Zynga Gets More Flexible Agreement With Facebook

According to an SEC filing, Zynga no longer has special terms with Facebook compared to other developers, but is free to put its games on other social networks. Zynga’s contribution to Facebook’s total revenue has waned over the past year, diminishing from 19 percent in early 2011 to 7 percent in October 2012.

“It’s good for Zynga, and neutral for Facebook,” said analyst Michael Pachter. “The down draft was because Zynga agreed to let Facebook develop games, which they have no intention of doing. No change in view on either, but more positive on Zynga.”

“Zynga’s mission is to connect the world through games,” said Barry Cottle, Zynga’s chief revenue officer. “In order to do this, Zynga is focused on building enduring relationships with consumers across all platforms from Facebook and Zynga.com on the web to tablets and mobile. Our amended agreement with Facebook continues our long and successful partnership while also allowing us the flexibility to ensure the universal availability of our products and services.”

While no announcements accompanied this, it’s likely that previously Facebook exclusive games will come to other platforms like Google+. Facebook is no longer required to meet any growth targets and could develop its own games; ultimately the fewer restrictions on both companies will probably be a net gain in long term.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Consumer Confidence Hits Four Year High

The Consumer Confidence Index calculated by the Conference Board rose to 73.7 in November, up slightly from 73.1 in October, the highest level since February 2008. This is a result of solid hiring and 20.3 percent of people surveyed said they expect more jobs in the next six months.

“Over the past few months, consumers have grown increasingly more upbeat about the current and expected state of the job market, and this turnaround in sentiment is helping to boost confidence,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.

Still, a majority expect job growth and pay growth to remain sluggish and the threat of higher taxes looms over many in the middle class. “As yet, households are largely unaware of exactly what the ‘fiscal cliff’ means to their bottom line, or simply believe Congress will figure it out and do something before it takes effect,” said Ellen Zentner, senior U.S. economist with Nomura. “As widespread media coverage concentrates more on the fiscal cliff, so will U.S. households.”

Source: Money.CNN.com

Cellphones — Visual Design Over 25 Years

NTT Docomo is celebrating two decades of existence with an exhibition showcasing the evolution of mobile phone culture starting from 1987 to the present day. The extensive chronological display of cell phones on view at Tokyo designers’ week, offered a visual documentation of the progress made in terms of size, shape, form, color and materials used in the design of today’s mobile devices.

Source: DesignBoom.com

Exclusive: Publisher 2.0 — The Rise Of Content Marketing

By Steve Fowler

The notion of providing high quality content for your customers in the hopes of them increasing their brand loyalty used to be a very risky proposition. There was a potentially large initial investment. Plus you had limited distribution options and very little tracking capabilities. Now with the explosion in social channels and tracking analytics coupled with gamers’ propensity to be turned off by traditional advertising, game publishers privy to the changes — we call them publishers 2.0 – are finding enormous efficiency in content marketing. Fact is that content marketing, if executed at a high level, delivers the holy grail of marketing goals. It increases brand awareness and customer acquisition, and it can even enhance customer retention. At the root of it, the best of what content marketing can do is to build a relationship with your customer.

So what exactly defines ‘content marketing’ The content part can take many forms. As a strategy, it’s the creation and distribution of entertaining, relevant and targeted communications to a defined audience with the intent of attracting and engaging them so that they share their enthusiasm for a brand. One distinct difference between traditional marketing and content marketing is that content marketing for the most part is delivered sans outright sales messages. And typically, it is content sought out by the intended audience, not pushed to them. If done well, it can be perceived to offer value, information or entertainment to the intended audience, meaning people will seek it out.

What does it take to pull off a successful content marketing program The key component in the way we’ve defined it is ‘entertainment’. The content has to be compelling to get an audience to put up with it, maybe embrace it, hopefully pass it on. Circulation is key given that the channels and even screens through which people consume content, branded or otherwise, are now so varied. That brings to the fore capabilities to launch and support a program.

“Few brands — and only a few more of their agencies — have the content, process, and methodologies in place to fully benefit from direct distribution to the audience,” says David Germano in a recent blog post for Content Marketing Institute. “The current brand-agency paradigm has been effective in leveraging search and social algorithms for more efficient distribution of “brand” assets, but the efforts stemming from this approach have failed to deliver some critical elements: engagement, efficiency, and scale.”

Capabilities are easily measured. Creative isn’t. As mentioned, the content in content marketing can take many forms. It can be videos, experiential or interactive experiences, to sum it up as a trinity. As usual with entertainment, the best is defined through examples.


The current effort for the launch Microsoft’s Halo 4 embodies what it takes to put on the publisher 2.0 hat as it relates to content marketing even for a traditional retail game. Microsoft partnered with Machinima to create and distribute Forward Unto Dawn, the now well-received web video series based on the Halo universe. The content in the show is purely for entertainment purposes. There are no overt sales messages or calls to action to go out and buy Halo 4.

