Crowdfunding’s Stretch Goals

Crowdfunding for games, through KickStarter or other means, has gone from a curiosity to an accepted means of acquiring funding for game development. In a sign of just how far crowdfunding has come, recently Chris Robert’s Star Citizen reached the milestone of $50 million raised from individuals, and the game has already blazed past $51 million on its way to new heights. Where is this business model headed The [a]listdaily turned to an expert to gain some insight.

Jon Kimmich

Jon Kimmich is the founder and CEO of Software Illuminati, providing strategic and tactical insight to creative software developers, and a contributor and editor of The Crowdfunding Bible. The [a]listdaily spoke with Kimmich about crowdfunding and its future.

[a]listdaily: Crowdfunding for games as come a long way in the last couple of years. There have been great successes, some failures, and an explosion in the number of game projects seeking funding in this way. Do you think crowdfunding for games has proven itself to be a a viable means of funding a game project for many creators, or is it best considered only by a small set of developers who meet certain criteria? If so, what would those criteria be?

Jon Kimmich: Absolutely, crowd funding is a viable way for an independent studio to pay for some (perhaps all) of its development cost. Even of a AAA game such as Elite or Star Citizen. And the good news for developers is that even those cases where teams failed to deliver, or engaged in outright fraud, that has not “poisoned the well” for others. A year ago, this was a big concern among some of the early successful KickStarter campaigns, as they had to adjust schedules, or change how products would be parceled out for sale, “Is my being late, or my change in what I promised, going to ruin things for everybody else.” So far, that hasn’t happened.

In terms of who should use crowd funding, let’s be clear that it’s not for everybody. Teams that lack experience with marketing or promoting themselves or their games, should probably go a more traditional route. Many great development teams simply do not have salesmanship and retailing as core competencies. And if you harbor a fear that your concept or your prototype lacks appeal, finding out from a bitter and cynical Internet audience is not good for the ego or the soul.

[a]listdaily: Crowdfunding not only provides revenue, it opens the design and development process to the backers. Having seen both the closed and open development process now, would you always want to have an open process?

Jon Kimmich: Open development is not for everyone. If you’re used to having one producer from a publisher telling you what they think of your game, and why it needs to change, imaging having fifty thousand. Of which a few hundred are very vocal about the fact that, “you suck and should just kill yourself…” and want to hack your personal information and put it up on the Internet just to help the process along.

Most teams pursue design more for marketing and community development reasons than to try and impact the core game design. If a team lacks core capability in marketing, PR and community management, an open development process can be very taxing, both in terms of team bandwidth, and sometimes morale. Every project and every team will attract a certain amount of griefers and haters, because making you feel bad as a developer is the game they like to play. If your team has not dealt with that before, and you’ve not marshaled the “immune response”of your studios/games community to handle these sorts of folks, you may find it a pretty unpleasant experience.

[a]listdaily: Do you think crowdfunding of games will continue to grow and change, or has it reached a stable state?

Jon Kimmich: As with the F2P business model (of which crowd funding is one example) it’s very early days. There is still lots of room for innovation. But I would caution teams about trying to innovate in gameplay and in business model and in platform or genre all in the same game at the same time.

[a]listdaily: What types of games lend themselves to crowdfunding, and which don’t?

Jon Kimmich: It still remains the case that F2P games do not lend themselves to crowd funding. Why should the crowd pay in advance for something they will eventually get for free So F2P games generally raise less money, or fail entirely. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a heavily IAP (in-app purchase) driven game, but make sure that the initial value is there so that you can justify the initial “purchase price,” whatever it may be.

Generally speaking, games that target a core audience perform better, this applies to F2P games as well as crowd funding campaigns. Core games typically drive higher ARPUs (average revenue per user) than casual ones, and core games typically can raise more money than casual ones via crowd funding, likely for similar reasons of demographics, psychographics and engagement.

[a]listdaily: What’s the best advice you can give to anyone considering a crowdfunded game project?

