EA’s Access Program For Xbox One

The Xbox One has been seeing a huge promotional push as of late, with Microsoft touting that it was home to “the best games.” It’s also been putting some effort into its deal with the National Football League, providing a second-to-none experience for viewing and interacting with fans of the sport. Now, it’s teamed up with Electronic Arts on a new Access program that could be a real value for gamers.

With EA Access, players will be able to access numerous titles plucked straight from the company’s game library, for the low price of $4.99 per month, or $29.99 annually. These titles will include a number of popular favorites from the company’s library, via The Vault, including FIFA 14, Madden NFL 14, Peggle 2 and Battlefield 4.

Perhaps the biggest draw of this program is the introduction of a new Play First initiative. Subscribers will be able to access trials of forthcoming Electronic Arts releases five days before they release for both retail and digital purchase, including such upcoming games as Dragon Age: Inquisition, Madden NFL 15, FIFA 15, NHL 15 and NBA Live 15. Those who partake in these sessions will be able to save their progress for use in the full releases once they’re available.

The program will also provide a ten percent discount on EA digital content, including full digital downloadable titles and secondary downloadable content, such as Battlefield 4‘s Premium program.

The membership can be purchased online through the Xbox One service, as well as GameStop locations once the service is available. Interestingly, GameStop shares dropped over 5 percent today after this news was announced, as investors got nervous at the thought of even more game sales heading to digital and perhaps out of GameStop’s reach.

Currently, EA Access is in beta with limited users, with four titles to choose from. However, EA plans to launch the service soon, within a matter of weeks. The initial title selection is only the four games listed, but EA plans to introduce more titles. How many, and how quickly, will probably be a major factor in how well this program does.

It’ll be interesting to see if this “on demand” service works in EA’s favor. Will you take part in EA Access

Source: Electronic Arts

‘Batman Vs. Superman’ Rules Comic-Con

Once again, it appears that the Dark Knight rules San Diego Comic-Con.

Despite the huge presence of Marvel at the show (with announcements surrounding such projects as Ant-Man, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and the recently revealed Guardians of the Galaxy 2), Warner Bros. came away with the victory, as research firms Mashwork and Way to Blue revealed that the company’s latest superhero flick, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, was the most talked about on Twitter over the course of the event.

The trailer for the film, which was teased during the movie’s panel over the weekend, drew huge reactions from those who attended, with some even calling it “amazing,” according to Mashwork. Around 73 percent of emotional reactions to the trailer of the film have been positive, even to those who didn’t see it.

In addition, the reveal of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, brandishing a lavish suit of armor similar to that of Xena: Warrior Princess, got some attention on the site as well, with the official photo (seen above) tweeted over 7,000 times. Fans are already generating buzz over the new costume, and wondering if Wonder Woman will get her own film at some point.

The overall mentioned clocked in at 248,960, and 24,550 intent-to-view mentions were also made with the teaser trailer, according to Way to Blue.

Warner Bros. had been facing slight controversy over the film, mainly due to the casting of Ben Affleck as the legendary Batman character, taking over for Christian Bale. However, the positive response could be a nice turn-around for it, as it could lead in to future DC Comics-based films, including a possible Justice League property.

The studio also garnered huge success from its first trailer reveals for next summer’s release of Mad Max: Fury Road and Peter Jackson’s final chapter of The Hobbit saga, The Battle of the Five Armies. Both trailers can be viewed below.

Source: Variety


‘Assassin’s Creed: Unity’ Shows Expert Parkour Promotion

Ubisoft is no stranger to releasing fun live-action videos surrounding its games, including a breathtaking parkour-related video for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag which made the rounds last year. So it should be no surprise that it’s returned for another round with Assassin’s Creed: Unity, which features the French FreeRun Family running through the city streets, with patrolmen in hot pursuit.

