Twitter’s Bringing Native Video To All Users In 2015

By Jessica Klein

After enabling third-party videos, Vines, and GIFs, Twitter will soon allow all users to create and share native videos on its service.

According to a blog post by Twitter’s VP of product, Kevin Weil, tweeters can expect to record and edit their videos on the social site “in the first half of next year.”

This comes after Twitter gave advertising partners the ability to share premium video content on the platform. Networks, media companies, and consumer brands have been taking advantage of the technology, available via the company’s Twitter Amplify program.

Read up on Twitter’s native video moves…

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.

NPD October US Retail: Overall Sales Are Flat

Once again, US retail sales for video game hardware, software, and accessories presented a mixed picture. October 2014’s overall retail sales ($790.7 million) were just about the same as October 2013 ($791.3 million), with a massive 59 percent rise in hardware sales (to $273.5 million) and 22 percent rise in accessories sales (to $166.8 million) offsetting the 27 percent decline in software sales (which dropped to $350.3 million from last year’s $482.6 million).

On the one hand, it’s clear that the PS4 and the Xbox One have done very well in their first year. Last month marked the one year anniversary of both the PS4 and the Xbox One in the US retail market, and NPD declared that these new consoles are selling far better than the last generation did at launch. “October 2014 marks the first 12 months of sales for the Xbox One and PS4; and after the first year, these consoles have had a great start as cumulative sales are currently over 70 percent higher than the combined first year totals of Xbox 360 and PS3,” said NPD’s Liam Callahan.

Left out of the congratulations is Nintendo’s lagging Wii U console, which has now been passed up in total sales by both the Xbox One and the PS4. Despite the boost provided by Mario Kart 8, and the expected boost from Super Smash Bros., it’s clear that the Wii U is still on course to be the worst-selling console in Nintendo’s history. The recent price reduction of the Xbox One to $349, and the bundled software offered by many retailers for the holidays, puts it around the same price as the Wii U — with a far greater library of software and a massive power advantage. That’s a heavy burden for Nintendo to overcome, with key new Wii U titles slowly making their way to market.

Overall, though, hardware is a bright spot for retails stores, providing much-needed dollars to keep the numbers looking good. “Hardware sales of eighth generation consoles represent close to 80 percent of dollar sales this month driving overall consoles sales to increase by 186 percent over October 2013,” said Callahan.

Microsoft noted that the $50 price cut for the Xbox One has driven the total units shipped over 10 million worldwide and tripled its weekly sales, outselling the PS4 by nearly two-to-one over the past few weeks. That 10 million unit number puts the Xbox One not too far away from Sony’s PS4 at 13.5 million worldwide. Sony applauded its PS4 sales in an infographic, noting that the PS4 has 56 million unique active users that have spent over 1 billion hours playing online.

Accessories were also a cheery note for retail stores, as the category rose 22 percent for the month. “Accessory sales in October 2014 grew by 22 percent over October 2013, due to increased sales of gamepads, headsets/headphones, and video game point and subscription cards,” Callahan said. “Gamepad sales were related to hardware growth as the top items were for the Xbox One and PS4.” The category was also helped by strong sales of digital value cards. “This month marked the best October on record for video game point and subscription cards, beating out the second best October, which happened to be last October, by 24 percent — another sign that consumers are starting to shift their purchasing towards digital,” Callahan added.

The picture for retail video game software is a very different one, and NPD struggled to present the picture in a positive light. “Declines in software this month were driven by further declines of seventh generation software, which were not fully offset by gains in eighth generation consoles,” Callahan noted. “New launch performance was also soft as games that launched this month sold 42 percent fewer units than the games that launched in October 2013. Despite, however, the declines in sales this month of seventh generation software, research from our quarterly Games Market Dynamics: U.S. showed that usage of seventh generation consoles across Q3’14 is still larger than that of eighth generation consoles.”

This shift is beginning to worry analysts. “Given the strong shift toward new-gen games that is apparent from recent data, and the fact that digital currently appears to be taking as much as 25 percent share of total new-gen sales depending on the game, we continue to expect total Q4 physical unit sales to be down double-digits year-over-year,” wrote analyst Doug Creutz of investment firm Cowen and Company.

GameStop seems to be working hard to overcome this retail weakness through a variety of efforts, by Creutz is concerned about other retailers like Walmart and Target that have significant video game sales. Those retailers just aren’t putting in the same effort for the category that GameStop is. Certainly the next two months will have massive sales, and the Black Friday deals are already generating tremendous interest. The new year will likely dawn with a continuing sales problem for retail software, as more dollars head to digital.

