There’s no doubt that creating a game trailer is a great way to build anticipation and show off your game in its top form. It has become the standard for games in every genre, even the low-budget ones. But, in a time when gamers are bombarded with trailers on Steam, YouTube, Twitter, and many other platforms, a typical trailer will not make them stop scrolling.
So, you need something exciting and unique to grab their attention. But, where do you start? What should you add to the trailer? How can you tell an interesting story in just a few minutes?
You’ll see how in this post. First, let’s start with the general approach to trailer development.
Find the Right Theme & Look
If you go online and search for the top ten games in a popular genre such as First-Person Shooter (FPS), you will see that each trailer has a different look, feel, and approach. Some trailers are cinematic while some others only show gameplay footage.
Choosing the right approach is a vital decision in creating your game trailer because it can affect the story, the message, the music, and all the elements that you put in a trailer.
Many developers these days prefer using animation to create appealing trailers. There are a couple of reasons for it:
Using Novelty To Catch Attention
They use animated trailers because it’s a fresh idea in a saturated space with standard cinematic trailers. Plus, since big games dedicate big budgets to their trailers, it’s not easy for new, smaller games to get attention in the same field. So, it’s wiser for them to move to play in another category and create something unique with animation.
More Room for Changes
In an average trailer, you typically have to follow certain rules that leave little room for creativity. This method works just fine, but not if you want a game trailer that gets views organically instead of relying on a big marketing budget. To stand out from the rest, you need more creative freedom, and animation can give you that.
Using animated trailers, you have complete control over adding or removing elements. Without the usual limitations, you can design the trailer for maximum excitement with thrilling elements. So, consider using this powerful tool in your development process.
Don’t Make People Wait
When creating the trailer, you need to remember that people will mostly view it on social media platforms where they can easily scroll to the next video. So, they won’t wait too long for your trailer to start.
Keep the Logos at the End
You need to capture their attention at first glance, which means you can’t start the video with a sequence of logos and notices. Logos are more suitable for big-budget Hollywood movies or famous game studios that showcase their reputation with their brands. In most cases, it’s best to put the logos at the end of the trailer where you’ve done all you can to capture the attention of your audience.
Don’t Go Beyond Two Minutes
Also, try to balance the trailer length as well. Unless you’re working on the trailer of a popular gaming franchise, it’s wiser to keep it around two minutes and then maybe release an “extended” version for those who want to know more about the game.
Don’t Forget About the Gameplay
If you look at the trailers for popular games, you’ll see that some of them release several trailers. One trailer may focus only on the gameplay while the other is more cinematic. But, since you plan to create a single game trailer, you must portray the gameplay.
Creating a pure cinematic trailer is mostly useful for recognized games where players are already familiar with the in-game world and are emotionally invested in the game. For brand-new games, players want to know what the game is about. They want to see the genre, the feel, and the features. They want to see if there’s a co-op mode available or not.
There are three things to consider when incorporating the gameplay into the trailer:
The Style Should Match the Genre
When creating the animated trailer, you have to determine an art style to portray the game in an exciting way. Here, you need to find an art style that matches the atmosphere, genre, and gameplay experience. For example, if you have a serious action game about the apocalypse, it’s not really smart to choose a colorful, fun animated style because it’ll look odd next to the gameplay footage. You want a smooth transition.
Create a Smooth Flow
One of the harder tasks in creating animated trailers is to seamlessly transition from the animated sequences into the gameplay footage. You want to immerse the viewers in the excitement and thrill of the story and any odd diversions will defeat the purpose.
Besides choosing a fitting art style for the trailer, you should know when to fade in, cut, and manipulate the sound effects or music to get the viewers ready for the next sequence.
Focus on the Timing
You can’t create an effective game trailer without properly balancing the time among different sections. Keep in mind that you have many sections to fit in a 2-minute clip. You can fill a part of the trailer with gameplay footage, but it may become too much after that and make the animated sequence seem unimportant.
On the other hand, the trailer should not be all about animation and little information about the gameplay. The best way is to strike a balance based on the game’s story and features.
Use a Storyboard
One of the best ways to guarantee smooth transitions between sequences and properly time every segment is using a storyboard. It gives you a glimpse into the final version of the trailer, helping you make adjustments in the early stages.
A storyboard is basically a series of illustrations that show every shot of the trailer. In every shot, there are important details about the incidents, dialogues, and the visual effects of the scene. When you create a storyboard, you’re essentially creating a comic book for your game trailer.
Once you have this structure in place, you can simply review every phase so you won’t run into unexpected issues when creating the actual trailer. Plus, you will know how to dedicate more time to the most exciting scenes and improve the others.
Focus on three elements when using a storyboard:
Keep It Simple
The storyboard is quite similar to a comic book because it tells the story in a series of illustrations. But, unlike comic books, you don’t need excellent drawing skills to create elaborate pictures.
Don’t spend too much time on picture detail because you just need to understand the scene’s appearance, the characters, and the action in that scene. There are even pre-made storyboards available online to download and print.
Tell an Exciting Story
Keep in mind that a game trailer is not just about the pictures. In fact, the pictures have no meaning and cohesion without a clear message, a captivating story that shows the viewers what the game is about.
Just like a movie plot, you need an exciting story for the game trailers that simply describes the player’s journey, his / her grand purpose, and the unique selling points of the game. Just make sure that you use a clear, simple tone because viewers can be young or non-English speakers.
Using character is the key ingredient to the success of many popular games because it adds excitement and depth to the story. Depending on the game, you can depict the hero, the villain, and other main characters in the trailer.
Use Sounds To Generate Excitement
In addition to the visuals, you can use sound effects and voice-overs to add more excitement and thrill to every sequence. Sound effects, background music, and voice-overs are three elements that bring the trailer story to life and help viewers connect with the actions inside the game.
Sound effects are well-known tools that make the game look quite realistic and emotional. Some of the most common sound effects are the sounds of characters walking, shooting, eating, or breaking something.
Just note that you can’t use any effect you want because it has to match the look and feel of the game. The timing and frequency must be right as well because using them too often can look odd and out of place.
When it comes to arousing emotions, there are few things as powerful as the background music. Just like movies, powerful background music can generate excitement, happiness, horror, or even sadness in your audience.
Usually, it’s better to pick the background music before working on the visuals because then you can match the animation to the music tempo and make the trailer even more captivating.
Although giant gaming companies have more resources in marketing and graphics, you can beat them in voice-overs because hiring a professional does not cost much, but it allows you to make the trailer a memorable experience.
Work with an Expert Team
By now, you know the process to create an appealing game trailer. However, developing the game itself is difficult enough, which means that you may not have the extra time, money, or staff to focus on creating the trailer.
Plus, the trailer plays a vital role in attracting or repelling gamers, so you must put professionals in charge who have an established track record with games in the same genre and scale. It’s also easy to evaluate their performance because you can watch the trailers and read online reviews.
While some production companies require a big budget, there are many qualified, affordable animation studios that can handle your project and create an eye-catching trailer with your specific budget.
Creating an exciting game trailer indeed requires time, money, and effort. This guide can help you move faster and develop something that sparks interest among gamers.
Of course, without experts on your team, you may probably make mistakes and go through some trial and error before finding the right combination. That’s why many producers and distributors prefer hiring a professional team to save them the hassle and money. In your case, a reliable animation studio like Dream Farm Studios can be just what you need. You can contact us and get a quote right now!