Kabam Talks About Monetizing Mobile Games

Kabam has certainly made quite a few moves since its inception five years ago, making lots of money from mobile and social games. Recently, the company made the decision to sell off many of its social game titles in an effort to focus more on mobile titles, possibly as part of its terms of agreement with Alibaba’s investment in the company earlier this year.

That’s not to say it’s missing out on profits. With more than 900 employees on its team, it’s getting close to $500 million in revenues for the year, up from the $360 million the previous year. Franchises based on The Hunger Games and Fast and Furious have certainly helped out, along with The Hobbit, which is likely to pick up in popularity again with the final movie, Battle of the Five Armies, opening this week.

Recently, chief operating officer Kent Wakeford spoke with VentureBeat about the ins-and-outs of monetizing mobile games the proper way – there’s a process that has to be followed to ensure its success.

When it comes to developers developing games with a high monetization rate, Wakeford explained, “When you think about a matrix of areas that we look at, it starts with, what game do you want to make What genre are you going after The genre has a lot to do with getting monetization into the game. Then, going to the development stage, on the monetization we could talk a lot about system design and how you think about that. That could follow into distribution and marketing and how that impacts ultimate revenue per install. We’re in the business of games as a service, of course. Running games and the live operation of games becomes critical. When we think about games we think about those four key areas. Each one plays an important role.”

Wakeford also touched on the subject of optimal game genres, and where they can make a difference. “As you think about the games you want to make, think about the genres you want to develop—genres have a lot to do with the ultimate lifetime value (LTV). In North America and Europe, strategy games have the highest revenue per install of any genre. Something like $3.98 per install. That’s a lot of revenue per player, so there’s a lot of strategy games out there. Second is RPG at about $3.82. Then you drop down to casino, which is a long way behind,” he explained.

“Strategy games tend to have the lowest number of installs, though. The highest number of installs comes in action games, like infinite runners. Those games tend to have a revenue per install of about 25 cents. It’s a trade-off. When you think about a game, you want to think about the monetization side, but also the customer acquisition side. Action games have much wider appeal.”

Wakeford also touched on the subject of licensing popular franchises. “Kabam has a long history of building licensed IP,” he said. “The Hobbit is a good example. What we’ve found is that the biggest impact of licensed IP is on the customer acquisition side, getting a more effective CPI. You get a lot more organic traffic, better search engine optimization in the app stores, more people coming into the game. You can spend the marketing dollars more efficiently because there’s already brand awareness.

“As far as monetization, when you find the true fans of an IP, they will engage. They will engage and play and spend and get their friends to spend. There’s a core group of players who you’ll see over index in terms of monetization. But the key benefit of licensed IP is much more on the acquisition side,” said Wakeford.

The full interview, which also touches on the subjects of advertisements in games to compensate for in-app purchases, can be found here.

Sega Builds Real-Time Strategy Game ‘Total War: Arena’

Sega’s development team The Creative Assembly has been quite busy this year. Along with its survival horror first-person experience Alien: Isolation, the team has been hard at work on a new project that could change the face of strategic multiplayer as we know it – all while involving the highly popular Total War franchise.

Total War: Arena has been announced, a real-time strategy game that will allow up to ten players to compete against another group of ten in ancient battles, involving thousands of soldiers, according to VentureBeat.

The game, which will be set up on a free-to-play basis, is part of the Total War: Rome II franchise, providing a huge expansion on multiplayer, which was previously set up on a four-versus-four basis. This should no doubt bring in a bigger audience – which will certainly benefit Sega following a somewhat lackluster year in game sales.

While strategy will play an integral part in the game, battles will certainly be the focus. “This is all about fighting, not building a base,” said Gabor Beressy, project lead for Total War II: Arena. “Our goal is to create a pure, quality multiplayer experience. We have always wanted to have amazing multiplayer. After Rome II, we decided it needed its own team and its own dedicated development.”

The game, originally announced at the Game Developers Conference earlier this year, recently got a press showing in San Francisco, and is currently undergoing closed alpha testing at the moment, indicating that a public beta may not be far behind as 2015 rolls around.

