Trailers: Expectation VS Reality

E3 is behind us now, having finished last week – a perpetual age in Internet Years, and I’ve found myself with an annoying gnawing feeling within me that I wanted to discuss here on Write Steve Write.

Trailers.

Primarily, the bullshit lies they peddle with so fine a glossy, shiny, casing.

Note: I wrote up my thoughts on my main E3 Takeaway’s last week, which you can jump to here!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware of what the purpose a trailer is meant to extend to: selling the damn thing it’s advertising. It’s existence is clear, and is prevalent for movies, TV shows, music, and even radio stations and books.

Here’s a list of a few of the more outlandish ones, in case you haven’t had the opportunity to be told what you should want/listen to/watch so far today:

The purpose of them is simple, right? Inform you of the product and what you can expect with said product once you slam your money on the counter and look the clerk in the eye, daring them to judge you on your personal tastes in movie/TV show/magazine/novel (delete as appropriate).

Why then, are video game companies in the habit of doing it so drastically differently?

Take a look at this amazing piece of CGI story telling:

Pretty awesome, right?

Looks amazing, huh? I’ve heard some people say they can’t wait to play it now.

Wait, what? Really?

Allow me to ask: how can you say it looks amazing when you haven’t even seen it? How can you be excited for a game in which you know nothing about the gameplay?

What this trailer does is capture a narrative element wonderfully. It’s a movie; it’s a short film that sets up the universe that, eventually, gamers will be able to immerse themselves into.

What it’s not is representative of the game at all.

We don’t know what the game will play like, we saw no gameplay footage. We don’t know how amazing it looks, because all we saw was a pretty world with graphics probably superior to those we’ll eventually see in the game itself (although with the tech available now that is debatable, compares to say FFVIII cut scenes vs its gameplay).

A lot of the trailers shown during E3 are, at worst, selling nothing more than a lie, and, at best, a dream.

Unlike their more cinematic counter parts where we are actually given a flavour of the story, the style, the acting, the cinematography, etc, with game trailers we are given all sizzle, no steak. This is true for games like the previously included Star Wars game, just as much as it is for the remake of Final Fantasy VII or when the amazing Naughty Dog released their Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End trailer last year.

It showcased promise: promise for what it could be, but not what it is.

It may have just been too early to show any sort of in game footage, and that’s totally fine – it’s also a major medium deferential to factor in – but all I’m saying is that, when all you’re selling is the hint of a promise of what’s to come, it’s better for expectant gamers to keep their feet on the ground, lest they find themselves disappointed between the harsh truth of Expectation vs Reality.


I’d love to know what you think of trailers as a whole, and how the many industries choose to use them; do they get you excited and want to throw money to get it sooner, or do you look at them with a more cynical view and, if so, why?

Don’t be shy – shout out below! 🙂

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