Mobile Gaming’s Vast Potential

Mobile gaming has transformed the demographic reach of games, and indeed the very image of games to the public at large. Games are no longer the unusual pastime of a few, but something nearly everyone enjoys. Or if they don’t, they know someone who does. Yet mobile games are still barely scratching the surface of what’s possible, in terms of game play, audience, and monetization. That’s why there’s still a huge push among publishers, investors, and startups to create new mobile games — they all realize the potential of mobile gaming, and gaming in general, is still enormous.

The latest figures from the ESA bear this out, if you look at them correctly: Approximately one-third of Americans age 13 and older play video games on their smart phones, tablets, and portable gaming devices, according to new research released today by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). That’s even more impressive when you realize that not all Americans have smartphones or tablets — Nielsen’s survey earlier this year showed about 65 percent of Americans have a smartphone. Worldwide, of course, it’s a much lower percentage. Even the poorest countries are rapidly adopting smartphones, though, as new lower cost smartphones bid to add another billion users to the smartphone base of 1.5 billion.

The rapid growth of smartphones is not a bad thing for current game platforms — it’s additive. Two-thirds of mobile gamers say playing mobile games has not negatively impacted the amount of time they spend on other game devices, such as video game consoles or PCs. Fifty-four percent of mobile gamers say their overall play time has remained steady across devices, while 11 percent are spending more time on other electronics.

“The tremendous growth of mobile gameplay underscores the dynamic and evolving nature of the video game industry,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA. “Consumers want the ability to play anywhere. Our industry continues to anticipate and meet consumers’ expectations by finding new ways to engage users across multiple platforms.”

Mobile platforms are indeed broadening the audience of gamers, according to the ESA study: 22 percent of mobile gamers say they either never played games, or stopped playing before resuming on mobile devices. A total of 46 percent of mobile gamers say they previously played video games occasionally, but were not regular gamers before playing on mobile devices.

The study, conducted among a U.S. representative sample of 3,264 people age 13 and older, also found some other interesting facts about mobile gaming:

  • Among mobile gamers, the most popular games are puzzle (43 percent), card (26 percent), word (20 percent), action (19 percent), and arcade (19 percent).
  • The most popular places to play mobile games: at home (85 percent), in the car (25 percent) and waiting in line (20 percent).
  • Word-of-mouth (50 percent) is the most popular way mobile gamers learn about new games, followed by playing with friends and family (31 percent), and social networking (25 percent).
  • Forty-two percent of mobile gamers purchased a game for a console, PC or handheld because they enjoyed the game’s mobile version.
  • Females (43 percent) are more likely to play games every day on their principal mobile device than males (36 percent).

Yet mobile games are still in their infancy, if you look at the history of games on other platforms. Usually the first games on a platform are simple ones, and over time we see more complex games being introduced — and those games produce greater engagement, and often much greater revenue potential.

Let’s look at paper. Board games date back to ancient Egypt, and while chess and go are certainly deep games, the truly popular board games that came out in the 20th Century were stuck at the level of Monopoly for decades, and only gradually became richer and more interesting. Now there’s a thriving group of strategically deep boardgames (from Settlers of Catan on up, from an array of publishers) that you can play for hours, with every possible genre and skill level presented in fantastically beautiful packaging.

Card games have gone from poker and bridge to Magic: The Gathering, which is now bigger and better than ever (and producing great revenues, too). Roleplaying, the genre born in 1974 with Dungeons & Dragons (derived from miniatures games), has gone from a simple few rules in a slim booklet to massive 400 page tomes with comprehensive rules for magic and melee and all sorts of genres and settings. Even miniatures have advanced, from the elegant simplicity of H.G. Wells’ Little Wars to the hybrid wonders of Golem Arcana.

With electronic games, PC and console games have gone from simple side-scrolling platformers and basic dungeon-crawling to elaborate 3D worlds with immense freedom. By the 1990’s PC and console games were expanding into much greater depth and a wider range of genres and styles of game, following the increasing power of the hardware.

