VAN, 05:59 AM
VAN, 05:59 AM

How Trailer Pre-Production Augments Your Game Development and Marketing Efforts

How Trailer Pre-Production Augments Your Game Development and Marketing Efforts

A trailer is one of the first points of contact between a game and its potential players, serving as an entryway into a brand-new or familiar world. Despite trailers being so short, capturing the true essence of the story and conveying it effectively to the audience takes significant effort. Creating trailers without thorough preparation may make trailers feel rushed, insincere, or unengaging.

Going through trailer pre-production massively benefits developers; it enables them to assess the audiences’ sentiment and augment a game when it is still possible and relevant. It’s also a budget-effective way to upgrade your narrative and strengthen marketing efforts. Serhii Yehorov, Trailer Production Team Lead at Heroic by Room 8 Group, shared some insights into why trailer pre-production is an essential, if overlooked, stage that needs more attention. 

Getting Our Lingo Right: What Is It?

Let’s start by being honest: many people in the industry confuse trailer pre-production and trailer creation for games in the pre-production phase. At times, the former may technically be a part of the latter—yet its relevance can extend beyond the first stages of the development pipeline.

Trailer pre-production involves multiple steps, each working in unison to eventually reflect a game’s fundamental spirit in a short video format. From writing the script, storyboarding, and basic visualization to creating concept art, defining color scripting, and preparing an animatic, the trailer studio aims to capture and deliver the proper messages to the audience. All these pre-production stages translate the ideas into visual forms. This lays the groundwork for the trailer’s narrative flow and aesthetic, helps developers explore and establish creative messages, and enables them to discover more nuances.

To simplify, trailer pre-production results in a rough prototype of what a trailer will be—setting the game’s fundamentals in motion and making them work as intended.

Do I really need a trailer pre-production?

You do, as trailer pre-production works wonders at practically any game development stage. Do you have only a general idea for a new title? A teaser can help you. Are you at the vertical slice stage? Your answer is a cinematic trailer. Are you already at the alpha stage? The gameplay reveal trailer is your best bet. However—or rather whenever—you look at it, trailer pre-production is a highly adaptable and client-driven process, enabling the development team to articulate and realize their vision for the trailer with the help of an external partner. Naturally, it applies to all of the aforementioned subgenres.

By allocating a part of the budget to this phase, developers can focus on narrowing down their vision for the game—leading to a smoother, disruption-free production process. This also lets them understand how much the trailers will cost and what assets the studio will require. Even if the budget is already set in stone, the trailer partner can always offer options that fit the budget. The pre-production package allows clients to refine their ideas without rushing into the costly trailer production process.

Establishing Collaborative Mood

Establishing a synergistic relationship with a trailer production studio during pre-production can be a game-changer. By engaging with trailer experts early, developers gain access to a well of creative, visual, and storytelling techniques that will elevate the game’s narrative and appeal to players years before release.

The iceberg goes deeper, though: trailer pre-production often brings whole new ideas and concepts to life—some of them being implemented into the core game because the trailer ideation process tends to reveal the game’s true potential. 

Having several ‘fresh’ pairs of eyes explore your game during pre-production can be a lifesaver, as trailer studios tend to explore the stories from different angles to capture the essence of a game and reflect in a short few-second-long video. After all, a good trailer studio asks tons of questions in the process, seeking intriguing elements to make the video awesome. Sometimes, the questions are so intricate and touch upon story beats so unexplored that the developers might not have answers—and this is where the magic can happen, too! It’s a chance for scriptwriters to dig deeper, expand the plot web, connect the dots they weren’t aware of, enrich the lore, and polish ideas. More often than not, trailer studios help developers figure those out, contributing to the game if certain ideas stick.

The Marketing Factor: The Early Bird Gets the Worm

The first impression is vital, and it’s hard to understate the impact of shared creative sessions and a deep understanding by trailer pros of the game’s core themes during pre-production. Using trailer pre-production to cement your marketing efforts as a core component rather than an afterthought creates a strong foundation for future promotional efforts that resonate deeply with your audience.

The power of trailers lies in their ability to generate hype with minimal content. One of the great examples of this approach done right is the trailer for Nacon’s RoboCop: Rogue City, one of last year’s most prominent projects of Heroic by Room 8 Group. For this trailer, mere hints were enough to ignite fan excitement. Seeing RoboCop’s leg step out of his car and hearing police sirens—an obvious homage to an iconic movie shot—said enough. The strategy of using recognizable elements to captivate an audience is especially effective for games with a well-established IP. Leveraging recognizable elements to engage an audience is invaluable in an era dominated by remakes, remasters, and nostalgia. 

As for all-new projects, gradually feeding the audience tidbits of info over time will do the trick. It will slowly acquaint players with the game’s world and make them fall in love with it before the game is out.

Releasing trailers early presents you with the luxury of gauging initial feedback, identifying which aspects of the game resonate most (and which need reworking), and then implementing the insights—significantly amplifying the launch. Naturally, this kind of flexibility is mostly available when a trailer studio is introduced to a game during pre-production when the key aspects are still subject to change if needed.

Summing Up

The pre-production phase is an invaluable (if less well-known) step and one of the safest decisions you can make—whatever game development stage you’re at. Early collaboration with trailer pros significantly enhances the game’s development process, ensuring a more targeted and effective marketing strategy implementation and contributing to a more successful launch. Trailer pre-production is a budget-friendly way to gain insights into players’ preferences and enhance your creative storytelling. Pre-production is a perfect starting point for trailer creation, and a safe investment in your game’s future—connecting the audience with your game’s world years before they can visit it.

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