OnLive Teams With Samsung For Gaming

Samsung is about to pick up in its gaming audience, as it has announced a deal that will bring a number of AAA titles to owners of its Galaxy Note 4 tablet.

OnLive, one of the leaders in cloud gaming services, has teamed up with the manufacturer for a new program that will provide Galaxy Note 4 owners with three free months of the company’s unlimited gaming service, according to Market Wired.

Using an Android-compatible OnLive app, users will be able to stream their gaming experiences right to their device, provided they have a Wi-Fi or 4G connection strong enough to carry the signal. There are hundreds of titles to choose from in the company’s PlayPack game service bundle, including premiere titles like Darksiders II, along with a bevy of classic and independent games.

“OnLive lets gamers play the games they love, anytime and anywhere, through the power of the cloud. The addition of the OnLive app to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 makes high-end games available that normally can’t be played on an Android tablet. We’re excited to give Samsung customers a taste of cloud gaming with the gift of 3 free months of unlimited gaming,” said Mark Jung, Executive Chairman of OnLive.

The OnLive partnership is part of the Galaxy Gifts Package, which will provide a variety of content, as well as exclusive rewards, to those that own a Galaxy Note 4. Valued at $28.95, the subscription will certainly provide a value to said customers – as well as possibly entice them to renew it past the trial period.

In addition to access to the PlayPack games, the OnLive service will also feature access to CloudLift, which enables the streaming of any PC titles that the user may already own. This will be available for a 7-day period, although additional access can be purchased through the app.

This should no doubt help Samsung get a push in the mobile gaming market.

SuperData September 2014 Report: Digital’s Strong Growth

Analysis from SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen, follows:

  • Kim Kardashian: Hollywood earns $51 million in four months.
  • Upcoming expansion adds 600,000 to World of Warcraft user base.
  • Activision asserts dominance as digital console totals $82 million.
  • Rovio layoffs signify maturing mobile games market, totaling $297 million.

Total spending on digital games came in at $873 million in September, up 8.6 percent compared to the same month a year ago. After a slowdown during the summer months, consumer spending is picking up momentum as we close in on the holiday season. Most notably, social gaming revenues were up month-over-month, and mobile gaming is approaching $300 million in monthly spending in the United States. Activision’s dominance across digital platforms was palpable this month, as several of its key titles produced surprising results, driving digital console revenues to $82 million in September, and offsetting recent criticism.

Celebrity branding the next frontier for mobile games
After its success with Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, which has generated a cumulative $51 million in revenues since its launch in June, Glu Mobile announced it is expanding the title to Facebook. Hoping to maximize its appeal to a female gamer demographic, the company also extended its licensing agreement, including Ms. Kardashian West’s continued support in promoting the game via both social media channels and real-life appearances. The title’s success is expected to trigger a run on celebrity-based mobile and social games. So far, publishers like Zynga have been aggressively licensing slots games that feature well-known television series and films, like Sex and the City and Terminator. Instead of this blanketed approach, however, a targeted strategy and support of a single celebrity is proving highly effective. As the mobile games market begins to saturate, marketing costs have increased. Celebrities play an increasingly important role both in terms of driving marketing and monetization for mobile games, and we expect more celebrities to lend their name and social media prowess to mobile titles in the foreseeable future.

World of Warcraft user base grows ahead of November expansion
Combined with the official cancellation of the long-awaited Titan, which was expected to ascend to the MMO throne once World of Warcraft reached obscurity, Activision has been under pressure to release a next generation role-playing title. In anticipation of its fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, the publisher reported a 600,000 increase in its subscriber base, which is expected to reach 8.2 million by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the publisher is gearing up for the imminent release of Heroes of the Storm, challenging the current dominance of League of Legends (Riot Games/Tencent) and Dota2 (Valve) in the MOBA space.

Digital console surges to $82 million following major releases
Two major releases dominated September’s digital console charts. Activision’s highly anticipated new sci-fi space shooter Destiny was initially met with enthusiasm by consumers. However, player sentiment soured in response to repetitive gameplay, casting doubt on the title’s ability to reach its lofty goal of becoming the company’s next billion dollar franchise. Meanwhile, rival Electronic Arts showed its strength in the sports category with the launch of FIFA 15, becoming the second best-selling title on digital console in September. Finally, after the dust settled following Microsoft’s decision to acquire Mojang, the developer’s cult-title Minecraft still claimed the number three spot on digital console, indicating that the change in management did not negatively affect its popularity.

