No Gameplay + Cinematic Trailer = Massive Buzz?!

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Despite the ongoing quarrels between X-Box and PS3 users, both types of gamers pay respect to one another’s console exclusive titles that are known heavy weight hitters in the gaming industry. Although I was born holding a dual shock controller, when this cinematic trailer was released announcing Microsoft’s Halo 3 2007 release I was just as pumped as any X-Box user was at the time. Looking back on that moment I was not only witnessing an epic game release, but I was also witnessing a powerful marketing tool that has become quite popular over the last few years. It has been utilized by most of the highly anticipated titles that have been released recently in the gaming industry. It’s the ability to cause huge waves of buzz without ever showing game play by using cinematic trailers. Don’t believe me? Let’s examine the Halo 3 trailer.

If you have played any of the games in this franchise prior to Halo 3 you are pretty familiar with the abilities, and weapon capabilities that you were given in the game. I distinctly remember my reaction when Master Chief threw the shield on the ground to protect himself from an incoming blast. I went berserk and I remember I started thinking “Soo we can make shields now, or are they just jerking us?!”. There had not been any gameplay released at that point so this was a huge move by the development team because they found a great way to show new game features without actually showing them in action, and the trailer is pretty kick ass. Most video games are similar to movies because you are playing through a script as opposed to sitting back just watching it unfold. So it is only natural that cinematic trailers for video games would be a great marketing tool because some of the core components are the same.

It’s a great marketing strategy because it creates an explosion of buzz. Fans start asking questions, gaming shows, and magazines start speculating which only continues to fuel the flame. The evolution of social media networking has amplified their effectiveness because the one thing that social media networks do extremely well is quicken the pace that information can travel. Even if I have no access to a television, or computer most people now have a way to access social media networks on their phones, Ipads, or other portable electronic devices. So if a cinematic trailer is released for a new Halo game tonight Twitter will probably explode with #MasterCheifReturns, and the “buzz ball” will starting rolling ,and pick up momentum all the way to the E3 gaming convention.

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Of course the cinematic trailers can also be used to introduce new ideas in order to get feedback from the gaming community as well. The developers behind the new Devil May Cry project released a cinematic trailer which introduced a new look for the franchise protagonist Dante. This did not set to well with gamers, like myself, who have been dedicated DMC fans throughout the franchise, but this is a topic we’ll save for another blog about gamer influence and social media.

We’ve seen some pretty epic cinematic trailers over the past year for titles such as Batman Arkham City, Stars Wars: Knights of The Old Republic, and DC Universe (which will be at the end of this article because it is that great) just to name a few. Cinematic trailers have become so popular that IGN, a popular gaming information website, has a spot called Rewind Theater dedicated to dissecting cinematic trailers in order to find things that might hint at features in actual gameplay, or give more clarity towards a games plot.

Having an epic cinematic trailer is a great way to give anxious gamers a taste of what you are working on without giving up too much information. There are still a lot of great releases coming out this year so be on the lookout on Twitter, Facebook, or whatever social network that you us for updates on new video game trailers. Happy gaming, and enjoy the DC Universe cinematic trailer.

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