Valve Lending Source Engine To Animated Film

Technolgies and talent in the film and video game worlds often overlap, especially when it comes to animated movies. Valve’s Source engine has already been used for some great gaming visuals and now it’s about to be leveraged for the silver screen as the developer will be collaborating with Irish production company Brown Bag Films on a new animated feature film.

Shane Acker, known for the quirky animated movie 9, is working on a new animated movie called Deep and it will make use of Valve’s Source engine for rendering, editing, animation and lighting. The movie’s already in pre-production and will also lead to a marketing tie-in with a video game based on the film. The Steam platform is also being considered for distribution.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Apple’s Got Game, New Hardware

Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina display was the big news of the World Wide Developer Conference keynote today, but games also occupied a leading role. Some of the featured items included Game Center coming to OS X, AirPlay mirroring demonstrated for Macintosh, and Diablo III getting updated for Retina Display resolution.

The new MacBook Pro’s Retina display features 2880 x 1800 resolution, and Diablo III is being updated to take advantage of it. “You are going to see a gaming experience unlike any you’ve seen before,” said Apple’s Phil Schiller as he showed screens from the game. Game developers may be paying more heed to the Macintosh, as there are now 66 million Macs in operation, triple the number of 5 years ago. That’s nowhere close to the total number of iOS devices, which Apple announced is now at 365 million, but it’s still a respectable market.

Apple has also refreshed the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lineups with the latest Intel Ivy Bridge processors and Nvidia graphics, along with support for USB 3.0 and 720p FaceTime cameras. Prices start at $999 for the 11 inch MacBook Air, and at $1199 for the 13 inch MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro 13 inch starts at $1499, while the 15-inch model starts at $1799. All are available immediately.

The new iOS 6 is being released today in beta, with the full release scheduled for the fall. Over 200 improvements are included, including a makeover for Siri, better Facebook integration, notification improvements, and a new Apple-built Maps app. OS X Mountain Lion will be available in July for only $19.99, and will also add over 200 new features to the operating system. Not surprisingly, much of this release is focused on better iOS integration, and bringing many popular iOS features to the Macintosh desktop, building in iCloud, Dictation, Messages, and a new Notification Center.

Apple’s bringing their iOS Game Center to OS X and the Macintosh. Game Center is used by 67 of the top 100 games in the App Store, and now has 130 million accounts. Those gamers are posting 5 billion scores per week. Game Center will soon be featuring challenges, which will be similar to Achievements in Xbox Live. Multiplayer gaming is now supported Mac-to-Mac and cross-device as well.

Even Siri is getting into playing games, as she can now launch applications on voice command. The example given: “Play Temple Run.”

Miniclip Heads To Licensing Expo

Miniclip, with 70 million online game players per month, is kicking off a global brand extension strategy that will begin with its debut at this year’s Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. The company will look to leverage their game characters and related intellectual property, including “Hambo”, “Gravity Guy”, and “Extreme Skater” – for licensing and promotional efforts. Miniclip is represented by Dimensional Branding Group (DBG), a premiere brand extension agency.

Miniclip, the site that launched Club Penguin, has created a variety of recognizable digital properties, some of which have been played over a billion times, across online and mobile platforms. “Miniclip has an active, engaged, and growing user base all across the globe that is familiar with our brand name and many of our great game titles whether online or on mobile. It’s an opportunity that’s ripe for a thoughtful brand extension strategy,” said Chris Bergstresser, VP & Commercial Director of Miniclip. “Licensing Show will be our big debut and we’re looking forward to using the show as the springboard for our brand to access new outlets for distribution in 2012 and beyond.”

With a core audience of young game players and families, the site has created a family friendly brand that is trusted to deliver compelling games for over ten years across the globe. The largest group of users hail from the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and India, with a large and growing number of its audience stemming from emerging markets. The company will look across all product categories and promotional channels as it builds its brand for consumers.

iPad Use Projected To Double In 2012

Apple’s iPad is projected to almost double its audience in the U.S. in 2012, according to projections from eMarketer, a research and analysis firm. Their report projects iPad use to reach 53.2 million in the U.S., up more than 90 percent over last year. This represents more than a 75 percent market share among tablet owners in the U.S.

That growth is down from last year’s 144 percent growth, and eMarketer projects a continued decline in the growth rate, with growth in 2015 to be only 12 percent. Of course, that’s partly because with such explosive growth about one-third of all U.S. Internet users will have a tablet by then.

The fastest growth is in the under-12 and the 65-and-older age groups, which currently have relatively low tablet usage. Those most likely to use a tablet are between the ages of 25 and 44; in that group around one-third will be using a tablet in 2012. Right now eMarketer estimates that 54 percent of tablet users are male, but they expect the gender split to be roughly even by 2015.

