Gamer Loyalty Plays Into Profits

In the early days of the electronic game industry, games were usually treated as unique events. Games would ship, reside on store shelves for a while, and then vanish. Players might keep playing the game for months afterward, but there was always something new to look for. Most games were completely new — there were very few games that had sequels.

Gradually, though, the long-term success of games like the Ultima series showed there was a benefit to creating sequels. Players were already familiar with a game, and with advancing technology new games in a series could offer better graphics and more interesting game play.

When multiplayer games began to be popular, this trend accelerated. Familiar brands drew fans, and they kept interest in the games alive by talking with each other. As persistent online worlds developed, the game didn’t have sequels per se — the worlds got bigger and more elaborate instead.

Game companies have learned in this new business model of games-as-a-service that audience retention is where profits really reside. Acquisition costs have been rising for all sorts of games, not just mobile games. As analytics have become part of most games, they show the value inherent in keeping players around for the long term when you have virtual goods to sell them.

A study at the University of Buffalo showed some of the ways that gamers can be made more loyal to a particular game. “The graphics and technology behind the games have improved over the years, but developers haven’t made much effort to understand what makes MMORPG players really commit to one game over another,” explains study co-author Lawrence Sanders, PhD, professor of management science and systems in the UB School of Management. “Most prior research has focused on the addictive nature of these games. Our study looked at how to make them more competitive in the marketplace,” says Sanders.

The study examined 173 players to assess whether two game-play strategies produced loyal players. The most loyal players were able to customize their characters, thereby making them more personal and loyalty could also be grown through the creation of in-game chat systems and guilds. “To build a player’s feeling of ownership towards its character, game makers should provide equal opportunities for any character to win a battle,” said one of the researchers, Lawrence Sanders, Ph.D, professor of management science and systems in the UB School of Management. “They should also build more selective or elaborate chat rooms and guild features to help players socialize.” They found that the average MMORPG gamer plays 22 hours a week and that increasing customer retention by 5 percent can “increase profits by 25 to 95 percent,” said Sanders.

Loyalty is an important quality to hardware manufacturers, too. Or at least they think it is. It turns out that a recent Nielsen study found that 31 percent of PlayStation 4 owners already had an an Xbox 360 or Wii, but not a PlayStation 3. Some 17 percent didn’t have any of the old-gen consoles. The study did not ask if any of that 31 percent had owned a PlayStation in the past, but still suggested gamers were not die-hard brand loyalists when it came to upgrading their system. The data was provided to Re/code and the study took place between February and April and featured 1,200 gamers aged seven to 54.

Sony recently used Gamescom to let people know it had sold 10 million consoles worldwide. “The 10 million sell through in the first nine months is well beyond what we had hoped for,” said Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida in a recent interview. “I’m asking marketing people to tell us why. They’ve been to people who already purchased, and some of the early data was amazing in terms of the number of people who didn’t used to own PS3 have already purchased PS4. So we are getting lots of new customers coming into PlayStation. And some people never purchased any last-gen hardware: PS3, or Xbox 360 or Nintendo Wii. So where did they come from ”

Certainly both Microsoft and Sony have been doing their best to persuade owners of the last generation of consoles to buy the new generation from the same company. Broadening Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus subscriptions to cover both old and new hardware is one way to do this. That’s one less $50 thing a customer has to buy, after all, when buying a new console.

Of course, the fact that most of the biggest new titles are available on both consoles makes it easier to switch brands, if you so desire. That’s why exclusive games are more important than ever. Unfortunately, many of the most anticipated exclusives have moved into 2015, so the incentives for brand loyalty won’t be as strong as they could be this holiday season.

Focusing on customer retention is a far more profitable enterprise than acquisition, especially with the rising costs of acquiring new customers. Satisfied customers will bring in new players, so keeping satisfied players engaged is an effective acquisition strategy for most games.

Ultimately, though, the quality of the games will matter more than any particular brand. That’s why consoles have a hard time building loyalty, because players will go where the best games are regardless of the console brand. The best strategy is to make sure the games are great first, and then worry about brand-building second. Great games will do much of the brand-building for you, if you let them.

Weekly Round-Up For August 29

Editorial Note: We will be off on Monday and return Tuesday on our usual schedule.

Busy week Sometimes you don’t have time to get to everything and we understand that. We’ve highlighted our most read stories this week for you to catch up on while you’re attending to your Labor Day festivities.

5 Super Powerful Lessons ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is Teaching Hollywood: Our most popular story this week, Starlight Runner Entertainment’s CEO Jeff Gomez breaks down and delves into important takeaways from an unlikely movie hit.

