Nintendo Hopes For ‘Super Smash Bros.’ Smashing Success

Despite the fact that it’s been doing better as of late, Nintendo’s Wii U console still runs into its fair share of struggles, particularly in the face of the far more successful Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles. However, that doesn’t mean the big “N” is ready to throw in the towel yet.

Mario Kart 8 proved to be a huge hit for the company earlier this year, and even managed to significantly boost Wii U sales. Now, another big title could help get it through the holiday season with even more sales – the multiplayer fighting game Super Smash Bros.

The series has been popular since its initial inception on the Nintendo 64, bringing together iconic Nintendo characters like Mario, Samus Aran from Metroid and Link from The Legend of Zelda, who duke it out to prove superiority on an enclosed stage. The game has been successful on every platform it’s released on since, particularly the Nintendo 3DS.

Since its release on that platform last month (this past week in the U.S.), the 3DS version of Smash Bros. has performed admirably, selling 2.8 million copies worldwide – one of Nintendo’s bigger handheld sellers to date.

That, combined with the announcement of a release date of November 21st in the U.S., could provide Nintendo with the killer app needed to push sales of the Wii U. The promise of high-definition visuals, along with online play and a variety of control options (including the re-introduction of the “classic” GameCube controller, which can be bought separately or with the Smash Bros. game in a bundle), could help Nintendo inch out of the doldrums and back into the limelight.

Of course, the company’s still got a ways to go when it comes to making the Wii U reputable, considering that big third-party titles like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Assassin’s Creed Unity aren’t coming to the system. Still, the big “N” has to start somewhere, and Smash Bros. could be the key to defining a great year for the company leading into 2015, alongside the launch of the Amiibo figurines on November 28th and Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker on December 5th.

Source: Nintendo

Microsoft’s RoomAlive Tech Changes The Game

Last year, Microsoft had begun research on a new immersive game technology called IllumiRoom, promising the ability to envelope a player into a deep gameplay experience – all from the comfort of their living room. The project never came into development as intended, but it has led to a new evolution that was introduced this week. Say hello to RoomAlive.

Similar in build to IllumiRoom, RoomAlive extends the game environment produced by the Xbox One console that covers an entire living space, depending on where the system is located. Combining the use of the motion-sensitive Kinect device and projectors that can shoot out images, it creates an augmented reality experience that draws the player more into the experience, rather than simply watching it on their TV screen. The video below details exactly how this works.


‘Move 10 To 25 Percent Of TV Dollars To Online Video’ Says Omnicom CEO

Chief Executive Officer of Omnicom Group’s media operations, Daryl Simm is at the frontlines of the shift from traditional to digital media,

overseeing over $54 billion in advertising and advising the likes of Apple, PepsiCo, Visa and more. Now, Simm is recommending his clients shift a significant portion of their ad dollars from TV to digital video.

“Online video ad spending is growing at a considerably faster pace than overall media budgets have been growing,” said Simm in an interview with Wall Street Journal.

Simm singled out gaming as one market whose ad dollars are shifting at a much faster rate than others:

“It varies by client. If you are chasing gamers obviously you are moving a disproportionate piece of your budget. If you are a conventional packaged goods company, you are not quite at the average yet. We are counseling our clients to move between 10 percent to 25 percent of TV dollars to online video, depending on the target audience.”

The current issue for online video in Simm’s mind is the need for content that is premium and relevant.

“I do think we have hit the apex and we are moving into an environment where there is more talent — actors, directors, producers and brands — wanting to enter the online video space. That holds a lot of promise for online video. The amount of quality online video is still an issue.”

Twitch Exec Discusses Mobile eSports Potential

Before Red Bull crowned Choi “Bomber” Ji Sung the new Battle Grounds Champion, Ben Goldhaber, director of content marketing at Twitch, took part in an eSports panel at Georgetown University. The fact that eSports is on Georgetown’s radar says a lot about the rise of professional gaming. As does the fact that Red Bull continues to steer clear of organized leagues in favor of hosting its own StarCraft II tournaments in front of live audiences like the sold out National Theater in Washington, D.C., host of the Finals.

“Georgetown makes a lot of sense since the focus of the panel was how to break into eSports,” said Goldhaber. “That’s one of the main topics that the audience was most interested in. Everyone on the panel had a cool origin story. A lot of the audience was fans of eSports, but also Georgetown students on the more technical side with a lot of engineers in the building looking to break in. We’ve seen universities do this in the past, but it is indicative that the industry is growing a lot of interest with young audiences.”