Rovio layoffs signify maturing mobile games market
With an enviable 200 million active players, Angry Birds is still going strong. But the game has seen a 24% drop since its peak in 2012. Despite this, Rovio managed to keep year-over-year revenues roughly the same, with $192 million in 2012 and $197 million in 2013. We’ve seen similar trends before with companies like Zynga, where revenues initially stay at the same level even as its user base declines, because the non-payers generally are the first ones to cycle out and move on. Over the past two years, the mobile games market has also seen the emergence and dominance of several new mobile game companies, most notably Supercell. By comparison, Supercell manages to generate $892 million in 2013 with a total staff of 132, compared to Rovio’s $197 million with a headcount of 800. Suffice to say that Rovio, while at first the undisputed king of the mobile games market, no longer can claim this position.

[a]listdaily Analysis

The rise in digital games comes in contrast to the continued weakness of retail packaged games, and it’s not a coincidence. Not only are some of the physical retail sales going directly to digital, but increasingly the innovative, interesting and popular titles are coming out in digital form. It’s hard to imagine Kim Kardashian: Hollywood doing a good business on consoles or PC, though it should do well on Facebook. The title’s huge popularity shows there’s a largely untapped market for games made addressable by the increasingly widespread popularity of smart devices. Licenses are a great way to reach these blue oceans of new game players, but the success of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood will be hard to duplicate. Other celebrities may have large fan bases, but the nature of their fans may not connect so well to the nature of the gameplay as it has in this case.

Activision is seeing some good signs with the rising popularity of Blizzard properties, but there’s still plenty of work to be done with Destiny to make it into the property that Activision is really looking to create. Still, regular releases and patches for Destiny shows that Bungie isn’t sitting on its hands by any means. The game will no doubt be a substantially different (and hopefully better) game is six month’s time, and in a year the differences will likely be amazing. Of greater concern is the continuing erosion of Call of Duty, or at least the lower sales that each successive title has garnered in the last few years, despite Activision throwing some of its best studios at the task, and plenty of marketing dollars. Hopefully Call of Duty Online in China can provide a strong new market for the franchise.

Rovio’s retrenchment is inevitable, given that its expansion hasn’t led to a corresponding expansion in the number of hit games it produces. Making a hit game is hard, and making more than one puts you into legendary status. Still, as long as Rovio can keep its costs in line with its revenue, it should be a sustainable business for a long time — but certainly not the competitor to Disney it once boasted of aspiring to become.

U by Kotex Inks Brand/Producer Deal For Smokebomb’s Transmedia Series ‘Carmilla’

By Sahil Patel

Feminine-care brand U by Kotex is executive producing a transmedia series from digital agency Shift2 and digital studio Smokebomb Entertainment based on “Carmilla,” the classic gothic vampire novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.

The series, also called “Carmilla,” soft-launched in late August, with a target of 36, four-minute episodes. Currently, two new episodes of the show air every week on Canadian teen magazine Vervegirl’s YouTube channel . The video content is accompanied by Twitter and Tumblr accounts that continue and expand on the story.

Based on Le Fanu’s novel from 1872, the “Carmilla” online series tells the story of a Laura, young woman — three weeks into her first semester at college — whose roommate mysteriously disappears after a party. Laura soon launches an investigation into the disappearance, for things to only be complicated by the arrival of a mysterious stranger, Carmilla, who claims to be Laura’s new roommate. (Long story short: Carmilla’s a vampire.)

Since launch, “Carmilla” has accumulated 1.2 million views on YouTube, with 3.3 million minutes watched, according to Smokebomb. The audience skews heavily toward females, who account for 91% of viewership.

So it’s no surprise, then, that U by Kotex, which is owned by Kimberly-Clark, would get involved. As part of the brand deal, U by Kotex’s “Save the Undies” campaign has been integrated into the series’ vlog-style videos. For instance, in one particular episode, the two lead characters debate the “age-old question” of whether vampires get periods {link no longer active}.

“Carmilla” is produced by Smokebomb’s Steph Ouaknine and Jay Bennett, and executive produced by U by Kotex and brand agency Geometry Global. Smokebomb’s Jordan Hill co-created and writes for the series.

Shaftesbury Sales Company, the distribution division of Smokebomb and Shift2 co-venture partner Shaftesbury, is in discussions with third-party distributors, the companies said. The series was showcased to buyers at MIPCOM in France earlier this week.

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.

CBS Launching On-Demand Subscription Service

A lot of companies are taking gambles on subscription-based services for mobile devices and desktop use, including, most recently, HBO. However, it appears that an unlikely new player is entering the game as well – the broadcast station CBS.

According to Recode.net, the broadcaster announced its plans to offer a new subscription service that will enable viewers to watch almost any show in its collective, either live as it broadcasts or on demand. The service, CBS All Access, is available for purchase now.

