The trailer is a wonderful piece of marketing. Not only does it allow the content producer to give the consumer a look at certain aspects of their product, it can be as ambiguous or unrelenting as it likes. It’s a fantastic tool that blends music with video and can even provide an emotional response. So, yes, it’s pretty obvious that I love the often despised short video.
The teaser, mind you, is the horrible bastard child. A completely useless mechanic that does nothing but push hype to a point where people actually write blog posts analyzing them, all 20 seconds and all. I think they need to go.
The trailer has always been a mainstay feature of the general hype machine. I have no problems with them. Like I mentioned in the introduction, they provide the ability to showcase a game which might be months or even years away from a playable demo. They are necessary to help create a buzz for a title, and for the most cases are generally fun to watch and show friends.
The problem arose when PR companies found that without a constant stream of content, their titles would lose traction in the never ending highway of media that flows throughout the net. Press releases don’t work all that well, text is too quickly lost amongst other announcements, and most people rightfully glaze over the announcement of yet another feature or stunt in the name of an upcoming game.
But we play ball, just like every other media outlet. It’s part of the game; to get to the meat, you need to kill some cattle. As much as we’d like a great game to release every week, sometimes we need to give in and taste from the bubbling pot. Just like magazines in our heyday, a little bit of hype keeps people interested. But when the hype train starts inventing stations to stop at, we get crap like teasers.
Generally, most trailers would go for a couple of minutes. Give some quick background to a possible story, introduce a character, show some CG and hopefully, some gameplay. Some of the best trailers are usually a montage of gameplay and quick cut story CG. These are the best ones, since they give a real indication of what the finished product will look and most likely play like. And, like movie trailers, are usually more then enough after one.
A teaser, mind you, is next to useless. 18 seconds of flash cuts, gameplay or not, provides zero insight. The string of Modern Warfare 2 teasers are probably the most prime example of this sort of hopeless media. What’s the point? It’s understandable that Infinity Ward want to create buzz, but why go to such ridiculous lengths? Why not just release a couple of standard trailers over a period of a few weeks or months?
MW2 is not exactly a game people would forget that much about. Bringing out so many teasers doesn’t make any sense. And judging by the comments on GameTrailers and many other sites, the general response agrees with me. People don’t want to see 10 seconds of people running around with guns, they want to see a cohesive look at the game.
Infinity Ward isn’t the only culprit, although they have developed somewhat of an art, since making about 40 seconds of footage into 3 separate press drops is quite an impressive new form of hype development. But a quick look at any large gaming site brings tons of developers who have thought releasing nothing but a TV ad worth of footage is something people actually find appealing.
Tip to developers: If you aren’t going to offer anything of substance, don’t bother releasing anything.