‘The Book of Life’ Game Part Of Mobile Marketing Strategy

Video game tie-ins with popular movies are nothing new, but it’s always good to see one that manages to have content in common with the film it’s based upon.

That’s certainly the case with The Book of Life: Sugar Smash, a mobile game that will coincide with the release of the animated film of the same name, which hits theaters on October 17.

The game is a partnership between Fox Digital Entertainment and SGN, the team that released such popular mobile efforts as Cookie Jam and Panda Pop. The puzzle-based gameplay should easily catch on to both casual players and fans of the forthcoming film, and the price should be easy to swallow, since the game will be offered for free, according to Biz Journals.

“The collaboration potential for mobile gaming and Hollywood entertainment is massive. We are thrilled to partner with Fox to develop a new avenue for ‘The Book of Life,’” said SGN founder and CEO (and MySpace founder) Chris DeWolfe. “Additionally, through the appealing gameplay of ‘The Book of Life: Sugar Smash,’ we can expose a new audience to the film, and vice versa.”

Sugar Smash’s” virtual worlds correspond with the film’s fantasy realms with levels varying in difficulty, objectives and challenges. Players can instantly share and complete for high scores and accomplishments on social media.

“SGN has been a great partner in creating an enchanting game that maintains the integrity of the film’s storyline and unique style and tone,” added Rick Phillips, senior vice president of Fox Digital Entertainment. “With this game we are able to broaden the film’s universe, enabling the audience to interact with the story long after they’ve left the theater.”

The two companies will split revenue from the game through in-app purchases, and it will no doubt give the film, produced by Guillermo del Toro, a promotional boost. Not that it needs it, as you’ll be able to spot the tranquil beauty and humorous dialogue featured in the trailer below.


2K Announces Details Of ‘Evolve’ Big Alpha

Evolve is now slated to be released on February 10, 2015, but a new announcement from 2K International today, coupled with a trailer will have gamers champing at the bit for this hotly anticipated title.

Launching this Halloween, October 31, gamers on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC gamers will have the opportunity to play Evolve during the Evolve Big Alpha event. Xbox One gamers only will be offered exclusive early access to The Big Alpha on October 30th.

The teaser trailer below, helmed by 2K marketing exec Nik Karlsson is 100 percent multiplayer gameplay choreographed, captured and edited in collaboration with Ayzenberg.

“The Evolve game will feature a variety of maps, one of which being a large jungle, with some industrial elements where players can take shelter. There are various power ups that can be taken by both hunters and monster players through killing the local wildlife,” said 2K International in a press release.

“Victory is achieved for the hunters by killing the monster, while the monster can either kill the four hunters, or complete a secondary objective such as destroying a human base or power plant. The hunters are made up of four classes: a trapper, a support, a medic, and an assault class. Each class will contain a variety of different hunters with different play-styles.”

In Evolve, 4 players play against a player-controlled monster, giving gamers a different perspective to choose from.


Snapchat’s Big Plan? Untargeted Ads

At Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday, Snapchat’s 24-year-old CEO, Evan Spiegel, unveiled his plan to bring advertising to the platform.

“We’re cutting through a lot of the new technology stuff around ads to sort of the core of it, which I think has always been telling a story that leaves people with a new feeling,” Spiegel said. “They’re not fancy. You just look at it if you want to look at it, and you don’t if you don’t.”

In other words, these ads won’t be targeted.

Currently the platform is receiving due attention from notable brands like Taco Bell, Karmaloop and others who have gained a sizeable following by creating content that is made specifically for Snapchat and worth the view. As Snapchat doesn’t have a discovery feature still like Instagram, the only way to reach an audience is by pushing out a brand’s Snapchat info on other social channels like say, Twitter.

Reportedly, Snapchat has been in talks with marketers and multiple media companies to roll out Snapchat Discovery at some point this year, which will curate news, ads and other content for the platform.

Some are calling this new ad business plan outright spam, while others are just happy that Snapchat is giving the mobile platform ad units to begin with. The reason for this could possibly be due to how little Snapchat asks of their users when signing up for an account and also the nature of the content on Snapchat itself, as everything created is also destroyed.

Still, it is a wonder why Snapchat isn’t using location-based targeting for this new ad unit.

Now to wait with bated breath to see how users react to this untargeted advertising and stick around for more. In spite of this, Spiegel’s attention to keeping Snapchat’s cool factor alive and well is not an after-thought:

“One of my pet peeves over time has been the technology industry has tried to sell counterculture, sell the revolution, and we have been really resistant to doing that.”

