iPhone 6 Could Bring In New Advertising

We’re just under one week away from Apple’s new showcase, which will take place on September 9th. It’s here that the company is possibly going to show off its new, larger iPhone model, as well as its debut in the smart watch market. However, the bigger focus will probably be on the new iPhone – and it’s something that marketers may want to watch out for.

With the devices reportedly clocking in with 4.7 and 5.5-inch screen displays, there’s greater capacity to creating custom advertising for the device, enabling users to still go forward with their experiences while ads appear somewhere around the screen.

“Folks gravitate to the larger screen, and some think ‘banner ad’, but that’s outdated thinking,” said Gian LaVecchia, managing partner at MEC. “We’re seeing programming delivered through mobile feeds. And there’s going to be a new richness to the canvas.”

Although company plans haven’t been revealed yet, Facebook does intend to launch a custom experience for the new device. Proof of this lies in the Hyperlapse app, which works on Instagram but actually utilizes Apple’s technology.

Changes to the iPhone’s design will actually cause quite a ripple, as more than 40 percent of smartphone users could be affected, according to a report from comScore. With screen adjustment and changes to location tracking in terms of policies, there could be new ways for marketers to work on mobile advertising. The new services around the iBeacon, which has also been rumored for reveal, could also open up new opportunities, such as being able to monitor health and push certain pharmaceutical brands as a result.

“We know pilot programs are taking place, and there’s a lot of activity testing going on with brands and the iBeacon,” said Alan Simkowski, vice president of mobile solutions at GMR. A lot of companies are already trying out said program, with Faberge, Tribeca Film Festival and the Orlando Magic rumored to be on board.

One other interesting note is that the new device could light up with notifications, giving users a reason to check it more often. “With enhanced notifications, it’s even better for brands and retailers,” said Simkowski. “On the brand side, there are opportunities to engage people based on their location if they opt in. Then it’s clear sailing.”

We’ll know more about Apple’s devices next week.

Source: Adweek

What Marketers Can Learn From The Science of Cinema

Movies have a way of really sucking us in to the experience, whether it’s by superb visual effects, an intriguing story, or some actor’s performance that you just can’t take your eyes off of. However, some moves pull off an even bigger trick – they somehow get you to empathize with certain characters, depending on what’s happening.

Talma Hendler, a neuroscientist with the Tel Aviv University in Israel, spoke about such an occurrence during a recent event hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. One example Hendler used was with Darren Aronofsky’s drama Black Swan, explaining how Natalie Portman’s ballerina character is stressed beyond belief while competing against another dancer for a starring role in a play.

In that time frame, she hallucinates, thinking feathers are poking through her skin, meaning that she actually believes she’s becoming part of the play. “My suggestion to you is that as Nina is getting crazier and crazier, the audience experiences something like schizophrenia,” said Hendler.

Aronofsky was actually on stage with Hendler when she said this, but took it as a compliment. His films have always had some sort of emotional factor about them anyway, whether it was with a mathematician going crazy in Pi or Mickey Rourke’s character pushing himself to the breaking point in The Wrestler.

“We’re always thinking about how to get into an emotional state, moment by moment, and how to bring as much of the audience along with us,” Aronofsky said.

With the study, movies can actually be helpful when it comes to studying the fluctuating emotions in real time, and what’s happening with brain activity as a result. Empathy plays a big part in this, broken into two different halves.

The first is mental empathy, in which audience members step outside of themselves and think about what another person may be going through. The other kind is embodied empathy, in which someone feels a more sudden emotional punch if something is happening to a character on-screen.

Another clip from Chris Columbus’ Stepmom was also used, demonstrating the sadness felt for Susan Sarandon’s character at one point in the movie, with a lot of emotional activity running high.

With actual brain studies as being part of the report, audience members were able to see just what kind of impact was being made with these films, through both types of empathy. However, Aronofsky felt that there’s an alternative interpretation at hand, believing that audience members use mental empathy in terms of trying to contemplate what’s happening. “The audience is going, “What’s happening Is she really transforming into a swan ‘ and they’re slowly discovering that we’re really going to go for it,” he said.

