Behind Millennials’ Mobile Obsession

The relationship that millennials have with their phones is affecting broader media consumption habits, a fact which has been clear to publishers for some time, and marketers are eager to tap into it all. But before we address these habits, what does the picture of millennial mobile use look like now

Perhaps some numbers can help put things into perspective…

First, according to Entrepreneur, four out of five millennials own smartphones, compared to only 40 percent of people age 55 and over. Seventy-seven percent of these millennials are using their smartphone daily, which far exceeds that of Generation Xers, who clock in at 60 percent daily usage.

Furthermore, millennials don’t seem to be hopping around from one device to another. Millennials appear to be spending significantly less time with their TVs and computers. Seventy-seven percent of millennials watch TV daily, compared to Generation Xers at 86 percent, and Baby Boomers at 91 percent – a substantial margin of difference.

Going off this, 18 percent of millennials aged 18 to 34 are “mobile-only” web users, compared to only 5 percent of people aged 35 to 54.

Being a brand perceived as tech-savvy is a big deal, too. Thirty-three percent of millennials agreed they would be more likely to recommend a brand if they appear to be tech-savvy.

Worldwide, advertisers will spend $64.25 billion on mobile this year — up 60 percent compared with 2014. By 2018, advertisers will dish out $158.5 billion on mobile, or about 22 percent of all ad spending.

Now more than ever, marketers need to be cognizant of the importance of mobile marketing to millennials. The millennial generation is driving the biggest changes in how companies develop and market products and services in industries across the board.

Beating The Odds: Succeeding At Mobile Social Casino

The social casino game business is an interesting yet different game business that is a major market segment. The rise of social gaming via Facebook and later mobile games has led to the social casino game market. The distinction between social casino games and the gambling games they resemble is still the subject of much discussion and scholarly studies, being eyed carefully by regulators in different countries. However they are defined, social casino games have become a major, fast-growing segment of the gaming market in the last few years.

SuperData estimates the global social casino market for 2015 to be $3.4 billion, growing 13 percent year over year. “A series of mergers of acquisition has consolidated the market creating barriers to entry for late-comers,” SuperData noted in their recent post. “Caesars Interactive acquired Pacific Interactive in February of this year, its fourth major acquisition in recent years. More recently, Scientific Games acquired Ballys for $5.1 billion in November and Churchill Downs announced their purchase of Big Fish Games for almost $900 million. As social casino companies consolidate, the majority of revenues will go to just a handful of large publishers.” As well, IGT acquired Double Down for $500 million last year.

Looking at the top-grossing games on iOS, five out of the top 25 games are social casino games. “A month after its re-launch, Zynga Poker on mobile earned almost a quarter more than its desktop counterpart,” noted SuperData. It’s clearly a lucrative place to be, but how does a startup carve a place for itself amongst well-established giants

Monarc Gaming Labs is aiming to become one of the big players in mobile social casino gaming. That’s a tall order for a startup company, but one which co-founder, president and chief creative officer Al Thomas believes is very possible, starting with their first game Golden Sand Slots on Android (and soon on iOS). The company is funded by Korean company NHN, the ISP and gaming company whose Japanese subsidiary runs the messaging app Line, and whose annual revenues top $2 billion. Add to that Thomas’s vast experience with casino games and the top-notch team he’s been putting together, and what seem like long odds begin to shift in his favor.

Al Thomas

Thomas laid the groundwork for his game company at the arcade game giant WMS. “I was recruited to start their gaming division, around ’93,” Thomas recalled, “and I started designing slot machines for them back then and eventually became the executive director of advanced R&D for them.” His role was to predict where new sources of revenue would come for them, and Thomas saw one opportunity very clearly.

