Highlight Value And Spend Big = Win Big

From Ad Age: {link no longer active}

“For brands taking the initiative, it’s paying off. We’re seeing that in the buzz numbers,” he said, citing much-talked-about campaigns such as Microsoft’s “Laptop Hunters” series and KFC’s promotion with Oprah Winfrey. “[The numbers] indicate that those people who are being risk takers have the potential for a big payoff.”

What is the common theme between those two campaigns and other successful ones from brands such as Best Buy?   Value, value, value.

These campaigns were initially criticized for focusing too much on the bargains consumers were told they would get with these brands, but it seems like it s paying off.

AFK: Fallout 3 IRL

Today’s AFK moments comes to us from a cosplayer whose game of choice is the post-apocalyptic Fallout 3.

In the game, you play the protagonist in a nuclear-devastated Washington D.C., surviving through skill, a little bit of luck, and picking up every conceivable item off the charred earth.

The folks at Weekly Geek decided to dress up as the game’s lead character, but decided to outline some instructions for creating your very own Nuke Cola Caps, Med-X and the very important Buffout strength tonic.

Just be careful with those needles.

[Weekly Geek has lots of time]

Video Of The Day: Naked Always Wins

Our video of the day comes from the streets of Santa Monica and advertises an upcoming music-based game. Which one? We have no idea.

And it’s not because we re distracted. Okay, maybe a little.

The video just advertises a Facebook page for one of the, ahem, models, and we expect all to be revealed soon. Our best guess is Microsoft’s Lips 2 for the holiday season, but does it really matter

Facebook And Twitter On Xbox 360 For Holidays

Sorry, Myspace.

Microsoft announced Twitter and Facebook were coming to the Xbox 360 at this year s E3, and Eurogamer is now reporting that heavy work is being done to get the two social platforms enabled by the end of the year.

[Microsoft marketing’s James] Halton did go on to say, “It will be before Christmas.” He added, “A lot of the background work’s been done for a lot of applications that are coming.”

Netflix is already enabled on Xbox 360, and Last.fm should hit by the end of the year, all of which will be important additions to the ever-improving Xbox suite of features.

Meanwhile, Sony has a web browser but no integration on any of these fronts (yet), and the market-leading Nintendo Wii can hardly get an online game to play well.  Connecting with the connected demographic is getting away from these two companies as Microsoft looks to steal away even more of their free time.

Xbox Heats Up With Summer Promotion

Kotaku reports:

U.S. Xbox 360 owners who shell out the 5600 Microsoft Points necessary to net them Splosion Man, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, Turtles in Time Re-shelled, Trials HD, and Shadow Complex between now and August 31 will get an extra 800 Microsoft points added to their account, basically cancelling out the price of Splosion Man.

Microsoft is making its push to convert Xbox consumers into regular DLC patrons even stronger with this promotion, which we ve never seen before.

This amounts to gamers spending $80 for virtual goods getting $10 back for their trouble.  Anything to get consumers accustomed to a new distribution method, huh?

In-Game Ad Budgets Increasing

From eMarketer:

By 2013, marketers will spend a total of $681 million on in-game advertising, up from $403 million in 2008, per eMarketer. During the forecast period, the relative mix of console/PC-based and Web-based advertising will shift slightly toward the latter, with 75 percent of the total spent online in 2013.

eMarketer has an interesting theory regardiung in-game advertising that, while console and PC in-game advertisements will continue to grow ($117 million in 2008 versus a projected $170 million by 2013), browser-based games will show a larger increase of its share ($286 million in 2008 to $511 million in 2013).

They point to the increased acceptance of gamers playing free games in exchange for exposure to advertising, rather than the slower acceptance of seeing ads and product placement in console games they’ve already spent money on.

After playing the free 1 vs. 100 on Xbox Live, we have to wonder if they jumped the gun here.  The free-to-play game show has ample advertising from Sprint and Honda, and is now the #7 game being played on Xbox Live.

Not only are the advertisers presented in a way most browser-based games are incapable of doing, but the robust experience has already made this game show crack a top ten notorious for its hardcore Call of Duty, Halo and Gears of War mainstays.

Special Edition Watch: DJ Hero

Special editions used to be special, but then marketing and development costs for these games reached all new highs.  What’s an honest publisher to do?   Overcharge for a bunch of plastic, of course!

Activision just showed off its special edition of the upcoming DJ Hero, and there are two major differences.  First, you get a Jay-Z/Eminem CD with a bunch of unreleased (for now) tracks.  Secondly, you get a nicer turntable controller complete with a case that turns into a stand.

The regular edition of the game will retail for $120, but no price has been announced for this pack.

We have to ask: is anyone else afraid of this trend of more and more upsells or a potential consumer backlash, or is this par for the course now

Analysis: The Marketing Of Wii Sports Resort

After generations of trying to regain the magic it had as the number one console maker with the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo placed its remaining hope on a 5-in-1 sports game. Who would have thought that, without a Mario hat in sight, Wii Sports would not only save the company from irrelevance, but make Nintendo a market leader once again.

Now that Wii Sports has sold over 45 million copies, Nintendo has the unenviable task of trying to follow it up with Wii Sports Resort, a sequel that isn t packed in with every Nintendo Wii. Not only that, but the game requires use of (yet another) Wii accessory, the Wii Motion Plus (included with every game).

Potential brand confusion coupled with recent consumer apathy in video games make this a bit of an uphill climb, but Nintendo started earlier this year laying the groundwork at E3 2009.