The game will be “easy to get in and hard to master,” according to Beressy, with a number of tactics to utilize and 15 minute battles to endure. There can be situations where players can “turn the tide,” as it were, and rush an unsuspecting enemy.

The Creative Assembly intends to add even more historical content over time, including Gauls, barbarians, Chinese factions and more, according to Beressy.

This could no doubt change the landscape of how some people play online – and it will certainly push Total War to its limits in terms of interaction, not to mention excitement.

Sooo…who wants to conquer an empire?

What We Know About Millennial Media Consumption In 2014

Marketers definitely have an interest when it comes to going after millennials, since there are so many ways to reach that audience via media. They continue to be the largest demographic in the United States, accounting for nearly a third of the general population.

However, there are some things that can be learned from the media consumption that millennials have gone through this year, according to a report from Digiday. The five basic principles are broken down below:

Traditional publications are still popular

Taking information from comScore, Digiday has broken down the data for certain media sites, indicating that millennials still have a high interest in traditional publications, such as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

According to the numbers (revealed in a chart below),  The New York Times still accounts for more than 64 million unique visitors across desktop and mobile platforms for the month of October alone, with 20 million millennials included. Meanwhile, Nice has managed to gain 25 million total visitors, with 3/5 of that audience being millennials. Out of all the sites, however, Buzzfeed remains the most popular, with 74 million visitors — 39 million in the millennial age. That’s more than half.

Online Video Is Viewed Often

Nielsen has reported that millennial males enjoy watching online video to a great extent, to the tune of 2 hours and 15 minutes on a weekly basis. However, when it comes to watching weekly television, they only tune in 20 hours each week, compared to 23 hours for millennial females and 28 hours for Gen X males.

Meanwhile, African-American millennial makes watch both more traditional television (33 hours) and online video (three hours) than the general average, while Asian-American males watch less television (11.5 hours) and more web video (almost four hours).

Socially Responsible Brands Are More Highly Accepted

An October 2014 report from The White House’s Council of Economic Advisors shows that 92 percent of millennial employees feel that they contribute to a company that has a positive effect on the world overall, between such causes as global warming and animal rights.

They feel that social responsibility can have a ripple effect with certain brand purchases, with millennials being three times as likely to wear clothes from socially conscious brands over those that are more luxury-based. Meanwhile, four in ten are willing to pay more for products and brands with an environmental impact. That number’s even higher in China and India, as 65 percent and 60 percent, respectively, of millennials say they’re willing to fork over more money for eco-friendly products.

Millennials Love Amazon, But Not TV Networks

Amazon is one of millennials’ most loved brands, according to youth insights consultant group Voxburner. A recent survey of 3,000 millennials in the United Kingdom showed that 94 percent have positive feelings for the web giant, with YouTube and Google closely behind with 93 percent. “To be a successful youth brand, you must be able to do at least one of three things: make young people’s lives easier, more fun or save them money,” said Simon Eder, the founder of Voxburner. “It’s amazing how many brands are ticking these criteria.”

Those three sites, as well as Facebook, rank amongst the top four millennial brands altogether, while Amazon is considered the top site for non-millennials. However, broadcast networks show a vast difference between the two audiences. All four major networks show top-10 brand placement with non-millennials, but are nowhere in the top ten list for millennials.

Facebook and YouTube Are Favorites On Phones 

comScore data shows that Facebook continues to be a top draw for millennials on mobile phones, with 47 million unique visitors for last month. YouTube is closely behind with over 36 million visitors, while Pandora is in third place with 33 million users. Meanwhile, lower on the list, Snapchat has 17 million unique visitors, showing some growth over the previous year (by 67 percent), but still needing a ways to go to catch up to the “big boys.”

Indeed, millennials will just get bigger with 2015, at least in some marketers’ eyes.

Viber Looks To Monetize With Social Gaming Service, “Social Graph”

Viber, an increasingly popular mobile messaging platform in the vein of WhatsApp, wants to win its way into consumers’ hearts on a new level with the launch of a social gaming service.

The ambitious startup, purchased by Japanese Internet conglomerate Rakuten for $900 million in February, looks to follow in the footsteps of a number of successful Asian messaging services by launching a test run of three games on iOS and Android in Belarus, Malaysia, Israel, Singapore, and Ukraine. If all goes as planned, games will be deployed worldwide by next month, nearly sticking to Viber founder Talmon Marco’s promise to introduce games “before the end of 2014”.

