The Art of the World Premiere

Trailers come and trailers go. Expectations rise and reality come crashing back as the game approaches release. Sometimes, the right approach is a steady “drip, drip, drip” of content spaced at the right moment, for the right audience, at the right time.

Given that we’re deep in the Summer of Gaming, we’ve got a lot of games ahead. The function of shows like Summer Games Fest, State of Play, Nintendo Direct and Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase is to get people excited about what’s to come. There’s a lot of games we’ll see, and a few will stand out, either for release later this year, next year, or in the future ahead.

My wheelhouse is in award shows, so in this article, we’ll talk about World Premieres and how they’re used outside the Summer of Gaming (such as in award shows) to provide a platform for developers to showcase their stuff. We’ll end the article by talking about our own program for developers, the /v/GA Premiere project, and the progress of some of the folks who submitted World Premieres of their own in our show.

What makes a World Premiere?

The World Premiere is a segment of the presentation where something new gets shown. The “World” is indicative of the breadth and scope of the audience (they could be from all around the world), and the “Premiere” means you’re getting something new. Sometimes, you might hear the announcer throw in the “Exclusive”, which means the specific trailer is unique to the event and isn’t going to be later shopped to 10 different events.

Cool — but why call them that if they’re just game trailers?

It’s because, symbolically, they mean more than that. They mark the first time the game is presented to the general public. The developer is often in attendance, the audience doesn’t know what’s coming next, and the venue host sits on the precipice between what’s now and what’s next.

“Game trailer” isn’t distinctive enough. “Sneak preview” might be appropriate, but it’s putting the cart before the horse. “Check out this game” is already asking too much. World Premiere, on the other hand, can be used a dozen times and still sounds just as monumental as when it’s said the first time.

Why do we have World Premieres in award shows?

The magic of the World Premiere come from the people that collectively, give the term significance.

In an event like an award show, be it the Oscars, The Game Awards, or the Vidya Gaem Awards, there are dozens of award categories and award speeches —core content that comprise the bread and butter of the show. The nominees are picked, nominated, and voted for at this point. In other words — the awards themselves are a given.

There is ample opportunity for other content (e.g: eyecatches, skits, musical performances), but there is a special role that’s left to be filled, and that’s the World Premiere.

Particularly in the realm of gaming, World Premieres are unique because all parties stand to benefit from their inclusion.

The developers give legitimacy to the award show by choosing to share their product with us first. We, in turn, provide a platform for the studio and their game to shine. Finally, the audience members benefit by seeing a new game that might not have been on their radar. They share their feedback with the developer in real time, either in the stream chat or on social media, and this feedback can be used later by the developers to fine tune their project.

The Oscars and other cringe award shows charge studios for ad time to submit World Premieres to their award show. However, in the gaming sphere, the practice is quite rare. To quote Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show. “It’s free real estate”.

World Premieres in our show:

Although the Vidya Gaem Awards has recognized breakout trailers and World Premieres with our Hyperbole Award category, we didn’t have any Premieres of our own until 2017.

It wasn’t until our third show that we even entertained the thought of an “Exclusive Trailer”, which was submitted as a skit. The feature was brilliant because it served two purposes; trigger the triskaphobic, and more subvertly unveil the lesser known and maligned Ricochet 2.

The April Fools’ coincidence:

A little over two weeks later, on April Fools’ Day, Valve announces their own World Premiere: Ricochet 2: Electric Boogaloo.

It gets weirder. The 2015 Vidya Gaem Awards trailer features a variety of concepts borrowed from the 1990s. UK Jungle, VHS tape cassette artifacting, and spooky, greasy narration harking back to television shows and films of the 1990s.

One week later, on April Fools’ Day, “Dark Souls III” presented a pre-release trailer for their game containing a strikingly similar aesthetic.

The World Premiere, /v/GA style:

After six successful shows, the formula of the Vidya Gaem Awards was well defined enough to know what there was to expect. As a showrunner, though, I felt our scheme of award, award, skit, bumper, award, intermission, and back to awards was getting formulaic. Some in our team felt like it was growing stale too, and that there was a piece missing in the puzzle of our presentation.

The piece was trailers from the community that we serve. 4chan has a nascent game development community, many of whom post progress of their games in the Amateur Games Development General threads on /vg/. Staff from the /v/GAs posted in the threads and solicited game trailer submissions. The trailers were exactly what one would expect from amateur game developers — out of left field, but a good start.

At first, I found myself on the other side of the argument — thinking any sort of free advertising went against the spirit of the show. Gamers, was I mistaken! Not only did the /agdg/ submitted trailers synergize with our year’s theme of commercialism, but they also lived up to the magic of a World Premiere. The developers got free exposure, the audience got a cool trailer and game to think about, and we gained the respect of both for bringing them together.

Question: Should we allow game trailers from 4chan devs again next year? Answer: Yes, 57%. Yes, but preshow only, 34.4%. No: 8.6%.

Our post-show viewer feedback suggests a overwhelming positive reception (91%) to the prospect of gratis promotion for 4chan developers. We had four trailers spread throughout the 2017 show, which over the years all released on Steam.

We’ve kept the /v/GA Premiere program ever since, and with each year and cool entry we get, we’re able to bring the World Premiere home.

A list of /v/GA Premieres featured at the Vidya Gaem Awards (playable/released status as of June 9, 2022):

2017:

2018:

2019:

2020:

2021:

Note: A special thanks to Donny Q and Crazed for helping me re-write this article.

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