How to Make a Video Game Trailer Kick Ass

How to Make a Video Game Trailer Kick Ass

With so many horrible examples to use as reference, it’s amazing anyone knows how to make a video game trailer that effectively promotes his or her game. Yet…some do, which begs the question: what makes a video game trailer effective? To find out, I reviewed video game trailers for the top 10 indie games of 2012 (based on IndieGames.com’s list) and searched for commonalities. I discovered that while there is no exact recipe for how to make a video game trailer successful, there are certain ingredients that help in a major way.

How to Make a Video Game Trailer Kick Ass

  1. Keep it Short
    Most of the top 10 video game trailers were under one and a half minutes long. Keeping your video game trailer short helps hold your audience’s attention for the video’s entirety. In addition, it forces you to cut all superfluous content from your trailer, resulting in a very cohesive and impactful piece.
  2. Set the Mood with Music or Sound Effects
    The best trailers I examined relied on music and/or sound effects to keep viewers’ attention. Slender: The Eight Pages’ trailer illustrates this strategy best by using only sound effects to build tension and suspense. The entire trailer had my heart pounding and my skin crawling. Check it out below.
  3. Captivate with an Attention Grabbing Intro
    The first few seconds of your video game trailer are the most crucial. In this brief moment, a trailer will either hook viewers into watching the rest of it or lose them forever. While there are many ways to accomplish an attention grabbing intro, the top 10 video game trailers favor story telling (i.e., introducing a story line at the beginning of the trailer that is unraveled through the end). For an effective storytelling video game trailer example, check out Hotline Miami’s trailer below.
  4. Show In-Game Footage
    Every gamer has a particular art style he or she favors, however, this shouldn’t deter you from showing your in-game footage. Whether a viewer is into your style or not, leaving out in-game footage will only force him or her to hunt for it elsewhere. Adding this extra step ain’t going to help your conversion rate. Make it easy for the people to find what they’re looking for: show what your game looks like in your trailer. (Oh yeah…cinematics don’t count).
  5. End with a Call to Action
    Want to know how to make a video game trailer the most effective marketing piece ever? Add a call to action. At the end of your trailer, don’t leave your viewers hanging. Direct them to the next step: where to play, download, purchase or learn more.
  6. Include Reviews…if You Have Them
    If you’re able to score positive game reviews early on, flaunt them in your trailer. Quotes from review sites not only look good, they add authority and trust to video game trailers. Think about it. When you watch video game trailers that quote IGN as giving that game a “10 out of 10,” doesn’t that pique your interest? Well, you’re not the only one. Take a look at Resonance’s trailer for a good reference.

Above feature image was taken by vxdigital.

Emmy

Emmy Jonassen is a marketing pro who helps indie developers build adoring fanbases. Marketing people who love buzz words call this "lead generation."

18 Comments

Souad

about 11 years ago

Thank you Emmy for this interesting article. We will your advice for the next trailer!

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Emmy

about 11 years ago

Glad to hear it! Thank YOU for the comment.

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Liz

about 11 years ago

Indie Game Girl, You have your finger on the pulse. Great information comes out of your website.

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Brett

about 11 years ago

Good info. Thanks Emmy

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Emmy

about 11 years ago

You're welcome Brett. Glad you found the info useful!

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Alejandro

about 11 years ago

Thanks for the info Emmy! I'm going to follow you to learn more tips in the future!

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Emmy

about 11 years ago

Nice to hear :) Thanks for the comment.

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Alejandro Suárez

about 11 years ago

Emmy, you don't know how helpful this will be for me. I'm working on making a trailer for a mod made by an online community, and this article gave me the confidence I needed. I will forever thank you.

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Emmy

about 11 years ago

Wow! Thank you for such an awesome comment. I'm so glad this article helped you so much--it's great to hear.

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GamerGuides

about 10 years ago

Hi Emmy, thanks for the tips. We're currently trying to improve our gaming guide trailers and we'd really appreciate your feedback on them from a marketing perspective (they're on our website) GamerGuides.com. Thanks!

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Emmy

about 10 years ago

Hi Andrew, thanks for the comment. Just popped over to your site to take a look. The trailers look pretty good for each guide, however, it took me a while to find them because every trailer is below the fold. I would work on getting them closer to the top of the page so they are more visible. Also, you may want to change the last screen of the video. For example, I was already on GamerGuides.com, so that last screen isn't adding any value for me. Instead, it should say something like "Sign up to purchase this guide for only $3.99." If you place the video offsite, then by all means keep "Available at GamerGuides.com."

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Digital Munch

about 10 years ago

Great tips! As a gamer, this is what I look for in a game trailer and we know that trailers are the second biggest factor if we will buy a game or not next to our friends' recommendation of course haha.

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Emmy

about 10 years ago

Ha! So true. Thanks for the comment.

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Denis Georgiev

about 9 years ago

Hi Emmy. Great article as allways. Thanks for the great advices. I was wondering.. How long before the releasing of the game, is the best time to release the Game Trailer, considering, that information about the game and short gameplay have been released allready before a month or so? thanks :)

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Emmy

about 9 years ago

Hi Denis, thanks for the comment. Great question. I believe the answer really depends on when you begin your press outreach, because you definitely want to have your finished trailer completed for that. And depending on what's going on in the market (i.e., trade shows, big gaming events), you'll want to start your press outreach at least one to two months before your game's release.

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Jeremy

about 7 years ago

Hi Emmy, can you recommend anyone, who makes trailers for a relatively modest fee? Thanks!

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Emmy

about 7 years ago

Hey there Jeremy. In the past I have used a company called AnnleisFilm, which is owned and operated by Marius Sørli Finnstun. The site is in Norwegian, but Marius (like all Norwegians) is fluent in English. You can see some of his work here: http://annleisfilm.no.

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