Burger King Helped Spike VGA Push The Envelope

In a story that Ad Age broke on Friday, Spike revealed that it had enlisted Burger King to provide live online streaming of Saturday night s 2009 Vide Game Awards.

Ad Age calls the feat a rarity when compared to how even the biggest award shows such as the Oscars, Emmy s or MTV’s Video Music Awards have never attempted to stream their broadcasts online.  Burger King was an integrated sponsor for the online portion of Spike’s awards show, with a branded video player fed through Spike s web site and its MTV sister site GameTrailers.com.  Burger King worked its Have It Your Way slogan into the sponsorship, not only feeding live camera streams but also letting users pick different cameras all the way from the red carpet entries to green room waits and backstage at the show.

Spike’s marketing head Dario Spina said the partnership with Burger King helped offset the cost of production needed to stream the show online as well as helped limit the number of pre-roll ads viewers would have to sit through.  Burger King had also sponsored the online broadcast for last year’s Video Game Awards but only as a delayed feed.  Ad Age says that last year Burger King had accounted for 71 percent of the traffic to the awards show site.

Read more at Ad Age {link no longer active}.

As Music Genre Slumps, Downloadable Tracks Play On

While NPD Group’s November game industry sales report shed further light on a slumping market for music games Microsoft has said digital tracks are selling well on Xbox Live, reports Gamesindustry.biz.  November showed considerable declines of 65 percent for Activision’s Hero music games and 59 percent for MTV Games Rock Band franchise.  The declines were in spite of high-profile fall releases such as The Beatles: Rock Band for MTV, and DJ Hero and Band Hero for Activision.

Microsoft says despite the slumping sales for the new titles, downloadable music tracks are selling well on Xbox Live.  While not providing figures or specifics, Microsoft’s David Dennis told GI.biz that digital sales of individual tracks and song packs are going strong.   He said that as players adopt games in the music genre where new titles require purchasing expensive plastic peripherals they become “passionate” about building their music collection by buying digital tracks.

Read more at Gamesindustry.biz.

Spiked Debuts

MTV sisters GameTrailers and Spike have done the industry a solid and rounded up the lineup of exclusive game debut videos from Saturday night’s 2009 Video Game Awards show.  This year’s show had one of its most impressive collection of exclusives, which thanks to GameTrailers can now be perused at leisure.  Additional props to GameTrailers’ YouTube-like transparency with viewer traffic and user ratings, which allows for a bit of pocket analysis of how each debuts is faring with the hardcore set, as well as a glimpse at the power of getting these videos on Spike’s TV show.

Debuted games include a surprise announcement about a new True Crime from Activision, EA’s big reveal for the next Medal of Honor, and a lineup of first glimpses for Halo: Reach, Batman: Arkham Asylum 2, Star Wars: Force Unleashed II, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, TRON: Evolution, Spec Ops: The Line, Green Day: Rock Band, Crackdown 2, UFC Undisputed 2010, and Deadliest Warrior.

If you have more time to kill, scroll a little further down to see clips of celebrity presenters at the show such as Snoop Dogg and Tony Hawk, and check out how they’re faring.  Wonder if any of their agents got acquainted with GameTrailers this morning.

Launch the trailers at the Spike VGA page at GameTrailers {link no longer active}.

Ubisoft’s Online Play

Writing for Edge-Online, Tom Ivan talks to Ubisoft digital marketing director Josh Milligan about Uplay.  The publisher launched Uplay last month as a service that runs on console nets Xbox Live and PlayStation Network but customizes the experience for Ubisoft games and community of gamers.  Uplay was integrated into Assassin’s Creed II, and as that game has taken off selling 1.6 million units in its first week according to the publisher Uplay is starting to take its own hold.  One feature Ubisoft is using to set its service apart from the first-party networks it resides on: rewarding gamers with achievement points that can be used to unlock in-game items.  Ivan’s interview with Milligan covers how the idea started, and where Ubisoft hopes to take it.

Read the interview with Ubisoft’s Josh Milligan at Edge-Online {link no longer active}.

Online Event Planning Tools

Writing for Mashable, Jason Keath has put together a list of fourteen free online tools that facilitate event planning.  Keath’s is a soup to nuts list that covers the steps from getting the word out and inviting guests to pulling it all together and following up.  Whether to discover new tools or find ways to customize well-known ones from Google to Twitter and Facebook, it seems a worthy rundown.  Some of the more nifty tools stand out as possible ways to inject novelty into otherwise daunting or dreary tasks for organizers and attendees alike, and as a result possibly boost buy in for the event.

Check it out at Mashable.

Spike VGA Spotlight Was On Current And Future Games

If Spike s 2009 Video Game Awards show managed to prove one thing this year it is that what s on shelves is as important to game consumers as what they can anticipate to play one, two, maybe even three years from now.  The program, which aired on Saturday night, wasn’t just about honoring the year s best games.  While titles such as Sony’s Uncharted 2, Take-Two’s Left 4 Dead 2, and Nintendo’s The New Super Mario Brothers took top honors, the spotlight may have been shining more brightly on what s coming down the pike from the likes of Halo, Batman, Star Wars and Rock Band.  Exclusive first-look trailers have always been a part of the VGA, and a coveted placement for game marketing and PR folks.

This year it became central to the show, with the network dedicating considerably more air time for the game announcements, as well as making it a central part of its promotions for the show.  Spike may have made it easy for marketing heads to circle the calendar on when to pull the veil off of their games.  Now the onus is on their PR teams to keep some semblance of that buzz alive for the months and years to come until the products see the light of day.

Check out the list of winners and games announced at the 2009 Spike VGA at Joystiq.

Metacritic’s Best Games And Platforms Of 2009

Writing for entertainment reviews aggregator Metacritic, Jason Deitz rounds up the year’s best games and the game platform with the highest rated products based on critics review scores.  Sony edges out Microsoft in consoles for the first time in 2009, with both a slate of well-reviewed PS3 exclusives and higher scores for PS3 versions of multiplatform games.  Meanwhile Wii woes get another spotlight, here in the form of software quality where the highest rated games are in the middling 80 or high 70 percentile while top Xbox 360 and PS3 titles trend much higher.

Check out the roundup, including PC games and handheld systems, at Metacritic.

Ten Best Ads Of The Decade

Business Insider is featuring the top ten TV ads of the decade, as chosen in a poll conducted by Adweek.  As Business Insider points out, Adweek was focused on creative that defined the decade and not necessarily those judged on entertainment factor alone.  The list also doesn’t include Super Bowl ads, which Adweek is ranking in a separate poll.

Creative for videogames gets a nod in Microsoft s diorama spot for Halo3.   A Sony ad for PlayStation was nominated but didn’t get the votes; it’s in the expanded list.

Watch the top ten at Business Insider.

The expanded list of all nominees and voting results are at Adweek {link no longer active}.

Transforming The Franchise

GameTrailers has the exclusive debut trailer for Activision’s Transformers: War for Cybertron, the publisher s third title based on the IP.  The trailer opts for slick CG over any glimpses of in-game, focusing on a premise reveal that separates this game from Activision’s prior film-based Transformer titles.  Slick set pieces and well-directed action highlight the setting as a battle-scarred Transfomers home planet, with the game taking place long before the robots brought their hulking mess of a war to Earth.

Watch it at GameTrailers {link no longer active}.

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.