Sakura Wars Gets Social Treatment

Popular Sega RPG series Sakura Wars is getting on the social gaming bandwagon. Sakura Wars: All-star Collection will launch on GREE later in September.

Featuring a cast of characters recognizable to series fans, the game will have the “LIPS” (Live & Interactive Picture System) conversation system. Basically, what this means is that players will make conversation choices which will lead to different story outcomes and affect the mood of the various girls in your team, and if a girl’s mood is good enough her card status will rise.



Microsoft Opens Doors For A London Studio

Microsoft has officially opened a new studio in London that will focus on entertainment services for the Windows 8 tablet. It will be headed up by production director Lee Schuneman, who led development of Kinect Sports, the Xbox 360 avatars, Fable: The Journey and the Sky TV app while at Rare.

“I’m hugely excited by this new venture,” said Schuneman. “Adding a fourth U.K.-based studio to the incredible roster of talent already in place across Rare, Soho Productions and Lionhead not only increases our in-region studio presence, but will allow Microsoft Studios to explore the many creative and business opportunities that developing new games and entertainment experiences on Windows 8 tablet devices and platforms will afford.”


Nintendo Network Premium Details

Nintendo recently announced that those buying the deluxe version of the Wii U will receive Nintendo Network Premium. This will work somewhat like a reward scheme where the more purchases you get, the more points you get.

Members who buy Wii U games will receive ten percent of the price back in the form of Nintendo points. These points can subsequently be put towards future online purchases.


Think Branding: A New Way To Look At Marketing

Marketing today has the opportunity to reach a higher level than ever before. Technologies are cropping up all the time that let brands connect with consumers, something Google calls “moments that matter.”

“It is sometimes tempting to think that the technology is enough. We sometimes get so excited about the shiny new thing that we forget about the actual big marketing idea needed to take advantage of the shiny new thing,” wrote Tom Fishburne of Marketoon Studios. “Today I want to talk about marketing worth sharing. The big marketing idea matters more than the available technology. Technology can’t save a boring idea. But technology can amplify a remarkable idea.”

Word of mouth is and always will be the strongest form of advertising because it is genuine. People have to want to spread a message because it is social.

“Many of the brands we work on were born in the Mad Men era of the 1950s and 60s. Much of our marketing mindset comes from that era,” detailed Fishburne. “One of the first brands I worked on was Green Giant. In my turnover, I received a brand brief literally written by a young Leo Burnett before he started his own agency. In that era, men like Don Draper or Leo Burnett would tell us what our brands stood for, and then he’d tell consumers. There were captive audiences with three television networks, so brands were defined by these Mad Men.”

No longer will consumers be dictated to from on high. There are literally thousands of touchpoints that users can and will experience with a brand and the consumer has to own those moments.

“Here’s an example from a few weeks ago. The London Olympics wanted to protect official sponsors, so they orchestrated an historic ban on ambush marketing. Parliament made ambush marketing illegal with stiff penalties. A bakery was prevented from having buns shaped like the Olympic rings. Olympic cafe had to change it’s name. Athletes faced a Twitter ban,” Fishburne noted. “But along comes Beats by Dr. Dre, a headphones brand. They’re not an Olympic sponsor. But they were everywhere in the Olympics. Every time you tuned in, athletes were wearing them. Every time you looked online, people were talking about Beats.”

It wasn’t about headphones, it was about consumer expression. “Everybody has something that makes them one-of-a-kind #showusyourcolor.”

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing,” he said. “The new mindset we need as marketers is to create marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing. We need to create stories that are inherently worth sharing. We need to create experiences that consumers can make their own.”

It’s worth noting that technology alone is not enough, it must be used correctly. If advertisements are just as boring accessed through a QR code as a website address, then everyone is wasting their time.

