Feature: Chevrolet Kinects With Volt

 Kinect is the new motion sensing device for Xbox 360, and many are enthusiastic about its potential for games. However, at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, Microsoft showed off its potential for brands as well. The Chevrolet Volt factored largely into this and we talked with Mary Kubitskey, National Advertising & Sales Promotions Manager for Chevrolet, to get their half of the story.

How did the collaboration with Microsoft for the 2010 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival come about?

We were looking to launch Volt in a unique way; we were looking for different places to go with that because it’s an innovative car so we needed to innovate on the advertising side as well.  We love to talk to companies that do that same thing, and Microsoft really fit the bill.

I saw that the way that the Volt is unlocked in Kinect Joy Ride is by watching a video advertisement in the Xbox Live dash.

See, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Initially, the people who are going to embrace that new Microsoft technology are going to be important early influencers, and they were looking for people who are a good match for that. Volt is also a leading edge technology, so it fit together perfectly.

Tell me about some of your mobile brand experiences you’re considering, like using Bing, reserving to test-drive a Volt and the Windows Phone 7 initiative.

What you saw in Cannes . . . was all preliminary. We’re looking to launch the Volt in September, so what we premiered in France was showing potentially what technology could be used to enhance the brand, so we had a lot of fun with it. Our thoughts were that you could interact with it everywhere, be it mobile, with Kinect, or Microsoft Surface, so we threw a bunch of ideas out there.

However, even if some of the creative you saw ultimately doesn’t end up happening, Volt will still be in Kinect Joy Ride.

The 2011 Volt, on what appears to be a putting green.

Tell me about the ability to examine the Volt exterior and interior and why you think this will be important for automotive purchases going forward.

The technology allows you to interact with whatever medium you’d like for a virtual test world. It’s great for Volt; using it, you could build your own car, try different colors, see how the seats and dash might look different. It’s something that you could do before you go down to the dealership and it’s better than a catalog or a website.

Talk to me about the potential to show off Kinect Joy Ride at Chevrolet’s promotional events and showrooms.

The two opportunities that stick out are with the dealership experience and at autoshows. Kinect technology at the events is great because it lets us get out the experience everywhere. It’s just like with some of the smartphone or PC initiatives; people could interact with a push of a button and get a screensaver or send an image to yourself.

Sounds like you’re bullish on the Volt being the face for the “new” Chevrolet as it were, being the model of the future for the brand.

That’s a big part of what the Volt will be for Chevrolet. The car is the most innovative GM has ever built. Most electric cars have between 80 and 100 miles in range. Volt can generate its own electricity using a gas engine, so it changes the game. It’s huge for the automotive industry. This is the first of probably several things that you’ll see from GM.

On a side note, will we see the Volt in Transformers 3?

The Volt was in Transformers 2, actually! He wasn’t one of the main characters, like Bumblebee as the Camaro. You will definitely see Chevrolet cars in Transformers 3.

Also, was there any truth to the rumors that Chevrolet was looking to abandon the Chevy nickname internally?

There’s no way we could stop Americans from using a beloved nickname like that!

Thanks Mary.

Amazon Signs Up For Facebook

Amazon.com this week has announced a program that uses friend’s preferences to give recommendations. This beta program lets Amazon users log in with their Facebook profiles, giving Amazon more information about themselves and what their friends like.

The information only goes one way, and Amazon does not send information back to Facebook without permission and Amazon hasn’t integrated the Like button into its preferences. Customers can disconnect from Facebook and have information sent to Amazon via that method at any time they want.

IGN Getting Social With MyIGN

IGN is launching its own social network called MyIGN. This metagame that will reward IGN users in a game-like fashion for being social taps into the 12.7 million gamers that visit their game oriented site every month.

We created it because gamers are not currently served by social networks, said Peer Schneider, senior vice president and publisher at IGN Entertainment. If I post what I really feel about a game on Facebook, I ll get odd comments from non-gaming friends and family. In our setting, you can feel comfortable talking about gaming. No one else has nailed it.

MyIGN allows users to follow editors, game personalities and particular titles. The goals are to help you discover new games through friends and eventually incorporate matchmaking features.

Source: VentureBeat

Blizzard Would Consider Console Development

Most people probably think of Blizzard as being a PC developer; after all, for the past decade they’ve been defined by PC only titles like Diablo II, World of Warcraft and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. Still, the company has roots in console development with titles like Blackthorne, The Lost Vikings and Rock n’ Roll Racing, and they aren’t ruling out future console titles.

Our heritage actually goes back to console, said Blizzard Entertainment’s VP and executive MD of internal operations Michael Ryder. In the early years Blizzard made console games. It’s not the heritage, it’s the design decisions and what we think is best for our players.

