Valve’s VR Headset Prototype

Valve, a company that’s waist deep in new hardware these days between its Steam Machines consoles and its touch-pad controller, isn’t quite done yet. It’s just announced that it will show off a new virtual reality headset prototype to potential developers at a private event in January.

During the Steam Developer Days event, users will be able to check it out and hear the company’s Michael Abrash talk about the tech in a presentation called “What VR Could, Should and Almost Certainly Will Be Within Two Years.”

According to the event description, the publisher has “figured out what affordable Virtual Reality (VR) hardware will be capable of within a couple of years, and assembled a prototype which demonstrates that such VR hardware is capable of stunning experiences. This type of hardware is almost certainly going to appear in short order, and the time to start developing for it is now. This talk will discuss what the hardware is like, and the kinds of experiences it makes possible.”

A “few attendees” will be able to check out the headset following the presentation.

Source: IGN

Sony Remaking ‘Perfect Day’

Sony’s been doing a bang-up job thus far with its TV campaign for the PlayStation 4, including a fun little trailer that uses a sing-along version of the late Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.” That said, the publisher is working on a new version of the ad, but this time featuring actual gamers in place of the previous ones.

A program led by BBH New York, the ad, as part of the “First To Greatness” campaign from Sony, will allow consumers to upload footage from the console that feature their best gaming “firsts,” such as beating a particular level or discovering something cool in their next-generation gaming experience.

These will be divided across 64 categories in a digital archive, all of which will be available on the console. Once gamers achieve 64 “firsts” in all, a new feature will unlock, enabling them to record them all.

Random clips will them be used as part of a new version of the “Perfect Day” ad, in an approximately one-minute spot.

Dedicated players may want to get started, if they wish to be part of being the “First To Greatness.”

Source: Adweek

Activision, EA Talk Next-Gen Sales

Though we’ve barely just seen the introduction of next-gen gaming hardware on the market, a lot of companies are already benefitting from it. Among them are game publishers Activision and Electronic Arts, both of which have boasted about big sales from some of their key franchises.

Call of Duty: Ghosts is the No. 1 best-selling game on PS4 in North America at Best Buy, GameStop, Target and Wal-Mart, and also the No. 1 pre-ordered Xbox One title in North America for those retailers at launch,” said Activision’s chief executive Eric Hirshberg in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited about the consumer response as we look forward to this Friday’s release of Xbox One. As we’ve said before, it’s a great time to be a gamer, and a great time for Call of Duty fans.”

Meanwhile, EA chief operating officer Peter Moore explained that the PlayStation 4 has a high attach rate when it comes to games made by the company. Said Moore in a tweet, “Gamers are speaking…our week 1 estimates show that 1 of every 3 #PS4 games sold is an @ea game! #FIFA14 #Madden25 #BF4 #NeedForSpeed”.

The Xbox One arrives at retail this Friday in the U.S., while the PlayStation 4 is available now.

Source: Venturebeat


Canada Loves PlayStation 4

The PlayStation 4 has only been at retail in select markets for about a week, and it’s already setting huge sales records across the globe – including Canada.

Sony Computer Entertainment Canada VP and GM Steve Turvey couldn’t help but talk about the big sales the system has generated, resulting in the biggest launch in the country’s gaming history. “The launch was a huge success by any standard of measurement. It was by far the largest launch in gaming history in Canada, and we were thrilled by the execution, bust mostly the response of PlayStation fans and consumers,” he said.

“We launched more units than we have ever in any console launch across any platform at any time, and by far the most,” he continued. “Three times, four times as much as we’ve done historically, and still demand seems to be unsated.”

As for those who were left unsated, more consoles are on the way. “We have a nice healthy supply of inventory that we’ll continue to flow into the marketplace, and we hope that demand continues,” he concluded.

Source: Gamesindustry International

Social Is A ‘Battlefield’

The successful release of Battlefield 4 this past month by EA’s DICE studio has been making waves online, ranking at number 4 for top games on social media in October. Next up is the release of their ‘Second Assault’ expansion pack this Friday, alongside the launch of the Xbox One.

