‘A Realm Reborn’ In Depth

To get players excited for  Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn game, coming to PlayStation 3 and PC later this month, Square Enix has released a new trailer featuring 13 minutes of gameplay footage and a small explanation of how to use the PC benchmark tool. It is in Japanese, but most of it is easy to understand – and the new footage is certainly a treat for the eyes.

Smartphones Now Dominate In Japan

According to a report from the Mobile Content Forum in Japan (as translated by Dr. Serkan Toto), the market for mobile gaming in that country brought in $5.1 billion in 2012. The Japanese market for mobile games has been largely based on feature phones, but smartphones are rapidly gaining market share.

Feature phones in Japan in 2012 brought in $2.4 billion, which mostly ($2 billion) from ‘social’ games distributed through networks like GREE or DeNA’s Mobage. About $410 million came from other mobile games not through those networks.

Smartphone games all told brought in $2.7 billion, showing over five-fold growth in the last year to surpass feature phone game revenue for the first time. Overall, mobile content in Japan (including games) generated $8.8 billion in 2012.

Source: Serkan Toto

Fashion Designer Michael Kors Launches Game

Though it’s not like the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, Michael Kors’ new Facebook app will have you making some interesting decisions anyway. It’s advertising that’s starting to feel more like a game.

The company launched a new app which shows video from the various fragrance and beauty collections, then lets you make decisions depending what you’re in the mood for – Sporty, Sexy or Glam.

In addition, the app encourages visitors to take pictures to share on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, along with shopping the collections and entering a sweepstakes for various prizes.

Source: Mashable

Marketers Unfazed By Gmail Redesign

When Google announced that they would be redesigning Gmail back in May with a new tab filtering system that keeps marketing emails out of the standard inbox, many companies feared that this would be the end of their email marketing programs. However, that hasn’t been the case. Marketers and email vendors spoke to Ad Age about how there are ways around the problem.

“We’ve found there’s been really no impact in our business overall. In fact since the redesign launched, we’ve seen no change in (email) open rates, and response rates have stayed almost exactly the same,” said Jeffrey Lack, director of marketing at Jiffy Lube. Their email base remains high with a couple of million of email addresses.

Other companies, like Responsys and Epsilon, haven’t seen much change either. “We’re seeing a slight decline in Gmail opens, but we’re seeing conversion rates and click-to-open rates staying steady,” said Epsilon’s VP-customer experience designer Shannon Aronson. That’s good news for email marketers, who worried that the increasing popularity of Gmail with its filtering feature might affect their business.

Source: AdAge

Supercar Dream Collection For $80

Microsoft is building up some serious energy behind its next-gen racing game Forza Motorsport 5, which is set to be a launch title for the Xbox One later this year. Today, the company announced a pair of limited editions shipping around the system’s release, which racing fans won’t want to miss out on.

Both editions, the $79.99 Limited Edition and the $59.99 Day One Edition, will come with a VIP membership with special rewards, exclusive events and in-game player car badges from the Forza team, as well as a car pack that includes the 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C, the 1987 RUF CTR Yellowbird, the 1991 Mazda #55 787B, the 2011 Ford F150 SVT Raptor and the 2011 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

Those who invest in the Limited Edition will also get the 2011 Audi RS3 Sportback, 2012 Aston Martin Vanquish, 2013 Ford M Shelby Mustang GT500, 2013 McLaren P1 and 2013 SRT Viper GTS. The Day One car pack comes with the 2010 Audi TT RS Coupe, 2013 Ford Focus ST and 2011 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, all in Xbox One Day One-themed package.

Both editions are available for pre-order from retailers now. Forza Motorsport 5 will ship later this year for Xbox One.

Source: Polygon

Analysis: PSN Payoff Coming For Sony

There’s been a lot of focus on Microsoft’s changing policies for the Xbox One, but little attention has been paid to a major policy change Sony has made. The PlayStation Network will continue to be free, but the ability to play multi-player games online on the PS 4 will be put behind the PlayStation Plus paywall.

Analysis by IHS Electronics and Media indicates that with this change PlayStation Plus could generate $1.2 billion in subscriptions for Sony by the time 2017 rolls around. That’s a big change from the estimated $140 million PlayStation Plus subscriptions generated for the company on PS3 in 2012.

In comparison, Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold generated $1.25 billion in subscriptions in 2012, according to IHS, and has made $4.7 billion from Xbox Live Gold since 2002. That’s a lot of potential revenue that Sony missed – but they don’t plan to miss it in the future.

