‘World of Tanks’ Exploding Onto Xbox One

For the most part, the team over at Wargaming, with several offices around the world, focuses on the “hardcore” PC gaming crowd, as such competitive efforts like World of Tanks and World of Warplanes manage to reach out to millions of players looking to fight one another in virtual battlefield action. Lately, though, we’ve seen an interesting shift with the company – moving towards consoles.

A year ago, the publisher introduced the free-to-play World of Tanks to the Xbox 360, amassing an audience of thousand of players while implementing a new control scheme that console players could easily get into. It’s considered one of the best “freemium” games for the system – and that heightened Wargaming’s interest in bringing the experience to yet another console.

The team has just announced that World of Tanks will be moving to the Xbox One this year, introducing the franchise to the current-generation console scene for the first time, according to The Geek Culture. Like its Xbox 360 counterpart, the game will feature online play, as well as a variety of tanks and other goods that players can purchase optionally – although the core free-to-play experience will remain perfectly intact.

In addition, the game will provide cross-platform support, so players who stick with the Xbox 360 version will still be able to compete with others on the Xbox One. Wargaming has also assured that the new version will also support the same content updates and community features as the previous one. In-game progress will also be carried over to the Xbox One version of the game, if players choose to port it over.

So what does this mean for the World of Tanks model It shows that Wargaming is starting to get more serious when it comes to having a presence in the console gaming community, and not just PC. That’s not to say we’ll see World of Warships and World of Warplanes make an immediate jump, but the possibilities are wide open that they’ll eventually make their way over.

Plus, with the impressive sales of the PlayStation 4 over the past couple of years, there’s also a chance that World of Tanks, or other franchises, could make their way to that system as well. For the time being, the deal appears to be an exclusive with Microsoft, but that could certainly change in the future – and provide even better opportunities for Wargaming down the road.

For now, the team will solely work on making World of Tanks just as much of a hit on the Xbox One as it has become on the Xbox 360. But down the road Don’t be surprised if the team gives “tanks” to even more console players. After all, action this good deserves to be spread around.

Raptr: Top 20 Most Played PC Games January 2015

If January’s Most Played PC Games list looks familiar, it’s because no games entered or dropped out of the top 20!

Highlights
League of Legends started off the New Year with a strong hold on first place with a share time of 19.97 percentamong the PC games played in January by Raptr members, nearly double the amount of World of Warcraft.

Though World of Warcraft ended 2014 strong with impressive gains after its Draenor expansion, it lost 5.28 percent of play time in January compared to December.

Both DotA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gained significant play time (DotA up 23.18 percent, CSGO 37.23 percent) thanks in part to various updates to items and maps throughout the month.

Smite rounded out the top 5; play time was up only 1.00 percent, despite the release of a new god.

Hearthstone got a 23.73 percent play time boost, helping it rise a spot in January.

Diablo III play time increased an impressive 77.27 percent, and the game moved up five places in January’s Most Played. Patch 2.1.2 released in January and included major updates to classes and items, the addition of Season Legendary Items, and more.

Dragon Age: Inquisition fell three places as it lost 17.74 percent of play time.

Though World of Tanks, Battlefield 4, and ArcheAge gained play time in January, all three lost a rank in Most Played at the hands of Diablo III.

Final Fantasy XIV Online climbed two places, while Guild Wars 2 rose three spots. Final Fantasy XIV had an end-of-the-month free login weekend, patch, and new items and goods releases. Guild Wars 2 featured a double XP event that coincided with PAX South, as well as free access to Point of No Return, Guild Wars 2′s latest episode.

Warframe was the biggest loser in January, falling six places. It lost 17.89 percent of play time despite the addition of new weapons, skins, and a new mini-game.

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.

PREVIOUS SIX MONTHS’ MOST PLAYED LISTS

December 2014

November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

‘Boom Beach’ Leads Mobile Charge For January

If App Annie’s latest report for January indicates anything, it’s that games with guns definitely went boom on the mobile market last month.

VentureBeat has reported that a number of mobile publishers found great success with their action-oriented games, namely Supercell with its Boom Beach.

Thanks to a lucrative TV advertising campaign (similar to that of Clash of Clans, but obviously without the Liam Neeson appearance), the game managed to rise five places on the charts and enter into the top ten for revenue for both the Apple App Store and Google Play, according to App Annie. Most of this drive came from U.S. consumers, who found appeal in Boom Beach‘s style of play – as well as its action.

