Sony Debuts PlayStation Vue

No doubt with an eye towards how viewing habits are changing, Sony has announced that it’s bringing some choice to cable-cutters with the forthcoming PlayStation Vue service. It’s a combination of live TV channels, including local broadcast networks. On-demand content will be part of the service, with the previous three days of “popular programming” available at all times, plus the ability for viewers to save episodes of their favorite shows to the cloud and retain access for up to 28 days.

This subscription-based cloud TV service will launch into a closed beta this month for select PlayStation console owners, before arriving in 2015 and spreading compatibility to other devices, including Sony-compatible televisions and iPads.

“PlayStation Vue reinvents the traditional viewing experience so your programming effortlessly finds you, enabling you to watch much more of what you want and search a lot less,” said Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, in a press release. “PlayStation Vue brings the best of live TV and a robust catalog of the latest content, always keeping you connected to what’s popular, new and trending. Today’s announcement builds on the historic success of PlayStation 4 and demonstrates what our company is capable of when we embrace disruption and stay true to gamers.”

The service will launch with approximately “around 75 channels per market,” including local broadcast networks, along with popular cable channels from such partners as Viacom, NBC Universal and Fox. On-demand will play a part along with live television, providing plenty of bang for subscriber’s bucks.  PlayStation Vue will launch in an invite-only beta later this month on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, first in New York and then in Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Sony didn’t mention a monthly rate for the service just yet, but it’s expected to be announced over the next few weeks – maybe even at the company’s PlayStation Experience event, which kicks off in Las Vegas on December 6. The company has promised it will be set at a “fair and competitive price.”

A variety of partners are already on board with the project, including the above-mentioned companies, along with Discovery Communications, Scripps Networks Interactive and CBS. There are some noticeable omissions, such as Disney, Turner and HBO, but Sony insists it’s in “active discussions” with new partners.

Sony still has an uphill battle ahead of it with its service, considering the tough competition from more popular opponents, as well as its own troubles with the PlayStation Now game streaming service. However, if it plays all its cards right, there’s no reason why PlayStation Vue can’t be a hit.


Facebook Changing Its Privacy Policy

While not all changes has been happily accepted by its users, Facebook insists that little bits and pieces that are tinkered with on its site are for the better – and that’s including the needs of marketers as well.

Re/code has reported that the company has once again made some changes to the site’s privacy policies, detailing how such changes involve users’ information when it comes to location-based ads and purchases made on the site, including in games and other applications.

The company detailed some of the changes to its policy, per an official blog post: “If you use our Services for purchases or financial transactions (like when you buy something on Facebook, make a purchase in a game, or make a donation), we collect information about the purchase or transaction. This includes your payment information, such as your credit or debit card number and other card information, and other account and authentication information, as well as billing, shipping and contact details.”

It continued, clarifying the new policy: “We’re updating our policies to explain how we get location information depending on the features you decide to use. Millions of people check into their favorite places and use optional features like Nearby Friends. We’re working on ways to show you the most relevant information based on where you are and what your friends are up to. For example, in the future, if you decide to share where you are, you might see menus from restaurants nearby or updates from friends in the area.”

The company hasn’t finalized any plans for its commerce just yet, as it’s still working on a few features with it. However, it probably just “cleared the air” with the above statements, so users know exactly what information the company has access to, for better or for worse. Now it’s just a question of how many users these new policies may scare off, even if their information is secure in the long run…


Meet The Titans Of Digital Commerce

This infographic from Statista shows just how big online shopping as become and who the major players are within it. Unsurprisingly, Amazon is the one to rule them all, with 164 million monthly visitors in the first quarter of 2014. As the number of digital shoppers continues to grow, different products tend to favor different commerce platforms. For example, video game purchases are much more popular on smartphones than say, home and garden and computer hardware products, and digital content is much more popular on tablets than video games are.

While the desktop is still the most dominant force in ecommerce, that is clearly bound to change. Social commerce, interestingly enough, is one sector that has reached its peak, as it is predicted to shrink by 26 percent by 2018.