Google’s Street View Comes To The Arabian Desert

Thanks to Google Maps and Street View, as long as you have a mobile device on you, you are in little trouble of getting seriously lost. Now the same is true for even the Arabian Desert, in particular the Liwa Oasis area in Abu Dhabi, a sea of shifting golden sands where camels are the vehicle of choice.

Of course, let’s be real: where you are more likely to experience this is from where you’re sitting right now, but this might be the push you needed to get out and experience the UAE first hand.


Warner Bros., DC Entertainment And OTOY Create A ‘Batman’ VR Experience

A new immersive entertainment experience emerges from the partnership of Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, and OTOY to take fans inside the critically acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series. This will give fans a much more initimate view of Batman’s universe using the wonders of holographic video for virtual displays like the Samsung GALAXY Gear VR, Oculus Rift and other light field displays.

“[Bruce] Timm is guiding the meticulous adaptation of the original 1992 designs into a fully realized universe with volume and depth. OTOY is also developing tools that perfectly preserve the show’s distinct visual drawing style in 3D space, without requiring any post-production work or manual artist intervention,” said OTOY in a blog post {link no longer active}.

“The project represents the first of many commercial endeavors leveraging OTOY’s rendering and holographic streaming technology which aim to deliver next-generation media and entertainment experiences to emerging content platforms in the coming years.”

Check out OTOY’s demonstration of the holographic video technology to get a feel for what they are creating:


The project is still underway and is slated for the first release this winter. Here are some stills:

Image Source: OTOY

CREATIVE: Mercedes Ad Reenacts ‘Dirty Dancing’ For The Vito

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if ‘Dirty Dancing’ was recreated by vehicles, now’s your chance. To the tune of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” the classic movie’s main theme song, a Mercedes truck and car court each other and… consumate their love. Out pops the Mercedes Vito, truly born from their “boldest genes.”

{video link no longer active}

Teens Not-So-Interested In Wearables After All

Teens continue to favor Apple with their phone of choice, with 67 percent actually owning iPhonesa and 73 percent saying that the iPhone will be the next phone they buy. However, despite Apple being the top consumer brand for young folks, the excitement isn’t as high for Apple’s foray into wearables with the Apple Watch according to Piper Jaffray.

Only 7 percent of teens own a smartwatch and 16 percent want to buy the Apple Watch. Why is this?

This could be due to a generational gap of younger consumers not used to wearing a watch on their wrists. Cell phones had made watches practically obsolete and relegated to being a style accessory instead of a necessary item. Due to this, teenagers will likely be swayed if the Apple Watch proves to be another useful and worthy screen.

The survey also found that 8 in 10 teens play mobile games, which is down from surveys covering this subject previously.

Image source: Apple

LA: The Epicenter Of Digital Media And Tech Innovation

by Peter Csathy

Virtually every week — everywhere you look — investors are pouring boatloads of money into content-focused digital media and tech companies.

The latest examples  Otter Media’s acquisition of leading multi-channel network (MCN) Fullscreen for a deal reported to value the company up to $300 million — and Corus Entertainment’s lead position in a new $12 million investment in women’s-focused MCN Kin Community.

And it’s not just the usual suspects like studios playing this game. Major brands like Marriott and previously pure leading NorCal tech-focused VCs like Andreessen Horowitz have entered the fray.

For content-first digital media companies, 2014 is as easy (and rightfully so!) as 1-2-3: (1) Disney’s earlier acquisition of MCN Maker Studios for up to nearly $1 billion; (2) Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality Oculus Rift; and (3) Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats and Beats Music.

And, let’s not forget all of the other hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital and strategic investment into the MCN space alone (here is my overall “cheat sheet” that summarizes all of these deals).

I was speaking with my wife, Luisa, about all of this as I drove from one meeting with a digital pioneer in this brave new media world (Kin Community’s founder/CEO Michael Wayne) to another (Pluto.tv’s CEO Tom Ryan). I expressed my excitement about what I absolutely believe is a seminal and transformational moment-in-time for the media business. I marveled at the sheer entrepreneurial energy and innovation that Los Angeles and SoCal in general is exuding right now. For me, someone who has been immersed in the media/tech space for 25 years, these are uniquely exciting times.