“The strategic war game’s rise on both iOS and Google Play coincided with a strong marketing push from Supercell, who spent heavily on national TV ads promoting the game in the United States,” said the report.

Supercell has wasted no time earning its spot in the mobile market, securing a decent amount from the $21 billion global haul it took in back in 2014. The company has no trouble with leading the charge on the revenue charts for both iOS and Android, between Boom Beach, Clash of Clans and farming simulator Hay Day, which is doing impressively well in its own right. All three games are positioned in the top ten – and intend to stay there.

“It’s interesting to see Supercell continue investing in games outside of their main cash cow, Clash of Clans,” said App Annie’s report.

And the investment isn’t likely to stop here, as the company is sure to experiment with a few new ideas for 2015, while keeping its support for its existing franchises going strong – especially after the boost it got from the well-received Super Bowl ad featuring actor Neeson, which you can view below.

 

Curse Goes Mobile With Futhead App

Curse is one of the large gaming website companies you may have never heard of. The company gets over 1 billion page views per month on its owned and operated network of 45 gaming sites. It reaches over 50 million people monthly across its websites and Youtube channels. Curse has had success with gaming technology clients like Curse Voice (VoIP), which has over 1.7 million installs since launching in June 2014, and Curse Client, an add-on app that has over 6 million installs and over 2 million active users since launching in June 2009. Curse has built up a PC-centric gaming audience with a large audience of eSports fans. The company also has its own eSports division with Team Curse, which recently joined forces with Team Liquid. They have pros competing across all the major eSports games.

Now the company, which is headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, has ventured into the mobile space for the first time. The app, {link no longer active} which launched with over 250,000 downloads, taps into EA Sports’ globally successful FIFA video game franchise and its most popular game mode, FIFA Ultimate Team. Donovan Duncan, vice president of marketing at Curse, reveals the company’s mobile ambitions in this exclusive interview.

Donovan Duncan, vice president of marketing at CurseDonovan Duncan, Vice President of marketing at Curse

Can you give us a sense of the size and reach of Curse gaming sites?

Curse does over 1 billion page views per month on its owned and operated websites. We reach about 50 million people per month with Websites and YouTube according to comscore. We expect mobile to add another significant percentage to this number by end of year 2015.

How popular is Futhead globally as a site?

Futhead is a massive site, which reaches 2 to 3 million people monthly on comscore, and is one of the top sites in the United Kingdom and many countries in the European Union.

What impact has FIFA Ultimate Team had on this site?

FIFA Ultima Team players are hardcore users who always want the best information, Futhead helps provide the best statistics from the game, and sourced from players.

How does Curse cross-promote this site with others it owns?

It’s a very unique audience, and it isn’t a traditional PC audience, but we do have a lot of crossover with our Madden Ultimate team website. Sports gamers normally stick to sports and fighting games, and we try and create an ecosystem for that.

What are your goals with the Fathead app?

Our users are very important to us and we want to provide them with the best Futhead experience possible. For some time now, mobile has been the fastest growing type of traffic that we receive.Rather than trying to shoehorn Futhead into a bad mobile web experience, we wanted to build an app that would provide users with all the power of Futhead right in the palm of their hand. Whether you’re playing FIFA on your console or out and about, we want a great Futhead experience to be right there with you. That’s our goal with the Futhead app.

Why are you just now entering the app space?

We wanted to make sure that we had a product that really catered to our users and was useful. Like everything we’ve built in the past, it has to be something we would use, and we would use to be better gamers. The Futhead App fits those requirements perfectly and we’re really proud that this is the first App that Curse will launch.

How popular do you see the Futhead app becoming at launch?

Futhead Screenshot

Right now about one-third of the traffic to the Futhead site is mobile, and there are a lot of people who have asked for something like this. We’re confident we’re going to end up with a million users over the course of the next year, and a very large group of early adopters in the first few weeks. Many of those users will continue to use the App for as long as they play the game or are fans of the sport.

How do you see apps enhancing your gaming sites and brands moving forward?

We are actively working on several apps to launch in 2015, some with publishers as partners, and some based on the data and information we have from our Websites. We know that today’s gamer is consuming more and more content on mobile, and we want to make sure that we always have the best solution and source for that content. Taking what we’ve built on the Web and moving more of that to be accessible easily to Apps is a natural progression for our company, and is going to make for much better user experiences for most of our major offerings.