In the more recent years it has been PC and online orientated. But we play all kinds of games at Blizzard. We try to learn wherever we can. We play console games and we are up-to-speed on the console platforms. And if we see an opportunity where the game design would work well on the console, then maybe we will go that way. We just haven’t announced anything yet.

Source: MCV

PlayStation Store Getting Recommendations

The 3.41 firmware update for the PS3 is coming soon, and one of its additions will be the You May Like section for games and videos on the PlayStation Store. This will be a list of items that other PSN members have bought that purchased the item you’re currently viewing.

This feature is a great way to discover new games that you may not know about, and it s another step toward making the shopping experience easier and better for you all similar to the five-star ratings feature we added in the last firmware update, writes Eric Lempel, VP of Network Operations Americas. Please note that while the 3.41 update will be released shortly, the recommendations feature on PlayStation Store is slated to go live by the end of July.

Source: PlayStation Blog

Dexter Deals With Death

Dexter has been among the hottest dark dramas over the past few years. After the big twist at the end of season four, Showtime has unleashed the trailer that will set up the events of season five.


Disney’s Magic Playdom

Confirming earlier rumors, Disney has announced that they are acquiring Playdom. Disney will pay Playdom shareholders $563.2 million and might shell out an extra $200 million, depending on certain performance-linked conditions.

We see strong growth potential in bringing together Playdom’s talented team and capabilities with our great creative properties, people and world-renowned brands like Disney, ABC, ESPN and Marvel, said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. This acquisition furthers our strategy of allocating capital to high-growth businesses that can benefit from our many characters, stories and brands, delivering them in a creatively compelling way to a new generation of fans on the platforms they prefer.”

We are at the start of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way people of all ages play games with their friends across devices, platforms and geographical boundaries, said Playdom Chief Executive Officer John Pleasants. Disney is an incredibly forward-thinking company that shares our vision and is the ideal partner to further our mission to bring great entertainment to people around the world.

Capcom Speeding Up Releases

Capcom has recently been taking as long as four years between sequels for its main franchises. The Japanese publisher indicates to Nikkei.com, however, that it may be looking to reduce that time between one to two years.

Functionally, this should mean an increase in the number of main franchise releases (like Resident Evil) from two a year to three or four. This will be done by continuing to outsource to outside developers, Capcom says it’s making the change to better meet the needs of players, and naturally to boost its own business.

Source: Kotaku

Darkspore Mutates Into First Teaser

While the first Spore game went the light and fluffy route with its aesthetics, its ‘dark’ successor won’t look or really play anything like it. Darkspore is a sci-fi action RPG, and as you can see from the trailer below, has a much harder edge.


Geeking Out On Ads

The geeks are inheriting the Earth, if you believe a study from Geeknet. Their study in the U.S., Britain and Germany with Forrester Consulting says 66 percent of online respondents have “geek tendencies.”

This means that many people online work in IT jobs and might also have “Technology Enthusiasm” and Geek Passion in that they keep up with new tech trends and like to understand how things work. Some, however, are “Non-Tech Geeks,” where they like geeky things but aren’t as technically oriented.

On nearly a two-to-one basis, self-identified geeks were more likely to read a lot about things that interested them, liked solving problems and thought that technology made their life better. The term geek itself has turned around from a negative into a positive.

“We’ve certainly seen a turning of the corner — more than a turning of the corner — about that,” says Scott Kauffman, CEO of Geeknet. “because there’s a deep intelligence behind it. I used to call myself a music fan. Now I call myself a music geek.”

While this group might appear ad adverse, they are actually twice as likely to say that an ad helped them make a purchase decision, and are similarly likely to check out a website of a product or make a purchase online.

Interestingly, geeks are also more brand-loyal and spend more on a product associated with their image. “They take pride in using information to get the best products, which probably doesn’t mean the most expensive,” says Kauffman. “They’re confident in the decisions they’ve made. They have higher educations and higher incomes, so they’ve got the purchasing power.”

Geeks are receptive to ads, if it is on their terms and integrated into their lifestyle. “If the information is relevant to them — no longer a 30-second spot, but more integrated into their lifestyle — then their response is not so much ‘I’m getting hit with a commercial message’ as it is ‘I’m getting information that’s relevant to me,'” says Kauffman. “These are smart people, and their antennae are way up.”

Importantly, geeks are often touchpoint consumers that others turn to for advice on purchases, whether technological or not. “Geeks are getting the last laugh here,” says Kauffman. “Technology is no longer exclusionary. Geeks were there first, so now it’s easy for them to be setting the agenda.”

Source: AdWeek