‘Kane & Lynch’ Movie Gets Star Power

We haven’t heard much from Square Enix’s troublesome duo Kane & Lynch since they tore up international waters in Dog Days a few years back, but they could be causing trouble on the big screen soon.

It’s reported that F. Gary Gray, who directed such films as The Italian Job and Law Abiding Citizen, has taken over the reigns for the film, and two ideal cast members are already talking about taking part – Vin Diesel (Riddick, Fast & Furious) and Gerard Butler (300, Law Abiding Citizen). Diesel would play Lynch, while Butler would take on the role as Kane.

The movie’s been in development for some time now, since 2007. Back then, Bruce Willis was prepped to start in the film, and Jamie Foxx jumped on soon thereafter. However, the director at the time dropped out afterwards, leaving the project in abandonment.

Here’s hoping it picks up again, since we’re not likely to see a new Kane & Lynch game following the downsizing of its developer, IO Interactive.

Source: Eurogamer

Pepsi’s Halloween Ad Is Scary Good

With ads, some competitors like to poke fun at others, just for the sake of doing so and making themselves look better. However, Pepsi’s Belgian office might have taken the cake with a recent Halloween-themed ad.

If only more Halloween ads could be like this. This was actually rather funny — though it’d be interesting to see how Coke would respond. This wasn’t an official Coke response, but it would be pretty cool if it was:

Source: TheNextWeb

 

This Week’s [a]list Jobs – November 6

Though thousands of people indulge themselves in it regularly, and even develop a taste for it, there is no doubt in my mind (and that of scientists whom I employ to prove it) that Work is a dangerous and destructive drug, and should be called by its right name, which is Fatigue. -Robertson Davies

Here are this week’s [a]list jobs:

  • Rockstar Games – Digital Marketing Manager (New York, NY)
  • Z2 – Mobile Acquisition Manager (Seattle, WA)
  • Chartboost Network – Product Manager (San Francisco, CA)
  • WildTangent, Inc. – Marketing Manager (Seattle, WA)
  • Ayzenberg Group – Business Development for Broadcast (Pasadena, CA)

[a]list daily is your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media.

To see last week’s jobs, click here.

The Monsters Are Coming

The UK’s busiest little monsters are turning their attention to the US, and if their success at home is any indication, parents here better get their wallets ready. Moshi Monsters, the free-to-play virtual pet game from Mind Candy that has grown to become the number one kid’s brand in the UK, is in the midst of an amped up marketing program in North America.

The success of Moshi Monsters goes beyond the online game and its 85 million registered users. Mind Candy is girding the golden property it has on its hands with an onslaught of new products and licenses. Just today, Mind Candy and Activision released Moshi Monsters: Katsuma Unleashed for Nintendo 3DS, the latest in a string of successful Nintendo DS and 3DS games based on the IP. Last month, Mind Candy entered a partnership with Carte Blanche Group to create a new line of Moshi Monsters plush toys. Coming up is the monsters’ first feature film, a theatrical release in UK and Ireland that’s expected to hit other markets after its theatrical run. It opens in cinemas on December 20, giving children just enough time to pad their Christmas lists with what they see on screen. Perhaps the biggest indication of how relentless Mind Candy is going to be about branching out the IP came during Halloween, when their fruitful licensing frenzy introduced shoppers at UK supermarket giant Tesco to Moshi Monster branded oranges.

Andrew Frederick, head of affiliate marketing at Mind Candy, spoke with us about his company’s plan to grow Moshi Monsters in North America.

“Right now, Moshi Monsters is the fastest growing social networking platform in the world for kids,” said Frederick. “[In the UK] the product has really taken off virally. We see kids talking about this in schools. We got the number one kid’s magazine in the UK.”

Now, he added, “The American market is definitely a focus.”

Frederick joined Mind Candy from Disney’s online kids portal Club Penguin about five months ago to lead the charge for Moshi Monsters‘ Westward expansion. Even as ancillary products hit the market here, his focus is on growing the property’s core product, the free-to-play Moshi Monsters game. Frederick believes the virtual pet game is the cornerstone of the property’s success, as the place where children develop a bond with the game universe once they adopt their virtual pet monster. As that bond grows stronger, they want to immerse deeper into the world where their pet lives.

“When I was at Club Penguin, one of the biggest engagement points was this concept of a pet penguin,” said Frederick. “Moshi Monsters has built an entire world around pets. I think Mind Candy was smart at just figuring out this is one thing that kids really like, which is caring for pets, teaching pets, having it build characteristics.”

Moshi Monsters‘ core audience is 6-12 year olds. Like any pre-teen skewed product, attracting the interest and approval of parents is as important as targeting its core users.  Frederick says that here, Mind Candy has done a stellar job with developing a “trust factor” with parents, giving them an online environment where they can feel safe sending their children, as well as a video game to play that has educational elements built into it.

