Brands Rule The Mobile Gaming Front

When it comes to mobile games, the more popular ones seem to stem from recognizable franchises. Even though there’s always room for some new blood to give the market a try, favorites like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja have no problem drawing a crowd – especially with the involvement of new partners.

The latest iOS and Android numbers revealed the top mobile games for the current month, indicating that current brands like FIFA (featuring Lionel Messi amongst other players) and Angry Birds Transformers are still riding high on popularity. As a result, several small development teams are thriving, riding all the way to the top of the mobile charts, according to VentureBeat.

Angry Birds Transformers has proven to be a powerhouse addition to Rovio’s game line-up, becoming the number one downloaded game for the month of October on both formats. Disney’s Cars: Fast As Lightning notched a third place position, and Gameloft continues to profit from the moneymaker Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

However, some companies have proven that you can teach an old dog new tricks as well. Halfbrick, the developers of the popular Fruit Ninja brand, garnered a huge audience last month when it introduced downloadable content based on the hit 1984 film Ghostbusters to its game, complete with plasma stream cannon and plenty of “spooky” fruit.

Fruit Ninja‘s success presents an interesting twist to the trend of games based on licensed IP,” says the App Annie report. “Licensed updates may have an advantage in the form of shorter development cycles and lower costs while still providing a desired spike in downloads.”

The report also shows that Electronic Arts has managed to gain its own audience with the FIFA 15 Ultimate Teach game. “Over the past year, mobile sports games have become a significant part of Electronic Arts’ portfolio. Based on its latest earnings release, Electronic Arts’ mobile games averaged 155 million monthly active users during Q3 2014. Of this, its mobile sports games averaged 40 million MAUs during the same time period, a gain of 250 percent since last year.”

It’ll be interesting to see where the mobile market goes from here – and what new partnering ideas companies cook up with their popular franchises.

REPORT: Nielsen To Measure Netflix, Amazon Viewership

By Sahil Patel

Netflix and Amazon famously don’t provide ratings on who’s watching what on their respective SVOD services. That’s going to change soon, though not at the hands of either company.

Starting next month, Nielsen will provide some viewership metrics on content available on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, according to The Wall Street Journal. The measurement firm will be able to do this by monitoring video consumption among those who participate in its nationwide consumer panel.

This will be independent data, unverified by Netflix or Amazon, who declined to comment for the report. Nielsen will use audio-recognition technology to identify which shows are being streamed.

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 thevideoink.com for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

Why Video Game Ads Are Facebook’s Worst Performers

Facebook has revealed that ads for video games are their social network’s worst performers, putting up anemic impressions and click rates bested even by dating ads.

Rick Kelley, Facebook’s global director of sales for games, shared the unwelcome news at November 19’s London Games Conference. “You are not just competing with other video game ads, you are competing with L’Oreal, Lynx, and other ad companies […] There are only so many ads we can show people on any given day,” Kelley remarked, alluding to a saturated market for traditional advertising.

Kelley offered three key points of advice for gaming companies looking to deliver their advertising statistics from peril:

Precise targeting

Blurred lines between “hardcore” and “casual” gamers coupled with mobile’s explosion mean that gamers are no longer an easily-compartmentalized niche audience. Facebook intends to flex its renowned data-collection muscle by gathering internal data from publishers, allowing them to gain an advantage when they are presented with a specified audience ripe for their ad campaigns.

Design content relevant to specific audiences

Kelley emphasized Facebook users’ growing embrace of video, detailing a company decision to autoplay videos in news feeds that sees them handling upwards of a billion views a day. Pointing to a successful Facebook campaign for EA’s Madden franchise tailored to a consumer’s favorite football team, Kelley stated that companies would do well to follow their lead by tackling individualized content designed to attract the attention of specific users.

Brand leverage

Think your game has a one-in-a-million chance of following in the footsteps of Flappy Bird or Candy Crush Saga Kelley advised developers to think again on that front, claiming current market figures place their chances closer to one in two million. Using hitmakers King and Supercell as examples, Kelley suggested publishers brand their games with watermarks, as it affords a level of prestige to makers of a beloved game hoping to keep consumers on board for their next offering.

A Look Behind ‘Atari: Game Over’

The story is familiar to countless gamers and marketers: Atari, once a pioneering behemoth of the video game industry renowned for innovative consoles like the Atari 2600 and games like Pong, saw their fortunes come crashing down in epic fashion in 1983 when holiday-season platformer E.T.’s abject critical and commercial failure brought the entire company, and video game industry, down along with it. The game was such a catastrophe that unsold copies were sent to a landfill in New Mexico, never intended to see the light of day again. It stands as an oft-repeated cautionary tale for publishers and manufacturers determined to avoid committing the same grave errors with their own products.