Infographic: Online Shopping By The Numbers | Statista


Churchill Downs To Buy Big Fish for $885 Million

“They have never had the mega-hit game, and we actually like that,” Churchill Downs CEO William Carstanjen said in a conference call in reference to the famous race track-owning company about buying tech company Big Fish Games.

Is this as odd a fit as it sounds Looking at Churchill Downs’ other holdings, no. The company owns six casinos, a video poker business, as well as an online wagering system among other things. Based in Seattle, Big Fish Games has grown to be one of the largest privately-held technology companies in its area.

Paul Thelen, founder and CEO of Big Fish is calling the aquisition a “great cultural fit for us.” He went on to say more about the growth of Big Fish and what this purchase would mean.

“We are extremely proud of the company we have built over the last twelve years. Churchill Downs is a company with a commitment to interactive entertainment and a track record of growth and performance. We believe Big Fish is now positioned to become an even greater force in the casual, mid-core and social casino mobile and online games industry,” said Thelen.

According to a report from Eilers Research, casino games is big business — worth about $2.7 billion worldwide and Big Fish is the 5th largest social casino games maker.


Vice And Live Nation To Form New Digital Platform For Live Music

By: Sahil Patel

Vice Media is partnering with Live Nation Entertainment to create a new digital platform for live music content.

Available sometime in 2015, the joint venture will look to produce and distribute live music programming across platforms, including online, mobile, TV, and in some cases even theatrically. Eventually, the platform will be the home to “hundreds of hours” of original music content, the companies said.

Formats will range from long- and short-form video series and feature-length documentary films to “premium” editorial franchises and daily editorial content. The platform will also offer e-commerce and ticketing options.

The goal is to launch the platform globally, supporting nine languages across all platforms.

Read more…

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.

SuperData: October Digital Game Sales

Analysis from SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen, follows:

  • Zynga gets pummeled after alienating its poker fans
  • Destiny sells 1 in 5 copies via digital download on console
  • Games industry seeks to better connect with mobile gamers
  • Electronic Arts discontinues Dawngate, as MOBA market slows.

With a combined total of $957 million in sales in October, up 12 percent from the same month a year earlier, the digital games market is growing stronger. The adoption by next-gen console gamers of full-game downloads presents an important driver to the overall market, as digital console sales reached $96 million. A slew of new title releases stalled spending in the free-to-play segment, but both mobile and downloadable games on PC thrived, totaling $327 million and $212 million, respectively. Activision especially made its presence felt this month, as Destiny accumulated 9.5 million registered users, roughly one-fifth of which downloaded the game directly to their console hard drives.

Zynga gets pummeled after alienating its poker fans

Now under new management, Zynga likely expected different results when its re-released Zynga Texas Hold ’em Poker dropped from 8.1 million daily active users in September to 7.1 million in October. Losses were especially heavy on mobile. The company managed to offset some of its losses by posting higher revenues at its quarterly earnings report, but this may prove to be only a temporary relief from prying eyes. Critics of the publisher have become increasingly vocal about the absence of a concrete release schedule following the $527 million acquisition of Natural Motion at the beginning of this year. While Zynga is clearly gearing up to service all types of audiences, combining social casino games with its well-known Ville-type games and recently entering both the racing and sports market, delaying a strong release may provide a big enough window for competitors to steal Zynga’s thunder. The overall social games market was up slightly month-over-month, reaching $168 million, but with a 2 percent decline compared to the same month last year, it has certainly lost some of its shine.

Destiny sells 1 in 5 copies via digital download on console

As the interactive entertainment market prepares to end 2014 on a high note, bets made earlier in the year are already starting to pay off as publishers observe a growing percentage of sales via digital channels. With major publishers now fully behind digital distribution, this year’s big titles so far sold, on average, 12 percent of total units via digital downloads on consoles. Notably, in its first two months since launch, Activision’s Destiny sold roughly twenty percent of full game downloads on consoles, driven by the combination of a growing install base of next gen devices and aggressive pre-order incentives at retail. For the holiday season we conservatively forecast the share of direct-to-consoles downloads of full games to double, as consumers seek to avoid the inconvenience of having to wait for delivery or stand in line. That said, GameStop has so far proved to be well-positioned to capture a piece of this uptick in digital games revenue. We do, however, anticipate lower-than-expected game sales over the winter break for online retailers like Amazon.