“I noticed a huge demographic overlap between people who played in casinos and people who were playing casual games like Bejeweled and Tetris,” Thomas recalled. “It skewed older female, which is very much how the casino gaming industry skewed. I looked into it and said there’s so much demographic overlap here there’s got to be a connection.” Thomas discovered that when the casino player went home, this is the kind of game they played — very relaxing, self-explanatory, play it any time you want. He told WMS they should develop games in this space, but no one could understand how you’d make money over something that doesn’t pay out. Eventually WMS got tired of Thomas telling them this was the way to go, and Thomas recalls they said “If this is such a great opportunity, why aren’t you pursuing it ” So he left to form his own company.

Thomas spent years learning about the mobile industry, and eventually, along with some other people, connected with the Korean company NHN. “They asked us to work as consultants to put together a plan for creating a social mobile app in a fairly mature market,” Thomas said. “Because NHN has that huge marketing muscle, they have tens of millions of dollars they could easily put into user acquisition, that made me say this is something I’m not going to be able to do in my own startup. I can create great games, but great games alone just doesn’t cut it. It’s an essential part of what you do, but you just can’t get the scale you need without having outstanding business intelligence and user acquisition people.”

After getting started with NHN and working on a variety of games, the team finally settled on slots as the starting point. “What NHN thought was going to be the most lucrative part of the business, peer to peer poker, was actually nowhere near as lucrative as slots,” Thomas said. “We started as NHN Entertainment Labs , but we realized we needed to focus around a core product — in this case, the Golden Sand Casino slot app.”

NHN asked Thomas to head up the effort and then re-brand it, because NHN does not have a brand presence in the U.S. “We chose Monarc for two reasons,” Thomas said. “It was going from the caterpillar to the butterfly stage, and it was also that sense of royalty. We thought it was a good strong brand.” Monarc’s team has some world-class slot designers, with people who have done multiple hit games. Thomas himself has dozens of issued patents and hundreds pending. “We knew we were going to be world-class,” Thomas said. But it takes more than just great design to succeed, and Monarc is building the business intelligence and user acquisition team it needs to succeed.

Casino games have some key differences from other games that Thomas points out. “We’re not the same as a normal mobile social game,” Thomas said. “When you’re playing a mobile social game, typically as you play the game it becomes fundamentally different — you see new levels that are very different, or there’s a clear objective you’ve achieved. With a slot machine, all you’re getting content-wise is more of the exact same experience. There are some thematic changes, but it’s basically still a slot machine. It becomes a never-ending game — it’s more of the same, but it’s what our players want. So there’s a different type of retention we see, there’s a different conversion and a different LTV than other things.”

Why do people play slot machines to begin with, much less ones that can never pay out “The thrill is in risking something of value, that’s the thrill of gambling,” Thomas explains. “It’s not in winning, and it’s not in losing — it’s in risking. The sense of risk becomes greater when you’ve actually injected some money into the game. The game becomes measurably better without changing the game at all when the player has injected money into it. With other games, when the player puts money in it alters that game.”

“We look at it like we’re running a live casino,” Thomas said. “How do we manage the customers that are at different levels The big difference between us and other companies that are out there is we look at that part of our business as the most important part of it, the live services and the player experience. The guy who’s running it, Matt, came from my design team. I wanted a game designer involved in customer service, as opposed to just a customer service person. For us, that customer experience that is typically viewed as part of the marketing, is still part of the play experience.”

Thomas is optimistic about Monarc’s prospects for the future. “The interesting challenge for us is to be one of the last few large players that could break into a maturing market. In theory, there’s not a lot of room,” Thomas noted. But Monarc has created a game engine that lets them get new slots up quickly, Thomas notes, something that other companies don’t have. And with NHN’s financial backing, Monarc can compete in user acquisition as much as it needs to.

“NHN is used to being a large successful company and being number 1 in the markets they enter. So they got into this to be one of the biggest and most successful in this business,” said Thomas. NHN’s long-term view gives Monarc the ability to weather ups and downs and build a casino that can take on the big players.

 

 

Breaking Down The Perception Of Value

It’s funny how pricing has changed on certain items over the years. For instance, a large 512MB memory patch for a computer back in the 80’s would’ve run you easily a thousand dollars (if not more), where nowadays, a customer can easily pick up a 1TB hard drive for under a hundred dollars (or maybe even less). Meanwhile, some items have become more expensive over time.