Marketers should be able to see the implications here for creating marketing campaigns that create a greater impact and better engagement.

More details on the report can be found here.

Source: Wired

Cartoon Network Teams Up With Game Creator

It’s funny how a little KickStarter project can actually find a great deal of success, especially with the right business partner in tow. That’s certainly the case with Pixel Press, an application that got its start on the crowdfunding site, driven by Robin Rath and Josh Stevens.

After it met its funding, the company Pixel Press has gone on to produce its first app, a game creation tool. Now, Cartoon Network is using the team’s services for a new mobile game, one that was well received this past weekend at the PAX Prime event in Seattle, Washington.

Adventure Time Game Wizard allows players to control the show’s two main characters, Finn and Jake, as they thwart enemies through a side-scrolling adventure. The game works in a similar manner to Pixel Press’s Floors app.

Cartoon Network actually stumbled across the company when the Digital team’s partnership manager, Ryan Harwell, found its KickStarter page. Soon after, a partnership was formed.

“Our shows have a unique voice, and we want to carry that to our digital products,” said Chris Waldron, vice president of Cartoon Network Digital’s team. “When we set out to make games, we want to do something new and novel, and the best place to find some of that is through independent developers across the world.”

The move has been beneficial for Pixel Press, allowing the team to show off its game creation tool and possibly move forward with even more developments. Two additional game creation apps, Quest and Tracks, will further showcase what it can do in 2015.

“It’s been an exciting journey for us,” said Rath, co-founder and CEO for the company. “The joy of building a game, working with awesome characters like Jake and Finn, and then putting it out there for others to enjoy. It’s exactly the excitement we want to replicate for all our creators.”

The game should be out soon for mobile devices.

Source: Recode.net

PAX Prime 2014 Recap: Fun For All

We’ve previously talked about the Penny Arcade Expo shows – PAX, for short – and how this year’s Seattle event, PAX Prime, would be beneficial for all parties involved, including attendees, fans and companies alike. Well, after going through all four days of the event throughout the entire Labor Day weekend, I can easily say that it’s an event that lives up to the hype.

PAX is the sort of event that thrives on its community. You have developers and publishers eager to get its products into the hands of gamers, including Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, as well as “indie” publishers that don’t often get exposure in those circles, giving them a chance to talk to the fans directly. This weekend’s event definitely had plenty of people around to chat with.

Perhaps the biggest highlights from the show were the new announcements. During a lively PAX panel (in which president Randy Pitchford accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and doused himself with water on-stage), new downloadable content for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel was announced; Deep Silver announced the newest entry in its comical action series Saints Row, with this chapter taking place in Hell’s dominion; and Harmonix presented a new music/rhythm shooter for PC called A City Sleeps.

Those who weren’t attending PAX also got to partake in plenty of gaming action. Nintendo hosted a special event for its Legend of Zelda combat game Hyrule Warriors, coming later this month for Wii U, that brought fans out in droves. Harmonix also hosted a special Disney’s Fantasia: Music Evolved area at the Manchester Hyatt, where different songs and play styles could be explored.

And, again, smaller developers found plenty of exposure in the spotlight at the event. James Silva’s new game, the action-based side-scrolling Salt and Sacrifice, looks to be one of the PlayStation 4’s most promising titles. Devolver Digital’s Titan Souls could easily be an adventure game that reminds players of the Legend of Zelda games of old. And the space shooter Galak-Z could be a real head-turner when it debuts in early 2015.

PAX Prime was certainly a success, and fans won’t have to wait long for the next show, as PAX South is set to debut this January in San Antonio, Texas. Bring on the community.

Source: PAX

This Week’s [a]list Jobs – September 3rd

[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:

  • NBC Universal – Manager, Branded Entertainment (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • Amazon – Brand Specialist, Toys and Games (Seattle, Wash.)
  • NAMCO BANDAI – Brand Manager (Santa Clara, Calif.)
  • Dolby – Associate Brand Manager (San Francisco, Calif.)