Ben Goldhaber

Goldhaber has been a competitive gamer his entire life, playing every role that can be played in eSports from player to commentator to streaming as a broadcaster to event organizer and even running some pro gaming teams. He became so obsessed with the streaming aspect of eSports that he worked on GameCast TV, which aggregated all the different eSports streams back in 2010. He made the right connections and had the streaming skills necessary to join up with in the early days before was spun off.

“Livestreaming used to cost an arm and a leg just to create a stream,” said Goldhaber. “In the early days of eSports, 10 years ago, the viewership was a fraction of what it is today. Twitch made it so that anyone can contribute to the general eSports space from small organizers to big guys and everyone could make a lot more profit and assume a lot less risk. The current era of eSports is thanks to livestreaming technology. Some amazing games have come out to support eSports, including StarCraft II, Street Fighter IV, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and League of Legends. All of these games came out around the same time as livestreaming has exploded.”

Goldhaber has seen a lot of streamers emerge with the launches of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. He said you don’t need an expensive set-up to be a good, entertaining broadcaster. One of the keys is to have a consistent streaming schedule for fans to follow.

“Console eSports is a little behind PC, but it does allow anybody to have a seamless streaming experience with the press of one button,”said Goldhaber. “We’ve seen Call of Duty, FIFA and other popular console games find streamers who may not have been able to stream before. A lot more folks can get exposure, especially for COD and FIFA in eSports, with SDK integration.”

Another growing opportunity for eSports is mobile, which Goldhaber calls “the next frontier for Twitch.” He said mobile streaming is growing along with viewership at an exponential rate as mobile devices get more powerful and the games get more sophisticated.

“ESports for mobile hasn’t really taken off yet, although we’ve seen it with World Cyber Games in the past with Samsung,” said Goldhaber. “We haven’t seen one developer jump in yet, but there are some MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games coming out in the next year that look promising.”

One such game is Vainglory, which was featured on stage during Apple’s iPhone 6 press conference. Goldhaber said Apple could have picked any popular genre to showcase, but there hasn’t been a defined mobile MOBA that really has taken the whole market share. That’s the motivation for them to showcase the MOBA during their press conference.

“We’re seeing growth in every major mobile genre and game on Twitch, not just eSports but Minecraft is exploding, there are huge numbers for speed running, talk shows are growing, every genre is growing,” said Goldhaber. “I would expect to continue to see exponential increases in viewing and streaming in mobile and across all platforms.”

Lately, eSports developers and leagues have been playing a game of one-upmanship to host events in bigger convention centers, NBA arenas and even soccer stadiums across the globe. These events, and the tens of millions of eyeballs they’re attracting, is luring in mainstream brands eager to connect with Millennials.

“It’s not a coincidence that brands like Coke Zero and American Express jumped into LCS with the Galen Center and Staples Center last year,” said Goldhaber. “These big events are things that brand executives need to experience to understand. Every time there’s a major eSports event in a stadium, there are execs in the venue to see how real the fans in the audience are and how much like a real sport it’s becoming. These massive stadium presences are crucial to the legitimacy of eSports. When they see tens of thousands of people screaming in a stadium, the parallels are there.”

Over the last two years eSports has exploded from one or two events in Asia to multiple stadium events in Europe and in the U.S. to over 50,000 people at the LCS Finals this year. Beyond brands, Goldhaber said these events offer a growing exposure to people not endemic to the game industry.

Despite the recent televised X-Games Austin on ESPN and the coverage of The International on ESPN3, Goldhaber doesn’t see television as an important part of eSports’ future.

“We no longer think TV is relevant for eSports,” said Goldhaber. “Getting spots on HBO Real Sports was cool to watch, but TV is old media and the hosts of that show had a problem wrapping their heads around eSports. TV could bring in a new audience, sure, but the sheer quantity of folks is so massive already that Twitch is outpacing a ton of cable networks. We’re peaking higher than huge brands on cable TV. I’d be happy to see more eSports on TV, but it’s not crucial to its growth.”

It’s also worth noting that Twitch is already on TV in the living room through Chromecast and Xbox.

“ESports is in its infancy, especially in context to mainstream sports being on TV,” said Goldhaber. “I honestly think it’s only a matter of time before eSports becomes more mainstream. Being on mainstream TV could help accelerate that process, but it’s not important in the long run. As my generation gets older and have families of our own, the change will naturally happen. This generation that’s growing up with eSports will have kids and they’ll root for TSM in LCS along with their children.”

Although there are plenty of female fans watching eSports, the amount of female pro gamers still pales in comparison to males. But Goldhaber said there are more successful female pro gamers emerging across Counter-Strike, Call of Duty and SF4.

