How Would You Announce A Game?

E3 is done and dusted for another year. But before long, it'll be Gamescom, a PAX or two, Blizzcon, and everything else around that. So there's plenty more game reveals and announcements left in 2019.

But let's say the decision is in your hands. You've got a big game, maybe a quirky indie, and you're convinced it'll be a hit. So how do you announce it?

To play along, you'll need to set some of the boundaries around whatever your faux announcement might be. Is it a new IP? Are you announcing a sequel or prequel to a beloved game — maybe one that wasn't well received at launch? Is it a remaster? Do you get a big celebrity as a voice-actor?

A decent announcement is like a mic drop, something that cuts through the noise. A great announcement is like a rollercoaster, hitting the crowd with a surprise, taking everyone through a short two or three minutes journey.

The Best E3 Moments

Image: jnkboy

Before E3, everyone gets excited for the big new announcements. But after E3, all anyone remembers — and cherishes — are the kind of screw-ups, misfires and awkward heroism you can only get when corporate executives and video game developers have to get on stage and be salesmen in front of millions.

Read more

Sony's riposte to the Xbox One's game sharing features was a perfect reveal. Similarly, Gabe Newell strolling onto the stage for Sony to announce Portal 2, was neatly done. And then there's those videos of the crowd going batshit over the Final Fantasy 7 remake teaser. (The one in 2015, not the other tease.)

But there's less of a story there. Those games and features are working on prior information, expected knowledge. What if you're showing off something new?

Part of the conference magic is telling a good story. I'm still a fan of how Maneater, which should just be called Shark RPG, was told. The developer led with a good joke — a shark wronged by other humans — and the trailer followed that up well. Last of Us 2 is probably one of the best, minus the performances and pomp and circumstance beforehand: a solid, lengthy cutscene that set the stage, before a good segment of gameplay to give everyone a proper taste.

Bethesda's Fallout 4 showing at E3 2015 is worth a call out too, since its influenced how publishers hero their tentpole franchises ever since. You tell a brief story at the beginning about the world you're entering, launch into a deep dive on the features, environments, what players can expect mechanically, before dropping a release date at the end. Ideally, the game launches before the end of the year, within months if possible. If you're an indie game? Maybe as soon as the conference ends, or within weeks.

So you're designing an announcement for E3. You've got the gameplay ready to go — all you have to do is decide how to structure the reveal, and what you'd rather show (cinematics, gameplay, cinematic into gameplay ala The Last of Us).


    You start with the room being black. The trailer of the game starts. It plays, showing a story focused cinematic. It ends, the devs walk out. They say they're now going to show gameplay, BUT they don't want it to be just any gameplay. No no. They pick 2 people at random from the crowd to come up on to the show flaw and have a go. At this point, they say it's going to be co-op and stuff, and the two randoms are sat down and start playing, each one with a game dev next to them to guide them through the next 15 min of gameplay.

    After the gameplay, they go back to there sets. Then you have a montage trailer of THERE GAMEPLAY get played as the closer.

    I'm always a big fan of the "What the fuck is this"-style of trailer, especially if it's a trailer for a sequel to a game everyone liked, because then you can put little references in the trailer to the original game and to get pops out of everyone who played the first title.

    If it's a new franchise, I want it to just hit me in the face with how awesome it is. If it comes from a well-known creator (like a Suda51 or a Kojima or a Kamiya or similar) then put their name up first because "FROM THE CREATOR OF SNATCHER AND POLICENAUTS" will get a monster pop from basically everyone everytime.

    Most importantly, though, I'd make sure the trailer showed real in-game footage and gameplay. If the game isn't advanced enough to have gameplay footage ready, then it's not ready to announce.

    Human sacrifice obviously

      I dont think its that obvious. I was leaning towards hookers and cocaine myself. But sacrifice could work just as well, I can see the appeal.

      I dunno.

      Blizzard made a human sacrifice out of Wyatt Cheng last year and all it did was make everyone angry. Fans angry at Blizzard, games journalists angry at fans, fans angry at games journalists for being angry at fans.

    Lets say I was releasing a sequel to a really popular game. I would hold an event that encourages the most hardcore of fans to attend, I would tease that this was the sequel they had been waiting years for, then I would dim the lights play the trailer and show the name of the game. I would keep the name on screen for a few seconds just to really excite people before fading in the word "Mobile" below it. Then I would announce that it would be a phone game and not made by us.

    I think that would be really successful.

      I think you're on to something with this. To build on your idea, I'd plan some sort of followup event as well. Let the fans bask in the excitement for a bit and then maybe something to keep the hype train going.

      Something like 6 months later when its started to drop a bit, telling everyone how you listened to how surprised you were to the fans reactions (obviously it was positive) and that you're doing everything you can to make those reactions count.

      Hype train keeps going, next stop Fanzzcon 2019 for the next hype teaser.

    Announce it like Apex Legends - just release it!

    10 minutes after its gone live for download.

    Step 1: Read the crowd. Its a game convention full of acid consile and PC gamers, johrnalist and critics.

    Step 2: Dont make a full announcement of a mobile phone game. No trailers,no hype. No big stage pressence. If you have to gloss over it and leave it in your booth to be discovered. Mobile games are sold in App stores and player uses not on stage

    I was thinking maybe a good way would be to send tonnes of emails to games journalists saying that I need them to cover the game because I don't have a marketing budget - but it'll be in their best interests because if they buy and play the game, they'll get really good pageviews out of it. Win/win.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now