GamesBeat

The evils of game trailers

As many gamers worldwide already know, Resident Evil 6 was announced and given a release date of November 20 of this year. While this would have been great news for Resident Evil fans on its own, the information was also met with a pretty-sizeable trailer that is spreading across the Internet quicker than the T-virus.

On first watch of the trailer, I couldn’t help but grin madly like the fanboy I am. The graphics look phenomenal. Series favorites Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield are back along with what appear to be full-fledged, brain-hungry zombies for the first time in what seems like ages.

Needless to say, I muttered a few expletives of excitement as my laptop speakers blasted out the trademark gruff tone of “Resident Evil…6” and quickly took to the Internet to declare such excitement.  After my mood had calmed down, however, I began to think about the news, and I had a thought.

Some of the best trailers for recent video games have all managed to get me excited, as they are designed to do. But in most cases, when the games have actually hit store shelves, I’ve either been disappointed, or I've lost my initial enthusiasm.

 

Dead Island is the most recent example of a trailer that eventually lead to disappointment. Deep Silver put together a piece of advertising genius that was equal parts touching, disturbing, and hype inducing.  Before the now famous “backwards trailer” was put out, most of the gaming public had little interest in the survival-horror title, but the Internet became ablaze with anticipation for what was being presented as a brilliant concept and setting for the quickly tiring zombie genre.

Fast forward to Dead Island's release, and gamers were faced with an admittedly fun and solid game. But it had almost nothing to do with the much-applauded trailer, neither in content or style. Not the end of the world for the game, but personally, I couldn’t help feeling that my post-trailer excitement was misplaced.

The other end of the trailer spectrum is over exposure. Titles such as BioShock Infinite and Mass Effect 3 seem to have been in the public eye for so long that the anticipation building for them appears to be hitting a plateau. Admittedly, I can understand the logic behind creating hype for a game. Trailers themselves are advertisements after all, but seriously, how many times can we listen to Ken Levine showing us some jaw-dropping gameplay demo before responding with, “OK Ken, cool. Get back to me when you have a release date.”

Mass Effect 3 is a similar case where so many trailers have been released for the upcoming title that I can’t help but approach its fast-arriving release date with a little bit of apathy. I’m a complete nut for the Mass Effect series and have been since the first game, but the advertising might of Electronic Arts has been rammed so far down my throat that I’ve tried to step away from seeing anything about the latest game until it’s nestled in my Xbox 360’s disc tray.

I understand that excitement is subjective. How pumped up someone gets after watching a video-game trailer really does depend on how much interest that person has in the advertised release. It’s the nature of the industry. Developers need to put out trailers to build interest in their product and gauge sales figures from preorders. As the games industry grows, this is only going to become more true.

Rockstar Games really hit the nail on the head with the Grand Theft Auto 5 announcement trailer, however. A countdown followed by a short, but sweet, video allowed players everywhere to go nuts and start spreading theories like wildfire. That was all it took to get fans excited. Just let people know that the game is coming and allow them to build the anticipation themselves. Of course, this will all change when Rockstar releases an inevitable series of videos where a narrator explains “key gameplay concepts,” such as shooting a gun. Here’s looking at you Max Payne 3.

The point I’m trying to get at is this. The games that we all love have become a commodity — a money-making product just like movies or soft drinks, and like these other products, they need to be advertised.  Trailers are fantastic. They get us hyped, give us a chance to wildly speculate, and most of all, let us know that releases are on their way. Maybe we need to take these early announcement trailers, such as the one for Resident Evil 6, with a pinch of salt. At least until we get our hands on a demo.

I’m still excited as hell about Resident Evil 6 though. One thing you can’t take away from most trailers is that they are effective.


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