With that, a new infographic, put together by Vouchercloud, breaks down the perception of value overall, comparing various things in one lengthy (yet informative) chart that discusses value across a number of categories, from the evolution of food (lobster going from prison food to gourmet item in restaurants) to getting healthier to “the new sound of value,” talking about the importance of iTunes and its effect on the CD market.

Using a number of resources, Vouchercloud was able to break these down specifically. For example, price can affect someone’s perception rather easily, with “Charm Prices” that are made to increase sales. They effectively do so, by 24 percent, versus nearby, rounded price points. Pricing an item between $34 and $44, for example, at $39 can make it easier to sell, as consumers can be more drawn in by prices that have the number nine in them.

Also, some consumers were given cups of wine to try, and even though they were the same, the participants were told that each sample came from different wineries across the world. Out of all the samples, the ones explained to be the most exotic got the highest ratings overall, and also prompted the participants to believe that it was worth a much larger price tag — again, even though it was the same wine.

The article also breaks down factors as to why consumers are willing to pay more for items — and a lot of it has to do with quality and speed. Several factors play a part, such as making a product easier to buy, arriving more quickly, and having a lower cost of ownership. Quality customer service seems to play a big part as well, since it prompts consumers to come back for more, rather than be turned off by someone rude.

The full infographic is below, and it’s something that marketers will want to take a look at.

 

 

 

Tablet Hype Is Over Now

For a while there, it appeared that the mobile tablet market was unstoppable, with new models of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Apple’s iPad flying out the door. However, according to a report from Statista, sales towards the end of last year were off from the previous year.

The company reported that, in the fourth quarter of 2014, worldwide tablet shipments dropped for the first time since Apple introduced its original iPad in 2010. Numbers from IDC last week indicated that companies shipped a total of 76.1 million units between October and December 2014 — a drop from the 78.6 million devices that shipped in the previous year’s holiday period.

Out of all tablet producers, only Lenovo managed to emerge without any drops in shipments, mostly due to its position in the Asia/Pacific market. The company surged with a near 10 million increase over the previous year, going from 25.8 million to 35.2 million.

According to the chart below, Amazon probably suffered the most critical drop, going from 5.8 million units down to 1.7 million units over a year’s time. Apple came in closely behind, with a drop from 26 million units to 21.4 million units, respectively, while Samsung had a smaller drop from 13.5 million to 11 million units. Asus only had a one million unit drop, from four million to three million.

That’s not to say that the tablet market is in trouble — far from it. With millions of units still primed to sell, it’s hardly a fad that will be going anyway soon. Still, companies may want to take note of the drop-off, as they could fall even more come this holiday season, especially with the rise of “phablets” and larger phone devices that make it just as convenient to browse websites, watch videos and other functions.

Could this be the year we see big changes with tablets Only time will tell, but, judging by Apple and Samsung’s consistency to bring new technology to the table, it seems very likely. Apple is rumored to be working on a large-sized iPad, and perhaps there are other innovations in the works that could start tablet sales growing again.

Netflix May Produce ‘Legend of Zelda’ Series

Netflix has done a stellar job producing original content for its streaming service to keep its millions of subscribers happy, such as House of Cards (which enters its third season this month), Orange Is the New Black and Marco Polo. However, if reports are true, it may have just made its biggest acquisition to date. Yes, even bigger than Arrested Development.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the company is hard at work on a series based on Nintendo’s best-selling franchise The Legend of Zelda. This live-action series would feature characters and locations based on the popular game series, and would feature a tone similar to Game of Thrones, but with a family-based approach, according to someone close to the project.

This would be a beneficial move for both Netflix and Nintendo, if it is in fact true. Netflix would benefit from having a hearty franchise joining its already large line-up of original programming, while Nintendo would be able to tie in the series with its forthcoming Wii U Legend of Zelda release, which was heavily hyped at last year’s Game Awards with the first video footage of gameplay. This footage can be seen below.