As with any given parkour-related video, this one features mind-boggling stunts performed by the FreeRun team, including hanging onto buses, making incredible jumps over gaps, and climbing up walls – actions that players will be able to mimic in the game when it releases later this year.

It isn’t just about being on the run, though. At the conclusion of the video, which you can see below, the Assassins make no qualms about eliminating their targets, ambushing them and finishing them off with their hidden hand blades. Again, this is an act you’ll be able to perform in the game, whether you stab someone up close or eliminate them from above with a high dive.

To show the complexity of what went into the movie’s stuntwork, Ubisoft also posted a behind-the-scenes clip of the FreeRun Family in action, as well as the cameramen and director that attempt to keep up with them. (Thankfully, they succeed, for the most part.) It looks like a fun film-making process, too. This video is sure to get plenty of views and generate interest in the upcoming game, just as previous videos have done. Ubisoft’s got some content that works in perfectly with the game and will get the viral pass-along that’s so desirable.

Unity is currently in the midst of some big publicity, including a recent Assassin’s Creed Experience that drew a huge crowd over the weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, and the recent announcement of a female Templar, Elise, joining the cast.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity will arrive on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on October 28.

Source: Eurogamer


Reddit Advertising Plan Takes a Chance

It’s hard to believe that the Reddit site has been around for nearly ten years, bolstering a unique Internet community and plenty of interactive sessions featuring a variety of professionals and superstars. That said, it’s been a little “odd” in certain cases, particularly with vulgar commentary and users that live for nothing more than to post weird pictures, such as the highly popular LOLcats (cats in humorous poses and costumes).

However, Reddit is looking to change this business model a bit, in the hopes of boosting the advertising side of the site. It’s looking to become a real contender in the Internet market when it comes to advertising, while still keeping most of the community it’s put together intact – which is hardly an easy task, considering that approximately 114 million users post to the site on a monthly basis.

The risk is changing the model so that it’s profitable, but still accessible. There were times when advertising changed a site’s model, such as MySpace, which resulted in disaster and, ultimately, a rebranding that still has yet to catch on.

“One of the things you have to be careful of when you have a site that’s 100 percent community-driven is how best to support that community and not make them feel like you’ve sold out,” said Kevin Rose, general partner at the venture capital firm Google Ventures. “You just don’t want that community to blow up on you.”

Rose co-founded Digg, another site that, at its peak, reached millions of users in terms of community, only for them to depart when changes were made in regards to advertising strategy.

The company has already begun moving forward with monetization programs, including a gift exchange where Reddit earns profit from participating vendors, as well as Reddit Gold, a premium membership program.

“If we’re thinking this hard about the user experience, why can’t we try a little harder about the monetization ” said Alexis Ohanian, a Reddit founder and one of the main members of the board.

Reddit recently hired Ellen Pao, a former partner of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, in an attempt to produce a solid business strategy. “We’re not monetizing to the full extent that we could,” said Ms. Pao. “Our business comes from wanting to be able to continue to serve as a place where people build awesome communities.”

We’ll have to see how this saga unfolds in the months ahead. Do you think advertising will do Reddit good

Source: New York Times

Android Projector Up On Indiegogo

We’ve seen a lot of high tech gizmos make their way to Indiegogo, but the proposed TouchPico could easily take the cake, especially for Android users.

The device, which recently launched its crowdfunding program, was originally announced earlier in the year at the Consumer Electronics Show. With it, users can utilize its projector to show an image on a nearby wall, and then use a flat surface to act as its touch-screen. How’s it do this By using a camera that is built in, capturing your motions and mimicking them onto the projected image.

Even though it does require a stylus in order to mimic said actions onto the large projection, it’s still an interesting technology that could do wonders for business presentations and other uses.

As with any Indiegogo program, there are several investments users can make. They can purchase their own TouchPico unit for $309 (as part of a Special Early Pricing perk), or simply make a $10 pledge to help provide one of the devices for use in a classroom. There are also separate perks for buying two units, as well as distributor and development samples.