October 2014 Top 10 Games (New Physical Retail only; across all platforms incl. PC)
1. NBA 2K15 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC) Take 2 Interactive
2. Super Smash Bros. (3DS) Nintendo
3. The Evil Within (PS4, XBO, PS3, 360, PC) Bethesda Softworks
4. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! (360, PS3, PC) Take 2 Interactive
5. Destiny (360, XBO, PS4, PS3)** Activision Blizzard
6. Skylanders Trap Team (360, Wii, NWU, PS3, XBO, PS4, 3DS, MOB)** Activision Blizzard
7. FIFA 15 (PS4, 360, PS3, XBO, Wii, PSV, 3DS)** Electronic Arts
8. Madden NFL 15 (360, PS4, PS3, XBO)** Electronic Arts
9. Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor (PS4, XBO, PC) Warner Bros. Interactive
10. Minecraft (360, PS3, PS4) Microsoft / Sony
**(includes CE, GOTY editions, bundles, etc. but not those bundled with hardware)

Biggest Marketing Moves: November 14th

Here are some of the top personnel moves in marketing last week. Our congratulations to these people taking on new challenges!

Hulu’s Head of Branded Content Bryan Thoensen Exists: Thoensen headed Hulu’s integrated marketing division for 4 years. Hulu will now incorporate branded content into their ad sales group.

Top Marketers Farley, Odell Trading Places At Ford: Some top marketers at the vehicle company are trading places with Jim Farley moving to EVP and president for Europe, Middle East and Africa and Odell taking EVP of global marketing.

BuzzFeed Hires HuffPo’s Director of Native Advertising: BuzzFeed is looking to monetize and believes Tessa Gould, formerly of the Huffington Post, is the one for the task.

Vevo Hires Former Bedrocket, Turner Exec to Lead Consumer Marketing: Stacy Moscatelli will lead Vevo’s consumer marketing and branding efforts.

Shannon Out At Hyundai, Automaker Confirms: Steve Shannon, VP of Marketing for Hyundai, is leaving the position amid other surprising top-level shake ups the automaker is making.

Alexis Ohanian Is Returning to Help Run Reddit: Quite a surprise that Ohanian has returned to help the company he founded. As a result, Yishan Wong who was acting as CEO has exited.

If you have a submission for this weekly feature, send info to pr@ayzenberg.com or fill out our Suggest a Story form.

Raptr Most Played PC Games For October 2014

FIFA 15, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor made their first appearance in Most Played this month, and overall gameplay time was up 4 percent. Diablo III slipped out of the top five, with ArcheAge claiming a spot.

Highlights

League of Legends didn’t slow down in October; play time was up 2.78 percent compared to September. The World Championship final rounds took place through the first half of the month, but didn’t lead to an obviously identifiable bump. LoL‘s Halloween sales event, The Harrowing, had a similarly understated impact, though play time did peak during the event’s launch weekend.

Despite World of Warcraft play time increasing 16.32 percent in October versus last month, it was nowhere close to dethroning League of Legends from the top spot. Nonetheless, it received a major bump in play time thanks to The Iron Tide patch, which introduced new character models, world events, revamped group finders, and much more. The MMO also had various holiday events and sales in October. Its latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor, will release in mid-November along with events for the game’s ten-year anniversary, which should impact play time significantly for next month’s Most Played.

DOTA 2 also had a bit of a gain in October, up 5.98 percent. Play time reached its peak after the release of Update 6.82c, which was mainly a balance patch.

ArcheAge rounds out the top five, climbing two spots in October, the first full month after the MMORPG’s release.

Diablo III slipped to seventh place, losing nearly 41.48 percent of play time compared to September. The game received an early October push due to a 50 percent-off sale on the game plus the Reaper of Souls expansion, but after the first week of October gameplay steadily declined, despite bonus Gold Find and an increase of experience during Halloween.

Star Wars: The Old Republic rose three spots thanks in part to pre-order bonuses for the upcoming expansion, Shadow of Revan. The pre-order grants a huge (12x) XP bonus from class missions through November.

Payday 2 made a return into the top 20, jumping 19 spots in October. Play time increased significantly when the crime title was 75 percent off in mid-October. To add to the play time increase was the shooter’s Crimefest event, which included various new (Halloween-themed) masks, daily missions, and a John Wick movie promotion that allowed you to play as Keanu Reeves’ character.

FIFA 15 shot up 192 spots after its late September launch. Final Fantasy XIV Online, Warframe, and Guild Wars 2 slipped as each lost play time compared to September. Out of the three, Guild Wars 2 fared the worst, down 10.42 percent.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel landed in 17th place with a mid-October launch.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor also debuted this month. While it stole some play time from Diablo III, current gameplay trends may see Shadow of Mordor drop out of November’s Most Played.

Team Fortress 2 rounded out the top 20. Despite losing two spots, the game’s play time increased 12.55 percent compared to last month. Halloween events and various fixes and updates appeared to be the main contributing factors.

Note: The Share number by each game represents that title’s gameplay time as a percentage of the total time spent on all the PC games played by Raptr members, and is useful for comparing the relative amount of play time between particular games.