Mobile is still in its early days, where the revenues are dominated by simple puzzle and action games, as we can see from the ESA numbers. Yes, we’re starting to see games with more depth, as Clash of Clans replaces Angry Birds and similar games begin to take up more of a position in the top-grossing charts.

Many game companies are setting their sights on deeper gameplay for mobile, seeing the much greater engagement numbers that deeper games have — and the much higher monetization rates. Why settle for two percent of your players paying you something, when you can dream of 20 percent

Yes, the deeper the game is, the greater the tendency for the audience to narrow. It’s especially true if the game has a complex interface. Yet mobile games have already had a great impact on games on any platform, by demonstrating the value of making games easy and approachable and getting you into the fun quickly. The 20-minute cinematic intro and the half hour tutorial are relics of gaming’s past now.

Mobile games hold out the tantalizing possibility of being able to create greater engagement with an audience that’s an order of magnitude larger than the console audience. No game has really demonstrated that yet, with the possible exception of Minecraft. Yet Minecraft is not a game that depends on virtual item sales, so its success is not directly applicable here.

We need to re-invent popular game genres like sports and first-person shooters and RPGs and MOBAs for mobile platforms. More than that, we need to invent new genres of games that take advantage of all the myriad capabilities found in smartphones — and that take advantage of the deeply personal and ubiquitous nature of the smartphone. Never before have so many people spent so much time with a great gameplaying device. The current mobile game market is educating the world that games an be pretty cool, and fun, and not difficult to start playing. It’s up to the game industry to build on that foundation by creating mobile games that can create deep engagement with a broad audience.

There are exciting efforts in this direction under way in multiple places, and no doubt there are amazing games still to be discovered amidst the thriving indie development community. Yes, making money from a mobile game is hard, but the potential reward for success is large and growing even though the odds of getting there may be shrinking.

It’s a thrilling time to be in the game industry at all levels — let creativity fill your sails as you head out into the vast blue ocean of the marketplace that is taking shape.

This Week In People: September 26

Here are some of the top personnel moves in marketing last week. Our congratulations to these people taking on new challenges!

  • Snapchat has hired top Google communications and government relations exec Jill Hazelbaker, as the startup continues its rapid expansion. Find out more details here.
  • BuzzFeed has appointed Andrew Gauthier to executive producer of BuzzFeed Video, overseeing all shortform and episodic video content for the fast-growing Internet media company. Find out more details here.
  • Twitter has named Kirstine Stewart VP of North American Media Partnerships, expanding her role from head of media partnerships for Canada to encompass all of North America. Find out more details here.
  • Asian gaming giant Nexon has reassigned Min Kim (former CEO of Nexon America) and Ron Moravek (former head of live operations) to a new division of the company dubbed Nexon XP, dedicated to creating Western-focused content. Find out more details here.
  • The National Football League has picked a former PepsiCo marketer as its new chief marketing officer. Dawn Hudson comes to the league directly from The Parthenon Group, a Boston-based strategic consulting firm, where she spent the past five years working in the food, beverage and restaurant sectors. Find out more details here.
  • Bill Carr, who has been with Amazon since 1999, most recently as its head of digital music and video, is leaving the company. Find out more details here.

If you have a submission for this weekly feature, send info to or fill out our Suggest a Story form.

This Week’s #MustReads: September 26

We sort through quite a bit of the fluff out there on the Internet on a daily basis and we’ve found what we think are the most crucial before you head off for your weekend.

Have something else to share Feel free to comment with your contribution below.

YouTube is the Top Spot for TV Shows: Forget everything you know. It’s not Netflix or Hulu and it’s certainly not Amazon. When people want to view traditional TV online, they head to YouTube.

Major League Gaming Gets Its Own Arena: While Major League Gaming has been continuously filling stadiums and proving to be a major attraction, it will finally get its own dedicated space in Columbus, Ohio.

Science Inc. Acquires Upsight’s PlayHaven: [a]listdaily‘s exclusive on how the deal shows the changing landscape in mobile marketing analytics and advertising.

Digital is the Reason Behind Global Ad Expansion: Traditional media is getting slowly devoured by digital and it’s where the ad money is going.

Only 1.35 Percent Spend in Mobile Games: On top of that, out of all paying gamers, only 50 percent make one key purchase a month.

