‘Dying Light’ Introduces A Zombie Side

With most zombie apocalypse-related games, players usually control a surviving human doing anything to stay alive, whether it’s beheading a number of the living dead, or slaying them with a number of firearms. However, there are those few games that enable players to play on the other side of the coin, living the life of a zombie as they hunt down human prey. Valve’s Left 4 Dead series for PC and Xbox 360 immediately comes to mind, along with other cult favorites, like Stubbs the Zombie and PopCap’s multiplayer-oriented Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.

Now, Warner Bros. is getting into the act, as the publisher, alongside developer Techland, has introduced a new zombie mode for the forthcoming first-person adventure game Dying Light. In the trailer below (produced by Ayzenberg), players can get an idea of what to expect playing as a member of the living dead, quickly whisking its way across rooftops as it hunts down human targets, all for the sake of staying alive.


The Revenue Generation Secret For Games

Spending money on microtransactions in free-to-play games is a rare thing for most games these days, with the average number of payers in most games being in the 2 percent range. Still, hundreds of thousands of players paying a little bit extra here and there to access additional items, including extra lives in Candy Crush Saga and other related goodies, can make games quite profitable if you have tens of millions of players. Surprisingly enough, though, the massive amounts spent by the players called whales don’t always generate the most revenue of any player for a publisher.

According to Forbes, games with a social element get the biggest revenue boost from players who spend the most time in a game and are the most social — even those who never spend any cash at all. That’s according to a report from analytics firm Ninja Metrics, which took a close look at how players interact with one another through games with strong social elements. Tracking such progress could be a key move for publishers in the future, giving them an idea of what features will be popular — and what to improve upon with updates.

“Some influencers spend no money but generate hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Ninja Metrics CEO Dmitri Williams said. “That also applies to game time, as well.”

One such game, Imperia Online, had 75 percent of social interaction, with players calling upon their friends to join them in online sessions. It just goes to show the power of bringing others online for a gaming experience, thus generating a larger interest in the title — and more people playing along.

“We can now find out where the influencers came from to find the game and so acquire more users,” Williams explained. “This helps a game retain the right people — and gets them to spend more money when it has them.”

Fatigue can easily set into an online experience if a developer doesn’t introduce new content or features that player scan get back into quickly. By bringing others in to enjoy the experience with them, games like Imperia can keep players interested in the long haul, thus generating more revenue than expected. Promotion can play a huge part in it as well.

“Businesses want to think ‘I have a relationship with my customer,'” said Williams. “But they often forget about the relationships their customers have with each other. But until now, it’s been hard to see those relationships. That means that promotions and marketing can be less about squeezing particular targets and more about what ensures people have a fun time playing.”

By taking required purchases out of the picture and focusing more on the general gaming experience, players can have more fun. “You can see which parts of the game create more social value than others, which is great for the product team because now they have better data about what works and what doesn’t,” said Williams. “So if the social values of level 1-9 are crummy, but the social value spikes in level 10, maybe there’s something you can take from level 10 to make the earlier levels more fun for people to play with their friends. You can’t manage the game experience if you can’t measure it.”

What do you think? Would you prefer an app that doesn’t pressure you to buy additional content, and instead eggs you on to invite friends into the experience?

Source: Forbes

Google, Paramount Introduce ‘Interstellar’ Space Hub

With Paramount’s new film Interstellar fast approaching, the movie studio is going to great lengths to introduce an innovative new campaign that actually allows users to explore space, similar to what the main characters of the Christopher Nolan film will be doing.

This past weekend, the studio teamed up with Google to launch a new online campaign that allows users to get immersed in space travel, using the Interstellar Space Hub. With it, “space fans” everywhere can use Google Plus, Google Play, YouTube and Google For Education to explore locales from the film using a special space hub. Clicking around an interactive galaxy, players can unlock exclusive content from the film.

The hub also provides the opportunity to pre-purchase tickets for the film, as well as take part in Google Plus Hangouts, where they can contribute to a Time Capsule Project. With that, Nolan, who directed Interstellar, will curate said content for a short film.

Google For Education will also play a big part, with both Google and Paramount planning to deliver math and science movie-themed lesson plans for students at thousands of schools across the country.

“It’s like a playground of innovation,” Megan Colligan, president of worldwide distribution and marketing for Paramount, explained. “The partnership with Google gives us the opportunity to do things we’d never do on our own.”

