Oculus VR Platform Debuts

With $2 billion in funding from Facebook behind it, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is picking up steam. And this past weekend at the Oculus Connect conference, the device made even more waves, not only with the debut of a new prototype, but also a marketplace that will make it easy for developers to sell their games and applications.

Titled the Oculus Platform store, the space will let developers distribute their virtual reality-related goods with ease, and will be released sometime this fall. The virtual site will be compatible with a number of devices, including iOS and Android, Windows Phone, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

Through the Oculus Platform, developers can bypass the “middle man” and build up a suitable library for those who purchase the headset upon its release, providing one convenient stop to offer the best games and other programs.

Along with the debut of a new Crescent Bay prototype headset — which will replace the developmental DK2 headset that’s already been distributed — Oculus Platform is promising big things, allowing visitors to shop in a holodeck-based space with floating tiles featuring different applications. Utilizing a separate Gear VR touchpad, you can make your selections in this space, and then download once the selection is complete. The store won’t be based on any sort of currency system, as it will act as a portal for developers to “give things away for free,” according to Oculus co-founder and VP of Product Nate Mitchell.

“We want to offer developers a way to get feedback on their content as soon as possible,” he said. It will eventually tie into another marketplace where items can be purchased, though that hasn’t been given a release date just yet.

Oculus will utilize the Platform with its own programs, including the forthcoming Oculus Cinema and the photo-supported Oculus 360, but it will mainly be an open door for the community of developers slowly but surely building up for the device.

The Oculus Platform could, ahem, virtually be a dream come true when it debuts this fall.

Source: TechCrunch

#FoodPorn A Hit On Instagram

You just can’t help but get hungry when you see particular food posted through Instagram. It happens all the time, whether it’s a friend showing you what they ate for lunch, or a new restaurant showing off one of its specialty dishes. Now, a new campaign titled #FoodPorn is generating a lot of views for various restaurants – and making people hungry in the process.

Applebee’s is just one of the many restaurants taking part in the campaign, using Fantographer to encourage diners to snap pictures of their meals, or of themselves eating said meals, and picking the best ones to post on its Instagram account, using the sub-label #FoodPorn. The campaign is turning out to be a success, as the restaurant chain has managed to gain 4,500 new followers. That’s a 32 percent increase, with 25 percent engagement.

“People continue to prove that they’re more into the stuff they create versus the stuff we create,” said Shannon Scott, executive director of marketing communications for Applebee’s.

770 images have been submitted thus far, with just under a tenth of them being used on the account. This will give Applebee’s plenty of fresh content to post to the account well into next summer.

Applebee’s isn’t the only company reveling in #FoodPorn success. Taco Bell has managed to reach out to 12.5 million 18-to-44 year olds over a four-week run with its Instagram ads, providing a 29-point incremental raise in the process. Chobani had a smaller yet still significant outreach, with 4 million 18-to-54 year olds interested in its Instagram campaign from mid-March to mid-April this year, with a 7-point incremental lift.

Though spending wasn’t revealed for the programs, they appear to be paying off when it comes to attracting hungry customers – and the trend isn’t dying down soon. McDonald’s Arabia is playing a huge part, even though it’s posting more about the chain’s iconic arched sign rather than actual food, and other restaurants could be playing a part soon as well.

In the meantime . . . we’re hungry.

Sources: Adweek, Mashable

Only 1.35% Spend In Mobile Games

When it comes to mobile gaming, there are millions of players out there playing every day, with the top games boasting hundreds of millions of monthly players. However, when it comes to actual spending in said games, there’s a steady decline that shows no signs of increasing.

A study across millions of gamers by mobile-marketing automation firm Swrve indicates that players who pay for items in mobile games are continuing to drop, down from 1.5 percent earlier in the year to 1.35 percent in July.

