Exclusive ‘Zelda’ 3DS XL Deal

One of the hottest “must have” items for the holiday season is Nintendo’s latest 3DS XL bundle, which includes a gold-colored version of the popular game system, along with the newly released sequel The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. However, if you can get to Target fast enough, you can snag the system for a very affordable price.

Nintendo has confirmed today that the 3DS XL Zelda bundle will be available for $149.99 at Target locations starting Friday, and running through the 30th or until supplies run out. The company tweeted today, “Pick up any Nintendo 3DS XL hardware, including the Zelda 3DS XL, for only $149.99 at @Target from 11/28-11/30!”

Amazon held a sale of Nintendo 3DS XL systems yesterday on its website, and it sold through the entire allocation in just a matter of minutes. You can bet the demand will be just as high once Friday rolls around at Target.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is available now.

Source: Nintendo America’s Twitter account

‘Halo’ Launch Absence Explained

If there’s one franchise that remains a huge system seller for Microsoft, it’s Halo. The series first left its mark on the original Xbox in 2000, before becoming a continuous success with its following sequels. However, for the Xbox One, there’s no sign of Master Chief to be found.

In an attempt to validate the hero’s absence, corporate vice president Phil Spencer provided an explanation. “A couple of years ago, we had the discussion of: Should we do Halo at launch and not do Halo 4 last year ”

He continued, “But I was committed to getting Halo 4 done last year, and there was no way we were going to turn around with 343 Studios a full Halo game in a year. So that was the plan we set on. I feel good about that.”

“Unlike some franchises that manage through 1,000 people, Halo is 343 and that team obviously has tight control. They are our Halo team,” said Spencer

“A discussion around having a Halo game at launch, a true Halo at launch, meaning like a Halo 4 or 5-size game, would have been something we’d have had to start two or three years ago. We had the discussion, and we thought having Halo 4 come out when it came out from 343 and having them really land their first full version of Halo that they developed internally would be great for the 360 customers, great for 343 in shipping something.”

Not to worry, fans. Halo 5 will eventually be introduced next year, as teased at E3 earlier this year. In the meantime, Halo: Spartan Assault, a modified version of Microsoft’s Windows mobile release, will make its way to Xbox One and Xbox 360 in December.

Source: Polygon

Next Steps For Next Gen

Years of work by Microsoft, Sony and many publishers and development studios have resulted in two very successful launches for the new next-generation consoles, the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Does that mean the industry can relax and watch the installed base grow by leaps and bounds while sales and profits grow along with the base If that’s what you think, you need to take a reality check. The hard work needs to continue, and it will not get easier — and success is not assured.

First of all, let’s look at the picture for the next several months. Supply of new consoles will likely be constrained until sometime in the first quarter, and possibly beyond. Certainly it’s possible to ramp production faster, but the cost is high — and neither Sony nor Microsoft wants to build production lines and massive inventory that turns out not to be needed. Right now production is being fine-tuned, and chip yields are increasing. There will be manufacturing problems, hardware and software issues to overcome (the PS4 pulsing blue line and the Xbox One’s disc munching, for example, though both appear to affect only a small number of users).

Eventually, manufacturing will cease to be an issue. — then the fun really begins. The second quarter of 2014 will show us how strong ongoing demand will be for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Will there be great software to kick sales higher Or will this wait until the summer or the fall Typically we don’t see the very best titles on new hardware until the developers have gone through at least one cycle, and tools get better. Here it should be faster due to the familiar architecture and generally better tools. Already we’ve seen some impressive titles on the schedule for next year, like The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, Watch Dogs, Titanfall, Destiny, and many more. However, we’re still not sure of the release dates are even if the titles will live up to the early buzz.

It’s around the first quarter that the essential reality of new consoles will really settle in for the majority of the market. November, December and perhaps January are all about capturing the hardest of the hardcore fans. These are people who love being the first to own the new hardware, and they’re willing to put up with flaws, omissions, and a relative shortage of software. One important fact about both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 that hasn’t really come into play yet is the lack of backwards compatibility. That’s really not important to the hardcore fan, but to someone who has a big library of existing games they love and perhaps not a lot of money to spend on new software as well as a new console, it’s a big issue. Those are the very people who are the next wave of next-gen console buyers.

Marketing’s got its work cut out for it. It’s not just putting out good messaging about the next-gen consoles, it’s about identifying the barriers to sale and trying to lower or remove them. We already know Sony is likely to provide some form of backwards compatibilty with old PlayStation games through Gaikai, and Microsoft has hinted at similar possibilities. That sounds good, but even if the technology works great it doesn’t help the existing console owner with a library of games. Neither Sony or Microsoft is likely to stream games for free, at least not for all of them all the time. How could you verify that a user already purchased a given game for a previous console

There may be an answer, though it will require some work to arrange. Perhaps you could let users bring their old disc into GameStop and turn it in to get a code (and store credit ) that would allow them to stream it on their new next-gen console. This would remove a big barrier to next-gen console adoption, if it could be arranged.