 

‘First Person Lover’ Puts A Strange Twist On Shooters

Usually, in first-person shooting games, the goal is to shoot enemies with traditional weaponry until they’re killed or incapacitated. However, with First-Person Lover, things work…much differently.

The project, put together by the team at Isbit Games, is actually a promotional release for Swedish fashion label Bjorn Borg, according to Fastcodesign. The goal of this unique first-person adventure is to not kill enemies, but rather to “blast” them with unique capabilities, such as a holographic kiss blow or a teddy bear bomb that explodes with a colorful array of love dust.

Hitting these enemies with these attacks will, in turn, strip them naked, which sends them cowering to cover themselves up. At that point, it’s up to the player to liberate them by dressing them in Bjorn Borg-based apparel, thus giving them a new lease on life.

It’s a strange idea having a first-person game like this to advertise a fashion label, but it seems to work for some players, even though it does get a bit strange. At one point, your character, dressed in aviator goggles and underwear, can use rainbow-colored energy beams to literally blast the clothes off of adversaries.

However, Jonas Lindberg Nyvang, marketing manager for Bjorn Borg, insists that the content of the game isn’t about being sexual or deviant in any way. “We are not forcing people (to have sex),” he explained. “As a love agent in the game, your mission is to liberate haters by undressing them with your love guns and then dress them in Bjorn Borg clothing.”

As seen in the trailer below, First Person Lover is definitely an acquired taste, and not really meant for younger players. Still, for those seeking a weird alternative to the usual first person shooting fare, it just might hit the spot. How effective it’ll be for selling the clothing line’s products, though, has yet to be seen.

 

Casual Connect Exec Discusses Expansion Plans

The casual gaming market continues to see momentum, thanks in part to the booming mobile gaming sector. The organizers of the Casual Connect conference have been able to tap into this burgeoning market and connect the growing number of small development teams around the globe with the leading executives in the space. Over 2,000 attendees flew into Amsterdam last week from across Europe to make connections and get a preview of growth sectors. Next up is the San Francisco conference Aug. 11-13. Carl Quinton, production director at Casual Connect, explains how the conference is growing in this exclusive interview from Casual Connect Europe.

Carl Quinton, production director at Casual ConnectCarl Quinton, production director at Casual Connect

How did Casual Connect begin?

Casual Connect began in 2005 when Jessica Tams, who was already in the industry, was approached by other people who were doing casual games that wanted a place to come together. They decided they needed their own conference because their needs were not being taken care of at current conference series, so her friends convinced her to start doing a conference instead of making video games.

How has Casual Connect grown since 2005?

The very first show in Amsterdam had about 400 people. Our next show in Seattle had about 800. We started off with three shows a year, one in U.S., one in Europe and one in Eastern Europe and we now do four shows a year. We’ve gone from an annual attendance the first year of somewhere in the range of 1,600 people to about an annual attendance of 7,500 people a year with the four shows.

How are you expanding the conference this year?

We’re going to Tel Aviv for the first time. We have a lot of excited partners and relationships in Israel who’ve decided that we really need to go there this year. We’re really excited to go there show everybody what’s happening in Israel right now. There’s a lot of things that people don’t know about there’s a limited set of people that can come out to our shows in the rest of the world. We’ll showcase the talent and funding and casino and game development that’s happening in Israel.

How big an audience do you foresee at that show?

I foresee that show being very close to an Amsterdam sized audience, somewhere in the 1,500 to 2,000 person range. I might be a little bullish on that, but it seems to be accurate with all the research that we’ve done.

How did your move to Belgrade, Serbia go because of the turmoil in Kiev, Ukraine, home of previous Casual Connect shows?

We had a couple of really good partners that were from that area, which the decision was centered around. Because of those partners we were able to go down their very easily, have a very similar-sized show with a very similar feel, and go with great success. Belgrade turned out to be a great host country. There are a couple of really large game development companies like Nordeus, Mad Head Games and Eipix down there and they were excellent hosts to everybody seeing Belgrade for the first time.

