Dragon’s Prophet And #SuperMetal

Thanks to Sony Online Entertainment’s campaign for Dragon’s Prophet, the world may have awakened to a new blend of entertainment.  It’s dragons meet metal music, and it seems bound to spawn imitations.  Watch the trailer and you feel as if every time a dragon comes on a screen, anywhere, there needs to be a guitar riff in the background.  Imagine it in The Hobbit.  A soft moaning guitar as we get a glimpse of Smaug awakening, then the jam winding up to 11 as Smaug desecrates the Lonely Mountain.  Or in Skyrim, where every time you encounter a dragon, Jeremy Soule’s memorable soundtrack would fade away and Black Sabbath would kick in.  A metal soundtrack definitely could’ve spruced up that ‘80s Disney flick Dragonslayer.

The Dragon’s Prophet trailer “The Ballad of DraGod” is the first in a series being produced by SOE and Ayzenberg.  It sets an unexpected tone for the game, which in itself is an off-the-wall take on fantasy MMOs developed by Taiwan-based Runewaker Entertainment, the same folks behind Runes of MagicDragon’s Prophet is off-the-wall in that it has comedic twists and some quirks in its characters and storyline.  But we don’t think the guys in Taiwan were thinking American “Super Metal” when they made the game.

“We struggled with how do we approach Dragon’s Prophet differently,” says Laura Naviaux, SVP Global Sales and Marketing at SOE.  “I just didn’t want to make another trailer that was ‘explore your destiny’, ‘a hero’s journey’, it’s just so overplayed that we tried to come up with a new way to present the title.”

So far it seems the risk was worth taking.  The first trailer has managed to pull in not just a steady stream of views but also a lot of social media buzz.  According to Naviaux, people who may not have otherwise been drawn to a fantasy MMO are talking about the original song in the trailer, and mixing some of their own versions.  As we said, the blend of dragons, metal, muscle-bound dudes and chicks in bikinis – for the men and women who love all of that, it’s more than memorable, it’s imitable.

We talked with Naviaux about what inspired the campaign.

The New Console Revolution Is Upon Us

This is truly going to be a momentous year in gaming if the rumors are true — ones concerning possible console competition from major companies. We are awaiting the shipment of a new generation of gaming consoles from Microsoft and Sony — the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 have been generating tremendous interest. At the same time, we’re seeing a wave of consoles based on mobile technology from smaller companies: Nvidia’s Shield, the Ouya, GameStick, and the Gamepop. So far those haven’t made more than a minor stir, probably because the marketing budgets are so small as to be invisible. There’s a chance one of these might sell well enough to be noticeable, but so far none of the traditional console companies appears to be concerned.

That may be about to change in a big way. Rumors are increasing that some very large players are about to enter the console market, effectively. That would be Google, Apple, and Amazon. Those companies can all deploy marketing budgets in the billions if so desired, and that should be enough to cause some sleepless nights among Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo executives.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that Google is developing an Android-powered game console, saying that ‘people familiar with the matter’ have provided details to the newspaper. Google declined to comment. According to the WSJ, Google is “reacting in part to expectations that rival Apple will launch a videogame console as part of its next Apple TV product release.†Apple also declined to comment on the matter. Google’s device is expected to ship this fall.

What about Apple Apple has sold over 12 million Apple TVs, but there’s no App Store for it. However, that could easily change with a simple software update. Apple could easily put an even more powerful CPU and GPU in the current Apple TV and add an App Store, all for the current $99 price point. The newest version of iOS (iOS 7) includes support for game controllers, and Apple has been rumored to have a controller in its labs.

Amazon has also been rumored to be working on a Kindle Fire TV box for this fall, which along with streaming movies would no doubt play games. The company has grabbed significant market share for the Kindle Fire Android tablets, and is expanding into 200 countries with its lineup. Amazon is also said to be working on its own smartphone, perhaps with a 3D display.

Lest you think this is all just speculation from bored tech journalists, it’s important to note that both Amazon and Google have hired veteran game designers (Jonathan Tweet for Amazon and Noah Falstein for Google). Why pay those guys a salary if you aren’t planning to do something with games?