Speaking with GamesBeat, Swrve chief strategy officer Hugh Reynolds and Swrve CEO Christopher Dean explained that 62 percent of all mobile game revenues come from approximately 0.13 percent of all players. Considering the immense growth of the mobile gaming market in general, that’s a shocking number. And to some, maybe a harsh wake-up call, since most developers rely on purchases in free-to-play titles to make ends meet.

“This shows how game companies are dependent on a small group of people who are paying the bills,” said Reynolds. He also pointed out that more consideration should go the way of new users, especially considering that a great number of them don’t provide any given revenue to the game.

Within those numbers, approximately 18.4 percent of unit sales and 32.3 percent of revenue are split with the $10 to $20 that’s spent on a monthly basis. Those numbers are actually increased from earlier in the year, where they sat at 8.2 percent and 22.4 percent, respectively.

The monthly average spent on an app, for those who do invest, is $24.93, which is nearly a $3 increase from back in January. The average player does usually invest about three times a month, with each purchase around $8.35 a pop.

Out of all paying gamers, approximately 50 percent only make one key purchase a month, while a much lower 16 percent invest five times or higher in purchases.

“These findings stress once again just how important it is to consider retention and conversion — rather than simply acquisition — when it comes to building a successful mobile business,” said Dean. “With such a significant percentage of revenues coming from a small base, it is essential to both attempt to increase that number with smart in-game campaigns but also identify your most important players and personalize their experience.

“One interesting finding was the growth in ‘mid-tier’ SKUs [stock-keeping units]. The data suggest that users are more willing than ever before to make relatively significant one-off in-app purchases in mobile and that developers should start to consider this type of purchase as core to their business.”

Reynolds concluded, “You have to identify the people who generate revenues, understand those people, build a relationship with them, and give them the marketing campaigns and user experience that they expect.”


Source: VentureBeat

Xbox One Launch Delayed In China (Updated!)

Updated: The revised launch date has been announced as September 29th.

While the Xbox One has seen a successful launch in many regions around the world – including the U.S., where it continues to be a hot seller – there are some regions where it’s still running into trouble. The system is selling very slowly in Japan; less than 30,000 Xbox Ones were sold in the first week, compared to over 300,000 units for both the Wii U and the PS4 in their opening weeks. Now, a mere handful of days before the announced launch date for China, Microsoft has opted to move the launch of the console in China to the end of the month.

Originally due for release on September 23rd, the system was already reaching out to a large audience, as over 100,000 customers pre-ordered it in time for its release. The company confirmed the delay this past Saturday, indicating that it will release instead the following week, on September 30th.

However, Microsoft won’t leave those loyal gamers hanging, as it has promised that several bonuses will be offered for the delay. These could be in the form of various game releases, although it hasn’t confirmed just what it’s giving away yet. (In the past, both Sony and Nintendo have provided games for players who had trouble with their services, or felt “robbed” when a deal wasn’t quite worth what it was originally intended.

The progress towards the launch of the Xbox One has been “strong and steady,” according to Microsoft, but unspecified circumstances led to delay the launch, to sometime “by the end of this year.” The company still intends to hold a special event that ties in with the launch, where 100 attendees could win systems, but, sadly, they’ll have to wait about a week to pick up their prizes.

It seems as if Microsoft could miss a big opportunity with the launch on Chinese shelves, as Sony currently had no immediate plans to release the PlayStation 4 in that market. That’s not to say it’ll never release, but the company’s prior experience on the market – a poorly performing PlayStation 2 release back in 2004 – probably has the team acting a little more carefully this time around.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Xbox One performs overseas once it finally releases later in the year. And if Sony will try to take advantage of Microsoft’s delays in the Chinese market.

Source: Games In Asia


Showtime’s Explosive New Mobile Campaign

Showtime, the premium channel that airs an exclusive amount of programming, is no stranger to diverse ad campaigns. Last year, in an effort to push its original series Ray Donovan, the company introduced takeover ads that featured banner and full-page displays, which played video clips from the show. However, it’s about to outdo itself with an explosive new application – and boy, do we mean explosive.

Promoting the fourth season of the hit show Homeland (which will return to the channel on October 5), a new mobile ad campaign will premiere on Android devices today. With it, a new feature called tactile effects will be put in play, using the motors within Android devices to trigger physical vibrations during the playing of a video.

So, in other words, when a bomb goes off during the trailer, users will actually feel the effects of said bomb through a quick vibration. As you can see in the trailer below, this could have quite an effect when it comes to utilizing the right kind of advertising.

Sadly, the ad effects are only limited to Android devices at this time, as iPhones do not have the same built-in vibration technology as those devices.

Showtime has purchased the advertising inventory in Slate’s application to advertise the show over a four-week campaign, and is also offering the video presentation through its own Showtime application, which can be found under the “Coming Soon” tab.

This approach to advertising marks the first instance where actual mobile technology – in this case, the motors – are used on an interactive level with a trailer. And you can bet that, if it’s successful, it certainly won’t be the last.

What do you think Is the usage of mobile technology a boost for advertising, or do you believe it’ll come across more as an annoyance

Source: Adweek


GamesBeat 2014 Revelations

The GamesBeat 2015 conference in San Francisco last week was an all-star event, with plenty of interesting speakers providing information, insights and opinions about the current state of the game industry and where it’s headed. While Dean Takahashi of VentureBeat said the theme of the conference was Total World Domination, most speakers seemed to set their sights a little lower — though perhaps not by much.

David Helgason, CEO of Unity, was asked how long Supercell could sustain Clash of Clans as the #1 app in the App Store. “As a friend of all these people I wish them luck,” Helgason said, half-joking, “As an industry person I hope they drop out like a fly. It’s better if things mix up a bit.” Helgason went on to explain that’s he’s hoping for more variation in the top ten list, not that he wanted to see his friends at Supercell fall on hard times.

Michael Pachter was interviewed by Geoff Keighley, in a last-minute substitution for Peter Molyneux who was unable to make it out from England for the show. When asked about the Mojang acquisition by Microsoft, Pachter said “If you have a company for sale, it’s a good time to be you.” Pachter’s not surprised by the deal, given that Minecraft has been downloaded over 100 million times. “It generates a tremendous amount of interest and eyeballs, according to MS press release the most successful PC game of all time,” Pachter noted. Ultimately, he feels, competitive pressure was the deciding factor. “I think they are very concerned about being behind Sony,” Pachter said.

Michael Pachter, Wedbush Securities managing director

Pachter feels that while Microsoft has stated its intent to keep Minecraft going on all platforms, eventually we’ll see special content for Minecraft that only appears on Microsoft platforms. Will Microsoft’s Minecraft offer a subscription service ” I don’t think Microsoft is in this to exploit the Minecraft player and extract more value, so no,” Pachter said. “I think Microsoft is really all about promoting its Xbox division, and smartphones and tablets.”

Pachter was very surprised by Destiny’s poor ratings. “I was shocked at the Metacritic average of 75, if you look at Bungie’s history they have only gotten below a 92 once. It seemed to me this game couldn’t possibly get below high eighties, and yet a 78 is about the best they can hope for. That’s not good enough to support a recurring franchise, they’re going to have to step it up next time. I’m sure they are going to get it right.”

The talk turned to the holidays, and Pachter had some advice. “If you are a gamer and you haven’t bought a next-gen console yet, this is going to be the best holiday ever,” Pachter said. “I will not tell you what Microsoft said to me last week, other than to say there is a holiday promotion coming. I will tell you last week Sony asked me what ‘Do you know what Microsoft’s promotion is ‘ Of course I wouldn’t tell them, but they will figure that out. The best thing that can happen for gamers is these guys competing for your dollars and trying to sell you stuff at ever decreasing prices. Last week you could get a free piece of software with the Madden bundle, that was $120 worth of free software with a $399 console. You will see something like that this fall from both of them.”

