Exclusive: Wargaming.net’s Free-To-Play Battle Theater

Authenticity plays a part in World of Tanks, even though the free-to-play hit is a relatively fast-paced combat game.  The founders of the company behind it, Belarus-based Wargaming.net, call themselves military strategy enthusiasts.  Their penchants for historical accuracy shows up in the visual realism and attention to detail in the hundreds of pieces of military hardware found in the game.

Matt West at Wargaming America says the company leverages that accuracy to target military buffs.  With its next game, World of Warplanes, that means promoting the game at air shows and military museums.

“While we focus on appealing and reaching that hardcore gamer, we also reach out very deeply into the military community,” says West.

World of Warplanes is now in closed beta testing and due to be widely available later this year.  Wargaming’s other announced game recently changed its name from World of Battleships to World of Warships.  It’s slated for 2013.

In our exclusive interview, West talks about branding and community initiatives planned for World of Warplanes, and how Wargaming.net hopes to eventually create a single funnel that gets players into all of its games.


Exclusive: YouTube Stars On Growth Of eSports

We talked eSports with hosts Husky StarCraft, Zac Hill, and popular YouTube stars at “Duels of the YouTubers.” The tournament organized by Wizard of the Coast and Ayzenberg Group was live streamed last week on TwitchTV. It pitted YouTube stars Tobuscus, Katers17, OMFGCATA, Panser and Black Nerd Comedy in a last man standing competition playing Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013.{link no longer active}

“Duels of the YouTubers” was yet another indication of the growing popularity of eSports, garnering more than 110,000 channel views during its airing.  Hear what some of the people behind the eSports phenomenon have to say on why gamers are starting to show en masse that they love watching games as much as playing them.


Exclusive: Getting Acquainted In San Francisco

Ayzenberg’s 2012 [a]list summits visited San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle with a series of events looking at how entertainment marketers are wooing consumers today. Aptly named “The Consumer Courtship,” the summits gathered industry legends, entrepreneurs, pundits, senior marketers, even a few super YouTubers. The topics varied from summit-to-summit but hovered around the rise of branded entertainment and how it feeds off of social media marketing.

[a]list daily is featuring a retrospective on the summits in three videos.

In Part 1, Azyenberg’s summit agenda creators Steve Fowler, Julian Hollingshead and Chris Younger reflect on highlights from Michael Pachter’s keynote and a panel on social marketing with Hootsuite’s Dan Webster.

You can jump to Part 2: Los Angeles and Part 3: Seattle.


3D Market Growing In 2012

The buzz about 3D has quieted lately, but consumer spending on 3D content has been growing regardless. IHS Screen Digest today released findings from a recent report, saying the market is “thriving” in theaters, home video, and video-on-demand.


The number of 3D-capable theater screens has quadrupled in the last three years, from 9,000 in 2009 to 43,000 in the third quarter of this year. Box office receipts for 3D features are up double digits in 2012 over 2011, from $6 billion to $7 billion. That tally was enough for 3D films to account for 22 percent of the global box office total last year.

US spending on 3D Blu-rays has nearly doubled in 2012, up 94 percent to $220 million. The research firm called that an especially encouraging sign as it bucks the trend of slumping sales for films on physical formats, and also noted that it is expected to continue growing until 2016.

According to IHS Screen Digest, the number of 3D TV channels is on the rise worldwide, although growth in the market has slowed. 3D video-on-demand is expected to do well in the coming years, with IHS Screen Digest expecting it to increase from $11.1 million in 2012 to $76.1 million in 2016.

“In an age where consumers have at their easy disposal a virtual treasure trove of entertainment options to draw from, the encouraging growth of the 3-D medium is remarkable to behold,” said Tony Gunnarsson, analyst for video at IHS Screen Digest. “The continuing expansion of the industry is especially significant when one considers that 3-D is but a small niche of overall digital viewing, and that consumers have to shell out considerably more money for 3-D products, which are priced at a premium and not necessarily an easy sell in these economically uncertain times.”

Hunger Games Dev: Free-to-Play Is ‘Ultimate Marketing Tool’

Funtactix CEO Sam Glassenberg told GamesIndustry International that projects like his company’s Facebook tie-in for The Hunger Games are “changing the way Hollywood does business.”


