WARNING: The following is a post that is intended to fulfill an assignment for my convergent journalism class. Will still try to write a normal post for this week.
Marketing for big budget games has become one of the major factors in determine whether or not a game will succeed in the world marketplace. Often a game’s first impression with an audience can have the most impact. Once the kernel of an idea is placed in a consumer’s head it grows into a conceived set of expectations. For me the first time I’m exposed to most games is the various forms of trailers. Usually these short videos don’t have the intended purpose of showing off game mechanics or game play, but to build up hype and interest.
The live action trailer for Halo 3: ODST is, to this day, one of my favorites. Running at just a minute and a half the trailer is able to achieve many things in a short amount of time. Reverence, fear, courage, and determination, all traits of the ODST soldier, are portrayed. Every time I watch it I yearn for properly done Halo live action media of a longer nature. Forward Unto Dawn wasn’t bad but Nightfall was a immense letdown.
So what makes a good trailer? To me it’s all about one thing, audience investment. Does your trailer have cool explosions and special effects? That’s neat, but a trailer must convince me to put out the money to purchase your product. A compelling story and characters are hard to show in such a small amount of time, but when done well a trailer can create immense amounts of excitement for me.
This is probably why I was never too excited about Watch_Dogs like everyone else seemed to be. In the end this was favorable to the game since I didn’t dislike it to the extent as was the majority opinion, but yet I was never invested. A trailer needs to convince me, not leave me ambivalent. It must leave me with questions that have to be answered, it has to make me think about the game nonstop before release. At that point it is up to the developer to produce a product that lives up to the expectations.
It could be argued that this vicious cycle has become a bane of the games industry. Too much effort is being put into marketing and not enough into quality game design, at least in the AAA market. Last year Ubisoft became ubiquitous with failed releases, the Master Chief Collection shipped without functional multiplayer (though this wasn’t known by the developer at the time), and games like Destiny ended up being shadows of their potential. It seems lately that game developers in the AAA market are being pushed too hard and the games are suffering. This could be signaling the death of the AAA market or a shift back in the pendulum to games with more time invested, and I personally believe the later.
There was no Battlefield last year and this year’s is sort of a spin off, the prolific Call of Duty is being transferred to a three year development cycle, and games that have been in the works like Witcher 3 and (insert Bethesda project here) are the big dogs to look out for. Games with a soul are what gamers want, not another blatant cash grab with a cliche trailer.