Facebook Ad Revenues are Exceeding User Time: Facebook is getting more than its share of ad dollars with ad revenue unlike anything else in digital.

Ello Might or Might Not Replace Facebook, But the Giant Social Network Won’t Last Forever: Ello has sprung up like wildfire as the network claims to be anti-advertising, providing a direct alternative to Facebook while appealing to those with an eye for design.

The Myth of the Private Naked Selfie: As cloud hacking continues to be in the headlines this week, how will this affect user trust in the cloud and in mobile








Brands Get In On Apple’s #BendGate

They’re calling it #BendGate. When a SquareSpace sponsored video was uploaded to YouTube just 2 days ago showing that the new IPhone 6 Plus could be easily bent with your bare hands, showing that the rumors swirling around about the phone getting bent in pockets was true, the video quickly went viral.

Now the video stands at over 22 million views, and brands other than SquareSpace are seizing the opportunity to participate. Moreover, they’re doing it in some exceptionally creative ways via Twitter and it’s doing wonders for engagement. We’ve gathered some highlights from #BendGate tweets below.

KitKat took it to the next level in introducing a Tumblr on the subject since the candy’s branding is so closely aligned with #BendGate. This is real-time marketing at its finest: Bend Or #Break

On top of that, Conan has begun to poke fun at Samsung poking fun at Apple.

Now Apple and Spider-Man have something in common.

Sony’s PlayStation 4 Sales Boom

Sony is having a great year in its gaming division, while struggling in other business segmentts like mobile and the TV business. The stock has been hammered after Sony revised its expectations downward for the year (from a profit to a loss) because of its strgulling smartphone and tablet business. Meanwhile, games are doing great for Sony, and look to be one of the company’s pillars as it reinvents itself for the future.

According to industry numbers, Sony has managed to sell over 10 million PlayStation 4 systems as of earlier this month, double the numbers of what Microsoft’s Xbox One has sold, and with a better margin than Nintendo’s Wii U with its 7.2 million userbase. Behind these numbers, Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House believes that the company’s profits can rise behind the power of PlayStation, with a possible increase in the video game division’s profit forecast.

“We raised our profit prediction and I hope that’s a trend we can continue, even within this fiscal year,” said House, speaking to Reuters.

The company raised its numbers before, increasing it from 20 billion yen to 25 billion yen earlier this year. This is heavy in contrast to the company’s struggling mobile portion, which announced a 180 billion yen impairment charge, with the sixth profit warning in two and a half years’ time.

The stock shares for the company have taken a nosedive from this, with an 8.6 percent drop in shares down to 1,940 yen. This follows a very brief rally with a 25 percent increase in the weeks before.

Still, high hopes sit behind the PS4, especially with the forthcoming holiday season. Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai hopes the system will replicate the success of the PlayStation 2, which, in its heyday of release back in the early 2000’s, generated a $1 billion annual operating profit.

There are many bright prospects in the game division that could easily increase sales of hardware and software, including forthcoming games like Bloodborne and The Order: 1886. “I do feel we have a higher opportunity to build a higher ARPU (average revenue per user) than with the PS3, and that should make a very strong profit contribution over the life-cycle,” said Hirai.

Restructuring could also play a key part with the business, according to House. “Kaz obviously comes out of the games business. He was in that for 10 years in the States and has a deep understanding of what a healthy ecosystem looks like and what we have to do,” he said. “I think (CEO Kenichiro) Yoshida coming in as CFO has been hugely beneficial to us. He comes from a network services business.”

Here’s hoping the PS4 can really turn things around for Sony, especially on the strength of such holiday releases as DriveClub and LittleBigPlanet 3.

Source: Reuters

Mobile Games Need To ‘Scale Up’

The games industry continues to see a huge push on the mobile front, with 40 percent of all mobile downloads being games, but with 80 percent of revenue reported. That said, there needs to be something more, as Gree’s new COO Andrew Sheppard believes that the time has come for mobile games to “scale up.”