EA Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello, in a conversation with Dean Takahashi, had some interesting thoughts on the state of the industry. “One of the things I found kind of distressing is a lot of folks, when they look at mobile, PC, console, they want to regard it as “mobile versus console.” A couple of folks on this stage have outlined the thesis that in a handful of years we’re going to see tablets with CPUs and GPUs every bit as powerful as the current generation of consoles. You’ll be able to put the video from your tablet out to a big screen TV and use your tablet or smartphone as a controller, and then ipso facto it’s the end of console as we know it. I think about that and say, no, that’s just another console. It proves the point. What a console means to me is it’s about playing a great rich game on the biggest and best screen in my household, where I can sit down on the couch and focus on that.”

John Riccitiello

Veteran game investor Rick Thompson of Signia Venture Partners, who has seen his game investments reap more than $6 billion in exits (most recently, FunPlus sold for close to $1 billion in China), gave advice to would-be game entrepreneurs. “My answer to that has changed over the years,” Thompson said, explaining that he used to try to encourage people to get into the gaming business. “Now when people ask me if they should start up a new games company or something else, my answer is always “something else.” The world has changed. The opportunistic days of free users and easy money is long past us. I’m glad to see this maturation take place. The people we are looking for are the ones who are born to build games, who really enjoy games, who really understand their users and are building games that they want to play.”

Venture capitalist and veteran game investor Tim Chang of Mayfield Venture Partners addressed the issue of finding the funding to create games. “I think it’s better than ever because it’s been democratized,” Chang said. “You’ve got Kickstarter, you’ve got IndieGoGo…. there’s so many ways to bring your product to market now and get funding in a variety of ways. As production costs come down, you can launch more quickly. That part is better than ever. Don’t assume that VC is your only path or even the best path for what you’re trying to do. I think Mojang or even Supercell did well because they didn’t take venture capital.”

Amazon’s VP of Games Mike Frazzini talked about the company’s goals for itself and the gaming industry. “Amazon’s vision is to be the Earth’s most customer centric company,” Frazzini said. “We consider content creators a very important set of customers for Amazon. We think very deeply around those customer experiences and what we can create.” When asked about how they design products or new initiatives, Frazzini had a simple answer. “The very first thing we do is we write a press release, which is the thinking part of it… what is the problem we’re solving, or the solution that we’re going extend to customers in very, very specific terms,” Frazzini explained. “When you get that press release to a point where you feel you’ve got something exciting on your hands, then you move forward.”


Images courtesy VentureBeat

Take Buzzfeed’s Cue: ‘If It’s Not Mobile, It Won’t Be Shared’

“Mobile is truly the biggest opportunity in advertising right now. Sorry, but nothing else even comes close,” said Bionic Adversiting System’s Chris O’Hara in a recent column on AdExchanger.

O’Hara and similar voices are echoing what fast-growing media companies like VICE and Buzzfeed have known for some time now. Mobile is not just the fastest-growing, most exciting place to be in advertising right now, but it’s where the hugest opportunities are.

“We see most social traffic now from mobile, so if your site doesn’t work well on mobile, it guarantees that nothing you do will be shared,” said Buzzfeed Founder Jonah Peretti in an interview with Wired.

While mobile consumption of media now trumps all other platforms, last year less than half of Fortune 100 companies even had a mobile-optimized website. It’s time for us marketers to come together with our clients to really embrace this opportunity as an industry. Mobile isn’t just another distribution platform, it is redefinining media and therefore advertising.

In a memo to his staff, Jonah Peretti explained it this way: “We will stay away from anything that requires adopting a legacy business model . . . We are building the defining news and entertainment company for the social, mobile age.”

Ben Huh, founder of viral network Cheezburger had this to say about Buzzfeed’s model:

“If the medium is the message, then the format becomes the message. BuzzFeed is helping to prove the model –media is going through a revolution with billion-dollar opportunities as consumers change their consumption habits.”

These mobile-first media companies are on to something very important that every entertainment marketer should think about as they start putting their plans together for 2015 and beyond. It’s about more than having a mobile website, although that is a good start. It’s about a new way of thinking.

