[a]list Summit – Using Games To Sell Games

Game marketers have opportunities to use branded apps, augmented reality games, incentive-based social sharing programs to bring in fans. This session looks at various digital engagements that are online, on smartphones and elsewhere, and debates the right way to approach your product and target audience.

Panel participants include Warner Bros product manager Craig Mitchell, Sr. product marketing manager Microsoft Xbox Lori Neubauer, global brand director & head of PR & marketing for Tomb Raider at Square Enix North America Karl Stewart, and Fanzy Founder and CEO Tuhin Roy. The Moderator was Calvin Lui, President and Chief Strategy Officer at Unified.

Destiny – The Law Of The Jungle

Check out live action trailer for Destiny staring Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Revolution) and directed by Jon Favreau (Elf, Iron Man). It shows a moment when a Guardian of the City recalls an important lesson from his childhood as he seeks to reclaim the Solar System.


Yahoo Picks Up PlayerScale

PlayerScale CEO Jesper Jensen announced that his company has been acquired by Yahoo. The company’s software-as-a-service infrastructure helps developers bring their games across multiple platforms, including Flash, Unity 3D, C++, .Net, Android, iOS and HTML5.

“Our goal has always been to help developers build the best possible games, without having to worry about building and scaling the infrastructure required to operate today’s biggest successes. In working with the folks at Yahoo!, it has become clear that we share this passion,” wrote Jensen. “In the last four months alone, we have increased our daily user growth rate by almost sixty percent. With Yahoo!’s backing, we can crank out awesome products and improvements to our platform faster than ever before. We will continue to support our existing product and deliver new services to help you grow and manage your success in cross-platform gaming – whether it’s casual, social or mobile.”

Source: PlayerScale.com

Exclusive: Game Connection Head On The State Of Indies

Game Connection has become part of the ecosystem of games, allowing game professionals to network and ply their craft. It’s also put more focus on marketing with their Game Connection Marketing Awards. With the industry increasingly comprised of smaller companies, indies are becoming a very important part of the industry. We got a chance to ask some questions of Pierre Carde, head of Game Connection, about his event and how indies are doing of late.

What do you think was the biggest takeaway people got from this year’s Game Connection?

Game Connection is nothing but an ecosystem, which reflects the industry’s market trends. Selected Projects in San Francisco for example showed how mobile games are still the most targeted and developed ones; we started to see Ouya, Game Stick, and other emerging platforms between the lines of our attending companies’ profiles as well, and we confirmed that from a marketing point of view, the main interest for brands is now to provide the audience with constant updates and content. Corporations shifted from being acquisition-focused to put an extra effort on retention. If you walked through Game Connection America’s show floor, that’s the air you’d breathe.

Where do you see indie development at right now and where do you think the biggest opportunities are?

Indies have on their side the fact that thanks to self-publishing and crowd-founding, the chance to see their ideas come to life have multiplied exponentially. They don’t need a big publishing house to approve and finance their project. If they are smart enough they can all manage internally, which means that they will also have fewer constraints.

On the other hand this means harsher competition, with a lot more players fighting for the dream. Seeing that everybody wants to be THE ONE, the next massive phenomenon, the emerging IPs shall be very unique. I think this is the reason why we have so many amazing games today.

How has the discoverability issue evolved over the past few years and how big a hurdle is it?

Yes, that’s the other side of the coin: with all those games seeing the light of the day, the regular gamer is constantly distracted by new entries. Indies often don’t have enough money for a strong advertising campaign and they need to exert more effort to convince media of a game’s potential. This means that if you can’t reach out correctly, the risk is that your work will never be rewarded as it deserves. Of course word of mouth still exists, but it’s incredibly time and energy consuming (attending conferences, asking POS to showcase your product on the storefront, taking part of festivals, etc).

The truth and somehow shocking news for an indie is that now, once the game is done, you’re hardly half way to success. The rest are all business/marketing/networking issues. It may be an obstacle, since indies are not used to those disciplines, but it is also an incredible opportunity. In my opinion, being somehow forced to pursue said opportunities will lead indies to become not only excellent developers, but also stronger businessmen with a higher chance of obtaining a very good ROI from their products in a shorter period of time.

There’s been something of a contraction in the social game sphere – where are the opportunities these days?

It seems like the free-to-play model is the easiest answer to that question. Even if we need to be real careful about it, Zynga somehow pioneered F2P and this didn’t stop the company from cutting a lot of its main titles to face its own crisis. I think opportunities are where there is no loss of focus; games should still be player-centered because if players don’t like your game, there’s no way you’ll ever get any financial benefit from it. It is fine to put profit on the balance, but this should not be your priority during development or you’ll easily end up with bad gameplay or a gameplay that will eventually lose its appeal, as it happened to Draw Something.

How has Kickstarter impacted the indie scene?

Tremendously. That is why the issue is now to understand whether or not it is good that all companies, including blockbuster ones, shall have the right to raise money from Kickstarter. The logical answer is yes, seen that the very principle of Kickstarter is it being an open source platform, but it would be a pity if one day we will find ourselves admitting that yes, celebrities finally steal the spotlight from independent projects.

What have you got in store for Game Connection Asia?

Game Connection Asia will be as usual the fastest way to meet most of the key players from major publishing, developing, and outsourcing companies in the world, all in one place, without wasting any time wandering around a show floor. Held at the Longemont Hotel in Shanghai May 28-29, our B2B convention will welcome anyone willing to boost their business with 2 full days of intensive meetings and networking. All the companies involved in Mobile, Social, Online, and PC gaming, will be there: Google, ChangYou, Giant Interactive, Tencent, Xpec, Digital Capital, NetDragon, Nexon, Square Enix, Virtuos, Game Insight, and many more.