Sheppard recently spoke at the DICE Europe 2014 event in Kensington, explaining that mobile gaming needs to expand in a number of ways. “The nature of growth is changing in a way that’s subtle and often lost in averages,” he said. Mobile still has “tons of scales, tons of growth,” but it’s “not really mapping to any one type of product or gameplay experience.”

However, this is room for growth, as the “industry is only going to get smarter,” according to Sheppard. “You’re going to see new and interesting technology pushed into handheld devices, just like they have console before.”

To power the growing changes of mobile, companies need money and people behind them. “For us, there’s so much benefit to keeping development teams centralized,” said Sheppard. “So what you end up is a network of design, creative, marketing, QA and live ops at a local level, and that’s crucial. You can build a game that works well globally, but that’s not what we’re about – we want excellence in our games.”

Conviction will also play a big part when it comes to creating said experiences. “In the past I think a number of mobile developers have focused on building a number of different games and then finding out where the fun is, where the monetization is, and cashing it,” concluded Sheppard. “Building for scale is a bit more like what you console guys are doing – building something with conviction and going for it, picking your markets first and then going after them.”

Mobile has already seen immense growth over the next few years, with games like the Infinity Blade trilogy and 2K Games’ port of Bioshock leading the charge, but there’s no question that, with the right technology, they can only get better from here.

Source: Pocket Gamer

Vevo Investing In More Original Programming

Considering the heavy investment into original programming for various streaming services (including Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime), it shouldn’t be a surprise that Vevo wants to amp up its own content as well.

The channel, usually devoted to music videos and similar programming, has decided to take a gamble on original programs, as it’s preparing 100 new episodes of original episodes that will make their debut on the channel this fall.

Fan Showdown and High Fives, both in production at L.A.-based Kids at Play, will get fans involved, providing access to a number of prizes. Meanwhile, High Fives will focus more on comedians as they perform music video countdowns. The debut episode will feature Josh Levya, better known under the moniker YoMuscleBoii.

In addition, the animated series A.K.A. is rolling right along, as the debut episode featuring performer Iggy Azalea already premiered. Other recent premieres, Day Off With and Vevo DSCVR, are also generating some interest, especially with Fuze sponsoring Day Off, which follows musicians when they aren’t performing. Vevo DSCVR, in the meantime, takes place in the Dream Downtown’s Electric Room, and features artist Betty Who on the premiere episode.

More episodes will continue into the year, including Lyric Lines, Guess the Video, Lift, Go Shows, Tour Exposed and Hot This Week. Fashion show Stylized will eventually make a return as well, but with a makeover sponsored by Milk Studios, Made and Legs Media.

With this newest season of programming, Vevo’s senior vice president of content and programming Doug McVehil believes it’s seeing the “biggest season of original series to date.” That’s quite a change from when it first started in 2009 as a devoted music channel.

What do you think Will this programming help give Vevo a boost online, or should they stick with more traditional music videos

Source: The Video Ink, Digiday

CREATIVE: The Week’s Best Branded Instagram Videos

Another week, another round of creative Instagram videos that shot up in popularity. Adweek has once again ranked the top ten branded videos from the site for the week, and there are a few familiar mainstays from last week’s list, including the NBA, GoPro, Justin Bieber and The Ellen Show. Without further ado, here’s the countdown . . .

Justin Bieber showed his cooking prowess in a new video that managed to grab nearly 870,000 likes, as well as over 56,000 comments. Bieber continues to command Instagram with a following of over 21,380,000 viewers.

Over on The Ellen Show, host Ellen Degeneres had a fun time with guest Kristen Wiig, singing along to the hit song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. The clip managed to get over 160,000 likes, with over 4,500 comments.

Red Bull is no stranger to some great extreme sports clips, and this week’s was no exception, with an outstanding skateboard stunt by Tom Schaar that has over 43,000 likes.

In the fashion department, Louboutinworld turned a few heads with its Red Sole collection, featuring a number of people walking with red sole-bottomed shoes. Though short, the clip has managed to earn over 30,000 likes.

The GoPro channel was picking up quite a bit this week with a new clip featuring stunt biker Tobi Wrobel in action. This exciting clip managed to get over 147,000 likes, with over 2,300 comments. Go, extreme sports!

