Summer Game Fest trailer prices reportedly start at USD $250K

A trailer in Summer Game Fest reportedly costs between USD $250-550K, depending on minutes required.
Summer Game Fest prices

An appearance in Summer Game Fest reportedly costs game developers anywhere between USD $250,000 to USD $550,000, according to a report from Esquire, recently corroborated by Kotaku. As noted, that USD $250,000 amount corresponds to a one-minute trailer, while $550,000 gets you 2.5 minutes of airtime.

Given the show is one of the most-watched gaming presentations of the year, with a worldwide audience of more than 2 million engaged viewers, you can understand the justification for the cost – but it’s still a whopping amount to consider. While there are some “free slots” earned in the editorial selection process, allowing smaller developers to feature in some capacity, the vast majority of featured developers fork out for the privilege.

While the news will be unsurprising to most, it will serve as an explanation for why some games and developers simply don’t show up to Summer Game Fest. Price tiers for the show are staggeringly high, locking out many smaller or middleweight games from appearing. Host Geoff Keighley may make exceptions for that earned editorial, for games with specific appeal, but there’s seemingly no guarantee of coverage without paying for those expensive price slots.

Read: Summer Game Fest 2024: Full event schedule and showcase roundup

Per Kotaku, the price does include a set number of social posts, which serve as further marketing for games, exposing them to a wider audience, but some developers speaking to Esquire believe the price remains exorbitant.

“These shows are really ****ing expensive,” one said, reportedly referring to both Summer Game Fest and The Game Awards. Both shows have become “the” shows to appear on for upcoming games, with the price being a notable but necessary hurdle for promoting new adventures.

Esquire speculates that with most one-to-two-and-half-minute trailers being paid in Summer Game Fest, organisers could take make as much as USD $9.64 million for the show. Reasonably, some of this budget will be devoted to booking venues, hosting the show, editing trailers, and bringing in celebrities – in the past, folks like Nicolas Cage have put in appearances – but it’s fair to say a chunk of that cash will be profit.

Given this, it makes sense that Summer Game Fest and The Game Awards have blown up in recent years, with more extravagant sets, orchestral performances, more celebrity appearances, and more blockbuster reveals. In future, both shows are likely to continue to expand, particularly given how little competition there is in the space, now that shows like E3 are gone.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.