“Google is excited to help our studio partners develop innovative marketing programs that support the lifecycle of their films,” said Brian Irving, Google Play’s global head of marketing, in a statement.

“Having the power of Google behind our efforts to inform the audience and enhance their experience…is an exciting new development in the relationship between filmmakers and audiences,” said Emma Thomas, producer for Interstellar, in a statement.

This marks a brand new involvement for Google with a movie project, which utilizes many sites on the project. Previously, the company had worked with director Guillermo del Toro on Halloween-related content (which should premiere this month), as well as producing special movie-related content from the summer blockbuster Godzilla earlier in the year.

Users can take part in the Interstellar fun now before the movie makes its debut in theaters on November 7.

Source: L.A. Times, Mediapost

Here’s How Brands Can Attract Millennials

What’s the best way for brands to reach out to millennials when it comes to advertising? Sometimes it’s simply best to reach out to them on their own level.

“Ever since youth culture became a defined concept, marketers have been using the unique values of youth as an ‘in’ to young consumers,” according to a study from Havas. However, there’s more to it than that, as the younger generation has changed. Millennials, these days anyway, “have less of an interest in rebellion and revolution,” instead preferring something more in the problem-solving field, according to a new study titled Hashtag Nation.

Said Norty Cohen, founder and CEO of agency Moosylvania, “This is a group that will adopt brands. If you can create a friendship with these consumers, you really take it to the next level. They will go to great lengths to support you.”

Brands aren’t usually taken that seriously, as the study notes that 40 percent of respondents around the ages of 16-24 are quick to note. However, “Today’s youth are significantly more apt than their elders to recognize — and value — the role brands play in their lives,” according to the report.

“Brands also need to recognize that they’re now dealing with a generation of consumers who are much savvier than their parents were at that age,” the study said in its conclusion. “Young people have an innate understanding of marketing and of their value as consumers. And they’re significantly more likely than older generations to believe they have the capacity to help a brand succeed or fail. And why would they think that? Virtually every day they see some evidence of the power of ordinary people to effect change, whether it’s using Twitter to foment a rebellion in the Middle East or using social media to compel a company to behave better.”

Moosylvania’s Cohen was also quickly to add what brand characteristics mean in terms of millennial attention. Marketing “was all based on sort of this militaristic approach: Here is your target, blitz them with media. And now what we’re finding is they don’t want to be blitzed… The tonality has to be in the zone of what’s on this page making people look good, keeping them entertained,” he said. “It’s all about this friendship piece.”

Brands can ease their way in with the right approach. “There’s a lot of personal interaction with this demo. They’re going to look at any kind of social endorsement. TV still has a place, as do magazines.”

In addition to the enormous infographic that Moosylvania prepared below, covering all the basics of how millennials are defined for brand attention, another study indicated a number of tips that content marketers can use trying to reach out to this demographic. They include:

Set the mood. Give them a repository for a particular emotion, or bond over a universal human experience.

Help them escape by giving them a glimpse of the good life, inspiring them, and “reinforcing the millennial values of embracing life and finding happiness along the off-roaded path to adulthood.”

Fuel creativity and play with absurdist mash-ups, artistic installations and carefully curated memes that are the tight fit for a brand’s attributes.

Spotlight pop culture, especially using nostalgia nods, superfandom and celebrity musings.

Help them succeed with how-tos, lifehacks and any content experience that makes them feel smarter.

Help them discover things and see topics in a new light, which “taps into millennials’ desire for discovery.”

What do you think? Is this the kind of outreach needed to attract the millennial audience?

Source: Adweek

Lexus Introduces Oculus Rift-Powered Simulator

With the Facebook-powered Oculus Rift device speeding its way closer to production, many developers are utilizing the virtual reality-powered gear for a number of purposes, including promotional. Car manufacturer Lexus is the latest company to hop on board the virtual train, as it has teamed up with ad agency Team One on a new project that enables the device to create a test drive simulation of its latest vehicle.

The RC F Rift, the project’s official name, enables participants to grip onto an RC F steering wheel and foot pedals, modeled similarly to the ones featured in the vehicle, and use the Oculus Rift to take a virtual test drive of the car. With it, they can race along a number of courses around the world, including the Fuji Speedway, without the risk of crashing and damaging a real vehicle.

