APB On ‘Muppets Most Wanted’

The Muppets are back again, and this time they’re having to deal with an imposter Kermit the Frog! Check out the loads of celebrity guests in the upcoming movie starring Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell.

Mobile Acquisition ‘Bloodbath’ Predicted

Digital goods measurement firm SuperData has the latest news on mobile game marketing costs, and the outlook isn’t pretty for this holiday. “Brace yourself for the mobile user acquisition bloodbath this holiday season,” says Joost van Dreunen, Ph.D., Superdata’s CEO. “Marketing spend is largely outpacing consumer spend. And for 99 percent of mobile game companies, that’s a problem.”

SuperData’s tracking forecasts the total mobile game market in the US to exceed $3 billion this year, up from $2.4 billion in 2012. Last year acquisition costs rose 22 percent, and this year while those costs tracked user spending for the first half of the year since the summer they’ve diverged. SuperData predicts that the CPI (cost per install) will get worse over the next two months. “This holiday season, expect $7 to $8 CPIs,” said van Dreunen.

The CPI increase makes it very difficult to turn a profit with the average revenue expected from users for a typical game. “Let’s say that you’ve just acquired a cohort of 100 brand new users at an average CPI of $2.25 USD,” van Dreunen posted as an example. “The average conversion rate (from a non-spending to a spending user) in October was 4.68 percent. Each of these players spends $21.45 (average revenue per paying user for mobile in the US). That gives you (4.68x$21.45 =) $100.39 in monthly earnings. With $225 in cost, you’ll need to make sure you keep those users engaged for at least two months before you start making a profit. And two months is an eon in mobile game time.”

Read more of SuperData’s analysis here.

Source: SuperData

GameStop: Huge Wait List For Next-Gen

Sony and Microsoft are certainly enjoying some success with their newly launched PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, both already selling over a million units and counting within 24 hours. However, it appears that the demand is overwhelming the supply, according to GameStop.

The retailer states that 2.3 million customers are feverishly awaiting the chance to buy their next-gen systems. “We still have over 2.3 million customers on the First To Know List, which indicates continued demand for months to come,” said GameStop president Tony Bartel during an investor’s call. The First To know numbers are for both PS4 and Xbox One combined, with GameStop not providing a breakdown between the two consoles.

Both Sony and Microsoft plan to have new systems in stores at some point before the holidays roll around, but exact allocations  (both overall and to individual retailers) have not been stated.

Source: Bloomberg

Microsoft Working To Fill Xbox One Demand

Microsoft’s Xbox One has become one of the hottest items this holiday season, already selling out over the weekend at various retailers and clearing a record one million units worldwide in its first 24 hours. With that, the company has a big task on its hands, trying to fulfill the demand of its users with product.

In an interview with GamesIndustry International, corporate vice president Phil Harrison explained just how hard the company is working. “We’re working unbelievably hard to do that, to match demand. I can only apologise in advance to anybody who is let down before Christmas, we don’t want to lose a sale, clearly, and we’ll work hard in our operations and our manufacturing supply chain and obviously with our retail partners to make sure we catch up as quickly as we can.

“We do have more stock coming in we believe before Christmas that retailers will be able to allocate in free supply and then it’s just up to demand as to how quickly that disappears.”

You can read the full interview at the link below.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Crash Bandicoot May Return To Sony

When Crash Bandicoot first debuted back in the 90’s for the original PlayStation, he became a cultural phenomenon, especially with an ad campaign that featured a guy in a Crash suit “invading” Nintendo headquarters. He’s since gone on to star in several Sony-branded games before eventually moving on to Activision and multi-console success.

Since then, though, we haven’t heard much from the mascot – though he could be due for a comeback. Activision recently took down its official Crash Bandicoot website this past week, including all mentions of its web properties. Meanwhile, in a recent ad for the PlayStation 4, a small, Easter egg-like image of Crash appeared on one of the signs on the street.

Could we very well be seeing the return of Crash to PlayStation territory Neither Sony or Activision are commenting on the matter, but considering Sony is entering a “fresh” new gaming arena with its recently released PlayStation 4, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his return.