We had people behind the effort from 343 Industries, Microsoft and Machinima on stage for a panel at [a] list summit Seattle in October. It was the eve of the series’ launch, and the discussion centered on why the team chose to create the program and what was its true intent.

Panelist Matt McCloskey, director of franchise business management at 343 Industries, shared this view: “Marketing games through immersive storytelling brings audiences into the emotional disposition of the game, enabling fans to imagine how they will feel when they play. Pushing beyond the 30 and 60 second spots to something as big as Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn allows us to scale both in terms of reach and engagement by telling a meaningful story as a direct entree to Halo 4.”

You can make the argument that it was a relatively low risk spend on Microsoft’s part because of the power of their popular brand. Still, it was a massive investment with inherent risk.

What about an example for a new IP We can look to Hawken, a new free to play mech game with tremendous buzz, a lot of it rooted in early reception around the game’s amazing visual fidelity. The game’s publisher, Meteor Entertainment, made a bold statement with their strategy to bring this game to market.

“Our marketing strategy for Hawken is primarily all ‘inbound’,” said Meteor CEO Mark Long. “Instead of chasing our target audience with banner ads we’ve commissioned creative collateral coordinated as transmedia — an original graphic novel, digital comic, an eBook, a live action digital web series — that are cross-linked and search optimized to funnel players to playhawken.com. We use social media as an accelerant to broadcast the release of new content to remind and re-engage players. And we localize the content for each of our ten major territories.”

The word transmedia gets thrown around all the time but to put complete faith behind it as a marketing strategy is a bold move. Part of Meteor’s strategy described by Long is an effort similar to Halo’s, where Hawken is getting an ambitious live action web series set to air on Machinima 2013.


More than 10,000 ravenous fans packed the Galen Center in Los Angeles to watch the finals of the League of Legends World Championships. Game publisher Riot Games awarded the winning team, Taipei Assassins, $1 million dollars. The scale of this effort was massive, as was the reported audience. In addition to the masses it managed to draw to the event, Riot claims to have surpassed 8.2 million total viewers for the finale. The event was live streamed on Twitch.tv and Own3D.tv as well as translated into 13 different languages for overseas broadcasts. Riot is on record saying that the company lost money on this effort. Despite that, the exposure they generated deserves a CPM calculation to figure out impressions for the brand, all hugely positive, versus the cost the company incurred. It’s very likely that they got their money’s worth.

League of Legends World Championship

The Riot event is a reminder of how Blizzard for years spent tremendous amounts of money and effort on its BlizzCon events. Although now scaled back recently, in their heyday Blizzards events generated massive attention from press and consumers alike.


With the explosion of smartphones, many have turned to mobile to create interactive marketing content around their brands. Game publishers and entertainment marketers in general have begun to create and give away companion apps prior to the release of their products. Where these apps have been well-executed, they’ve helped generate significant awareness for their host product or brand.

A good early example is Id’s Rage app, which delivered a slice of the eponymous console game for iOS nearly a full year before the full product hit shelves. The game app delivered graphics that blew away anything on mobile at the time, helping establish the perception that the full game was going to knock players’ socks off. Ultimately the game didn’t live up to expectations even if the mobile app’s promise was well received.

Action Movie FX

Another noteworthy example outside of the game industry is J.J. Abram’s studio Bad Robot and their effort for Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. The team released a nifty app called Action Movie FX that let users overlay feature film quality special effects such as missile attacks and violent car crashes over smartphone videos. It had little to do with the film, though the app did have MI:4 branding within it. The message it sent was that if anything, the big budget movie was going to deliver where it was expected — over-the-top action and dazzling special effects. Other noteworthy mobile apps worth checking out are EA’s Mass Effect 3 and Blizzard’s World of Warcraft Armory apps.

Way back, thousands of days ago, web 2.0 brought on a user-to-user engagement and user generated content movement to the internet that was sure to change a lot of things we knew about the medium. It changed how we think of all media. Content marketing is both byproduct and necessity in the face of how audiences now interact with media at large, consuming it anywhere and everywhere, but seemingly nowhere to the mass marketer. The challenge that arises out of that is not only how to get marketing messages across but also how to track and gauge campaign effectiveness. And boy does publisher 2.0 have some nifty tools at its disposal. In the next piece — coming up soon —we’ll look at measurement and how a steady stream of analytics suddenly makes some components of agile methodology a viable approach for branding and marketing.

This is part of a series of articles for [a]list daily outlining the changing face of publishing and marketing games. Previous articles include “Why Publisher 2.0 is M.I.A.” Part 1,” looking at how digital has changed game publishing, and Part 2, the shift in digital games from marketing a product to marketing a service, along with “The Emergence of Mid-Core,” a piece co-authored with Peter Warman, head of analyst firm Newzoo, “Riot and the Rise of the Player Community,” an interview with Riot Games, and “Finding Publisher 2.0,” an interview with Wizards of the Coast.  Most recently, the series looked at Zynga’s misfortunes in “Did the Social Bubble Just Burst “, a piece co-authored with DFC Intelligence’s David Cole.

