Newzoo/Overwolf’s August Top 20 PC Game Rankings

In June 2014, Newzoo and Overwolf launched a new monthly ranking service that gives insight into the popularity of individual PC games in the US and Europe. The ranking is based on number of unique sessions during a calendar month amongst millions of game enthusiasts that use Overwolf’s in-game software.

The rankings for August 2014, especially in the Top 5, remain relatively unchanged from July 2014. Riot Games’s League of Legends stays unchallenged at #1, with indie developer Mojang’s Minecraft at the number 2 spot. Many might argue that Minecraft doesn’t qualify as a “core” PC title, but we see its players as part of the typical “enthusiast” group of gamers: they play their favorite game daily, have a high-end PC set-up and actively enhance their game experience using mods and add-on software. World of Tanks, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and World of Warcraft maintain their hold on the third, fourth and fifth spots on the rankings respectively.

Mods and Beta Versions Moving Up

As we move down the rankings we start to see some significant changes. Bohemia Interactive’s Dayz, originally a mod of Arma 2, re-entering at position 17 this month, continues to grow in popularity. It jumped two spots to take the #6 position, knocking Valve’s DOTA 2 down to #8. At position 11, Garry’s Mod, originally based on Half Life 2, continues its climb towards the top 10. The success of mods is illustrative of a games market that is increasingly driven by gamers themselves. This trend is currently accelerated by the explosive growth of eSports in the West and platforms such as Twitch, that provide gamers the tools to create, broadcast and share their favourite games.

Rockstar Games’s Grand Theft Auto has dropped the furthest on the August rankings, settling at #14. Of particular interest is the (re-)entry of 4 titles on our Core PC Rankings: Arma 2, War Thunder Beta, Aion and ArcheAge. After having dropped out of the top 20, War Thunder, officially still in Beta, seems to have found its community of fans as it climbs back into the charts. ArcheAge is a notable entry having just started its open Beta last week, after the reporting period of the August charts. Arma 2 is the only pay-to-play title of these four, a clear indicator of the rising consumer acceptance of the free-to-play business model.

No Cold War for Minecraft

What the rankings obscure is the interesting contradictions between the US and Russian PC market. The Top 20 Core PC Games in Russia includes Allods Online, Warface and Aion, titles that are absent from the US rankings (except for Aion, which has crept into the #20 position in the US). Vice versa, we see titles like Elder Scrolls Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Team Fortress 2 doing well in the US, despite not featuring in the Russian charts. There are game titles however whose popularity transcends oceans. Minecraft, for example, is a very popular title in both the US (#1) and Russia (#4). Minecraft‘s popularity is extremely interesting when you consider ‘bigger’ games don’t always achieve the same success across borders. An example is League of Legends, the top “truly core” PC game in the US, ranking low in Russia. DOTA 2 is the MOBA game of choice for Russians and is ranked as the runner-up to the obvious #1, World of Tanks. In fact, the Wargaming title had more unique sessions than all other games in the Russian top 10 put together . . .

What unites both the US and Russia is the relative dominance of F2P powered games, MMO’s and Mods. This clearly indicates that while particular game tastes differ between the two countries, consumers from both sides are united by their continued embrace of the newer revenue models and game types.

Notes from [a]listdaily

It’s interesting to note how the games at the top of the list aren’t changing positions, which can be attributed to the longevity of the games and the dedication of the fan base. Being free-to-play helps, too, as players can stick with a game even if there’s nothing motivating them to buy something in a particular month. Continual drops of new content, a standard feature of the top games, keeps player interest high and encourages lapsed players to return to take a look at the new content.

In a couple of notable exceptions, Minecraft and World of Warcraft, the appeal isn’t due to new content appearing — at least, not from the publishers. In both cases, the appeal is derived from the players. Minecraft continues to enthrall due to what the players themselves are creating, or what they are watching other players create. With World of Warcraft, the appeal is the interaction with other players… and to some extent at this point, increasing anticipation over the new Warlords of Draenor expansion due to arrive soon.