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

Niantic Labs’ ‘Ingress Obsessed’ Video Marketing

Niantic Labs has been experiencing great success with its location-based game Ingress, drawing large crowds to regular events and creating a dedicated fan base. Downloaded more than 5 million times on iOS and Android devices, Ingress, the massively multiplayer real-world mobile game, has seen players from around the world come together to overcome tremendous odds and achieve amazing goals. Google’s Niantic Labs (an in-house startup) has been producing two shows based on the game with excellent response from the fans. The shows, Ingress Report and Ingress Obssessed, are posted on YouTube, and offer two different views of the Ingress game. Ingress Report is for the hardcore player, being an inside news report of the events in the game. By contrast, Ingress Obssessed is designed to introduce people to Ingress, following the adventures of two sisters as they play the game.

Ingress Obsessed Season 2 is packed to the brim with these candid moments of players banding together for an adventure of a lifetime, according to Niantic. John Hanke, founder of Niantic Labs, spoke with the [a]listdaily about Ingress and its future.

These shows are obviously done with great care and a lot of effort. What lead to the decision to create these shows around Ingress?

When we created Ingress Report, which we’ve been doing for well over a year at this point, it really showcased the player community. After we launched Ingress we really didn’t know what to expect. We really felt that the strongest thing about the game was the community it engendered. We felt like a show that brought that to the forefront, where we could show other players playing the game, we could feature activities and missions that people had gone on, that would be a great way to spread the word about the game. The Ingress Report had a second mission to guide people along this rather complicated narrative. Because we tell the story in the form of an alternate reality game, it comes out piecemeal. Which can be very engaging, very deep and very cool, but it’s also complicated. So we developed the Ingress Report, which lets us summarize and recap and and allow people to keep up with the story.

Ingress Obsessed came out of the idea to take one aspect of the community and go further with it. That is the aspect of the user mission, these cases where users get together and they decide it would be really epic or awesome to go do a specific op together, and they get together and they plan these things, sometimes for months, and then they go out and execute them. It can mean international travel, it can mean all kinds of crazy logistics. We love hearing about those things. We kept hearing about ever grander and crazier missions people were going on, so we said ‘It would be great if we could capture this on video.’ We worked on it for a while and developed this idea for a show, there are these two girls who are sisters, they meet up with players, and they themselves are players. Really they’re actresses, but within the context of the show they are players. The real players accept them as players, take them inside their planning sessions, and basically they become part of the team.

What do you think these shows are doing for you?

By showcasing the community they are putting our best foot forward, attracting new users for the game, as well as energizing our existing players. Users love seeing themselves, and they love seeing people they know — it’s a great way to solidify the existing user base. They are our best way to explain to the world what’s cool about Ingress. It’s hard to explain it to other people, and by bringing it to life in the form of a video with an attractive, compelling host, some narrative, some drama, we’re very happy with that in the way it communicates to the world. We have a very high social engagement rate, which is something we measure through comments, and a very high Like rating, so we know people are enjoying the content. We’re frequently picked up by media outlets when they’re writing about Ingress. They really show what we’re doing and what’s fun about it.

What other marketing efforts for Ingress are you doing, besides these shows?

We put on these events, we call them Anomalies, we have them every other weekend in two cities, typically one in the US and one elsewhere in the world. Last weekend was the Czech Republic and Detroit, Michigan. I guess you would call it, in marketing speak, event marketing. We’ll have anywhere from 500 to 1200 people that will come to a city. This last weekend, between the two primary cities and the satellite ones that players self-organize, we had 4500 people at this event. That’s the primary marketing that we do.

We have these events all over the world: Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, one in Bangalore. Those are great marketing tools for us. The people who come really have a great time, they just immerse themselves in Ingress for the day. It’s an active thing where you’re outside, you’re walking, there’s competition, there’s an after party, where we give away stickers and collectible trading cards and comic books. It’s a great way to energize the fan base.