“The main debate is should there be separate leagues for males and females,” said Goldhaber. “I don’t have a strong opinion one way or another. A female-only league could build out the infrastructure for more girls to get into pro gaming at a younger age. As gaming becomes more mainstream, we’re seeing more female gamers as a whole, and more female pro gamers. The ratio of male to female is much better than it was a few years ago.”

It seems like every developer and publisher is working on either new eSports content for their established games or creating brand new games for eSports. With the growing Twitch livestreams, there’s room for more games.

“It all depends on how you define eSports,” said Goldhaber. “In my personal history as a competitive gamer, I never used eSports for the first 10 years. I wasn’t part of the larger eSports scene. I was playing a niche game with a small community, but there were a few dozen teams that played every single week. It wasn’t huge prize money, but it was competitive. As long as a game is balanced, fun and competitive, it will have a competitive scene around it. We’ve seen Super Smash Bros. have a meteoric rise over the last year with that awesome documentary that came out and the last-second entry at EVO. I never saw that coming. I played it growing up, but streams are getting 30,000 to 40,000 unique viewers for regular tournaments and EVO got over 140,000 concurrent viewers. There’s room for tons more games to grow. CSGO has exploded the last six months and no one could have predicted that. I don’t think we’ll get to the point where we’ll see massive Tetris leagues with huge corporate sponsors, but competitive gaming will continue to grow.”

This month will see Riot Games celebrate the end of another LCS with its Championship in South Korea, and early next month Blizzard host the StarCraft II Finals at BlizzCon.

YouTube Inches Closer To Hollywood Studio; Structures Content Division

by Jocelyn Johnson

While the seat of YouTube’s former VP of content operations  Tom Pickett has barely cooled, YouTube has now restructured its content division under the leadership of the site’s Head of YouTube Originals Alex Carloss.

YouTube has confirmed that the company has upped Tim Shey, director of development for YouTube Spaces and former Next New Networks founder, to head of scripted content. We’re also told that YouTube’s current head of investment strategy Ivana Kirkbride, who will take the unscripted title, and head of content strategy Ben Relles, who is now head of comedy, are also part of the division. YouTube is also on the hunt for a Head of Family Entertainment and Learning.


So as YouTube makes moves to inch closer to the Hollywood studio model, what kinds of content might we see ?
We’re told that this group will be in charge of overseeing scripted, non-scripted, and special projects that will receive funding from YouTube. In many ways, this could take shape like the “YouTube Nation” deal or similar to the other funding the video site has done to date.

While most of the projects being considered at present are short form, the next 12-to-18 months will be a testing bed for YouTube as it experiments with short-form formats that can also transition to television (i.e. 12 x 11 minute episodes that could be repackaged as 6 x 22 minute episodes). Think season three of “Video Game High School,” which YouTube is also rumored to have partly funded.

Structuring the content rollout in this way would give YouTube a potential windowing and monetization strategy. However, we may also see longer-form short films or feature-length projects being supported, though one source tells us that all content will have to be global and endemic to the platform.

And what of distribution?  Given that YouTube is the largest open platform for video consumption (with Facebook close at its heels), the content would initially run on YouTube for free and not behind a subscription pay wall; however, as YouTube sorts out its windowing and monetization, we may see the company run tests on Google Play, where one model could be rolling out episodes on a weekly basis while charging a fee for super-fans to gain access to full seasons.

Either way, in order for YouTube to make true headway as a digital studio, it’s going to need to match the marketing muscle with the piggy bank, and put a model in place that recoups the investment.

Now that YouTube has officially entered the IP game, it’s going to be a fun next couple years as the company tries to make yet another content initiative successful.

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.

The Hype Is Over For Instagram’s Hyperlapse

Facebook likes to experiment with new ideas, but after the initial excitement of projects like Slingshot, Paper and others, one barely hesitates to call them failures. The same is true of Instagram’s Hyperlapse app, which garnered a lot of attention and was used by some notable brands (check out our favorites), but now only 6 weeks post-launch has sadly gone the way of the Poke app.

So what is it about Facebook’s ambitious but ultimately abyssmal app experiments? Are they too segmented? Is creating a separate app the wrong thing to do? Did the idea just not have as much staying power? After all, short-form video apps are hot right now (Vine, Snapchat), so why did this flunk?

With new apps and content to pay attention to every day it seems, perhaps on mobile we are becoming spoiled by novelty and Hyperlapse’s 15 seconds literally wore out.