CREATIVE: Kate Upton Wants You To Play Games

Lately, there’s been a huge TV advertising push for free-to-play games, with King leading the charge, featuring a number of animated spots for such games as Farm Rescue Saga and Candy Crush Saga. However, Machine Zone may have just taken the cake with its new campaign for the MMO strategy title Game of War: Fire Age.

In an effort to push its highly popular mobile game, the company has unleashed a new global marketing campaign, one that cost approximately $40 million in media and spares no expense on special effects. For good measure, the company has also tapped Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton to appear in the first television ad, goading on players to fight the evil dragons featured within it.

“It is fantastic to be instrumental in the start of a new era in gaming and communications,” said Upton in an email. “I love playing the part of Athena — she’s such a bad-ass character, commanding armies, slaying hydra, charging into battle — the work shows how much fun it is, and I am proud to be part of it.”

However, some have questioned the content of the TV ad, featured below. Polygon, for example, compared the recent ad to “crappy mid-90’s video game” advertising, while others have questioned Upton’s approach towards male gamer, insinuating they can come in and “play with me.”

Some also question the CG effects used in the trailer. While impressive, they don’t represent what the actual game is, as it’s far less visual than it lets on. The ad itself barely features any footage from said game either – a tactic that some game companies are prone to using, like Activision with its live-action Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare commercial.

Despite questionable tactics, this commercial – and Upton’s presence – will no doubt push sales for Game of War, in one form or another.

 

Tencent Works On Monetizing Mobile Games

Tencent isn’t going anywhere soon, as the game company continues to roll in big bucks between its PC and mobile game divisions, to the tune of RMB 2.6 billion (U.S. equivalent $424 million) for the third quarter. However, PC has taken a healthy chunk of that, while mobile revenue is actually down a bit, mainly due to “delayed launches of upgrades,” according to Tech In Asia.

The company has proven that it can monetize its PC games, fitting in with the likes of World of Warcraft and League of Legends with ease. However, in the mobile market, it’s struggling a little bit, due to the fact that Chinese gamers are more likely to stick with longer-lasting PC efforts than games on their phones. In fact, quite a few of them delete said games from their devices, moving on to the next big thing that’s being offered.

Only a handful of Chinese mobile games have proven profitable, forcing Tencent to produce or license multiple games in order to see which ones actually “stick” with the intended audience. And even when one does manage to gain interest from an audience, it can take quite a bit of time for profits to emerge from said game, and by that time, some people may lose interest, moving on to whatever download is next in line.

However, there’s a fine line to walk with monetization, according to the article. Developers and publishers may feel pressure to try and create a system that relies heavily on monetization, but, as a result, could push certain gamers away, or overdo on the system, to the point it eclipses the game’s content.

Tencent believes it’s a work in progress, however. A strategic shift has to be planned out to keep the attention of mobile gamers, relying more on an improved user experience rather than a demand for increasing revenues. Now it’s just a matter of finding that system to put in place, one that works just as well as it does on the PC front, but without forcibly pushing away those turned off by the idea they have to pay so much to continue the game.

We’ll have to see how the company’s 2015 roll-out plays out. Here’s hoping it can make it work.

 

Mobile Marketing Should Be Personal

When it comes to advertising, sometimes it just helps to have a personal touch – at least, according to Facebook mobile advertising chief Jane Schachtel.

Schachtel said mobile devices can be quite personal to audiences, and with that, the advertising should go hand in hand but take a cautious approach when it comes to personalization, according to VentureBeat.

However, with risk comes reward, Schachtel believes. Only $16 billion (roughly two percent) of total worldwide ad spending will be on the mobile front next year, with plenty of room to grow with personalization touches. “This presents a huge opportunity,” she explained, speaking at the Mobile First conference earlier this week.

The growing time spent on mobile devices is worth noting as well. “People used to go to the mobile web to find one specific thing,” she explained. “Then came the feed . . . Now people discover, they share.” By doing so, information is supplied that can help marketers aim their programs at said consumers.

However, there’s still room to grow with more data. “No one company has all the data,” she said – not even Facebook. “It’s just a lot of companies with a lot of data.”

With this combination of information, the sky is the limit for marketers and their campaigns. “That big data we hear people always talking about is really all about relevance,” said Schachtel.

With a blend of social activity from the site, as well as information on products people have (or are looking for), marketers can thrive, she explained. “This is bringing people back. This is making business personal again.”

However, putting out the ads is one thing. Tracking the effectiveness in the long run is another, as it’s vital to get eyes on ads and, better yet, some form of interaction. This can be done through cookies, as well as keeping a close eye on data. With that, Schachtel was quick to remind everyone about Facebook’s forthcoming Atlas ad tracking service. “That’s Atlas,” she said. “With Atlas you have a powerful system where marketers can measure engagement across devices.”

 

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 thevideoink.com 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.