Viber plans on integrating their new gaming service with their existing social platform by allowing users to tap their “social graph” to perform community-oriented actions like checking leaderboards and sending gifts to friends. In-game purchases will generate revenue for Viber, putting them well on the path towards fruitful app monetization. Similar business models made South Korea’s KakaoTalk profitable last year and drove Japan-based Line to $192 million in revenue in Q3 2014.

Talmon Marco is banking Viber’s success in gaming on a carefully-selected offering of games — the Viber Connect API is restricted to exclusive partners until further notice — and partnerships with respected mobile developers, like Viber Pop creator Storm8 and Wild Luck Casino creator Playtika. “We will partner with other game developers in the future, but our approach is not to have hundreds of games, just a small, highly curated selection,” Marco said in a recent interview with TechCrunch.

If you like Viber, but aren’t into games, they’ve got you covered. Game notifications and messages will be contained inside a dedicated section of the Viber app that users can easily opt out of.

All the same, Marco thinks Viber users will like their games if they give them a try — even the skeptics. “If you don’t want to play games, Viber will stay exactly how it is for you… but the games are a lot of fun,” the self-professed Viber Pop aficionado stated.

Viber’s final update for 2014 will make the app iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ compatible, bringing all current iOS devices on board for their worldwide gaming rollout next year.

Shanna Malcolm: ‘You Have To Create A Space For People To Feel As Though They Get To Know You’

Shanna Malcolm isn’t just a YouTuber with a sizeable following, Shanna also is active on Instagram, with over 80k followers and is on Fullscreen’s list of talent to Instastalk. We caught up with Shanna at [a]list summit to talk about the importance of building a brand, with great advice for both brands and content creators.


Cinedigm Unveils Content Lineup For Con TV Digital Channel

by Sahil Patel

In February, Cinedigm announced a deal with Comic-Con organizer Wizard World to launch Con TV, a streaming channel devoted to geeks and pop culture fans — or more specifically, for those within the global “Comic-Con community.” Now the companies have revealed the slate of original series, films, and TV shows acquired for the channel, which will launch in early 2015.

On the originals front, Con TV’s first big exclusive series will be “Fight of the Living Dead,” which it acquired earlier this year. Produced by Alpine Labs and Revolver Picture Company, the faux-reality series follows a group of YouTube stars as they’re left at an abandoned jail and forced to fight-off a simulated zombie apocalypse. The series stars Justine Ezarik (iJustine), Olga Kay, Sam Pepper, Joey Graceffa, Meghan Camarena (Strawburry17), and Iman Crosson (Alphacat), among others.

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.

VIDEO: Rich Fineza Wants Hollywood To Get Familiar With App Monetization

Entertainment industry veteran Rich Fineza, a former director at several major industry entities including Disney and Paramount, attended [a]list summit: Mobile Marketing on December 3 in Hollywood.

We interviewed Rich about what he hopes to see from established Hollywood players in the fields of mobile app development and monetization.


Biggest Marketing Moves: December 12

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

Discovery Digital Networks Nabs Jeremy Azevedo From Machinima: Azevedo was previously Machinima’s creative director of original programming and will now head Discovery Digital Networks in Los Angeles.

Former Apple Executive Richard Kerris Heads To Mobile App Ad Starup: Former marketing exec at Apple, Richard Kerris is heading to Get It Mobile.

Fullscreen’s Justin Danko Resigns, Takes Post At Fuisz Media; Jay Veraldi Also Out: Danko was previously in charge of brand strategy for Fullsreen East Coast and will be taking on a similar rolet Fuisz Media.

HBO CTO Otto Berkes Resigns After Network Enlists MLB TO Build OTT Platform: As HBO decides to build its over-the-top streaming service with the MLB, Otto Berkes, HBO’s chief tech officer exits.

Tubular Labs Hires Marc Schraer To Lead Sales: Marc Schraer will now be Tubular’s SVP of sales and customer success.