A new documentary filmed by X-Men: The Last Stand and The Avengers co-writer Zak Penn for WIRED titled Atari: Game Over will premiere free for all Xbox Live users tomorrow (November 20). Penn, a self-proclaimed nostalgia buff who “grew up on Atari”, traveled to the site of the infamous landfill for Atari: Game Over, overseeing an excavation operation that successfully recovered intact E.T. cartridges and refuted past rumors that the landfill had been sealed off with concrete.

Penn’s documentary, aimed at informing gamers about the infamous implosion from an all-new angle, features interviews with Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell and other figures instrumental in the company’s rise and fall from gaming glory. “They thought, ‘Hey! I’m a nerd. There are girls here. They’re talking to me — it’s good!’”, Bushnell says in one such interview, recalling Atari’s party-happy corporate culture designed to attract cutting-edge talent. The freewheeling workplace environment gave rise to a cast of executives and engineers who would “do what they want to do,” according to Warner Communications ex-co-COO Manny Gerard, breeding what amounted to a double-edged-sword as programmers encouraged to innovate powered Atari to skyrocketing levels of success in the late 1970s before inadvertently leading them to ruin in the form of a less-than-glamorous landfill when their outsized ambitions fell short.

No matter how you might feel about the ordeal, Atari: Game Over seems poised to offer a never-before-seen window into a time-worn tale.

Ubisoft: Marketers, Developers Must Work Together

With the game market consistently growing with new and familiar brands – and with multi-million dollar ad campaigns behind them – marketing needs to adapt to the times as well. At least, that’s what Ubisoft Montreal brand director Luc Duchaine believes.

Duchaine certainly has his hands full these days, as the publisher has released plenty of titles for the holiday season, including two Assassin’s Creed games, Far Cry 4, Just Dance 2015 and the upcoming multiplayer racer The Crew.

With that, Duchaine believes that a “necessary union” between marketing and development needs to be made, based on what he said last week at the Montreal International Game Summit. Game developers not only need to realize their creative potential with products, but also promote it the right way, according to GamesIndustry International.

Some developers and marketers are getting along better, but Duchaine believes there’s still a way to go. “It’s a recurring subject,” he explained. “I still get it sometimes from people who are new to Ubisoft and they’re like, ‘There’s a marketing guy on the team That’s kind of weird.’ But I know for us, now it’s common knowledge at Ubisoft. Tomorrow morning if you came and told my producer I wasn’t on the project any more, he’d probably slap you and be like, ‘What I need him!'”

Developers can be wary of having a marketing specialist on board, but there is certainly room for growth. “You can ship a game without a marketer,” he continued.. “You can’t ship a game without an art director, or a lead programmer. But without a marketer The game will go out. In the best conditions, I don’t know. Will it be maximized in terms of return on investment, in terms of reach I think that’s the downside . . . That’s why certain studios don’t have marketing early on. They can ship a game without a marketing person in-house. They see it as a cost they can avoid, and they see marketing as a separate service and not something that can truly help to make a better game.

The right tools for the job are also vital, according to Duchaine. “If you do not give the tools to the marketing team, if you fail to provide them the materials to build a good marketing campaign, the result is very simple. Someone somewhere, in an agency, on a marketing team, will decide what’s iconic for your brand. Because we need that in marketing. We need iconic elements. We cannot put on screen the same thing that’s been shown over and over again. And chances are, you won’t like it. They’ll try to sell a game you aren’t making.”

With that, there needs to be less division between the two. “What’s to be learned is that everyone can play a role with the marketing of a game. And if everybody has that mindset, it can truly help a game. If you have someone to emphasize that, it’s an added value, but if everybody thinks, ‘Well how can I help marketing’ when they develop a game, that’s what we can learn from indies.”

More of the interview can be found here.

Disruptor Beam Raises Money For Expansion

Disruptor Beam has done a great job creating games that know how to draw a strong community, including popular titles like the forthcoming Star Trek Timelines and Game of Thrones Ascent. With that, it should have no trouble continuing to do so, as it’s managed to raise over $5 million thus far for development.

The company announced that it has secured this amount, including $3.2 million from the most recent round of Series A funding, which will be turned around to go towards development into Timelines, as well as other additional IPs for future game products. It’s also looking to expand its team with even more development members, although specific departments weren’t mentioned in the company’s press release.

With the investment come new equity investors, as well as the ability to convert existing debut. Such companies as Midverse Studios, GrandBanks Capital and a number of technology-driven partners, along with CommonAngels, Romulus Capital, and Harmonix founders Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy. In addition, the team has also secured a line of equity financing through Silicon Valley Bank.

