How important are trailers?

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rito
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How important are trailers?

#1 Post by rito » Wed Dec 28, 2016 7:51 pm

Just as the title says. I'm trying to learn more about how to promote your game, and realized I have no clue how important video media is. Any opinions on the subject?

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Re: How important are trailers?

#2 Post by Shinoki » Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:24 pm

I'm not a professional. Take my opinions with a pinch of salt.

However, when it comes to visual novels, I feel like trailers aren't too important. Having a pseudo-animated opening sequence is nice and all, but I tend not to look at the trailers when deciding whether or not to play it.

Having pretty promotional images is more important. They're cheaper (probably), and they're usually faster to look at than a trailer. Not everyone's going to stop and press the play button on a youtube video (or whatever) if they're not already interested in a game or just happen to have that much free time.

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Re: How important are trailers?

#3 Post by rito » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:02 pm

Shinoki wrote:Having pretty promotional images is more important.
You're probably right there, there was a topic on what makes a good promotional image a while ago and all.

I was thinking there's more room for differentiation in a trailer than a simple image, but if people don't usually check the latter, well, no use for it.
Mostly I feel like images don't tell me enough and start looking very similar unless the art is outstanding, but might be just me.
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Re: How important are trailers?

#4 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Dec 29, 2016 12:20 am

Marketing materials in general are important.

Trailers are just one aspect of that. But a trailer is very useful to get across the excitement, story, and gameplay in a concise and fast manner. When you only have a short window to grab someone's attention, a short, well put together trailer makes a world of difference.

I'm a little partial but I think Papillion's trailer for Long Live the Queen is one of the greats in our game genre. It is short, conveys the setting, character, and goal of the game, shows off gameplay and is FUNNY. That's a hook that keeps viewers spreading the word about the game. It also is accurately showing one of the big drives of the game - laughing at all the ridiculous ways you manage to get the main character killed before going back and trying a new strategy. The narration is brilliant and drives it all home. (Full Disclosure: I contributed some of the art used in the trailer.)

In the current market, it is important to have something to put on Youtube. That's where a trailer comes in. Other marketing materials like pictures are important, but you may not capture someone's attention long enough for them to read a blog post or go through a gallery of screenshots. But you can get most people to give you 60-90 seconds to make a curated and focused sales pitch to them in the form of a trailer. All they have to do it click once, then you just need to keep them entertained long enough so they don't click out. Maybe they'll be convinced to buy or play the game by the time the trailer is over - but if it intrigued them, now they will DEFINITELY go through your OTHER marketing materials.

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Re: How important are trailers?

#5 Post by teagirlvn » Thu Dec 29, 2016 2:25 am

That's the first thing they look at and decide to play your game or not, so certaintly it's important

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Re: How important are trailers?

#6 Post by Enchant00 » Thu Dec 29, 2016 4:04 am

To be honest, I couldn't really play a game unless I see video media. Although screen shots would sometimes do just fine, I find a trailer more effective because a trailer basically summarizes the games plot and often times the games important features. To me, it's the thing that most people would look at (EX: It's like a trailer for a movie, you'd get more seduced to watching the movie from a good trailer than reading it from somewhere). Anyway, to concluded I just say its an aspect to marketing and it can help your game to become more successful.

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Re: How important are trailers?

#7 Post by Mammon » Thu Dec 29, 2016 4:28 am

I'd say that for a VN a good promo image is more important than a good promo video. An image can be appraised for its worth in any length of time the potential reader wants to, whether that's a second or longer than that. A video requires the viewer to watch for the duration of the clip which presents the problem that it will be too short and inconclusive for some and too long and repetative for others. For example a 1min. promo might be way too short for some while others will think that 1min plus loading time is already a waste of their time for looking at a VN promo. And considering a VN probably won't have animation, you won't need to show off the smooth movements. Your game is static, so your promotional images will not need to convey that there'll be movement.

Personally as a reader, I would vote for promo images rather than a video. I can tell whether I like the art and the story its portrays within 2-3 seconds and good art positively colors my perception of the plot summary. A video promo I actually skip most of the time. Either I have no interest to watch another one of them, I stop watching when I see it's >3min in length, or the pacing of the video is too slow for me. And quite often I'm in an enviroment where I can't even watch a video or where it's too loud to hear the sound, so then too a video will fail to do what an image can do.

If you're uncertain about what to do, ask yourself whether you can make a good promo video. The Long live the Queen promo is a good example of a good VN promo, because unlike 99% of them it does look dynamic but without false promises. Many other promos are either just as static as the game where the movements can be summed up as a sprite 'movein right' 'move to ...' with a color background with their description on it, repeated for each important character, and then some gameplay which look slow for a promo. Or it looks exciting and dynamic with tons of animation, only for people to be dissapointed and outraged when none of those effects are in the actual game. And both of these are with the assumption you can make a good video at all, rather than one with overused basic tools and badly edited cuts.
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Re: How important are trailers?

#8 Post by Fuseblower » Thu Dec 29, 2016 10:26 am

LateWhiteRabbit wrote: I'm a little partial but I think Papillion's trailer for Long Live the Queen is one of the greats in our game genre.
Well, it worked on me. I'm hanging out in the dungeon a lot, I'm a very sinister princess :lol:

But, yeah, I think trailers are worth it if they're done right. I believe they can hook someone far easier than a single picture and they can tell so much more. If a picture is worth a thousand words then a movie must be worth a thousand pictures. Actually, 1080 pictures at 12fps for 90 seconds :wink:

Also, a trailer looks so bloody professional.

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Re: How important are trailers?

