Meteor’s Take On Transmedia

Adhesive Games has been building the free-to-play giant robot game Hawken for over two years now, and Meteor Entertainment is the publisher. The game has had strong transmedia connections from the beginning, with a graphic novel recently released, digital shorts in the works with Machinima and a feature film in production. The [a]list daily sat down with Meteor’s vice president of transmedia marketing and promotions Paula Cuneo to discuss the unusual nature of Hawken‘s marketing efforts.

Cuneo is a game industry veteran with a varied background, working at companies like MicroProse, Activision, Microsoft, and Digital Development Management. “My background in gaming is super circuitous, Cuneo said. “I was a producer, I was in licensing, and business development, corporate alliances, in-game advertising. Now as VP of transmedia marketing and promotions, Cuneo is overseeing a diverse band. “The group that I sit on top of now and work with is community, social , PR and events, brand marketing and brand planning, customer service and support. It really is soup to nuts. From awareness, from the very beginning when we’re iterating against a new IP, to customer support tickets to make sure the experience keeps people happy and in the space.

Transmedia marketing means reaching across categories to find customers. “Our CEO Mark Long was really specific from the get-go about how he wanted to make sure we’re reaching beyond the gaming industry and hitting a variety of really passionate industry points “ feature films, graphic novels, the whole thing, said Cuneo. “The challenge is that stuff takes a long time. We are like a year and a half in, and finally we have transmedia that’s coming to fruition so we actually can use it to market our game.

“That’s essentially what we consider to be transmedia “ make sure all our media points are helping to market the game, Cuneo continued. “My job has been amended significantly to be much more focused on games as a service. Free-to-play is about a super long tail. You want to make sure minimum viable product goes out in the best way possible, but then you make sure people are in it for the long haul.

The marketing Cuneo is overseeing has little to do with traditional channels. “If a game is really good, it should be all word of mouth, in a perfect world. We’re not spending any money against advertising and we’re not doing any paid media, Cuneo explained. “We’re really making sure that the product itself and the experience you get interacting with the company means you want to stay around.

Cuneo sees the community itself as a great marketing resource. “We’ve created a bunch of advocate groups. We have what we call Hawken’s Heroes, people who have played the longest who are great advocates. They have their own forums and we can poll them about all sorts of things, Cuneo said. “Those are the guys who aren’t just making the game better, but making games as a service better. We want to make sure people stick around even when we make a mistake, because we want to fix that mistake.

Meteor views eSports as a significant target for Hawken. “It would be hard not to, said Cuneo. “That raises the bar considerably in terms of game balance. Absolutely. It’s such a blessing to have Riot come before us; it’s good to have people who are doing it well. They have a wonderful, competitive game to play and they created this balance. It has to be a space where you can keep the playing field level. That will happen when we get that influx of people at go-live.

Finding potential Hawken players for Meteor means going to consumer shows. “We’ve been very event-focused, making sure that we were on the ground so there was a hands-on opportunity, Cuneo said. “We’ve executed a lot of stuff that was very fan-focused. Both the PAXes, East and Prime, were hugely important to us, Gamescom too. Transmedia is great, because it gives us a reason to be there while we’re evolving as a game. We work with a publisher, Archaia, who does our graphic novel, a beautiful hardcover book of Hawken which starts to integrate the lore and backstory of the game. We’ve been allowed to piggyback on the different cons they do. We find that those fans, comic fans, are super-sticky. They’ve read it, they get it, they play, they monetize, they stick around. Those super-passionate fan points are great.

Marketing has to be more creative with a property like Hawken, Cuneo believes. “The idea that you need to react against player behavior is really important. You can’t pretend to care. You cannot phone it in, Cuneo said. “We have hugely passionate players we’ve asked to stick with us through thick and thin. When they say something, you respond to them. It’s a gold mine, but you have to be a sincere and an honest, active listener, and then you have to translate what that means and give it back to development, then development has to appreciate it enough to integrate it. That’s games as a service. The idea that teams used to roll off of games, we’d all have a glass of champagne and move on to a totally different genre . . . no. Everyone’s in it for the long term.