Introducing Wii Motion Plus

Nintendo has never held itself to be a high-tech company. The cutting edge tech behind the Nintendo Wii is at least several years old, and the surprising acceptance and adoption of the Wii had competitors Microsoft and Sony introduce their own motion peripherals, some of which are leap-years ahead of Nintendo.

So Nintendo headed off that concern at this year s E3 with the introduction of Wii Motion Plus and the new Wii Sports Resort. Here is the promotional video they showed to press in attendance.

What you see there is Nintendo trying to flip the tables and remove the notion that it was not interested in being on the cutting edge. The slick production and association with several of the games featured in Wii Sports Resort laid the foundation for consumer acceptance. It showed the new peripheral, it showed how people used it, and it showed how games were more sensitive with it. Most importantly? It looked like a lot of fun!

This led to long queues in front of the Wii Sports Resort portion of Nintendo’s booth, with thousands of players getting a chance to play the new basketball, archery and table tennis mini-games. Nintendo’s instructors calmly led journalists and other attendees in how to use the Wii Motion Plus effectively, including how to calibrate it and use it with other peripherals (like the nunchaku). Of course, it helped that the game was a lot of fun in action, and Nintendo allowed attendees to spend ample time at their booth getting acclimated to the action.So the initial formula was simple: cool, high-tech introduction video, lots of play time with a fun game, and thousands of excited bloggers writing about the awesome new Wii Sports Resort.

Beachlife In Times Square

Now that Nintendo had the gaming blogosphere atwitter with news about Wii Sports Resort, it was time for a big mainstream push, and Nintendo executed their next move beautifully. They took over the center of the universe, Times Square, and turned Military Island into its own personal beach. Wii Sports Resort branding and kiosks were everywhere, and fans and tourists came around to see what the fuss was all about. Again, here was Nintendo, engaging its consumers face-to-face by allowing them time in front of the fun, new Wii Sports Resort. Throw in a little celebrity action (Chace Crawford), invite a bunch of press and voila, you’re today’s top story.

Long Summer Days

Wii Sports Resort’s timing is as important as its initial launch period, and Nintendo is benefiting from a dearth of notable games in the first half of the year. With summer upon us, you now have lots of bored kids out of school, itching for something to do.

This makes Nintendo’s follow up television commercial perfect, both for the season and the demographic. It shows the familiar Mii characters in Wii Sports Resort events, along with people having fun (Wii Motion Plus in hand). The summer theme is in full effect here and, coupled with a familiar brand in Wii Sports, makes this a perfect introduction for those players who have a few bones to spend.

{link no longer active}

And for that demo that just doesn’t watch television anymore, Nintendo has an Internet campaign that strikes the same chord.

{link no longer active}

Already A Hit

A game like Wii Sports Resort benefits from having a long tail, much like Wii Play, a game that has racked up 23 million units sold (largely thanks to a Wii remote being packed-in).

So far, the early education of Wii Motion Plus and how it relates to Wii Sports Resort is paying off. Before Wii Sports Resort release on July 26, Nintendo had already moved almost 400,000 units of the Wii Motion Plus peripheral (169,000 alone, 205,000 with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10).

As for the game itself, NPD data for July should show a very strong introduction for Wii Sports Resort, but Japanese sales already place Wii Sports Resort as the third-fastest selling Wii game ever (only Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros. Brawl raked in more unit sales in its first four days). Analysts expect Wii Sports Resort to top sales of 18 million by the end of the year.

Wii Sports Resort and Nintendo’s marketing machine show the importance of a good introduction along with tailoring your message to the season, demographic and mainstream consumer that has led to its dominance in the current generation. Now who’s up for a quick game of table tennis?

Music Games Are A Fad

From IndustryGamers: {link no longer active}

Media giant Viacom has announced its fiscal results for the second quarter ended June 30. From a game industry perspective, the most interesting aspect of this of course ties into MTV Networks, which publishes the popular Rock Band franchise from Harmonix. Sales at the Media Networks division (home to MTV Networks) dropped 8 percent for the period to $1.97 billion. The cause Viacom put most of the blame on “a 41 percent decline in ancillary revenues driven by lower sales of the music video game Rock Band.”

If you thought music games were anything but a fad, you may want to think again.

Music games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero are already down over 30 percent worldwide, and companies like Viacom and Activision are scratching their heads wondering why their golden goose is feeling sick.

We have a couple of reasons:

Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour were just not that different from their originals, so why bother upgrading, especially if I can download all the same tunes anyway?
– Gamers are probably feeling a bit burned as they head to Gamestop to trade in their plastic instruments in hopes of upgrading to newer ones, only to find their $100+ purchases reduced to $2 prices.

Can anything stop the bleeding Activision is pinning its hopes on the upcoming hip-hop focused DJ Hero, complete with turntable, while MTV Games is hope The Beatles Rock Band makes the Harmonix deal well worth it.

Time will tell if gamers have already changed their tune. (See what I did there )

Hollywood and Games: Infamous Gets Picked Up

From The Hollywood Reporter: {link no longer active}

Screenwriter Sheldon Turner is becoming even more “inFAMOUS.”

Sony Pictures has pre-emptively picked up a pitch from Turner to adapt the Sucker Punch Prods. video game into a feature film. The deal is for seven figures.

The studio is working out a deal for rights to the game, which was published by sister company Sony Computer Entertainment.

Avi Arad and Ari Arad will produce. Sony executives Matt Tolmach and Jonathan Kadin are handling for the studio.

Infamous already has a comic book line and soundtrack collection, with games like Assassin’s Creed II and the Halo series following suit with similar multimedia initiatives later this year.

Is this the future of gaming?   Buy the game, but don’t forget the comic, DVD series, anime, soundtrack, toothbrush and cereal?