Facebook is not so concerned. “We aren’t focused on downloads and App Store rankings right now,” said a Facebook spokesperson to VentureBeat. Hyperlapse was merely a side project of Facebook’s engineers working on nights and weekends and moreover, Facebook “never expected it to be an everyday app for the mainstream.”

These Creators Are Killing It On Mobile

Mobile, unsurprisingly, is making it easier than ever to create and share content in new and interesting ways. With apps like Vine, Instagram and Snapchat that create content specifically for and by the mobile audience, there are creators that inevitably stand out and catch the attentions and imaginations of brands and their followers.

We’ve highlighted just a few folks that are generating a lot of interest in this space and have the follower count to boast it. They’re working with incredible brands of all sorts and have a captivated audience that continues to be charmed by the short-form content they specialize in, whether they are Instagram photos or videos, Vine clips, or Snapchat Stories.

Instagrammers of Note

Jared Chambers is a photographer based in Los Angeles, California with over 300,000 followers on Instagram that are fans of his stunning landscape photos. Jared perfectly captures the wildnerness with its angular natural monuments and serenity. He has previously worked with Nike as part of #ProjectFlySF in which Nike tapped numerous Instagrammers to do a run in Half Moon Bay wearing the brand’s signature shoes.


View on Instagram

Anthony Danielle helms popular Instagram account @takinyerphoto, capturing scenes of every day New York life, highlighting everything from architecture, to street art and the city’s fashionable. He’s never short on inspiration or photographic subjects and has already done work for Puma, the W Hotels, Evian, Armani Exchange, Kerastase, Michael Kors and others.

Loadingcome with me – #realemojifaces

View on Instagram

Bex Finch is a 27-year-old freelance photographer and boy is she ever in demand by brands. Bex is just shy of 200,000 followers and is the creator of the popular #fromwhereistand hashtag where users take photos of their shoes. Bex has been able to travel abroad for tourism ministries in Israel and Iceland and tagged along for tours with music groups Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver.

Loading#fromwhereistand (stood) with trusty @tretorn! #tretorntales

View on Instagram


Viners of Note

Brittany Furlan ranks within the top 5 creators on the platform. When taking a look at her profile, it’s easy to see why. Brittany has a keen sense of comic timing and her own brand of slapstick that marries well with Vine’s 6-second limitations. Here’s a Vine she created just for Jack in the Box:

Jack and Jack are comprised of comedy duo Jack Johnson and Jack Gilinsky that are making videos on Vine that Gen Z’ers relate to and find hilarious. They have 4.5 million followers on the platform and are quickly approaching 1 billion loops.


Snapchatter of Note

Going viral on a social platform that prides itself in creating content that disappears takes a heap of talent to stand out in. Shaun McBride aka Shonduras accrued over 140,000 followers and was courted by brands like Taco Bell, Disney and MLS, for his adept skills at combining real photos with hand drawn overlays that are quite fantastical. We featured him previously on [a]listdaily here.


Data Suggests ‘Second Screen’ Might Be A Misnomer


The term “second screen” might be on its way out. As increasing attention is paid to digital content, TV is now just another screen competing for eyes against multiple interactive ones. A new report from eMarketer, entitled “Simultaneous Media Use: Screen Fragmentation Complements Traditional Channels” points out that thinking of TV as being the dominant screen and the cell phone, tablet, or laptop as the secondary, complementary viewing screen is wrong.

A majority of the activity happening while viewers watch the show isn’t in direct correlation with watching and engaging with it via social media, as it turns out. Often people are doing completely unrelated tasks showing viewers are really multitasking while watching media.

Interestingly, viewers aren’t necessarily opting out of watching ads: 78 percent of ‘second screening’ happens while shows are on, while 71 percent happens during ads. Users aren’t accessing ‘second screens’ during their ‘down time,’ they are using them by and large throughout watching TV.


Inside Google’s X Lab: Screens That Snap Together

While it seems more and more these days, the emphasis is on the smaller screens and ones of all sorts of sizes, it looks like research at Google’s X lab is working on creating screens that are able to connect to each other without having obvious seams and unsightly bezels. These devices will also be complete with the software that enables the connected screens to adjust with ease to create one larger screen, no matter what screen sizes the different components might have.

The possibilities, of course, are pretty endless. You can build any size screen to your liking, from making a screen out of four phones connected side-by-side for a game like in the demonstration below or building a massive behemoth of a screen for, say, the Superbowl.