Will Belgrade now become a regular rotation?

Belgrade will probably come in the rotation. If we ever see some stability returned to Kiev, that will also be in the rotation and I’m also hoping to get Poland in on that rotation as well.

So for that particular area you’ll just rotate different countries?

Yes, we see that as an exploratory area where if we can move around and do things like that, we can probably generate a lot more new blood. And also because of the resources available there compared to resources in Western Europe, it makes sense to move closer to other people’s locations so that it’s economical for them to attend.

You mentioned Seattle being one of your earlier shows.  These days it seems like San Francisco is your go to city.  How did that kind of evolve?

There are a couple of things. One, we just outgrew our venue in Seattle and we couldn’t get another spot. Also, a lot of companies are in San Francisco, so it’s a lot easier to convince somebody to come down the street than it is to fly all the way up to Seattle. But the main reason really was the venue size. We’re actually looking to go back to Seattle in the future for a revival and depending on how things go we may stay in Seattle for a little bit. We may alternate, or we may stay in San Francisco. We’ll see how the community receives us when we go back for a revival in Seattle in two or three years.

Are you still looking at keeping it at four shows per year?

Right now we’re going to do four shows per year. I would like to expand beyond that, but probably in a different format, something that would allow us to do some additional areas that are interesting to me. I would love to go down to South America. There are other regions that I’d like to give a little more attention to, maybe not with the same presence that we do the other shows, but I’d really like to involve those other areas as well.

Can you talk about your expansion into Southeast Asia?

We’ve really been able to reach out to the Southeast Asian development community and companies down there. We have really strong ties with them. We’ve done little mixers around there and have made a lot of great connections. They all come around to Singapore. And we did a small event in Beijing last year. We’ve started to get a lot more input from them on what we need to do to involve them in what’s interesting to them. I foresee us slowly expanding in that region to involve pretty much the entire area. We have some ideas there and we’re going to see how they execute over this next year and make adjustments from there.

Hong Kong remains the current focus, correct?

We were focusing on Hong Kong, but there are some alternates. I’m pushing for Macau and some other people are pushing for other countries. We have various strategic people in our company that are investigating different areas as their expertise, and then we’ll make plans from there.

Do you see Southeast Asia becoming like Eastern Europe where you could rotate cities from year to year?

We could rotate. We could have one be like the big Amsterdam hub event and then have another be a rotating event like we’re thinking about doing in Eastern Europe. That’s all still in flux. The whole idea is we want this to be a truly international event. Whatever we need to do to make it so that more people know about what’s going on in the games industry and can make more games for everybody, we’ll do. Casual Connect is about making games for everybody and we want to reach everybody that wants to make games in that same respect.

How big was the Beijing event you did?

We were in the 200 to 300 range. It was just a one day thing and we had a couple of partner sponsors that helped us out. We took advantage of the 72-hour Transit Visa that just went into effect, so we dropped in on the way home from Singapore.

How does Casual Connect differ from GDC, Game Connection and other game conferences?

What we do differently is we’re more personable. We’re a tighter knit community in that I personally know 300 of the 2,000 people that came here to Amsterdam. There are so many people here that have been in the industry 20-plus years. Derrick Morton from FlowPlay games has 21 years in the industry doing casual games and they’re just. There doesn’t seem to be the fluff here. Everybody’s passionate about the industry. Nobody’s here to just grab swag. Everybody here is at director and CEO levels of companies and they’re here to do business and to figure out what’s next in the game industry. Kabam came to Singapore a couple of years ago and made a completely different change in their strategy and was able to take advantage of that based on discussions the CEO had. TinyLoot’s founder started out in Casual Connect about nine years ago as a student volunteer and has progressed his way through different lectures and opportunities making partnerships with people here to basically build his business from the ground up. There are success stories like that which show how we’re almost a business incubator and business relationship generator.

