Trailers: Win the YouTube Wars, get ink, make it a hit

Step 1: Make a trailer

It’s hard to believe that some developers choose not to make a trailer. But it happens. While screenshots are easy and straightforward, trailers sound terribly complicated and time-intensive. Don’t let the extra workload deprive your game of a proper trailer. The consequences are often dire, starting with less coverage and ending with non-existing sales.

Step 2: Make every second count

The only thing worse than not having a trailer is having a 3-minute one. No one will watch a 3-minute trailer for a mobile game. The ideal length is 45 seconds to a full minute.

Step 3: Make it dynamic

We like trailers that show off different gameplay mechanics, characters, locations and atmosphere. You can’t have a minute of the same exact gameplay, over and over again. Think of the joy of driving the Pacific Coast Highway versus the mind-numbing boredom of the I-5.

Step 4: Make it descriptive

Text-less trailers might look stunning but will often leave viewers with a big question mark. Is it a sequel or an update? Is it for Android or iOS? Is this a new feature? Is it free? This information must be in there. If the best you can do is list the most important information at the very end, with bullets, that’s still better than leaving everyone in the dark.

Step 5: Make it real

Killzone 2 is famous for trying to pass CGI for actual gameplay. Don’t be tempted to make the same mistake — I know it’s easier to re-purpose the intro CGI or cut-scenes in the trailer, but you will lose your target audience in the process. Gamers watch trailers on YouTube and GameTrailers in order to evaluate a future purchase. They need to see how the game plays, not how great the cut-scenes are.

Step 6: Make your mark

Lush trailers can cost a lot of money. They usually have sweeping 3D art, post-processing, sharp HD visuals and booming soundtrack. That’s awesome if you can pay for it, but it doesn’t mean a more “indie” trailer can’t compete. The YouTube video embedded in the post is for a game currently in production, Planck. It’s for a single level. And it didn’t break the bank. Still, the trailer worked wonders for the game. It made Reddit and many game sites and blogs. It worked because it had  personality. The developer, Shadegrown Games, poured itself in the trailer… And it shows. From the copy to the music choices, everything meshed. If you’re like me, you were dying to play Planck after watching it. So… be creative. Make the trailer an extension of your game. Give it an attitude. That’s the only way to fight the big boys, with their over-produced trailers and licensed music.

Feel free to add great mobile game trailers in the comments. Then tell us why you chose each particular example and what makes it an excellent trailer.

Looking forward to your submission :)

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