Almost All PC Games Are Downloaded

It’s been a long time since PC games occupied a substantial part of retail store shelves. When was the last time you bought a PC game on disc? Or even saw one in a store? Now there’s hard evidence to go with what you suspected: PC games are mostly sold via downloads these days.

Analyst firm DFC Intelligence, speaking with British tech site PCR, disclosed that fully 92 percent of all PC game sales in 2013 came from digital downloads. This won’t be a surprise to all of the inveterate Steam users out there, and the numbers are confirmed from other sources as well. Last year Payday 2 publisher Starbreeze reported that 80 percent of its 1.58 million first-month sales came from downloads.

Of course, this also takes into account the fact that many extremely popular games that are only available as downloads, such as League of Legends, DOTA 2, and World of Tanks.

This represents a tremendous growth in digital full game downlaods over the past few years, when you consider that as recently as 2010 analyst firm NPD estimated that only 48 percent of PC game sales came from digital downloads.

The trend is driven by several factors. Increasing bandwidth in homes has made full game downloads more practical. Shrinking shelf space at retail was being devoted increasingly to console games. Perhaps most importantly, the increasing popularity of Steam (now with 75 million users ) and other digital download services made it easy to find titles both old and new – and to get tremendous deals on those games, too. Finally, many of the most popular PC games in recent years have been free-to-play games that are driven by microtransactions, and their popularity has been pushing those games out to huge numbers of people.

Meanwhile, consoles are still behind in the digital full game download trend. Electronic Arts reported that only some 10-15 percent of console games are full digital downloads. Analyst firm EEDAR estimated that less than 20 percent of console games are currently sold as digital downloads, though they see that rising to 50 percent by 2018.

Source: Ars Technica

Mobile Games Growing Fast In Germany

Germany has been a hotbed of board gaming and computer gaming for decades, and the latest survey figures show that gaming continues to grow in Germany — with mobile game sgrowing much faster than other categories. The IHS data cited in a July 2014 BITKOM report shows that martphone and tablet game revenues came to €465 million ($620 million) in 2014, which was about 33 percent greater than the revenues for 2013, and more than double the revenues from two years ago for mobile games.

Meanwhile, digital and online sales of console and computer games continued to grow, but at a much slower rate. Revenues from physical game sales continued to decline from the high point reached in 2008, which mirrors the decline of physical game sales in North America.

Looking at the platforms that Germans used for gaming shows clearly why the revenues are growing for mobile and shrinking for physical games. Smartphones showed a massive increase in gaming usage, leaping from 44 percent of German gamers to 78 percent of German gamers in 2014. At the same time, desktop PC usage declines to 69 percent from 74 percent, so smartphones leaped past desktops in a single year to become the most popular gaming platform among Germans.

Tablets are still far down the list, with only 36 percent of Germans listing them as a gaming platform, but that represents an incredible growth rate, up from only 10 percent in 2013. While this tremendous growth was occurring in mobile devices, traditional consoles shrank from 43 percent to 39 percent, while handheld consoles rose from 24 percent to 32 percent. Laptops also rose in popularity, climbing to 53 percent from 40 percent in 2013.

It will be interesting to see if the strong sales of next-gen consoles can slow down the loss in consoles gaming in Germany, but it doesn’t look like anything will get in the way of mobile gaming’s growth. Expect next year’s numbers to show even more growth in tablets, and probably a continuing loss among PC gaming.

Source: eMarketer

Pinterest’s Plan To Lure Males

Pinterest has become an enormously popular social web site, with millions of people sharing five million articles every day. The difficulty for Pinterest – or what the company sees as its big opportunity – is that over 70 percent of the current audience is female, and the June comScore data shows that Pinterest is the most gender-imbalanced among the major social platforms.

The company knows that its current state is very appealing to women, and that’s been a strong selling point for the site as it sells ads. However, this could be hampering future growth, with men reluctant to venture in if the site is replete with pins that are strongly female-oriented. Becoming a social platform at significant scale really requires a broad appeal across all genders.