Honda To Sponsor Yahoo’s Sixth Season Of ‘Community’

by Sahil Patel

Honda is sponsoring the sixth season of “Community,” which will start its run on Yahoo Screen this spring after spending the first five seasons on NBC.

As the presenting sponsor, Honda’s season-long deal includes several integrations within episodes of the show, as well as pre-roll ads on new episodes and series highlights. One episode, for instance, will feature the redesigned Honda CR-V on the Greendale Community College campus.

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.

 

Activision: Getting More Digital And Going Long-Term

Activision had an excellent quarter, handily beating its estimates and coming in ahead of 2013 on a GAAP basis with $1.575 billion in revenue versus Q4 2013 revenue of $1.518 billion. The non-GAAP numbers were higher, of course, given all of the digital revenues Activision Blizzard is taking in these days, with $2.213 billion in net revenues versus $2.272 billion in Q4 2013. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick noted that the company’s earnings per share, on a non-GAAP basis, were up over 50 growth from the previous year.

Full year results were, as Activision had predicted, down from the previous year on a GAAP basis, with $4.408 billion in revenues versus $4.583 billion in 2013; but on a non-GAAP basis, Activision’s full year was $4.813 billion versus $4.342 billion for 2013. All in all, an excellent quarter and an excellent year for Activision Blizzard.

For comparison, Electronic Arts reported its trailing twelve month highlights, which gives you the same time period (calendar year 2014) that Activision is reporting on, so you can compare directly. EA’s total GAAP revenue for 2014 was $4.453 billion (versus $3.661 billion in 2013), and its non-GAAP net revenues were $4.337 billion for 2014 versus $4.147 billion for 2013. Activision did a little better than EA on operating cash flow for the year at $1.3 billion, versus EA’s $1.1 billion. Overall, the race between the two publishers remains tight at this point, but 2015 will be a chance for EA to open up a lead if it can, since Activision is being conservative regarding the prospects for this year.

“Consistent with our holiday field checks, Activision’s Q4 revenues were below consensus expectations, reflecting somewhat soft sales of Call of Duty/Skylanders. However, EPS was above consensus, and looking ahead to 2015, we believe guidance is appropriately conservative” said Baird analyst Colin Sebastian.

Activision noted that digital revenues are 46 percent of the total, an all-time high for the publisher. The company’s digital revenues rose 40 percent over the last year, due in no small part to products like Hearthstone.

Inexorably, digital is overtaking physical game revenue at every major publisher. That much everyone is aware of, but there’s something else going on related to that which is going to affect traditional game publishers in a big way. This is illustrated very well in the way Activision chose to talk about Destiny and Hearthstone, combining their audience and revenues into one set of numbers.

Destiny has over 16 million registered users, and it was “the #3 new release of the year” Kotick noted. It is interesting that Activision chose to characterize the Destiny revenue by lumping it in with Hearthstone, stating “Combined, they attracted over 40 million registered players worldwide and generated more than $850 million in non-GAAP revenue ” Experienced execs know exactly why this is done — so you can say something positive while still concealing information you’d rather not have generally known. In this case, this seems to be a way to conceal Destiny‘s overall numbers rather than Hearthstone‘s. The interesting thing to note between those two titles is that undoubtedly Hearthstone was far cheaper to create and probably to maintain. Destiny‘s best days may yet be ahead of it, though, with more new content planned for this year and beyond, and plenty of opportunity to tweak the game to perform better.

What Activision execs, and other gaming execs, must be thinking hard about these days is how the return on investment looks for some of these titles. Destiny required a huge commitment, which Activision said represents some $500 million (which is probably a projection of the combined marketing and development costs over the lifetime of the agreement between Bungie and Activision). We don’t know what Hearthstone cost to create, but it was certainly less than a tenth of that figure. Right now, making more Hearthstone investments looks like a much better bet than Destiny-like investments. Yet both games have in common the desire to create a long-term service and engagement with players, selling them new content along the way. That’s why Actvision is focusing on the number of players Destiny has, and is trying to keep them engaged for the long-term: That’s where the money lies in the future, regardless of the platform.