This idea that Apple, Google and Amazon might make a play for the living room and directly assault the business of Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft has come up before. Hardcore gamers tend to be dismissive, saying that mobile platforms (which would include consoles based on mobile technology) don’t play ‘real’ games. Stated more elegantly, mobile platforms lack deep, immersive games like the best console titles. Is that really true And if it is, will it necessarily remain that way

Power isn’t really the issue; mobile platforms are already around the power level of the Xbox 360, and we all know great games can be made for that console. Controls Yes, lack of classic controllers can limit some games, but now both iOS and Android have controller support. We’ll be seeing even more controllers available, and prices will dive because of competition. No hardcore games Many publishers are racing to fill that void with hardcore and so-called ‘midcore’ games for mobile. (Midcore games are just hardcore games made more approachable to attract a broader audience.) Check out Solstice Arena on the iPad or iPhone for an example.

Game size is perhaps a more substantive issue; many consoles games weigh in at multiple gigabytes, far beyond easy downloading or storage. Yet that’s really a design issue; often videos take up a lot of that space, and those could be streamed. Massive game content is included because games cost $60 and player’s expect their money’s worth. If you’re getting the game for free or only a few dollars, there shouldn’t be an expectation of a huge lump of content. With proper design all of that content can be parceled out over time, or for a fee.

Really, there’s no technical barrier to having $99 consoles from the new Big Three of Apple, Google and Amazon. The main difference between those and the $399 PS4 and the $499 Xbox One is sheer graphics rendering power. That may be critical to the hardcore fan, but there’s a far greater audience that’s perfectly happy with lesser graphic fidelity if the game is fun and the price is right. Check out Minecraft’s success if you don’t believe me, or Angry Birds.

The new Big Three are interested in selling movies and music alongside of games, though of course games are the biggest revenue component for mobile. If any or all of these companies decide to step into the market this fall, massive marketing budgets will come with them. That will certainly have some impact on Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. How will they respond It’s going to be a very interesting holiday season. Better have lots of popcorn ready! The marketing battle for the hearts, minds and wallets of gamers this year will be more epic than ever before.

The Forte’s Features Are Your Next Facebook Racing Game

Kia is marketing its 2014 compact sedan Kia Forte as the car “loved by those who love technology.” And to hone in on that branding angle, the car company has taken to Facebook to create social games to promote the car’s advanced technological features.

The Facebook app is called Kia Techathlete Games, and it includes a total of five different games that correspond with each innovative feature of its Forte.

The “Sla-La-La-Lom” game involves users using voice-control with their computer microphone to navigate their way down a ski slope. This game is meant to highlight the Forte’s slick voice-command navigation system.

The “Gy-Row-Scope” game involves synching a user’s smartphone to the computer to row their boat to the finish line. This game is intended to highlight the Forte’s smartphone synching abilities and digital jukebox.

Social media players can compete to get on the online leader board, share their scores with friends and enter for a chance to win some tech gadget prizes like an Xbox Kinect, Go-Pro camera, Nike+ FuelBand and Beats by Dre headphones.

The Facebook app in itself isn’t anything mind-blowing, but it does showcase a fun way to highlight the brand’s individual features in a way that social media users can really engage with and appreciate.

Source: Digiday

Sony Dropped PlayStation Eye To Drop PS4 Price

When Sony first announced the PlayStation 4 back in February, amongst all of the talk of games and hardware one of the announcements was the inclusion of the PlayStation Eye with the system along with the ability to use the next Dualshock as a Move controller. Fast forward to their E3 press conference in June, where there was almost no mention of the PlayStation Eye or the potential to use the controller for Move. What was was being talked about was the $399 price point of the system, $100 cheaper than the Xbox One. According to a report from IGN, that price cut came at the cost of the PlayStation Eye.

In the process of axing the Eye, Sony has taken a step backwards into the inclusion of the product in future games. In the Xbox One’s case, a Kinect sensor is included in the bundle, and it’s necessary for the system to run. That means developers can include Kinect support for any of their games knowing that every single Xbox One will have that capability. With the now separate PlayStation Eye, there is no such guarantee for developer. Any Eye content would either be relegated to the small population of gamers that buy the add on, or have to be optional the way current “Better with Kinect” or “Move Capable” games are.

For the time being, Sony has gained a lot of support for the cheaper price point of the PS4. The sacrifice made to bring about a price that low may end up shooting one of the console’s major features in the foot. In Drive Club, for example, one of the announced features involved using the Move functionality of the controller to allow players to switch places on the couch and have their split-screens switch with them. Now, instead of being one of the primary features of the game, it will be an extra relegated to those who buy the Eye. On the other hand, if Crytek wanted to include some sort of Kinect functionality into their Xbox One game Ryse: Son of Rome, they could design it into the game knowing that every person playing the game would have access to the feature.