The service won’t require any sort of previous cable subscription. Users can simply pay $6 a month and view whatever programs they wish, from NCIS to The Big Bang Theory, using a number of devices.

This is an interesting move, especially considering that most of CBS’ broadcasting services are available without cost. In addition, viewers can go over and watch most recent episodes on CBS.com without having to endure any additional fees.

There are also certain programs that are being left out, particularly the highly popular National Football League games. There isn’t anything in CBS’ contract with the league that allows it to broadcast games simultaneously on its application.

The service is also only available in certain markets, mainly the 14 cities where CBS owns its local networks completely. These include New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.

CBS CEO Les Moonves doesn’t consider this “a shot across the bow” to cable subscribers, but rather a separate service for those looking for easier access to the network’s popular programs.

Plus, it could also open up the opportunity for Moonves’ Showtime network to offer a similar service. “We’re talking about it,” he said. “We’re obviously getting the technical capabilities ready.”

It’s going to be a matter of time before analysts see if CBS can be as successful with streaming services as it is with network services. The lower cost helps, but the limitations of certain programming and markets leave it up in the air when it comes to availability. And hey, some folks just might want to turn on the TV.

Netflix Kids Shows Have High Viewership

Netflix is a highly popular service when it comes to adult audiences – but now it appears to be a huge hit with the kids as well.

GigaOm is reporting that 75 of the kids-based shows being featured on the service have managed to generate more than two million viewers in the U.S. for 2014, with more than a dozen kids titles going even further with five million viewers, according to information from a letter addressed to investors.

The news follows Netflix’s push to get a younger audience with the relaunch of the Popples animated series, in a partnership with Saban Brands, as well as additional episodes of Winx Club and a forthcoming CGI film and TV series that will focus on the origins of the iconic gorilla King Kong. Dreamworks Interactive is also a huge partner with the channel, and will launch series based on Veggie Tales and Madagascar’s King Julien later in the year.

Despite the push in kids’ programming and original programs, as well as syndicated ones making the rounds (including Friends, which will debut early next year), Netflix recently did take a ding in business. A slower-than-expected growth in viewership has forced some investors to trade some of their shares after hours, resulting in a stock drop of approximately 26 percent.

Still, the company is confident that things will bounce back, and not just based on the power of kids’ programming. Original shows should be a monumental part of the service in 2015, and it will also launch its first direct-to-Netflix movie, a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, in August of that year.

Will that be enough to topple the competition – especially with HBO Go recently announcing that it would launch its own streaming service Only time will tell. For the time being, though, viewers of all ages – yes, including kids – can certainly enjoy what Netflix has to offer.

Apple Introduces Slew Of New Devices

When it comes to getting products ready for a holiday push, Apple is set to deliver. The company hosted a showcase this morning, highlighting a number of products that are available sooner than expected, with some already in stores and others ready to ship out by week’s end.

Leading the charge are a pair of new iPads, including the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3. Featuring an extended battery life, a less reflective surface for outdoor use (56 percent less), the ABX chip technology that powers the iPhone 6 models and a new 8-megapixel iSight camera that supports slow motion filming and 1080p, they’re sure to be hot items for the holidays.

The iPad Air 2 will retail for anywhere from $499 to $699 depending on size (from 16GB to 128GB, respectively), while the iPad Mini 3 will be $399-$599, ranging from 16GB to 128GB. Pre-orders will be taken tomorrow on Apple’s website, and shipped out shortly thereafter.

Apple also announced a new iMac computer with a 27″ 5K Retina display, putting it in comparison to the current MacBook model. It’s also a bit slimmer when it comes to general size, but packs a punch with a 3.5GHz Intel i5 processor and a 1TB drive. The unit is available now for $2,500.

Last but not least, a new model of the Mac Mini has been introduced. The device, which is compact on the same level as the Apple TV unit, includes a 4th-gen Intel CPU, along with Intel Iris 5000 graphics, flash storage and Wi-Fi support, as well as two Thunderbolt 2 ports. This handy little unit is available for purchase now through select retailers, and sells for $500.

It’s nice to see Apple get a jump on the holiday market, and it leaves some wondering just what the competition will do to keep up. Could we see new Samsung devices, or perhaps other companies step up their game Only time will tell.

Google’s Set-Top Box Entry: Nexus

Not content with letting its Chromecast device have all the fun with streaming services, Google has introduced a new set-top box model that could give the likes of Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV a run for their money.

The Nexus Player enables users to utilize a number of streaming services, as well as play original and Android games, as well as other mobile apps in that format. The device, a compact, circular unit that’s easy to hook up, comes with an equally small navigational remote, and will sell for $99. An additional gaming controller will also be available for $39. The box also includes Chromecast functionality for streaming video from other devices.

