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.