Game Companies Make Fortune’s Top Workplace List

Fortune recently posted its “Top 50 Best Small and Medium-Size Companies To Work For” on its website, and even though companies like Acuity and Intuitive Research & Technology led the charge, a couple of game makers did manage to find good spots in the rankings.

Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends, managed to make the list at number three.

“We aspire to make Riot Games a legitimately great place to work, so it feels great to be recognized for our efforts to create a culture where Rioters can thrive,” the company responded through its website.

“This was our first year applying for the list, so our expectations were blown away by the number three ranking. Teams from across the company contributed to the application process, which included a survey about life at Riot that went out to randomly-selected Rioters and an in-depth questionnaire about our culture and programs. This process gave us the opportunity to share Riot culture and stories, but also gave us a chance to take cultural inventory of where we’re at and where we still need to go.”

Meanwhile, Insomniac Games, developers of such games as Resistance: Fall of Man, Fuse and the Ratchet and Clank series, found a comfortable spot at number 15.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Indie Games Get An Online Store

Fans of independent games now have a new place to shop thanks to IndieGameStand.

The IndieGameStand store is now open for business, and a number of developer-focused titles are available for purchase. It was initially launched as a pay-what-you-want service where individual indie game releases were highlighted in four-day sales, but now they’re set at a general permanent price with over 90 games to choose from across 72 different developers.

The store aims to “greatly lower the barrier to entry for independent developers who have been stymied by Steam and other channels,” according to the organizers.

The approval process is rather painless, with a one-to-two day wait following submission. The revenue is also fairly split between 75/25 percent with developers, with a promise of expansion in services.

Source: Joystiq

Tapping Into Mobile Game Ads

Editor’s Note: The following is an exclusive contributed article by Diana LaGattuta, VP of Marketing at mobile ad platform NativeX. 

By Diana LaGattuta

If there’s one golden rule for advertising it’s probably to go where your audience is. This maxim has taken on new meaning with cookie targeting. Advertisers spent $90 billion last year identifying, tracking, and retargeting consumers as they surfed the web on PCs about 74 minutes a day, all in the name of getting in front of the right people. Even with the amount of effort advertisers put into reaching the right users, there’s still 158 minutes the average person spends on their mobile device every day that go unaccounted for. You would expect ad dollars to correlate with consumption. However, last year only 10 percent of ad dollars made their way into mobile. This is indicative a huge disconnect between where consumers are spending their time versus where brands and agencies are trying to reach them. The fact is, people spend the lion’s share of their time on mobile playing games but the advertising industry has yet to catch up.

One reason ad dollars have been slow to roll in is that when brands did test mobile they tried advertising on Facebook first. It’s no secret that Facebook’s early offerings on mobile were largely considered a failure and brands started pulling back millions of ad dollars. Even though Facebook’s latest quarterly earnings show they are turning things around, this was a setback for mobile advertising.

Another reason for the hesitance to go after mobile is the ineffectiveness of ad formats like banner ads. Banner ads are clunky, hard to read, and often take away precious real estate on tiny screens. It’s gotten so bad that, as HubSpot pointed out, consumers are more likely to complete Navy Seal training than click a banner ad. Brands and agencies are still uninformed and missing out on mobile advertising’s biggest sweet spot: mobile gaming.

A recent report from Flurry found that mobile users spend 80 percent of their time using apps. More importantly, the number one activity was not Facebook, it was time spent playing mobile games. Mobile gamers are everywhere and everyone. eMarketer has stated by the end of this year there will be 126 million mobile gamers in the U.S. alone. By 2015, that number will reach half of the U.S. population. It’s hard to argue the stats – gaming is and will continue taking the majority of eyeballs on mobile. But that’s only one reason why mobile gaming is the new sweet spot for brands. Another, and perhaps more importantly, is what brands can do in mobile games that they can’t do anywhere else.

Before I get to that, be honest with yourself for a moment. When is the last time you really paid attention to an ad Most of us intentionally skip commercial breaks with DVR, use ad-block in our browser, and mute audio during Pandora commercial breaks. We avoid ads because they are annoying, interrupting, and often irrelevant. However if done right, mobile gamers not only “put up” with advertising but actually engage with it in exchange for receiving in-game perks.

Nintey percent of mobile games are free and rely on a combination of in-app purchases and advertising for revenue. In-app purchases help complement the experience by unlocking game content, offering additional perks, or in-game items. Players often need virtual currency and have to choose between shelling out real money or engaging with an ad. Mobile gamers are such a unique audience because they are willing to engage with ads in games when they never would otherwise. As a result, brands end up capturing people paying attention and consumers get something they wanted.

For example, in exchange for more ammo, consumers could build and customize a real truck inside of an ad. Once completed, consumers have the option of scheduling a test drive. All this is done without the gamer ever having to leave the game.

Ad agencies no longer have to create outrageous messaging and intrusive audio that are interruptive and annoying. Instead, incentivized advertising brings engaged consumers to a brand for minutes at a time. The example above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to possibilities. Brands can jump right in to educating consumers with rich media interactions, videos, surveys, and mini-games that would be unrealistic to expect completion in any other medium.

There are two ways this can go from here. Brands and agencies that are just looking to push messaging out there will continue to use Facebook because it’s the safe bet. But there will be those who really want to engage with their audience in entirely new ways and have the courage to think boldly about mobile.

About the author

Named one of Business Insider’s 2013 Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising, Diana LaGattuta is an international marketing leader and pioneer in new media with global experience across the full range of marketing activities, including strategy, branding, advertising, product marketing, message development, event marketing, PR, digital marketing and social media. She has experience launching 5 mobile advertising businesses in the US, EMEA, and APAC: Enpocket, Sprint, Nokia, NAVTEQ, and NativeX.