One other advantage to the TouchPico is that it’s portable. The device is about the same size as a larger mobile phone, but with only a slight bit more weight than the Samsung S4 model. That makes it convenient to carry around and use for business presentations, without needing any sort of elaborate set-up (or enormous briefcase to carry it around in).

TouchPico can also be used for other Android purposes, such as watching movies with family and friends or playing games on the go, including a number of given titles in the Google Play library.

Best of all, it looks like production on the device will happen. With still just under a month to go in the campaign, it’s already cleared its $55,000 goal by nearly one and a half times, with a total of $74,880 raised thus far. The final unit is expected to hit retail in October 2014, barring any development snags.

Source: Indiegogo


This Week’s [a]list Jobs – July 30th

[a]listdaily is now your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings.

Here are this week’s [a]list jobs:

  • Riot Games – Brand Manager (Santa Monica, Calif.)
  • Riot Games – Director of Marketing (Santa Monica, Calif.)
  • Warner Bros. – Marketing Coordinator (Burbank, Calif.)
  • Kabam – Director, User Acquisition Marketing for Mobile ( San Francisco, Calif.)
  • Tumblr – Brand Strategist (San Francisco, Calif.)

For last week’s [a]list jobs, click here.

Raptr CEO Dennis Fong Talks ESports

Raptr is expanding its online service features for PC gamers with its Game Video Recorder (GVR) technology, which allows Nvidia and AMD PC owners to seamlessly capture gameplay and stream video content. The new Instant Replay feature leverages the GVR functionality and enables users to save up to 20 minutes of gameplay even after it’s happened. Other new features include automated uploading and sharing of recorded gameplay, and an online destination where gameplay clips are shared and curated via the Raptr community of 30 million gamers. Both the GVR and live streaming functions in Raptr are supported across more than 5,000 games.

Live streaming has given rise to the global eSports phenomenon, something that Raptr co-founder Dennis Fong knows well. He was one of the early eSports stars who played under the name “Thresh.” Fong explains how he’s used his eSports skills to succeed with his video game business ventures in this exclusive interview.

What were eSports like back in the days you played?

One of the bigger differences is that because of the popularity of live streaming, it’s much easier for guys in the minor leagues — the guys that haven’t been discovered yet — to come up. You can pop into a stream and watch them play. It also enables a lot more scouting and recon on your opponents today to see how they play. Back when I was playing you had to decide if you wanted to record a demo/replay, and it wasn’t widely distributed. You couldn’t upload it because of the format.

Dennis Fong

With Twitch you can record audio while you’re playing, which changes the way gamers interact with their stars. It gives a lot more insight into their personalities. Before, you wouldn’t know a lot about me or my personal life, only the match results. There’s more transparency. It’s as if LeBron James or Kobe Bryant had a GoPro camera on their chest every day in practice. Fans are able to connect with pro gamers on a more personal level. And players can make money through Twitch streams while interacting with their fans.

What’s a favorite memory that stands out from your career?

It’d have to be the tournament where I won John Carmack’s Ferrari 328 at E3 in Atlanta. One of my big strengths is that I don’t get nervous when I compete. I focus on what I’m able to do. I believe if I do my best, I’m going to win. Shaky hands can affect your play with your mouse in PC gaming. The only moment I got nervous was in the final match. I was seated at a PC where the Ferrari was behind me and I could see the reflection in the monitor. I had already won the game but there were 10 seconds left and I finally let myself relax because I’d won the tournament. It’s a big deal to win a Ferrari at the age of 19.

What impact do you feel big sponsors like American Express, Coke and HBO will have on continuing to grow eSports?

Up until the last few years, very few people could make a living playing games; making more than $100,000 a year playing games. Having big sponsors spend money on pro athletes to build up brands is a big step. It brings legitimacy to eSports. Once these big brands jump in, they open the gateway. The floodgates are starting to open with Coke, AmEx and these other brands because they feel like they’re missing something. Those brands have been extremely happy with the results they’re seeing and the impact and reach of eSports thus far. It ultimately means more money coming into this, more pro teams and more players. We’re past the tipping point and eSports is getting to a real scale.

