Do Game Trailers Lie to Us?
Watch Dogs

I seem to talk a lot about being careful with the hype train. You want to get swept along with all the bedazzling lights and sounds of new video games or technologies. But you really have to be careful, or you run the risk of your hopes and dreams crashing around you.

I had something similar happen to me when the Microsoft HoloLens was announced. It was the first really public example of modern augmented reality, and it looked like something that I would actually utilize in my life. The simple examples they used in the first trailer, like putting reminder notes on your fridge, the weather up on your wall, and a Minecraft game on your coffee table, totally hooked me in. I was amped and couldn't deny it. As the years have gone on since then though, I've been let down as Microsoft HoloLens has almost disappeared from mention. (Well, minus that guy who made a Mario game in Central Park recently.)

This same mentality of tempered expectations really needs to be applied to almost everything in the video game industry. As a whole, they've made strides to help prevent disasters by including some fine print in various things. Most recently, I can remember watching trailers from E3 and noting the “pre-alpha footage,” or conversely, “in-game footage,” listings on the bottom. These didn't always exist, but enough drama happened over the years and developers got wise. Thanks to these small notes on trailers, we can get a better idea of whether or not we should be excited or cautious.

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In-game footage is usually a great sign of what's to come. We can generally take the graphics as they are and be excited about that. The gameplay could potentially change or there might be sequences shown that don't make it to the end product, but for the most part, in-game footage is a good sign. Pre-alpha has become the phrase that most people dread. When you see a trailer sported pre-alpha footage, you usually know it's going to be good. It's gameplay on developer consoles or hyped up PCs, so of course it's going to look great! There are usually concerns that once you get the game home to your own rig, it might not look so similar.

A really massive example that most will probably remember is Watch Dogs. Ubisoft's open world action-adventure game about Aiden Pearce, a famed hacker, suffered from some major let-downs. At least one trailer for the game showed some awesome smoke, mist, and steam visual affects that just never made it to the final product. There were even screens with moving advertisements and other images in the trailer that never happened within the game. Watch Dogs graphically let down a lot of people, and that's incredibly disappointing.

In even more recent years, there was of course No Man's Sky. Literally no one (even those outside the “gamer” lifestyle) needs an introduction to this debacle. No Man's Sky was hyped like you wouldn't believe and fans were super let-down with the final results. It was nothing like what we were promised.

Watch Dogs

Essentially what I'm getting at with this opinion is that it's crucial you pay attention to the fine print. This is true in all things really! When you go to the store and see that you get a $5 gift card with your purchase, you of course get excited! It's then that you need to take a closer look at the sign to realize you have to buy four packages of toilet paper before you get those five dollars. Most people don't need four packages of toilet paper, certainly not for an extra five dollars.

The same is true of video game trailers. Keep your eyes on the bottom of the screen. The nice thing about the Internet is you can watch trailers over again or pause them to better read what's written. If a trailer says pre-alpha footage, “currently in development,” or any other similar languages, take what you're seeing with a grain of salt. If the trailer says in-game footage, know that you're headed in the right direction, but there could always be changes made.

Trailers are exciting, they show off gameplay footage and cinematics that we can't wait to experience ourselves, but you need to be careful. Don't get sucked into future drama by getting caught up in the hype and misinterpreting what you're seeing. Developers and publishers are going to use the best possible stuff they have to show, but it doesn't necessarily mean it will make it into the game, or look like what you see there. Thanks to modernity, the trailers will generally leave you little hints to give you the ability to knowingly decide whether or not you can get super excited. Just pay attention to those clues, and you'll do just fine.

April Marie
April Marie
@Legiodith

Contributing Writer
Date: 06/28/2017

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