Cuneo doesn’t expect to find Hawken players through traditional marketing channels. “The people we want to get playing our game are playing games now, they’re not watching TV. To pretend that we could advertise where we are not doesn’t make any sense, Cuneo said. “We’re trying to facilitate advocacy inside the community. Publishers clearly are changing the way they do business and they way they are spending. There’s tons of fantastic middleware that allows for real-time results against media buys, you can do microtests to see what people are hitting. That whole ‘We’ll have an agency, and they’ll parse out where our money goes, and they’ll spend it, and we’ll measure it to see if it worked out not and that’s the end’ “ it’s not like that any more.

With Titanfall arriving next year, there will be some well-financed mech game competition for Hawken. Cuneo is ready for them. “Every time they advertise, they’re advertising a mech game. We’re a mech game too, and we’re free! We’re scrappy.


Google Mimics Apple Game Center

At a press conference yesterday, Google introduced a new social gaming app that is essentially its answer for Android-powered devices to Apple’s Game Center for iOS. The Google Play Games app provides a central place where gamers can see all of the games they play, compare achievements, and get and send invites to build up their gaming friend groups.

Google is basing the app around the Play Games services the company introduced at its IO conference earlier this year. According to the company, hundreds of games have already added those services, reaching millions of players. The Google Play Games app can be downloaded through Google Play store. It’s also coming pre-installed on Google’s upcoming Nexus 7 tablet.

Source: The Verge

PlayStation 4 Interface Details Surface

Sony has released a series of new images showing details of the PlayStation 4 user interface. While there has already been video of the interface from Sony, the new images provide a closer look at both the PS4 system interface and a companion app for smartphones and tablets.

On the mobile app interface, there is a ‘live detail view’ that shows the ability for users to launch games from the app and access content such as user game play videos and trophies. They can also see friends’ progress in a given game. Similar features are also showcased in pictures of the PS4 console interface.

Smartphone live detail and profile screens

The tablet interface shows a complete overview of your gaming status, including progress, trophies, and friends. The screen from the PS4 itself shows a strong social media presence. Friends and their statuses are clearly noted, while images of other games (and ads from the PlayStation Store) are also visible.

Tablet interface

PS4 interface

Source: Polygon

Hyundai Revs Up ‘The Walking Dead’

Hyundai apparently knows the current marketing power of a good snarling, decomposing and gore-encrusted walker. The car company teamed with The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman to create a zombie-proof car in honor of the 100th issue of the Image comic book.

The campaign follows last year’s “Hyundai Undead” marketing initiatives for the 2013 Elantra Coupe. The new effort introduces “The Walking Dead Chop Shop,” an iOS and soon-to-be Android app that lets fans design their own survival machines.

“I don’t know a lot about cars, but I do know a lot about zombie apocalypse and what I would like to have to survive,” Kirkman says in a promotional video for the app. “And so I think I’ll be able to come up with something that looks cool but may not be very practical or effective because I’m not good with physics and stuff like that. But it seemed like a fun challenge.”

The first collaboration was for a specially designed “zombie survival” version of the car that comes with its own manual, currently priced between $275 and $3999 on eBay. This time, fans can get a little more personal by picking out a Hyundai Elantra, Veloster Turbo or Santa Fe and then pimping it out with whatever might increase their life survival rate during a zombie apocalypse.

The chop shop app, which comes just in time for The Walking Dead comic book series, has custom-designed add-ons including razor wire, flamethrowers and about three hundred more authentic elements of The Walking Dead universe. Fans can then see if their designs would make the cut by submitting them to be judged by Kirkman himself.

The sweepstakes ends July 31 and the grand prize winner gets a 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT. Take a look at what else Kirkman had to say about it:

The car maker also hosted The Walking Dead 10th Anniversary party Friday night at San Diego Comic Con, celebrating a decade since the first issue of Kirkman’s comic opus hit retail shelves.

Source: The Walking Dead Chop Shop

Gmail Interface Troubles Marketers

Google recently introduced a tab feature that categorizes emails in users’ Gmail inboxes automatically.  The feature has raised concerns that promotional and even some editorial newsletters will experience reduced visibility, as messages are taken out of the primary inbox and filed under subfolders for emails categorized as Promotions, Social, Updates or Forums. A look at [a]list daily staff Gmail accounts today showed that the newsletter is getting classified as a “promotional” email.

