Preparing Video Marketing Materials
April 27, 2020

Game videos are one of the most important marketing assets. No serious game can thrive without videos. They serve as the main focal point and push the player to make the purchase.

Everyone who visits your game’s page will see your videos, so it’s important that you showcase the features of your game within them.

The main goal of any video is to elicit an emotional response from a potential buyer and push the player to purchase the game or add it to their wishlist.

Moreover, videos are one of the easiest ways to attract the interest of game journalists. A text-only press release may end up in the editor’s trash can. Accompanied by a good trailer, the same press release has a better chance of getting on the front page. There may not be many journalists interested in writing about another arcade co-op platformer. But what if you attach a great trailer to the dull text?

A good trailer makes the info much more significant and interesting, especially in the eyes of the media.

Thus, you should have a good video — preferably more than one. Fortunately, this won’t necessarily cost you a lot of money.

Main Types of Videos

Let’s go through the main types of videos. Like everything in marketing, they are created with specific goals in mind. These goals should always be:

  • Measurable. “We want players to love our game” is a bad goal. “We want to get 100k views and 1,000 conversions to wishlists” is a good goal.
  • Specific. You should not just “show the gameplay”’ but show the main features of the project: cool graphics, combat systems that allow players to tear enemies into pieces, and the character upgrade system.
  • Achievable. Sure, you want your first video to go viral and get a million views, but you should have realistic expectations based on your budget.
  • Set on a timeline. “100k views” isn’t the best goal. “100k views in a month” is a much better one.

The goals themselves may be different. Depending on the promotion stage, they can be:

  • Getting the initial attention of the audience and forming a community.
  • Showcasing certain features of the game.
  • Pushing the player to purchase, download, add to wishlist, and/or subscribe to a beta test.
  • Increasing brand awareness among potential buyers.
  • Attracting the attention of the press.
  • Any other goal that leads to increased sales.

Remember, marketing is everything. There’s more to making a video successful than just releasing it and hoping people will like it. Start by defining a specific goal and then make a video. If you do not have a specific goal, do not waste your resources and time — just focus on the game. Different goals lead to different videos. Your goal dictates everything, from the execution level to the timing and direction of your video. Let’s look at their main types.

Teaser

A teaser is a short 30–90 second video whose main goal is to arouse the player’s interest without revealing the details of the game. Usually, it contains several spectacular moments but does not show the gameplay. Its purpose is to increase players’ interest and their desire to go learn more about the game. It hints at how beautiful the game is but maintains intrigue.

The teaser for Modern Warfare led to tens of thousands of Reddit posts that tried to guess what the game would be about. The teaser for Final Fantasy VII Remake made veteran players overcome with nostalgia and want to pre-order the game. Even those who were previously unfamiliar with the series became interested in the plot.

Trailer

Unlike the teaser, the trailer is a longer video, usually over a minute, which is not only intriguing but also reveals the most interesting aspects of the game. It showcases the general idea of the project, its plot (if it has one), gameplay, genre, and setting. The trailer arouses not only interest but a desire to play it. Before buying a game, players will ask themselves why it’s worth their money. Your trailer should answer this question. Keep in mind that the trailer’s task (just like other marketing materials) is to push the player to want to buy your game.

The trailer is usually the main marketing material for most indie developers. It is also used as a base for other, shorter videos. The trailer is used to announce the game and is presented at all conferences and exhibitions. If your budget and time are limited, you’ll be better off focusing your efforts on the development of the trailer.

Commercials

Commercials are used to promote the game through social networks, such as YouTube, Twitch, and other platforms that are used by your target audience. These are short 15–45 second videos that show the most spectacular game moments and contain a clear call to action. The goal of these videos is to convince the player to visit your game page by clicking on the ad.

You can create these videos by simply cutting the trailer. This will help you save time and money. To help you spend your marketing budget efficiently, have more than one commercial and use A/B tests to determine which one has the best conversion rate.