Games industry seeks to better connect with mobile gamers

With the mobile games market reaching $328 million in monthly sales, up 24 percent from the same month last year, game developers are becoming increasingly cautious of the market’s volatility. As development and marketing costs continue to rise, a growing number of small and medium-sized development studios, often the source of innovative content, increasingly focus their attention on sustainability. According to a detailed study among 41 UK-based game studios, 34 percent of respondents recently changed their business model, hoping to increase the overall efficiency of their production processes, and emphasized the importance of strategic relationships in mitigating risk. Results of the study were first presented at GDC Next and are available for download here.

MOBA segment plays musical chairs and EA bows out

Following the announcement of EA’s discontinuation of Dawngate, its contender to the immensely popular MOBA category, it appears that League of Legends and Dota 2 have the market to themselves. Despite the growing success of SMITE (Hi-Rez Studios) in key markets, the title is a distant third, followed by slew of promising contenders that are currently still in beta like Arena of Fate (Crytek). EA’s exit from this market removes a credible potential competitor. All eyes are now on the tablet market where a band of former Riot developers are about to launch Vainglory on November 18. Overall, the free-to-play MMO segment slowed, declining to $116 million, following a growth period that coincided with a flurry of tournaments.

Mobile Game Earnings Roundup: Q3 2014

As the mobile games business continues its upward trajectory, it’s useful to examine the growing number of companies that actually report their financial results on a regular basis — the publicly traded mobile game companies. It’s true that private companies generate the majority of the revenues in the mobile games business, but observing the public results can help us judge the health of the sector.

Overall, the results are encouraging, as most of the companies reported making good profits from mobile games. Still, Tencent did show a slowdown in its mobile games revenue in the huge China market, and the game giant will be redoubling its efforts as well-funded competitors like Alibaba (which recently teamed up with Kabam) attack its market share. Zynga is still making the transition to a mobile game company from social games, and it’s still losing money on that journey. King Digital is still hauling cash to the bank, but the company is coming off the sugar rush induced by Candy Crush Saga.

It looks like the companies that have managed to build themselves a huge audience for mobile games are increasingly able to come up with revenue from that audience. While hits are still unpredictable, building regular release schedules of solid titles is a sound business strategy if you can keep your costs in line. When the occasional huge hit comes along, like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, results will look great for a time. Companies that can resist the temptation to expand too much on the basis of such a hit have a good future ahead of them.

King Digital reported lower revenues as Candy Crush Saga continues to lose its sweetness, but the company still generated $144 million in cash, and non-Candy Crush games were responsible for 49 percent of the company’s revenue. Non-GAAP revenues of $543.9 million were down from last year’s $648.2 million, and the profit of $177.4 million was down from $229.2 million last year.

“With the launch of two new mobile games during the third quarter as well as the Facebook version of Candy Crush Soda Saga last month, we are continuing to execute on our strategy to develop a portfolio of games for our massive network of players,” said King CEO, Riccardo Zacconi. “We have a consistent track record of developing successive hit games and as a result, have increased our non-Candy Crush Saga gross bookings to $264 million in third quarter 2014. If annualized, this represents more than a $1 billion run rate, and makes our non-Candy Crush Saga business larger than most every other mobile gaming company.”

Glu Mobile, riding high on the success of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, reported record revenues for the third quarter. Non-GAAP revenues hit $83.6 million, up 270 percent from last year and 138 percent from the previous quarter, with earnings of $15.4 million.

“Glu’s third quarter was the strongest in the company’s history as non-GAAP revenue and Adjusted EBITDA set all time records,†stated Niccolo de Masi, Chief Executive Officer of Glu. “The record quarter was driven by the strength of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, our new releases Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores and Tap Sports: Baseball, ongoing traction with Deer Hunter 2014 and Eternity Warriors 3 and the addition of Racing Rivals to our product portfolio.”

