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Standing out from the crowd

David Cullinane 17 January 2019
CG trailers

CG Trailers

Despite their huge impact, video games are a medium that have long fought to be considered art. In the eyes of the masses, they have previously been labelled as childish, gauche, or a waste of time. But the industry has spent decades trying to shake away that derision, and today they generate billions in revenue from a global audience. The mobile market alone dwarfs Hollywood.

Games have grown up. All sophisticated in one way or another – whether they boast bleeding-edge graphics, a stellar narrative, or award-winning performances – they have matured as a form of media. And today, with CGI an easily accessible tool, cinematic trailers have become the de facto way to show what you are all about. Nowhere is this more necessary than in the realm of mobile gaming.


Mobile dominance

The dominating presence mobile gaming has in the overall gaming market is undeniable. Almost half of UK smartphone owners use them to play games. But it is a saturated market that only grows more competitive by the day. Free-to-play, freemium, or in-app purchase models remain popular as they are a commitment-free way to get eyes on your game.

It’s not uncommon to see apps advertised within other apps, creating a web of interconnectivity. But the quality, or lack thereof, shines through. Slap-dash constructions designed to eat up 30 seconds and convey the point of their game in the blandest way possible. There are better ways of getting the attention of your audience, surely?


One in a million

CG trailers are commonplace at any video game convention, such as E3. They are a representation of what the game is or will be. Not in any literal sense, but in an emotive one. In a marketing sense, they bridge that gap between developer and consumer. What makes a CGI trailer stand out is the story it tells. In the case of this Smite trailer, it takes the concepts present in the game and weaves them into a story of tooth-and-nail scrapping in the battleground of the Gods.

Or take Subnautica, an aesthetically-stunning open world game set in the aquamarine seas of some distant planet. The fan favourite game has been making waves on Steam since the release of its cinematic trailer that gained over 4.5 million views within two weeks of its release.

But do they work for mobile games? They do if you want to stand out. There are 800,000 games on the App Store, many carbon copies of one popular format or another. The key is what you do with your cinematic trailer.


Saying something

What matters most is the story you tell. It doesn’t mean it has to be emotion-laden like the seminal Gears of War trailer. The story it tells needs to be a reflection of the game itself, its creators, and the audience. Shooting games usually have trailers filled with bombast and explosions. Puzzle games tease you with a quiet, enigmatic vibe. They are selling an image – as well as selling the game. What does it aspire to be? What does it want you to aspire to be?

There’s no reason this same logic can’t be applied to mobile games. Despite being one of the biggest names in the market, Clash of Clans still sees the benefit of creating CG trailers. They inject their humour and take advantage of the cartoonish art style to craft a narrative that engages the audience. As of writing, this trailer is one day old. It has almost a million views.

What you need is a vision. You needed one when you made the game, and you need one now. You can always leave it to the professionals, those with the experience at crafting trailers that evoke powerful emotions within the target audience. They have the knowledge to plan a trailer from beginning to end, always staying respectful of your end product. In this cramped market, they might be the edge you need.

REALTIME is one such company, creating trailers for the likes of SubNautica, War Robots and Zombie Gunship. Our staff are visionaries who can create a stand-out trailer worthy of hitting the E3 stage. If you would like to discuss your upcoming project, please contact me at [email protected].