Source: eMarketer {link no longer active}

Halo Living Monument

Microsoft and 343 Industries want to recognize your heroic sacrifices with the Halo Living Monument, an interactive memorial that will honor players’ love of the franchise. The monument is a rotating Master Chief with interactive limbs displaying hexagonal portraits of those who have taken the opportunity to upload a photo onto the internet. To participate in the monument, sign in with Windows Live and load a photo from Facebook and leave a comment. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this momentous marketing occasion.


Three Lessons From Chief Marketing Officers

The recent Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Forum had a number of leading CMOs appear, including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Ford’s Jim Farley, and Google’s Margo Georgiadis. McKinsey’s Marc Singer pulled together three key principles from the talks:

1. Strategy is more important than ever.

The digital revolution has put us into a “golden age of marketing,” according to Georgiadis. There are many powerful tools available to marketers looking to reach and influence customers. Singer is surprised, though, that marketers often don’t have a strategy; they have a collection of tactics that they think is a strategy. Singer said, “I’m often asked, ‘What should our social media strategy be ‘ My answer is always: ‘What’s your strategy ‘ You need to answer that question first. All the alluring possibilities of social and digital media can easily distract our focus from what really matters to our companies—and to our customers.”

 2. To engage customers and influence brand perception, marketers need to build trust.

Companies are no longer in complete control of their brand, because customers have an important and sometimes decisive voice. “But marketers still have enormous influence around how customers understand and interact with their brand,” says Singer. “In today’s era of customer engagement, that influence comes increasingly in the form of ‘partnerships’ with customers who can help communicate the brand.”

3. Companies need to ‘instrument’ their organizations around target customer segments.

Leading companies have expanded their idea of what ROI should mean. It’s more than just market share and sales; it could also be innovation, R&D savings, employee morale, and so on. “Ford’s Farley makes the connection between ‘brand favorability’ —the customer’s overall perception of a brand relative to competing brands—and pricing power,” notes Singer. “Farley has found that brand favorability is deeply driven by what Ford does in social media.”

Singer feels that in order to get to meaningful ROI, companies really need to figure out what customers matter to them. This is actually an organizational challenge, and companies have to organize themselves around their customers first.

Source: Forbes

Call Of Duty: Black Ops II Getting ‘Consideration’ For Wii U

Call of Duty: Black Ops II will be one of the top game launches this holiday season (if not the biggest this year). On the hardware front, Nintendo is launching the new Wii U this holiday. Could Black Ops II be headed for the Wii U Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia thinks so, but Activision is being coy.

“We take out time to get our ducks in a row before pulling any trigger. We don’t have announcements today but we will be supporting Wii U,” said Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg.

Treyarch studio head Mark Lamia teased the idea but he couldn’t announce anything. “We obviously have been a Nintendo developer for many years and have created many Call of Duty games on the Nintendo platform. [Wii U] is clearly a more powerful platform than its predecessor and… they have obviously a unique controller and interface,” he said.

“And they announced a Pro Controller which appears to be a controller that would be really good for first person shooter games. It just so happens that’s what we specialize in. So that’s an interesting development and then they have that touch display device and you think about the kinds of things you might be able to do and – without getting into specifics – I absolutely have given it consideration and thought. We’re game developers and it’s a new piece of hardware and technology, so we’re always thinking about that stuff.”

Source: GamesIndustry International

Fox Digital Marketing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter In Facebook Game Hidden Haunts

Social games publisher Making Fun, Inc., a division of News Corporation Digital Media Group,  has reached an agreement with Fox Digital Entertainment to integrate scenes from the upcoming movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter within Making Fun’s Facebook game, Hidden Haunts. Nine scenes will be taken from the film have and formatted into a hidden-objects game. This is all to “help players reveal our sixteenth president’s role as history’s greatest hunter of the undead.”

Hidden Haunts is a game defined by a dark, supernatural tone and vintage-styled, photo-realistic scenes,” said John Welch, President of Making Fun. “We are excited by this opportunity, knowing that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’s history-bending tone will sync perfectly with the game, allowing fans of the film to interact with characters and scenes, on an individual basis and with Facebook friends.”

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a stylish, tongue-in-cheek mash-up and a high-octane thrill-ride,” said Rick Phillips, Senior Vice President, Mobile, Fox Digital Entertainment.  “We’re pleased to give action movie fans, vampire fans, gamers, and history buffs a chance to expand their enjoyment through Hidden Haunts gaming and Facebook social media.”

New film-based content is already available now through Hidden Haunts on Facebook.  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter hits theaters on June 22.