Game Connection will also host some full day sessions called Master Classes. This professional training program is taught by recognized industry leading experts and will cover Visual Arts and Business topics. A few examples are “Advanced Material Techniques for Real Time FX” taught by Keith Guerrette, Lead VFX Artist at Naughty Dog, “Lighting and color in a CG world” with Mael François, former Lighting Technical Director at Pixar. And as we talked about monetization and indies before, I’d like to highlight the two Master Classes held by Mark Gerban and Victor Bacre “European and American Online Payment Management” and “Preparing your company to enter the Games Industry Europe and America”. There something for every taste if you take a look to our website here so come join us!

Pierre, thanks.

Wargaming Announces Support For Open-Source Development Foundations

Wargaming has announced that it will be supporting the Linux Software Foundation, the Django Software Foundation and the Wikimedia Foundation. The online publisher utilizes various open-source technologies to power their successful gaming titles, and the company wants to support and help evolve these technologies for future use.

“Wargaming relies heavily on a number of different open-source technologies to help us create our legendary MMO universe, whether it’s using Linux to power our servers, Django to build our web project frameworks or Wikimedia to help us in our research efforts,” said Maksim Melnikau, Solution Architect at Wargaming. “As a company, we’d like to say thank you to all the developers, testers and users who’ve helped create these awesome tools and that we’re extremely honored to hopefully help them continue their great work moving into the future.”

Xbox One’s Ubiquitous Kinect The ‘Most Impactful Thing’ Says Phil Harrison

Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business vice president Phil Harrison believes that the real game changer for the Xbox One will be the second-generation Kinect camera. He sees it not just altering the way people play games, but also the way users experience all sorts of content on the console.

“The fundamental, most impactful thing is that there’s a Kinect in every box now,” Harrison said. “There’s the ubiquity of the platform having Kinect, whereas before it was always a subset. That made it difficult for developers to invest against 20 percent of the installed base or whatever it was. Having it as 100 percent – that’s a game-changer.”

“One of the things that I don’t think we truly understand the significance of yet is automatic identity through Kinect,” Harrison added. “If your wife or your daughter or your son or yourself starts interacting with the machine, it instantly switches to their choice of content, their profile, their personalization, their recommendation. That alone, that simplicity, is going to dramatically increase the number of people who want to interact with Xbox One.”

Harrison believes the content customization and Kinect user identification will allow an entirely new market of consumers to be reached, which is one reason for Microsoft not concentrating on the Xbox One as solely a gaming console. “By making it simple and instant and complete, it means we can get men, women, old, young to enjoy playing and interacting with the device,” Harrison said. “It’s not just about core gamers; although, they are incredibly important to our future. It’s also about finding entry points for all members of the household.”

While much has been made over the fact that indies can’t self publish, Harrison suggested things might loosen up in the future. “We like an element of curation in the content landscape and the content experience, but that is definitely getting more broadly curated than it has been in the past,” Harrison said. “I’m not sure I would describe it as closed versus open because that implies a more binary shift. I don’t think you can be partly closed or partly open. It’s more about curating content.”

Source: VentureBeat

The Music Room Coming To Xbox Live

Microsoft has announced that it will be launching The Music Room. This new service for Xbox 360 will focus on musical performances every week from up and coming bands.

The twist to the series is that users will be able to interact and spread the word about bands they like. The first epsiode of his European series will debut on May 29 and will feature Carl Barat, Everything Everything, Don Broco and Swim Deep.

Microsoft Looks To Patent TV Achievements

Late last year, Microsoft filed for a patent that allows for an Xbox 360-like achievements system for watching TV. Examples given for this were an achievement for watching a single event like the Super Bowl or for watching an entire series of a single show.

“Television viewing tends to be a passive experience for a viewer, without many opportunities for the viewer to engage or have interactive experiences with the presented content. To increase interactive viewing and encourage a user to watch one or more particular items of video content, awards and achievements may be tied to those items of video content,” the application states. “Additionally, by tying the awards and achievements to particular items of video or advertising content, viewers may be encouraged to increase their viewership of the content, thus increasing advertising opportunities,” according to the application.”

The Kinect is also mentioned as a possibility in the patent, granting achievements to viewers for performing specific actions while they watch a show, like merely being present or holding up a specific product. Rewards for participating in this could inclue points for a GamerScore-like tally that is viewable by other users, new clothes and props for an avatar, virtual money for a game, and possibly even physical rewards.

Activision’s Eric Hirshberg Pleased With Microsoft’s Xbox One Approach

Much of the press conference for the Xbox One reveal focused on television and other services, but that didn’t worry Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg. He sees the Xbox One as “a game machine first and foremost” and thinks there’s a “false divide” relating to how people enjoy entertainment.

“I don’t think competition for different forms of entertainment in the living room is anything new. People can watch TV in their living rooms now,” said Hirshberg. “People can listen to music in their living rooms now. There’s a false divide that gets created in people’s minds sometimes, as though hardcore gamers don’t also consume other forms of entertainment and wouldn’t appreciate those things being made more seamless and more integrated into a more elegant experience. I think that’s all that you’re seeing here. To me, as a gamer, I’m excited by it.”

Hirshberg was also excited over the new Kinect. “I made a passing comment that you’re going to see voice integration, voice commands via Kinect, which is something that we haven’t done in the past with Call of Duty. We think the improvements to Kinect really excite us because of the level of responsiveness and detail. I thought that the demo they did with the voice commands on television, the instant changing between games and music, was really compelling. You’ll see more of this coming from us as we get closer to the launch,” Hirshberg said. “Obviously, we didn’t reveal that element today. We just mentioned it. But we’ve always made sure that we don’t just use new technology for novelty’s sake. We always make sure that it makes the gameplay better. In this case, we think it will.”

Source: VentureBeat