What makes a good trailer?

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Chat Bubbles With Olivia Grace

With the new releases of 2012, there have been a lot made, but what makes a good trailer?

I’m looking back on a few of the trailers of 2012, and considering what makes a good one. Trailers are usually, it seems, a combination of several elements, but which are the really important ones? In fantasy and role-playing games, there are usually fairly strong elements of the story involved in trailers, so, for example, Guild Wars 2’s trailer featured the rise of the dormant dragons and their return to Tyria.

World of Warcraft’s trailer for Mists of Pandaria took a rather different direction from past efforts, shying away from the usual super-villain approach and choosing instead to focus on the Horde and Alliance conflict and the discovery of the new continent and race. Was this a good decision? Is it necessary to reveal the grand mastermind behind the story arc of the game in the opening trailer? Or is a little mystery better?

Aside from story, what else is vital to a good trailer? Do you want to see gameplay footage, or are you happy for game developers to focus on amping up the CGI to create dramatic scenes. If you’ve purchased games on the strength of the trailer without looking into the gameplay footage, have you ever felt cheated by the CGI overemphasizing the graphical quality of the game? Certainly, anyone who bought WoW based on the Mists of Pandaria trailer, or any before that for that matter, would potentially be disappointed. Or do you take a more cynical approach and assume that trailers never reflect the reality of a game?

As I discuss more extensively in the video, do landscapes serve any greater purpose than showing off a graphics engine? Are you excited to see the landscape previews to get a sense of the feel of a game’s world? And what of these elements are vital to a good trailer? Or, what have I missed that is a key ingredient? I discuss character options in the video, along with some other elements of advertising that do and don’t appeal, but I’d love to get your opinions. Do leave a comment below!

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