“If you pull up Pinterest and go into any content section, you will see purses, dresses and women’s shoes because women are the user base,” DigitasLBi’s vp of social and content strategy, Jill Sherman, said in a previous interview. “When 70 percent of the users are female, then 70 percent of the content is going to be female-oriented.”

So Pinterest is working on the basics of the Pinterest site, trying to make the initial sign-up process more inviting to new male users, according to Joanne Bradford, Pinteret’s head of partnerships. It’s a challenge, but Pinterest is intent on showing male users more gender-appropriate items when they sign on.

The company is also working on other initiatives that may be more appealing to males, signaling that intent by hiring a partner manager of media in New Your or Los Angeles. The job description says the company wants someone to “develop strong media, entertainment and publisher relationships” and to “work closely to help them get the most out of Pinterest and meet their business goals.” Pinterest is encouraging people to use the site as a way to flag articles for later reading, something that should appeal equally to all genders.

Will these efforts improve Pinterest’s appeal to males? What do you think?

Source: Digiday

Canadian Clothing Retailer Gives Instagram Influencers Free Reign

In an effort to prove that, when it comes to fall fashion, it’s not all about the product, but rather the people who are wearing them, Canadian clothing retailer Aritzia has created a new fall collection is called #FallForUs.

#FallForUs is a big step for marketers and advertisers alike. Aritzia is giving star Instagrammers the creative reign to show off their own style with their products, proving yet again that marketers should take note to trust influencers with their own audience.

The collection is designed to inspire falling in love with a particular piece of clothing as opposed to what is going to fit or look best. The catch The campaign is utilizing Instagram as the platform for revealing these new styles. Each model participating in the collection gets to choose their own outfits based on what they like the most out of the new featured items. Some notable women taking part in #FallForUs include Samira Wiley from Orange is the New Black, Once Upon A Time regular Jamie Chung, DJ Alix Brown, comedian Chelsea Peretti and more, each showing off their own distinct style. Aritzia is also pushing to get the faces of women from all walks of life looking happy and carefree, promising wearers the same thing if they pick up these products.

“I think you can really see each woman’s individual personality come through. They let me go for this whole fuzzy Eskimo vibe that I was really feeling for some reason on an unbelievably humid day in New York,” said actress Greta Lee who, according to PSFK, told Style.com that the brand was more than willing to let her choose her own look, even if it was a tad bizarre.

Additionally, Aritzia is encouraging people to pick up these brand new items either in store or online and then post pictures of them wearing it on Instagram using the hashtag #FallForUs. Aritzia hopes this will usher in a collection that is more than just a catalogue of pretty pictures, but rather a growing lookbook of people who don’t just look good, but feel good, too.

Source: PSFK

MOBA Games Dominate Charts In China

In the month of July alone, Chinese gamers have accumulated 30-plus billion minutes (about 500 million hours) of playing time playing MOBA games like League of Legends, Meng San Guo, and DOTA 2.

Using data from Shunwang, QQ Games filed a report stating MOBA games were played by far the most in China’s internet cafes.

This chart translates a break down for the results of games by genre. MOBA games actually saw a jump in play in July when compared to June (perhaps due in part to the TI4 hype).Photo Courtesy of Games in Asia

This chart translates a break down for the results of games by genre. MOBA games actually saw a jump in play in July when compared to June (perhaps due in part to the TI4 hype).

Looking at the report, it’s clear that League of Legends (unsurprisingly) is the leader of the pack — garnering about five times as much playtime as Meng San Guo, and around ten times as much as DOTA 2. Additionally, these three games are significantly more popular than any other competing MOBA games.

With first-person-shooters, Crossfire is out in front by a wide margin, with Assault Fire and Counter-Strike in second and third. Moreover, Dungeon & Fighter is king in the fighter genre, Blade & Soul is top dog when it comes to 3D action MMOs, and Fantasy Journey to the West 2 is ruler of the 2D turn-based MMO category.

According to Games in Asia, who also brought this report to our attention, it is important to keep in mind that this is just the data collected by one company, and it only reflects the habits of gamers in some of China’s internet cafes. They make the point that if all internet cafes (including the illegal ones) and gamers who played on their own PCs could be factored in, the results might look slightly different. Either way, it’s still pretty evident that China is a big fan of MOBA games.