Do you have any goals of how many apps you’d like to launch this year or annually?

2015 will see between four and six apps from Curse. We’ll have a mobile version coming out for iOS and Android of our communication software Curse Voice soon. Near the end of the year we plan to release a few different apps with publisher partners on projects that are still TBD.

Who’s developing your Curse apps?

We have been staffing up considerably the last 12 months, with over 40 new positions added in 2014, and even more than that coming in 2015. The mobile team at Curse is nearly completely staffed and we have the right people from each of our teams working with members of the mobile team to get more content into Apps.

 

Newzoo/Overwolf: Top 20 PC Games For January 2015

The Top 3 of the 20 core PC Game Rankings from December 2014 continue to dominate again in January 2015, with Riot’s League of Legends at Rank 1, followed by Wargaming’s World of Tanks and Mojang’s Minecraft at Rank 3. The only change in the Top 5 was the decline of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft to Rank 5, with Valve’s Counter Strike: Global Offensive taking WoW’s place at Rank 4. Perhaps the most noticeable decline for January was the 5 point fall of HiRez Studio’s Smite to Rank 12, driven mainly by a shift away from the title after the end of its recent World Championships. It remains to be seen if the title regains lost ground in the coming months, driven by the new format for their Pro League games that kicks off mid-February.

Freejam’s Robocraft appears to have lost much of the traction provided by its recent IndieDB “Indie Game of the Year” award, dropping 6 places to Rank 20. Arma 3, published by Bohemia Interactive, rose 3 places to Rank 7, boosted by a highly active and popular modding community and news of new expansion content. Blizzard’s Diablo III, which has been in a rankings decline for some time, rose 3 places to retake Rank 16, driven in part by the opening of their Season 2 in February 2015. The new entry on the Top 20 core PC Game Rankings for January 2015 is Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (which vanished from the Rankings in October 2014), which took Rank 18, bolstered by the upcoming release of Grand Theft Auto V on PC in March 2015 and the impressive in-game bonuses offered by the publisher to consumers who pre-order the title. It will be interesting to see where zombie MMO H1Z1 places in the coming months as anticipation for the title builds. In January it entered the Twitch rankings at an impressive fifth place.

You can find the rankings here.

Four Key Trends over the past 6 months
An overview of the Top 20 core PC Game Rankings data generated over the last six months reveals four key trends that are shaping the core PC/MMO market segment:

1) eSports and Consumer Participation
eSports, like no other PC game innovation before it, has fundamentally altered {link no longer active} the PC gaming industry. The genre sits at a nexus of both industry and consumer trends, driven by consumers’ powerful need to experiment with, modify, and create their own content and share it with what has become a global audience. One need only look at Riot’s League of Legends, the reigning champion of our PC Rankings since we started publishing them, to see the lasting hold the genre as a whole has had on consumers. HiRez Studio’s Smite, driven by their 2015 World Championships and soon to be released XBox One release, pushed aside many titles as it ascended on a popularity wave driven by video sharing, social media and strong community engagement. Valve’s DotA 2 has never left the Top 10 rankings, remaining relatively stable despite many challengers by new games, holding fast by the sheer will of a passionate and engaged Steam community. eSports will only continue to grow, as the 89 million estimated eSports enthusiasts of 2014 is set to hit 145 million by 2017.

2) Free-to-Play
The vast majority of the titles dominating our rankings are free-to-play, ranging from MMO’s like World of Tanks and Star Wars: The Old Republic to MOBA’s like League of Legends, DotA 2 and Smite. In fact six of the Top 10 titles in our January 2015 rankings are free-to-play, giving a clear indication of the impact this financial model has had on the games industry, especially in destroying entry barriers to multiplayer gaming services. We envision that the term free-to-play will disappear in the near future as every game can be “tried” for free and hybrid models become the norm.

3) The Lasting Attraction of MMO’s
The MMO/MOBA genre continues to drive consumer attention (and high session times), with 5 of the Top 10 titles falling into that category. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has for the last six months remained stable in the Top 5, and NCSoft’s Guild Wars 2 has stayed strong in the Top 10. The two titles are distinguished from the dominating World of Tanks (Wargaming) by being subscription and pay-to-play based respectively, with World of Tanks employing the free-to-play business model, an indication perhaps as to why World of Tanks has continually been Top 3 in the Rankings since June 2014. It’s unsurprising then that MMO/MOBA games generate 70 percent of global PC revenues, totalling $17 billion in 2014, 85 percentof that being free-to-play.

