Xbox 360 Gets Price Cut

With the impeding release of the Xbox One this fall, the Xbox 360 has gone on sale at and at Microsoft stores across the country. The Xbox 360 Spring Bundle includes a 250 GB console for $249.99, which is $50 off the original price. The package also comes with a free one month subscription to Xbox Live Gold, a disc copy of Darksiders 2, and a digital copy of Batman: Arkham City.

The next generation of consoles is quickly approaching, and analysts have been expecting price drops for the current generation. This sale on the Xbox 360 is probably a way to clear out old inventory, not a permanent price reduction. Microsoft announced a redesign for the Xbox 360 at E3 this year, but at the same price as the current Xbox 360. The new version, the Xbox 360 E (or Super Slim) has been rolling out across the country since the announcement. The current sale does not apply to the Xbox 360 E, only to the older Xbox 360 Slim. There’s no indication yet that Microsoft plans a new, lower pricing structure for the Xbox 360, but there’s still plenty of time for that to happen before the holiday selling season.

Source: Polygon

Next-Gen Console Shortages Are Real

There will likely be shortages of both Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 when the next-gen consoles launch this fall.  That’s according to Colin Sebastian, analyst at wealth management firm Robert W. Baird & Co.

Speaking to GameSpot, Sebastian said that due to the complexity of coordinating console launches, it won’t be easy to find retail consoles right after the Xbox One and PS4 are released.  He also went on to say that both consoles will probably also launch a couple weeks before Black Friday so manufacturers can replenish the console supply after the initial release.

“This also partly explains why the manufacturers have been somewhat judicious in allocating pre-sale units to retailers, so that there won’t be a lot of unhappy customers from day one” Sebastian said.

Launch systems are becoming scarce, with major retailers already stopping further pre-orders. Most retailers will save at least some units to have in the store for walk-in customers on launch day, but the number of those units may be extremely limited. It seems if gamers want to get their hands on a console sometime in the launch window, they will have to act soon, or prepare to camp outside their local store for a couple of days before the consoles launch.

Source: GameSpot

Brands Capitalize On The #RoyalBirth

When the newest member of the royal family was announced to the world, marketers were prepared. Within minutes of the announcement, brands across the industries, from Nintendo to Starbucks to Pampers, were ready with prepared tweets, photos and branded Instagram content.

Some were from companies that should be weighing in, either because of the products they provide or because of who their audiences are, others seemed to come across as forced. Here is a compilation of the best and the worst of real-time marketing:

The Wins:

1. Pampers

2. Oreo



3. Johnson & Johnsons

4. Coca-Cola


5. Magnum


The Fails:

1. Charman


2. Delta


3. Chobani


4. Nintendo


5. RegusUSA


6. Hostess Snacks


Source: Mashable

Runescape 3 Continues Free-To-Play Legacy

Runescape is the world’s largest free-to-play MMO, and developer Jagex has just released its third iteration, Runescape 3. The launch trailer shows the multitude of abilities, enemies and environments that will be at the players’ disposal as they quest throughout the familiar world of Gielinor.

‘Halo’ Assaults Windows 8 Devices

The Halo series has finally made the jump to mobile devices in the form of Halo: Spartan Assault for Windows 8. Taking a top-down shooter perspective, the new game puts players in the shoes of a Spartan with full cut scenes and an original story in the Halo universe. The game is available for all touch-based Windows 8 devices now.

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Is Funny

Nintendo’s Mario & Luigi series of RPGs has always been about aiming for a gamer’s funny bone, and it looks like Mario & Luigi Dream Team for the 3DS is no exception. This time around, the game takes place in Luigi’s dreams, and the trailer shows off some of the hijinks that go with being inside a dream. Expect a Giant Luigi vs. Building Mech boss fight!

Design For Marketing: A Manifesto

The game industry has undergone massive changes since its inception with rapid technological changes and new platforms transforming games from the motion of a handful of pixels into realistic 3D open-world simulations. Until the last few years, though, the same basic business model has driven game design, development and marketing for decades: Create a game, put it in a package and sell it at a retail store.

That traditional business model made things easier for both marketing and development. Marketing was a straightforward process of getting a package created, arranging for some advance press, then creating an ad campaign that would hit the major magazines. When the game launched, marketing was already moving onto the next product in the pipeline. Oh, there might be a classic edition of the game somewhere down the line, but for the most part both marketing and development were done with that product and on to the next one.

Now it’s different. Digital distribution is taking over on all platforms, and that has multiple implications for both design and marketing. Games need no longer be constrained between a minimum and maximum length of game play set by the parameters of cost of goods and retail pricing. When your only way of obtaining a game was to pay $40 to $60 for it, and that was all you ever got, you expected at least a few dozen hours of game play for that price. Today games can be any length (from a few minutes to hundreds of hours), and size (from a few megabytes to the multi-gigabyte behemoth of World of Warcraft with all expansions) and price (from free to thousands of dollars with spending on virtual goods).

Even for games still sold primarily at retail as packaged goods, the game is no longer confined to the package. Publishers expect games to be 24/7/365 experiences, with regular doses of downloadable content (DLC), active communities and huge numbers of multiplayer online gamers. The retail release of a major game is merely one important event in the totality of that game’s presence across platforms and over time. Games are now a process, a service, not a single boxed product. You have to build and maintain a community if you want to maximize your investment in creating a game.

While technological changes continue (with the growth of mobile platforms, average bandwidth, new consoles and increasing graphics power), the business model changes have been more revolutionary. Now free-to-play (F2P) is the dominant model for mobile platforms and MMO’s, and it’s starting to appear on consoles as well. Subscriptions and ad-supported games generate substantial revenue each year, and the sale of virtual goods is rivaling the sale of packaged goods in retail stores.