Source: Games in Asia

Programmatic Ad Spending Moving Towards Digital

Programming buying for advertisers has seen a shift as of late, although there’s a particularly good reason for that — demand.

A survey recently conducted by AOL Platforms earlier this year indicates that 84 percent of ad execs in the United States use programmatic in terms of buying display ads, while six in ten of those surveyed used similar tech to purchase ads for mobile devices. In addition, programmatic video also showed an increase in interest.

It appears the medium is moving into TV ads as well. Although only eight percent of those surveyed currently use the process to purchase said ads, 12 percent indicate that they were looking into doing so sometime in the next few months.

Programmatic technology serves its purposes for those who utilize it, mainly with economic efficiency, as well as targeting. A majority of those surveyed found both of these to play a huge part in their purchases, with organizational efficiency barely sliding into third place.

Not that the system is perfect, as big issues tend to get in the way, such as transparency, which led the concerns when it came to polling, along with inventory quality and technology complexity.

Allie Kline, CMO of AOL Platforms talked about how quickly programmatic technology was being accepted, as well as its general place when it came to usage in the current digital system. “It’s about making sure there’s a relationship beyond just dumping inventory onto a platform,” she said, citing that it helps to “match the right brand with the right publisher,” instead of trying to slot in a program that clearly doesn’t work.

Even though it hasn’t been completely accepted in the digital circles just yet, there’s no question that programmatic technology is on the rise in terms of usage and interest, and it’s just a matter of time before it’s generally accepted. What do you think? Should programmatic be given a better shot in the market?

Source: eMarketer

Why Large Smartphones Are More Popular

With Samsung already preparing to test out larger technology pieces on the market, and rumors that Apple will introduce its largest iPhone model to date with its press conference next month, there’s been a curious new amount of attention given to larger smartphones. However, according to a report from market research firm Jana, there’s a good reason for that.

The market first took off in Asia some time ago, but with the technology coming to new shores, it’s expanding rather quickly, possibly even in the United States. “While the four to five inch screen segment is not considered desirable by most of our respondents, four-inch screens are still popular,”  Jana said, regarding the report. Approximately over 1,300 phone owners were surveyed with it, producing interesting results.

For the most part, four-inch devices were accounted for in the poll, although a surprising number preferred something larger, along the lines of a five to a five-and-a-half inch model. Mexico, Vietnam and India seemed to have the highest demand out of those polled.

However, the reason people want a larger screen actually has nothing to do with the usage of the phone itself, but rather the surrounding features. In this case, playing video games, streaming videos via YouTube or Netflix, or surfing the Internet to find information and/or photos. A large amount of those polled do use video to some degree on their devices, which may indicate the more popular response in terms of preference to a larger device.

The market is certainly expanding not only for the “big guys’ in the mobile development market, but also smaller companies that are thriving in India and Southeast Asia markets, with their own mobile phone developments that offer convenience and value for the price provided. The only question now is whether they’ll be able to keep up with Apple and Samsung once they introduce their larger devices.

What do you think? Is a “bigger is better” mentality an ideal thing for smartphones, or do you prefer something more compact

Source: The Next Web

Vizera Projection System Can Beautify Objects

Projectors are nothing new, as people use them consistently to show off presentations, movies and other display purposes. However, VizeraLabs has come up with a way to project images — including onto less-than-favorable looking furniture.

The company, based in San Francisco, has come up with a projection system that can actually beam realistic textures onto any given surface. And not just flat ones either, but also three-dimensional objects.

With the system, retailers can show customers different patterns, colors and textures through various combinations on objects before they purchase them. These include carpets, couches and any other tools where custom design comes into play.

The video below provides a demonstration of how this works, and no computer images were used to produce it — it’s changing those colors in real time using the projection system, which was certainly no easy feat.

 

The lighting and shading of said object is done through a “Material Simulation Engine,” which allows for manipulation of colors, textures and other features to create a lifelike experience, without altering the material itself in a permanent manner.