That’s just part of the sort of thing marketing must consider when moving into the next phase of the next-gen console adoption. Ultimately, we all have to remember that it’s really all about the games. Without that you have a very expensive Netflix streaming device, and maybe a few other features (like Skype on the Xbox One) that are pretty cool, but probably don’t justify a sale for most people. Microsoft and Sony need to keep adding great features to their systems, of course, to extend the list of reasons why people would want to buy the console. The best selling point, though, will be as many must-have games as possible. Encouraging indie developers as well as mainstream publishers is an important part of the strategy for both companies, and they would do well to keep pushing that.

Next-gen consoles aren’t just about raw graphics power; that’s nice but it’s not going to provide a really different gaming experience. The real advances will come with things like changing business models, massively multiplayer gaming, design innovation, cloud computing, social gaming features (like streaming) and second-screen integration. We’re already starting to see this happen in games like Destiny and The Division, and we need to see more of this to keep gamers from wandering off to other platforms.

The challenge for Sony and Microsoft is to keep pushing on system-level improvements to enable these sorts of innovative designs, and to continue to reduce their bureaucracy and barriers to get more games on their platforms. Next-gen consoles need to take advantage of all the things the modern connected world has to offer and integrate that into a gaming-centric environment where there are no barriers to fun. Next-gen consoles have the potential to take the best of other platforms and connect it to gamers — let’s hope Sony and Microsoft make that happen.

Street Music Brings Joyful Surprise

Last year Banco Sabadell of Spain decided to do something special for its 130th anniversary, and arranged for a symphony orchestra and choir to provide a spontaneous performance of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. The way the music unfolds is beautiful, and a compelling way to get attention with over 21 million views so far. This bit of viral marketing has long-term legs, and you can see why.

How Xbox Trumped Oreo’s Game-Changing Tweet

It was the tweet heard around the world. Even if you weren’t watching the Super Bowl, you were aware of Oreo’s “Blackout Tweet” and the implications it had. Brands felt the pressure to be just as agile and ushered in a new era of “real-time marketing.” Who wouldn’t want to measure up to such stunning success of 10,000+ retweets, 18,000+ ‘likes’, and 5,000 and more shares Who wouldn’t want 6 Cannes Lions  Xbox’s recent social success shows that it isn’t necessarily real-time marketing that drives virality– it is tremendously creative marketing.

At first look, it strikes you that this isn’t even real-time marketing at all, but nevertheless just as well-timed. This was carefully planned, crafted, branded. Moreover, this was anticipated. Unlike Oreo’s tweet, this wasn’t just limited to Twitter, either. The same message on Facebook replicated the tweet’s success.

This caught the eyes of BusinessWeek, who said that it was “a bit surprising that they were so nice about it.” Mashable let out a punny “well-played.” Another outlet went as far as saying the message softened the rivalry between Microsoft and Sony.

What’s really key to the success of Xbox’s post is that it understands and takes advantage of the similar messages being shot out from fans themselves as the next-gen console war is being waged. The message reflects the playful one upmanship of the gaming community right now and extends the brand’s hand out to the competition, and in doing so engaged Sony’s followers too.

The takeaway is this: successful social rewards creativity, promptness and thoughtfulness in regard to the target audience.  It’s not easy, but the message alone can be spare and simple.

A ‘Knack’ For Pixar-Like Action

One of the key launch titles for the PlayStation 4 is Mark Cerny’s Knack, a classic action title with some next-gen tricks up its sleeve. The titular character can grow immensely by attracting fragments of things he smashes, and the PS4 displays those thousands of fragments effortlessly. It’s all wrapped in graphics reminiscent of a Pixar movie, showcased in this trailer.

Clay Matthews’ Face Goes Through the Elements

A football player’s face might go through hell during a season, but this ad says that shaving shouldn’t be rough on his face. This ad makes the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Razor seem like some sort of sexy sports car, thought the genius is that Gillette’s core messaging hasn’t changed much in years!

Sony’s First To Greatness Campaign

Sony’s push for the PlayStation 4 this holiday season is an immense one – and certainly one that’ll get the attention of players everywhere.

With the system now successfully launched, the company has moved to its latest promotion, the First To Greatness campaign. With it, players can take on 64 separate challenges spread across a number of titles, including Killzone: Shadow Fall, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and NBA 2K14, among others. What do you win You become part of PlayStation 4 history, and get bragging rights, too.

It’s simple to take part. Players simply need to complete a challenge and use the DualShock 4’s share button to submit their Achievement to the First To Greatness website, with the opportunity to bask in PlayStation gaming glory.

So far, the first of the challenges to be completed was the Killzone: Shadow Fall multiplayer melee challenge met by user Delta_Canuckian. At the time of posting 43 challenges have been completed, but there are still 21 left, with plenty of opportunities to compete. The full list can be found here.

Source: Sony

Xbox One Setting UK Sales Records

Microsoft is certainly enjoying great success with the Xbox One thus far, with a million units sold in the first 24 hours of release. But in the U.K. alone, it’s also setting some solid records in its own right.

A retail monitoring site called Chart-Track has reported that Xbox One sales were twice as big as those recorded over the Xbox 360’s launch week years ago, with 150,000 units going out the door in just 48 hours time. In addition, the site proclaims that it’s “just a few thousand units short of beating the (Nintendo) Wii U’s total UK sales accrued since its release a year ago this week.”

It’ll be interesting to see how these sales numbers hold up over the holiday season, and if the Wii U can catch up now that its big flagship title for the season, Super Mario 3D World, is available for purchase.

Source: Computer and Video Games