Brands need to look at what kind of content is actually being shared and try to participate in existing conversations. If the brand doesn’t have a credible or relevant reason to do so, it will just end up being ridiculed by users.

With people becoming more cynical towards advertising, advertisers need to provide utility and give them tangible reasons and benefits to engage with their brands. There are still a lot of conflicting opinions about what mobile means and that’s alright because we are debating an actively changing space, but we need to figure this out together.

Getting YouTube Creators On Board With Your Brand

By Lewis Ball

I’m often asked how brands can better promote themselves on YouTube in a way that works for the audience. More and more often, the best approach to reaching your target demographic is by collaborating with one of the countless YouTube creators generating huge viewership on their channels. Crafting a relationship that is effective and mutually beneficial boils down to three main criteria.

1. Respect the medium.

YouTube is unique in how audiences consume information. It’s interactive, immediate, and unfiltered. As such, there is a distinctiveness in the personalities it’s producing. They themselves, and their content, are relatable in a way that their audiences value. Being entrepreneurial in nature, creators understand their unique positioning and the importance in protecting their subscription bases. Brands need to respect this in crafting their approach and pitch.

2. Find a natural fit.

Find someone who is already producing content that fits with your brand strategy. The market for big names on YouTube is massive, with influential creators owning every niche. Finding a match that works with your brand shouldn’t be difficult. Start with the basics, survey their content quality and subscription and viewership counts. Then, after you’ve found viable candidates, look deeper. Find out if they’ve collaborated with brands previously, or if they’ve defined their channel vision. Research the kind of engagement they’re generating with user comments and ratios of likes to dislikes. This will better inform your understanding of the audience and level of authority the creator holds with them.

3. Map out long-term strategies.

Find a balance that is complementary for both parties by focusing on the importance of creating trust, transparency, and constant communication. And get feedback whenever you can. These creators are the ones uncovering the growth formula online, and their insight can be invaluable to your brand’s digital strategy moving forward.

How to build relationships to hit your target markets:

The first thing to consider is that YouTube creators have an authenticity audiences often value. Videos are most often self-made, with DIY production tools. This translates to content that viewers find relatable, giving creators an approachability that mainstream stars don’t have.

Use this to your advantage. Audiences are savvy, and will often spot when a creator incorporates product placements into their video. So instead of subverting this, it’s best to simply acknowledge the sponsorship from the outset and move on. By giving a shout-out to the brand, audiences won’t feel duped and the trust between creators and viewers is protected. People get that YouTube is a business for a lot of these big names, and for the most part won’t walk away from a creator for simply acknowledging they’re trying to make a living. Keeping it transparent and authentic is the best policy to avoid backlash.

In line with this, it’s important to speak the YouTube language when you’re looking to integrate your product. The audience here is different, skewing much lower, and their consumption behavior has been changed by the digital space. Tailor your strategy to fit within the YouTube format by allowing the creators freedom in their promotion. Don’t push corporate language that isn’t right for the content. Let them find a way to organically tie your product into what they’re doing without distracting from the content.

Overall, brands should always consider that working with creators and reaching their target audience is a process and something as an industry we continue to look at ways to improve and adapt. It’s not a one-size-fits all formula and a successful collaboration requires a lot of give and take between the two parties before finding a balance that sticks. Take stock of the unique nature of the platform and the ways creators are reaching audiences and allow them to help you by promoting your brand their way.

Lewis Ball is the executive vice president of professional services at BroadbandTV Corp., a digital media company and multi-channel network operator based out of Vancouver, Canada.

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.


The Chernin Group And AT&T Buy Fullscreen

By Sahil Patel

Otter Media, a venture backed by The Chernin Group and AT&T, has confirmed its acquisition of a majority stake in Fullscreen, one of the largest multi-channel networks in the YouTube ecosystem.

