Apple Honors Jetpack Joyride And Limbo With Design Awards

At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this week, the company handed out several Apple Design Awards. Ten winners were selected this year, and notably five of those were games. Halfbrick’s popular Jetpack Joyride and Disney’s Where’s My Water won awards in the iPhone category, while Playdead’s Limbo and  Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution were given awards for the Mac versions of the games.

Additionally, Apple handed out an award in the Student Developer category for daWindci, Reality Twist’s innovative iPhone and iPad title. You can check out the complete list of 2012 Apple Design Awards winners here {link no longer active}.


Road Trip Marketing

All the focus on digital media is creating something of a premium for marketing efforts that are more personal and face-to-face. The New York Times has a nice article covering the trend of advertisers and media companies sponsoring events across the country. Stuart Elliott notes, “Trucks, buses, RVs and even fire engines are being sent around the country to bring brands to consumers as part of a popular trend known as experiential marketing.”

Elliott continues, “The goal of experiential marketing is to build closer ties with consumers than can typically be forged through traditional tactics like television commercials or cents-off coupons. In this instance, the idea is for people to encounter the brands as they are out and about for activities like camping, attending music festivals, sightseeing and visiting amusement parks.”

A wide variety of brands are trying out this tactic, including Bon Appétit magazine; the CBS television network; Hendrick’s gin; the History cable channel; Hot Rod magazine, in partnership with Walmart; Jack in the Box, the fast-food chain; and the sitcom “New Girl,” on Fox Broadcasting.

They’re loading up trucks and heading to places and events where they can reach some of their key demographics, like the San Diego ComicCon or the Country Music Association Music Festival in Nashville.

Will we be seeing a road trip for game titles soon Need For Speed seems like an obvious choice, but a Call of Duty road trip to malls and key shows could also be a great way to build enthusiasm.


Source: The New York Times

European Commission Burning Your Cookies?

Alex Chapman, a partner and head of interactive media at Sheridans, one of Europe’s leading law firms, offers some advice regarding the new ruling and what it means to web sites.

“The law regarding the use of cookies and user tracking tech has recently changed,” says Chapman. “This comes at a time when the use of analytics in games and online services is now commonplace and as a result of the change and the uncertainty that it has brought, it is inevitable that many web site and games operators may unwittingly find them self on the wrong side of the law.”

Chapman continues, “There is a great deal of uncertainty, as to what that means and what operators actually need to do to comply. Indeed that uncertainty exists, even among the experts and those policing the new law. For example, at the time of writing, it would appear that the European Commission still isn’t complying with its own directive.”

As a consequence, a lot of games companies are wondering what they should do. To help you, we’ve set out what the changes should mean to you and have given you some suggestions on how you can deal with them.

Chapman goes into some detail on how companies can comply with the law, but the law and its interpretation is still in flux. “As a result, it is important to take steps now but also to be prepared to react to future guidance,” Chapman notes. “It is fair to say that, over time, operators may be able to take a less intrusive approach to compliance with the regulations. On the other hand, operators may feel it is appropriate to take additional steps to ensure compliance.”

Chapman’s advice in a nutshell:

  • 1. Check what cookies / tracking tech you use
  • 2. Tell your users what they are and what they do
  • 3. Do something that could be deemed to mean that users are happy with your use of cookies


Source: GamesIndustry International

Habbo Hotel Investors Spooked Over Investigation

Major shareholders in Sulake, the company which runs children’s social network Habbo Hotel, are reportedly returning their investment in the firm after learning of an impending Channel 4 expose of grooming in the site’s chat rooms.

The story is being reported by The Kernel, with the presumably somewhat over-sexed headline of “Habbo Exposed as Paedophile Haven”.

According to that story, Balderton Capital, which owns a thirteen percent stake in Sulake, is returning its investment in the company after learning of a news investigation into chatroom behavior due to be broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK. In that investigation, it’s believed that allegations will be made that active grooming of 14 year olds is taking place on the site, alongside the usual low-level grotesque commentary which plagues so many such facilities.

Sulake CEO Paul LaFontaine has issued a further statement to GamesIndustry International regarding the Channel 4 investigation and the withdrawal of investors.

“I was incredibly concerned to see this report and to hear about the findings of the Channel Four News investigation. As a parent, I understand the critical importance of making sure teenagers and young people have a safe online experience,” said LaFontaine.

“I was sorry to hear of Balderton’s decision to withdraw its involvement, but my priority right now is to address the issues raised by the investigation. In response to Ben’s report, I would like to reassure readers that we at Sulake remain fully committed to the Habbo community and to resolving the issues it currently faces.