Announcements From Today’s #AppleLive Event

Live from the Flint Center in Cupertino, California this morning, Apple is streaming their hotly anticipated September event online for everyone (with an Apple device) to see. You can watch the big event and the countdown leading up to it here, and we’ll be bringing you major announcments and updates throughout on this page.

New iPhones and a wearable announcement is expected, so we’ll be following up with some analyses about the implications in the entertainment marketing sphere.Â

9:17 am PST

The stream is yet to go live, but we’ve been following and speculating on the rumor mill surrounding this day for some time. If you haven’t checked them out yet, there were thoughts around Apple gearing up for the mobile payments business, what a new iPhone, iPad and revamped Apple TV could do for gaming, strong rumors about an Apple iWatch, as well as the impact of iOS 8 on game development. That’s quite a lot of preliminary reading!

NPD: 37% In USA Play PC Games

PC gaming’s not a fringe activity anymore, according to the latest figures from NPD, based on a survey of over 6,000 people. The information firm’s latest report, Understanding PC Gaming: 2014, shows that 37 percent of the US population over the age of 8 plays PC games for an average of 6.4 hours per week. The report identifies three segments of gamers based on the types of games they play and the number of hours played: Heavy Core, Light Core, and Casual. Heavy Core gamers play core games for five or more hours per week, while Light Core gamers still enjoy core games, but do so for less than five hours a week, and Casual gamers only play non-core games. (In order to qualify as a core gamer, respondents had to currently play Action/Adventure, Fighting, Flight, Massively Multi-Player (MMO), Racing, Real Time Strategy, Role-Playing, Shooter, or Sport games on a PC/Mac.)

Casual gamers are the largest segment with 56 percent, while light core gamers are at 24 percent and core gamers are at 20 percent. As you might expect, the core gamers not only spend far more hours playing games, they also spend more money – roughly twice as much money in the past three months on games than the casual PC gamers.

“As with gaming consumers across all platforms, the PC Gamer is not a ubiquitous group, making it critical for anyone in the PC game space to understand the consumer segments and their respective behaviors,” said Liam Callahan, industry analyst, The NPD Group.

NPD reported that PC gamers are just as likely to be men (51 percent) as they are women (49 percent). They tend to be older, with an average age of 38 years, and affluent, with an average household income of $69k. Gender differences become apparent by type of gamer: Heavy Core and Light Core are comprised mainly of men while Casual PC gamers are overwhelmingly female.

Over the past year, 46 percent of PC gamers have visited a site to make a digital purchase. Interestingly, gamers buying digital games are far less likely than those buying physical games to pay full price for a title. In fact, half of all PC gamers have grown accustomed to waiting for a sale before making a purchase. Those Steam sales seem to be having a noticeable effect on what consumers are willing to pay for games.

“Consumers’ expectations may be the greatest barrier to maximizing spending in the PC gaming space,” said Callahan. “Since half of PC gamers who play digital and/or physical games on the computer are expecting there to always be a sale right around the corner, publishers and retailers alike need to better manage these expectations,” said Callahan.

Source: NPD

Warner Bros. Interactive May Compete With Steam

We know that Valve’s Steam digital distribution service is a huge success, and Electronic Arts has done very well with its own Origin digital distributiuon service. Both of those services distribute games from a wide range of publishers. In another variation, EA has already proven that an exclusive digital distribution system can be quite effective with the gaming community, as its recently launched EA Access service for the Xbox One console has drawn a pretty good crowd with the promise of accessible games and exclusive demos of forthcoming titles (but only EA titles, so far). Now, Warner Bros. Interactive could very well be getting into the act with its own service, but it’s not clear whether it will be a general storefront like Steam or an exclusive service like EA Access.

The evidence comes from a recent trademark filing. Warner Bros. Interactive, which has a full line-up over the next year with Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, Mortal Kombat X and Shadow of Mordor, has filed a trademark for a new service called WB Play, according to a report from The Escapist.

With the trademark, WB Play is promising “online retail store services,” “audio and video broadcasting services” and “downloadable virtual goods,” meaning it could be offering exclusive titles through the service, or early access to forthcoming games, like this month’s release of Mordor.

