Welcome back, everyone. In the previous article in this two-part mini-series, we looked at some of the confusing reveal videos from August’s Xbox Series X reveal event. The conclusion I reached is that the reveal videos were largely pointless, since they didn’t ‘reveal’ much of anything, and what they did reveal was often confusing. In this article, we will investigate how they could have been done better.
1: Use clear, concise language which cannot be misinterpreted.
As we saw in the previous article, the phrase ‘Console Launch Exclusive’ used in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2 ‘reveal’ was confusing and needlessly upset a lot of people. Why? Because it led some people to believe it either wasn’t coming to PC, or would be coming to PC at a later date, which we now know to be incorrect.
This could easily have been avoided by using plain English, for example: “S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 will first be released simultaneously on PC and Xbox Series X, with other platforms to follow. All release dates are currently TBA.”
2: Provide all relevant information.
People will want to know when they can get their hands on your game, so whet their appetite by telling them. If they are still TBA then say so. If there will be a demo or early access period, notify people of this too.
Another very important piece of information is the predicted Recommended Retail Price (RRP). If this has been decided in advance, state what it is. Some people may need to start saving if they are intending to purchase it upon release, and knowing the price in advance will allow them to prepare accordingly. If there are going to be pre-order perks then these should be stated too, along with the date from which the pre-order can be placed.
Ideally the reveal video - or at least it’s end-card - should provide all the most salient information. However, if this is not possible, then state the info on the game’s website, and ensure the video displays the hyperlink to it. The confusion surrounding the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 reveal video could have been nipped in the bud far sooner if the video had shown this.
3: Provide clear details about what sort of game is being revealed.
Examples include the following:
- What genre is it?
- If it is part of an existing franchise, where does it ‘fit’ i.e., is it a sequel, prequel, reboot etc.?
- Is it single-player, multi-player or both?
- Will the multiplayer element be co-op, competitive or both?
- Will the multiplayer be local, online or both?
- What platforms will it be released on and when?
- Will it involve in-game purchases, season passes etc?
- What age range is it being aimed at?
- Will it involve permadeath?
- Will its game world be created by hand, procedurally generated or both?
- Will it feature mod support?
4: What is the video showing?
If the video is showing game-like footage it should be made clear whether it is pre-rendered or in-engine. If in-engine, is it showing actual gameplay, cutscenes or pre-rendered footage?
5: The Human Factor
On a more fundamental level, there was another problem with the format of the Xbox Series X reveal event, or at least the part of it I saw – I refused to waste any more time watching something so pointless.
This problem being that none of the games’ developers were present, either in person or via live webchat / video broadcast etc. As anyone who has run an event that shows off something new will tell you, there will always be questions. You can try to pre-empt many of them by providing detailed information and FAQs. This is good practice as this may reduce the number of questions raised - in particular the common questions which everyone will want answered.
However, it is impossible to predict every question that will be asked in advance. Therefore, you will still need someone knowledgeable and connected to the project on hand who can field the unexpected ‘out of left field’ questions which will inevitably be asked.
By combining the above, I feel that reveal videos could serve a purpose beyond fueling the hype train. This would make watching/attending such events worthwhile – I would argue that their utility is questionable at present.
Of course, these are only my ideas and suggestions. I’m sure you, our dear readers, can think of others. Feel free to share them in the comments section below.