“Habbo has a strong record in this area with industry commendations and deep experience experience actively preventing potentially damaging content. Since hearing about the report I have asked my team to tighten security across the site and to strengthen the user rules even further.

I want to take this opportunity to assure our site users that I will be working with my team globally to deliver improved safety levels across the community. Anyone who is concerned can contact me directly on Twitter @PaulLaFo.”

LaFontaine also urged anyone with concerns over the safety of Habbo Hotel to read the statement previously issued on the company blog.

Source: GamesIndustry International

How Is Your Brand Doing In Social Media?

Picking the right metrics is the foundation of figuring out how well your brand is doing in social media. Some guidance from SociaLogic, a social media marketing firm, might help. Jacqueline Zenn, Director of Social Media Strategy, suggests some of the things to look for in social media.

One key indicator is Share of Voice; The number of mentions of your brand versus competing brands on the social web. Zenn says this is a good indicator of consumer awareness as well as how competitive your brand is. You’ll need to collect data on the right competitive brands, though, to make this truly useful.

Zenn points to some basic indicators, like Brand Volume (the number of mentions over a set period) and Engagement (the number of times your brand is talked about on social media sites). More subtle is to track Key Influencer Mentions; you’ll have to determine who those influencers are for your brand, and track the right ones.

Other indicators include Interaction per Post, Sentiment Analysis, Social Click-Through Rate, Platform Reach and Mobile Mentions. Zenn sums it up: “Even with all these metrics, it is important to remember that there is no magic formula that will simply turn your social media marketing efforts into dollars. What all marketers know is that people want to talk candidly and honestly about their experiences with a brand’s services and products, they want to hear directly from the voices of brands themselves, and that they will use multiple public channels to do so.”

Source: Mashable

Mobile Marketing Assignments Still Rare, Survey Finds

There’s plenty of interest in online and mobile marketing, but agencies aren’t necessarily getting the business. A new study from consulting firm RSW/US shows that while marketers are using both mobile and social channels much more than three years ago, agencies haven’t seen a similar increase in mobile and social assignments.

In 2009 mobile marketing placed near the bottom of digital activity, but now it ranks near the top, according to the findings. Despite that, mobile marketing assignments to agencies still rank near the bottom. The explanation? Advertisers once unfamiliar and hesitant in the digital space have grown comfortable and are probably doing more digital marketing themselves, according to Mark Sneider, president of RSW/US.

In addition, some marketers feel that they are ahead of the agencies in understanding and utilizing the space. They “feel like they are leading the agency and the agency isn’t leading them in the digital space,” Sneider said. “Agencies are providing counsel, but marketers aren’t using it. Maybe what agencies think is good counsel isn’t carrying marketers far enough.”

A total of 230 advertiser and agency leaders participated in last month’s poll. Among the brands represented were Purina, Hershey’s, Converse and Panasonic. The agencies included JWT, DDB, MEC and Ketchum.

Source: Adweek

Zelda Majora’s Mask Envisioned For 2012

Zelda remains one of Nintendo’s top brands, and some have wondered why there wasn’t even a mention of the iconic Link at the E3 press conference. Disappointed fans took to YouTube to show off their video skills with this brilliant renvisioning of a classic: Majora’s Mask. Some fans are saying it’s better than anything Nintendo showed for Wii U at E3!


Splinter Cell Blacklist Aims To Breathe New Life Into IP

Ubisoft managed to get plenty of positive attention at E3, clearly making the show a success for the publisher. One of the titles that drew attention from the core was Splinter Cell Blacklist, a fresh take on the adventures of Sam Fisher. Fisher is the leader of the newly formed 4th Echelon unit, which answers solely to the President of the United States. He is charged with stopping the Blacklist – a countdown of escalating terrorist attacks on U.S. interests.


Google Tablet Coming Soon?

The web site Android Authority is reporting that it recently spoke with an “Asus representative” at Computex, who said that the co-branded Google tablet exists and will launch before the end of June. Google’s I/O developer’s conference is scheduled for June 27-29, and it seems likely that would be the time and place for Google to show off their new hardware.

Rumors of a reference tablet by Google have been around for months, with an expected launch this summer. The device is expected to have a 7-inch screen (Kindle Fire-sized) with an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and Nvidia’s GeForce GPU.

Pricing or availability is still unknown, though many think that Google is aiming to be in the neighborhood of $200 to $250, where the Kindle Fire has seen strong sales. Google’s aim here may be to breathe more life into the Android tablet market, which continues to lag badly behind Apple’s iPad.

Source: Cnet