It’s also important to remember its not about the brand, something Nike realized when they didn’t use Chalkbot to put their brand everywhere. “Instead they sent Chalkbot to the Tour de France and programmed it to draw messages of cancer support provided by consumers in social media,” he added. “Chalkbot would then photograph the message on the road and send the picture back to the consumer who left it, along with GPS coordinates of where this physical artifact was on the Tour de France route.”

Sailor Jerry also let users “own” the brand by getting tattoos in the style of the famous tattoo artist for which the brand was named. Many participated, and not just people who already had tattoos.

Continuity is important as well, not just attempting to go viral with one video. Finally, it’s important to emphasize that consumers make a brand awesome, not the other way around.

Betabrand is a small clothing brand that describes itself as 1 percent fashion, 99 percent fiction. They encourage users to post videos and pictures of themselves with their clothes, even offering them a discount.

“My main point for today is that all of our brands have the capacity to make our consumers more awesome. These are the moments that really matter. I want to leave you with the image of this guy skydiving into Burning Man, an accomplishment made even more awesome by his disco ball pants. There has never been more powerful technology at our disposal to make these moments happen. So the opportunity for you is to ink about how this technology can help make these types of moments happen for your brands and your consumers,” concluded Fishburne.



Reggie Fils-Aime Talks ‘Love’ For Free-To-Play

Nintendo has had an uneasy relationship with free-to-play games, not helped by a speech given by CEO Satoru Iwata during GDC ’11 questioning the value of games given away for free. Nintendo appears to be turning the corner with free-to-play on the Wii U, however, and Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said his company is open to numerous types of business models.

“Free-to-play or any other business model really needs to be separated out into the business model itself and the content that delivers on that business model,” said Fils-Aime. “In terms of business models, we love them all. Full priced games, smaller digital content, free-to-play, consumable content, subscription services . . . we love them all. The good news is that the system that will support Wii U will accommodate all of those business models. So at that point, it’s up to the developer and publisher to figure out what it is that they want to do.”

“On the content side, we just believe it’s important that the content match the business model. And some of the people who are having trouble today are, I think, examples where the content is not matching the business model by having something that’s free-to-play but it’s not hooking me and I’m not getting far enough into the game to actually spend money on future purchases, that’s a bad business model,” he added. “I’m not going to call out any competitors, but there are a number of people where [it’s a problem]. Pick the business model, and I can find people where it’s working and I can find people where it’s not.”



Chinese Brands Transforming Product Placement

Chinese products are increasingly finding their way into interesting places like The Big Bang Theory with Shuhua Milk, made by the Chinese dairy giant Yili and Chinese computer company Lenovo and the electronics company TCL as marketing partners on Iron Man 3. Though The Big Bang Theory doesn’t air on regular Chinese television, it has drawn as many as 18 million hits on domestic video sites.

“Chinese consumers are wowed when they see Chinese brands in American media,” said Janie Ma, entertainment marketing director at Ogilvy Beijing, which represents Lenovo. “It polishes the brands’ local image.”

This practice is widely acceptable in China, where brands sometimes subsidize as much as 30 percent of a movie’s budget for the privilege. Chinese director Feng Xiaogang’s film A World Without Thieves, for example, featured BMW, Nokia and Canon, among others.

Now that Chinese films have become completely saturated with such ads, Chinese companies turn to films from the West. This is coupled with a general belief that Hollywood represents a globalized cool.

“We think Hollywood movies have great advantages in their quality, box office [reach] and commercial operation compared with domestic films,” said Xie Wei, brand manager for Meters/Bonwe. “To a certain extent, Hollywood means high-tech, high box office, high quality.”

With Hollywood films dominating the Chinese box office, the tact may be working.  In the 2011 film Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a Chinese scientist slurps a carton of Shuhua Milk in an elevator with star Shia LaBeouf, saying “Let me finish my Shuhua Milk” in the Chinese version. The line became an online catchphrase in China; sales of Shuhua Milk rose 12 percent last year.