Nexus will enable compatibility with Android TV, and also works with a number of devices to broadcast directly to your television. The device will support the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Food Network, Travel Channel and more, although “heavy hitters” like ESPN and HBO Go haven’t confirmed their compatibility just yet, according to Engadget.

The device features a 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor, along with 1GB RAM, 8GB of storage and Imagination PowerVR Series 6 graphics, which will enable “console-like graphics” in terms of performance, along with fully-powered 1080p video streaming.

 

Teaser Campaigns Return On Social Media

The idea of a “teaser” is nothing new with advertising, as most companies, like movie studios, tend to offer some form of “tease” with a forthcoming product or project to entice viewers. However, most recently, the band Coldplay decided to take the idea of a “teaser” to the next level, effectively using Twitter to allow fans to play along.

Back in May, the musical group promoted its newest album Ghost Stories by hiding lyrics for new songs in libraries located across nine different countries. In short, it was along the lines of an “international scavenger hunt,” according to Clickz.

Ironically enough, the lyrics were found by fans in books that contained actual ghost stories. And one was lucky enough to be treated to a ticket to see the band live during a London performance.

So where did Twitter fill in to all this Along with providing the initial clues on its official Twitter page it also enabled users to follow along with progress on the search for lyrics using a hashtag, #lyricshunt.

As a result, the campaign has drawn a “significant new follower growth” for the group, and also effectively reintroduced the idea of a teaser campaign to the social media front, where a new audience can be more receptive to it.

Another effective use of Twitter with a “teaser campaign” came from director Colin Trevorrow, who tweeted teaser images from the forthcoming sequel Jurassic World, which is expected to open next summer. Such images included a leaf-covered road sign from the park, as well as a tribute statue to Dr. Hammond, which was timely following the passing of the actor who played him, Sir Richard Attenborough, earlier this year.

Other companies are dabbling in “teaser campaigns” through social media, and as a result, more and more attention is coming from fans. Don’t be surprised to see it used more often, especially with bigger and better products on the rise in 2015.

Warner Bros. Slates Superhero Movies

Considering how marketable the Marvel Universe is with movies – Guardians of the Galaxy has managed to clean up over $650 million worldwide – Warner Bros. is looking for its own cut of comic book profits, as it has announced no less than 11 new DC Comics-based films to come between 2016 and 2020.

The news was revealed during a Time Warner investors meeting this morning, with CEO Kevin Tsujihara confirming the existence of all 11 films. Along with separate releases featuring top superstars like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Shazam) and Jason Momoa (Aquaman), two Justice League films, to be directed by Man of Steel helmer Zack Snyder, have also been planned, according to IGN.

Here’s how the whole slate looks between 2016 and 2020:

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder (2016)

Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer (2016)

Wonder Woman (2017)

Justice League Part One, directed by Zack Snyder (2017)

The Flash, which will star Ezra Miller in the lead role (2018)

Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa (2018)

Shazam, featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (2019)

Justice League Part Two, directed by Zack Snyder (2019)

Cyborg, starring Ray Fisher (2020)

Green Lantern (2020)

Another interesting wrinkle with this announcement is the reboot of Green Lantern. Warner Bros. previously released a feature-length film in 2011 featuring Ryan Reynolds in the lead role. Unfortunately, it was met with harsh criticism and failed to make back its rumored $300 million budget, leading Warner Bros. to the idea that a reboot more loyal to the comics was in order.

Comics in Hollywood are big business for DC Comics right now. Prior to these announcements, a number of its products have been licensed for TV shows, including CW’s The Flash (which has big audience numbers right alongside popular TV show Arrow), Fox’s Gotham and NBC’s Constantine, which will premiere later this month.

Now the only question is if it can keep up with the success alongside Marvel, who recently announced that Robert Downey Jr. would be joining the cast of the third Captain America film. Not to mention the heavy buzz going into next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Winner Of The Console Wars

The news that Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter broke earlier this week was stunning: Apparently Microsoft sold 325,000 Xbox Ones in September, beating out Sony’s 250,000 units of PS4’s sold (both numbers are for U.S. retail sales only). Sony has beaten Microsoft every single month since the two consoles launched last year, and the upset is stunning. Is this a fluke, or will Sony come back to #1 Can dark horse Nintendo ride on the back of Super Smash Bros. to retake the #1 slot Who will win the console wars this holiday season

Before you start placing bets, it’s important to realize that we already know who the winner will be, if you’re counting numbers of units. The answer isn’t Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo. It’s Apple, followed by Amazon, Google, Samsung and a few others — because tablets will be outselling any of the traditional game consoles by at least an order of magnitude (that’s 10x for those who don’t normally deal in astronomical numbers).