Why Gaming’s Explosive Growth Continues

The Global Games Investment Review for Q3 2014 from Digi-Capital has been released, and it shows some important trends in the gaming industry. Tim Merel, managing director of Digi-Capital, noted the report’s highlights:

  • Megadeals drove $12.2 billion in games acquisitions to Q3 2014, already doubling full year 2013;
  • There were five “billion dollar” deals (Mojang, Oculus, Giant Interactive, Twitch, FunPlus);
  • American (five) and Chinese (five) buyers dominated the top 10 acquisitions to Q3 2014, a major shift from Asian buyers taking 9/10 in 2013 and 8/10 in 2014; and
  • Games investment returns skyrocketed to>11x to Q3 2014.

Digi-capital sees the total game software revenues worldwide reaching $100 billion annually by 2017, with the main driver being mobile games. The mobile game business could grow to $60 billion by 2017, which is a compound annual growth rate averaging 23.7 percent between 2011 and 2017. Meanwhile, Digi-capital sees console game revenue staying relatively flat, with the increasing sales of the latest consoles managing to offset the decline in older consoles but not exhibit much growth.

This is disheartening news, but it goes along with the general view of analysts in the game industry. We haven’t heard much about this lately, but if you think back about a year or so many game company execs were excited by the prospects of new consoles. Of course, everyone who had a stake in the success of new consoles was inclined to be as positive as possible, because for the most part new console purchases are about the customer’s belief that over time, the number of cool games this new hardware lets them play will be worth the cost of the hardware.

Still, one year in to the latest generation of consoles, it’s not entirely clear where we will end up overall. Sales of both the PS4 and the Xbox One continue to outpace their predecessors, yet sales of software for those consoles is still soft. Part of that can be attributed to tracking issues, because an increasing percentage of games (10 to 15 percent according to some publishers) are being sold digitally rather than in retail stores. Yet tracking of digital sales is getting better, and we don’t see a huge surge in sales there.

Publishers are getting by with increasing amounts of DLC for all titles, driving up the revenue (and, effectively, becoming a price increase that you can elect to take or not). Still, the increasing quantity of DLC has a downside as well — it keeps players engaged with a game for far longer, thus reducing the desire to buy the latest version of the game. This is clearly illustrated by Sterne Agee’s projection that the upcoming Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will sell only 17 million copies, 15 percent less than the 20 million unit sales of last year’s Call of Duty: Ghosts. Which, in turn, is less than the sales of the previous version of Call of Duty.

This slide in the sales of the latest version of the top franchise for Activision has worrisome implications for all publishers. It’s not that Activision isn’t putting enough resource into it — the company now has three studios working on the franchise, giving each one three years to produce the latest version. The issue really is a result of two factors: The drive to give the top franchises a yearly major release (essentially, a new game), and the now obligatory DLC that appears every month or two. Those factors, combined with the increasing importance of multiplayer play, mean that players have less desire to shell out $60 for a new game that may or may not be as much fun as the older version they are currently playing.

It’s no wonder, then, the game publishers are turning towards faster growing markets. Even Blizzard, famously focused on PCs, has been finding success first on consoles (with Diablo III) and on tablets (with Hearthstone doing amazingly well for them). Now Blizzard’s opened up to possibilities on mobile, so we can probably expect more mobile ventures in the future. It will be interesting to see how well Activision does the Skylanders: Trap Team on tablets, which marks the first time the franchise has exactly the same content on tablets as it does on consoles — and at the same price point, too.

Mobile is clearly the best overall growth market for games on a global basis, and any major game company is going to want to have a piece of that action. The Digi-Capital report shows how important games are to the overall mobile app ecosystem, with games reponsible for by far the largest revenue share out of all types of apps — 74 percent of app revenues come from games. More than that, games handily beat even social networking apps for the amount of time spent, with 32 percent of all time spent on smartphone apps being devoted to games, with social networking coming in second at 24 percent. On tablets, the amount of time devoted to games is a staggering 67 percent. It’s easy to see why some people are calling tablets “the new gaming console.”

Digi-Capital also noted the record mergers and acquisitions (M&A) of this year, which has totaled $12.2 billion so far, already twice the amount for all of 2013. Interestingly, China and the USA had equal amounts of this activity (5 out of the top ten deals), compared to last year when China dominated with 9 out of the top 10 deals. Still, Asia is the biggest driver of mobile revenue growth, and Digi-Capital projects that Asia and Europe combined could be more than 80 percent of the total revenue for mobile and online games combined.

There are two very clear messages in this report: Mobile games are going to be the leading segment of the industry very soon, and Asia is the region with the highest growth potential. Any major player’s strategy has to be measured against those two factors, and companies that lack a major effort in both of those areas will likely be falling behind the competition.