The presence of Battlefield on social media has enabled an involved and devoted fanbase to participate in the telling of their story. It doesn’t just happen organically — this requires months of planning and day-to-day detail to create something this cohesive. These efforts have paid off in a big way with a Silver Award win for ‘Best Overall Use of Social Media’ from EventTech, alongside such brands as American Express and Pepsi. We talked with EA’s Senior Online Marketing Manager, Daniel Lingen, to give us insight into what work kind of work is behind this award-winning social strategy, how they engage users, and more.

What’s the focus on now that you’re in full launch-mode with Battlefield 4?

Daniel Lingen, Senior Online Marketing Manager at EA

I think a lot of times when you launch a game, it kind of takes the focus of getting ready for launch. You spend a lot of time pushing pre-orders and talking about launch and how great it’s going to be once it launches. I think what’s interesting about Battlefield is that it’s just the beginning. A Battlefield product spans, oftentimes, for multiple years after it launches. So if we look at Battlefield 3, we were launching expansion packs for a long time for that game, which is great— it definitely gave our users a lot more to interact with — but it does kind of change the model away from this idea that we ship a packaged good to the fact that we ship a service. That’s what I like about the Battlefield franchise so much is that we do ship a service. We are still talking about Battlefield 3 in our channels, we are still talking about Battlefield 4 in our channels. There’s so many great pieces of content — especially UGC that comes in, that we can really celebrate all of it. So now that we’ve launched, a lot of our focus goes into, well, what are our fans doing We are promoting what they are doing within our channels. I think a really good example is our ‘Only in Battlefield‘ campaign, which had started by us creating a bunch of “moments” that had happened organically during play-tests, by creating these videos and kind of showing of these fan stories. We did enable our fans to create their own ‘Only in Battlefield‘ moments during the beta, but once the game had launched, some of the things we’re seeing were just far beyond anything we could have imagined. So as we move into post-launch, a lot of our focus becomes celebrating the awesome things that our fans do.

How do you go out and find the best UGC?

I have a couple people on my team that actively source videos that are coming up. We also do source things from communities like Reddit or Twitter, or a few things that people post on our Facebook. We’ve also set up an email alias that users can email their videos to. Beyond that, we really leverage our partnership with people like Ayzenberg to have eyes on the channel all time time. We work with Ian Tornay very heavily and he talks to a lot of the influencers so if they have a really cool video or something, they’ll send either to him or somebody on my team.

What does the Eventtech achievement mean to you?

A lot of the time, especially when you’re working on a franchise like Battlefield, you get extremely heads-down and you spend the time executing in your own channel without having the time to look up out of your own lane and see how you’re performing against other franchises. We do a lot of competitive research within the industry, focusing on competitors, but we don’t do a lot outside of it. For us, it really does help validate this theory that we have that we are leading the industry and that as much as reading these social media blogs and reading about what other people have done in the world, it’s about getting off the couch and doing your own tests and creating your own campaigns. As much as we can read about what our competitors are doing and what the industry is doing, the more things that we do on [our own], the better that we’re able to get ahead of our competition and start defining what social media best practices are instead of reading about them.

What social network do you consider as the most important in meeting your goals?

So we have specific goals that we set across the different channels. I think one of the ones that we find really important and kind of like a lifeline for us is Facebook. Obviously we leverage the other channels but Facebook we rely really heavily on to do a lot of our metrics-tracking and our analytics. Facebook has a lot of really great Insights that you can use to find out more about your team. They also have several different types of analytics that you can track. When we sit down at the beginning of the week and actually plan out what the goal for each post is, we can sit down and say, are we going for awareness Is the purpose of this post to attract new people to our Facebook page If so, then we have a complete set of best practices for that type of post. Or we could say engagement— is our hope here to have people engage with the brand We’re not looking necessarily to bring new people in, but we want them to comment on the posts, we want them to ‘like’ the posts. We have a complete different set of best practices for those. Finally, conversion; so if we’re trying to sell the game in a specific post, how are we doing that We apply those best practices. We use those three pillars, which are three distinct pillars that we can set up within Facebook analytics, and we use that to define what the post schedule will look like over the course of a week. We’re not always looking at just one post, we’re not looking at promoting a certain trailer or pre-order message, we’re looking at how we can mix up our UGC, our interactive posts, any of the content that we are releasing with Electronic Arts. We look at how we can leverage all that into one cohesive, multi-channel story. That works with Facebook leading the way.