The program recently debuted at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance a couple of months ago, and made its public debut at the Orange County Auto Show this past weekend, where it met with huge acclaim. The video below gives you an idea of just how the simulation runs, even if the 3D effect isn’t entirely replicated.


Pinterest Curates Content With New ‘Pin Picks’

It seems that Pinterest itself has gotten into pinning, stepping into the editorial sphere by curating collections of pins hand-picked by staff. To begin with, they have a timely collection of costume ideas, survival skills, and more.

With their latest Halloween-themed board, Pinterest collaborated with the likes of Michelle Phan, eHow, Jessica Harlow and Funny or Die to create a collection of horror costume mastery.

It’s a great way to get new Pinterest users acquainted with how the site works and a new avenue for more content partnerships and sponsorships beyond promoted pins.

Marketers are using Pinterest in more elaborate and creative ways like the Pinterest account created by the fictional main character in Gone Girl. These ways are going beyond creating snackable content, but integrating them with a story, in much the same way Pinterest is choosing to do here by picking topics for Pin Picks that have oodles of worthy content on the platform to choose from.


PewDiePie Hints At Leaving Maker Studios, Starting Own Network

by Sahil Patel

Felix Kjellberg, known by now as PewDiePie, the biggest star on YouTube, doesn’t seem all that interested in renewing his contract with Maker Studios— in fact, he doesn’t seem all that high on multi-channel networks in general.

This comes via comments the gaming creator made during an interview with Swedish magazine Icon (via The Wall Street Journal). Kjellberg, who has more than 31 million subscribers on YouTube and is an important part of Maker’s pitch as a network of the biggest and best YouTube talent, doesn’t seem all that impressed by the fact that his MCN was acquired by Disney. And that could play a role when his contract runs out in December.

“The fact that Disney bought Maker Studios doesn’t really change anything for me. If I ask for help, they reply, but that’s all the contact we have,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Instead, it appears Kjellberg is set to start a network of his own. “I’d rather not talk too much about it. I’m in touch with a couple of people who I think would be so right for this. I’m eager to get it all up and running. So far, all the networks have been managed in such an incredibly poor way, it’s embarrassing really. I’d like to help other YouTubers.”

Perhaps Kjellberg’s opinions of MCNs stem from a less-than-stellar experience with the network he has been associated with prior to Maker Studios. Before Maker, PewDiePie belonged to Machinima. That relationship did not end well, as Kjellberg had to go to court to get out of his lifetime contract with the gaming-focused MCN.

“It was managed in such a terrible way. During the time I was a member of their network, I grew into the world’s biggest YouTuber — and they didn’t even know I was with them! They didn’t get in touch a single time, except when I wanted to leave — then their CEO* e-mailed me once,” Kjellberg said to Icon.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Kjellberg makes $4 million a year from YouTube ad sales. That number should only grow as his subscriber count grows, and if there isn’t an MCN he has to share some of that revenue with.

Because PewDiePie also doesn’t seem to be interested in sponsored or branded content, at least if his anecdote about a recent video shoot involving Disney-owned Star Wars characters is to be believed.

“Disney recently sent over a bunch of people dressed as Stormtroopers to make a video together with me, for charity. First of all, they got upset when they found out that there was no specific room for them to change clothes. And then, they didn’t agree to do basically anything in the video because it was not OK with ‘The Star Wars Universe.’ It all turned into chaos and it took a very long time. Finally, we ended up with something that they were going to edit but it was so bad I had to do it over and edit it myself. Furthermore, I don’t want PewDiePie to be some kind of trademark that I lose control over.”

December should be an interesting month.

* At that time, Machinima’s CEO was Allen DeBevoise, who is an investor in VideoInk.

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.

ZAM Network And The Future Of MMOs

The community that has built up around games has become larger, more vocal, and more valuable to publishers in the past decade. The tools of social media, forums, livestreaming, and video have made it possible to share knowledge and passion with fans of games worldwide. Aside from company sites, there’s a healthy set of third-party sites where fans can gather around favorite games, and one of the biggest is ZAM Network: “The largest collection of massively multi-player online gaming information on the web” as they style themselves.

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of ZAM Network, and the site has grown to over 9 million unique users and 400 million pageviews per month. The ZAM Network offers a wide variety of information, both in-game and out-of-game, on its dozens of different web sites that include Wowhead, LolKing, and DestinyDB. Users can find everything from maps, databases, and walk-throughs to game interface add-ons and customizations for many of the most popular games out there, including World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, and Day Z, just to mention a few.