Elaborating more on “downloadable virtual goods,” the description reads, “Downloadable electronic strategy and instructional guides for computer and video games; computer game software; video game software, audio and video recordings in the fields of computer and video games; downloadable multimedia files containing artwork, text, audio, video, games and internet web links relating to computer and video.”

The launch of such a service could be promising, provided that WB can get partners on board. Sony, for example, turned down EA Access because it didn’t believe it offered a significant value, despite having its own exclusive gaming service with PlayStation Plus. Of course, Warner Bros. also has a vast library of video and music to draw on beyond its games, so the service could be presenting a wide range of content.

WB Games hasn’t confirmed the trademark just yet, but a close look at the official Shadow of Mordor game page does show the WB Play logo in the upper left corner, indicating that an introduction could be right around the corner.

What do you think Would you subscribe to such a program as WB Play, or are you content with the number of services that are already available

Sources: MCV UK, The Escapist

Activision’s Elaborate and Effective ‘Destiny’ Campaign

Easily one of the most hyped games for this year is Activision’s Destiny, which was developed by the team at Bungie, the same crew that created Microsoft’s mammothly successful Halo franchise. Activision has put a reasonable amount of hype behind the game, investing more than $500 million in marketing and making a surefire bet that the franchise will be as successful as Call of Duty, if not more so.

So far, the hype is paying off, as Destiny has the highest amount of pre-orders for a new property in some time, surpassing even some of the company’s previous hits in the Call of Duty line-up. Throw in a lavish marketing campaign with a live-action trailer and pre-order incentives, and you have a game that simply cannot miss.

It’s been a long build-up with Destiny‘s hype. In fact, the initial reveal for the game took place back in February 2013, when Bungie revealed a behind-the-scenes demonstration of what it was working on.

Since then, bits and pieces of information leaked out to indicate that Bungie meant business when it came to the development of the game, from the involvement of former Beatle Paul McCartney working on the soundtrack to heralded actor Peter Dinklage joining the cast as one of the key characters, a secondary robot named Ghost.

After that, Activision has continued hyping the game with elaborate pre-order campaigns (which actually launched a year and a half before Destiny‘s release), an exclusive PlayStation 4 system bundle that features a white console and controller, pre-loading programs for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and plenty of revealing trailers with new information about the game, from its huge multiplayer capacity to its enthralling single-player content.

It’s easily one of the biggest advertising campaigns put into a video game, especially a new franchise that is just now getting its feet wet. However, it appears to be paying off, as the game could easily sell a million copies – or more – within the first 24 hours alone, and continue stretching onward into the holiday season as one of its “must-have” titles.

Destiny can be picked up now for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360. For a little extra fun, here’s that awesome live-action trailer again, directed by Tron Legacy‘s Joseph Kosinski.

 

GOG.com Celebrating DRM-Free Gaming Movement

DRM can be a gamer’s worst nightmare, as the requirement to be online can be a problem in certain titles. Last year’s release of SimCity, for example, was plagued with all sorts of problematic issues when it came to logging in online, to the point that EA eventually had to offer a patch where players weren’t required to do so.

GOG.com never really ran into such an instance, though. Good Ol’ Games (that’s GOG for short) has found a stance where it’s offered its customers a non-DRM service, meaning that they aren’t required to play online. Now celebrating its six years in the business, GOG.com is ready to take its gaming service to the next level.

At first, the plan for going DRM-free wasn’t looked at with much positivity, recalls GOG’s managing director Guillaume Rambourg. “Everybody thought that this would be a doomed project,” he said.

However, the site has grown in popularity over the years, thanks to its fair treatment of customers and the lack of the restrictive DRM. “We want to treat (gamers) like humans, not like wallets standing on two legs,” he said. “That’s not how we see things.”

Rambourg elaborated with greater detail. ” Well, when we launched GOG back in the day, so back in fall 2008, the initial goal was to revive classic games and to bring them to modern gamers. And the other mission we had, which we still have, is freeing games and gamers from the chains of DRM. Because, to us, DRM is like a prison. And whether it’s for classic games or new games or even movies now, our goal is to free digital content from every kind of locker. I think we managed pretty well, because when we launched GOG back in the day, everybody thought that this would be a doomed project, a niche project, and in the end, as you might know, we have over 800 games without DRM and we operate with over 200 publishers and developers, including some big ones. So I think we convinced many people in the industry that DRM-free was the way to go when it comes to convincing the gaming community to buy games.”

