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Report: Summer Game Fest trailers can cost devs up to $550K

You have to spend money to get a trailer out there.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

June 6, 2024

2 Min Read
Logo for Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest showcase.
Image via Summer Game Fest.

At a Glance

  • Summer Games Fest's pricing structure for trailers is pricey, and can help (or hurt) smaller developers marketing their game.

Making games is expensive, and that includes airing trailers for particular events. A new Esquire report on Summer Game Fest explores how much studios pay to bring a trailer for the now annual showcase run by Geoff Keighley.

On the low end, developers will pay $250,000 for a one-minute trailer. The price goes up depending on length, from $350,000 for 90 seconds to a high of $550,000 for two and a half minutes.

Previously, this information wasn't transparent, so this offers some interesting insight on what studios (or their publishers) are willing to pay to get eyes on their projects.

Esquire notes the 2023 Game Awards had a similar pricing structure. However, it's unclear how shorter trailers less than a minute are priced, or if there are additional costs if a game's actor or creative director comes onstage to talk up the project.

Regardless, it appears to be a quite a fruitful endeavor for Keighley. The outlet speculated for last year's showcase, the main show made $9.65 million just off the trailers, which included reveals for Mortal Kombat 1 and Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.

However, Kotaku added that some major publishers get "earned editorial placements" during the main show at no cost.

The costs of getting your game ready for Summer Games Fest

Speaking to Esquire, an insider was blunt in saying the SGF is "really fucking expensive," which likely explains the trailer cost.

A separate source acknowledged those costs may be too much for smaller studios, calling the price structure "an unattainable goal for most indie developers and publishers."

Several PR professionals defended the price structure with the pros of getting coverage on a big stage Keighley provides. But they also admitted that could be dulled if the trailer is too short to make much of an impact with viewers.

Conversely, one of the marketing people talking to Esquire brought up ticket prices for this year's main SGF show. First-party tickets were reportedly still $41 earlier this week, and they noted how Geoff could lower trailer costs since he effectively has two concurrent revenue streams.

Earlier this week, Keighley said the 2024 Summer Game Fest would have fewer brand new reveals. The statement vaguely speaks to the industry's woes in recent years, and how those cutbacks have hit the marketing teams at various studios.

Esquire's full report can be read here.

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About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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