Format EditHonest Game Trailers uses a similar format to the original series Honest Trailers. In their write-up on the Mario Kart video, Tubefilter noted that, "Honest Game Trailers uses the exact same formula as Screen Junkies’ smash hit. It features a deep-voiced narrator who purports to “sell” the games in question but only points out their flaws.... At first glance, Honest Game Trailers seems like a blatant rip-off of its filmic forbearer, but it is actually the latest partnership between united Defy Media brands. Screen Junkies is run by Break Media, while Smosh Games is part of the Alloy Digital network; those two companies merged last year. The decision to run Honest Game Trailers on Smosh Games is Defy’s latest attempt to take advantage of its properties’ related audiences."
Honest Game Trailers were a collaboration between Screen Junkies and Smosh. Some members of the Honest Trailers team are also involved in the production of Honest Game Trailers. For instance, head writer of Honest Trailers, Spencer Gilbert has been involved with Honest Game Trailers since its inception. Spencer is an avid gamer and is credited as a co-writer on all episodes of Honest Game Trailers. Likewise, voice artist Jon Bailey (aka Epic Voice Guy) does the narration both series. In addition, motion graphics artist Robert Holtby creates the honest titles for both.
Creative innovations Edit
The Honest Game Trailers series has also developed several unique twists on the typical Honest Trailers formula. Unlike Honest Movie Trailers which usually only parody one movie at a time (even if it is part of a much larger franchise), Honest Game Trailers about long-running franchises typically discuss the evolution of the franchise across the years and may reference dozens of different versions of the game (for example, see Donkey Kong).
Other creative innovations unique to the Honest Game Trailers series include:
- Videos about console generations. So far, four Honest Game Trailers about consoles have been produced: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation VR and Nintendo 64. These videos highlight the technical developments of the console, summarize an entire generation of video games, and discuss the cultural significance of that console.
- April Fool's Day joke about a non-existent game. The Honest Game Trailer for Half-Life 3 is unique in that the game Half-Life 3 doesn't exist. The writers pretended the highly anticipated game was real and was the greatest game in the history of the world for humor purposes.
- Year in review. So far, one year in review Honest Game Trailer has been released: 2017. This video summarized stylistic trends in video games, discussed cultural shifts, highlighted changing market conditions and explored how they affected video game content.
- Conference HGT. Honest Game Trailers have also released an episode parodying the E3 video game conference. This video highlighted the tedium of attending a crowded conference, and satirized over-hyped presentations and demos.
- Retro 1930's style narration. Unlike most Honest Trailers which mimic the voice over style of trailers from the 1980's and 1990's, the Cuphead Honest Game Trailer parodied an even earlier style of narration, that of old-fashioned American radio announcers. The script for this episode mimicked the language and conventions used in advertisements from this era, including hyperbolic appeals to patriotism. In addition, the voice artist used a Mid-Atlantic English accent with a very musical cadence to parody pre-WWII newsreel announcers.
- Rotating roster of voice artists. Starting in 2019, Honest Game Trailers used a rotating roster of voice artists to capture the different styles of a variety of games. Previously, Honest Game Trailers and Honest Movie Trailers only changed voice artists when the original narrator became unavailable, or in order to accomplish a specific impression.
- Special celebrity guest Jeff Goldblum. The Jurassic Park Games episode of Honest Game Trailers featured a special guest appearance by actor Jeff Goldblum! For information on other celebrity guests, see the narrators page.
The first batch of Honest Game Trailers were actually created by members of the YouTube channel The Warp Zone including Michael Adams Davis, Michael Schroeder and Ryan Tellez, in collaboration with Screen Junkies writer Spencer Gilbert. At the time, The Warp Zone, Smosh Games and Screen Junkies were all part of the same parent company, Defy Media. Later episodes were written primarily by the Smosh Games team, including Max Song, Andrew Bird, Matt Raub, Spencer Gilbert and many other people.
When the series was revived in 2019, Fandom Games brought back three members of the old team to create new episodes: editor/writer Max Song, writer Andrew Bird, and writer Spencer Gilbert. FANDOM chose to use a rotating roster of voice artists, including original narrator Jon Bailey as well as new narrators such as Mark Peeples. FANDOM wrote that multiple narrators allowed them to capture the personality of a wider variety of games.