You see, I like to get down in the streets — down in the trenches with those entrepreneurs and where that innovation is happening. I like to visit them in their company offices. To “feel” how they feel. To see their teams in action. And, after scores of meetings, I am absolutely convinced that we will look back at this year — 2014 — as being the point where the long-anticipated promise of the “convergence” of media and tech became a mainstream reality. Where NorCal investment finally met SoCal content-driven opportunities. When content finally was understood to be king again — precisely because of new technology that enables the creation of new experiences, new ways to distribute those experiences, and new ways to engage with and in those experiences.

This is a new golden age of content. Plain and simple. It is not content divorced from tech. Not at all. It is content fueled by it. It is creativity on a mass scale that involves both the left brain and right brain.

And its epicenter is LA.

As I continued speaking with my wife on my five-mile (should have been 10 minute but instead was 30 minute) drive, we ruminated about our own kids living in these times. About how much fun they would have as young people raised in this digital world — and able to participate in it as more than consumers. As entrepreneurs themselves, if they so wish. For now, they are a bit young (15 and 12, respectively).

But, for other media and tech-hungry millennials, now is a time to harness your passions and fully immerse yourselves in this fully immersive Oculus world. Hundreds (thousands ) of entrepreneurial opportunities and jobs are being birthed amidst all of this investment. They are there for you here and now. Fullscreen, Maker Studios, StyleHaul, DanceOn, MiTu Networks, Kin Community, Tastemade, Collective Digital Studio, Jukin Media, Vice Media, Woven Digital, Pluto.tv, Zefr, NeonGrid, Otter Media, The Chernin Group, AwesomenessTV, Everdream, Eversport, Fanbread, Ninja Metrics, VideoInk, Media Hound, Atom Factory — and, yes, Manatt Digital Media. These are just some of the places where innovation is happening. In beautiful open spaced offices — where the possibilities themselves are wide open.

Yes, Silicon Valley remains a hotbed of innovation and opportunity. But, Silicon Beach is now where entrepreneurial energy and innovation has reached a fever-pitch.

Go West young talented and passionate digital media/tech entrepreneur! Southwest, that is…

 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.

Scary New Oculus Rift Project

By generating a virtual reality in smooth running 3D, the Facebook-bought Oculus Rift enables experiences that users haven’t seen before. And for some developers, it’s a prime opportunity to create something unique – like something that could easily scare your pants off.

A new project from the University of Art and Design in Lausanne has surfaced, with interactive designer Simon de Diesbach working on something new with the Rift headset. With the new program, titled OccultUs, Diesbach looks to deepen the VR experience as we know it, using virtual reality with real-world sounds provided through a sound effects booth that’s nearby.

What’s the goal of the project? Simple – scare whoever’s using it. “With the OccultUs, I wanted to immerse the user in a sensory experience made up of two distinct realities blended together: the palpable reality of the ‘real’ world, and the simulated reality of VR,” de Diesbach explains.

Normally, Oculus VR-based projects enable the user to see a new world, while they can still hear what’s going on in the real one. With this project, however, sounds are muffled, forcing the user to become more vulnerable than with a usual game.

Pepsi Will ‘Do What Hollywood Can’t’ Via Digital Video

by Jessica Klein

Where Hollywood is failing to meet the needs of today’s content consumers, PepsiCo’s CMO of global consumer engagement, Frank Cooper III, says others in the entertainment world will pick up that slack. As he told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman at its annual media conference, TheGrill, “If [Hollywood] doesn’t evolve, someone will fill that place of telling stories, especially across these new delivery systems.”

So who’s filling that storytelling space so far According to Cooper, it’s the likes of Maker Studios and Fullscreen… but it’s not their direction that PepsiCo brands are heading in when it comes to video content.

Maker and Fullscreen represent the aggregation content model, gathering creators and networks that needn’t have anything in common other than the fact that they put out popular videos. PepsiCo, on the other hand, is leaning towards a model that’s “about having a particular cultural point of view and then drawing in creators around that,” explained Cooper. He considers AwesomenessTV an example of this POV-first structure.

“Brands that are within the Pepsi system are moving more towards that model,” Cooper said, “because a brand has to stand for something…that’s where the action is for us.” Thus, PepsiCo is working on platforms where its brands can put out content under a certain cultural niche. Brands need to engage viewers with a story, these days, and PepsiCo’s will be telling theirs online.

A multitude of PepsiCo brands already have YouTube channels, from Pepsi (of course) and Lays to Gatorade and Starbucks.

Notably, the marketer also has a partnership with Maker Studios, an aggregator, to co-create branded content through the Labs@Maker program.That deal was announced during the MCN’s Newfront in May.

Here’s an excerpt of Cooper’s interview at TheGrill: