EA’s Upcoming E3 Marketing Challenge

Electronic Arts has had a rough year, but it’s ready to put the bad news behind it and move forward. At least, that’s the message from the last earnings call, where EA execs discussed plans to keep expenses down and concentrate on positioning the company for “market leadership for the rest of the decade,” as interim CEO Larry Probst described the effect of the next-gen console transition.

In order to reach that goal, though, Electronic Arts has a difficult marketing and PR challenge immediately ahead: The E3 show. This year’s E3 is going to be a difficult environment for any marketer, with new console hardware threatening to grab all the attention. What does EA need to accomplish at the show, and what should the strategy be? What will EA’s appearance at the show tell you about the company’s marketing strategy?

First of all, Electronic Arts wants the conversation at E3 to be all about the new games coming up. That means the search for a new CEO, the layoffs, reorganization and other pesky stories will be deflected or ignored. For one thing, all of that will be old news. EA has already reorganized; layoffs have already occurred. Whether or not EA has a new CEO by E3 really isn’t important, because the new CEO will not be bringing a new vision for EA. That much was clear from the earnings call; EA has tuned up its strategic vision a bit, and now it’s focused on execution.

Thus, EA’s presentations, its booth, marketing materials and PR efforts will be focused around the key products for the holiday season and beyond. EA has promised 11 new titles for console and PC, with 15 new mobile titles, between now and the end of FY 2014 (the end of March 2014). The prime titles are, of course, Battlefield 4, FIFA, and Madden, and The Sims 4. Expect the heaviest push at E3 to be behind Battlefield 4, as EA attempts to wrest market share away from Activision’s Call of Duty series. The Sims 4 will be important, but it’s not going to be a holiday launch.

The return of NBA Live could potentially be quite lucrative, if EA can take market share away from 2K Sport’s NBA 2K13. How confident is EA in NBA Live That will be shown to some extent by how strongly EA pushes the title at E3. Would EA rather devote attention to Need For Speed or NHL, or give NBA Live an extra boost How EA apportions its booth and media attention will show you what the company believes is strategically important.

EA’s big challenge is to stand out amongst the marketing efforts of others. Expect them to show off Battlefield 4 on next-gen consoles; EA may get special placement in either Sony or Microsoft’s presentations. You will probably see FIFA and Madden appearing on next-gen devices too. If EA is really going to want to lead the market on next-gen, this E3 is an important place for the company to show how its games will look and feel on next-gen hardware. Will Sony and Microsoft try to balance the attention given to EA and Activision? That will be very interesting to see.

One final thing to look for: Respawn Entertainment, which is the studio formed from the key employees of Infinity Ward after they split from Activision. EA signed a deal for the studio’s first title . . . which wasn’t mentioned in EA’s latest earnings call. Respawn will have a booth at E3, so it will be interesting to see what they show and how far along it is. Could this be another franchise that might compete with Activision?Where does it fit in with Battlefield 4? How will EA be marketing this product? All good questions waiting to be addressed at E3.

MLB 2K13 Perfect Game Challenge Tournament Finalists Announced

2K Sports announced that the top four qualifiers for MLB 2K13‘s Perfect Game Challenge Tournament in Robert Romanowski, Tyson Sanders, Justin Chavarria and Brad Holland. These four will compete in a live, single-elimination tournament at the T-Mobile All-Star FanFest on July 15-16 to determine who walks away with the $250,000 grand prize and membership in the Perfect Club.

“It’s been a pleasure to see the overwhelming turnout for this year’s competition, especially following the high level of engagement last year,” said Jason Argent, senior vice president of 2K Sports. “Our goal from the start was to create the most exciting, yet accessible, Perfect Game Challenge to date, and we can’t wait to crown one more skilled gamer as the newest member of the Perfect Club.”

This year’s MLB 2K13 Perfect Game Challenge saw more than 785,000 perfect game attempts logged, with more than 2,500 verified perfect games thrown. Individual turnout was higher than last year’s Perfect Game records, with the 1,191 unique winners representing an increase of 23 percent with 84 percent more verified perfect games year-over-year from MLB 2K12.

J.C. Penney Trying To Make Amends With Customers

J.C. Penney recently released a video apologizing for its recent business plan saying, “what matters with mistakes is what we learn. We learned a simple thing: to listen to you.” The brand is shifting from its recent plan of going for younger consumers with bright colors to focusing on muted colors and cozy family settings.

Jeanne Bliss, president of consulting firm CustomerBliss.com says this is an improvement, but JCP needs to go further. “It was brave of them to do. Definitely something that needed to happen,” she said. “But the biggest question is, How are they going to make any changes from their experience to connect the heartfelt plea in the apology to customer experience in the store ”

Ex-CEO Ron Johnson brought his experience from Apple to JCP, moving from coupons and sales to “everyday low pricing”. This fell flat with the JCP consumers and he only lasted 17 months at the department store.

“Ron Johnson’s strategy had good ideas, cool ideas that followed a model that worked well in past based on Apple model,” Bliss said. “But Apple was built from scratch. JCP was a turnaround.”

JCP rehired former CEO Mike Ullman, though the company has not fairing well under his tenure either. While an apology is nice, the company needs to set out resolutely as to what it wants to do with its business model going forward.

Source: News.Investors.com

Anti-Abuse Ad Shows A Secret Message To Children

Spanish organization called the Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation (ANAR) is launching a special campaign for abused children to reach out for help safely. They’re doing so with an ad that displays a different message for adults and children at the same time.

A message that’s readable by anyone reads “sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it.” When a child looks at the ad (thanks to a lenticular lens) they see bruises on the boy’s face and the additional message: “if somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you” alongside the foundation’s phone number.

Will Wright Looking To Mobile For Gaming Innovation

Will Wright is currently working at the fringes of the gaming industry, creating apps with his new company (currently in stealth mode) called Syntertainment. He wants to work on software that is changing the industry and realizes gaming’s potential.

“I think we have an extremely powerful medium here at our disposal, and I think we’ve only realized a small fraction of its potential. It wouldn’t take too many things to really impact a lot of people. Relative to what we have as a medium, with what we could be doing with it, we’re falling way short,” Wright said. “The fact that it’s now ten thousand Darwinian developers out there with no restrictions on what they do, coming up with all sorts of crazy ideas . . . it’s much, much more healthy than it was ten years ago, when it was a few large publishers controlling ten million dollar purse-strings.”

“I remember ten years ago at every E3 you’d walk around asking your friends ‘What’s new . . .’ ‘nothing,nothing,nothing,'” Wright noted. “Now, every week somebody tells me about some weird little app that came out. Not big budget, but they’re interesting and fun out of the box. It’s a much more level playing field, I think. They are putting marketing dollars behind these things, but still it’s not five big publishers controlling ten titles a year.”

To Wright, the major innovations will come from mobile software. “There will be some innovation there, but the mobile/tablet market feels like a wider frontier to me,” he said. “I think it’s because you’re not necessarily stuck in the living room; you’re untethered. The world can become your playfield.”

Going forward, Wright foresees even more disruption for the industry. “There’s going to be at least five more years of that,” Wright noted. “The future is becoming less predictable.”

Source: GamesIndustry International

FIFA, EA Sports Extend Partnership Through 2022

EA Sports and FIFA have announced that they have extended their licensing deal through the end of 2022. The agreement covers all FIFA branded games; EA’s FIFA franchise is incredibly popular and sees over 65 million gameplay sessions played weekly worldwide.

“Our relationship with EA Sports is of high importance to FIFA,” said FIFA’s secretary general Jerome Valcke. “The FIFA videogames are a key experiential component in our work to communicate the FIFA brand and its values all over the world. This is highlighted by the 2.5 million football fans that have competed in this year’s FIFA Interactive World Cup, which is just one example of the power of our partnership with EA.”

“EA Sports released the first FIFA-branded soccer game in 1993, and 20 years later our partnership with FIFA continues to be very strong,” added EA Sports head Andrew Wilson. “Our franchise has become the benchmark for quality and innovation in the sports videogame genre, and we look forward to many more years of connecting with consumers around the world with our games carrying the prestigious FIFA name.”

Warner Bros. Talks Humble Beginnings In Mobile Development

Warner Bros. recently announced that former Glu Mobile boss Greg Ballard would head up a new free-to-play studio in San Francisco. Ballard is keen to emphasize that expectations are modest for the studio at first, though he would like to see ideas from the mobile studio bubble up to other parts of the organization.

“We’re not going to be the size of a Kabam or a Zynga anytime soon. The thing that I’ve learned about Warner is that resources follow success,” Ballard explained. “We’re not coming in like large companies sometimes do with the announcement ‘Back off, everybody. The new winner is here.’ That’s not the attitude. That’s not the way we’re approaching it. It’s going to be a slow and steady build on our successes sort of business. I think we’ve learned a lot from watching the other approach, which is to come in all guns blazing, which often doesn’t work and alienates people along the way.”

“At some point we will be doing original IP as well. And I hope in my wildest dreams that that could be the beginning of a brand of Warner that trickles up and gets exploited throughout the organization as opposed to one that comes from the movies down,” he added. “That’s not our mission in the first couple of titles, but you will see us over time as we’re successful doing more of that.”

Source: GamesIndustry International

YouTube Reportedly Closing In On Subscription Service

Reports are that YouTube will soon be rolling out a subscription service. The new model is reported to offer channels for as little as $1.99 a month for content that includes TV shows and films.

These subscription options will be offered by cable and satellite channels that usually rely on a dual revenue stream model. These channels are looking to YouTube subscription services to generate revenue from both older shows and new programming.

Source: VanityFair.com

Watch_Dogs Euro Special Editions Outlined

Ubisoft has rolled out the selection of Collector’s Editions for Watch_Dogs in Europe. This will include a Dedsec Edition, the Vigilante Edition, the Uplay Exclusive Edition and the Special Edition.

Dedsec Edition has a a figurine of player character Aiden Pearce, a steelbook and collector box, artbook and soundtrack, four augmented reality collectible cards and three badges, as well as a map of the game’s Chicago with three additional single player missions provided as digital content in the Palace Pack, Signature Shot, and the Breakthrough Pack.

The Vigilante Edition has a collector box, Aiden’s cap and mask, the game’s soundtrack and the Palace Pack mission while the the Uplay Exclusive Edition comes with the steelbook and the three single player missions mentioned above. Finally, the Special Edition comes with the Breakthrough pack.