Hey Kids, Sweet Robot!

Funcom is preparing to roll out its first youth-targeted massively multiplayer online game, Pets vs. Monsters.   The publisher recently made known its plans to target younger gamers with its MMO role-playing fare under the label Sweet Robot.  As the first Sweet Robot game enters beta, the game maker talks to Gamesindustry.biz about how it reached the conclusion that there is a market for youth-oriented fantasy role-playing games.  It’s a strategy Funcom is planning to pursue even as it continues developing more hardcore-targeted MMOs such as Age of Conan.   As Funcom producer Jon Wright explains, it s about giving children a nice, gradual introduction.

Read the interview with Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas and producer Jon Wright at Gamesindustry.biz.

Social Media Failures

Writing for iMedia Connection, Drew Hubbard outlines five common mistakes brands have made in the way they use or in some cases don’t use social media networks.  Failure to moderate, failure to respond, misidentifying failures; the word fail colors his piece, as do a few cringe-worthy examples.  Throughout it, Hubbard’s arguments and examples manage to highlight one thing: whether it s companies or celebrities, the culprits might have known better if they understood the nature of social media.

Read Drew Hubbard’s article at iMedia Connection {link no longer active}.

Another Down Month For Games In NPD Sales Report

NPD Group s report on November games sales has likely sealed the fate for a down year for the industry in 2009.  As reported in Industry Gamers, NPD s report for the month shows a worse than expected eight percent decline in overall game sales compared to the same period last year.

Just as they did last month, and despite the year s highest-profile releases hitting in November, declines again affected software and hardware.  Sales of software fell just over three percent to $1.4 billion, with a large portion of the revenues attributable to the estimated 6.1 million units of Modern Warfare 2 sold by Activision.  The game represented the month s two best-selling SKUs, topped by its 4.2 million units sold on Xbox 360.  Rounding out the top five software were Nintendo’s The New Super Mario Brothers with about 1.4 million units, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed II Xbox 360 SKU with about 795,000 units, and EA’s Xbox-only title Left 4 Dead 2 with 744,000 units.

Hardware sales fell more than thirteen percent to approximately $1 billion.  The console competition had Nintendo on top again, selling 1.26 million units of Wii along with 1.7 million DS systems.  Microsoft reclaimed second place with about 820,000 units of Xbox 360 compared to Sony’s approximately 710,000 units sold for PS3.

NPD analyst Anita Frazier told Industry Gamers that a down year for games compared to 2008 is looking imminent, as December sales would need a 36 percent spike for break even.  She predicted 2009 total revenues would still reach $20 billion.  Read more at Industry Gamers {link no longer active}.

IGN To Run MSN Game On

IGN Entertainment has partnered with Microsoft to operate the MSN videogame network Game On, reports MediaPost.  IGN will provide syndicated game content from its own game sites and take over Game On’s ad sales efforts.

The content syndication component of the partnership helps further expand IGN Entertainment s reach in the online entertainment category.  Citing comScore Media Metrix data, MediaPost says News Corp. owned IGN reaches nearly 48 million unique users.  Among the network of IGN sites are game sites IGN.com, GameSpy and TeamXbox, digital game content download sites FilePlanet and Direct2Drive, film site Rotten Tomatoes, and lifestyle site AskMen.com.  IGN already syndicates game content to Xbox Live, Yahoo, Hulu and MySpace.

Read more at MediaPost {link no longer active}.

‘Avatar’ Runs Amok Abroad, On YouTube

James Cameron’s big budgeted film Avatar launched a YouTube takeover campaign in fifteen international markets to promote its December 10 world premiere, reports Brand Republic.  The campaign continues today to support the film’s opening to the public.

Brand Republic says the campaign first enlisted YouTube Power Users to promote yesterday’s premiere by letting them film the red carpet from a fans’ perspective.  Starting today, the campaign expands into a site takeover of YouTube’s home page, including a masthead featuring a trailer for the film.  The takeover campaign is running across Europe as well as Australia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Hong Kong.  Brand Republic says the campaign by Avatar distributor Twentieth Century Fox is similar to the one it ran for the summer blockbuster Wolverine: X-Men Origins.

Read more at Brand Republic.

Nielsen Sells Entertainment Trade Media And Show Properties

Nielsen has sold magazine properties in its slate of entertainment and advertising trade publications to e5 Global Media Holdings, reports Business Insider.  Magazines sold by Nielsen include The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Adweek, Brandweek, Mediaweek, The Clio Awards, Backstage, and Film Journal International.  The company also sold Film Expo trade shows ShoWest, ShowEast, Cinema Expo International and CineAsia.

Business Insider says the buyer, Global Media, is a limited liability company held by Pluribus Capital Management and Guggenheim Partners.  Nielsen says the sale is intended to keep it focused on parts of its portfolio with the most growth potential.

Read more at Business Insider {link no longer active}.

MI6 Game Marketing Awards Accepting Entries

The 2010 MI6 Conference has put out a call for entries for the Game Marketing Awards being handed out at the event.  The awards are open to game companies, advertising agencies and individuals who created promotional material for games.  The criteria for entering is that the promotional material to be considered must have been publicly released in 2009.  Entry fees vary based on early bird and late entries leading up to a drop dead deadline on February 5, 2010.

The MI6 Conference takes place April 1, 2010, in San Francisco.  Get more information at organizer PromaxBDA’s web page for the 2010 MI6 Conference {link no longer active}.

Fox To Air IGN Game Guide TV Special

December 12 is shaping up to be passive entertainment day for gamers.  IGN Entertainment has paired up with Fox to air a holiday videogame gift guide TV special on Saturday, Dec. 12, the same day that Spike is broadcasting the 2009 Video Game Awards.  IGN’s show is hosted by Jessica Chobot and fellow IGN editors.  It s focusing on what games people should be playing now or buying as holiday gifts, but IGN has managed to get a high-profile preview exclusive for the program.  They’ll be debuting the cinematic trailer for EA’s Mass Effect 2.   Listings for air times are at IGN.

Read more at IGN.

Nielsen Says Digital Growing But TV Still Dominates

A fourth quarter 2009 study by Nielsen shows U.S. viewing habits on digital platforms growing but television still dominating, with 99 percent of all video content still viewed on traditional TV.  As reported in Adweek, the researcher’s A2/M2 Three Screen Report shows significant growth in online video, up nearly 35 percent since Q3 2009.  The study showed average Americans spent four hours per week on the internet, with 22 minutes of it watching online video.  In comparison, TV viewing took up 31 hours per week on average.

Television viewing using DVR is also on the rise, up more than 21 percent since last quarter.  The study shows the average person spent 31 minutes a week watching programs on DVR.  Nielsen also released figures from the quarterly report showing mobile video usage is highest among teens, measured at seven hours per month.

Read more at Adweek {link no longer active}.

Uber-Effort, After All

It s not that the[a]listdaily would eat crow just because someone served it.  Ok, maybe if it s in a Broodwich.  But it is hard to argue with numbers.

Ubisoft pointed out to us that the videos for No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle called out in yesterday’s newsletter for being too quick and quirky have been getting solid traffic and high marks.  A quick check today on GameTrailers showed that the three shorts had pulled in well over 100,000 views, and 8 or higher out of 10 average ratings from viewers.  Ubisoft says the videos were part of a larger video campaign giving major game sites exclusive content to get top billing, including a couple more meaty videos for GameSpot and IGN.