Source: Computer and Video Games

Telltale Taking On ‘Game of Thrones’?

It’s been a big year for Telltale Games, between the releases of Poker Night 2, The Wolf Among Us and the upcoming The Walking Dead: Season 2. But it could very well be tackling its biggest property to date in 2014.

Rumor has it that the company is hard at work on a game based on George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. More specifically, the game is being called A Song of Ice and Fire, with the first book titled A Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, details haven’t been given on whether it’s based on the books themselves, or the popular HBO series of the same name.

When asked about the project, Steve Allison, SVP of Publishing for Telltale, stated, “We get these sorts of rumors about what we could be working on next cropping up all the time. Officially we have no comment.”

The company probably doesn’t want this announcement getting in the way of the upcoming The Walking Dead: Season 2. We should know more by early next year.

Source: IGN

Sony Preps PS4/Vita ‘Ultimate’ Bundle

Considering how well the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita work together when it comes to Remote Play and other features, you’d have to wonder why Sony wouldn’t just introduce a bundle that includes both systems. Well, over in Europe, it has.

Sony Computer Entertainment of Europe has announced an “Ultimate” Bundle that will ship before Christmas, one that includes both PlayStation 4 and PS Vita hardware in one package. There’s no word of what other items are included in the package – like games – but it’s a great way to get your hands on both systems at the same time.

To help promote the bundle, Sony will introduce a £2.5 million ad campaign, one that showcases the system’s Remote Play features, as well as newly released games, like Media Molecule’s Tearaway.

“We’re really excited for Vita as we move into Christmas,” said senior product manager Ben Law. “We’ve got a great campaign with key messaging around new releases like Tearaway, the ever-growing game catalogue and the Remote Play service.”

No word yet if the U.S. will see the release of a similar bundle.

Source: MCV UK

New Kinect For Windows

With the Xbox One launched and now in stores, Microsoft can’t think of a better time to get developers behind its new motion-sensitive Kinect device, which is also being prepared for Windows next year.

The company announced this past week that it has shipped out developer preview kits by the “thousands,”, including proper software to support Windows. Many signed up to take part of the program, even putting down the $399 for the hardware.

The device is capable of a number of features, including voice and motion control. The software also contains a new SDK that will work specifically with Windows programs.

Developers who take part will also receive another Kinect For Windows device once the hardware is finalized, which is expected to be sometime next year.

Source: TechCrunch

Google Wants To Automate Your Social Life

Spending big bucks on that marketing team to operate your social media for you Don’t despair, Google is looking to be your middle man and generate tweets for you.

As it turns out, Google has applied for a patent that seeks to create automated messaging for just about everything in your life– from email, to texting, blogging, and your online life. The system will suggest messaging based on how you’ve interacted in the past. It won’t just tweet willy nilly for you, either. One human element that remains is the ability to approve of these posts before they go out.

Currently, there are apps like ‘What Would I Say’ that work similarly, but are just a curiosity for now since it seems keen to generate non-sequiturs. If Google can create meaningful posts from this and perhaps a way to tap into some hot topics, this tool would be of particular use to brands and publishers.

Source: Ars Technica

Xbox One Worldwide Launch Events

The Xbox One officially launches today, so of course there were events last night to herald the arrival of the console in customer hands at midnight. The major action took place in Los Angeles, New York London and Berlin, but we have reports also from San Francisco and Toronto.

San Francisco

It’s amazing the difference an event team can make. Last week at the PlayStation 4 launch in San Francisco, Sony sent a PR team and a dozen PS4 demo stations, while GameStop sent president Tony Bartel and VP Jason Cochran along with other staffers. The result was a party with searchlights painting the building with Sony logos, a DJ dishing out tunes and raffle prizes, PR folks and GameStop associates passing out t-shirts and other goodies to the crowd of over a hundred people.