The other innovative thing that we’re doing is that we bought an RV and branded as an Ingress black van. It has a tag, NL1331, that van shows up at these Anomaly events; it was in Detroit this last weekend. We have over 17,000 miles on the van and we brought it into service the second quarter of this year, it’s been very very busy. It’s got some great custom branding on it, it’s a really cool vehicle — people love to come to meetups and have their picture taken with the van and post that to social media. It’s really become a character in the game.

Recently Ingress launched on iOS. What has the response been like on iOS?

We’re really happy with iOS. Not only have we gotten a lot of iOS users, it actually increased our acquisition rate on Android as well. I believe that’s because it’s allowed people who’ve been fans of the product on Android to spread it via their social networks to iOS users as well as Android users. In certain markets like Japan, which is a very iOS heavy market overall, it’s really been a catalyst to break the game out into a very visible hot thing.

What does the future hold for Ingress?

We want to get the whole world off the couch and onto the parks, roadways, and streets of the world. The next thing up for us is Endgame, which we’re working on to launch in October. The game will be a lot like Ingress in that it’s a multiplayer game that requires you to go out into the real world. It has some attributes to it that Ingress does not have, including player-versus-player combat and it has a pretty different feel. There’s a story component to that, there will be an alternate reality game on the web, and all of that will build to a great film launch in 2015 or 2016.

With Ingress the next big evolution this coming month is missions, which will give people the ability to take their favorite portals or field trip cards and turn those into missions that people can complete, for your town or community. We think players are going to have a lot of fun with this. We hope to have that out before the end of the year.

Why Hollywood Can’t Ignore Digital Distribution

By Sahil Patel

Ignore, for a second, about how more and more producers are creating content for digital platforms. Hollywood studios and networks — those still generating most of their revenue from traditional films and TV shows — are also increasingly adapting to digital, because they have to.

If you need just one statistic to explain why, how’s this: Revenues from US subscription VOD streaming services like Netflix and Amazon topped $1.9 billion in the first half of 2014, representing a 26.17 percent increase from the previous year. Revenues from electronic sell-through services like iTunes totaled $671 million, growing 36.84 percent since 2013.

These numbers (and the chart) are courtesy of eMarketer, which pulled data from a report released by the Digital Entertainment Group earlier this month.

By itself, the data shouldn’t be surprising. Netflix has been reporting higher subscriber and revenue numbers for quite some time now, because consumers are increasingly flocking to digital services to discover or rewatch films and TV shows.

What makes all this more compelling, though, is how digital compares to the more traditional means of distributing and redistributing content. According to Digital Entertainment Group, SVOD and EST were the only two formats to see a positive change in revenue from the previous year. Brick and mortar Down 32.68 percent. Rental excluding video-on-demand Down 14.55 percent. Rental with VOD included Negative 11.4 percent. Traditional VOD by itself Minus 5.63 percent.

This is why you’re seeing initiatives like the UltraViolet digital locker service, or TV’s attempt at “TV Everywhere,” or studios experimenting with multi-platform release models for some films.

Interestingly enough, this is also why content costs continue to rise for digital outlets like Netflix and Amazon, and why both have, as a result, ventured into creating original programming.

More and more people are watching movies and TV shows. But less and less are interested in always watching this content the way they historically have. It’s one of the reasons why box-office numbers have been down this summer, and why the 2014 upfront market was pretty weak.

Give viewers what they want when they want it — it’s a popular refrain in the industry, but as the numbers are beginning to reflect, it’s also true.

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.

Red Bull’s New Series Delves Into Video Game Music History

It’s no secret that some of Japan’s greatest and most influential musical exports came in the form of video game music. Its influence, both direct and indirect can be seen in a lot of electronic-based music today. Red Bull talks to some of today’s biggest acts and major players in Japan’s video game music history to bring together a story yet untold.

The documentary series is going to be on Red Bull Music Academy’s YouTube channel and continues in the same vein of content that the channel was previously producing, juxtaposing the old and the new. You can watch the series trailer below for a heady dose of nostalgia and also get a bit giddy to see who they’ve snagged to talk about their video game music faves.