Jon Kimmich: Know your capabilities and limits. Reach out to the successful teams and people who have run campaigns in the past, they are usually more than willing to give advice on what worked for them. Understand that crowd funding is first and foremost about marketing, PR and community development/management. If these things scare you, you will either need to augment your team with folks with demonstrated core competency in these areas; there are plenty of “consultants” (and publishers for that matter) out there promising to help — vet their references and previous campaigns first.

Lessons For Marketers From Alibaba’s Explosive Mobile Growth

In case you missed it, Chinese internet giant Alibaba released its latest performance numbers yesterday. As if the threefold profit growth to $2 billion in the last quarter that ended June 30 was not enough to impress investors ahead of the company’s IPO, much of that growth is coming from mobile. Year-over-year, the value of goods sold on Alibaba’s marketplaces which come from mobile transactions have increased from 12 percent to nearly a third of total volume. “Our current focus is on increasing mobile (gross merchandise volume) and user engagement,” Alibaba said in the U.S. regulatory filings, according to Reuters.

Why this emphasis on mobile sales Just look at Facebook. When it went public, investors were worried about its ability to monetize its traffic, especially on smartphones and tablets and the stock initially got a lukewarm reaction. Today the stock is trading almost double its IPO level. One of the reasons investors point to is that mobile ad revenue now accounts for over 62 percent of Facebook’s total sales.

While Alibaba is a conglomerate that owns many different kinds of Internet businesses, it’s ability to monetize its overall mobile traffic is a good sign of its ability to thrive in a world where more and more of the world’s citizens are using mobile devices to access the Internet.

Analysts that the NYT have spoken to have suggested that the IPO might ultimately value the company at more than $150 billion, roughly around the same level as Amazon ($157 billion), a BIG IPO by any standards.

It’s not just investors that need to pay attention to how fast mobile revenues are growing, marketers also need to adjust their marketing strategies and tactics accordingly. If people are not just consuming media on their smartphones, but increasingly also shopping and spending money at this rate globally, any marketing plan that does not have mobile front-and-center is outdated.

 

Alibaba Betting Big On Kabam

Kabam is one of the leading companies out there when it comes to free-to-play offerings on the mobile front, with four different titles managing to cross over the $100 million mark. But the company isn’t done yet, as it seeks to expand its market overseas, mainly to the hotly growing market of Asia.

Alibaba has agreed to help out with that process, as it recently invested $120 million in the San Francisco studio, putting its value over the $1 billion point – a rarity for such companies these days.

When it came to how Alibaba will help the overseas business, COO Kent Wakeford had plenty to say. ” hey have one of the broadest distribution footprints in China,” he said. “They understand the culture and what consumers are looking for, and they own Alipay, so that’s payments. And there’s a knowledge there of other payments and what are the best practices. And then there are SDKs, so Alibaba will help us integrate with other app stores across the board, not just their own. Then there’s the investment side, which aligns them financially with us.”

As far as entering the Asian market, Wakeford said the company already has a plan in place. “We plan to take the entry into China slowly and methodically, to get it right. The first product we’re doing that on is Lord of the Rings. We chose that game because our research on game genres showed that there’s a big audience for that kind of game, battle-card games, in China. And the theme and IP, the Lord of the Rings movies, have a big fan base in China. We’ll look at it the way we do here — bring consumers into the game, keep them playing for a very long time, and then hopefully paying. We’ll look at games just the same way we look at them in any market. Now, there may be differences, but we’ll learn what the differences are. One area we don’t have any data on [in China] is user behavior within the game. Where do they spend money, what mechanics do they spend more time on ” he said.

Wakeford also said that the company has no plans to shift away from free-to-play, as that’s still a highly thriving market. “What free-to-play has done is make great content available to hundreds of millions of people,” he concluded. “That’s such a phenomenal change that, for the gaming industry as a whole, it’s tremendously beneficial. You look around the concept of free-to-play, and to use a general industry stat, 95 percent of people play for free. We have a very long player retention time, and that says to me, hey, they’re getting a lot of value out of what they’re doing. There will always be a vocal minority to anything. And when you open up to hundreds of millions of people, the vocal minority becomes a much smaller minority.