“One of the key goals of product placement is to make a brand seem bigger than it actually is,” said Morgan Spurlock, director of the documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and a product-placement expert. “And in a lot of places around the world, nothing does that better than being in a Michael Bay movie.”

This hasn’t stopped some Chinese consumers from criticizing the moves. “It is creepy to watch Transformers 3,” wrote one user on blog Sina Weibo. “The hero, who works in a big U.S. company focusing on national defense, would use a computer produced by Lenovo And people drink Shuhua Milk produced by China ”

“A beautiful day begins with a bottle of Shuhua Milk ” said Tong Xi, a marketing manager at the magazine Cosmo Bride. “So embarrassing, it not only smashed the brand’s image but destroyed Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”

There are risks for Chinese brands targeting a native audience, as some Hollywood films are barred in China and there are limited slots for non-Chinese movies. Also, some Chinese companies are unfamiliar with the way that Hollywood production works.

“The industry [in China] is really fluid and flexible. There are no established mechanisms, no established procedures,” said Norm Marshall, a Burbank product-placement expert. “I had one brand that was going to spend some ungodly amount of money on a movie that was already three-quarters in production. Somebody [in China] was telling them: ‘We can do it.’ And there was no way it could be done.”

Source: L.A. Times


Monster Hunter Film Might Come From Resident Evil Director

According to reports by Cinema Today, Capcom might work on a Monster Hunter film. Paul W.S. Anderson was asked about ideas for conversion from games to movies, and responded, “Recently, I’ve been loving Monster Hunter! A film conversion is currently in planning.”

While Anderson would need a new project after he finishes up with Resident Evil, it’s uncertain if a Monster Hunter film has even been greenlit or if he will definitely be involved. Resident Evil is currently in its fifth incarnation named Retribution and a sixth film is planned pending the results coming after the film’s release September 14.



James Cameron Might Make Fourth Avatar Film

It has been confirmed that James Cameron could shoot three more Avatar eventually. A fourth film, which is not actively being worked on and would probably follow his long awaited Battle Angel Alita adaptation, would be a prequel.

“I haven’t really put pen to paper on it, but basically it goes back to the early expeditions of Pandora, and kind of what went wrong with the humans and the Na’vi and what that was like to be an explorer and living in that world,” said Cameron. “Because when we drop in, even in the first film in ‘Avatar 1,’ as it will be known in the future, we’re dropping into a process that’s 35 years in to a whole colonization.

“We’ll focus on Avatar for the next four or five years. Hopefully right after that . . . I am confident you will see [a Battle Angel movie].” said Avatar producer Jon Landau. “It’s one of my favorite stories, I think it is an incredible story, a journey of self-discovery of a young woman. It is a movie that begs the question: ‘What does it mean to be human Are you human if you have a heart, are you human if you have a mind, are you human if you have a soul ‘ And I look forward to bringing that film to audiences.”

Source: Christian Science Monitor


Romney Rap Reference Rectified

Nicki Minaj recently made a reference to “voting for Mitt Romney” in one of her songs. During Power 95.3’s “Obie and Lil’Shawn” show in Orlando, President Obama was asked about the apparent slight by the rapper.

“I think she had a song on there — a little rap that said that. But she likes to play different characters, so I don’t know what’s going on there,” said Obama, and one of the hosts agreed that it was probably Roman Zolanski, one of Minaj’s negative personas.

Minaj took to Twitter to clarify the issue, completing the full media loop in this issue and confirming that she was speaking through a “character”in the rap. “Ha! Thank you for understanding my creative humor & sarcasm Mr. President, the smart ones always do . . . *sends love & support* @barackobama” she tweeted.



Yaiba: Inafune’s New Project

Keiji Inafune, creator of Mega Man, has been working for months on his new company called Comcept. Considering his pedigree at Capcom that includes Resident Evil, Onimusha and Dead Rising, it makes Yaiba (which means “blade” in English) a highly anticipated new action title.