Google Play Adds User-Friendly Features

Google has announced that it will implement several updates to its Google Play services and app this week, in an attempt to make the services more user-friendly to both developers and players.

“Last year was all about delivering the core platform experiences to help developers build up their own amazing game experiences for players to discover those games,” said Greg Hartrell, lead product manager for Google Play Games, speaking with Polygon last week. He believes that it was a “breakout year” for the company, with the “fastest-growing mobile gaming network in history.”

The services include being able to reward “game gifts” to players, a feature that many developers will take advantage of in order to improve engagement. They will also have access to “easy-effort game analytics” with data on how many daily active users utilize their apps, as well as leaderboard performance and other features.

iOS support will also be added for multiplayer gaming, including the ability to invite fellow players through the Play Games App. This will make it cross compatible with both Android devices and iOS-supported ones, including Achievements and Leaderboards support.

Finally, 18 new categories will be added, making it easier for gamers to find their favorite products. These include Arcade & Action, Racing, Sports Games and Brain & Puzzle. “We’ve never had a role-playing game category,” said Hartrell. “There isn’t a music game category. And if you’re into those types of games, you’re relegated to using search right now, or relying on it being recommended to you.”

Source: Polygon

Streaming Coming To Mobile Games

Game broadcasts have become quite commonplace on video game consoles and PC, and soon gamers will be able to do the same for select mobile games.

Twitch, in an announcement prior to the Game Developers Conference this week, has announced that it will include its service in Gameloft’s racing extravaganza Asphalt 8: Airborne. The service will be provided through a downloadable update for the game on the App Store, and will allow players to broadcast live gameplay through the Internet. In addition, their face and voice can also be included in the broadcast, through a separate camera and microphone.

“Live broadcasting represents one of the most important shifts in the way people play games,” said Matthew DiPietro, Twitch’s head of marketing.

The company has certainly thrived over the past few months with its broadcasting services, including full representation on Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 consoles. This new move should introduce the company to a whole new audience of enthusiastic players.

Source: Wall Street Journal

A Marketer’s Guide to GDC

This week the Game Developers Conference is taking place in San Francisco, and more than 20,000 people involved with the game industry will be attending. The conference includes multiple tracks of sessions, an Expo floor, two days of summits and innumerable press conferences, parties, and random encounters in the hallways of the Moscone Center. It can be overwhelming, but with the right preparation this is a great place for marketers (or anyone in the industry) to gather information about the market, the competition, the business, the technology, and the future directions for all of those things.

While everyone has their own tasks and goals for the GDC, if you can spare a little time there’s some good information to be gleaned. Much of it is metadata, looking at where companies are spending money and deducing what that means about priorities. Here’s some things to keep in mind as you wander through GDC; much of it also applies to the Game Connection show that also takes place this week.

Scan the Expo

The exhibit represents a number of companies who have spent sometimes quite substantial amounts of money to get in front of game developers. Look at the booths and see if the company’s focus is obvious. Are they selling a product Trying to convince developers to work on a particular platform Providing a service If you can’t tell immediately what the company is trying to accomplish, that’s a marketing problem. Make a note to avoid that if you’re ever involved with booth design.

Watch and see which booths are attracting the biggest crowds, and try to determine why. Also note the big booths that look deserted — what are they doing wrong You can learn both what developers are highly interested in, and you may pick up some ideas on how to avoid creating a booth that’s a ghost town. If you can’t attract developers to your booth, that was a huge waste of time and money.

Some things to note about Expo booths. Tools usually follow the market, but sometimes they lead it — take a good look at what types of tools are in demand. Check out new features, especially ones that seem to gather a crowd. What are the problem areas for the industry Expo booths tell you. When you see a dozen different companies dealing with payments globally, that tells you something about how important it is to handle payments, and how it’s not easy to handle it yourself.

