Why Do Launch Games Underwhelm?

Usually, when a new game console arrives to market, there are a number of “must-have” games available. On occasion, though, there are duds that don’t really “fit” with the system, but are merely launched for the sake of their brand name, or because the company’s looking for a quick buck.

So why do some of these launch titles get questionably average reviews Ubisoft’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, Tony Key, has an explanation.

“Right now, all publishers are transitioning their development resources,” he says. “For a game like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, most of the sales are still going to be on current generation platforms. We can’t make a version for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One that’s so wildly different that we can’t market them together. So, for now, developers and designers are focused on making a game that works really well on all of the systems – but as we transition resources to the next gen, it’s going to be more difficult to do that because the power of these machines is going to allow so much more creativity.”

As for new franchises, they may introduce some “fresh blood” to the market, but that doesn’t always guarantee their success. (Ubisoft recently delayed their long-anticipated Watch Dogs from launch window to mid-2014.)

“It’s heartbreaking to be so coveted for launch and not be able to deliver it at launch, but from a business perspective, it’s not a difficult decision to make,” says Key. “Watch Dogs is designed to be a long-term brand for Ubisoft. We won’t launch it until we know it’s equaling the vision it can achieve. . . We’re playing the long game – and as a company, we know how important it is to get it right.”

“Our feeling is the installed base of these machines will be much faster to take hold than previous generations,” he says. “In the first couple of years, we expect double the installed base of previous generations [during that same time period]. … The reason why is: the last cycle was longer, so there’s a lot of pent up demand.”

You can read the full interview at the link below.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Generate Your Sweater

Coke Zero is getting the (competitive) spirit of the holidays going early this year with their Sweater Generator. No need to knit or crochet at all– you are able to control the details down to the color, pattern and decorative details to make the most aggressively ugly sweater imaginable. Why not mingle palm trees with evergreens and throw in a baked turkey, too

Coke Zero is hoping that you won’t just keep your hideous creations to yourself but will also share them over social media, trotting out your ugly sweater to get some votes. That’s right– as early as December 1st, the top 100 sweaters will actually be produced and sent to the lucky contest winners, surely the toast of this year’s ugly sweater parties. If you don’t feel like creating one for yourself, but want to support, you’ll be able to see what others are doing by checking out #sweatergenerator on Twitter.

Now, if only we could order these sweaters . . .


Source: AdWeek

MIT’s Shape-Shifting inFORM Display

It’s amazing what some minds can do with technology – or, in this case, the team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The team has just unveiled a new technology called inFORM, which allows you to reproduce digital content physically in 3D.

With this technology, users can utilize inFORM to react to various things, including 3D models, bar graphs and more. In addition, you can also use Skype with it, creating a physical version of the person you’re having a conversation with – even though it’s not a hologram projector. Hey, it’s the next best thing.

inFORM cost quite a bit to make, with 900 small motors that control each pin on it. The pins then work together to render objects in 3D, with each one costing around $20 to $30. That doesn’t mean we won’t see it for consumer means down the road, but, for now, it’s merely an MIT project – but an innovative one. The game possibilities are very interesting.“The traditional sort of interaction design and device design sort of assumes for a very static way of interacting and this [inFORM] device can change its physical form very quickly and that means that we need to come up with new ways that we interact with technology,” said Seam Follmer, working alongside his team, Daniel Leithinger and Professor Hiroshi Ishii, at MIT’s Tangible Media Group.

Source: Digital Trends



Xbox One Controller Design Contest

Even though the system won’t be out for a few days, Microsoft is already planning a contest to give its normal black controller a design boost.

Starting on November 21, Microsoft will hose a contest on its web page where users can submit their own original designs for the peripheral. Both amateur and professional artists are welcome to submit their ideas, recoloring everything from the analog sticks to the triggers to the D-pad however they see fit.

In addition, artists are encouraged to use the Windows 8 Fresh Paint app to earn a potential special prize in the contest.

The grand prize winner will snag $750 as the People’s Choice prize, while ten runners-up will get $500 prizes apiece. That would snag them their own Xbox One systems with ease. Good luck to all you artists out there!

The Xbox One releases on November 22.

Source: Xbox

Major League Sports Premieres MLG.TV

Major League Gaming has certainly picked up over the years when it comes to professional gaming tournaments, but now it has a new venue with its premiere programming – television.

The group has introduced MLG.TV, an online gaming network that will help it monetize certain events online, complete with 1080p HD support, built-in Twitter chat, and a number of other features. The channel will be the home for several premiere events, such as the upcoming MLG Championship in Columbus, Ohio, as well as original programming and partnered shows such as Call of Duty’s OpTic Gaming.

“We’ve been streaming our events for six or seven years, we’ve done network TV, we’ve done cable TV,” MLG co-founder and CEO Sundance DiGiovanni told me. “We’ve done our own platform, we’ve done white-label, we’ve done Ustream . . .”

You can learn more about MLG.TV here.

Source: TechCrunch

‘Resogun’ Blasts Off

Resogun is here with the launch of the PS4, and the game might be the console’s first digital darling. Check out some of these trailers highlighting the elements of this classic shooter, with one highlighting the praise its getting from various media outlets.


Déjà Vu On PlayStation

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeros will feature a “throwback” mission titled Déjà Vu for PlayStation users when it launches. It will not only recreates a mission originally featured in the original Metal Gear Solid, but it will allow users to play as Solid Snake from that game.

