhaps those same questions will lead you to do your own investigating and start “reading” the game. A great and recent example of this type of trailer can be seen in Dead Island’s launch trailer here

The Dead Island launch trailer, if presented to an audience on STEAM, will more than likely NOT create a desire to pre-purchase but would generate the desire to learn more. That desire to learn more may lead that potential customer to the game’s website and transform that inquisitiveness into the desire to purchase. At the least, the launch trailer will put the games name in the head of the buyer and when more information on the game becomes available (like a game play trailer) the buyer will take notice.

Join the herd next week for Pt. II of Giving a Book a Good Cover where we look at game play trailers and what makes them view worthy, from start to finish. If you have any game play trailer(s) that impacted your decision, positively or negatively, to purchase please let me know about them in comments.

Stretch It Out and It Fits, Stretch It Too Much and It Sags

Blizzard (known for their WOW [World of Warcraft], Diablo and Star Craft franchises/games) seem to do it the best; revealing a small piece of information about a game at the start of a month and then another at, say, months end. Little bits and pieces of the game “leaked” out to the general public and media with the desired effect of ramping up anticipation and awareness of the upcoming title.

I’ve coined this tactic STRETCH MARKETING: stringing along information, sometimes key elements and most of the time just tidbits, of a game over a span of time. It creates the media buzz that helps advertising…advertise itself.

When is it too much? When have you released enough to get your targeted and hopefully untargeted audiences salivating at the mouth? How far out from release do you start? All serious concerns to consider when launching such a marketing campaign.

Start a stretch marketing campaign too soon and by the time the game is released you’ve burnt out the games fervor. If you have an expected release date 3 years in advance and you turn the marketing facet on immediately then, by the time the game is made available to the consumer, your facet will run dry. Your potential buyer will be in shoulder shrugging mode by release date. Around two years (give or take a couple of months depending on how far along game development is) prior to release seems to be the most efficient starting date for a stretch marketing campaign but make sure that those two years are not made up of insignificant game insight. For example, the press releases and game footage need to be a mix of significant game information, that appeals to the broader game player, and little aspects of the game that the die hard fan will eat up.

Those who seem to understand the near perfect mix of huge game information (like character classes or a new playable species) with minute information (such as a new weapon choice or spell) continue to exceed other publishers in creating player salivation.

The perfect amount of gaming oats to fill the trough seems to teeter between too much and too little. You want to get enough information out to your potential buyers until they think there is nothing more to expect, then boom goes the dynamite, you hit them with a new playable class.

Blizzard’s Diablo 3 may have already released all their playable classes but keep an eye on Diablo 3’s upcoming marketing exploits as its actual release date nears. Don’t be surprised if they have something substantial to talk about at this years E3 [Electronic Entertainment Expo] in June.

High Five Party

Don’t be surprised if Blizzard still has a little trinket up their Witch Doctor sleeves.

STRETCH MARKETING campaign should look unpredictable and not static. Keep your potential buyers asking, “What’s next?” and you keep them interested.

Thanks for letting me tie you up for a bit, return to the herd soon.

Select New Campaign – Welcome to GamingNerdHerder

Welcome, and thanks for visiting.

GamingNerdHerder is where the animals who feed off the gaming grass (or meat, for you FPS [First Person Shooter] carnivores) can gather at the watering hole and read about the multiple facets of the gaming industry; from insights/thoughts on marketing; impact on society; and game play in general. It is also a place for those not as engaged with the industry can come and gain a better understanding to how much of a dork I am and inform themselves about a billion+ dollar industry they may not be familiar with. For instance, as mentioned above, the acronym FPS stands for a type of game where one goes through as the main protagonist in a fist person perspective with usually a weapon as the only thing visible of the player you control… a first person shooter.

In your face.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 screen-shot

Posts will range from personal opinions about all things game, coauthored gaming related blogs and when I can find the time (and willing interviewees), interviews of individuals intimately involved with the gaming industry.

Thanks again for the visit and don’t forget, the next time you need to satiate your inner nerd just join the herd.