Absence is also a clue. A decade or so ago copy protection was all the rage, and thus the Expo had several vendors touting solutions. Now you won’t see them, because in an increasingly free-to-play or connected era copy protection (or DRM) is something to be avoided. Are there types of companies you saw last year or the year before that are no longer exhibiting

Pay attention to booth design and marketing materials. Typically you’ll learn some things to avoid . . . like when you glance at a booth and have no idea what product or service they are hawking. Do they have marketing materials, like a sell sheet handy That may seem silly in an age where you can just go to a website to be inundated by information, but there are advantages to paper as a technology. It’s cheap, colorful, and you can save someone time by providing just enough info to get interested in your product or service. Make a note of the best signage and the worst signage, the slogans that caught your attention and the ones that made you grimace.

While the GDC is not E3, you may on occasion encounter booth babes (defined as attractive young people in revealing clothing hired for their looks, not their product knowledge). Really, that’s rather sad to see in this century. It usually marks a company that’s unsure of its product’s ability to attract attention, or someone in charge of the booth who’s a jerk, or perhaps both. Send a message to them by avoiding their booth, and maybe things will change in the future.

Walk the Career Center

This is an obvious way to figure out not only which companies are expanding, but what areas they are expanding into. Are they hiring engineers with console experience or mobile developers. Check out who’s hiring, and what positions they’re hiring for. Read the job descriptions. This is one way to figure out the directions your competitors are heading. As well, notice which big companies don’t have a presence at the Career Center. They probably aren’t expanding rapidly, which is something to keep in mind as you study their press releases.

Check Session Attendance

There will be a few sessions that are standing room only, no matter how large the room. Sometimes the reason is obvious, as when a noted designer or a big company CEO takes the stage. Other times, it’s not the speaker but the topic that’s attracting a crowd — and that can be a clue to what developers are hungry for. One type of session that always seems to get good attendance is one that reveals hard numbers about sales, revenue, virtual goods sales and the like. If you really want to know why people are going to a particular session, ask them.

Final Thoughts

Don’t miss the hallway booths, or the ones on the mezzanine, or anywhere you see someone trying to send a marketing message. Again, make a note of ones that succeed in getting your attention (and pay particular attention to those that are getting a good crowd).

Party judiciously. Don’t expect to hold any good conversations at many of the parties, which typically are so noisy you’re better off texting. Identify those easily enough when they talk about the DJ’s they’ve got lined up. Pace yourself, because there’s more to do the next day and a hangover won’t help. What can you learn from parties? Who’s got budget to burn? For one thing, unless it’s a small-scale affair, don’t expect to get much networking done. Sometimes you’ll strike gold at the right party, though, and make some great connections. There will be more parties than you can possibly attend, though, so choose wisely.

Tchotchkes are a given, but who’s got the good ones. If you want to see the best ones, get to the Expo early before they are all gone. In the past, sometimes hardware companies have given out some rather expensive hardware at some of the sessions — Google is famous for this, and last year Sony gave out a PS Vita to everyone at a particular session. It may seem crazy, but it’s certainly a great way to get the attention of a key demographic. Usually there are plenty of t-shirts, pens, rubber balls and the like, but there’s almost always one or two creative, interesting and well-constructed tchotchkes that earn a place on your desk and keep that company’s name in your mind. Those are the type to copy for your own firm.

Game Marketing Summit Announces Initial Lineup

“The marketing gurus behind brands such as Facebook, 2K, REVOLT and Nissan will delve into, and provide actionable advice about, the most important issues facing game marketers today, including exclusive research on next-gen gamers andinsights on future trends and key consumer behavior that will impact the way we need to market in this everchanging landscape,” said General Manager of GMS, Marci Yamaguchi Hughes, in an announcementof the initial lineup for their 2014 event.

The summit will gather some wide-ranging featured speakers so far, including Guy Longworth of Sony Entertainment, Jonathan Simpson-Bint of Twitch, Mike Lu of GREE, Peter Jonas of Facebook and Michael Awdish of Nissan. The focus of sessions will range from reaching the gaming community and social strategy to marketing on mobile.

