In Defense of Video Game CG Trailers
As a game marketing agency in California, we understand that western triple-A developers lean on pre-rendered CG trailers a bit more heavily than their Japanese counterparts. Marketing videos in Japan for games from companies like Capcom and Sega almost always prioritize gameplay footage (with exciting flaming kanji superimposed on top.) Most introductory previews for big-budget titles in the rest of the world, however, are in fully-produced CG, and are quite often not indicative of the actual content of the game.
Gamers have begun to groan at the thought of the mere concept of a non-gameplay trailer, but that generalization ignores the benefits that can be gained from them. Take for example the animated shorts created for Overwatch and Team Fortress 2. Gameplay similarities aside, both these games have used the medium to great effect. The short films from both Valve and Blizzard inform the audience of the capabilities of the individual characters whilst keeping them entertained stunning imagery and snappy, often funny screenplays.
In the Overwatch animated short “Alive”, Tracer’s and Widowmaker’s in-game abilities are on full display:
These pre-rendered showcases also serve the function of creating emotional attachment to the characters. In-game, the only thing the player knows about Overwatch characters can be gleaned from sparse, context-less dialogue, character animation, and design. In Team Fortress 2, the characters hardly speak at all. Despite that, you know that you’re inhabiting the personas of fun and zany characters thanks to videos like this:
In any case, game developers spend a lot of money to entertain the audience for free. CG game trailers definitely deserve the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you’ll find some artistry in the marketing.