How will your GVR technology impact eSports or eSports fans?

Twitch has 40 million uniques watching streams, but less than a million people actually broadcast their gameplay. It’s designed around a premium content premise where you go there to watch the most famous players play. Part of what we want to do is democratize the experience a bit. I feel like every time I play a game there’s something amazing or cool that happens, it could be a funny moment or a bug or something epic. But I may not be at a point where I can generate a lot of Twitch streams. We want to help people capture those moments. We’ve designed capture technology that has no impact on the performance of your PC. Whenever something cool happens you click save and it’ll save the last 15 seconds. It’s like the ESPN SportsCenter highlights. You can capture and share with the community. We have 27 million PC gamers on Raptr and they can live stream any game they’re playing without set-up or complex broadcasting software, similar to what Xbox and PlayStation did on next gen consoles. With the rise of the GoPro cameras everybody has hero moments, and now you can share those with friends.

Raptr GVR

How do you feel your GVR tech differentiates itself from Twitch?

League of Legends is our number one game and DOTA 2 is in our Top 5. We have live stream gameplay videos featured on Raptr for the community. Our take is more democratic. Think of us as helping the minor league players to rise up to the premium leagues. Everyone has the opportunity to be recorded and capture cool moments. And then the community decides who has the coolest stuff and it rises up.

How have you seen the League of Legends Challenger Series open up eSports?

The Challenger Series has been structured as a way to be discovered and rise up through the ranks. It’s only for League, but before you’d have to get lucky. Any kind of structure that helps people to rise up through the ranks and know what your next goal is. Before they had a system, you didn’t know what level you needed to get to be on a pro team. The minor league system mirrors pro sports. There’s a reason why every sport has a minor league system. It helps gamers explain to their parents what it will take to be a pro. I’m sure it’s something that other developers and companies will institute. Riot just happens to be way more aggressive in pushing this stuff. Korea has a similar structure with StarCraft gaming houses. A lot of what’s happening with League and the rest of the world is playing catch-up to Korea. It speaks a lot to how serious Riot takes this and how much they are responsible for driving eSports forward.

What differentiates this golden age of eSports from the earlier days when you played?

Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) and World Cyber Games (WCG) are gone. Leagues come and go. They were supported by outside organizations. Riot was one of the first to put the whole company behind eSports. They are the single biggest reason eSports is as popular as it is today. The big money helps. For many years, very few people could play games professionally. That’s changed because of sponsors and prize pools growing.

How has being a pro gamer helped with your second career as a gaming exec?

One of the things I was known for as a gamer was Thresh ESP. They called me the most intelligent player and I could tell what opponents were doing before they knew it. As I moved into other stuff, my brain naturally works in a way that applies well not only in games, but where you put yourself in other people’s shoes and see the world through other people’s eyes. It’s like Super Turbo Speed Chess. As I’m running around playing Quake I’d see my opponent from his first-person perspective and I could visualize if he was coming around the corner. I have a strong intuition in what I’d be doing in his situation given what he thinks I’m doing. That’s the one thing that’s quite unique about me. I don’t have to consciously do it. I don’t have to separate things. It happens intuitively. That translates to starting companies or business. Recruiting people you need to understand what excites them and what their passions are and see things through their eyes, or see things through gamers’ eyes marketing-wise and try to put understand how your product solves problems for them. That transition into business was seamless for me.

How much overlap is there across top eSports titles like League of Legends, DOTA 2 and StarCraft II?

We’ve done pretty in-depth analysis on these games with our Raptr audience. The core enthusiasts all play games like World of Warcraft, Counter-Strike and Dragon Age. In the months of May and June 2014, 22.8% of League of Legends players also played some DOTA 2.

