Apple Intros New iPhones, Apple Watch

Apple’s latest iPhones were revealed yesterday, and they were well received — but the star of the show was the Apple Watch. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus had few surprises if you’d been following the rumors of the past weeks: A 4.7″, 1334 x 750 pixel screen for the iPhone 6, with a new A8 processor and improvements to the cameras in an incredibly thin package (6.9 mm). The iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5″ screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution, and pretty much the same internals as the iPhone 6, though the iPhone 6 Plus camera offers optical image stabilization.

These phones look to be solid hits for Apple, bringing larger screens and greater power to legions of iPhone fans. The new generation 64-bit A8 chip inside has 2 billion transistors and 64-bit support in a 20nm process, so it’s more powerful even though it’s 13 percent smaller than the A7 chip. Apple boasted that the A8 has 25 percent faster CPU performance and 50 percent faster graphics than the A7 — the A8 is 50 times faster than the original iPhone. It’s also up to 50 percent more energy efficient than the last-gen chips.

The cameras have been improved, though the pixel count remains at 8 MP. The autofocus is twice as fast, there’s better noise reduction and tone mapping to create better pictures. Apple’s also added support for 240 fps slow motion, and the front facing camera is also improved and can take better selfies than ever . . . if you care to.

The Apple Watch drew great attention, though details weren’t complete. The Apple Watch comes in several variations, with two different sizes and three different cases (aluminum, stainless steel, and 18 kt gold) and six different straps, with pricing starting at $349 (though we don’t know more than that about prices). It’s a fashion accessory as much as a technical accessory. The Apple Watch boasts a host of features covering timekeeping, health tracking, fitness, and communication. The most important fact, though, is that it isn’t shipping until “early 2015” so we have plenty of time to find out more about it.

One of the most interesting facets of the Apple event was the time spent talking about gaming. Apple’s Phil Schiller made a point of talking about how the new iPhones provide better sustained gaming performance, with better battery life, and how the new Metal software along with the A8 chip provides incredible gaming performance. To prove it, Apple brought Super Evil Megacorp on stage to demonstrate their upcoming MOBA Vainglory on the iPhone 6 Plus.

This was an incredible opportunity for a fledgling company, and the game looked more than up to the challenge of showing off the power of Apple’s new hardware. More than that, though, it showed the importance of games to Apple. After all, games provide the bulk of the revenue in the App Store, and it’s good to see Apple acknowledging that fact.

Apple’s new iPhones will be arriving September 19, and analysts are expecting sales to exceed 50 million units before the end of the year, if Apple can build them fast enough to meet the demand. Game developers should be very pleased to see new, larger and more powerful gaming devices reaching such large numbers of consumers so quickly.

Don’t forget, though, that Apple has yet to talk about the iPad or the Apple TV. We should still expect to see an October event from Apple where new iPad models will be introduced, and possibly a new Apple TV. While massive innovation isn’t expected now in the iPad line, refreshed models (probably with the new A8 chip and Touch ID sensors) will be even better gaming devices, and should be strong sellers this holiday.

Be sure to check out the [a]listdaily interview with Super Evil Megacorp’s Bo Daly and Kristian Segerstrale!

Study Says Social Advertising Converts More Customers

When it comes converting customers, social advertising is the best at it, according to a new study by Aol Platforms in which 500 million clicks and 15 million conversions were analyzed in the first quarter of 2014 to determine how and where users made purchasing decisions. The best platform on social media By and large, the study showed that YouTube was key for not just introducing products, but influencing purchasing decisions, too.

According to CEO of Convertro, Jeff Zwelling, this is no happenstance. Google’s search results give key preferential treatment to YouTube video results. “YouTube’s own search volume and preferential positioning on Google’s results help drive large amounts of traffic, of course. But when you get to YouTube, the content is rich, descriptive, and usually helpful,” said Zwelling.

The infographic below delineates the purchasing funnel from product introduction to the last stage prior to a product being sold. YouTube shows to be strongest at the last stage, and Twitter appears to be the least effective of the social networks for influencing purchases.