As part of the deal, Fullscreen founder and CEO George Strompolos will continue in his role and “maintain a material ownership stake in the company,” said Otter Media in the announcement. Fullscreen’s full management team will also stay on.

News of Otter Media’s pending deal with Fullscreen, which is said to value the company between $200 million and $300 million, was first reported in July.

“Our relationship with George started over three years ago when he launched Fullscreen in our offices. Since then, George and the Fullscreen team have achieved something remarkable — they have built one of the largest online content distribution networks, as well as created a leadership position in youth-oriented video programming,” said Peter Chernin, chairman and CEO of The Chernin Group, in a statement.

Founded in 2011, Fullscreen’s YouTube network is comprised of more than 50,000 creators, collectively reaching 450 million subscribers and generating 4 billion views per month. Top talent include The Fien Brothers, Grace Helbig, and O2L, Lohanthony, and Connor Franta.

Otter Media was formed by The Chernin Group and AT&T in April with a focus on investing in, acquiring, and launching over-the-top video services. Fullscreen, which is primarily known for its talent services and multi-channel network, has been working on a millennial-focused off-YouTube platform for quite some time now.

The deal is expected to close within the next month. WPP, which along with The Chernin Group is a Series A investor in Fullscreen, will remain a strategic shareholder in the company.

“Peter Chernin’s The Chernin Group (our first investor) brings unparalleled entertainment experience to Fullscreen, which is critical as our world continues to merge with the broader entertainment industry,” said Strompolos in a blog post about the deal. “AT&T is a worldwide leader in mobile, which is a key area of interest for us, and their TV footprint is poised to expand significantly. WPP will continue to serve as our valued partner in the world of advertising and marketing.”


Tokyo Game Show Wrap-Up

The Tokyo Game Show is taking place this week, drawing thousands of attendees to see the latest and greatest to come out of the Land of the Rising Show. The event is of great interest to U.S. audiences as well, as a number of these releases will be making their way to our shores eventually.

So what were some of the better stories to emerge from the show this week

First up, Square Enix finally unveiled a new trailer for its forthcoming PS4/Xbox One title Final Fantasy XV. In the trailer, a new number of cast members are introduced, as well as a visionary new engine that looks to be the best yet for the series.

On top of that, another Final Fantasy project, Type-O, will be released in Japan this March, as well as other regions, and will also come with a playable demo for Final Fantasy XV. There’s word that it’ll have a price attached, although it hasn’t been finalized just yet.

Considering Final Fantasy‘s popularity with the role-playing community, this should be a big seller across the board when it finally releases sometime next year.

D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die, the latest project from heralded Deadly Premonition producer Swery, has made its debut on Xbox One, a surprise coming out of left field from Microsoft Studios. The game is available for download now for $14.99 (which includes the prologue and two episodes) and includes support for both regular controllers and the Kinect device.

It’s a quirky game, to be sure, but one that shows Microsoft’s latest attempt to reach out to a Japanese audience, despite lackluster sales of the Xbox One in that region.

Bloodborne is the latest game from the Dark Souls developers at From Software, and during Tokyo Game Show, it was given an official release date of February 6 for all markets. In addition, a special edition of the game was introduced, featuring a Steelbook case, art book, and downloadable soundtrack for $79.99.

The Dark Souls franchise has had quite an appeal to the “hardcore” gaming audience, so there’s no question that Bloodborne should have similar results next year.

Finally, one of the Tokyo Game Show’s most popular games turned out to be Konami’s highly anticipated Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. In addition to the game getting a 2015 release date for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Hideo Kojima, the series’ producer and director, also confirmed that a clothing line called the Metal Gear Collection 2014 would soon debut, featuring items for both men and women, as well as a new Solid Snake collectible figure and a special iDroid phone case.

Metal Gear Solid will also make its presence known in the forthcoming PlayStation 3/4 exclusive LittleBigPlanet 3, featuring a number of special costumes and missions based within the Konami series’ universe. That game is slated for release this November.

Source: Polygon