So do you plan this week-to-week?

We plan out an entire campaign very high-level, so we’ll plan about 12 months at a time on a month-to-month basis. Then, once we are about 3 months out, that month, we will break it down week-to-week. Once we are looking at that month, we start breaking down the weeks into days. So, for example, we are looking at the month of January right now, so we’ve already talked about what we were planning for January months ago, and now we’re going to re-evaluate that. Is that still what we want to be talking about Yes, that is. Okay, what are we going to be talking about on a weekly basis What’s the story that we want to tell each week We define all of that. So now that we’re close to January we’ll sit down and say, what are we talking about each day For the first week of January, we want to put up 6 engagement posts, 4 conversion posts, however many awareness posts— that sort of thing. We look at what we have coming out and build the calendar from there. We find that doing it that way instead of just reacting, results in us having a cohesive story over time as opposed to a bunch of wild marketing messages that might not even tell a story.

You can follow Lingen on Twitter @huskyhog.

‘Clash of Clans’ In Google Play Top Ten

Analytics firm App Annie has released their latest numbers for the mobile market, with (as usual) some interesting data to look at. Their numbers are derived from the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store, and the company noted some interesting trends.

As industry observers have noted in recent months, messaging apps are an important driver for games in the Asian markets. Tencent showed this with their 2D sidescroller WeRun hitting the #1 spot for the top iOS game downloads based on the strength of Tencent’s WeChat messaging. This also propelled Tencent to the #2 slot for iOS publishers. As yet, though, Tencent hasn’t cracked the Top Ten for iOS publisher or game revenue, showing that downloads alone aren’t enough to make a great business.

App Annie also highlighted the success of Supercell’s Clash of Clans as it moved onto Android platforms worldwide, grabbing the #9 slot by revenue on Google Play to complement its #1 position on iOS by revenue. Cross-platform play is probably a feature that’s important to the title’s success, and it’s likely that Clash of Clans will move up on the Google Play revenue charts in the future.

An interesting development App Annie noted is King’s use of KakaoTalk in Korea to propel Candy Crush Saga in that country. “The release of a special version of Candy Crush Saga for Kakao in September allowed King to reach Kakao’s approximately 110 million users, and started paying dividends in October as the game and publisher climbed the revenue rankings,” noted App Annie on their blog.

Once again, the top publishers by downloads are weighted towards the West for both iOS and Google Play, but when you look at revenues Japanese publishers do much better. Monthly revenue for games is once again led by Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, and Puzzle & Dragons on iOS (#1, #2 and #3, respectively), with Google Play’s top three slots were held by Puzzle & Dragons, Candy Crush Saga, and Monster Taming (a game on Korea’s KakaoTalk).

King’s Pet Rescue Saga is doing well at #6 in iOS revenue (perhaps because of relentless promotion and TV advertising), while EA’s The Simpsons Tapped Out came in at #5 in iOS revenue. Machine Zone’s Game of War: Fire Age continued to post good revenue at #7 on iOS, while new entry Megapolis from Russian publisher Social Quantum leaped into the #9 position for iOS revenue (jumping 18 ranks).

The biggest movement on Google Play was from EA’s The Simpsons Tapped Out, which moved up six spots to claim the #8 ranking in revenue. Other Google Play games showed little revenue changes.

Celebrate The Holidays With Nintendo 3DS

While Sony and Microsoft are pulling out all the stops for their console launches, Nintendo also has a holiday campaign to run for its systems. This 3DS ad puts the bullseye squarely on Nintendo’s core audience: young consumers and those who have nostalgic feelings about Nintendo properties.

PlayStation 4 Sizzle Reel

While the PS4 has launched to a generally positive reception, Sony is quick to remind those who think the launch library is thin that more games are just around around the corner. While Knack, Killzone: Shadow Fall and other launch titles feature prominently in this sizzle trailer, there’s also Infamous Second Son, Kingdom Hearts III, DriveClub and far more.