“These latest investments will help us to further deliver on our vision of creating the most community-centric game company in the world,” said Jon Radoff, CEO and founder of Disruptor Beam. “We build games based on entertainment brands that have the most engaged fan communities. And, we see these communities as just as important as the games themselves. For these reasons, we’re in the process of developing a community platform that will allow cross-game social capabilities and one that will enable players to connect with one another in new, innovative ways.”

With that, 2015 should be a tremendous year for the company, with the completion of both Timelines and the new platform, both of which are expected to draw in a large PC gaming fan base. In addition, more licensed franchises could come down the road, meeting with the same success as Game of Thrones (though possibly not as popular).

Those who wish to learn more about Disruptor Beam can check out its official page here.

Gaming’s Video-Watching Audience Is Still Largely Male

 

A new report from eMarketer titled “Worlds Collide: Videos and Gaming, and What Marketers Need to Know” shows that gaming-related video’s audience is largely male, but why is this so

While gaming in general has become a mainstream activity with mobile, social and casual gaming appealing with wide demographics, video watchers still tend to be male. eMarketer cites a study by video news site VideoInk that found that Call of Duty, League of Legends, Grand Theft Auto and EA Sports FIFA had audiences of over 90 percent male viewers, sometimes even as high as 98 percent. These audiences skewed young, too, with over 50 percent being between 18 and 24 years of age.

When it comes to YouTube, the proportion does change a bit. As obvious as it sounds, games in genres that typically attract a higher proportion of males tend to attract the same kind of audience on YouTube. Although games like Clash of Clans, Minecraft and Pokémon are attracting more diverse audience due to the broader appeal of the game, they do not comprise the majority of online gaming video.

According to a survey Newzoo back in March, 69 percent of respondents who enjoyed watching and participating in eSports were male and 31 percent female. While eSports has a notable gender gap and is making progress in transforming its reputation as a “boys-only clubhouse,” why then are gaming video watchers so overwhelmingly male After all, 48 percent of online video viewers are female.

Game streaming sites would do well to cast a wider net to appeal to a larger audience just as gaming as an activity has shifted from being viewed as a mostly young male hobby. Now that huge brands are looking to connect with the audience around competitive gaming, opening this pastime to new audiences is key, but important players in eSports and streaming are worried about alienating their audience by incorporating more inclusive practices.

“We are not focused on expanding our demographic beyond who we currently reach because our core audience is growing every year. Historically all attempts to target non-core eSports demographics have been failures. Various companies have tried simplification, gender segregation, mainstream-friendly rule sets and other similar things but does not work. It is not authentic as it alienates the immensely large core audience in the hope that someone new might pick it up. We don’t see the point,” said the programming director, Michal Blicharz of ESL, the largest independent eSports brand to Polygon back in August.

This Week’s [a]list Jobs – November 19th

[a]listdaily is 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.

How nice would it be to be performing at your personal best, no matter what See a day in the life of your most productive self.

Here are this week’s [a]list jobs:

  • NAMCO BANDAI– Associate Brand Manager (Santa Clara, Calif.)
  • Electronic Arts – Product Marketing Manager, Mobile (Redwood City, Calif.)
  • Google – Strategy and Operations Manager, Global Marketing (Mountain View, Calif.)
  • Google – Product Marketing Manager, Google Play Afflilate Program (Mountain View, Calif.)
  • GREE – Product Marketing Manager (San Francisco, Calif.)

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

Azubu Aims for Premium eSports

It’s been a banner year for eSports, as the revenues from various games like League of Legends, World of Tanks, and DOTA 2 rise into the billions, with over 100 million dedicated players globally and new titles on the horizon. We now have eSports events occurring in major sports stadiums, and even a special stadium being built just for eSports. Related to that, streaming game video continues to grow, and the sale of Twitch to Amazon for $2 billion underscores the value of game streaming and eSports.

In this rapidly growing space we have Azubu, which bill itself as a “global broadcast network, delivering premium live and on demand eSports action, programming, news and analysis.” The company is taking a different approach to eSports than the everyone-is-welcome-to-stream style Twitch employs. Azubu is focused on building a premium eSports network, the equivalent of ESPN. That means building superior technology for displaying high-quality streams on a variety of devices, and it also means top-quality content, analysis, and statistics.

Furthering that goal, Azubu has been busy signing top eSports players and teams to provide exclusive content, bringing more reasons for eSports fans to tune into Azubu as it builds out its network. The [a]listdaily caught up with Azubu CEO Ian Sharpe to ask about Azubu’s plans and the growth of eSports and streaming.