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

Brands: Now’s The Time To Get On Imgur (If You Haven’t Already)

Imgur, a fast-growing image-sharing network popular with creators and fans of memetic content, is planning on generating revenue and sustaining its growth by introducing “Promoted Posts” next year.

Recently-hired vice president of market development Steve Patrizi said Imgur, fresh off of a $40 million round of funding from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, is looking to take a different tack to sponsored content than similar websites through a distinct embrace of native advertising.

“Rather than doing wallpaper stuff or crazy banners, we think there’s something very powerful that can come from a brand that’s not overly commercialized, that looks and feels like other posts there,” said Patrizi.

Though this isn’t the first time Imgur has deployed sponsored content, Patrizi — formerly of LinkedIn and Pinterest — says Promoted Posts are different in that they will be something more than a beta test. Imgur’s old brand of ad packages, called Sponsored Posts, was an experimental initiative designed to learn best practices for native ads and build positive working relationships for brands without alienating their user base. Sponsored Posts were given prominent placement on Imgur’s homepage; Promoted Posts, by comparison, will appear after users click on organic content.

This may solve a problem with engagement rates, as Imgur had previously said that Sponsored Posts garnered engagement rates of one to four percent.

Interestingly, brands will not be able to target Promoted Posts to specific demographics, only the entire website. Patrizi explained this decision by pointing to Imgur’s sense of community, stating that the site is more likely to enjoy and talk about an ad that can be viewed by everyone as opposed to a select group of people.

Imgur hopes to roll out Promoted Posts in July, working with a select handful of brands in the gaming, entertainment, and packaged-goods industries to deliver content relevant to their audience.

UPS and Tesla are among the biggest names interested in advertising with Imgur, emboldened by test Sponsored Posts campaigns with upvote rates of ninety percent. Brands are hoping that Imgur’s strong sense of community and embrace of native advertising will allow them to connect with their markets on an intimate level competing social networks might not allow.

November Retail Sales: Xbox Triumphant, Retail Down

This has been an interesting year at retail for the console business, as month after month the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One kept hardware sales well above last year’s sales levels for hardware, while software lagged far behind last year. Now, we’ve finally reached the one year mark for the next-generation consoles, so we can compare hardware sales with the same lineup of consoles available from 2013 and 2014. The news wasn’t good overall, as retail sales dropped 11 percent from last year’s $2.71 billion to $2.41 billion.

For the first time this year, hardware sales were down much more than software; hardware sales dropped 23 percent to $1.01 billion from last year’s $1.31 billion. Meanwhile, software was down only 2 percent to $1.06 billion from last year’s $1.08 billion. Some of this may have been due to the substantially lower pricing for most of the Xbox One consoles sold, as Microsoft dropped the price to $349 (less with some of the Black Friday deals).

NPD’s Liam Callahan did his best to present the positive side of the numbers. “For the most part throughout 2014, we have seen software declines that were offset by year-over-year increases in hardware spending,” said Callahan. “This November, however, hardware declines totaled $294 million while software declined $17 million or 2 percent. Accessory sales increased by a modest $5 million.”

“Currently, year-to-date sales across hardware, software, and accessories through November 2014 are up 2 percent,” said Callahan. That’s a tribute to the strong sales of expensive new consoles at retail, not to retail sales of software. In particular, the sales of software for last-generation consoles have been a significant disappointment to publishers, coming in well below expectations in general.

Though there were solid promotional deals for Black Friday, sales of the latest consoles were disappointing. “While the majority of the decrease in dollar sales of hardware stemmed from an expected drop of seventh generation console sales, eighth generation sales also decreased and represented 38 percent of the total declines in hardware sales from November 2013 to November 2014,” Callahan said. “Despite a decline in dollar sales, hardware unit sales for eighth generation consoles increased by 3 percent over November 2013.”

Still, the promotional efforts of the console makers were important. “Hardware bundles were a major factor in the sales of hardware this November, with a number of new bundles ranking as the highest selling hardware bundles so far this year with one bundle ranking as the highest selling hardware bundle ever based on dollar sales,” Callahan said. Overall, though, the new consoles are off to a much better start than the last generation. “Cumulative PS4 and Xbox One sales are now almost 80 percent higher than the combined total of PS3 and Xbox 360 sales after 13 months on the market.”