Source: GamesIndustry International

‘Skylanders’ Still Soaring

When Activision introduced the Skylanders franchise a couple of years ago, no one had any idea that it would grow into such a successful juggernaut. However, between game sales and the number of figures available, it’s become exactly that.

Activision Publishing announced that Skylanders figures have managed to outsell all other action-figure properties in both the U.S. and Europe as of June 2013. How popular is it, you say? The franchise has managed to generate more than $1.5 billion in worldwide sales.

“We began something very special with Skylanders, and the magic of bringing toys to life through a video game,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “But it’s not just about the game. We know the toys have to be just as creative and imaginative as the kids that play with them, and that’s why we’re so excited to bring even more innovations to this genre when Skylanders SWAP Force comes out in October.”

Even with Disney Infinity releasing this Sunday, Activision is primed and ready for battle with its latest Skylanders property.

Source: Skylanders.com

Ninja PR Advice For Indies

Developing a mobile game is only the first step in the process of generating revenue from a game. Finding an audience is becoming the most difficult hurdle for small developers who don’t have the advantage of an existing base of fans. Every independent game developer knows how difficult it is to compete with AAA companies with their multi-million marketing budgets, and in order to succeed, they need to work smarter — not harder.

That’s why PRninja was created, to help indies with their marketing and public relations campaigns, and help them break into international markets. PRninja is an interactive guide and tool for the iPad that helps developers and small game studios with the planning, scheduling, and execution of their PR and marketing campaigns. “It guides them through the main rounds of PR for video games, and helps them to get media attention they deserve,” said Maryna Petrenko, developer of PRninja, who spoke to [a]list daily. “I did extensive research on PR and marketing for small developers, and I took all this knowledge and put it into this app.”

The app grew out of Petrenko’s experience working in PR, primarily with video games, and seeing the struggles indie developers had to get their apps noticed. “It’s exceedingly difficult to get reviews, to get anyone to notice your game,” said Petrenko. “Small indie developers from America and Europe were wondering how much our services cost, and most of them could not afford to pay this much money for marketing and PR. So they would decide to go with their own efforts, and sometimes I would wonder how they would go about it.”

The difficulty for indie developers is only climbing. “It’s getting more and more competitive,” said Petrenko. “It’s getting really difficult, even for PR people. It’s really impossible for an ordinary person who doesn’t know how to write a pitch or approach a journalist.”

“You should start working on game marketing before you even sign with a PR agency,” Petrenko advises. “Get your media base, work with your friends and family to spread the word about your game. Do everything you can before the game is actually ready.”

In addition to a variety of helpful marketing tips and tricks, PRninja offers interactive developer and PR/marketing checklists; guides to building your own media bases, and lists of utility tools that every small indie developer can benefit from. The app provides 2, 4, and 6 week game launch campaigns along with the basics of App Store optimization and lists of media to target.

PRninja is now available on the App Store for free download, and more information is available on the website.


Xbox One Home Gold Sharing Plan

Microsoft continues to make big changes with its Xbox One game console. Following the news that the Kinect will no longer be required to run games for it – as previously thought – the company has now introduced a new Home Gold plan that will let multiple players in a family take part in Xbox Live Gold membership.

The post at Xbox Wire features an explanation by Xbox VP Marc Whitten. It allows for a number of people to make use of the Gold-level features for the system, including streaming video services, online multiplayer and Skype, among others, even if the main account holder isn’t logged in to the system. In addition, rather than just being assigned to a specific account, anyone can now play any games downloaded to the system.

There’s no word on what pricing will be for the package, as it previously sold for $100 for four Xbox Live Gold accounts before Microsoft halted the sales. We’ll let you know once an official price is given. The Xbox One game system ships in November.

Source: Xbox News {link no longer active}

Steam’s Jason Holtman Joins Microsoft

Jason Holtman spent the last eight years helping Valve’s Steam business evolve into the go-to business for online PC gamers. Now he’s about to do the same thing for Microsoft’s Windows store.

Holtman has joined up with the company to help it focus on PC gaming and entertainment strategy. Though he didn’t go too far into detail about the position, he did confirm he joined the company.

“Yes, I have joined Microsoft where I will be focusing on making Windows a great platform for gaming and interactive entertainment,” he said. “I think there is a lot of opportunity for Microsoft to deliver the games and entertainment customers want and to work with developers to make that happen, so I’m excited to be here.”

We’ll see how well Jason does over the next few months. We wish him the best of luck.

Source: GamesIndustry International