It seems like many of the highly hyped games are producing very high quality cinematic trailers to help get people excited for their upcoming releases. For the most part, I do enjoy these trailers but I’m starting to wonder what they really tell us about the games themselves and are they doing more harm then good. It seems like many of these trailers are given lots of room to expand on what is possible in the game such that they look cooler and tell a better story. Even from a purely graphical nature these trailers are incredibly misleading as the games never look as good as what they can show cinematically.
The trailer that touched this off for me was the recent DC Universe Online trailer from Comic-Con (which is very cool btw), but I see Star Wars the Old Republic as one of the biggest culprits. I’m sure there are others doing this exact same thing, but SWTOR sticks out for me mainly because of the effect these trailers have had on my interest for the game. I know many like myself were absolutely floored when the Deceived trailer hit and then were even more in awe with the recent Hope trailer. In case you haven’t seen them, check them out here:
Some REALLY cool stuff and they get me really excited about this game. But there are quite a few things that you know just aren’t or can’t happen in a game, for instance, using your hands to block a light-saber. Also, all along we’ve been hearing the SWTOR is all about Story and will be a completely different game-play style from all other MMOs without the traditional group dynamics, which these trailers reinforce. But, for all they’ve shown in the trailers it really doesn’t tell us much about the actual game.
That is until they released the Multiplayer Demo @ E3 that shows us actual gameplay and some of the group dynamics. This was possibly the most disappointing video I’ve seen in a long time as not only did it look nothing like the trailers (not that I expected it to) but the gameplay is exactly like any other MMO with the traditional tank, healer, and DPS roles. Now when I look back at the trailers, I don’t even connect them with SWTOR I just see them as some cool Star Wars videos because they are so far removed from what the game actually looks and plays like. With all the money spent on these trailers by the game companies, couldn’t there be a balance somewhere to put some of that into the game as opposed to something which is arguably un-related?
Maybe the core of my real question is can too much hype be a bad thing? It seemed to really hurt a number of titles like Vanguard, Age of Conan, and Warhammer Online to name a few and all these new cool trailers are just amping up the expectations. With such high expectations, the level of potential disappointment continues to grow such that for many there’s no way players will be able to enjoy the game as they’ll keep wishing it was more like the trailer they saw.
For me, I have pretty much stopped following SWTOR other then reading headlines from various bloggers, and at this point I”m not even sure I will play it. The one piece that might change my mind is the pricing model – if it is a traditional MMO subscription I’m pretty confident that I won’t play it. But if they do some sort of hybrid model or something different then I might be more willing to check it out.
To wrap up, is it better to show a trailer along the lines of what Turbine did for their recent Mirkwood launch:
which is shot using only footage from actual game-play, or use a cinematic version that your game will never live up to? Or does it come down to the surrounding messaging to portray the trailers as what they are – cool videos loosely based on the game they’re tied to?