Ian Sharpe

[a]listdaily: Azubu has embarked on an ambitious journey to become the premiere eSports network. How would you assess your progress towards that goal so far

Ian Sharpe: There are two ways to answer that question. The first is very practical. At Azubu, I often say ‘you can’t improve unless you measure’. We keep track of every aspect of the business, and so, according to our development backlog, we are 40 percent through our planned feature set.

The second is more philosophical. Startups are tough and reboots are tougher still. I like to quote Bukowski, “What matters most is how you walk through the fire.” Not only are we still walking, but the team we have forged in this crucible is unparalleled in my experience in terms of dedication, passion and sheer derring-do.

[a]listdaily: Azubu has partnered with KeSPA (the Korean eSports Association), and pro players like Faker. How have they been received, and what has this meant for Azubu

Ian Sharpe: Partnering with KeSPA was like uncovering a lost treasure. Of course, KeSPA has been a staple of the eSports industry for years, but the players had never streamed — at least for League of Legends. The first night Flame was due to headline, I was sitting in a hotel room in Seoul, eagerly waiting the stream to start. Ten minutes passed and the suspense was so unbearable, I was phoning staff to make sure all was going to plan. Right then, all of a sudden, the site burst into life. It was a phenomenal shared experience and a real triumph as well as a definite first. Partnering with Azubu allows KeSPA players to reach a broader audience and interact with fans worldwide, and all of eSports wins. Of course, a couple of weeks later, Faker started streaming. The best player in the world, hands down, on our site. That’s the stuff dreams are made of. To say the least, we’re excited to expand that partnership and announce other projects we’ll be working on with them in the future. Partnering with these pros has been a step closer to having a platform with all the best pros and teams in the eSports scene. In addition, we’ll be announcing new teams and pros joining soon!

[a]listdaily: Now that the League Champions Series (for League of Legends) is over, what’s your assessment of the year eSports has had Will eSports continue to move forward at the same pace in 2015

Ian Sharpe: Competition is part of our DNA, this space is destined for continual evolution. Look at the massive changes happening in China, the growth of BlizzCon in LA, the new titles on the horizon. eSports is a wildfire, leaping over obstacles, sparking new ideas, blazing a trail. Momentum is always a friend, and I am enthralled to see how it surges forward.

[a]listdaily: When a professional League of Legends player retired and then signed a streaming agreement for $800K a year, that raised some eyebrows. Is this an anomaly, or is this where streaming is headed

Ian Sharpe: Streaming is as much a phenomena as eSports itself, and the two combined create a real force for change — potentially explosive change. High profile endorsements and contracts have been the norm in sports for years. Now, in eSports, money is helping fuel the fire, fanning the flames. However, there are many pros out there that have turned down large monetary opportunities from streaming companies because they just want to compete, so there is a balance, and I think there will continue to be.

[a]listdaily: Despite Electronic Arts giving up on their MOBA Dawngate, there are still high-profile entries coming like Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, and even on tablets (Vainglory, for instance). Do you think there’s good reasons to work with upcoming titles for streaming

Ian Sharpe: Absolutely. The sheer inventiveness in and around videogaming is awe inspiring. I could show you a dozen new and compelling experiences being created right now, on every device imaginable, from my ex-EA colleagues alone. Streaming offers them an audience and advocates that can be influential in shaping a game and making it better. I’m personally excited for Overwatch (along with every other gamer out there). Our goal is to have content opportunities around every single one of these major titles to provide fans with the gameplay they want to watch, and provide broadcasters with the platform that delivers all the major titles that they want to play.

[a]listdaily: What do you think Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch means to the streaming business

Ian Sharpe: You know, looking back on my answers above, I’ve noticed a whole Fire motif, which perhaps shows the subliminal power of the Amazon platform! The acquisition was like setting a beacon ablaze for eSports. It proves what a major business eSports and livestreaming is. The world is watching, quite literally, to see where we go next. Exciting times.

Biz Stone Tries Again With ‘Super’

Brands had been making quick use of Jelly, the last app from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, but sadly the crowdsourcing Q and A app wasn’t so catching. But now, we have Super.

Super brings a new, fun way to share photo content with your statement, opinion or recommendation by choosing from a few prompts. You can post anonymously or sign your name, however you wish.

The app garners a lot of inspiration from other opinion-sharing apps like Whisper or Secret and the juxtaposition of text and fun colors harkens back to the app Yo.

We’ll certainly be waiting with bated breath to see how brands use Super and whether or not it has sticking power. Until then, Stone is managing his expectations and treading carefully.

“I’ve decided not to come up with some slick and pithy marketing description for Super. I’m also not going to proclaim that it’s the most innovative thing ever or that it’s going to save the world. It’s not, it’s just fun,” said Stone in a post on his publishing platform, Medium.