Gameplay Demo

A gameplay demo is a direct recording of the gameplay, typically accompanied by commentary from the developer. It is often used to promote complex projects (like strategy games) or to show live, raw gameplay. In today’s marketing environment, people are exhausted by embellished videos and dishonest advertising, so they have little faith in marketing materials. In light of this, a direct demonstration of the gameplay can help convince them to purchase your product. That’s the reason why an increasing number of developers use this option when promoting their game.

Our list is not exhaustive — there are also reveal trailers, character trailers, and video series on a single topic. However, all of them are modifications of the above-mentioned video types.

Basic Video Options

Depending on your goals, budget, imagination, and available time, you can choose from a variety of options to make your videos. Everyone dreams of stunning, large-scale videos (like the one below) but this is not always the right idea. So, what are the options?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq5KWLqUewc

CG Trailers

These are breathtaking videos which make viewers wish you would make a full-length movie, like this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF5Ddo9JdpY

CG trailers are an ideal way to promote large-scale AAA projects. Each of them is a small story shown using the best achievements of modern technology. These sometimes have tens of millions of views and are shown on all the largest media portals (and on small portals as well). However, their success is not based solely on the video itself. In order for the trailer to become an event, several factors must be met at one time:

  • A famous franchise or the continuation of a popular game.
  • A well-known developer (or at least a serious team).
  • An ideal execution — great visuals, sound, and music.

Such success has a certain price — CG trailers can easily cost more than a million dollars to produce, while they can take over a year to develop. That’s why they are used to promote AAA projects since the costs are justified, and developers have a good chance to get their money back.

In most cases, a CG trailer is an unnecessary use of money and resources for an indie team. There are other options to make an original trailer that suits your goals.

Live-Action Trailer

These use field shooting and live actors without showing the gameplay, or they can combine live actors and game elements. No matter how perfect the graphics are, only a real human can show vivid emotions. In some cases, it can help to promote the game even more than CG trailers. To convey the atmosphere of war, the horror of shooting, and the fact that your only hope is the help of your fellow soldiers in the trenches, you do not need to create a fierce battle. You can follow the example of the developers of Company of Heroes 2 when they announced the Ardennes Assault add-on:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9FIBRoP89A

Gameplay Trailer

As you might guess from the name, the game’s actual gameplay footage serves as the base for this video. Most indie developers choose this option. It’s inexpensive, and it shows the gameplay so that your potential players can see the game in action. It also allows you to create the video quickly and increase the number of these videos on short notice if necessary. Thus, the popularity of these videos among indie developers is not surprising. In addition, a little post-processing and visual effects allow you to create original and beautiful videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKnD_ARgBww

Custom-Made Videos

These are stylized videos, which typically show processed and animated images, creating the effect of a “live picture”. If your goal is to show an emotionally rich video but you are not ready to show the gameplay, you can use this type of video. 

For example, Relic Entertainment used archive photos to convey the atmosphere of World War II when they announced Company of Heroes 2:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5j0cBqhm3A

The creators of Frostpunk used sedentary, bleached, gloomy tones in their video to emphasize the emotional intensity of the video content:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqEpSOFDXGA

If you have a well-developed idea and a clear understanding of what reaction you want from your target audience, you’ll easily be able to choose the appropriate type of video for the promotion of your game.

Basic Video Requirements

Regardless of the type and style of your video, you should follow a few simple rules.

Correct timing. What is good for a trailer won’t do the job for a commercial or a teaser. A four-minute trailer will be watched to the end only if it’s a visual masterpiece. A commercial that takes longer than 30 seconds to watch will be watched by only two out of three people so few will see your final frames. Remember these timing guidelines: 

  • Teaser — 30–90 seconds.
  • Trailer — 1.5–3.5 minutes.
  • Commercial — 15–45 seconds.

Show at least two features of the project in the first ten seconds of the video. There’s nothing duller than a video which shows logos of the studio, engine, and the game in the first 10-15 seconds. Your goal is to attract the viewer from the very first seconds of the video so they are not forced to rewind or close it.