Source: VentureBeat


Microsoft In Talks For Mojang Acquisition

The Wall Street Journal reported, “according to a person with knowledge of the matter,” that Microsoft is in serious discussions to buy Mojang AB, the Swedish developer of the hit Minecraft game, for more than $2 billion. “A Microsoft spokesman declined comment, as did Mojang Chief Executive Carl Manneh,” said the report.

This would be a surprising turn of events, as Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson has been outspoken in his opinions about large companies (he’s not a fan) and he has shunned outside investment and other buyout offers. Many within the games industry and the games press have reacted with surprise at the possibility of Microsoft acquiring Mojang, not least because Persson has been openly critical of the company in the past. However, Bloomberg’s sources have claimed that Persson actually proposed the deal in the first place, largely due to a “positive working relationship” and a “close relationship” with Xbox boss Phil Spencer. According to Bloomberg, Persson will remain at Mojang to see the deal and subsequent merger through to completion, but will likely depart once that has happened.

Minecraft has sold more than 54 million copies on multiple platforms, including Windows PC, iOS, Android, Xbox 360 and PS3. New versions are coming soon for Xbox One, PS4 and PS Vita as well.

The reasons for the purchase aren’t really clear, at least from Microsoft’s side (who can argue with getting $2 billion for a company you created ). Certainly, 54 million fans (mostly kids) is a nice audience to have, but is that really worth $40 for each one Mojang has shown no ability to create a second game with anywhere near the appeal of Minecraft. The company is a one trick pony; it’s a very nice trick, but it’s still only one trick. If Microsoft is interested in expanding its gaming audience, there are plenty of small developers with a track record of multiple solid games that could be had for tens of millions of dollars, not billions of dollars.

A $2 billion investment would seem to require a strong strategic reason, and that’s not at all clear here. Even with Minecraft’s solid sales, paying back that investment would take a very, very long time. We’ll just have to wait and see what develops, though the fact that both companies declined to comment would indicate there is something going on between the two. What does Microsoft have up its sleeve

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Square Enix Introducing Smartphone Game Streaming

We’ve seen streaming gaming services among the likes of OnLive and PlayStation Now for the PlayStation 4, but are you ready to see such a service for mobile devices Because next month, Square Enix will present one.

The Tokyo-based game developer has announced the debut of a new cloud-based streaming service that will launch next month for both iOS and Android. With it, three games will be available for play – Final Fantasy VII International, Final Fantasy XIII and murder mystery Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders.

The games will be set up on a rental basis, similar to that of PlayStation Now’s set-up, where games can be rented for around $1.50 to $2.50 for a period of three days, depending on the title. For instance, Final Fantasy XIII will be amongst the more expensive titles, while Final Fantasy VII will be on the lower end.

Other games will be introduced over the next few months as well, including Final Fantasy VIII and The Last Remnant, which will debut in November; Final Fantasy XIII-2 in December; and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII in 2015. There’s no word yet if the service will see more traditional action games from the company, such as Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs.

The service will be offered on October 9th in Japan, but there’s no word yet if it’ll find its way to the U.S. market. However, considering that Square Enix has a strong line of premium-priced games available in the iOS market, it probably won’t be too long before we’ll be able to Dive In here.

What do you think Would you pay to rent premium games for streaming on your iOS or Android device, or are you perfectly happy accessing a game that you’re able to play both offline and online Would you revisit the Final Fantasy games of old, or yearn for newer products

Source: Kotaku

‘Destiny’ is Activision’s $500 Million Game

Activision went to great lengths to get the word out about the just-released Bungie space sci-fi shooter Destiny, which is available now for PlayStation and Xbox consoles. In fact, it’s probably the most elaborate game marketing program to date. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said that the company is spending about $500 million on Destiny (which is a combined amount for development and marketing). Today the company announced it has sold more than $500 million of Destiny into retail stores and first parties worldwide as of day one, making the game the biggest new video game franchise launch in history.

“Based on extraordinary audience demand, retail and first party orders worldwide have exceeded $500 million for Destiny,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “This industry milestone marks another blockbuster success for our company and demonstrates our unique ability to create some of the most successful entertainment franchises in the world.”

“Since the beginning, we’ve been confident that our investment and belief in Destiny would pay off. But not many people believed we’d be able to say it did so on day one,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “Destiny is officially the biggest new franchise launch in our industry’s history. It’s also the highest-selling day one digital console release in history. We have more confidence than ever that Destiny will become one of the iconic franchises of this generation, and Activision’s next billion dollar brand.”