#9 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Dec 29, 2016 1:31 pm

Fuseblower wrote: Also, a trailer looks so bloody professional.
IF done right, as Mammon pointed out. The frightening thing is that for a game to be successful, you almost need to spend as much time on marketing as you do making the game. I've seen interviews with successful indies where about 3 months before release, they split their day in half - one half to working on the game, the other to half to marketing it by producing trailers, promo materials, interviews, posts, etc.

So if you decide to create a trailer, put the same effort into it as you did the game. Learn the editing software, study successful trailers, etc.

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Re: How important are trailers?

#10 Post by rito » Thu Dec 29, 2016 8:14 pm

Thanks so much everyone! You helped a lot.
LateWhiteRabbit wrote:The frightening thing is that for a game to be successful, you almost need to spend as much time on marketing as you do making the game. I've seen interviews with successful indies where about 3 months before release, they split their day in half - one half to working on the game, the other to half to marketing it by producing trailers, promo materials, interviews, posts, etc.
This is slightly off-topic, but do you know good resources on how to market a VN?
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Re: How important are trailers?

#11 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Dec 29, 2016 8:50 pm

rito wrote:
LateWhiteRabbit wrote:The frightening thing is that for a game to be successful, you almost need to spend as much time on marketing as you do making the game. I've seen interviews with successful indies where about 3 months before release, they split their day in half - one half to working on the game, the other to half to marketing it by producing trailers, promo materials, interviews, posts, etc.
This is slightly off-topic, but do you know good resources on how to market a VN?
It is similar to how you'd market any game:

Start releasing info and talking to gaming communities, focusing more on ones that follow your particular genre (like Lemmasoft for VNs).
Try to start building a community around the game itself - this might be through a website with your own forums, or blog site with a comments section. A loyal community of fans can spread word of mouth support that can attract more players to your game.
To further that, start releasing marketing materials like art, wallpaper, etc. on a consistent drip feed a few months before release. You could also have a Youtube channel linked to your studio and blog that shows all teasers and eventually the trailer. You can also try a tact of other indie developers and release behind the scenes 'making of' videos or gameplay snippets (a little harder with VNs).
Close to release email different gaming sites and see if they are interested in covering your game - offer free keys for the reviewers.
AFTER release - your work gets even HARDER. You need to respond to the players, provide timely support, and continue getting the word out on social media.

There is no real road map to success (or everyone would follow it). Having a unique hook to your game is going to make all the above easier, and is something you'll want to emphasize if you have one. What makes YOUR game different that what has come before? What makes it worth playing for longtime fans of the genre who feel like they've seen it all?

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Re: How important are trailers?

#12 Post by hikarinakano » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:05 pm

rito wrote:This is slightly off-topic, but do you know good resources on how to market a VN?
Visual novels, especially English ones, are a fairly new format. You're not going to find anything regarding marketing them in particular, but there are a bunch of resources regarding marketing in general which can be applied to a variety of formats, including VNs. I'll drop a couple here, but I'm sure you'll find plenty if you just do a quick YouTube search.

External links:
6 Ways to Market Your Mobile Game: Despite specifically being titled for mobage, the methods listed here work more or less across the board as long as you change the context. For most of it, just replace "mobile game" with "visual novel".

Trailer (promotion): This just dumps some info of advertising stuff via trailers, and has a couple of things to look out for. Despite being about a different format, most of the things mentioned can be adapted to VN marketing. One benefit of having a trailer is that it can give potential users a feel for the music, too. It's just another thing that could encourage people to read your VN.

How to Advertise: Nearly everything on this list is free and effective, even for visual novels.



Small edit:
Mammon wrote:And considering a VN probably won't have animation, you won't need to show off the smooth movements. Your game is static, so your promotional images will not need to convey that there'll be movement.
Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, but plenty of newer JVNs have animated characters/backgrounds and/or an animated OP, like Fate/Grand Order's or something. It may not be a bad idea for EVNs to start making that the norm, too. Obviously, JVNs tend to have a higher budget than EVNs, but it should at least be an example to encourage, albeit an ambitious one.

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Re: How important are trailers?

#13 Post by Imperf3kt » Fri Dec 30, 2016 12:59 am

I have a very strong opinion on this, so I apologise in advance if I come across as rude or similar.

I mostly buy games based on one of three things;
1: Friend's recommendation or they're playing it quite often. - To an extent, I know what they like and whether I enjoy similar games also.
2: Trailer or related media. - I'm more likely to buy something related to my favourite show, than some wannabe no-name game I've never heard of.
3: The synopsis. - I do not give a damn that your game includes "the latest cutting edge visual effects", what do I do in your game? Tell me what I'm actually gonna do, not what technological marvels you included, and you've got my attention. Most games I see retail, including Indie games, do not tell me anything useful. I am forced to go on YouTube and check out a gameplay video or similar, to get any sort of idea about the actual game.

I hope these considerations help.
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Re: How important are trailers?

#14 Post by Zelan » Sun Jan 01, 2017 9:04 pm

For me personally, I usually don't expect a trailer for VNs since they aren't really suited for what trailers tend to show off - gameplay and graphics. For a simple visual novel, "gameplay" is reading the text and then clicking to advance. I don't need a trailer to show me that. Art's nice and all, but unless there's animation in your game like some users have pointed out, a screenshot will work just as well to show off the art. Characters and writing are important in VNs, but again, a little blurb doesn't need to be in a trailer when it can just as easily be on a character card. However, the last aspect of a VN, music, does lend itself well to a trailer.

Again, that's just my personal opinion, so make of it what you will.

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Re: How important are trailers?

#15 Post by rito » Sun Jan 01, 2017 9:45 pm

I'm finding it interesting to see how polarized opinions are on this subject. Personally I'm a sucker for fancy opening videos, interesting how some agree and some couldn't care less.
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