4) Indies and Mods
As we have pointed out over the last 6 months many of the movers and shakers in our monthly PC Rankings have either been Mods or Indie published titles. Mojang’s Minecraft, which has continually been in the Top 3 rankings since June 2014, began life as a humble indie title. Driven by the forces of consumer participation and sharing (noted above), Mojang’s success culminated into its acquisition by Microsoft for $2.5 billion. Many of the titles on our rankings (DotA 2, DayZ, CounterStrike, Team Fortress 2, Garry’s Mod) began life as Mods for games that soon eclipsed the title they were originally designed for. In fact DotA 2, CounterStrike: Global Offensive, DayZ and Garry’s Mod are all stand-alone titles, their success driven almost entirely by the same forces pushing the eSports genre to the heights it has now achieved. The power of community driven interest, lower barriers to entry through digital platform publishing and the reach of social sharing has empowered Indie publishers to compete with great success, as indicated by their continual presence in the monthly rankings. The sheer domination of Minecraft videos on YouTube is further testament to this.

Find more information on the eSports market and audience here.

About Overwolf
Overwolf is a customizable in-game overlay platform that has been installed in over 8 million PCs. This community of hardcore PC gamers are consistently making their own apps within the Overwolf platform and sharing them. Why Because it’s super simple and it enhances the gameplay experience of anyone’s favorite title in a personal way. From in-game chat systems to customized controls, streaming or video capture, Overwolf allows users to implement their own visions into these games and do so in a timely manner.

About Newzoo
Newzoo is the leading global market research firm focused purely on the games market. The company provides its clients with a mix of primary consumer research, transactional data and financial analysis across all continents, screens and business models. It is also known for actively sharing a variety of insights by means of free trend reports, infographics, blogposts and monthly rankings. Newzoo’s clients include Tencent, SEGA, Logitech, Wizards of the Coast, Nvidia, Microsoft, EA, Coca-Cola and Visa/PlaySpan.

Rebellion Isn’t Fazed By Metacritic

In today’s video game business, bad review scores can be a deathknell for a product, or, at the very least, a factor that could result in the cancellation of a bonus for a developer.

However, Jason Kingsley, the owner of the development team at Rebellion, who previously released the action/shooter Sniper Elite III last year, believes that there is a shift coming out there, even if some traditional conventions stay in place. “There’s a pressure to get the product out there,” he explained, speaking with GamesIndustry International. “But the problem is that getting a bad product out on time can, and will, damage your reputation as severely as getting a good product out very late. It’s the devil and the deep blue sea.

“It will have a short-term effect. I don’t think it’ll take very long for people to think, ‘Company X released a faulty product and screwed us over.’ I’m not talking ‘faulty’, as in a few bugs and idiosyncrasies, but something that, on the face of it, is horribly broken. I think we can see it when something really shouldn’t have been released. It will have a short-term effect, and I think we’ll see changes in the way games have to be made as a result.

“It also damages games in general, because it convinces people that they’re all buggy and broken, and they paint every game with the same brush. You can lose your consumer that way,” he said.

That said, such products can pave the way for lesser-hyped games to shine, like Rebellion’s own Sniper Elite III. Said Kingsley, “Every Sniper Elite game we’ve released has debuted at number one, and everybody says, ‘God, that’s unexpected. It’s a sleeper hit. But it’s not really a ‘sleeper hit’ because it sold as well as projects that cost ten times the amount to develop and probably had 20 times the marketing budget. From a business perspective, it’s a slam-dunk certainty. And that’s interesting.”

However, what’s really surprising is how some disappointing scores actually didn’t effect the game’s performance, especially on Steam, where it’s sold over half a million units. “Nobody here ever bothers about Metacritic,” said Kingsley, speaking about the critic-based score site, which is consistently loaded with negative reviews from users. “We think of it as irrelevant, quite frankly. We only concentrate on what the users think, and every aggregate user score has been significantly higher than the aggregate professional score. We care about the people who are spending their money, and whether we’re happy that we’ve made a good game. The acid test isn’t somebody’s abstracted number.