The video should be equally good with and without sound. You won’t know whether the viewer has turned on the sound or if the sound is off by default, like in Steam, and the viewer will have to click a specific button to enable sound. Thus, your video should be good enough to attract attention without it. If the sound and music are extremely important for your trailer, have a disclaimer about this at the very beginning of the video so that the viewer has the time to grab their headphones.

Localization is a must! Yes, voice acting is quite expensive, especially if it is performed by professional actors. On average, prices start at $100/hour depending on the language and status of the performer. However, you can at least have localized subtitles for your videos. Not everyone in the world knows English at a level that is sufficient enough to understand spoken language — keep this in mind. Usually, you’ll need your videos to be translated into every language the actual game will be localized.

The video should end with a call to action. The viewer should clearly know what they should do with the information they’ve received. That’s why the video should end with a picture (or packshot) that contains the most important information (release date, web address, etc.) and a call to action, such as: “Download now!” or “Join the beta!” or “Buy at a discount!” and so on.

How to Create a Video

The creation of the video is a difficult and nerve-racking process for all participants. To minimize your emotional and financial costs, you should break the entire cycle into certain stages that are performed sequentially.

  1. Marketing points of reference. Choose what project features will be shown in the video and set the goals for it. At this stage, you specify which items should be displayed (like the main hero or a key location) and which items should not be included in the video. For example, trailers for World War II games often avoid showing swastikas.
  2. Brainstorm. The team should discuss video ideas and how to realize the goals that you have set. Do not neglect the opinions of your colleagues — sometimes, people with no experience in marketing can offer an original idea. The main thing to keep in mind during the brainstorm is that you should stick to your goals and avoid fantasies.
  3. Detailed points of reference for the video. Once the brainstorm is completed, you choose the main idea that will be realized in the video. The points of reference get new details, and you write a script for the video. Stick to the classic storyline scheme: exposition, plot, development, climax, resolution, epilogue. Try to make detailed descriptions of each element as it will greatly help you during the next stage.
  4. Storyboard. A detailed, second-by-second implementation of the idea expressed through a set of sketches. At this stage, you’ll be able to see how well your idea fits into the script and which moments are worth changing or swapping.
  5. Draft. The first video is built without effects, music, or sound, but with footage that is close to the final version of the video. At this stage, you evaluate how the script was implemented and make the necessary adjustments — change the angle of the camera, replace a scene, etc.
  6. Corrections made by the marketing department. Your marketer watches the draft and presents their corrections so that the video does not deviate from your goals. The process is iterative: draft – corrections – new draft.
  7. The final version of the video and sound. The work on the sound starts only after you have completed the video. At this stage, almost no edits are made since the weak points were eliminated at previous stages.
  8. Localization. Keep in mind that the same phrase can take three seconds or even eight seconds to speak in different languages. That’s why you should specify the timing for your voice localization actor. Often, you’ll have to change phrases to shorter ones. However, this won’t be as much of a problem if you use subtitle localization.

If you have completed the above-mentioned stages, your video is ready, and it exactly matches your vision.

Video Production Studios

If you have assessed your resources and decided to hire a professional in order to make the video, you won’t have a problem finding a decent studio. There are many proven companies that specialize in video production. Depending on your goals and monetary resources, you’ll be able to find a suitable partner with ease. Here are a few links that may come in handy:

Make sure to evaluate the company’s portfolio and do not hesitate to contact their past customers to learn whether they have been satisfied with the results. The video will be the face of your product, so make your choice wisely!

Conclusion

It is not easy to create a good video. Depending on your goals, it could take from a couple of months to a year of work and could cost you several thousand dollars or more. However, these efforts are worth the result you’ll get so pull yourself together and start planning your first video now. The sooner you start doing it, the more chances you’ll have to make the video at the right time and with the right level of quality. After this, your success will depend on how you use the video and which promotion channels you choose — but that’s a topic for another article. 

 

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