“[When] we look at marketing to kids, we’re focused on the concept of adopting your own monster, customizing it, nurturing your monster. To the parents, there are educational benefits. Kids are learning math, reading, writing, typing, budgeting,” said Frederick. “For parents, it’s also an award-winning environment. We never show advertising in the game. We never show brand sponsorship in the game. It’s a very safe environment.”

As they target American children, Mind Candy certainly has a strong base to build upon from their success in the UK. The property’s billing as the UK’s number one kid brand includes having the best-selling kid’s magazine, a top five music album, and brisk selling toys, books, trading cards and the aforementioned spinoff games for Nintendo handhelds. One of Mind Candy and Activision’s first Moshi Monsters DS games spent 22 weeks as number one on the UK charts. Even before the deal for new plush toys from Carte Blanche, Mind Candy revealed in May that it had made an estimated $250 million on Moshi Monsters‘ spin-off products alone. That’s not including revenue from the free-to-play game.

For Frederick and his team, the effort to help Moshi Monsters get a foothold here starts with Mind Candy’s first global affiliate marketing program. The company has entered a partnership with LinkShare, one of the largest affiliate aggregators whose network includes Funtomic, owner of the popular youth-skewed online game site Kizi.com.

“We have an exclusive partnership with Funtomic – their web site is Kizi.com. They’re a very strong flash game portal in the 6-12 year old space. Every month, over 20 million unique visitors go to that site. We had an exclusive partnership with them for the first month, and there were 2 million kids who came into Moshi Monsters from Kizi,” said Frederick.

Bolstering the effort is Mind Candy’s generous approach to its affiliate program. The company’s compensation rate for affiliates who refer paying players to Moshi Monsters is 15 percent, well above the average 6-10 percent in the online game space. Add to that the game’s success with converting free players to paid, which Frederick called “one of the highest in the virtual world space and the kid’s gaming space,” though without revealing the actual rate.

The official Moshi Monsters rock band

Frederick added that beyond affiliates, “We’re looking for gaming sites. We’re looking for coupon and deal partner sites like Soft Wallet, Shop at home.com. We’re doing some search engine marketing. We’re looking for bloggers.”

Eventually, Mind Candy hopes to roll out a broad nationwide marketing campaign in the US that includes TV, radio and print ads, similar to what they’ve done to grow Moshi Monsters in the UK. Frederick said the company is currently testing traditional ad placements.

“We’re actually doing a big focus test in Texas with extra TV rolling, extra radio. [We did] some live ground marketing at the Texas State Fair, which is the largest state fair in the country. We’re really trying to really hone in on Texas to see how that works, and then we’re going to look at potentially expanding to other markets.”

If Moshi Monsters gets the foothold that Frederick and the team at Mind Candy believe it can in the US, our next British invasion won’t be another moody rock band. It’ll be a band of colorful monsters born of a free-to-play video game. And what a sign of the times that will be.

How Kixeye Will Conquer Mobile

Kixeye has had consistent success with a series of Facebook games aimed squarely at hardcore gamers, with titles like War Commander, Battle Pirates and Backyard Monsters. While other companies were content with a small percentage of users actually paying for content, Kixeye’s games generate revenue per payer at 20 times that rate. Even as the social game market has declined, Kixeye has continued to do well with its existing slate of games.

The lure of the fast-growing mobile game market has not been lost on Kixeye, though, and it recently introduced its first mobile game, a version of Backyard Monsters. The [a]list daily spoke with Kixeye CEO Will Harbin about this game, Kixeye’s plans for the future, and his view of the industry.

How important is the mobile market to Kixeye “It’s extremely important, and we’re not putting all of our eggs in one basket,” said Harbin. “We’re still continuing to do browser and PC download titles we’re working on as well, but mobile could easily be half of our audience or more over the next year. Our formula is successful, given all the copycats out there, so it’s our opportunity for the taking.”

Harbin doesn’t see the Kixeye formula as an great mystery. “It’s the same approach as making a successful game on any platform,” said Harbin. “You absolutely need to take advantage of the strengths of each individual platform, while taking into account weaknesses.”

He explained how Kixeye interprets that for mobile platforms. “Mobile, obviously the strength is physical accessibility, but people aren’t necessarily walking down the sidewalk and staring at their device for an hour,” said Harbin. “Sometimes asynchronous experiences work a little better, you play as you go and you play on your time. I don’t think an hour-plus synchronous session is going to work on a small form factor mobile device, but it certainly could work on a tablet. We make a quality game that’s true to the genre and make it for mobile. Our games are not ports – it’s not like this is a distribution opportunity. There’s absolutely lots of hand-tailoring going on to a new platform like mobile.”