The full interview with Wakeford can be found here.

Source: Recode.net

‘Mission Majority’ Game Is The GOP’s Bid To Win Back The Senate

The Republican party has decided to pull out all the big guns and has created a free-to-play videogame to help promote its candidates.

In an attempt to regain a majority in the Senate, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has launched an online game as a way to “raise awareness in every possible way,” via Variety.com.

The free 8-bit game is called Mission Majority and it is really quite something. According to Variety, the objective of the game is to try to help a campaign get more volunteers while avoiding evil “Taxers,” deployed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama to foil your efforts and repress their high taxes. You can also mute the “misleading words” of “Mudslingers” and “escape their false and empty rhetoric,” all while controlling an elephant by the name of Giopi.

The game begins with Giopi saying: “Hi, my name is Giopi! I’m one of the GOP’s best volunteers for the 2014 midterms, and I’m here to show you how we can win back the Senate! There is going to be a lot of red tape and regulations in our way, but we need to overcome them in order to succeed.”

The NRSC is funding Mission Majority in hopes to elect more Republicans to the United States Senate.

“This year’s Republican Senate candidates are the strongest in decades (if not ever), and we want to raise awareness in every possible way,” the NRSC said regarding the game. “With that in mind, we are having a bit of fun with our approach.”

Naturally, the game is also meant to raise money for the Republican party, so gamers are given the chance to donate or purchase items or sign up to help the NRSC campaign.

 

Facebook’s War On Click-Bait

With an app like Paper and a keen awareness of just how much traffic they are pushing to publications, Facebook has become more than just a place where you keep up with friends and family. It’s a bona fide news feed.

Some publications have come notorious for creating the sorts of headlines that were typically the domain of grocery store gossip rags, an old practice that has simply transmuted itself into online form. There was a hefty amount of backlash, with some groups taking matters into their own hands, commenting with what the content really is to impose transparency.

It appears that Facebook, too, wants content to be of quality and not spammy-looking. A new algorithm introduced Monday on Facebook’s blog will reduce the click-baiting headlines in a user’s feed as well as assist users to see links shared on Facebook in a better format.

Facebook cites a survey they conducted that shows that people prefer headlines that actually helped them to decide whether or not they wanted to consume the content. A few ways Facebook will determine what is or isn’t click-bait is seeing how long it takes for users to circle back to Facebook as well as looking at the ratio of clicks on the content versus how many people are actually talking about it.

The update will also give preference to sharing links on the feed as opposed to photos with a buried link, giving preference to articles in the feed.

 

Source: Facebook Newsroom

Brand Interest In Snapchat Influencers Is High

There is a new effort among brands and marketers to find potential partners with well known Snapchatters. Snapchat has fostered a new flock digital stars that are, similar to Vine and YouTube, gathering attention from some of the biggest marketers.

The only issue facing these brands is the element that makes Snapchat so defined  — its ephemerality. Due to the short-lived nature of “snaps, ” it is difficult for brands to precisely measure how well Snaps do, what their reach is, and how many impressions they make. Basically the only ways to get any idea of this is to measure how many times your Snap is opened, or if a screenshot is taken (the app notifies you when that happens). Additionally, it is impossible to find any “top users” or trending topics on Snapchat and there is no search capability that easily lets users find brands to follow, compared to other social platforms like Instagram and Vine that are much easier to navigate.

Regardless, brands are having no trouble finding fit “Snapchat celebrities.” For example, Shaun McBride, whose Snapchat user name is “Shonduras,” creates Snapchat art that gets an abundance of attention. McBride has also worked on Snapchat campaigns for Disney and the MLS.

