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Capturing an audience through pre-rendered trailers

David Cullinane 13 December 2018

This is it! YouTube loads… You wait for the ad to finish… Your hard work has finally come to fruition, and you can now share your latest creation with the world. For the public, trailers are the highlight of any massive event like E3 or Gamescom. They can even be events in and of themselves. See the excitement around The Game Awards recently; for most, it wasn’t even about the awards. It was all about the trailers. A certain SMITE trailer might have made a cameo…

But sometimes you want the world to know about your game without having anything to show. Not through lack of work, but maybe the project is still in its infancy, and actual gameplay is still some way down the line. That’s why pre-rendered trailers have always been a part of the industry.


One to watch

There will always be an excited audience waiting to watch a trailer, pre-rendered or not. This Jurassic World Evolution trailer hit over 31 million views following its announcement at Gamescom in 2017.

There is an appetite for pre-rendered trailers. But why would you ever pick pre-rendered over in-game? Like we mentioned earlier, depending on the stage of production, the game might not be in a state where it can be shown. The intended gameplay may be solid, but the polish may be lacking. This needn’t prevent your marketing for the game from getting underway – You can still convey the intended quality of the game way before completion while getting your game first and foremost onto the consumer’s radar. A pre-rendered trailer can lead the audience into a much deeper story in a short space of time. You only get one chance to impress and win over the hearts and minds of the players, but also the upper echelons of the publisher too.


Capturing the action

Sometimes, it’s the only worthwhile way to show the game. Either because the gameplay doesn’t translate well into a trailer or because capturing in-game footage is less than ideal. A pre-rendered trailer allows you to be more cinematic in your approach. It’s what made pre-rendered cutscenes in original PlayStation games so prolific – see any PS1 era Final Fantasy game.

While games can inevitably change course during their development, a pre-rendered trailer can successfully set the tone ahead of its release and capture the player’s imagination. Take the Smite trailer above – a colossal clash between ancient deities. A delicate to-and-fro power struggle. This is what playing the game feels like, and only through this cinematic medium can that be expressed. A pre-rendered trailer captures that spirit and excitement.

Pre-rendered trailers also allow for a much higher level of visual fidelity beyond the power of consoles and PCs. It’s a highly effective way to impress your audience and gauge their reactions in the process.


Watch and see

Using a specialist CG studio like REALTIME allows the developer to remain focused on the game itself. Pre-rendered trailers are best left to those proficient in CGI production to help benefit from the time and cost-saving measure.

In today’s social media age, where exposure to your game can be just a few screen taps away, you need a trailer that will capture an audience. Multiple devices in every room allow you to reach a viewer base of millions. To do that, you need a beautifully crafted cinematic trailer to truly seize the interest of your potential players.

At REALTIME we have delivered trailers that have attracted millions of viewers. Our Smite and Subnautica trailers above are only a taste of what we have achieved. If you want a trailer that exudes quality, get in touch with me at [email protected] to discuss any upcoming projects.