As far as how severe a problem DRM was with games, Rambourg stated, ” I remember the good old days, I mean the good old retail days, where anybody could buy a game, a movie, a DVD, and you were simply the owner of the product. You bought it and you could enjoy it at any time, from any device you owned … the way you want it. And that’s exactly the experience we want to bring to digital gamers or movie fans. These guys, we would like them to become the owners of what they buy digitally. And the approach we have on GOG is simple; if you buy a game, it’s yours. You should be free to install it on any device you own; you should be free to make up copies if you so wish. Nobody should be telling you how you should install the game, access the game, play the game; this is not freedom. And you know, we have to give gamers good reasons to buy games, not to pirate. So the freedom we have in the whole GOG approach, the freedom is the essence of how we believe gamers want to buy games and truly enjoy them.”

GOG.com already has a number of features laid out to entice more consumers, including the introduction of an Early Access program and the inclusion of a new partner in the fold, including the possibility of Disney, Take-Two or Microsoft . . .though Rambourg wouldn’t say who.

Source: Gamespot

Facebook’s Latest Video Features Look A Lot Like YouTube

By Jessica Klein

If you’ve doubted Facebook’s stance as a possible YouTube competitor, the latest video features on the social network may just change your mind.

First of all, more people are watching, posting, and sharing videos on Facebook. From May to the end of July 2014 alone, video views increased by over 50 percent, with an average of over 1 billion views taking place on the social network each day in the month of June.

Beginning this week, Facebook users (i.e. most everyone) will have the YouTube-like benefit of seeing how many times people have viewed a video. This will help spotlight trending videos, as well as bring on the attitude that more than just “friends” are going to watch any given video post.

Furthermore, Facebook tested a “related videos” feature back in July on mobile devices. Also like YouTube, the feature brings viewers from the end of one video to a group of suggested videos, encouraging longer overall watch time on the platform. The social network has also been toying with auto-play, so as users scroll through their news feeds, the videos they pass will begin playing before they press play.

Calls to action are also making Facebook more like YouTube. Annotations inviting viewers to visit a general website, another video, or a product site will help video publishers on Facebook gain more audience engagement. Metrics will also help such publishers determine the success of their videos on the platform.

The new features all lean towards making Facebook more of an entertainment experience than a social one. The company’s acquisition of LiveRail earlier this summer, a video advertising tech company, also shows a commitment towards a more commercial, video-centric approach to social media.

As Fidji Simo, Facebook’s project management director of video, explains, “The goal of News Feed is to deliver the right stories to the right people at the right time.” This statement backs up Facebook as an entertainment/news platform rather than a social site, which perhaps it’s moving further away from with every new YouTube-esque aspect.

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.

Studies Show iOS Generates More Sales

Analyst firm Localytics has been tracking how often an app is used on both Android and iOS, and its data shows some interesting trends. The data, going back four years, shows that the number of apps that have been used only once is decreasing, down to 20 percent of all apps (from 26 percent). The drop has been more pronounced on Android devices, with only 16 percent of Android apps being used only once, compared to 23 percent of iOS apps that are used only once.

On the flip side of app usage, Localytics data shows that Android apps used more than 10 times have jumped to 45 percent, compared to 36 percent of iOS apps. Localytics believes the difference may be due to iOS users having more apps, or perhaps because Android smartphone users have larger screens — which may make using a particular app a better experience.

Regardless of the difference in app usage, iOS devices still lead when it comes to making money, according to data from Monetate. The firm tracking revenue from shopping across different platforms, and found that the iPad is still the leader when it comes to getting shoppers to open their wallets. The iPad generated the highest revenue for tablets at $160 per order, while the Kindle Fire tablets pulled in $122 in the March 2014 quarter — not surprising given Amazon’s strength as an online store. Android tablets brought up the rear at $107 per order.

