With the proliferation of gaming platforms and increased competition in the gaming industry, game marketing is more vital than ever for a game’s success. With ample choices for all genres, players rely on marketing materials, cinematics, and trailers to determine which games to purchase and play. The visual needs of game marketing have made offline renders and the use of a reliable render farm essential for creating compelling and convincing marketing campaigns.
Historically, marketing in gaming has heavily been focused on selling specific consoles (e.g., the great console wars of the 80s and 90s) with console-exclusive titles or by marketing PC titles with game demos. However, today, marketing for both AAA and Indie games relies on gamers having the confidence that the gameplay and visual style will meet their expectations. This means that top-notch trailers, screenshots, and in-game cinematics are essential to marketing a game successfully.
In this article, we’ll look at how offline rendering and render farms can help developers produce high-fidelity visuals quickly and efficiently. Even when trailers and cinematics are composed solely of in-engine footage, offline render farms can be a fantastic resource for increasing the visual quality of renders using tools like Unreal Engine 5’s path-tracing renderer.
How Render Farms and Offline Rendering Help Games Grow
Render farms work by networking many different computer “nodes” together to form a massively powerful tool for rendering complex projects quickly and efficiently. Traditionally, render farms have been used for rendering high-budget studio film and TV projects. However, in the past decade, render farms’ costs have dropped sufficiently and are now used by creative professionals across the industry to render small and large projects. This means that it is now possible for anyone to render quality graphics, from indie game developers to high-end studios.
Even though the game industry revolves around real-time rendering solutions, offline rendering can be an important tool for delivering quality visuals to players. Cinematic trailers are essential for generating interest and allowing the player to invest their imagination into the game’s world fully. For example, the cinematic trailers and cut-scenes of the Final Fantasy series have been essential to the franchise’s success, delivering incredible visuals that have pushed forward the game’s marketing and gameplay.
Offline rendering is also used to render gameplay footage that shows the high visual potential of a game. The team behind Cyberpunk 2077 showed just this through their use of real-time raytracing extensively in their gameplay trailers, demonstrating the next-generation rendering technologies the game utilized. Despite ray-tracing being releasably new at Cyberpunk’s release, the visuals showed that the game had long-term potential and was ready for next-gen technologies.
Creating High-Quality Marketing Materials
High-fidelity visuals like those shown in Cyberpunk’s marketing are essential for selling the premise of a game. Close attention to detail and well-rendered cinematics convey a vision to players of a game’s style, gameplay, and overall design. Render farm services can help render these visuals by offloading rendering to the cloud so that indie game developers and studios alike don’t need to build infrequently used render farms themselves to create stunning trailers and other marketing items for their games.
The pressure to build and release quality marketing materials like trailers, screenshots, and promos can be intense, especially as developers focus on wrapping up production. Having the help of an online render farm during this part of the process can be extremely helpful and reduces technical workload during the home stretch of game development.
Enhancing Player Experience
Offline render farm rendering can also be great for creating in-game visuals like cut scenes, cinematics, and static game content. Offline rendering using path-traced render engines adds an extra level of realism and immersion to a game’s story that wouldn’t be possible with current real-time rendering tools. Especially for complex simulations, characters, and environments, offline renders like Arnold or V-Ray can deliver what real-time renders cannot.
In-game visuals can also boost players’ excitement and ensure players stay engaged throughout a game’s playtime. Well-placed cut scenes, for example, offers players a break from gameplay while conveying stories that most traditional gameplay cannot. The impact of these visuals is clear; most of the top video game franchises of the past decade, like The Last of Us, Assassin’s Creed, and Resident Evil, rely heavily on cinematic cutscenes to keep players invested.
With new technologies like Unreal Engine’s path tracer or NVIDIA’s advances in real-time raytracing, the lines between offline and real-time rendering are slowly blurring, so good quality visuals throughout a game’s marketing, gameplay and story are becoming vital for keeping players interested. With these expectations continuing to rise, offline rendering is an important tool for game developers, especially for complex story pieces and cinematics where real-time rendering either isn’t feasible or doesn’t meet the visual needs of the shot.
Competition in the gaming industry is fiercer than ever, so every edge a studio can gain could lead to higher player counts and better user engagement. Efficient offline rendering using a render farm service can help indie studios create content that reaches more users through better quality visuals and more dynamic and engaging gameplay.