SuperData July 2014: US Digital Sales Rise: We always look forward to the SuperData report each month, but this one was particularly special as it shows just how deep we are into publishers’ transition into digital.

New Apples Are Ripe for Gaming: It remains to be seen what exactly will be announced from Apple, but they’ve officially said they’ll be unveiling what’s in store on Sept. 9th. One thing’s for sure: the impact on gaming.

Why Helsinki Is a Hotbed For Hit Games: Our own John Gaudiosi talks to Seriously co-founder Petri Jarvilaehto as the new company is set to release its first mobile game, Best Fiends.

Emerging Market Trends On The Rise: Mary Meeker doing her thing.

The Lowdown on Gen Z: As with other generations before, Gen Z is a bit of a different creature than the millennial… and accounts for more than a quarter fo the U.S. population. This infographic will explain everything.




Why PAX Events Are Valued By Marketers

This weekend, thousands of gamers and fans will converge upon Seattle to experience the Penny Arcade Expo Prime event (PAX Prime for short), which will take place over the Labor Day weekend. Companies will also be in attendance, hosting panels and giving players the opportunity to go hands-on with upcoming titles, such as Super Smash Bros. and Evolve.

So why are these events such a huge draw for marketers? There are several reasons involved:

First off, the shows sell out every year. Whenever PAX badges go on sale, they’re gone within minutes, and people actually purchase sold ones on eBay in the hopes of attending the event. That shows the popularity behind said event, and anyone who’s anyone in game development would be wise to attend to get their attention.

Secondly, big companies enjoy attending the event. Microsoft is a big part of PAX every year, and Nintendo has become more and more involved with each passing year. It’s also a great place for third-party companies such as 2K Games and Ubisoft, who go all-out to promote their upcoming games while drawing in community members with special events.

The PAX events are also an ideal spot for developers of “indie” titles to get attention to their games, as most of the time they’re shut out of other events like the Electronic Entertainment Expo, since those are reserved for larger companies and projects. PAX Prime enables them to communicate with gamers directly, without having to worry about some form of middle man.

Finally, the event is simply “by gamers, for gamers,” so it allows marketers to really draw on their audience without having to figure out what “makes them tick,” so to speak. It really brings in the “hardcore” factor of players, as well as families who want to check out what’s around the corner for the system or handheld they just purchased.

In all, everyone who’s involved with PAX Prime wins, and even though attempting to get badges is a lot of work, the end result is an event that benefits all involved. Including marketers.

Source: PAX

Your Weekend #MustReads For August 29

We sort through quite a bit of the fluff out there on the Internet on a daily basis and we’ve found what we think are the most interesting, funny and overall, informative, reads for your weekend.

Have something else to share Feel free to comment with your contribution below.

Life Beyond Amazon: Live-streaming Twitch Alternativees: When Amazon bought Twitch, there were some mixed reactions from its userbase, but other live-streaming sites thrive.

Facebook’s Events Ads Take Aim at Mobile and Local Sales: Events marketers, Facebook is rolling out a new ad unit just for you.

Hollywood’s Big-Money YouTube Hit Factory: Bloomberg’s feature story this week is all about the rise of MCN’s and how Hollywood is going YouTube.

Google’s Ad Boss on Overseeing YouTube Sales and Glass Ads: This is the ad bosses’ first interview since moving to the post early this year.

Everybody Relax, Helly Kitty is Indeed a Cat: Hello Kitty, Sanrio’s biggest brand mascot, is a cat after all. Why did you think she wasn’t

10 Billion Reasons Why Snapchat Can’t Afford to Screw Up Its Advertising: So maybe not 10 billion, but Wired’s Issie Lapowsky definitely makes the point that it is super, super important that they get this right.

The Netflix Case Against Comcast, in One Chart: The latest in the battle between the new and old guards of media. Launches Weekly Shows With Vine Stars: Shows are national, paid and timely as Vine stars and other influencers are garnering a lot of attention.

Some iPhone and wearables announcements are coming from Apple on Sept. 9. We’ll be providing live coverage of the event, but until then– read up hereherehere and here.


Quiznos Makes New ToastyTV Featuring Jimmy Fallon And Justin Timberlake

Quiznos has released a new episode of #ToastyTV, {link no longer active} this time parodying The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.

Published on Quiznos’ “QuiznosToaster” YouTube channel, the video features two Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake look-alikes who provide a spinoff on Fallon’s Evolution of Dance skits, titled “History of Bromance.”

The two actors are seen dancing and singing onstage to iconic tunes like “California Love,” “Gold Digger,” and even “Crank That” by Soulja Boy, all while subtly advertising for the toasted-sandwich food chain.