On the smartphone side, Apple’s phones still led the competition with an average order size of $118, with Android smartphones coming in at $112 and Windows smartphones at $101 per order.

It goes to show that market share isn’t everything, given the lead Android phones have worldwide in new phone sales. With Apple’s new iPhones coming soon, most analysts predict that Apple will nab a larger market share in the coming months, as the larger devices will compete better with the bigger screens common on Android phones. Will larger iPhone screens mean bigger sales when users go shopping That will be something e-commerce sites are going to be watching very closely in the coming months. What do you think?

Source: Forbes

New Mega-Tivo Introduced

There’s binge watching, and then there’s binge watching, where people go to great lengths to catch up on their DVR recording, just so they’re in time to catch the season premiere of their next show. But conventional DVR’s may not get the job done, with their limited recording space. However, the folks at TiVo have an interesting solution, with the introduction of its most expansive gadget to date – the Mega TiVo.

This new peripheral comes with a humongous 24 TB of storage across a RAID 5 arrangement, with hot-swappable drives. With that, you’ll be able to store 26,000 hours of recording, which roughly translates to three years. That’s normal SD recording, however – but 4,000 HD hours of recording isn’t too shabby.

In addition, the Mega TiVo features six tuners for recording, so users don’t have to worry about overlapping shows that come on in succession or against one another. The device will also provide the ability to stream both live and recorded television to smartphone and tablets, although the company didn’t provide specifics on what kind of network is required to do so.

There’s no word yet on a release date, but the device itself is set to sell for roughly $5,000, a much larger-than-usual price compared to other TiVo and streaming devices out in the wild. However, if you’re one of those customers that absolutely loves programming and can’t miss a single second of it, this could very well be the set-top box for you. Just make sure you leave plenty of room for it, because the Mega TiVo is quite hefty.

What do you think Do you believe there could be a demand for such a large, stream-worthy device Or do you believe that the regular TiVo is useful enough by its own means, letting you catch the necessary program you want to watch at a later time

Source: The Verge

Pachter: ‘The End of Consoles As We Know It’

At the Cloud Gaming USA conference in San Francisco last week, Wedbush Securities managing director Michael Pachter addressed the audience about why games are heading to the cloud — or, “the end of the console era as we know it,” as Pachter put it.

Pachter reviewed the history of the console business from 1985 on, when Nintendo perfected the console as the way to play games on the TV (and, as a necessary part of that, restored retailer confidence in the console business). Games were largely single player, and the business model was packaged goods sales for consoles, with a pay-as-you-go model for arcades (which were still a big business at that time). Between 1986 and 2000, this model held true, and developers were able to plan ahead with some degree of confidence. Development budgets were a function of overall sales potential, and brands drove sales. Gaming was “anti-social,” said Pachter, and static, while the graphics constantly improved, with the microprocessor and display required at the consumption point.

Between 2001 and 2008, Halo and the Xbox redefined the console market as multiplayer gaming emerged on consoles. Nintendo’s Wii and the DS grew the total market, and packaged goods drove 90 percent of the industry revenue. From 2009 to 2011, MMOs peaked and the model shifted to free-to-play, while DLC and microtransactions supplemented game sales. Social games emerged, mobile phones became smart, and the music genre collapsed while the Wii moved “to the storage closet,” in Pachter’s phrase.

Change accelerated in the market from 2012 to 2013, with the collapse of social games and mobile games becoming a big business. Multiplayer for console became the norm, free-to-play became the new subscription, and packaged goods sales continued their decline. Now we come to 2014, where, in Pachter’s words, “Everyone loves mobile; smartphones/tablets are the new consoles.” The trends of 2013 continue.

Pachter believes that part of what led the industry to this point was the Wii and its appeal to women, playing titles like Wii Fit and Wii Bowling, then getting into social games and now mobile games. But social games blew it, Pachter says, by “overcharging for a less-than-compelling game experience.” PVE emerged with an arcade-style monetization scheme, while PVP continues to evolve and thrive, with games like League of Legends becoming enormous hits. “That’s really where all the money is in free-to-play,” noted Pachter.