Zynga, in the midst of its transition to a mobile game company, reported non-GAAP bookings of $175.5 million, and a non-GAAP loss of $6.7 million. Compared to the prior year, Zynga has reduced its losses and halted the erosion in its user base, while mobile bookings represented 55 percent of the total. Zynga’s stock jumped nearly 11 percent in one day after analyst firm Jefferies changed the stock from “hold” to “buy” based on the new release of Words With Friends and the company’s upcoming slate of titles.

“I am encouraged by the results of the quarter as we navigate through this time of transition. In Q3, we reported bookings at the high end of our guidance range and Adjusted EBITDA near the midpoint of our guidance range. Our teams have been working hard over the last year to reshape our business and we are seeing that work show up in two important areas – our franchise bookings and mobile bookings growth. Last quarter, our core franchises — Casino, Words With Friends and FarmVille — grew 30 percent year over year in terms of bookings, and we achieved meaningful growth in mobile with a 111 percent increase in mobile bookings annually,” said Don Mattrick, CEO of Zynga.

Chinese giant Tencent, which derives the majority of its revenues from games, reported a 28 percent rise in revenues ($3.2 billion from all sources) and a 46 percent rise in profits (to $923 million), though both numbers disappointed investors by missing the estimates, due largely to slowing revenue from mobile games (which generates more than half the company’s sales). Revenue from its mobile-gaming business declined to 2.6 billion RMB, compared 3 billion RMB in the previous quarter. Furthermore, WeChat’s monthly active users rose just 6.8 percent during the quarter to 468 million monthly active users, its most sluggish growth since Tencent first started releasing user numbers. Tencent had warned investors back in August that it expected its mobile gaming revenue growth to level out temporarily as it works on adding more titles and integrating e-commerce services.

Korean mobile game publisher Gamevil reported revenues of $38.9 million (over 100 percent growth) with a net profit of $8.9 million (almost 450 percent growth). The publisher cited the success of titles like Dragon Blaze domestically and globally pointed to MLB Perfect Inning and Monster Warlord. It should be noted that about a year ago, Gamevil acquired one of its earliest competitors Com2uS, which is still reporting its own earnings separately. Just yesterday, Com2uS announced a record quarter with $40 million in profit, partially thanks to Summoners War.

Gameloft reported sales dipped by 10 percent in the third quarter to $69.3 million. Despite the sales decline in Q3, Gameloft boasted that it was the worldwide number one developer and publisher on iOS and Google Play by downloads according to App Annie’s worldwide index for games.

“After several quarters with a low number of releases, Gameloft has returned to launching new games at a more regular pace. While this is not yet apparent in the quarterly sales, we believe it will progressively start showing in the coming quarters and accelerate throughout 2015,” stated Michel Guillemot, CEO of Gameloft.


CPL Founder Discusses His Return To eSports

Angel Munoz was an early eSports backer with the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) long before livestreaming helped propel professional video gaming into a global pastime. Munoz is the founder, president and CEO of Mass Luminosity, and the creative mind behind Gaming Tribe, a next-generation social media network for gamers and technology enthusiasts. Launched in March 2014, Gaming Tribe has an audience of nearly 250,000 gamers who are active PC gamers. With sponsors like AMD, Logitech G and XFX, the site gives away high-end PC gaming rigs and other tech as prizes on a regular basis. Munoz talks about the integration of eSports functionality across this platform in this exclusive interview.

Angel Munoz Mass LuminosityAngel Munoz

How did you get involved in eSports the first time around?

I became involved with eSports before it was called eSports, back then we referred to it only as professional gaming. My participation in the sport commenced with the launch of the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) in June 1997, which was the first professional league for computer gamers, and some think the initial propulsion of modern eSports.

How have you seen eSports grow since you sold Cyberathlete Professional League?

When we sold the CPL in 2010 and the new owners decided to move the league’s operation exclusively to China the sport went through a brief period of dormancy in the Western hemisphere, but with the launch of competitive titles likes DOTA, DOTA2, and League of Legends a new generation of competitive gamers emerged and the sport started its growth trajectory again.