Tackling Feminism One Tweet At A Time

Kickstarter employee and game designer Luke Crane sent out a tweet on November 26 asking, “Why are there so few lady game creators — Replies to his tweet have transformed into the stream #1reasonwhy, where game makers, game press and gamers at large are sharing their views on sexism in the industry. The thread is raising questions about the male-dominated culture still prevalent in games and how it translates to marginalization of women as game creators, game consumers, even in-game characters.

Indie programmer Tracy Hurley, one of the first responders to Crane’s tweet, wrote as her #1reasonwhy, “Because I’m told designing games to my PoV is ‘niche’ or being politically correct, while male oriented design is ‘normal’.”

Comments are still going strong at the time of this writing, and while they’re mostly supportive the stream isn’t without its debates. And where there’s an online debate, there will be trolls.

Polygon’s Justin McElroy may have put it best, targeting trolls and clueless men alike, “Dudes: Let #1reasonwhy wash over you and accept that maybe a lifetime as a dude hasn’t made you an expert on what life is like for women.”

Source: #1reasonwhy

Game Connection Marketing Awards Winners Revealed

The Game Connection Marketing Awards were announced, and Ubisoft was the top winner, with three different awards for two different campaigns; two for Just Dance 3, the other for Assassin’s Creed III. Also a multiple winner was NCsoft for their work on Guild Wars 2; Ayzenberg collaborated on the game’s branding and print campaigns.

The full list of winners follow:

  • Best Marketing Team of the Year
  • Crispin Porter + Bogusky – “Autodance” smartphone app for Just Dance 3 (Ubisoft)
  • Best Broadcast Campaign
  • Sid Lee Paris – “Rise”: European trailer for Assassin’s Creed III (Ubisoft)
  • Best Digital Campaign
  • NCsoft – branded online campaign for Guild Wars 2 (NCsoft)
  • Best Experiential Marketing
  • TBWA\Brussels – train station football stadium for PS Vita (Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • Best Mobile Campaign
  • Crispin Porter + Bogusky – “Autodance” smartphone app for Just Dance 3 (Ubisoft)
  • Best PR Campaign
  • Wargaming.net – western Europe campaign for World of Warplanes (Wargaming.net)
  • Best Print Campaign
  • NCsoft – European campaign for Guild Wars 2 (NCsoft)
  • Best Social Media Strategy
  • neoco – European graffiti campaign for Borderlands 2 (2K Games)

Far Cry 3: The Co-Op Trailer

If you haven’t been blared at in a British accent today, you’re in luck. Scottish thug Callum, ex-solider Tisha, crooked cop Leonard and Russian hitman Mikhail are teaming up to take some criminals down.

Ubisoft CEO Says Long Console Cycles Bad For Publishers

Long hardware cycles have benefits to the platform holders, as they do not have to manage expensive hardware launches. However, Ubisoft co-founder and CEO Yves Guillemot says that such moves are not beneficial to software publishers.

“I think that what has happened is the transition has been very long,” said Guillemot. “You know, in the industry, we were used to changing machines every five years. This time we are in the seventh year of the 360. We need new consoles and at the end of the cycle generally the market goes down because there are less new IPs, new properties, so that damaged the industry a little bit. I hope next time they will come more often.”

Guillemot thinks that console transitions are the best time for a company to reinvent itself. “Transitions are the best times, are the best ways, to make all of our creators take more risks and do different things,” he said. “When a console is out for a long time . . . you don’t take as much risks on totally new IPs because even if they are good, they don’t sell as well.”

“Everybody who is taking risks and innovating is welcome because there are lots of hardcore gamers and those guys want new things, where the mass market will be more interested in having the same experience and doesn’t want to take as much risks because it’s not aware as much of what is going to change its experience. So, the beginning of the machines is always a good time for innovation,” he concluded.

Source: Polygon.com

God Of War Screenwriters Given Leverage To Be Different

According to God of War screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, Sony is allowing them some freedom in creating the backstory of Kratos. Also, the pair said they hope to differentiate themselves from recent films based on Greek mythology like Clash of the Titans and Immortals.

“[Sony], you think they’d be sacred about the origin story and all of that, but they were encouraging us to make it different from those [games] and if that means going in dramatic shifts, they were cool of it. And they’re involved,” said Melton.

“Those movies can inform the God of War to step in a more bold direction,” said Dunstan. “Not to join those ranks, but to stand head and shoulders apart like other reinventions have done within that genre. The satisfying element is to look at those movies as a commentary on the genre and now say something different.”

Source: Shock Till You Drop