With the system, retailers can actually save money without needing to print multiple models of their product that wouldn’t be used. Instead, customers can generate their own model of products and see how they would apply in real time, and get a similar one once purchased.

The technology can even go as far as to be used in automobile shops, allowing consumers to see how custom paint jobs appear before making a final decision.

The tech itself hasn’t been released yet, but don’t be surprised if some form of business model is introduced for it within the months ahead. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what a chair looks like with polka dots… without having to pay for it, obviously.

Source: Digital Trends

How Consoles Could Evolve, And Xbox One Could Beat PS4

So far, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been selling well, which is keeping hope alive that this latest console generation will be as successful as the last one. Many like to point to previous console cycles as evidence that this cycle will look the same for hardware and software sales. Microsoft and Sony have publicly stated that they are looking for these consoles to sell strongly for as much as seven years or even more. Is that realistic

The counter argument is that this new console generation faces an unprecedented challenge. Mobile hardware, while only now reaching the performance level of the last generation of consoles, has been at least doubling in graphics power ever year. With the next-gen consoles being roughly 6-8x as powerful as the last generation of consoles, that means mobile devices could be reaching equivalent power levels in three or four years. If next-gen consoles remain static in graphics power, this could be a serious threat — especially as we’re already seeing mobile hardware, with its low cost and high performance, being built into set-top boxes explicitly being designed as consoles. Does this mean next-gen consoles are doomed to a short product lifetime

Not necessarily. Yes, it’s true mobile hardware will continue to advance rapidly, and the massive volumes and bitter competition of the mobile business (an order of magnitude larger than consoles) will keep advances coming regularly at low cost. Meanwhile, PC graphics continue to improve every year, and next-gen consoles are already only comparable to a mid-range gaming PC. Still, there are things that console makers can do to improve the situation — and that shows a possible way for Microsoft to recapture the lead in console sales from Sony.

First of all, let’s acknowledge that games are already improving on next-gen consoles as developers get more familiar with the platforms. And that system software changes can lead to improvements, as Microsoft’s DX12 is supposed to do (boosting graphics performance by a noticeable amount). Even hardware improvements are already happening; one of the new Xbox One bundles features a 1 TB hard drive instead of 500 GB. Microsoft has also released the approximately 10 percent of system resources dedicated to Kinect, so developers now have that extra horsepower available. We may also see improvements to games through cloud-powered processing, where (for instance) sophisticated AI might be offload to the cloud for processing in a seamless fashion.

There’s plenty of room for improvement beyond tweaks to system software, though. One major difference with the next-gen consoles is that they are based on standard PC architecture from AMD. Thus, creating a faster CPU or GPU would be less of an effort than it would be for the previous custom architecture of consoles. Typically, process efficiencies alone (moving to smaller die sizes) usually saves console makers money over the course of the console’s lifetime; instead of saving that money, a more efficient part could be used. Imagine, if you will, an Xbox One or PS4 with a CPU and GPU that is twice as fast (or more) for the same price.

The difficulty with creating an improved console is the installed base. Those 10 million PS4 owners already out there (and the next ten million that would buy it) would be annoyed if one fine day Sony started shipping PS4’s that had much greater performance. Moreover, software that had already shipped might not be compatible with the new PS4, or able to take advantage of the added horsepower. The same is true for Microsoft and the Xbox One, even though the installed base is less than 10 million.

In the console market of the past, dealing with that installed base was an insurmountable problem. You couldn’t possibly push out updates to everything, not given how difficult and expensive it was to get updates approved and sent. Now, though, developers should be able to easily update games for any reason, and getting a performance boost would certainly be a good reason. So older games could work better for buyers of a new improved console, with some minor help from the publishers.

The more difficult question is what to do about current console owners who want the extra horsepower now available. Here’s a modest proposal — why not turn to a retailer with extensive experience in taking in old hardware and providing new hardware GameStop would be happy to serve in that role with the proper structure. Perhaps Xbox One owners could turn in their old Xbox One and for $100 get a new one with the added power. If Microsoft really wanted to sweeten the deal and improve the percentage of people upgrading, offer $100 of games for free with that upgrade.

