The Last of Us – The power of trailers

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Throughout the development of the movie and gaming industry, trailers have played an important part in getting potential players and watchers interested in purchasing your movie/game. The Last of Us is no exception to this. Just watch the following trailer for the game: 

Very few would say that they are not interested in the game after watching that trailer, that’s the type of power that trailers are. Now exactly what aspects of the trailer makes it such a useful marketing tool? There are multiple answers to this question but I will focus on 3: Music/dialogue, suspense, and length.

The first thing that most people will notice, and I argue that it’s the most important aspect of the trailer, is the music and dialogue that is incorporated into the trailer. The dialogue serves to inform the viewers about the game or a specific scene of the game while the music serves to increase the effect that the dialogue has on the viewers. In other words, the music puts the viewers into the right mood so that the dialogue will have more of an impact on them. For example, playing an epic music sheet in the background of a speech will increase the impact that speech will have on its listeners and hence, make it an epic speech. This is clearly seen for this trailer. Below is a screenshot of the trailer with the main character just saying “sick”. This informs the viewers that something is wrong and that it’s medically related.

The trailer also serves to show a select few number of scenes to increase the suspense of the game and peak the curiosity of its observers. It shows that there is something wrong with the world but it doesn’t say what. It shows that there is conflict among the characters but they don’t show what caused the conflict. They also give the viewers glimpses of the games gameplay to show them what it’s actually like to play the game but they mainly show cut scenes. This is cut scenes usually have much better graphics and is, in general, more epic than the gameplay. This is evident in the following comparison of gameplay vs. cutscene graphics:

Last of us, cut scene      Vs.   Last of us, gameplay

Last but not least, the length of a trailer also plays a crucial role in its success. The reason why trailers are so successful is because they are short and concise. It’s not easy to find time to do stuff, especially with today’s busy life. But there’s always time to watch a 2-3 minute trailer. The fact that trailers are so easy to access and watch has greatly increased its impact and ubiquity. This is clearly evident from this trailer. I would not have chosen to watch this video on Youtube if it weren’t for its short length.

Therefore, given all of its benefits, it comes to no one’s surprise that trailers have become so ubiquitous. Of course, the fact that trailers are so short yet so impactful is also a clear indicator that it’s very difficult to make one. It requires the right scenes and dialogues as well as the right music for it to be successful. But this is a topic for another blog post. Feel free to comment on my analysis of trailers and let me know if you think differently.

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