Our hardcore gamers spend time playing 30 to 100 games in the time we track them. The newer breed of gamers not in that hardcore play a much broader variety of games including League of Legends and DOTA 2. The big trend we’re seeing is the rise of indie games. The Top 5 games that League of Legends players also play is other free-to-play games or other indie games. The picture of a gamer has changed the past few years as free-to-play is more popular with games like World of Tanks and the rise of eSports.

5 Questions With Defy Media’s Larke Paul

At what point did you realize that video platforms like YouTube and Vine could be a boon for brands?

Larke Paul, Defy Media’s Senior Director, Creator Program and Partnerships

There wasn’t a single “AHA” moment; for me, it was following audience growth and engagement consistently. It’s a must to closely monitor the platform landscapes as they ebb and flow and understand the personalities and intricacies of both established and emerging platforms. As we saw audience numbers grow and engagement between talent and their fans became more profound and transactional (i.e., twitter conversations, direct comment responses, fan shout-outs in videos, merchandise purchases), it seemed to be an advertiser’s dream set-up.

Many of today’s digital stars have a genuine connection with their audience, combine that with the massive reach of their content (which is often times larger than traditional programming) and you start to see the real value for brands to get involved.

What are challenges that content creators have when being approached by brands to work with them?

Similar to celebrities who garnered fame via TV shows/movies, digital talent will have similar challenges and need to ask themselves: is this a brand that I genuinely like and engage with, is there anything about the brand that may conflict with content I’ve produced in the past or are they asking me to do something that doesn’t mesh well with my content or my brand attributes These are all key questions to answer when considering a brand opportunity. Since creators know their fans the best, they are usually the best judge of how to incorporate a brand into their content in a way that will benefit all.

It’s important to find the right balance between the brand message and the creator’s natural content format and to weave that message in without being heavy handed. This balance is key to keeping the content authentic and engaging for fans while also aiming to achieve the advertiser’s goals.

Do you have a personal favorite campaign you’ve worked on that utilized influencers?

My favorite program is the partnership DEFY Media forged with Coca Cola for the brand’s “The AHH Effect” campaign which is now in its second year. We worked with Coca-Cola and their agency connecting them with YouTube artists Kurt Hugo Schneider and Mark Crilley (both members of the DEFY Creator’s Program) to create an original series of videos that incorporated use of Coke bottles in awe inspiring ways.

Mark contributed illustration work and created two mind-blowing videos that featured coke bottles while Kurt created two music videos that used only Coke bottles as musical instruments and were later aired as commercial spots during this year’s “American Idol” season premiere. It was a thrill to see these creators absolutely thrive and see their content connect with audiences so deeply and emerge as some of the campaign’s most engaging content.

What are some tips you feel would be important for marketers to know before embarking on creating their own content for YouTube? What about tips for would-be creators who look up to those like Smosh?

When marketers are working with creators, they should absolutely get to know the talent — watch their videos, research social posts, and get to know the style and point-of-view of the creator. If a marketer is creating content outside of a single creator, then it’s a mix of age-old rules and new rules. The writing and concept has to be solid — if they’re going for funny, it really needs to make people laugh and smile”“ and hopefully share. If it’s a more serious message, then it should really evoke emotion with the audience. Be cognizant of the video’s length and engage with the audience through comments on YouTube and other social platforms. Creating a smart launch and distribution strategy around the content or channel is key and should be part of a comprehensive strategy that includes PR, marketing, social media and a well thought out YouTube rollout schedule. Whether it’s a smaller campaign or a longer term initiative, connecting with your audience across all of their touch points matters.

What’s next on your Watch Later list?

I’m hoping for new content from Hello Denizen and I’m excited to catch the latest from Kingsley’s Mid-Year Overexposed Series, Brusspup illusions, Minute Physics, and Chriselle Lim.