The Xbox One launch at the same GameStop store on San Francisco’s Market Street was sleepy by comparison. Ten people waited in line outside the front door. There was no DJ, no party atmosphere, no crowds inside, no piles of Xbox Ones waiting to be handed out to eager customers. It looked like just another night at GameStop. Several Xbox One demo stations were set up and running, but no one was playing them. (The only demo station in use in the store was someone playing FIFA 14 on a PS4 demo station.) There was a handful of customers in the store, but they were looking at a wide variety of things, and not just Xbox Ones. The in-store displays for the Xbox One were impressive, as was the store’s appearance in general.

The GameStop store in San Francisco expected to do a very good business with the Xbox pre-order customers buying additional products. As for availability of the Xbox One, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. Certainly both Sony and Microsoft are trying hard to manufacture more consoles and get them out to stores, particularly for the Black Friday shopping extravaganza beginning next week. (GameStop stores will open at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, and many other retailers will be opening early as well.) This GameStop, at least, is ready to handle customers for any system, with plenty of space, numerous demo stations for all systems, and well-stocked shelves.

This showing in San Francisco is probably more representative of launch time at most stores, with people coming in to pick up their pre-orders and not much else happening. The hoopla at official opening parties is fun and photogenic, but the bulk of the sales is handled with little fuss at most stores. The excitement is inside the eager customers who have pre-ordered these new consoles, buying into the promise of new technology more than the reality of a handful of launch titles.

The takeaway message is that neither the PlayStation 4 nor the Xbox One’s future should be judged by the size or quality of the crowds at carefully managed launch parties. Sales of both consoles will be constrained by manufacturing for some time to come. Generating enthusiasm now is useful in many ways for Sony and Microsoft, but the big challenge for both companies will be to maintain that enthusiasm when there aren’t enough consoles to go around . . . and to maintain that enthusiasm later, when there are plenty of consoles to go around. 

New York

Microsoft actually delivered Xbox One units to the Times Square Best Buy Theater by armored truck! After a performance by Macklemore to get the fans fired up, Xbox corporate VP Marc Whitten finally took the stage as the clock neared midnight to officially count down to the very first Xbox Ones being sold in the US. Being in Times Square it definitely had a New Year’s Eve vibe to it as he counted down. The first ten fans who had been waiting in line from the start were welcomed onto the stage and jogged in through the crowd like an NFL or NBA roster. 


Microsoft’s launch party in Berlin is at the Microsoft Center in the Unter den Linden district with around 500 guests from the media and the games industry. Thirty of those are local celebrities including actress Jessica Schwarz and David Kross. Like London there are no official midnight sales at a retail outlet, but Microsoft’s German Xbox boss Oliver Kaltner and Microsoft German CEO Christian P Illek are on hand to share some of their goals — one of which is to grow market share mid-term to 40 per cent (it currently claims around 30 per cent). Part of that is by increasing the marketing message, with Kaltner stating: “We have the biggest marketing budget in the history of Xbox in Germany. We are speaking about a double digit million euro budget.” 


A chilly crowd is beginning to respond more warmly to Microsoft’s Xbox One showcase in London as celebrities take to the stage. So far, music has been interspersed with gameplay and trailers as zombies, legionaries and the ubiquitous purveyors of Mountain Dew circulate through the crowd. A solid core of people who’ve planned to be here has been supplemented by various curious passers-by, both gamers and those simply intrigued by the spectacle. Despite a few technical teething problems the show is now in full swing, with Katy B taking the stage as we spoke to the audience before retreating to a nearby hotel for warmth and wi-fi.


As forecast, the rain started falling as the evening wore on. And while it made for a generally cold and miserable evening outside, the weather couldn’t keep the lines from growing. In the minutes before midnight, Best Buy’s line was roughly 50 people long, with around 80 at EB Games and more than 150 at Future Shop, where the retailer and Microsoft were giving out all manner of swag and keeping a party atmosphere rolling with the help of a DJ. The scene also attracted some EB Games employees, who were enticing gamers to make the short walk to their store with promises of plentiful unreserved Xbox Ones and, as a clincher, the ability to wait inside the store.