Jay Z Battles Eminem For ‘DJ Hero’

Activision enlisted a couple of heavyweight rappers in the TV spot for DJ Hero.   The ad puts Jay Z and Eminem on stage to duke it out, highlighting the exclusive mash-up track from the artists that’s featured in the game.

The ad has a couple nifty visual touches.  The rappers perform with a backup band and a DJ spinning sounds on a DJ Hero station.  As the DJ moves the cross fader bar on the controller, instruments and musicians get dragged across the stage to visually represent how the sound is getting manipulated.  The stage also has two starkly different backdrops for Jay Z and Eminem, each reflecting the artist’s persona.

Aside from the exclusive mash-up of  Eminem’s “My Name Is (Slim Shady)” and Jay Z’s “Izzo HOVA,” the spot plugs the more than 93 original tracks in the game.

Watch it at YouTube {link no longer active}.

Social Media Winners And Losers

New data from Experian Hitwise measuring traffic and engagement on social media sites highlights the rise of Facebook, and reveals a surprising decline in user engagement at Twitter.  ReadWriteWeb covers their findings for the top five sites.

The data shows the continued mercurial rise of Facebook.  As of September 2009, the number one social site saw an increase in traffic of 194 percent in year-over-year comparison.  The report shows nearly 60 percent of all social media traffic goes to Facebook.  Meanwhile the popularity of former star MySpace continues to tumble, with a 55 percent decline in traffic in the same period.

The growth category crown goes to Twitter, which had traffic skyrocket by 1,170 percent in the past year.  Yet even with that growth the data revealed a couple of surprises about the microblog site.  While making number four in the top five list, Twitter draws less than two percent of overall social media traffic.  It also had a precipitous drop in user engagement over the past year, which Experian Hitwise measured as falling from 36 minutes to 16 minutes per user.  Twitter is topped on the list by Tagged, a new social media player that has been cited for spamming and misrepresenting itself in emails to draw users.  The top five list is rounded out by myYearbook, another social site that the study shows might be past its glory days.

Check out the full traffic and engagement results for the five sites at ReadWriteWeb {link no longer active}.

Developer Sees iPhone Install Base Boosting To 300 million

Mobile game developer Tag Games sees a coming spike in install base for Apple iPhone and iPod Touch as the devices expand in Asia and have fewer exclusive deals with mobile carriers.  Reported in Gamesindustry.biz, the comments were made by Tag Games Paul Farley at a UK game event.  Farley sees Apple’s expansion into Russia and China and fewer iPhone exclusive deals driving penetration of the devices up to 200-300 million units.  He thinks game developers need to consider the install base and start taking the devices seriously.

Farley also predicts that companies such as social game developer Playfish, and not necessarily big game publishers, will be among the first to take advantage of the promising free-to-play model on iPhone.

Read more at Gamesindustry.biz.

Facebook Fans Flock To ‘Guitar Hero’

Activision says Guitar Hero is the first console game franchise to draw more than one million fans on its Facebook page, reports Industry Gamers.  The publisher sees the milestone as an indication of the broad, global appeal of its franchise.  The series has sold more than 38 million units worldwide, including 7 million units to-date in 2009.

Read more at Industry Gamers {link no longer active}.

Of Top 25 U.S. Newspapers, 24 Shrink In 2009

The Audit Bureau of Circulations report for 2009 shows that among top 25 US newspapers only the Wall Street Journal gained subscriptions, reports Ad Age.  ABC found paid circulations dropped at an average weekly rate of nearly 11 percent in the year.  In year-over-year comparisons, double digit drops were recorded at 15 of the top 25 newspapers.  Meanwhile the Journal managed a gain of about 14 percent, benefiting from an increase in paid online subscriptions.

The Journal has more than 400,000 paying online subscribers.  Without its online subscriptions, the paper would’ve been among the losers with a slight two percent decrease in paid print subscriptions in 2009.  Ad Age sees the Journal’s success online as daring other papers to seek out a paid digital model.

Ad Age has a table with ABC s figures for paid circulations in 2008 and 2009 for the top 25 U.S. papers. Read more at Ad Age {link no longer active}.

ABC Cancels Skywriting Stunt For ‘V’

ABC has canceled plans to promote the upcoming sci-fi TV show V with a skywriting campaign over major U.S. landmarks, reports The Hollywood Reporter.  The network had planned to cover the skies over 26 landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and Boston s Fenway Park.

While the network has released a statement that it is putting marketing money elsewhere, Hollywood Reporter speculates otherwise.  After they broke the story, a Washington Post article exposed the amount of air pollutants ABC’s plan would have released into the air.  The Post also pointed out how ABC parent Disney has vowed to cut its emissions by half by 2012.

For anyone wondering what the stunt might have looked like, the Reporter offers a glimpse with a shopped photo.

Read more at The Hollywood Reporter {link no longer active}.

Services Such As OnLive Not Yet Mass Market, Says Microsoft

Xbox Live head for Microsoft Europe Jerry Johnson says cloud computing and streaming game services are not yet mass market products, reports Gamesindustry.biz.  Johnson made the comments at the BAFTA “Digital Distribution and the Future of the European Games Market” conference.  He sees needed improvements in technology that prevent accelerated mass adoption of services such as OnLive and Gaikai.

GI.biz includes reports in the same story about comments regarding Apple’s entry into the game console market.  Speaking at the London Game Conference, Screen Digest analyst Nick Parker suggests Apple may enter game consoles in the next generation, launching a machine powered by Intel chips.

Read more at Gamesindustry.biz.

Ubisoft Going Big For ‘Assassin’s Creed II’

Ubisoft is feeling warm and fuzzy about the prospects for Assassin’s Creed II, and it plans to turn up the heat in the coming weeks with a big marketing spend.  Talking to Gamesindustry.biz, Ubisoft UK head of marketing Murray Pannel says enormously positive feedback for the game has the publisher feeling as if it’s sitting on the franchise’s second blockbuster.  He says while PR and marketing for the title began in the spring, the fruits of big spends such as TV ads and launch events will bear out in the early weeks of November.  The title is slated for release on November 20.

Read more at Gamesindustry.biz.

Xfire Game Store Combines Shopping With Community

Game community and digital download site Xfire is working social networking features into online shopping.  The company’s Xfire Game Store is an online store selling full version downloads of popular and recently released PC games.  The revamped store announced today incorporates networking features from the site’s game community to facilitate shopping.  As spelled out by the company’s press release, new features allow shoppers to view their friends gamer profiles, see what they’ve bought and are currently playing, and even watch live game play footage.  Xfire says it has 14.5 million members across 100 countries.

Read more in the press release {link no longer active}.

‘Assassin’s Creed Lineage Part 1’

If you haven’t done so already, make today the day you spend about 15 minutes to peek into the future of high-profile game franchise building, courtesy of Ubisoft.  Yesterday Ubisoft released the first part of a live action short-film trilogy promoting Assassin’s Creed II.   The short films, eventually totaling about 38 minutes in runtime, act as a prequel to the story that players will experience in the game.  They feature the same actors whose voice and likeness appear in the sequel.

The films are the work of the game publisher’s in-house creative staff and Hollywood production company Hybride Technologies.  Hybride was responsible for the special effects in Warner Brothers’ green-screen girded  300.   Ubisoft’s Yannis Mallat has called out the Assassin’s Creed Lineage shorts as having the same production value the publisher would want in a full length feature film.  Mallat has also said the effort is an experiment by Ubisoft in filmmaking, one that may lead to bigger involvement for the company in Hollywood projects based on its game properties.

Watch it at YouTube.