My Favorite GTA V Trailer

Rockstar’s marketing is always on point

Alex Rowe

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Michael walks slowly away from an explosion in GTA V on the PS5.
Official GTA V marketing screenshot, www.rockstargames.com. Hi res asset sourced from the PS5 store listing.

With the impending release of the long awaited GTA VI trailer just a few days away, I’ve been watching old examples of Rockstar’s marketing again. Turns out, their work holds up really well.

As a fan of the movie Highlander, I’m a total sucker for a good use of Queen music. If I hear Freddie Mercury I’m at least going to be mildly interested in your content, even if it’s not all that well implemented. Nail the use of Queen with great editing or clever thematic elements, and I’m going to be all the more excited. Fail at it ? Well at least I got to hear a Queen song and the remaining gents in the band got a check.

Ten years ago, my favorite GTA V trailer was the one simply titled “Michael,” — and after a decade, it still is. I think it’s one of the greatest video game trailers ever made. I’ll embed it for you right here in case you haven’t seen it.

Yes, it uses Queen’s Radio GaGa as its backdrop — and it does so confidently. Rockstar’s marketing team did the predictable thing of timing several action moments to the beat of the song, but they also often matched little flourishes in the song with smaller animations in the game world. They mixed the dialogue and game sounds brilliantly so that you can still hear every single word Freddie sings. They let the general crescendo and rhythm of the music dictate the pace of the trailer, crafting an endlessly rewatchable and fun video that shows so much of the game while also just looking cool.

It’s an amazing use of Queen. Thank goodness!

Other elements of the trailer aside from the music still stand out, too. The mix of character moments and action perfectly represents the balance of those elements in the actual game. The off beat tone of the storyline is wonderfully captured. Michael’s existential angst was a new thematic thing for Rockstar to tackle, and the trailer shows that you’re going to see both his rage and his truly genuine side.

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