Speaker and session highlights for the 2014 Game Marketing Summit include:

“Crafting Contagious Content” (Keynote)

  • Jonah Berger – New York Times Bestselling Author of “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” and
  • Marketing Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

“Marketing Worth Sharing” (Keynote)

  • Tom Fishburne – Founder & CEO, Marketoon Studios

“Influencing with Intent: Building your Social Strategy”

  • Chris Thorne – Vice President, Media and Marketing, Electronic Arts
  • Ryan Jones – Director of Communications, 2K
  • Jake Katz – Vice President, Audience Insights & Strategy, REVOLT
  • Wendy Zaas – Executive Vice President, Rogers & Cowan

“Gaming Evolved: The Changing Landscape”

  • Guy Longworth – Senior Vice President, PlayStation Brand Marketing, Sony Computer Entertainment America

Greg Short – CEO and Founder of EEDAR

  • “Off to the Races: How Strategic Partnerships Pay Off”
  • Michael Awdish, Senior Manager, Interactive Marketing, Nissan North America

“The Persistent Dialogue: What It Takes to Talk to Gamers 24/7”

  • Mike Lu – Vice President of Product, GREE
  • N’Gai Croal – Founder and Principal, Hit Detection


For more information and to purchase tickets to the event, visit Game Marketing Summit’s site here.


‘Angry Birds’ Goes Epic

The Angry Birds franchise is expanding even more, with an RPG called Angry Birds Epic. As teased at in this trailer, the game will involve leveling, loot and turn-based battles.


‘Crazy Taxi’ Revs Up Again

Crazy Taxi creator Kenji Kanno is back with a new mobile version of the franchise called Crazy Taxi: City Rush. The platform might have changed, but this taxi is no less crazy!


Coca-Cola Says Don’t Slurp During Movies

Noisy jerks at the theater are terrible, and Coca-Cola is doing their part with their own ad designed to encourage considerate movie-going. In Denmark, they filmed audience members and then projected them into the footage into the background of a fake movie trailer for a laugh, but they also worked up a series of pre-edited ads showing moviegoers slurping and ruining a scene.



Amazon’s Game Controller Revealed?

Between purchasing key developers like Double Helix Games and readying certain assets, Amazon could be moving closer to releasing its own Android-powered game console for the family TV. Another major hint dropped last week when a revealed picture of a prototype controller hit the Internet, with pictures taken from Brazilian regulatory agency filings.

The controller, seen in the image above, features the usual face buttons, two analog controllers, a directional pad and several center buttons, including a “home” button for a game menu. It also has shoulder triggers, as well as interactive play, pause and rewind/forward buttons on the bottom, similar to OnLive’s controller set-up. This indicates that the controller could work with other interactive services, including Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Amazon hasn’t given an official statement on the controller or console just yet, but more information should be revealed over the summer.

Source: VentureBeat


iOS 8 Could Ditch Game Center

Usually, when it comes to play games with others on iPhone, gamers have to turn to the Game Center app in order to connect. However, Apple may be looking for a way to simplify this process with its forthcoming iOS 8 update.

A report from 9to5Mac indicates that the operating system could simplify a number of things when it comes to game connection and other services. While nothing has been confirmed by the company yet, this could include improvements to the Notification Center, including the removal of the “missed” tab so users don’t keep getting updates on their display.

Voice Memos could also go through some refining, with a better interface to make it easier to control when recording options. Perhaps the most critical change could come to Game Center, as Apple may remove the app altogether in favor of a simpler connectivity service with game players. Players would connect to other gamers within each game, rather than going through a central Game Center app.

All of these moves would be intended to clean up the Home screen, so users can get around much easier. It’s just a matter of time before Apple reveals just what changes are in store.

Source: TechCrunch