In fact, this method could be used to completely turn around Microsoft’s current fortunes in the console market. Microsoft let Sony take the lead for two primary reasons: The Xbox One was $100 more expensive than the PS4 (gamers did not particularly see the Kinect as worth $100), and the Xbox One was seen as less powerful than the PS4 (those endless stories about lower frame rate and resolution for Xbox One games had an effect). Microsoft’s solved the price problem, but the power issue still remains (even though the gap has narrowed, the perception remains). Offering an Xbox One with a clear horsepower advantage over the PS4 at the same price point, along with an upgrade path for current Xbox One owners, would completely change the situation in the market.

Yes, this would cost Microsoft some money — tens of millions of dollars perhaps a hundred million or more. But money is the big advantage Microsoft has over Sony, with over $60 billion in the bank versus a company that continues to struggle with getting out of the losses caused by the TV business. This would be a move Sony would find it hard to match.

If Microsoft really wanted to make life difficult for Sony, and keep a competitive edge against Steam Machines and mobile devices, this process could be repeated every two years as CPU and GPU performance improves. Make consoles a device that gets a regular upgrade, much like smartphones. Part of what makes the smartphone business work is the carrier subsidies in the US, which lower the price for the hardware and drive upgrades, along with the relatively high resale value for smartphones. The combination means that when a new iPhone rolls out, old iPhone owners can get the new hardware for very little out of pocket by signing a new two year agreement and selling their old phone.

What practical difference would this make for games They could be prettier, with more advanced rendering and anti-aliasing, particle effects, and other things that may not add much to the game play but they sure get the juices flowing for hard-core gamers. Most games could take advantage of the extra horsepower to improve rendering without huge changes to the software. Since many games are now being developed for PC right alongside the next-gen console versions, the game engines are usually ready to take advantage of greater CPU and GPU power to improve appearance.

Would Microsoft make such a bold move Certainly the Xbox division has been surprising long-time observers with its ability to make changes (like removing the Kinect, or changing the digital game policies before the launch) swiftly. It’s a bold move, and it wouldn’t be easy to pull off. Microsoft may find itself evaluating this and other difficult options if the market share numbers don’t meet the company’s objectives. Of course, Sony could also implement this sort of plan…

Sony: PS4 Success Vital For Industry

Sony had a big week at Gamescom in Germany this week, not only revealing a number of new games for players to enjoy, but also reaffirming the PlayStation 4’s success by touting its sales of ten million units worldwide – a number that Sony Computer Entertainment Europe president Jim Ryan is particularly proud of.

However, the system’s sales go beyond just adding unit numbers for Sony. They actually help strengthen the industry in general, according to Ryan. “Having momentum and having that initial success – and it is just initial, there’s a long way to go yet – it puts us in good heart for the future,” he said. “Some of the stuff we touched on yesterday, talking about the future, whether that’s PlayStation Now, whether that’s Morpheus, PlayStation TV in the nearer term – all of these things require investment.

“It’s much easier to make decisions like that from a position of relative success, relative strength, rather than a world where PlayStation 4 was struggling, where our momentum wasn’t great,” he continued. “The money man would be thinking, ‘hmmm, do we really want to put more into this ‘ Those conversations, which are very important for us and very important for the shape of the whole industry, they become easier. That can only be a good thing.”

The road to getting PlayStation 4 to success wasn’t always easy, but Ryan believes that Sony followed a great business model to move it onward. “We’ve always said that PlayStation 4 would be a socially connected console, but that’s dead easy to say and talk is cheap,” he said.

“If you want to position it that way you’ve got to deliver in terms of the feature set. And at a very high level, taking that approach and being true to the promise – which we haven’t always done – that must prevail over cannibalization of sales. Ultimately, that is a narrow tactical consideration,” he concluded.

Sony should have no trouble cleaning up over this forthcoming holiday season, especially with better stocking of the system for interested parties.

Source: GamesIndustry International