Wiping The ‘Surface’ Clean

In the hopes of rejuvenating its foothold in the tablet market, Microsoft has announced a pair of new Surface-oriented devices that will make their way to retail starting next month.

The first device is the Surface Pro 2, which comes with an improvement to battery life, as well as a dual-angle kickstand for working in your lap or on a table. It also comes with a new Power Cover, which includes a built-in extended battery in case you’re running low on juice. The battery life now lasts 10 hours, meaning you can use it throughout your work day with ease. A secondary docking station will also be available, enabling its use as a sit-down laptop at your desk. It also comes with a number of USB ports, as well as an Ethernet port and 3.5mm audio in and out.

The second tablet, the Surface 2 (replacing the Surface RT), is equally impressive, with a lighter and thinner build than the original device. It has a longer battery life as well, and comes with a Tegra 4 chip set featuring 72 graphics cores, twice the WiFi speed of the original Surface, a USB 3.0 port and a full HD screen. It also comes with a built-in 3.5MP camera front-facing camera (and a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera), and instant Skype connection.

Purchasers of these devices will have access to a free Skype International subscription for calls, as well as access to 200 GB on the cloud storage service SkyDrive for approximately two years’ time.

The Surface Pro 2 will come in 64GB and 128GB configuration while the Surface 2 will come with 256GB and 512GB configurations. Pricing is set to start at $449 for the Surface 2 and $899 for the Surface Pro 2, plus additional pricing for accessories. They will release on October 22nd.

Source: TechCrunch


Sculpting With Light

Benjamin Muzzin has just created a diploma project for his bachelor degree at ECAL that could very well change the way you look at sculptures.

He’s developed a new kinetic light sculpture build called Full Turn, which utilizes two flat screen monitors that are placed back-to-back and spun around at extremely high speeds. As a result, three-dimensional light forms are created, and manage to hover in the air without the need of additional equipment.

Muzzin said on Full Turn, “With this project I wanted to explore the notion of the third dimension, with the desire to try to get out of the usual frame of a flat screen. For this, my work mainly consisted in exploring and experimenting a different device for displaying images, trying to give animations volume in space. The resulting machine works with the rotation of two screens placed back to back, creating a three-dimensional animated sequence that can be seen at 360 degrees. Due to the persistence of vision, the shapes that appear on the screen turn into kinetic light sculptures.”

You can view the video above to see the entire sequence.


Google Could Burn Cookies For Good

Google thinks it has the answer to concern over internet privacy and the “Do Not Track” movement against third-party cookies. The company is said to be planning a cookie-less tracking tool that provides advertisers with an alternative way to target people online while keeping users anonymous.

USA Today first broke the news, citing a source who’s familiar with the project who said Google has a new tracking tool in development called AdID. Several sources have since stepped forward to confirm with various media outlets that the project is in development. The sources have said that Google is planning to reach out to industry, government and consumer groups in the coming months before officially rolling out AdID.

According to the reports, AdID is deployed over ad networks that agree to implement it, replacing their ad targeting systems based on cookie data. On the user side, the tool provides ways to restrict which advertisers can track user information, and it automatically resets users’ AdID data once a year.

Concerns over internet privacy are nothing new but have reached a pitch since it was revealed that US spying agency NSA conducts extensive monitoring of online activity. Adding to the outcry is evidence that internet companies who collect vast amounts of data on their own have either complied with or been complacent of the NSA’s activities.

The message coming from Google’s side is that AdID is an alternative to cookies that takes user privacy into account. Cookies indiscriminately track user information and make that data accessible to anyone looking to target internet users. Google’s AdID would provide the targeting function without private user data.

Not surprisingly, Google’s plan has found detractors among advertisers. That includes the Internet Advertising Bureau, which represents the digital side of the industry. IAB general counsel Mike Zaneis told USA Today that while advertisers are only asking for some sort of tracking tool and not necessarily cookies, there’s concern with giving a single company complete control over the ecosystem.

Zaneis shared one concern over the scenario: “[Google] could depreciate the user of that ID on a whim [and] basically, and severely, undermine billions of dollars in digital ad spending.”

Google has no doubt seen that third-party cookies are becoming increasingly shunned, and not only by users. Apple’s Safari browser has never allowed third-party cookies to track user sessions. Internet users are also becoming more savvy about private browsing online, with nearly all browsers giving them the ability to block and erase cookie data. Advertisers may put on a brave face and try to resist the demise of the cookie, but they have a history of embracing Google’s efforts on their behalf. And even they have to recognize that for a growing number of internet users, the time to stick a fork in cookies can’t come fast enough.

Source: USA Today

Tencent Rolls Out WeChat Service

China’s giant game and technology firm Tencent is making a few moves to add to its growing stockpile of cash.

Tencent, whose recent stock market evaluation placed its worth at over $100 billion, is looking to provide new services for its 300 million users. Not only is it working to become a social network along the lines of Facebook and Twitter, but WeChat also plans celebrity wake-up calls and the ability to buy items through app-enabled vending machines.

A service allows users to pay 18 yuan ($2.94) a month to receive pre-recorded wake-up calls from celebrities, including Chinese actor Chen Kun, pictured above. Users will also have access to greetings, diary entries, photos and more. Of course, games are also part of WeChat, and one that’s expected to expand substantially.

In addition, users can download a special chat app to pay for bottled drinks, paying only a small fee of 1 yuan ($0.16) on top of the drink price. Hundreds of these machines are already available through Beijing’s massive subway stations.

Anyone interested in these services, however, will need to link their bank accounts to WeChat’s online payment system, Tenpay. There’s no word if they’re likely to see their way to the U.S. market, but it doesn’t look likely at the moment.

Source: Quartz