The publisher reportedly spent an estimated $500 million to develop and promote the new IP, across various betas for game consoles, a new live-action commercial directed by Tron Legacy‘s Joseph Kosinski, a special edition guide published in Newsweek Magazine (a publication not really known for covering video games), and a team-up with Google Street View that actually explores different planets, Destiny Planet View.

The trailer is the key focus for the latest wave of promotion, as its science fiction style and use of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” is making it incredibly popular. “The live action trailer is the culmination of an ambitious marketing campaign befitting what we hope is our next blockbuster franchise,” said Tim Ellise, chief marketing officer at Activision. “Destiny is set in our known universe, with our solar system as the backdrop for people to explore. We chose to produce a live-action spot in order to ground the world of Destiny in the familiar: real people, real locations and true adventure.

Kosinski “channeled the epic look and feel of the game by shooting in locations here on Earth that mirror iconic interplanetary destinations in the game. The result is a story that captures the action, adventure, fun and exploration of the game itself.”

Bungie also spared no expense bringing big-name talent to the game. Peter Dinklage, known for his role in the HBO series Game of Thrones, plays the cybernetic assistant Ghost in the game, while Paul McCartney was brought in to help produce the soundtrack.

Now the only question is what kind of campaign Activision will have in mind for its forthcoming holiday blockbusters, including Skylanders Trap Team and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. We shall see.

Source: Mediapost

Bigger Phones Are Making An Impact

With the announcement of two new iPhone 6 models this week — including a larger-than-usual Plus model that is Apple’s biggest phone to date — the question of whether or not “bigger” phone devices can make that much of an impact is definitely being passed around. According to data from apps analytics company Flurry, however, it appears the demand could be greater than anticipated.

The bigger phones, also going under the name “phablets” (part phone, part tablet), indicate that the devices are already picking up in popularity. Nearly six percent of the 60,000 active devices examined by the company are at least 5 to 7 inches when it comes to display size. That’s double the rate of the 3 percent reported in the previous year, indicating significant growth. Of course, there’s a ways to go, but progress is progress.

Bigger devices also provide more usage than smaller ones, according to the company. Sessions show that 11 percent of devices are used more often when it comes to application sessions, compared to the less than 3 percent from the year before. This is particularly true when it comes to reading things, such as documents or eBooks.

Android “phablets” have shown impressive growth over the past year, rising up from 7 percent in the previous year to 18 percent for this year, with the numbers continuing to grow. That took a significant chunk out of “medium”-sized phones, which dropped from 70 percent the year before to this year’s 61 percent.

Availability — and accessibility — of larger devices are making them more popular as well, according to the report. The Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note were amongst the most noteworthy, although it’s likely that the iPhone 6 Plus will join that line-up when it releases next week.

This is a large turn-around from when larger devices were introduced back in 2011, when the original Samsung Galaxy Note wasn’t taken so seriously. It’ll be interesting to see where the era of larger phones, or “phablets,” takes us once the iPhone 6 Plus arrives.

Source: GigaOm

YouTube To Run Ads For ‘Video Game High School’ Starting Next Month

By Sahil Patel

Next up on YouTube’s ongoing efforts to advertise its top channels and creators: Freddie Wong and the third and final season of his successful web series “Video Game High School.”

As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, YouTube will run a multi-platform advertising campaign for the web series. Similar to previous efforts for creators and channels like Rosanna Pansino, Bethany Mota, Vice News, and “Epic Rap Battles of History,” YouTube will place ads everywhere from billboards, bus stops, subways, and subway platforms in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, to relevant websites and video platforms online. (For instance, ads for Vice News, which was part of YouTube’s second wave of advertising, showed up on the New York Times home page.)

While YouTube’s decision to include Wong in its campaigning shouldn’t come as a surprise — the filmmaker has close to 7 million subscribers on YouTube through his RocketJump (formerly FreddieW) channel — “Video Game High School” has the added wrinkle that it will be the first scripted, narrative series to be promoted by YouTube in the way traditional networks (and Netflix) promote TV shows.