Matthew Grove of newsletter distribution platform MailChimp wrote a blog post on the subject after looking at the “open rate” of billions of emails sent to Gmail.

“What bothers me in this case is that open rates stayed down for three consecutive weeks,” Grove wrote in his blog. “From looking at a year and a half’s worth of data, I can say that kind of behavior isn’t normal.”

Google responded by noting that the feature has opt-in functions built in for users to decide what they see.

Google said, “If you prefer another inbox style, you can choose from any of the four inbox options or even customize the new inbox by dragging and dropping messages to different tabs or electing to have certain senders always get sorted into a particular tab.”

For [a]list daily readers who prefer Gmail – more than a quarter of you at last count – please make sure to check your Promotions tab if you haven’t been seeing the newsletter.

Source: GigaOM

Chrome Simplifies Streaming

Google’s new Chromecast is a small device, barely larger than a flash drive, that lets you stream online content to a TV straight from an iOS or Android phone or tablet, or from any laptop using Google Chrome. The dongle is plugged into the HDMI port of any TV and is then auto-discovered by apps like YouTube. In order to watch a video, users send it from their mobile device with a simple command. You can also adjust volume or set up a collaborative playlist from multiple devices.

The dongle runs videos from the cloud, not from the device, so users can run another app on their device while the video plays. Right now, the device can be used with a number of video apps, including YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix. It also supports music apps as well, in the form of Google Play Music and Pandora. The Chromecast costs $35 and comes with three free months of Netflix (even for current Netflix subscribers) and is available now.

Source: GigaOm

‘Gran Turismo 6’ Demo Is A Tournament

Sony’s Gran Turismo series is one of the premier driving simulators on consoles with a rabid fan base. Sony and the series’ developer Polyphony Digital are gearing up that fan base for Gran Turismo 6, and they’ve opened up a nifty way to demo the upcoming title with GT Academy 2013 It’s not just a demo, it’s a full on tournament designed to get players’ competitive juices flowing.

Once people download the demo from PlayStation Network, they can start entering race times to see how they rack up against other players, and ultimately whether they make the cut for the world’s top players when it ends.  To help players with racing strategy, Sony has enlisted a most fitting participant. Spanish race car driver Lucas Ordonez is giving racing tips and how-tos for players who want to lower their race times. Ordonez became a professional racer after winning Sony’s first GT Academy in 2008.

The tournament opened up on July 2, and qualifying runs are continuing until this Sunday. Players’ submitted race times count toward becoming a part of the full tournament, which runs until August 31.  Finalists will travel to the Silverstone Circuit in the UK and train to race against other finalists with real racing cars. The tournament winner will get to pursue their dream of becoming a real race car driver, and perhaps follow Ordonez’s footsteps in becoming a successful one.

Source: Gran Turismo Website

TV Ads Get Twitter-Powered Targeting

Twitter has introduced a service designed to help TV advertisers target those who they know have seen their ads. The service tracks Twitter users who have tweeted their TV-watching plans and shares that information with advertisers. Advertisers can then in-turn target that audience for further messaging through Twitter.

The new service uses technology from BlueFin Labs, a TV analytics service that Twitter acquired earlier this year. Twitter began beta testing it in May, and it worked with Nielsen to gather data on its effectiveness. Among their findings, the combination of TV ads and targeted tweets delivered 95 percent stronger message association and 58 percent higher purchase intent than TV spots alone.

Twitter released a video showing how the service works.  In addition to the new targeting service, Twitter is also giving advertisers a better analytics dashboard that shows what users are saying about their campaigns.


Avengers Assemble . . .Literally

A great many franchises have received the LEGO treatment in the past, and Marvel superheroes are the latest to jump into the action. The gameplay trailer for LEGO Marvel Superheroes shows that our heroes will be fighting the likes of Sandman, Rhino and Abomination in TT Game’s newest effort.

Magicka’s Back In MOBA Form

Magicka was an adventure game that took Steam by storm upon its release. Players teamed up to kill monsters (and occasionally each other) and always kept a light sense of humor. Now the world of Magicka’s back, and this time it’s a MOBA called Magicka Wizard Wars. Players can sign up for the alpha right now at the game’s website.