NASA More Than Curious About Social Media

NASA’s Curiosity mission has been going on longer than the eight months it took for the lander to go Mars and land on August 5, including the years it took the design the rover, build it, plan the flight path, and test it to make sure it could complete the flight to Mars safely…. and social media was incorporated into almost all of it.

“We’d really been building this audience for years,” says Veronica McGregor, social media manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Curiosity’s touchdown on Mars was a trending topic on Twitter for nearly a day. NASA’s social outreach meant that millions of people watched live feeds on the Web despite a lack of live coverage from the major TV networks

The @MarsCuriosity Twitter account started in late 2008 when NASA was testing the rover’s various components, coming soon after the first mission account, which McGregor also launched for the Mars Phoenix mission. JPL’s social media team started a Facebook page about two years later.

The JPL team got permission to broadcast a live stream from the clean room where the rover was being built. For the next nine months, NASA broadcast the assembly for four hours each day.

“People could drop in and watch the rover in whatever stage it was being built,” McGregor says.

That live stream, broadcast via UStream, also featured a chat box in which people could chat with the social media team. This included special guests from the mission team from time to time and lasted about two hours every day.

“We would answer a lot of the questions, every day,” McGregor says.

The stream got 4.3 million unique visits over nine months. Videos like “Cruising with Curiosity” and “7 Minutes of Terror” filled the void after the stream ended.

“That’s using real mission data,” McGregor says.

Another group worked on an Xbox Live game that launched a few weeks before the landing. “There was a lot of groundwork already laid on this,” McGregor says. “Certainly at this NASA center we’ve been leading a lot of things. We are pretty well oiled.”

The years worth of work built an audience of about 150,000 Twitter followers the Saturday before the landing, which they hoped might grow by another 100,000 when it landed. “We thought that was maybe a high bar,” says Social Media Specialist Stephanie Smith. “We knew it was going to be big. We didn’t know how big.”

NASA tripled that number to 300,000 or so as the landing took place, and by Thursday was up to 900,000. The live streaming video had millions of viewers, some of whom gathered for overnight showings at museums.

The lab’s two UStream feeds had a total of about 1.1 million viewers, while the NASA stream itself had several million. Twitter interactions with the Curiosity Twitter account were going so fast team members couldn’t even read them and about 100,000 people were trying to chat in the UStream chat room.

Courtney O’Connor, a social media specialist, says that proves people with a strong interest don’t necessarily need to rely on their local news channels to dictate what to watch. “Social media is allowing [fans] to find each other and connect,” Smith says. “We see these relationships blossom.”

Curiosity’s Twitter account has a personality and has a light tone to her (yes, it’s a her). “If some kind of pop culture reference or song lyric or movie quote comes to mind that makes us laugh, and we can use that hook to get people’s attention, there’s a good chance they’ll click on the link and be exposed to some science and engineering coming straight out of the mission,” says Smith.

Expect to see more over the next two years, where she’ll send back new information including high-resolution video. “It’s a mission of discovery, so we can’t put those discoveries on a timetable, but everything we’ve seen so far has been amazing. We’ve only just begun,” says Smith. “She’s a multitasker. We love her.”


EA’s Origin Coming To Mac, Android, Smart TVs, Facebook

Electronic Arts has confirmed that their Origin service will be coming to Mac, Android, Facebook and smart TVs. This was announced during the keynote by EA COO Peter Moore.

Moore emphasized the importance of pushing Origin out to as many platforms as is possible. He also said that 21 million people have signed up for the download service.

PS Vita Black Ops: Declassified Called ‘True Call Of Duty Experience’


Some feel that Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified will be a significant chance for the PS Vita to see a breakthrough as a system. Activision and Sony are set to talk more extensively about the game at Gamescom after barely mentioning it at E3.

“You can really expect us to deliver a true Call of Duty experience,” Michael Sportouch, Activision’s European VP and GM of the Santa Monica business unit. “We are really excited about the opportunities that the Vita could offer us in terms of connecting with a new audience.”