The [a]listdaily spoke with ZAM Network’s president Cody Bye, and the director of content Micheal Bailey, about the ZAM Network, its future, and the changing game market. What follows is an edited transcript of their remarks.

[a]listdaily: How did ZAM get started, and how did it get to where it is today?

Cody Bye: ZAM started fifteen years ago, and neither of us where actually there at the time. It started as a fan community site by a few individuals, named after one of their user names on the site. In 1999, when this all started, there wasn’t anything on line that was incredibly in depth. There were some forums and some written-out guides, but nothing really intense. So this individual Allakhazam started up a web site where moderators could go in and submit information about EverQuest into a database, and people could use a search engine to find information about EverQuest. That grew bigger, to where people could download a client that would observe how people were playing the game, and pull in information out of that. It became the de facto place for people playing EverQuest to find information. It became hugely popular, and kind of exploded from there.

Cody Bye

From that start, ZAM has metamorphosed along the way. The next biggest point in our growth was acquiring additional web sites, one notable one was EQInterface and WoWInterface, where we have add-ons for EverQuest and World of Warcraft. The next big step was the purchase of Thoughtbot and then Wowhead after that. Thoughtbot was the next step in databases for MMOs, and was the default place where WoW players looked for information on how to play World of Warcraft. We’ve just kind of progressed from there.

[a]listdaily: How has the MMO player community changed in recent years?

Cody Bye: I think the biggest thing that I’ve seen, having started in my teens playing EverQuest, is that so many games are incorporating more and more of the things that made MMOs compelling in the first place. A lot of people are moving to more quick session based games like League of Legends or Destiny, but they want those games with more persistence than a Call of Duty or a Counter-Strike. Those games obviously still have very compelling user bases, but I think a lot of people who may have initially started playing MMOs played them for that persistent element. You know, ‘every time I play I’m getting stronger, better gear, having a better social experience.’ The original games that were out there, the Quake 3‘s and the Unreal Tournaments, didn’t really have that. Now you see more and more of those MMO elements incorporated. The EA Sports games have a huge amount of persistence in them. Maybe the genre of EverQuest or World of Warcraft wasn’t your cup of tea, but if you wanted to have that persistent, social experience now there’s a variety of games that are incorporating those persistent elements.

[a]listdaily: Is the subscription still a viable option for new MMOs?

Micheal Bailey: In 2011 if you ever asked somebody about a game coming up that was free-to-play, they would immediately dismiss it as crap. “Free to play game? It’s crap, something that’s imported from another country.” That would be the end of it, nobody would want to play it. But now, when you’re looking at subscriptions, it’s “Oh, I guess they don’t want people to play their game because I have all these games I can play for free.” Between 2011 and 2013, we completely flipped between free-to-play games being crap and now they’re the standard. The only subscription game that has survived is World of Warcraft, and that’s pretty much it.

Micheal Bailey

[a]listdaily: Will World of Warcraft ever go free-to-play?

Cody Bye: Internally they probably have a threshold, I can imagine they have a number where they say it’s no longer viable for us to continue to have a subscription service. It’s my belief that once they flip that free-to-play switch they’ll have a huge influx of people that are willing to come back and try it for free. That being said, from a business perspective there’s a reason why almost every utility like cable or phone has a subscription service, because you always know how much you’re going to make each month. With free-to-play gaming it’s much more difficult to determine. With World of Warcraft it might be a little easier to determine, now that they’ve got some metrics by doing Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. Without those metrics, going free-to-play is still a risk for them. I think as long as it’s still a risk they won’t do it, but when they hit that threshold number they probably will very seriously consider it. I don’t know how long in advance they will message it, I’m guessing a pretty long time, but I don’t foresee that happening for a long time.

[a]listdaily: What does the future hold for the ZAM Network?

Micheal Bailey: We have a lot of perspectives on the management team, a lot of different backgrounds. We know that the sites that we built for the games that they represent are perfect for those games, but a game that releases this year like Elder Scrolls Online is not going to get the same site as a game from the past. It’s going to get a different experience, and we tailor those experiences to remain current and get the best experience for the user.