Nintendo’s ‘New’ 3DS And 3DSXL Announced

Nintendo has announced new versions of its handheld gaming consoles, the 3DS and the 3DS XL, which will be available this October 11 in Japan. The new versions feature a number of improvements over the current versions of the handheld gaming consoles, but manage to keep the pricing about the same as the current consoles.

The handheld is slightly larger, in both its regular and XL configurations (called the LL version in Japan), and comes with some hardware improvements, including a faster processor, new buttons, and an improved 3D effect on the screen. The old SNES colour scheme has been adopted for the four face buttons, which are joined by a small ‘c-stick’, a nub-like analog controller reminiscent of the Gamecube’s. On the back of the device are two new triggers, ZL and ZR, which are accommodated by the cartridge slot shifting to the bottom of the lower screen. A built-in NFC (near field communications) chip is included as well, a feature that is already found in the Wii U’s gamepad controller.

The changes to the hardware have clearly been made in order to make new software possible. The extra analog controller is crucial to the gameplay of one of Japan’s leading games, Monster Hunter. Nintendo has shipped an add-on second controller for the existing 3DS in order to play Monster Hunter, but it’s a clunky solution at best. Building that in will enable not just Monster Hunter but potentially a number of other games. Similarly, the additional should buttons will provide more controls for game designers and make ports of other games easier. The addition of NFC is hugely important because Nintendo is about to launch its Amiibo line of figures, which will require NFC. These figures will be similar to Activision’s Skylanders series, which has resulted in over $2 billion in retail sales for Activision – something Nintendo would certainly like to see, and building this into the 3DS line will make it more likely.

More controversially, the CPU in the 3DS has been updated, and Nintendo has already announced a new Xenoblade Chronicles game which cannot be played on older 3DS devices. More games in the future may well require this additional processing power.

Sadly, these new 3DS models will not be making their way to Europe or North America until sometime in 2015. Oddly, the only name they have been given is “New;” the New 3DS and the New 3DS LL are the official names in Japan. Confused We still don’t know if these will replace the current models, or if they will continue to be sold at a lower price point. Perhaps Nintendo will clarify these issues before the new handhelds are up for sale elsewhere in the world.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

Gaming Fights Nasty Troll Infestation

Gaming culture has been the province of teen-age boys of all ages for decades, and it’s only comparatively recently that gaming demographics have grown to include all ages and genders. Regrettably, there are still many repulsive cockroaches that scurry out of dark corners of the Internet to sully the good name of gaming. Recently these actions of risen to the level of criminal activity, and this is something that all gamers and members of the gaming industry need to take seriously.

Anita Sarkeesian, producer of the Feminist Frequency series of YouTube videos, has received threats deemed serious enough for her to leave home and stay with friends, she reported via Twitter yesterday. The tweets, from a throwaway account under the name @kdobbsz, made graphic threats of murder, rape and sexual violence against Sarkeesian and her family, as well as publishing her home address. Sarkeesian reprinted the threats via Twitter, with trigger warnings firmly in place. The video which drew the troll’s ire focused on the use of women as background decoration in games, and that they are often included only to suffer violence.

This occurred during a week in which we saw bomb threats from a hacker group made against Sony Online Entertainment head John Smedley, which caused his airplane flight to be diverted. Other game developers like Tim Schafer have been harassed for supporting Sarkeesian, and designer Phil Fish had his Twitter account and website hacked. A number of prominent game companies had their websites struck by DDOS attacks from hackers.

The recurring, repellent behavior of trolls has started shading into criminal acts that deserve prosecution and jail time. The behavior exhibited by this small group is hurting the entire industry, and it must be condemned in the strongest possible terms whenever it crops up. Criminal behavior like death threats needs to be reported and hopefully prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Those responsible for such commentary and behavior need to be made aware rapidly that they are not welcome and their views are not shared. Disagreement is fine, but it must be kept in bounds. Those crossing the lines should face the consequences.

Let’s not let the trolls ruin anyone’s fun. Companies and individuals alike need to spread the word to stop trolls in their tracks. Help make the game community a better place, please.

Source: Polygon