Soccer Gets Real

Showing off the power of the Xbox One version of FIFA 14 is this new TV ad that puts one surprised gamer right into soccer star Lionel Messi’s shoes, and right into the game, with some beautifully executed graphics.

Marketing A Next-Gen RPG

One of the highly anticipated titles destined for next-gen is The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt by CD Projekt Red, coming in the near future for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. The product has already gathered quite a lot of buzz with its showing at Gamescom and the compelling videos. This promises to be the defining open-world RPG for the next-gen that’s first to launch, and it could be one of the top titles for 2014. The [a]list daily spoke with CD Projekt Red’s Michal Platkow-Gilewski, head of marketing and PR and Tracy Muniz Williams, head of marketing for North and South America, about the marketing plans.

Namco Bandai is distributing The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt in Europe, while Warner Bros. Interactive is distributing the game in North America. With the launch drawing near, marketing planning is well under way. “We just had the guys from Warner at the studios, and they presented to us a bunch of ideas for what they think we should do for the North American market,” said Williams. “They’ll pitch a suggested budget, put together a forecast estimate of what they think they’re going to move, and based on that it’s a financial exercise. We determine what kind of marketing and trade dollars we’ll support to make that team successful.”

The marketing team is mostly based in Warsaw, we three people working as art designers, one of them the game’s former lead concept artist. “They’re poaching some people from the dev team to help with the marketing side,” said Williams. “It keeps the quality high, it keeps the look and feel of all the consumer facing items just as high quality.” It’s an advantage for other reasons, too. “They know the product first-hand,” added Platkow-Gilewski. “They are connecting us with the devs even more strongly, which makes accessing the assets easier.”

Williams is not alone when it comes to marketing in the Americas. “We have support from Warner with marketing people on their side, and access to their in-house PR resources, their press list, their distribution,” noted Williams. “There are a lot of conveniences they bring to the table, but I also have myself and we’ll have our own small office in the US which will oversee all our products for North and South America.”

The PC version of The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is launching alongside the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions. It’s all next-gen in terms of the graphics and horsepower required, not current generation, and that is important in the publisher’s view.. “As you can see right now with games that ship on both current-gen and next-gen, there has to be some kind of compromise,” said Platkow-Gilewski. “With our game there are no compromises. All of the hardware is finally supporting the quality the studio has always had, and now consumers will finally be getting that quality benchmark that PC gamers have had for a little while.”

The response to the game has been much better than CD Projekt Red had anticipated, according to Williams. Right now the response is mostly from the press because that’s where the focus has been for marketing efforts, but the anticipation is building among consumers as well. “We have focused 100 percent on trade and media, but it’s so amazing that we’ve also won some fan awards,” said Williams. “It’s really encouraging that what we’re doing is resonating really well with everybody.”

That enthusiasm comes with a price, though. “What we’ve shown them so far has pumped their expectations to the maximum,” said Platkow-Gilewski. “Now we have to match it. The buzz is quite good, and I can’t wait until we show the game to everyone. So far we’ve won 84 awards without any single hands-on yet. I hope we double or triple that when we release the game.” The exact release date has not yet been announced but clearly the team is looking to be one of the most important games of 2014.

The marketing strategy sees hands-on as an important element. “The biggest thing that we’re doing is participating in more activities,” said Williams. “We’re going to be in more places we haven’t been to before, showing the game to more people, whether it’s more retail opportunities, whether it’s more trade shows, or more consumer activation. I think we have a real opportunity with all three SKUs shipping at the same time. There’s a lot more that we can do with this game from a marketing perspective.”

As the marketing plans are being formed, part of the issue is to make a larger audience aware of the Witcher brand. “The first game as PC only, and the second game was PC and then a year later it came out on Xbox,” noted Williams. “The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is going to be the first game with all three SKUs releasing simultaneously. We have a little bit of an education challenge because we have different platform consumers that are at different stages of education and awareness about the brand.”

Part of that awareness-building will come from licensed products. Dark Horse is creating a Witcher comic book, and there’s a board game in the planning stages as well from a partner that has the same quality standards. “Our idea for the business is that we will never do low-quality anything,” said Platkow-Gilewski.

Of course, a collector’s edition is something to be considered for any major game release these days. “We know a lot of our fans love collectible stuff,” said Williams, “and where it makes sense we want to give them collectible items. We do offer quite a bit in the base game itself. We do like to have something special for the hard-core fans, but we haven’t decided what that’s going to be right now. Most likely we’ll have some bonuses for the hard-core Witcher fans.” So there will be a collector’s edition, which Platkow-Gilewski teases “It will be one of the best collector’s edition ever made.” It’s a big challenge considering some of the amazing collector’s editions that have come out, but CD Projekt Red is dedicated to high quality.

The challenge is not just to produce a marketing plan for the launch of the game, but to keep interest up for the long term. “We’re at the point in this business, especially with these console games that are expensive to make, you’ve got to think of it as life-cycle management,” said Williams. “Regardless of whether your coming now or later, how are you going to keep that game top of mind, what additional things are you going to offer to the consumer to allow them to engage, whether it’s free content or paid content. We have to think about all of those things in advance. We want people in every possible form of entertainment to experience our brands.”