We know that people want to create their own fun, and that’s possible in a web site. When you go there you feel like this is your home page, in a sense. I go to Reddit every day, and that’s one of my home pages. That kind of experience can exist in any field, where you can create your own experience and really have it all, be with your friends and see what everyone’s doing without leaving that area. That’s what games do, and that’s totally doable in a site. There’s mobile stuff that needs to work into all this — mobile has turned into small PCs in a sense. There’s an interesting blend of how you deliver the content, and now we want to focus on how we allow them to create their own fun, and that’s what we’re doing right now.

Steam, Twitch Looking For Full Disclosure

In this day and age where sponsorships can really pay off, both PC game channel Steam and broadcasting web channel Twitch have launched new terms that will help clarify what content is sponsored on its website, and what content is not.

With Valve’s Steam Discovery Update, which launched this week, the company has introduced the ability to turn users into “Curators,” providing special landing pages with handpicked games and recommendations. This will allow for finding certain games within an ever-growing marketplace, although there are some certain terms that need to be followed. With paid content, for instance, Steam’s T & C division requires full disclosure from any Curator looking to add it to their specific page.

“If you’ve accepted money or other compensation for making a product review or for posting a recommendation, you must disclose this fact in your recommendation” reads the Steam page.

This follows controversy over accusations of particular journalists taking payment for a recommendation of a title, or some other form of compensation for a positive opinion.

Meanwhile, Twitch has taken a similar stance, asking for the highlighting of sponsored or promotional content on its service. In short, if a broadcaster is playing a particular title as part of an influencer campaign, it has to disclose those terms.

“Gamers can tend to look skeptically on the ecosystem because they don’t know what is paid-for content and what is not. It also opens influencers to potential criticism,” said the company’s VP of marketing and communications Matthew DiPietro in a blog post. “While we have always encouraged our broadcasters to acknowledge if they are playing games as part of a promotional campaign, we are now establishing a much more transparent approach to all paid programs on our platform and hope that it sets a precedent for the broader industry. Simply put: We want complete transparency and unwavering authenticity with all content and promotions that have a sponsor relationship.”

The broadcasters are still able to specify whether deals were made specifically with the publisher. “To be very clear this pertains specifically to Twitch driven campaigns and sponsorships,” said DiPietro, answering the question in the comments field.

What do you think Will full disclosure go a long way into easing what content is paid for or what isn’t

Source: GamesIndustry International

Ads That Use Women Are Empowering

Women in advertising is nothing new, but the way they’re being used has improved quite a bit, even if some feel that the message can be a bit polarizing at times. They can also lead to certain negativity from those on the Internet, particularly “trolls” that have nothing better to do than pick on said advertisements.

Regardless, they’re doing more than you might believe. An Advertising Week panel of industry leaders have revealed that marketing campaigns that utilize empowerment in females, old and young alike, are becoming a big hit with consumers, thus leading to a huge turn-around in sales.

The study, titled Fem-vertising: Women Demand More From Brands, the session called the movement “advertising that employs pro-female talent, messages and imagery to empower women and girls.”

As you can see from the notes in the graph above, negativity can take quite a toll in advertising. 60 seconds of exposure to ads featuring underweight models manage to change perceptions of attractiveness for the worse in women. In addition, 41 percent of 18-24 year old women actually retouch their own photos before posting them to social media. 93 percent of women believe that portraying females as sex symbols actually leaves a harmful affect with advertising. Finally, 33 percent of young women feel dissatisfied with their looks in general, which is a rise from 26 percent two years before.

However, “fem-vertising,” as it’s called, actually has a greater effect when it sticks more to truthfulness. According to the graph below, 52 percent of women have purchased products mainly based on how women are portrayed in the product’s advertising. Some examples of this include Nike, with an 18 percent increase in quarterly revenue from focused advertising, and soap maker Dove, with a $4 billion jump in sales following the debut of a Campaign for Real Beauty campaign, which features more real types of women and less supermodel types.

“There’s a real relief in seeing yourself reflected,” Lauren Greenfield, director of Always’ Like a Girl campaign and a member on the panel, said, feeling that women that can relate to something in an advertisement has a big effect.

“There’s a pay gap, a leadership gap and visual gender gap,” added Jessica Bennett, another member of the panel and a partner in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Collection for Getty Images. “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

“Many, many brands make their livelihood selling on the insecurity of women and girls, and that’s not going away,” said Greenfield, who also wrote the book Girl Culture. However, this “fem-vertising” could go a long way into introducing a new angle in advertising.

What do you think? Do you prefer a more realistic approach to female-oriented advertising?

Source: Adweek