I recently wrote an article on press releases, with my tips on increasing the likelihood of coverage for your apps and games. This was, naturally, biased somewhat towards my own requirements as a writer, but I know a number of journos agreed with what I wrote, and so I wasn’t smashing my keyboard while wearing my crazy hat. Or if I was, the end result of said smashage still made sense and went down well with writers and devs alike.
When compiling the list of games to be featured in Tap! every month, I use various sources, including a new-games feed from AppShopper. I drag browser shortcuts of interesting titles to a folder and work my way through them, deciding which are ‘definites’ and which might be interesting.
Time is short. There are many hundreds of releases every week, and so anything that can make things easier for me is a massive bonus. Of late, videos are becoming increasingly useful in enabling me to confirm a game for probable coverage. But, as with press releases, websites and App Store pages, a lot of devs really do themselves no favours when it comes to iOS trailers and videos, so here are some tips.
- Make a video. OK, so this one’s pretty obvious, and yet many games devs don’t bother. But here’s the thing: video shows off your graphics. Video enables you to display how a game works and plays. A short video is so much better than any description you can offer, so spend a short while making one and bung it on YouTube, then link to it from your website/App Store page, as appropriate.
- Do not use Flash. Far too many iOS game videos require Flash to watch the video. Given that iOS doesn’t support Flash, this is idiotic. If you upload a video, make sure it works on the iPhone and iPad, and in browsers that don’t have the Flash plug-in installed.
- Show some gameplay. Seriously. You wouldn’t believe how many iOS gameplay videos barely show any gameplay, instead choosing to show title screens, options screens, Game Center screens, or cute videos featuring the developer dressed as an octopus with a hat. What I care about: your gameplay. That’s it. (Note: I’m not suggesting you launch right into gameplay—feel free to fling up a logo and provide some context via title cards; but don’t create the iOS gameplay video equivalent of a DVD/Blu-ray menu system.)
- Get to the bloody point. Related to the previous entry: if you do show some gameplay, don’t spend five minutes messing about before you get to it. Your gameplay is the meat of your video. All the other stuff is gloss. Add some sprinkles, if you must, but don’t force-feed me tinsel until my stomach explodes.
- Don’t use fast cuts. Got something to hide? No? Think you’re Michael Bay? No? Then stop with the fast cuts. 15 shots of your game, each of which lasts about half a second, doesn’t tell me anything. I don’t want long, lingering fifteen-hour documentaries either, but I at least want to see what’s going on in your game, rather than getting repeatedly punched in the eyeballs with your attempt to turn a trailer into a new entry in the Transformers series.
- Don’t be afraid of making a more in-depth video. If your game concept is complex, or there’s more you want to show, don’t stop at a single video. Use one as your trailer—your hook—but then create another. With, say, a strategy game, you might consider a full-game walkthrough. This probably won’t be much use for me, but it will assist the general public in getting acquainted with your game.