After nearly going bankrupt several times, Quiznos is in the mists of trying to revamp the company’s image to publications and consumers alike, including a menu change a few months back. Along with a change in ownership, the new #ToastyTV campaign is achieving just this.

Quiznos has a complete ToastyTV website that features everything from YouTube videos, to Gifs, to Instagram posts, either created by Quiznos personal or its customers, all publicizing the restaurant in a particular fashion.

Most of the content is labeled, “curated entertainment, straight from the toaster,” with the main logo reading, “Toasty TV serves up the latest in music, film, art and entertainment – all with that special Quiznos awesomesauce.”

So far, the company’s new approach to branding itself seems to be working. Several videos ToastyTV has cooked up have garnered at least half a million views, with some even pushing past a million, proving that Quiznos’ effort to make a change for the better could be paying off.


Developers And Publishers Get Excited At Decreasing Cost For Mobile App Users

In July, the cost of acquiring a loyal mobile user fell about nine percent since the previous month. However, according to VentureBeat, the sudden drop is only providing a small amount of breathing room for mobile app developers and publishers.

The cost per loyal user (a person who opens an app three times) was $1.97 in July compared to $2.23 in June. Still, there’s no time for celebration considering the costs were still the second-highest monthly level in Fiksu‘s four-year history.

Why is this, though? Well, put simply, app makers, and game creators specifically, have to spend a lot of money upfront before they see revenue come in.

Since the competition amongst brands wanting to use mobile apps is becoming much fiercer, app makers are spending more and more money on advertising to make sure their apps attract attention. However, many of these apps are free-to-play, where users start playing for free and pay real money for virtual goods. So while companies have to invest in making an app, and then invest heavily in advertising that app, they only start making money back if a percentage of users (lets say five percent) start buying things in the app.

Additionally, Fiksu’s cost per install index rose as well. The cost per install rose forty four percent on Android from a year ago and sixteen percent on iOS, respectively.

Still, the Boston-based company had its July App Store Competitive Index, which measures aggregate daily download volume among the top 200 ranked iOS apps, increase from 6.1 million in June to 6.2 million in July, up two percent from June and up seven percent from last year.

Another notable increase was with the Cost Per Launch Index, which tracks the costs of driving engagement from mobile users — up sixteen percent on iOS and thirteen percent on Android.

July marked the first month of the full availability of Twitter’s Mobile App Promotion products. Results suggest that Twitter will be a major player for app install ads, Fiksu said.

“The July Fiksu Indexes reflected the typical slowdown of summer behavior but confirmed that underlying app marketing costs are still rising consistently year-over-year,” said Fiksu CEO Micah Adler. “However, marketers need to be sharpening their strategies in readiness for the next few months. In addition to powerful new channels like Twitter, a new iPhone and iOS always shake up the app marketing landscape.”



Source: VentureBeat

Microsoft Selling Xbox One Kinect Solo

Microsoft made a bold move a few months ago when it opted to sell an Xbox One system bundle without its Kinect motion device, which was causing it to be bumped up to $500. Without the device, Microsoft was able to sell the system for $400, the same price that the competitive Sony PlayStation 4 currently sells for.

Still, some folks have cried foul with the de-packaging of the Kinect device, including developers working on games that specifically use it (like Harmonix’s Fantasia: Music Evolved) and gamers who want to play such titles as Kinect Sports Rivals.

Fortunately, Microsoft has provided a solution. The company will sell the Kinect as a stand-alone device for $150 starting October 7. That’s a much heavier price than what the original Kinect sold for, going around $99, but there’s much more technology involved, and users can utilize the Kinect for more than just games, including Skype phone calls, Xbox Snap TV (where they can chat with one another through Skype video) and better streaming through the Twitch channel.

To further add to the value, Microsoft will include a download code for the game Dance Central: Spotlight, which will debut on September 2 on the Xbox Live Marketplace. This $9.99 offering from Harmonix is the latest in the popular dancing game series, featuring ten songs at launch, with the option to buy more in the weeks ahead, as they’re added to the store.

Savvy users may still be able to find bundles that include the Kinect device for $499, as Microsoft Stores still have a few in stock. However, for those who already bought a system and looking to add the Kinect to their line-up, it’s nice to have the option available.

What do you think? Will you be interested in buying a Kinect again for use with gamers and other apps Or are you just fine buying the “core” Xbox One experience as it is?

Source: VentureBeat

‘MovieStarPlanet’ Partners With SuperAwesome

It’s not often you see two totally different companies get together in a partnership, but when they do, they can present an unexpected result on the market that could very well be beneficial for both parties, as well as their audience. That’s certainly the case with SuperAwesome, an ad network that deals with such brands as SuperAwesome Games, Swapit and Bin Weevils, as it has teamed up with virtual world MovieStarPlanet.