Why did you decide to re-enter the eSports space?

Actually, I have no interest in entering the professional arena again, the sport seems well served by the big title events. What I believe is needed is a global amateur league, that can provide new teams with rankings, on-going competitions, strong community support and access to potential sponsors and fans.

How are you going to use the Gaming Tribe to target eSports fans?

Gaming Tribe’s tech-engine can be effectively adapted to schedule, monitor, support and rank online competitions, while also providing a starting base of 250,000 PC gamers and potential fans. We already have a number of companies supporting Gaming Tribe, who also happen to be actively supporting eSports — so this intersection of social media and competitive gaming seems both feasible and timely to us.

What do you feel differentiates your PC gaming audience from others out there?

The Gaming Tribe community is often referred to as the “best community of gamers in the world.”  I think some of the reasons for this is how we successfully integrated a rich social media experience with active interaction with the community.  Also our engagement numbers are through the roof and trump all of our other social media activities on the larger networks, by a factor of two to one.  This may be due to our gamification of the social media experience through leaderboards, earned badges, reward-action promotions and our proprietary Loot Drop giveaways.

What are your eSports plans?

Right now we are working on completing Phase II of Gaming Tribe RWD (Responsive Web Design), once we complete that process we have a couple of smaller projects to launch and then in early 2015 we will add the eSports feature to Gaming Tribe.  We already have on our staff the two primary programmers who helped develop the now inactive Cyberathlete Amateur League (CAL): Andrew Waterman and Andrew Slane.  That gives us a distinct advantage.  We are also chatting with other members of the community who wish to assist us with this new development.

What games will you focus on?

Our global amateur league will not have a specific focus and will be open to any competitive game the community wants to support.

How will you work with game publishers and established leagues?

If game publishers or leagues feel it’s of value to partner with us we are willing to discuss that when the time comes, but neither are necessary at this stage of our development.

What opportunities has livestreaming opened up for you when it comes to eSports tournaments and events?

Livestreaming will be incorporated into our platform, either through the Twitch API (which seems a bit undeveloped at this time) or our own solution.  We are fine with either path, but would love to see Twitch fix some of the glitches we have encountered in supporting their platform remotely.

What opportunities do you see for sponsors and brands through your eSports endeavors?

We think the reach and interactivity of our new platform will be very attractive to sponsors, and in fact our early discussion with our top corporate sponsors about this new initiative have elicited unanimous approval and high levels of excitement.

What role has social media and social networking played in connecting your audience with PC gaming brands?

Social media is a unique form of crowd-sourcing content in real-time, and its augmented by the close interaction of its participants. We know that young gamers are consuming traditional media at extremely low levels, so the opportunities for advertising are systematically vanishing. Therefore, social media, especially one focused on this core demographic, is truly the ideal environment to present brands and services in a fresh new way, not only to create new customers, but also to reinforce the loyalty of existing customers.


Funny Or Die Up For Sale, Even If It’s Not Looking To Sell

By Sahil Patel

Funny or Die might be on the block.

The comedy video site, founded by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Chris Henchy, has been approached by numerous potential buyers, according to Funny or Die’s president and CEO Dick Glover. “We’ve received unsolicited interest from a number of companies,” said Glover in a memo. “We are not trying to sell Funny or Die, but we thought it wise to engage some experts to help us evaluate the situation.”

Read more…

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.

This Week’s [a]list Jobs – November 12th

[a]listdaily is now your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings.

Want to know what happens to your brain when you’re having a really brilliant idea Read up.

Here are this week’s [a]list jobs:

  • Universal Music Group – VP, Marketing (Hollywood, Calif.)
  • NBCUniversal – VP, Global Brand Marketing (Universal City, Calif.)
  • MTV – VP, Consumer Marketing (New York, New York)
  • Electronic Arts – Mobile Manager, Strategic Marketing (Los Angeles, Calif.)

For last week’s [a]list jobs, click here.