And, make no mistake, “Video Game High School” is a TV show. The second season consisted of six, 30-minute episodes.

Created by Freddie Wong and Matt Arnold, the show takes place in an alternate universe where video-gaming is the world’s biggest spectator sport, and gamers are treated like star athletes. Produced by Rocket Jump Studios in partnership with Collective Digital Studio, the series has totaled more than 84 million views across both seasons.

It will certainly be interesting to see if and/or how much YouTube’s campaign helps the show in terms of season three viewership.

Like the first two seasons, season three was also financed, in part, by a large crowdfunding campaign. Wong and the team raised nearly $900,000 on Indiegogo, almost $100,000 more than the amount they raised on Kickstarter for season two.

Per the WSJ report, ads for “Video Game High School” will kick-off next month. The third season is set to debut on October 13.

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 for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

Spotify Rolls Into Video Ads

Spotify is still a good service when you want to listen up to some of the hottest music around, but it’s about to introduce an interesting new wrinkle in the video department.

The music service has debuted its first video ad products on its channel, which runs through both desktop browsers and mobile devices. These videos feature a number of advertisers, including Universal Pictures, Coca-Cola, Ford and McDonald’s, and will reach out to the website’s 30-plus million listeners who take part in its free services. Those who subscribe to the premium services on the site, however, won’t need to view said ads.

The U.S. division will focus particularly on Target, Kraft Foods, and Wells Fargo, as well as the above mentioned partners. “We like to be the first to try new products and Spotify Video Ads provide a great new way to connect with this valuable audience on desktop and mobile,” said Lindsay Dye, director of digital media for Universal.

There are two different formats that the ads will take when it comes to appearing on the service. The first, Video Takeover ads, appear in the Spotify app during routine ad breaks and are only played while the client is in the primary window. Meanwhile, Sponsored Sessions allows marketers to play 15 to 30 second ads following 30 minute mobile sessions.

This should be a campaign that pays off for the site, as users spend an average of 84 minutes per user per day streaming music, allowing ample opportunity to play at least one ad in the process. The time nearly doubles to 146 minutes when it comes to using the service on multiple devices.

“Our audience is incredibly engaged, so we are delivering an advertising experience that enhances their time spent on Spotify and connects them to the music and the brands they love,” said Spotify chief business officer Jeff Levick.

The video below highlights how the video ads work. However, it’s not that well-received just yet, as the YouTube channel shows more dislikes than likes for the commercial.


Viral Video Involves Your Instagram Pics

It’s not often you see music videos anymore, let alone ones that actually involve viewers in on the action. However, a sweet new program from French house music producer Etienne de Crecy allows users to get in on the booty-shaking action.

The viral video program is called “Hashtag My Ass”, and along with the ability to shake along to the beat of the song, users can get involved by actually customizing the video to include photos from their Instagram feeds. Even if they’re not entirely of their buttocks.

Previously hashtagged photos with terms used in the song can be used within the video, including the likes of “#selfie” and “#throwback”, and the video’s home page also allows for other unique customization options. Users can then upload the results via YouTube, and show off their custom booty-shaking videos to whoever wants to see them. Check out the sample video below for a better idea of how it works.

The video not only features a bunch of butts being shaken around, but takes the Instagram images and super-imposes them onto album covers in a rather creative fashion, making it seem like the people in the video are actually browsing through your personal selections in-between all the butt-shaking.

This is a personable new approach to marketing, not only for the band and its butt-shaking single, but also for Instagram, as it allows users to impose their own personal photo library in a creative fashion, without having to pay any sort of extra fees. As a result, the band gets more exposure, and more people get on board to see how their Instagram library would reflect in an actual music video. Now, if only more bands would get in on the action.

To customize your own video (or if you just feel like taking a dance break in the office), head over to the “Hashtag My Ass” page and get down with your bad self.



This Week’s [a]list Jobs – September 10th

[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:

  • Bethesda – Brand Manager (Rockville, Maryland)
  • Hulu – Director, Brand Marketing (Santa Monica, Calif.)
  • Netflix – Marketing Coordinator, Partnerships & Promotions (Beverly Hills, Calif.)
  • Ayzenberg – Director, Business Development, ION (Pasadena, Calif.)

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