Source: MCV

Wii U Box Art Design Unveiled


New box art design for the Wii U has a GameCube-esque curve, with the Wii U Logo embedded inside a light blue field. After appearing on Amazon and Target’s websites for select Ubisoft and Warner Bros. titles, Nintendo confirmed their authenticity.

“Nintendo has finalized the design of the Wii U game box art, and many of our publishing partners have already incorporated it into their own game packaging,” said a Nintendo representative. “We are seeing those game packages online as retailers are starting to showcase their games. For details about a specific game’s artwork, please contact the game’s publisher. Nintendo-published game boxes will appear shortly with placeholder logos, and then ultimately with the final artwork for each game.”



PlanetSide 2 — Eight Years

This video shows that PlanetSide 2 is not just popular in the U.S. but is also in China as well. Sony Online Entertainment working with The9 produced this video with first-hand accounts of how war on Auraxis directly affects the players themselves.

What’s more, SOE is announcing its PlanetSide Vet Video Contest, where PS1 veterans should submit 30-second video-diary confessionals describing their most epic, memorable or heroic moment from their PS1 experience. Find out more about this contest at


The Night Market Is Open

To coincide with the launch of Sleeping Dogs, Square Enix has launched the Night Market where fans can check out bonus content and get more details about survival on the streets of Hong Kong. The site includes an Easter egg treasure hunt, teasers, pre-order bonuses and DLC details, plus an exclusive Takedown video for you to unlock which showcases some of the game’s most brutal finishing moves.

The “special video section” features vehicles and bike gameplay, martial arts and hand-to-hand combat videos, plus special sections on the cops and triads who populate the streets of Sleeping Dogs.

Lastly, keep an eye out for “No More Fun and Games,” a special Sleeping Dogs Remix music video which mixes live action and gameplay sequences. The video features the brilliant rapper, The Game, and is directed by Ryan Wick.

Check out the shop to access different pre-order incentives at participating retailers.

World Of Tanks Publisher Says Some Are Too Attached To Retail Models

The announcement of Star Wars: The Old Republic going free-to-play underlined the difficulties of the subscription-only model. Victor Kislyi, CEO of, thinks that the switch to free-to-play is not so easy and that some companies are too attached to old business models.

“Hybrid, again, [developers] are so emotionally attached to the old days of retail and the box, which is a guaranteed revenue on day one. They think to themselves ‘we do free-to-play, we do virtual items to sell, but let’s keep the box or keep the subscription.’ This is how they talk. This is wrong,” said Kislyi. “The essential problem of the box is that as soon as you have a fixed price point you cannot overcome that. When you set up any price there are only a certain amount of people who are ready to pay this price. It’s a very narrow corridor.”

“The people who are not willing to pay $60 or $10 a month for subscription or 99 cents per mobile app, you lose them. They don’t enter, ever,” he added. “They never have a chance to look at your game, to enjoy it for a day or a week. The set price does not cater to those who are willing to pay less, but interestingly you also reject those that are willing to pay more. There are people who would pay for a box of StarCraft for $300 but you’ve lost them.”

Find out more about in this exclusive [a]list interview.


Google Announces Plans To Cut 4,000 Employees From Motorola

Motorola Mobility announced plans to reduce its headcount by 4,000 employees. The company is looking to make two-thirds of the staff reductions outside of the U.S. with plans to close or to consolidate about one-third of its 90 facilities.

Google expects to incur a severance-related charge of no greater than $275 million, anticipated to be largely recognized in the third quarter, with the rest recognized by the end of 2012. The company also expects to incur other restructuring charges related to the actions, most of which will be recognized in the third quarter.

Motorola plans to cut the number of devices the company makes from the 27 it introduced last year to just a few. The company plans to shift to more “innovative and profitable” devices, probably like Google’s Nexus 7 tablet.