Digital distribution has lowered barriers to game distribution, resulting in a huge wave of new games. Thousands of new games are introduced every week on all platforms, and discoverability has become the key problem facing game developers. Players need to find your game, download it, play it, and then get engaged with it enough to want to spend money on it. Getting enough players to do all those things with your game is a huge problem to overcome.

What does all this mean The time has come for marketing and game design to evolve into a new, blended discipline. I call it Design For Marketing, modeled after the engineering principle of Design For Manufacturing — the practice of designing products to be easy to make, which can save substantial time and money for companies that embrace the principle.

Design For Marketing is the principle of designing a game such that it makes a game easier to market. More than that, in the case of games it’s essential to integrate the knowledge of the audience and player behavior into the design of the game. This will create better monetization and an ongoing fan base, maximizing the game’s fun, lifespan and earning potential.

Look at the most successful free-to-play games on the market, like World of Tanks, League of Legends, Clash of Clans. What do they have in common about how they monetize the game Not much — League of Legends has you buying new skins for characters and new champions; World of Tanks lets you earn more experience through a premium subscription; Clash of Clans lets you buy speedups as well as upgrades to troops and buildings.

The lesson is this: There’s no One True Way to monetize a free-to-play game. Monetization has to be organically integrated into the design in such a way that players are happy to pay for desired things. How do you create that sort of a game design By having marketing (or, at least, marketing thinking) integrated with the design process from the start. If you wait until the game is nearly done to figure out something to sell, it’s not likely to work, or to work well.

Marketing and design should work closely to help games find an audience. Games need to have as many ‘hooks’ as possible to attract the attention of gamers. Many things can be hooks: A well-known designer with a large following (like Warren Spector or Sid Meier) is a hook. A familiar brand (like Call of Duty, Madden Football, Super Mario or Halo) is a hook. Hooks can also be a popular license, an innovative game design, a celebrity tie-in, an unusual game subject, the personal struggle of the creator — anything that can attract attention. The more hooks you have, the better.

Once you’ve gotten a player’s attention, you have to engage them. That means excellent game design and execution, of course. But it also means building a community both before and after the sale, and maintaining that community. A constant flow of communication and oversight is needed to be successful with community building.

Game designers need to understand and think like marketers to optimize the design, and marketers need to understand the essence of a game design and how it helps achieve marketing objectives. Designers and marketers should work together from the beginning of a game project to create the very best game possible. The best game is one that’s incredibly fun and incredibly profitable at the same time. Design For Marketing is essential to make that happen.


Explosive Growth Forecast For Smartwatches

The next tech battleground may be on your wrist, as major device makers prepare to introduce smartwatches. Research firm Canalys is predicting a 900 percent growth in smartwatch shipments next year, jumping from 500,000 units this year to 5 million in 2014. Who’s going to be making the devices An easier question to answer might be: Who isn’t Companies with announced or rumored smartwatches include Sony, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Dell.

Sony is the current smartwatch sales leader, with a refreshed version expected in September. Google’s Motorola subsidiary already has the MotoACTV and is rumored to be working on a completely new product, perhaps building on what the company has learned from Google Glass. Microsoft is rumored to be working on a smartwatch that connects directly to the web with no need for a smartphone nearby. Apple’s iWatch is also rumored, with the company even filing a trademark on the name.

One thing that is a near-certainty: Games will be an important product category on smartwatches, if not the leading category. That’s been true with every other multipurpose information processing device introduced in the last few decades, and it’s unlikely to change now. The introduction of a new device category is a terrific opportunity for a developer with a great game to generate substantial press and a market-leading position. We will probably see some new smartwatches this fall from major companies –and any new smartwatch will probably have a game on it if an App Store of some kind is included.

Source: GigaOm

Machinima Aims To Be HBO

Machinima has already become very successful with its videos on YouTube and through groundbreaking web series like Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. Now Machinima is looking to raise $80 million to create long-form video content – 44 minute shows that mimic the standard one-hour TV show (when you strip out commercials).

“The fanboy viewer is crazy, engaged and ravenous,” Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise told Reuters. “We intend to raise capital to be a company in the spirit of HBO and AMC, but in an over-the-top world,” he said. “Over-the-top” refers to viewers who watch TV shows online, bypassing traditional cable or satellite services.

The new subscription service Machinima plans “is a bold attempt,” said Keith Richman, executive of Break Media, whose ad-supported sites also target 18-to-34-year-old men. “It’s a great demographic and I’m excited someone is trying to find a new way to monetize it. I’m just not sure the market is ready for it.”

Machinima raised $35 million last year in a financing round led by Google, joined by venture firms Redpoint Ventures and MK Capital. The site attracts over 20 million viewers per month on its YouTube channel, making it the seventh largest channel. It’s reasonable to expect that any longform content Machinima introduces might well have game tie-ins, given the demographic the company already attracts.

Source: Reuters

Hacker Spices Up Chipotle’s Twitter

Chipotle’s Twitter account Sunday was a stream of consciousness and a seemingly cryptic search for guacamole ingredients. The unusual tweets received more than 3,700 RTs in an hour, and while that’s nowhere near Burger King levels, some fun was had by at least one person.

 Let the weirdness begin: 


Maybe the community manager confused Twitter for Siri






Twitter knows the answer.

A spokesman for Chipotle says the situation is now under control, but did not respond to questions about whether the tweets were an accident, a publicity stunt, or if the account was actually hacked. They did email Mashable with an equally bizarre statement saying, “I’m glad no one went Anthony Weiner on us, but everything seems to be under control.”


Source: Huffington Post