“The lines are blurring,” Glassenberg said. “The old model was marketing would go and invest in cheesy advergames for the movie that nobody cared about, and licensing would run out and try to license some big console game. But now the walls between marketing and licensing are starting to fall.”

“You’re creating something that’s a revenue-generating profitable product on its own, but at the same time, it’s the ultimate marketing tool,” he added. “Because not only does it market the movie, it markets everything that comes after and keeps the audience engaged.”

Source: GamesIndustry International


Steam Box: Should Microsoft And Sony Be Worried?

While many gamers are enjoying Nintendo’s new Wii U this holiday, there are some who are anxiously awaiting next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony, one or more of which could launch a year from now. That said, there’s another potential competitor in the hardware field on the horizon, and it’s a company that’s certainly got a track record of disrupting markets: Valve.

Veteran games journalist Chris Morris argues in an op-ed that the so-called “Steam Box” could end up becoming a major player in the war being waged for living room dominance.

“If the recent whispers of Valve’s plans to launch a game hardware system prove true, that could upend the playing field,” he noted, adding that both Microsoft and Sony could feel a large impact on their respective bottom lines as a result.

“A Steam Box won’t stop the core from buying an Xbox or PlayStation, but it could easily distract them away from those systems. And the entry of a third high-definition, AAA system (fourth, if you count Nintendo as part of this fight – though that company tends to exist in its own space), could further split the core gaming community – possibly severely impacting the revenue streams of Sony and Microsoft.”

Source: GamesIndustry International

DeNA Sees Huge Opportunities In Emerging Markets

DeNA’s U.S. subsidiary ngmoco is looking to shake up the mobile market in 2013 with a hardcore shooter called The Drowning, but the company isn’t pinning its hopes on North America alone. As digital becomes more and more prominent, it’s opening the doors to markets that used to be overrun with piracy. ngmoco boss Clive Downie sees emerging markets as the next frontier.

“Brazil has 50 million smartphone subscribers already, and it had year-on-year growth of about 35 percent. That’s huge. That’s in the top five, and Russsia’s in the top five too. Exciting times. And then you get into specific content for those markets. It’s something I’m very intrigued by,” he commented.

“Right now we think about genre, but in the future we can think about country and genre. Why not go after the minutes that exist in Brazil, or Russia Mobage’s doing that very successfully; we have Mobage China, Mobage Korea. We have very different offerings to our Chinese consumers and our Korean consumers and our North American consumers and our Japanese consumers. We’re already lined up well for that.”

Downie also talked about the impact that tablets will specifically have on consoles, especially as games on tablets start to rival the visual fidelity and gameplay quality of the consoles.

“I believe their market share will be eroded due to the opportunities that tablets can provide to more consumers all over the world,” Downie said. “I do believe there will always be a console market – my sense is it will become ultracore, almost like hobbyist, in the way that certain genres of entertainment or product become hobbyist over time as people have migrated to other things.”

Source: GamesIndustry International {link no longer active}


Instagram Says Sorry

“Thank you, and we’re listening,” tweeted Instagram.  The site was responding to the controversy over privacy changes that would technically allow users to appear in advertisements without their knowledge, a move ready to take effect on January 16.  Faced with a steady stream of disapproval, and plenty of press attention to support the outcry, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom took the lead in communicating how the initiative was being retracted.

“Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.” Systrom wrote in a blog, pointing readers to the current terms.

The update which stirred up users was an attempt to allow advertisers in Facebook’s ad networks to use data and information shared on Instagram , which Facebook owns, to better target advertising.  Users called it a ploy to sell their content.  Systrom addressed that misunderstanding.

“You also had deep concerns about whether under our new terms, Instagram had any plans to sell your content,” he wrote. “I want to be really clear:  Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did.  We don’t own your photos — you do.”

Still, with the apology to quell a veritable user firestorm out of the way, the photo-sharing platform hinted that moving forward it may not be so transparent.  Systrom added that Instagram will no longer “obtain permission from you” when planning out its advertising, but instead “complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.”

Source: Instagram