Keep Your Secrets Close

 

As the premiere of the fourth season of Game of Thrones draws close, we get more trailers hinting at the storylines to come. Some flounder in the confusion and fires consuming Westeros while others clearly flourish.

 

Become A Champion

Kinect Sports Rivals quietly might be one of the most important titles for the Xbox One to appeal to a larger audience and it’s easy to see why. With the ability to insert yourself in the game by just standing in front of the Kinect, the game could reach a huge mainstream audience.

 

Dare To Feel Good

Activia has switched over from Jamie Lee Curtis to Shakira as their new spokesperson, clearly hoping to appeal to a younger crowd of health conscious individuals. The above ad (which is in Portuguese) will be running worldwide to promote the yogurt and will feature the song “Dare (La La La)“, which will debut in Shakira’s new album next month.

Source: AdAge.com

 

ChangYou: $600 Million For Mobile Games

Publicly traded online game company ChangYou is about to become a big mover and shaker in the mobile game industry.

The Chinese company has announced that it will invest $600 million in mobile game developers over the next few years. Titled the CYOU Win Plan, the program will help catapult the company up the mobile game charts, with billions of dollars for the taking.

The investment will take place across marketing, distribution and business operations, with $200 million put into acquiring projects, $200 million for marketing and $200 million revenue share for game developers.

“2014 will be an exciting year for ChangYou,” said Joey Jia, the general manager of ChangYou’s U.S. division. “The $600 million developer’s program offers a tremendous opportunity for independent gaming developers to publish their games worldwide leveraging our expertise in both the PC and mobile space.”

The announcement comes on the heels of next week’s Game Developers Conference, which will take place in San Francisco.

Source: VentureBeat

Amazon Prime Is Now Pricier

Since Amazon’s Prime was launched 9 years ago, the $79 price tag has not risen even though order and shipping costs have increased by quite a bit– shifting the profit from $65 to $34 per user per year. This has all changed with the announcement that Amazon is increasing the cost of the program by $20, or 25 percent, to $99.

Amazon has been recently bulking up their entertainment offerings to become a more direct competitor to Netflix, securing exclusive streaming rights to major TV shows and films. CFO of Amazon,Tom Szkutak denies however that the costs of licensing were a reason why the price would increase.

“Certainly video, Prime Instant Video we are investing [in] very heavily, and so those are certainly costly. Those aren’t the reasons for the price increases that we’re contemplating,” said Szkutak in a January earnings call.

Prime users are big spenders, shelling out an average of $1500 a year as compared to non-Prime users who spend $500. Analyst Carlos Kirjner of Bernstein Research sees the price increase as a positive move for Amazon and doesn’t expect too many Prime memberships to fall off the wagon.

“Amazon would come out ahead if a price increase led to a defection of fewer than 50 percent of Prime users,” said Kirjner.

Kirjner could very well be right. We crunched the numbers to find out the sentiment on Twitter, blogs, news and forums about Amazon’s initiative to find that only 5 percent of folks talking about this change are upset. Even more surprising, 45 percent were actually happy about the price increase. If this directly translates into membership retention, the future bodes very well for Amazon and their shareholders.

Prime members are receiving an email notifying them of their renewal date, when the price amps up to the full $99 but in the meantime, Prime offerings remain the same. Non-Prime members have a week to join before paying the higher price. Students will pay just $49 and Amazon’s new Prime Fresh will continue to charge $299.
Source: Variety

China Tops 700 Million Smartphones

China’e mobile phone audience has reached all new heights this past year. A report from Umeng indicates that over 700 million smartphones have gone active in the country. Out of the devices that were activated, 41 percent of them were from first-time buyers, while the remaining 59 percent consists of upgrades.

That continues China’s leadership in he worldwide smartphone market, an achievement it’s held since November 2011, despite slowing sales.