“We’re obviously very specific about who we allow to join the SuperAwesome platform, given our audience. MovieStarPlanet have a fantastic kids virtual world and we’re very impressed at how they manage their community. We’re super-proud to have them on board,” SuperAwesome’s Dylan Collins stated.

With MovieStarPlanet‘s focus on the general 13-year old audience, it expects to get a huge audience out of the deal, especially considering that SuperAwesome already has a reach of 40 million young folks in its audience.

“As both companies continue to expand our global reach, it makes perfect sense to partner with SuperAwesome” added MovieStarPlanet CMO Dennis Englund. “We look forward to targeting the advertising markets with the help and expertise of the SuperAwesome team”.

Considering that young kids and teens still enjoy diverse programming, the likes of which SuperAwesome currently offers, this is bound to be a huge deal for MovieStarPlanet, giving it free reign to create a virtual, recognizable world upon such properties that audiences will certainly cater to. While specific brands weren’t mentioned in the deal, it’s likely that they’ll see some familiar faces sooner rather than later.

What do you think Will this mega team-up bring some great new options for younger audiences? Could both companies benefit from working alongside one another’s resources? We’ll find out in the months ahead as MovieStarPlanet and SuperAwesome bring on the awesome. Maybe a StarPlanetSuperAwesome super-name is in order…

Source: GamesIndustry international


How Do Movies Affect Moviegoers’ Minds?

It’s kind of weird how, with some movies, critics suggest you “turn your brains off” when it comes to their content, such as the new Transformers movie, Age of Extinction. However, according to a scientific study over at Princeton University, you may use your brain more than you might think.

Uri Hasson, a psychologist over at Princeton, recently presented his research into brain activity at an event hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. With it, he shows what people’s brains actually go through when it comes to watching certain films.

For example, while watching a clip from the classic Clint Eastwood Western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, activity in brain areas rises and falls at the same time in different individuals, depending on moviegoers’ tastes. Synched up brain regions include the primary auditory and visual cortex, along with more specialized regions, such as the fusiform face area, which is able to identify familiar faces – like Eastwood’s.

Movies can have different affects, according to Hasson, as certain structured ones that use quick cuts, camera angles and even slo-mo shots, actually provide a greater effect in getting viewers’ attention. The brain scan above shows how such effects can really work with the brain. Hasson even went to prove this with another scene from the movie Dog Day Afternoon, taking place during a tense bank robbery.

Meanwhile, comedy lets people relax a little bit. A clip from Curb Your Enthusiasm showed that there was elicited synchrony across less than 20 percent of subjects’ cortexes. Reality-based films has an even lighter effect, with less than 5 percent of cortexes used.

It’s definitely an interesting study, and one you may want to keep in mind the next time you’re kicking back with Guardians of the Galaxy or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “Turning your brain off” might not be as simple as it seems.

Source: Wired

iPhone Users Plot To Upgrade

The iPhone 6 is going to be a lot more than a technical dream, as Apple has confirmed that it will be holding an event on September 9 to reveal its new tech, along with the possibility of the iWatch.

In a June 2014 study held by comScore MobiLens, it appears that the anticipation for the iPhone 6 is quite high, despite the existence of the iPhone 5c and 5s models. Approximately 35 percent of all iPhone owners in the U.S. are making plans to upgrade their phones within the next few months, according to the report.

Mobile owners are usually prone to replace their devices within two years of ownership, although some people out there do prefer to hang on to their older devices. comScore also reported that iPhone model owners that are older than the iPhone 4 show greater interest in upgrading, with about 46 percent out of those polled. 4s owners are closely behind, while iPhone 5 owners are a little less, since their devices are newer. (These are considered “tech-forward consumers,” according to the report.)

As far as mobile internet traffic goes, the Apple devices continue to lead the charge, from an analysis provided by Netbiscuits. Approximately 17 percent share of the usage worldwide belong to the iPhone 5, 5c and 5s, while the iPhone 4 models are closely behind with 14 percent. Meanwhile, Samsung’s Galaxy devices, HTC and LG Nexus models are later on in the list, just around four percent each.

So, obviously, there’s a huge anticipation behind the iPhone 6 model, as well as what it brings to the mobile picture. There’s been whispers that the device could be Apple’s largest to date, with a slightly bigger build that still makes it easy to pocket, but also a bigger display that makes it easier to play games, watch movies and perform phone calls.

All will be confirmed on September 9, and we here at AListDaily will provide a full play-by-play of the announcements as they happen, so be sure to check back!

Source: eMarketer