Still, the CEO of twtMob Marco Hansell, said that Snapchat has “limited access” in terms of data about who is opening Snaps.

Still, many Viners and YouTubers are now migrating over to Snapchat, which can earn $1000 per Snap, depending on the campaign and the brand they’re creating for, according to Digiday.

How much to charge brands for Snaps remains a puzzle, though. “What is the value of a screenshot versus a view is the question,” asked Hansell, who added that he has seen top Snapchatters command video-like CPMs: $25 per 1,000 opens.

Snapchat, however, doesn’t actively support its creators, whether that be through production spaces or training and resources, unlike the competing platform YouTube which has this capability. Nevertheless, Snapchat is definitely attempting to make gains with this process by meeting with brands and agencies to gain some favor and recognition.

So far, the only company that is truly showing signs of Snapchat integration is Niche, who says it represents about 150 brands, including GE and Coca-Cola, and often marries Vine or Instagram campaigns with Snapchat. However, it hasn’t done a standalone Snapchat campaign yet.

 

Source: Digiday

Brands On Board Instagram’s Hyperlapse Wagon

If you haven’t already heard, Instagram has launched a new app called Hyperlapse which allows users to capture high-quality time lapse videos even while in motion.

“Since launching nearly four years ago, it has always been a priority to bring the Instagram community simple yet powerful tools that let people capture moments and express their creativity,” reads Instagram’s personal blog regarding Hyperlapse. “From documenting your whole commute in seconds or the preparation of your dinner from start to finish to capturing an entire sunset as it unfolds, we’re thrilled about the creative possibilities Hyperlapse unlocks. We can’t wait to see what you’ll create.”

This type of feat had previously only been possible with expensive equipment that has not always been available in phones. Wired says there is essentially “$15,000 worth of editing technology packed into an app.”

So far, the app has gained some notable recognition and popularity from stars like Jimmy Fallon, who scarfs down a large piece of cake in a matter of seconds using Hyperlapse mode, or National Geographic Photographer David Guttenfelder who captures roaming bison and other wandering wildlife road-blocking the roads that run through Yellowstone National Park (below).

Some other big name brands that have already started posting time-lapse videos for their Instagram followers include Bud Light, Mountain Dew, and even Arizona Beverages, who posted a hyperlapse of a man trying nine different kinds of ice tea in only four seconds.

 

 

 

By the way, you can follow our @ayzenberggroup and @alistdaily Instagram’s here and here.

 

Source: AdWeek

 

The Sims: Gaming’s Reality TV Equivalent

Video gaming doesn’t really have too much of a source of reality TV, outside of competitive shows that just can’t keep up with the likes of Survivor and Big Brother. But maybe it doesn’t need its own devoted TV programming, as there’s a game series out there that manages to whisk them away into their own curious reality: The Sims.

Electronic Arts has announced that the long-awaited The Sims 4 will finally ship for PC next month, providing a number of new opportunities for users to create characters and neighborhoods, then watch with hilarity (and some cringing) as they go through day-to-day situations, ranging from the abnormal to the all-out wacky.

The Sims is a social experiment,” said Rachel Franklin, executive vice president of Maxis, the development studio behind the popular sim series. “People are fascinated with human life, we all want to watch each other. You see it with reality TV – what is that person doing Why are we fascinated with a fisherman working off the coast of Alaska It’s because it’s a life we’re not familiar with – we want to know and understand it.”

With the game, players will find tons of opportunities with creating characters, situations and areas, then watching everything unfold – sometimes even in unpredictable fashion.

“It’s all about opportunities,” said Franklin. “You’re creating this personality and providing it with long-term goals that will give it impetus throughout its life. Then you’ve got them interacting with their environment, with their need states – what if they’re hungry how does that affect things Then you have them interacting with other Sims, and there’s this exponential explosion of personality possibilities – that’s really exciting.”

