Dear Developers: No More Fancy Trailers, Just Gameplay. Please. [OPINION]

By Luke Caulfield , Updated May 16, 2013 06:44 PM EDT
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Teasers, trailers, cinematics, they're great, giving the audience a taste of what's to come. More often than not, they're visually stunning, they get the audience ramped up for the game, and in no way shape or form are they ever indicative of the game itself.

Batman doing battle against the master assassin Deathstroke on a cold December night, sparks fly while Bats deflects each attack with his gauntlets, it looks great. Is that what Batman: Arkham Origins is going to look like? Judging from the screenshots, don't count on it.

Remember that sentimental trailer for Dead Island: Riptide, showing two lovers in a beached boat cabin, sharing one last embrace before zombies burst through the window, forcing the couple to send the whole thing up in smoke likea friggin' tinderbox? Was the game anything like that? By an almost unanimous decision, again, not even close.

With this sort of track record, you can be sure that Bethesda's Wolfenstein: The New Order sure won't look like the trailer either.

This seems to be something that a multitude of games are guilty of almost across the board, especially lately. The Saints making their debut in Hitman: Absolution, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and God only knows how many live-action trailers for whatever game.
The argument is that it's all part of the advertising process, and as the saying goes, "there's no truth in advertising."

The audience is a lot more alert than developers give them credit for. Just ask Gearbox and Sega. The two companies recently found themselves named in a lawsuit, brought by a fan who claimed the companies were deceptive by using false advertising. Sega found itself in a similar issue across the pond, and actually agreed with the UK's Advertising Standards Agency finding that the game's trailers were indeed "misleading."

We know it's possible for games to look good, we've seen it. Far Cry 3's lush open world on the Rook Islands, teeming with wildlife. Making your way out of the vault in Fallout 3 only to lay your eyes on the barren wasteland that once was Washington D.C. was like taking a punch to the gut. The landscape was so stark that it was actually depressing. L.A. Noire was built by utilizing the facial graphics that were as much a part of gameplay as the cinematics that helped tell the story.

The developers love to talk about the various engines they have running their games, heavy with descriptors and buzz words like "visually stunning," "jaw dropping graphics," and so on. EA won't shut up about their Frostbite engine, Ubisoft tried to get everyone excited about AnvilNext with Assassin's Creed 3, and Kojima did a whole presentation for the next Metal Gear and the new Fox engine. With all this hardware at their disposal, why not just build the trailers showing what the game will look like?

If developers could bother to make the game look as half as good as the trailers, there'd be no argument. But for whatever reason, developers aren't doing this, and for the life of me, I can't quite figure out why.

Maybe it's become so commonplace that we should expect something different than what's shown. But why? If we see nothing but A leading up to a game's release, why should we settle for B when it finally comes out? Video games take their cues from the movie industry when it comes to previews, trailers, and the like. But it's a rare occurence when a trailer is comprised entirely of footage that never exists in the movie you watch. Actually, apart from a few last minute edits, I don't think that's ever happened.

Suffice it to say, unless they show what the game actually looks like, "Pre-rendered" or "cinematic" trailers don't have a place in gaming anymore.

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