In the short run, the $100 price difference between consoles may pay out in sales for the PS4, but the exclusion of the PlayStation Eye may see one of the console’s biggest assets fall by the wayside. Now there are rumors that Sony may indeed release a bundle that includes the PS4, the new PlayStation Eye, and Knack, possiblly for $499. Even if that is a popular bundle, it still means that not every PS4 owner will have an Eye — so developers will be less likely to support it.

Source: IGN

The Booming Economics Of YouTube Videos [Infographic]

Masters in Marketing Degrees recently published an infographic illustrating the fertile economical landscape of YouTube influencers and the marketing strong arm behind the videos. Today an entire industry is building up around viral videos; just recently, creative advertising agency Ayzenberg Group released their approach to reaching the right audience via celebrity influencers and that trend is only gaining momentum.

Not only does YouTube connect video creators to Google AdSense for advertising revenue, the social video company has also built production studios in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and London to help the medium thrive.

There are even awards shows like the Social Star Awards to honor the best the industry has to offer.

Browse the below infographic to see the latest statistics on how the web video industry has grown in the last few years.

The Economics of Going Viral

Image source: Social Times


Connecting Fiction To Reality By Magazines

An article from movies.com has shown a series of magazine covers by the Mediavengers exposing what the world would be like if superheroes were real. These also explore how magazines like Time and Newsweek would be covering the exploits of the world’s favorite masked heroes. This brings up a brilliant question: What if video game characters were also shown to be in the real world

For example: What if Nathan Drake actually had discovered El Dorado as he did in the first Uncharted game? Such a massive discovery could give Drake the reputation of a modern day, real life Indiana Jones. The cover of Time Magazine could easily feature headlines such as “Nathan Drake: How One Rugged Treasure Hunter Is Changing the Face of Archeology” featuring a cover like the box art of Uncharted 3.

What if Abstergo’s ancestral memory-reaching technology was to make it to the front page of Scientific American? Or what about seeing the news of an outbreak like the one described in The Last of Us on the front page of the New York Times Showing readers parallels or connections to the real-world is an effective way of grabbing attention. When you give a basis in reality, like the cover of a magazine or newspaper, readers can see that there is an air of connectedness and understanding between the game and the gamer.

Check out a complete set of faux magazine covers featuring the Avengers here.

Tennis Game For iPhone Works With Apple TV

Apple has yet to officially enter the game console race, but a new game app from India-based Rolocule Games might give the Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo a reason to worry. Rolocule’s iPhone game Motion Tennis connects to any Apple TV and allows players to play using their iPhone as a racket.

One of the major selling points of the app is its ability to play directly from the iPhone and not the Apple TV set top, meaning the game goes anywhere the iPhone goes and is playable on any Apple TV. The app, which retails for $7.99, utilizes the gyroscope, magnetometer and accelerometer in the phone to use it as a controller. The action is similar to using a WiiMote controller on the Wii.

This app opens up the idea of using the Apple TV as a video game console in conjunction with the iPhone, similar to the way that the Ouya is an Android-based console. Rolocule Games will be using their engine to develop upcoming games including Motion Badminton and Squash, as well as a game with the working title Die Zombies Die!.

Source: TechCrunch

Skylanders SWAP Force Assault E3 With Fun

Skylanders was one of last year’s big hits, and the franchise is back with the ability to mix and match parts. Skylanders Swap Force lets you take the toys and exchange pieces to create amazing combinations of powers, all of which you can import into your game. The trailer has plenty of cool visuals and humor, and kids will be watching it multiple times to catch all the clues to new characters and abilities. Without a doubt, this will be one of the big hits in the fall.


A Dark Vision Of An Alternate World

Wolfenstein: The New Order from Bethesda Softworks is set in 1960 in an alternate reality where the Nazis won World War II. This trailer shows disturbing versions of iconic historical images. Instead of a sailor kissing a nurse on the streets of New York following the end of World War II, we see a Nazi soldier. A Nazi astronaut salutes a Nazi flag on the moon — and there’s more. Fortunately B.J. Blazkowicz will be around to set things right… we hope.

The Order: 1886 Shows Victorian Monster Slaying

The Order: 1886 is one of the PlayStation 4 exclusive titles that Sony displayed at E3, and it illustrates the graphics possible on the new console. The game is set in a Victorian-Era London with advanced technology, and players take the role on an ancient order of knights battling powerful and ancient foes.

(Editor’s note: This content is age-gated on YouTube; you may need to sign in to watch it.)