Fulfilling that promise meant some hitches in the development process for Kixeye’s new game. “Backyard Monsters mobile actually has a long history,” Harbin observed. “We initially started with a third-party partner a year and half, two years ago to get it out on mobile. That didn’t go well because they approached it as they were just porting the browser game over to mobile, and we canceled that because it didn’t hit our quality bar. We wanted a game that works well and is hyper-tailored to the device.”

An extension of that philosophy is to consider the differences between smartphones and tablets. “They way I look at it, if it works on a phone it will work on a tablet, but just because it works on a tablet but it won’t necessarily work on a phone,” Harbin said. “We’ve got a game coming up and we’re still debating on whether we’re going to optimize it for a phone or not, versus keeping it with tablet and browser. We expect to learn a lot of lessons out of this first launch on mobile. We went with Backyard Monsters first because it’s the broadest reaching of our titles. It’s already had 25 million installs in a much more limited market relative to iOS.”

Harbin expects to reach beyond the existing Backyard Monsters audience for the mobile game. “I would imagine 60 percent plus will be new,” said Harbin. “Looking at the App Store reviews, there are definitely a lot of people who were playing it on browser. We’ll reach those users through a few different methods. One is the obvious, paying for installs, and the rest will be viral word of mouth and other kinds of marketing promotion.”

Harbin feels that Facebook is becoming a more difficult platform to succeed on for game developers. “Our existing games are doing quite well,” said Harbin. “It’s definitely challenging to launch a new game on Facebook. A lot of players have just migrated elsewhere, and there’s really been a lack of new content on Facebook for midcore, much less hardcore, in the last year. I hope Facebook does something, but I think they’re mostly dedicated to figuring out mobile. We have one last hoorah coming up or browser, and that’ll inform whether or not we do more stuff for browser or just stick to mobile and PC download.”

Overall, Harbin is optimistic about the market for games. “It’s a great time to be a game developer,” said Harbin. “There are so many democratic ways of publishing a game these days. There are not as many excuses for failure as there were ten years ago, that’s for sure. You have billions of people playing games across the world.”

‘Battlefield 4’ Sitting On A Ticking Bomb

While the next-gen war between PS4 and Xbox One is fascinating for industry watchers, another interesting battle warming up is the one between Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts. While the latter had a great live action trailer, the former is going with a dynamic in-game trailer with the apt song Ticking Bomb by Aloe Blacc.

CoverGirl Catches Fire

Women have been doing unofficial recreations of fantasy make up styles from movies and TV shows for years, and CoverGirl has tapped into that with official make-up replicating the 12 looks of the 12 districts in The Hunger Games. Out now, this Capitol Collection is available just before The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes to theaters.

Wayne Brady Parties With Wii U

Nintendo is going the indie Internet route in promoting Wii Party U by bringing in entertainer Wayne Brady to do his thing. Watch as he goofs it up around a friend, with his daughter in the room and during a song.

Steam Machine Prototype Revealed

First announced last month, Valve’s Steam Machines have sent some buyers into a frenzy, with the capability of playing popular PC games through the convenience of a living room television. Today, the company provided a glimpse of the prototype it would be sending out to select players later this year.

The machine provides a sleek, gray-ish design with a glowing white light on the front of the machine, along with a plug-in for a device on the front – possibly the Steam controller. The company put it together to provide third-party software manufacturers a base model to work off of, and as a unit for their 300 beta testers.

The SteamOS based unit can have computer hardware swapped out. In fact, as we reported previously, the 300 units will vary when it comes to graphics cards that are installed, ranging from a Nvidia GTX660 to a Titan. Cooling is aided by the case design, which keeps airflow separate for the power supply, graphics card and motherboard.

The company has also stated that the Steam Machines will get their first true unveiling at CES 2014, with the possibility of a release sometime during the summer. A variety of manufacturers will be showing models at CES, along with pricing. Valve will be manufacturing the controllers themselves.

Source: Polygon

‘Metal Gear Solid 5’ Splits In Two

Ever since its announcement last year, Konami has been mum on the release plans for Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Yesterday, however, it clarified those plans a bit, and even gave a release window for the first chapter.

Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes will make is debut in spring 2014, and serve as a precursor for The Phantom Pain. The game, available via download for all consoles or retail for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, will put players back in the shoes of “Big Boss,” instead of Solid Snake. Players will take control of him as he sneaks into a prison camp in the hopes of freeing a refugee.

Ground Zeroes will introduce a “concentrated story mode” that will prepare players for the action that lies ahead in The Phantom Pain. It’ll sell for $19.99 for download on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, or $29.99 for retail versions of those games, as well as downloads for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

There’s no word yet on when The Phantom Pain will release, but it’s likely to be in late 2014.

Source: Prima Games