Honest Game Trailers was originally published by YouTube channel Smosh Games, which, at the time of the series' conception, was owned by the same parent company as Screen Junkies. The series was Smosh Games' highest-viewed series. Honest Game Trailers was originally released on Saturdays, but is currently released on Tuesdays at 10am PST.
When Defy Media sold Screen Junkies in July 2018, the Honest Game Trailers series remained with Smosh Games. Jon Bailey continued to do the voiceover narration for both shows, even though they were now owned by separate companies.
In November 2018, when Defy Media shuttered abruptly, Honest Game Trailers went on hiatus for 6 months while Smosh secured a new owner. In February 2019, Smosh was purchased by Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment and almost all staff were re-employed. However, shortly after the acquisition, the entire Honest Game Trailers YouTube playlist on Smosh Games was set to private. In May 2019, it was revealed that FANDOM (the owners of Screen Junkies) had acquired the rights to Honest Game Trailers. The series returned on Tuesday June 4, 2019 on the Fandom Games channel (formerly Curse Entertainment) with the episode Anthem. Almost all episodes of the series were transferred to the new channel (except for 4 missing remaining episodes: Friday the 13th (NES version), PlayStation VR, Payday 2, and Horizon Zero Dawn).
From 2014 - 2018, Honest Game Trailers was the highest viewed series on Smosh Games. It is currently the highest viewed series on Fandom Games. The highest viewed episodes of the series, each with over 10 million views, are Pokemon Red and Blue, Minecraft, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto V and Five Nights at Freddy's. All these videos are among the earliest episodes ever produced. Honest Game Trailers have never been as popular as the original Honest Trailers series.
Like the original Honest Trailers series, Honest Game Trailers has declined in viewership over the years. Episodes released in 2014 have averaged over 5 million views each, but in 2018-2019 many episodes achieved less than 1 million views. Like Honest Trailers, the decline in views is due with changes to the YouTube algorithm, increased competition in the digital space, and the fact that all the "big" games have already been done.
Critical reception Edit
Honest Game Trailers has received mixed-to-positive reviews across its run. Some of the best-received episodes include No Man's Sky, Minecraft, Candy Crush Saga and Street Fighter V. Logan Booker of Kotaku describes the Honest Game Trailers series like this, "Honest Game Trailers feels like it's transitioned from being a pure gag machine to actually providing solid, if brief, reviews of video games. The latest instalment, which looks at Bungie's Destiny 2 is probably the best example of what HGT is doing these days."
Reaction videos and fan fiction Edit
Like the original Honest Trailers series, Honest Game Trailers has been the subject of numerous reaction videos and fan-made copies. The reaction video channel The Reel Rejects has published several highly viewed reaction videos for both Honest Trailers and Honest Game Trailers. For example, The Reel Rejects' Honest Game Trailers - Pokemon Red & Blue reaction video has been viewed over 450k times!
Honest Game Trailers Commentaries Edit
Many episodes of Honest Game Trailers received a commentary video, where the writers watched the trailer and discussed their thoughts on the game in more detail. Writers Matt Raub, Spencer Gilbert, Max Song and others hosted the commentary videos. They were around 20 minutes in length. Honest Game Trailers Commentaries videos were available on the paid subscription service Screen Junkies Plus from 2015 - 2017. At least 33 episodes were produced.Screen Junkies Plus was also home to Gamer Fights, a weekly 60 minute debate show hosted by Matt Raub. Gamer Fights was a spinoff of Screen Junkies' Movie Fights, but with a focus on game-related topics. 22 episodes of Gamer Fights were produced as a collaboration between Screen Junkies and Smosh, all in 2016.
Screen Junkies Plus stopped producing new content in July 2017, and all content was removed in early 2018. The commentaries and Gamer Fights videos are no longer available on any channel or service, though they still exist and could be released at a later date. An example of the commentary format can be seen in this short Facebook video which is an excerpt from the full Mario Kart commentary. A couple of episodes of Gamer Fights were uploaded to the Smosh Games YouTube channel.
See also Edit
- List of Honest Game Trailers
- The Smosh Fandom Wiki also has information about Honest Game Trailers.
- Honest Trailers Anime
- Fandom Games