Top Social Networking Platforms You Should Keep An Eye On

For those who are worn out from the habitual social media platforms that are Facebook and Twitter, here’s a look at a few up-and-coming social networks that marketers and users should become familiar with.

First on the list is Snapchat. Snapchat is a photo messaging application that allows users to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as “Snaps”. Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps (1 to 10 seconds), after which they will be hidden from the recipient’s device and deleted from Snapchat’s servers. Vocus, a cloud-based marketing and public relations company, published a report on Snapchat’s marketing potential by explaining that, “Brands can set up profiles on the network and add users as friends, who opt into the brand’s messages by accepting.” The report also discusses how Snapchat’s young user base makes it an attractive platform for brands with a young demographic (whose purchasing power is rapidly growing) to reach out and engage customers.

Next is the mobile dating app Tinder. Tinder is an app that pulls your photo and basic information from your Facebook account. Users can swipe “yes” or “no” to potential matches who are nearby. If the feeling is mutual, people can chat within the app. Tinder also offers great marketing potential for brands. The app has experimented very little with advertising, but not because it doesn’t want to. Tinder is a hybrid app the encompasses features of both social networking sites as well as dating sites, so it’s target demographic varies depending on who’s using the app, and for what reasons. Still, its brand integration has room for tremendous growth.

Lastly, we have Vine. Vine is a short-form video sharing service that allows users to record and edit six-second long video clips, which can then be published through Vine’s social network and shared on other services such as Facebook and Twitter. Vine’s app can also be used to browse through videos posted by other users, along with groups of videos by theme, and trending videos. The social networking app has become increasingly popular, especially since Twitter purchased the video clip company in 2012 for a reported $30 million. And, as is the case with most popular social platforms, advertisers and marketers are looking for a way to get in, and make money, on the action. Currently, advertisers are tapping popular personalities and characters on Vine to make microcommercials in the same spirit and style that made the social media account popular in the first place. Furthermore, Vine’s short six-second-loop video format makes it easy for companies to film, upload, and share videos to social media. According to a piece done by Fast Company, The 7th Chamber stated that five tweets a second contain a Vine link, and studies are showing that a branded Vine is four times more likely to be seen than a branded video; any brand not onboard with Vine risks losing out on some serious social media exposure.

All in all, with the daily explosion of startups, there are plenty of new social media tools popping up. These newer platforms could be working on the next big thing, so you’ll want to keep an eye out.

Source: Mashable

Video Games Take Center Stage At Comic-Con

San Diego Comic-Con 2014 has officially come and gone, with hundreds of thousands of attendees taking part in the yearly activities. And while comics, movies and TV shows took prominence, there was a large gathering for video games as well, as various panels and events around the convention center kept thousands occupied over the four-day weekend.

In terms of panels, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham stole the show with the introduction of components from the classic 60’s Batman series, including Adam West, who happily took the stage with other voice actors to discuss the sequel, due for release later this year. Other panels revolving around Sunset Overdrive, Halo, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Assassin’s Creed: Unity also drew crowds.

Devoted game spaces were also a big hit around the show, as both Nintendo and Microsoft hosted game lounges for gamers to drop by and play casually, getting hands-on with forthcoming games for Wii U, 3DS and Xbox One, including Forza Horizon 2, Super Smash Bros. and more. Square Enix hosted a facility a few blocks away alongside Deep Silver, showcasing games coming from both companies in a bar setting.

There were also activities that players could take part in if they wanted to get a piece of the action. 2K Games teamed up with Nerdist Industries to host a Borderlands-themed laser tag arena, as well as a free candy station and an interactive stage. Meanwhile, a few blocks away at the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade, Ubisoft set up the Assassin’s Creed Experience, where players could check out a demo for the forthcoming Unity game (due this fall), along with an obstacle course and a “leap of faith” station, should they feel compelled to try it in real life.

Indeed, video games continue to play a big part in the yearly San Diego event, and it’ll get even bigger next year.

Source: Fortune