“Professional reviewers have a very difficult job, because they cannot see a game from the perspective of somebody who’s paid money for it. Because that’s their job. Your average player who buys the game is almost obligated to try and enjoy it. They’re hoping this thing they’ve paid for is good, and if it’s crap they’re very, very disappointed indeed and they probably won’t buy another game from you. I’m not saying professional reviewers try not to enjoy games, but that’s what they do during the week as a profession, with all the pressures and deadlines that come with it.”

When it comes to feedback from games, online social media plays a huge part, according to Kingsley. “The greatest value for us as digital publishers, if you like, is in embracing YouTube and Twitch and the normal people being seen playing our games,” he said. “It lets you see what the gameplay is like, and make a decision on whether you like that and want to play it. You might not actually care whether it didn’t seem totally original to one person, or that the story was a bit crap.

“That new approach has taken over.”

Zynga COO: ‘Free To Play Means Free To Leave’

The saga of Zynga has been an engaging one, with a meteoric rise on a new platform as Facebook expanded rapidly and Zynga’s games were there to take advantage of the vast new audience. Early hits included Zynga Poker and FarmVille, quickly followed by many other games that sought to take advantage of the seemingly insatiable desire of Facebook fans to play casual, social games. The rise of Zynga led to a successful IPO, where the company gathered well over a billion dollars in investment on its way to conquer new audiences.

Social games lost their momentum just as mobile games began rising quickly. Social game companies began to shift resources to mobile, but for most it was a hard transition. Now, it’s been about a year and a half since Don Mattrick stepped in to take charge of Zynga, and the company is still in the midst transforming itself.

It’s a difficult transformation that’s under way at Zynga. You’re redesigning and rebuilding a ship while you’re still on a voyage, and engaging in active trade along the way. If the direction of the company seems sound, the length of the voyage isn’t that big of an issue — if the company is still afloat. Zynga’s still got over a billion dollars in the bank and the losses appear to have stopped, with the company achieving positive cash flow for Q4 (even if it was only $2 million).

Games take time to build, and while mobile games can be put together more swiftly, quality products still take time. So a year or more is not that long to re-evaluate the product pipeline, re-arrange development priorities and teams, and get some new games out — and make a major acquisition (Natural Motion) along the way. Zynga appears to have a solid product slate for later in the year, announcing two action-strategy games Empires & Allies and Dawn of Titans, with FarmVille Harvest Swap (a match-three game), and several more products yet to be announced — between six and ten new products, all mobile first.

Zynga ended 2014 as a mobile game company. “Our mobile bookings now account for 60 percent of our bookings, up from only 27 percent since the time I joined the company,” CEO Don Mattrick said. Their goal is to hit 75 percent or more of the revenues coming from mobile by the end of 2015. That’s a big shift from being primarily a Facebook game company in the past. Much of the slowness in Zynga’s numbers for early 2015 are due to sunsetting various Facebook games rather than spending the development effort to update them to new Facebook APIs, judging that Zynga’s development resource is better spent on mobile-first titles. That seems like a reasonable judgment, though “it’s going to take longer to make money” is not something investors like to hear.

What are good general practices in crafting a product strategy for a large company? Diversify your risk, for one; don’t be tied to closely to a single platform or type of game. Use well-chosen licenses to expand your audience cost-effectively, bringing you new opportunities to cross-promote the rest of your portfolio. Have a variety of products in different genres with different demographic appeal. Take multiple shots, because you never know what may become a huge hit, yet try to make each one a solidly profitable product. Zynga appears to be doing all of that. How well the company is doing it is another thing, and we must wait until we’ve seen these games appear and how well they perform to make that judgment.

As for keeping too many employees around, that seems like a wise move if you’re planning on introducing a lot of games. Supercell has far fewer employees than Zynga, and it has all of three games – all of which are among the top-grossing mobile titles worldwide. That’s great for them… now. What happens if those games start dropping in popularity There aren’t many people around to do new ones. And what if the one new game that Supercell introduces in a year or two (about the current pace) doesn’t do too well You’ll have to wait another year or two for another one. If you tried to build a large business around the idea that you’d have a minimal number of employees and do just a couple of games that would be the very top revenue producing games in the world, you’d be out on the street. Supercell can do what it does because it already has a top game; to try and model a business around that would be crazy.

Clive Downie

Zynga’s got the cash to hang onto a large number of employees, and it’s doing so that it can be a large publisher by producing a number of games. You don’t make six to ten games in a year with a hundred people, not large and top-quality games, at any rate. Odds of a major hit are better with more shots. Waiting until you have a top hit before expanding seems like a much longer term bet, and in San Francisco’s job climate you’d have a hell of a time hiring hundreds of good people. Those employees are an important resource that Zynga is hoarding, and looking to capitalize on this year. Right now, though, the company is betting it can make some good money from all of those employees sometime this year.