With the NBA just a few weeks away from its latest season, the league’s Instagram channel is heating up with plenty of warm-ups. This clip received over 129,000 likes, with over 6,000 comments from devoted NBA fans.

Forever 21 seeks to take its latest line to another level with a new Outware Edit campaign, which launched earlier this month. On its Instagram channel, it’s quite the success with over 68,000 likes.

The latest video from Mercedes Benz takes a close look at AMG GL63, as well as the terrain it’s looking to conquer in the Rocky Mountains. It’s intrigued quite a big audience with its 23,000+ likes.

A new make-up video from Urban Decay Cosmetics showed the creative side to design, and attracted quite a few views in the process, with nearly 16,000 likes and almost a million followers on its channel.

Last but not least, Foot Locker made a few waves with the debut of LeBron James’ newest shoe, fresh out of the Nike Sport Research Lab. The colorway will debut on October 11th, and based on the clip’s nearly 40,000 likes, it should be a big seller.

Source: Adweek


Some Companies Are Rewarding Views Of Branded Videos

It’s always nice to see an incentive that ties in with advertising, whether it’s an offer for a discount on a meal during your next visit or a free promotional goodie given during an upcoming stop-in. Now, it appears a number of companies are embracing a new program that rewards users for simply watching its branded videos.

AMC, McDonald’s, Trident and Hollywood studios are working with video platform Klip Rewarded Video to greet consumers with branded videos, providing a number of achievements to unlock based simply upon their viewing habits.

The platform uses an “achievement moments in apps” system, which presents customers with media content as bonus rewards, which can also tie-in virtual currency to be used on items, as well as special digital coupons.

“Our research showed that the favorability for a brand with a typical mobile banner ad began to decline with the more people who were exposed to it,” said Brian Wong, CEO of Klip. “We’re trying to send a message to brand that just being in mobile is not sufficient; you may cause a detrimental effect.

“We see an opportunity and responsibility to create a product to increase favorability, which is what we see with Klip rewards,” he continued.

Klip Rewarded Video has come in handy for many companies to reward fans and provide more worthwhile experiences when it comes to branded videos. With it, user engagement has increased, and direct-to-retail consumption has picked up as well, generating actual moments instead of just general impressions.

AMC has already hit the ground running with the program, advertising its fourth season of The Walking Dead, which premieres next month. Once users reach a particular level with the tie-in game Into the Dead, they get the ability to watch a special clip promoting the forthcoming season.

The videos also provide the ability to tie storytelling in. “I really think the tools allow brands to story tell are quite limited,” he said. “The story needs to be oriented around the user experience.”

Hollywood studios have played a big part as well, with unlockable bonus clips from such films as Hercules and The Wolf of Wall Street.

What do you think Would a rewards program such as this make advertising videos much easier to consume

Source: Mobile Marketer


YouTube Extends Mainstream Ad Efforts Across The Pond

By Sahil Patel

YouTube’s efforts to advertise its top creators and channels across mainstream outlets won’t be restricted to those in the US. The company plans to run similar ad campaigns for top talent in international markets, beginning, naturally, with the UK.

According to The Guardian, YouTube will soon launch multi-platform ad campaigns for ZoellaThe Slow Mo Guys, and Vice News in the UK. The plans include ads on TV, print, bus and metro stations, and billboards, as well as online display ads across YouTube and partner publishers including Glamour, Wired, Sky Sports, and The Guardian.

Overall, the effort will be exactly like what YouTube has been doing states-side the past few months, with beauty gurus Michelle Phan and Bethany Pota, cooking star Rosanna Pansino, and music series “Epic Rap Battles of History,” among those being promoted.

Notably, Vice News, which was part of YouTube’s second round of ads in the US, will also be advertised in the UK. Joining the news brand are Zoella (real name: Zoe Sugg), a top beauty guru with more than 6 million subscribers and The Slow Mo Guys, slow-motion experts with nearly 4.4 million subscribers.

YouTube’s next round in the US will include ads for Freddie Wong’s hit series “Video Game High School,” which returns for a third and final season in October.

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.