The new titles coming out from Blizzard, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch, are also being structured for long-term engagement. These aren’t being created in the style of one big release a year at retail, then a few map packs over the next year. Blizzard’s new games are going to have regular, smaller content releases and try to build a devoted audience over a long time. This can also be seen in how Activision is looking at Call of Duty Online, which is doing very well early on. If the service performs well in China, you can bet Activision will figure out a way to bring it to the rest of the world.

Engagement was a focus for Activision during the earnings call, as they announced that Hearthstone has hit over 25 million registered players, while World of Warcraft is back to 10 million subscribers after the Warlords of Draenor expansion. There’s no big World of Warcraft release planned for this year, though, and subscribers are once again expected to decline.

Surprising no one, Activision announced that there will be a new Call of Duty in 2015, a new Skylanders, and more content for Destiny. Overwatch is expected to enter closed beta in 2015, though not to contribute revenue for the year. Heroes of the Storm is in closed beta and doing well, with significant revenue not planned for this year but certainly a possibility.

Activision president Eric Hirshberg gave some information about Skylanders. “As of today, life-to-date retail sales for Skylanders has exceeded $3 billion,” Hirshberg said. “And in 2014, Skylanders outsold all action figure lines and was the #1 kid console game globally for the fourth year in a row, and as a franchise, outperformed its nearest competitor by 30 percent. Skylanders Trap Team, our fall release, outsold its nearest competitor by 17 percent and continued the incredible streak of breakthrough innovation in the franchise and was also one of the most highly acclaimed Skylanders‘ games today.”

Referring to the competition, Hirshberg noted that “we’re not constrained by the limitations of existing intellectual property or characters or anyone else’s release slate.” What’s not being said here is also interesting… no exact sales figures mentioned. Also, despite being in the market more than a year ahead of Disney Infinity, Skylanders only outsold it by 17 percent. Of course, the exact sales that number represents are not described… unit sales of software, or total sales of figures and software Disney’s used the power of its brands to establish a solid place in this segment, and Activision is going to have to work hard to stay ahead.

Still, the outlook overall for 2015 looks pretty good. “We expect Call of Duty Online in China will become an important new revenue contributor and lead the way with new play dynamics and business models. We also have multiple unannounced initiatives in development, which we will reveal later in the year,” said Hirshberg.

Analyst Michael Pachter believes that Activision’s conservative forecast is just their usual pattern of being very conservative in their forecasts so they can regularly beat those numbers and look good in the process. “The company has historically been exceedingly conservative with its guidance, and over the last ten years, has consistently beaten the expectations it sets early in the year,” Pachter said in a note to investors. “This year is no different as far as management conservatism is concerned. Activision’s guidance includes no contribution from the widely expected StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void , no contribution from an as-yet unannounced title from Activision Publishing, only minimal contribution from Call of Duty Online , only modest contribution from Heroes of the Storm , and flat Call of Duty and Skylanders revenue. Taken together, we calculate revenue upside to guidance of as much as $750 million.”

It will be an interesting year to watch Activision, as it navigates the choppy waters of several major industry transitions. One thing seems pretty clear, though: Activision will be making even more of its revenue digitally in the coming year, and creating long-term engagement with players will be increasingly important to the company.

First Project From What’s Trending And Marriott Development Deal Emerges

by Jocelyn Johnson

This past weekend, Marriott Content Studio and What’s Trending released their first co-production featuring YouTube talent, including Jeana from PrankVsPrank, Louis Cole (FunForLouis), Tom from TheSyndicateProject, Steve Zaragoza from SourceFed, and Meghan Camarena (Strawburry17), as they live out their bucket list items in cities like New York City, Shanghai, and San Francisco.

The project marks the first to come from the earlier announced development deal between the two companies.

Read and see more here…

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.