Franklin also believes that new behaviors open up from the game, thus adding to the already-provided situations. “With the multitasking element, we were surprised out how much more the Sims were socializing. In previous games, there was a lot more balance and order – now you can have a sim playing a game on a tablet while sitting on the couch, in a conversation with another sim. And because talking with other Sims is compatible with many other actions, they’re much more social creatures. A new style of play has emerged from that.

“And also, the neighborhood Sims, the non-controllable Sims that inhabit the world with you, are fully functioning AI characters too. Sometimes, you’ll see someone stomping angrily by, perhaps with a little kid jumping happily behind them, and you’ll wonder, what’s the story there There’s this immediate connection with the Sims that I don’t think we ever had before.”

The Sims 4 will release for PC and Mac.

Source: The Guardian

Three Types Of Video Ads Brands Should Explore On YouTube

by Jessica Klein

When you post an advertisement, what’s better—forcing viewers to watch, or letting them choose whether or not they want to engage with your content Let’s skip the pondering and focus on the latter (read: the obvious answer). Lucky for brands, YouTube offers TrueView video ads—you know, the ones that let you skip after the first five seconds (That’s why they’re also known as “skippable” ads.) This means that brands only have to shell out cash for advertisements people watch for at least 30 seconds.

However, that’s not the beginning and the end of TrueView opportunities on YouTube, as told by the YouTube Playbook for Brands. Figure out how to showcase your brand’s content best in each of the following ad formats on the digital video platform…

1. The In-Stream

As described above, these ads appear at the beginning of creator videos on YouTube. That familiar, black and white button in the bottom right corner of the video lets viewers say farewell to the ad after as little as five seconds, meaning that if you put your ad here, you’ve got to make those first, crucial seconds very compelling. Try for a video ad with a plot that viewers will want to watch unfold.

2. The In-Display

This video ad looks like any other thumbnail in the suggested videos section of YouTube (as well as on the Google Display Network, which means it shows up on a variety of websites outside of the video platform, too). Again, you only have to pay for every time your ad is clicked, and to get it clicked, you need a good-looking thumbnail. Read here for how to create one.

3. The In-Search

Those videos that show up on YouTube and Google video search above all else—that’s what “in-search” video advertising looks like. Viewers aren’t duped by this commercial tactic. They know that these ads are, indeed, ads. However, to make potential viewers click, you’ll need to compete with whatever they were actually searching for, which are often trending topics, because they’re words that people type into Google on a regular basis. Make your video’s title more intriguing than the latest, popular listicle to help steer internet surfers your way.

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via thevideoink.com for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

Adidas Launches Predator Instinct Instagram Game

Adidas has introduced a new avenue of interactivity for the Instagram site, with the launch of a new game called Predator Instinct, which ties in with its latest line of athletic shoewear.

The game, which can be found at the Adidas Polska Instagram account, utilizes a technology and concept put together by the team at Isobar Poland, and is looking for a young, active social media and mobile audience that take advantage of Instagram’s mobile platform.

The game has you matching pictures through the Instagram page, where customers interact with nine different pictures, all featuring the new Instinct shoe line-up. These pictures will then link to other profiles tagged by the company, and users can also access galleries where the password of the day will be hidden. Once received, they’ll be able to enter these passwords and enter in a daily contest, where they can win their own pair of Predator shoes, at an estimated worth of around $200. Other players can win branded Adidas soccer balls, as runner-up prizes.

Such an activity could open up a new gaming column for the Instagram site, especially if it becomes a huge draw on the social media front, with tie-ins to other websites like Twitter and Facebook. Adidas has already called upon the services of popular football journalist Michal Poi and Warsaw football club Legia player Jakub Kosecki to promote the interactive contest as well.

The game will begin this week and run through September 3, with new passwords leading to the images released around 11 am each day. It’s definitely worth checking out, even if you don’t win anything, so stop by the Adidas Polska account and get started.

What do you think Is Instagram ready to host its own game channel Could this lead to bigger and better promotions down the road Or should the site simply stick to what it does best with pictures and video

Source: PSFK