Wait a minute — tablets aren’t consoles! Maybe not in the traditional form factor, but in the minds of consumers who will be buying hardware this holiday, tablets will be considered right alongside of consoles. And most families will be buying one or the other — not everyone has the money or the desire to buy two pieces of hardware that can easily run into hundreds of dollars. Parents especially will be weighing consoles against tablets when making holiday hardware purchases, and traditional consoles have a number of disadvantages.

In order to understand how this might be the case, let’s look at the cost comparisons first, because that’s often where people start. In the $99 to $150 range, we have microconsoles like the Amazon FireTV and the new PlayStation TV, as well as other Android-based consoles like the Ouya. The PlayStation TV can play nearly any PS Vita game, plus with PlayStation Now it will have available a large number of old PlayStation games. Certainly in terms of deep games the PS TV has it all over its microconsole rivals — except for price. Games for the PS TV are going to be in the range of $20 to $40, for the most part. Meanwhile, the FireTV is getting an increasing number of interesting games, many of which are free or somewhere in the $3 to $7 range.

Compare either of those to Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablets, which start at $99 for a 6″ tablet at $139 for a 7″ tablet, both of which have pretty nice screens and an excellent array of not just games, but books, movies, TV and music, along with parental controls. Or the FireHD Kid’s Version, which somes with added case protection and an unlimited 2 year if-it-breaks-we’ll-replace-it warranty. Of course, there are plenty of lesser known brand names in the same price range. Yes, these tablet consoles don’t have the same game, but there are thousands to choose from (mostly free or nearly so), and these things are portable, too. Handheld consoles like the 2DS for $130 or the 3DS for $150 have a good selection of great games, but again those games are going to run you $20 or $30.

Parents who aren’t terribly familiar with the types of games available may well choose tablets, based on the availability of low-cost games and the much broader utility and portability offered by tablets.

When you get into the $200 to $300 price range, you start comparing more premium tablets (like an iPad Mini or a Samsung Galaxy or a Google Nexus 7) with last-gen consoles like the Xbox 360, the PS3, and the Wii or even the Wii U. Again, the tablets have greater general utility and portability, while the consoles have the hardcore (but expensive) games.

At the high end of $400 to $500, you get into the top end of tablets like the iPad Air and begin comparing that purchase to an Xbox One or a PS4. The difference in games is stark – but an iPad is a go-anywhere, do almost anything kind of tool that will be a much easier sell to a dubious, non-game-playing spouse. And if you’re serious about gaming, what about Nvidia’s new Shield tablet and controller, designed for the hardcore gamer and also a great tablet

While the games seem to be a key differentiation, even that is eroding. You can now find older console games like the Final Fantasy series or BioShock on consoles, and more will be coming. Blizzard’s hot card game Hearthstone is racking up amazing numbers on mobile, and converting many hardcore gamers to that new form of console. Check out this list of 21 great games for iOS, and this list of 87 great games for Android — you’ll find plenty of familiar names there, as well as some terrific new ones. Great gaming experiences are right in front of you, even for hardcore gamers. Try Kingdom Rush out for some simple tower defense fun, but the strategy gets very interesting.

Even new games like Skylanders: Trap Team now have a tablet version identical to the console version, complete with Bluetooth controller — at the same price as the traditional console version of the game. Minecraft Yeah, mobile’s got a version of that. If you have kids in the right age range, the idea of a tablet where they can be off in their room playing Skylanders, liberating your TV for your usage, may be a killer app.

When we’re talking about winning the console wars, it’s really about numbers. Apple sold over 26 million iPads in the fourth quarter of last year, and it will likely do that again with new iPad models on the way. Xbox One or PS4 sales will probably be in the 2 million range, so Apple has them beat by ten times. Amazon will probably sell 10 million Fire tablets over the holidays, though it’s hard to tell since they never release numbers. But in any case, it’s clear that tablets will easily conquer hardware sales numbers.

Sure, but are tablets really gameplaying devices When Digi-Capital reports that 67 percent of tablet time is devoted to playing games on them, and it’s by far the most popular app category, I think we can say the answer is yes. And since 75 percent of all app revenue is coming from games, the billions of dollars in mobile gaming is looking pretty competitive to consoles. While tablet game revenue won’t be passing console game revenues for a while, the gap is closing.

The console wars are pretty much decided, and tablets are the winners. The only question for game publishers now is how they’re going to take advantage of it, and how fast they can move over.