Games are a very important category for smartphone users in China, as it is in the rest of the world, and Chinese mobile gamers are getting more dedicated. “The term ‘casual games’ is becoming a misnomer as users are spending large blocks of time playing these games rather than dipping in and out as was once the case,” said Umeng in the report. Games are increasingly licensed rather than pirated. By December 2013, 20 percent of the top 100 games in China licensed third-party intellectual property, compared to just 13 percent in June 2013. Popular titles included “Dad Where Are We Going” and “Despicable Me.”

Out of the phones sold, most were budget models, with 57 percent consisting of Android devices that retail for less than $350 in U.S. funds. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t demand for higher-priced headsets, however, as 27 percent of the market belonged to models costing over $500. 80 percent of those sold were iPhone models.

Social media plays a huge part when it comes to smartphone usage. A number of social-related apps grew in numbers last year, including WeChat, which grew a whopping 8,600 percent between March and November.

55 percent of the top 1,000 apps have some sort of linkage to social media, including programs like MomentCam and Crazy Guess Figure.

Source: TechCrunch

Naughty Dog Cleans Up At BAFTAs

Things were coming up aces for Naughty Dog at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards, or BAFTAs. The developer behind the popular action/survival game for the PlayStation 3 The Last of Us took home five awards from the show earlier this week.

Writer Neil Druckmann and his team earned awards for Best Game, Action & Adventure, Audio Achievement, Story and Performer, with Ashley Johnson picking up an award for her performance as young Ellie.

Johnson blogged about her win, stating, “I feel so lucky that I got to play Ellie. To play a female character in a game that for once isn’t sexualized and is a real 14 year old girl. A 14 year old girl that has insecurities and emotional ups and downs but can also hold her own in a fight if she needs to. Ellie is a complete badass to me and I’m proud of who and what she represents as a woman.”

Other notable winners from the awards show include Gone Home, which won Debut Game, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, which earned Game Innovation; and Bioshock Infinite, which won in the Music category.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Kids See Marketing Messages Galore

No matter what they seem to be watching — or where they’re watching it — kids still see plenty of advertising, according to a report from the Common Sense Media in Advertising to Children and Teens.

The report states that between product placements, ads in websites and cross-promotions, the amount of advertising is huge. According to an infographic from the company, kids between the ages of 2-11 see an average of 25,600 ads a year, with 40 percent of that ad exposure stemming from non-children’s shows.

In addition, websites that are devoted to kids carry an 87 percent chance of some sort of advertising, while three billion (!) display ads for food and beverages were viewed on similar websites for the period of 2009-2010. One-third of those ads have premium offers in exchange for some sort of product purchase.

Out of all the mediums, TV is the most popular at number one, where kids spend most of their media-oriented time.

Source: Adweek

Nintendo Happy Meals Launching In U.K.

Nintendo, always seeking to please its younger gaming audience with its mascot Mario, has teamed up with McDonald’s for a new Happy Meal promotion that will launch in Europe later this month.

The partnership begins on March 19th and is called The Run, Jump and Power-Up with Super Mario promotion. With it, one of eight Super Mario toys, like the one pictured above, will be included with the meals, featuring such characters as Luigi, Toad, Donkey Kong, the Super Mushroom, and, of course, Mario. Out of these toys, four will be interactive, including the Donkey Kong Barrel Projector and the Super Sound Mushroom.

There’s no word yet if this promotion will work its way to the United States.

Source: MCV UK

Energy Drink Asks For Selfies

Would you take a photo of your groggy, mussed-haired, spittle laden self for a chance to win a 6-pack of energy drinks That’s exactly what 5-Hour Energy asked their followers to do with their #ShowUsYourTiredFace social campaign.

“We realized that it’s the Monday after that hurts,” said Melissa Skabich, the director of communications for 5-Hour Energy in a statement to Digiday. “So, we thought, ‘What about posting a photo of your tired face ’”

The campaign incorporated a few of 5-Hour Energy sponsored athletes, including former Nascar drive Michael Waltrip and current driver Clint Bowyer. Getting all of Twitter to share arguably their most unflattering photos has already increased followers by 9 percent. It helps that the campaign cleverly coincided with daylight savings time, when everyone is feeling the loss of an hour of sleep.