In a market that is overly saturated with games that all share the same type of gameplay, Cinematic Trailers are an invaluable tool, able to help game developers win the eyeballs and commitment of their target audiences, long before the game is released.
Just like cinematic cutscenes enhance and push the suspension of disbelief, cinematic trailers prepare players for a distinct and committed immersion in the universe of the game - they don't exist to solely show off the game, but instead its story, idea, world, and most importantly, its promise.
The promise of what it will feel like for the players to immerse themselves in the universe of the game, and the promise of a reason to care for its characters and their goals.
In this article, we analyze two case studies where the use of Cinematic Trailers helped the developer reach their desired audience effectively, starting their marketing campaign on the right foot.
IT’S A CASE OF EMOTIONAL RESONANCE
Case study number one, Jurassic Park: Survival.
The first Cinematic Trailer for the game was revealed this year at The Game Awards.
The gameplay of what looks like a typical first-person survival game is only shown in 3 shots at the end of the trailer, but the feeling and emotions of its universe prevail for the absolute majority of the trailer’s runtime (1:54” of bespoke cinematics vs 7” gameplay).
Without knowing anything about the actual game, we can assume the following:
The setting starts right after the end of the first Jurassic Park movie
The player will revisit the same locations and face the same original dinosaurs as seen in the first movie
The story will be narrated from the perspective of one of the staff members who didn’t manage to leave the island in time
The promise? This game will trigger your childhood memories and it will deliver the same immersion the original movie did, extending it, preserved and untouched.
That might sound simple in words, but in practice, the emotion players have felt while watching this trailer is rather complex and articulate - it's the same feeling they felt while watching the movie 20 years ago.
It would have been more difficult and without a doubt much less effective to try and communicate the same concept through a gameplay trailer. In addition, it's safe to assume the game is probably still in its early production stage and the developer wasn't ready to show much about its gameplay.
Hence this Cinematic Trailer gave a chance to the developer and the publisher to start creating interest in the project, get some media coverage, and get the hype train started.
By the time they drop the next trailer, they will have a bigger audience to address, and there's no doubt, they will watch it with the above-mentioned promise already nailed in the back of their mind.
They will subconsciously make the connection between the emotion they felt 20 years ago and the gameplay, filling a lot of gaps on behalf of the developer.
Sure, it's up to the developer to keep up with their promise, but the road ahead is clear.
A CHANCE FOR DAVID TO BEAT GOLIATH
Case study number two: The independent game Deliver Us Mars.
This game was made in Unity and it features less polished graphics and gameplay compared to JPS (even though we haven’t seen much of it yet).
The trailer is made in its entirety of in-game footage, but the shot count is approximately 50 cinematic shots vs 10 gameplay shots.
The whole trailer is narrated by a voice-over from the lead and supporting characters and it boldly leverages the emotional aspect of the game while showcasing, alongside dozens of cinematic shots, typical gameplay mechanics (climbing, driving, puzzle solving, exploring, etc).
The promise? While exploring and solving puzzles, with this game you are in for an interplanetarian emotional journey that roots in something universally relatable - the relationship between daughter/son and father.
With this move, the developer successfully hit straight into the heart of their niche, and it’s not a coincidence that the game's vastly positive reviews identify IN ITS STORY the reason for their satisfaction, with negative reviews mainly pointing out how the gameplay was the least appealing aspect of the game.
This proves that if the developer were to showcase its gameplay and neglect its story mainly, it would have left the game to compete with the following games (only to mention a few): Uncharted, Tomb Raider, Mass Effect, Starfield, and The Callisto Protocol.
It's safe to assume the game would have struggled to keep up with such competition.
Fortunately, both the developer and the publisher opted for story-centered Cinematic Trailers, and successfully reached their target audience, avoiding direct competition with their titanic opponents.
There is no doubt that cinematic trailers build worlds and universes that are more interesting than the games themselves, often filling the gap between the quality of its gameplay and the expectation for a deep, immersive, and rich universe. Appealing to players' emotions before attempting to satisfy their taste for certain gameplay types has been demonstrated to be an effective strategy and the main reason why video game cinematic trailers are made.
We are Studio Untamed, and we can help you create Cinematic Trailers and Cut-Scenes that hit your target audience right in their hearts, while you focus on developing your game and planning your marketing campaign.
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