“Even with new console launches, we’re still seeing packaged goods sales decline,” Pachter said. “The packaged goods market in 2008, the Western market, was $22 billion. In 2013, $11 billion. So, cut in half. Again, some of it supplemented by digital sales, a lot of it shifted to digital software sales from new people like Supercell.”

“I heard a stat from Activision, I believe this was in 2012, that 75 percent of the people who buy Call of Duty never play the single-player campaign,” Pachter said. “That’s just upside down from where it was ten years prior. Multiplayer has really hurt single-player game experiences. 25 million people play Call of Duty monthly, but that pales in comparison to 2.5 billion people on the Internet. That’s 1 percent of the Internet, that’s nothing.”

“The old single-player game, you paid $60 and played for 30 hours. It runs out to about 15 cents an hour now, you pay $75 and play for 500 hours,” explained Pachter, adding in some expense for DLC. He feels that the best and worst thing about free-to-play games is that they are free — more players play games, but the majority of game play generates zero revenue. No other entertainment medium gives its content away, Pachter points out. When will games stop making this mistake, he asks

“Free-to-play should go away,” Pachter said. “I think you need ad-supported, I think you need the Pandora model. I think the game guys are just stupid, they accept something less than they should.”

Where we’re going in the time frame of 2015 to 2020 is critical, Pachter believes. “Content will be available anywhere, on any device. Devices are getting more powerful — you’re not going to need a PC” for most applications, including games. TVs will become more connected. Packaged goods will still exist, so long as there’s still a market for single-player games and publishers remain greedy.

“Consoles have to adapt, or they’re going to go away,” Pachter asserted. Pachter believes big publishers will be looking for ways to get the revenue that Microsoft and Sony currently get for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. “Activision’s going to say, ‘if you don’t have an Xbox, buy Call of Duty on the PC and play on our network for two bucks a month. Activision would rather keep all the money, obviously.”

Pachter sees this desire to keep all the money leading to big publishers looking for ways to cut consoles out of the loop, even to the point of sending controllers to households along with a game purchase. He believes they will also offer some sort of cloud gaming solution. “They’re going to do it, because they’re greedy,” Pachter said. “When you look at Sony’s PS TV, that’s really console gaming without a console. PlayStation Now is kind of console gaming without a console. Sony is thinking this through, they see the future.”

“Consoles are going to lose half of their share, and the market is going to grow a lot,” Pachter continued. He sees the future as a hybrid model, with roles to be played by mobile devices, set-top-boxes or microconsoles, and consoles, but the era of console domination is over. “Right now there’s 1.7 billion smartphones out there, there’s 260 million consoles. The number of people playing games has gone up by an order of magnitude, and I think it’s going to go up again. There will be 4 billion people playing games in the very near future.”

Pachter saved some of his choicest remarks when asked by the [a]listdaily about Nintendo’s place in the future of gaming. “Nintendo’s got a ton of cash, they’re not going away,” Pachter said, stating that bankruptcy for Nintendo is “not possible.” He enumerated Nintendo’s failings, though. “Nintendo still has not figured out online multiplayer, though Mario Kart now has multiplayer. Nintendo hasn’t really ever figured out anything digital, though there are Pokémon trading cards going digital for the first time. I read about Mario Kart DLC about a week ago, and it had never occurred to me that there had never been DLC in a Nintendo game before. That’s mind-boggling to me. They are more than a decade behind the curve, and they are so insular that there’s no desire internally to actually learn from others.”

“There’s no place for Nintendo,” Pachter concluded. “There’s a place for their content, there’s no place for a Nintendo device. Nintendo hardware goes away, because nobody cares. The only reason anybody buys Nintendo hardware is because you really want to play their software, and I think they’re going to end up having to abandon hardware because they’re going to get destroyed on the Wii U — they already have been — and they’re going to get destroyed even further on the handhelds. Every kid who wanted a DS ten years ago, the 10 and younger kid, today wants a smartphone. As I said, I think consoles go away anyway, so Nintendo suffers even if they hit the right console the next cycle — there won’t be a next cycle. Consoles are so much less relevant five years out.”