How To Create Video Trailers for Mobile Games
Guest post by Sylvain Gauchet
There’s been lots of talk about mobile game trailers since Clumsy Ninja was featured with a trailer on the app store.
Some see being able to put a video on their app store page as a blessing.
It can also be argued that this might just widen the gap between indie developers and big publishers for budget reasons.
But regardless of one’s opinion, if app videos and game trailers make their entry on the app store then developers have to adapt. Just like they had to adapt when iOS 7 came out.
Video has been around for quite some time on the Google Play Store. I believe it’s a great way to illustrate an app/game and that it’s the best thing next to actually trying it. And there are tons of other ways video can be used for your app promotion: YouTube (as video or ads), Facebook video ads, mobile ads, app website, pitching, etc.
Hiring a video production company costs money. Doing the video yourself takes time.
Let’s take a look at how you should go about the latter and how to produce a good game trailer yourself.
Know your goal
Who is your audience? Are you targeting kids? Grown-ups?
Where are you going to use the video? How does your video fit with your other marketing efforts, and when do you need it?
What’s your core message?
The answer to these questions should help you find the right approach when you’re writing your script.
Write a script
You need to write a script.
It doesn’t need to be anything fancy: I’m talking about at least a few bullet points to define the flow of the video and what gameplay captures you’ll need to take. And the text captions or voice over draft if there is one.
Writing a script will not only help you figure out how to present the game, but if you’re part of a team it puts everyone on the same page and allows for feedback before creating the video.
Trust me, you don’t want to only get feedback after you’ve produced it.
At Apptamin when we produce an app video or a game trailer , we do this scripting phase in 2 steps:
- Synopsis – a few bullet points
- Detailed script – detailing all the screens and app/game content we’re going to show and defining details like font, music, etc.
Keep it short
Since you’re writing a script, you’ll be able to estimate how long your video is going to be.
You want to keep your trailer short: no more than 60 seconds (30/40 seconds is usually better).
You can also think about a 15s version for Facebook or mobile ads.
Have a good structure
Your game trailer needs to make sense. You want it to be compelling, and you want viewers to take action (= download your app or sign up to get notified when it’s released) at the end of it. Here is a good structure for a game trailer :
- Present character(s): if your game is about a character, don’t hesitate to present it. If it’s animated, even better. You can either use captures from your game or maybe some design source files. Depending on the length of your video, you might want to introduce the name of your app here as well.
- Show some gameplay: make sure you show what your actual game looks like. Select visually interesting parts, and vary things: don’t show just one level during the whole video, make sure you keep things dynamic (4 or 5 seconds by gameplay sequence for example).
- Call to Action: what’s the point of creating a game trailer if at the end of it people don’t know what the game is or if you don’t tell them what to do? Make sure the name is mentioned, where it can be found (include the store badges) and any other important information (but don’t overload).
Check out the guidelines
Surprisingly (this is sarcasm), Apple has some pretty strict marketing guidelines. Make sure you read them, so you can take informed decisions (and because they keep changing).
For example, you need to use their official design resources: .psd files for the devices, the correct app store badge, trademark sentences, etc.
There are also a few things you’re not supposed to do: show products from other brands, show unrealistic movements of the phones, etc.
You need good quality captures for your trailer. No one wants to take a look at a blurry gameplay for more than a few seconds.
Reflector lets you mirror your device on your computer so you can record the screen. For games though, you might end up with lagging captures.
Another more expensive but good solution is to do HDMI captures. Game Capture HD by Elgato allows you to record high resolution captures from any app or game.
Android captures can be tricky. If you have a device with Android 4.4 (Kit Kat), you can take high quality video captures by using the Android Debug Bridge and some command lines.
You’d like a professional voice over for your game trailer?
Check out Voice Bunny. If you’re video is short and depending on how picky you are on the voice over talents, you can get a professionally-recorded voice over for $50-$75. Voice123, by the same company, works well too.
If you’re on a tighter budget, you can take a look at fiverr or even record it yourself: use the Memo app on your iPhone in a quiet room and under a blanket.
If you’re game doesn’t already have a great music (what?) or if you feel your game music doesn’t create the right atmosphere then head over to Pond5 or AudioJungle and buy a copyright-free music for $10-$50.
This is probably the hardest part.
You can use other editing tool, but Adobe After Effects is probably the best choice. Once you have everything you need (script, game captures, voice over, music, etc.), download a free trial version and get to work!
YouTube is your friend. You’re gonna have to watch a few tutorials. Here is another good resource for tutorials.
If you’re not a motion designer, keep things simple. Follow the structure given above (Intro / Gameplay / Call To Action) and don’t try to do fancy transitions (avoid at all costs the cheesy transition effects à la Windows Movie Maker).
Some After Effects plugins or scripts might come in handy if you want to go more in-depth. You’ll need to buy them and understand how they work but they can make for a more polished video : cool effects for your texts, your transitions, etc.
Like said before, keep your video short and dynamic. When showing gameplay, try not to cut right in the middle of an action: it’s frustrating for the viewer.
Export your video in H264 in either 720p (HD Ready) or 1080p (Full HD). Using .mp4 files is a safe choice, you’ll be able to use them on all video platforms: YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, etc.
Now that you have a great game trailer it’s time to use this new marketing assets to make your promotion more effective.
Upload your video to YouTube, use it when you pitch, embed it on your website, use it on your app store pages when possible, in your email signature, try mobile ads, etc.
A lot of the same advices are true for utility apps by the way. A quick recap on creating your video:
- Write a script, make sure your video stays short and that you include the essential things
- Have the best quality possible for your game captures, and keep your editing simple if you’re not an expert
- Promote your app!
About the author
Sylvain Gauchet is the co-founder of Apptamin. Apptamin produces app videos and game trailers for developers, startups and companies. Apptamin also has a blog with content on how to market an app, including the iOS App Marketing Guide.