E3 2016: How to Make a Perfect E3 Trailer 101

E3 2016: How to Make a Perfect E3 Trailer 101

E3 is in full swing, baby. It feels like we’ve had our heads shoved under water and we’re drowning in a murky moat of trailers. Some of them have been wonderful, and some not so great. Pulling off the perfect E3 trailer is an art, and putting it together a science. You have to give the people what they want, but leave them wanting more. You need to drop some bombs, but hold your best cards. Most importantly, you have to get people talking. The hype train is a mythical locomotive that won’t run on steam or coal; no, this puppy runs on pure emotion and fanaticism.

So what are the ingredients that go into the perfect E3-trailer-gumbo, you ask? It’s a tough question. I feel like Justice Potter Stewart when challenged to define pornography – I’m not sure I can describe it to you, but I know it when I see it. Thinking back, there are some common characteristics shared by all of the truly great E3 trailers – three in particular that I’ve noticed really get us talking and shift that hype-train into overdrive.

Total Secrecy / Surprise Reveal

This is the very first ingredient, and the most important part of the perfect E3 trailer. If I wanted to keep running with the gumbo / cooking analogy, I’d say that keeping a huge game and its reveal trailer under wraps is just as challenging (if not more so) than sourcing some kind of hyper-rare key ingredient. Experiencing shock and surprise at E3 these days is like finding rare east-African albino truffle oil at an Olive Garden. It can happen, though. Remember the biggest surprise at last year’s E3? Remember a room full of grown-ass adults and people all over the world losing their minds when the Final Fantasy VII remake was announced? How Square Enix was able to keep that game a secret is a complete mystery to me. It’s been the most highly desired and most requested project from Square Enix for the past decade, and somehow they were able to spring it on us when we least expected it. I’ll never forget that reveal trailer.

A Brand New IP

It’s very rare these days to see games announced that don’t have a number at the end of the title. Madden 17, Titanfall 2, Dishonored II, Final Fantasy XV, Fallout 4 … you get the picture. Sometimes you just want to see a new name, and you always want to see it at the end of a sweet reveal trailer. There’s just something about a fresh IP that stirs up curiosity and wonder. “What? Nintendo is creating a new third-person shooter with squids and colored ink? What on Earth are they thinking?” “Blizzard is just now going to try its hand at a first-person arena shooter? They should just stick to what they know.” You never can predict how the freshman will perform, and new intellectual property means new experiences. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get these first two ingredients mixed together, as was the case last year when we saw the reveal trailer for Horizon: Zero Dawn – a game that now sits on the top of wish lists everywhere.

E3 2016: How to Make a Perfect E3 Trailer 101

“…and it’s available right now!”

Oprah and I are on good terms now, but growing up I used to hate her because when I’d get home from school and wanted to watch Dragon Ball Z , my mom would usually hijack the TV to watch Oprah instead. There was one day out of the year that I didn’t mind watching Oprah, though. In fact, I wouldn’t miss it, and that’s when she’d host her “favorite things” episode. There’s just something about learning all about an exciting new product and then learning that it’s yours right then and there. We love it when that happens at E3. I remember an instance last year at E3 where all three of these ingredients were combined to announce a quirky little mobile game. Remember Fallout Shelter? We had no idea Fallout Shelter was on the way. Sure, it’s based in the Fallout universe, but this was a totally new game unlike anything we’d seen from Bethesda, and after we saw an intriguing new trailer for it, Todd Howard announced that it was imminently available on iOS.

So those are the big three as far as I’m concerned, but what about you? What do you think makes the perfect E3 trailer, and are there any examples that stand out in your mind from last year’s E3? What about this year, have you seen any huge reveals that you didn’t expect? Personally, Quake Champions was a huge one for me. Sound off in the comments and let’s fuel the hype train.


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