The software side of the retail game business was a mixed bag. “Software declines stemmed from losses from console software as portable software and PC Games software increased over November 2013,” Callahan said. “Portable software increased by 25 percent due to the combined performance Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon Omega Ruby, and Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS. PC game sales increased by 34 percent over November 2013 due to The Sims 4 and the launch of World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords Of Draenor.”

Callahan provided more detail between sales of last-gen console software and the current consoles. “Seventh generation console sales combined to decrease by 49 percent or $361 million from November 2013,” he said. “Eighth generation console software sales and portable software sales increased by $342 million and could not offset the losses stemming from seventh generation console.”

One title that you won’t see in the top ten list this month is Minecraft, which has been a fixture in the best-selling list for over a year. Is interest finally waning, or is it just that newer software commanded much more attention It will be interesting to see if Minecraft returns to the bestseller list once the holidays have passed.

While NPD didn’t mention which console sold the most in November, Microsoft was quick to rectify that omission. “We are committed to making Xbox the best place to play, with this year’s best games, the best community of gamers to play with, and terrific value,” said Mike Nichols, the corporate vice president of Xbox marketing, in a statement. “And we are amazed by the excitement Xbox fans have shown to start off this holiday. November set a new record for sales of Xbox One, and Xbox One was the best-selling console in the U.S. and U.K.”

“Response to the holiday lineup of games on Xbox One was incredible, with Xbox One fans buying more games in November in the U.S. than any other gen eight platform and enjoying over 357 million hours of gameplay globally. In fact, more fans logged into Xbox Live across Xbox One and Xbox 360, and enjoyed more entertainment, than any other month in the history of Xbox. We love to see the excitement from our fans and are grateful for their passion, support and contributions to the Xbox community.”

Sony also issued a statement, highlighting the fact that while the Xbox One may have sold well in November, the PS4 is still well in the lead in terms of overall units sold. “We are thrilled with the incredible momentum seen at retail heading into the holiday shopping season,” a Sony spokesperson said. “PS4 is the cumulative leader in hardware sales and was No. 1 on the Amazon Video Games Bestseller list on Black Friday. On the network side, November was the biggest month ever in PlayStation Store history with a nearly 50 percent increase in unique visitors compared to last year.”

Nintendo also posted a statement about its November sales successes. “Sales of Wii U hardware and software increased by more than 10% and more than 90 percent, respectively, over the same period in 2013. In fact, the week of Nov. 23 was the biggest single week of Wii U hardware sales since the system launched in November 2012,” Nintendo’s statement noted. The company also pointed out that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has sold nearly 710,000 combined units since launching on Nov. 21. By “combined units,” Nintendo means sales of both the physical and the digital version of the software. (Interestingly, that gives you a data point to guess the unit sales of other titles on the NPD best-seller list, as only Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Grand Theft Auto V sold more units.)

While Super Smash Bros. has done quite well so far, it doesn’t appear to have had a huge boost on Wii U sales — a mere 10 percent boost in console sales over last year isn’t going to give the Wii U the momentum it needs to catch up to the Xbox One and the PS4. Still, Nintendo has some excellent sales from the new Pokemon games and the Amiibo line, and with a new Zelda title in the wings for next year interest should pick up for the Wii U.

November 2014 Top 10 Games Publisher
1. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (360, XBO, PS4, PS3, PC)** Activision Blizzard
2. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)** Take 2 Interactive
3. Super Smash Bros. (NWU, 3DS)** Nintendo
4. Madden NFL 15 (360, XBO, PS4, PS3)** Electronic Arts
5. Pokemon Alpha Sapphire (3DS) Nintendo
6. Far Cry 4 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC)** Ubisoft
7. Pokemon Omega Ruby (3DS) Nintendo
8. NBA 2K15 (PS4, 360, XBO, PS3, PC) Take 2 Interactive
9. Assassin’s Creed: Unity (PS4, XBO, PC)** Ubisoft
10. Halo: The Master Chief Collection (XBO) Microsoft

**(includes CE, GOTY editions, bundles, etc. but not those bundled with hardware)