The [a]listdaily spoke exclusively with Zynga COO Clive Downie to get more insight on the company’s strategy and prospects for the coming year.

What’s your assessment of Zynga’s position right now?

We have come out of 2014 as a leading mobile gaming company. That may sound like a simple statement, but we weren’t a leading mobile gaming company when Don took over in the middle of 2013. I say that we’ve achieved that — and I know that we have more to do — when I look at some of the indicators. Specifically, our monthly active users on mobile (MAU) have grown year-over-year by 87 percent. Mobile bookings as a percentage of our overall bookings when Don took over in the middle of 2013 were 27 percent of our total. Jump forward to the end of 2014 and out mobile bookings were 60 percent of our total. Those are two indications that the movement towards a leading mobile gaming company is well under way.

I’d say we have achieved those indicators by execution on three very specific strategies that have been underpinning every decision we’ve made in 2014. The first was to grow and sustain our core franchises; the second was to create new franchises, and the third was to drive efficiencies.

Will these new mobile-first games in game design and monetization — less time-gating, more virtual items?

The first work of this new era was FarmVille Country Escape, and that really opened up the economy and the game systems. It didn’t have that kind of restriction in timing that some of our Facebook games in the past had. We realized on mobile, within the way people were participating on mobile, we had to think differently about the way people could traverse through the product. The new products we’re talking about today are in very different categories. Action-strategy has a very different core loop and a core set of attributes in game play. There are areas of innovation that can operate in other areas of the product, specifically in social. We believe we can get back to our social legacy by being the pre-eminent force in social gaming. To do that, we have to provide new ways for people to compete, cooperate, participate and partner with each other. We feel comfortable about some of the things we’re doing in these action-strategy games around that. You’ll see a mix of different business models in in-app purchase and ads, and innovating in social is one of the key areas where we can bring a difference to these categories.

You’re coming out with more games and more variety among the games. Does that imply that you will see fewer chances for cross-selling as opposed to previous games where many were similar?

Great question. I’d say no. We’re interested in being the leader in these categories, and when you’re the leader you do a number of things. Because you’re the leader you get a retentiveness and a scale around these products that make them evergreen. If you think about the leaders in these categories now, they are organically staying where they are and fueling those businesses to stay where they are. When you think about our portfolio there are affinities that we can and do rely on. Our portfolio has historically been 60-40 in terms of female-male split, mainly because of our FarmVille and Words With Friends dominance. Our male audience has generally been centered around our Zynga Poker product. With the addition of CSR Racing we immediately had another audience that was predominantly male. With action strategy, we bring another level of predominantly male consumers into our network. Our slots business is growing, that’s predominantly female. The match-3 category is split down the middle. My sense is the affinity is going to be increased with the number of products that we have, and the number of products that we have means our network scale is going to increase, which will increase our opportunities to find affinities.

Do you think people may get tired of playing certain types of games and look for something new?

There’s a big assumption there that people get tired of games. We really want to make games that can be in business for years — we’re in the business of making games that are live services that people keep wanting to come back to because they are great places to be, to be with other like-minded people to extend the play sessions.

Do you feel there are genres or categories of mobile games that are still blue ocean, that you are looking to get into?

I think every category in mobile can be disrupted. That’s because free-to-play games are free-to-leave games. I don’t have to stick around because I spent sixty bucks and feel compelled to finish the product. If there’s another product that comes along where I see that there’s a step-change experience versus what I have right now, then I can very easily go to the new product. That’s why we put so much emphasis on our social legacy and getting back to social, because we believe that social can be some of the glue. It’s not the silver bullet, but if you are in an ecosystem where your friends are — or people who you value as your friends in that space— then you’re going to feel compelled to stay, because that’s a social place for you. Every category can be disrupted, and we are mindful of that ourselves, which is why we believe social is an area that we can innovate in and lead in. That’s why we’re excited to go into categories where there are incumbents, because we believe with our offerings we can provide consumers with something new.

The Value Of Ads That Disappear

SnapChat believes that it has a strong social presence that stands out from other sites, and also has an equally strong fee for advertisers, as it’s asking for $750,000 daily for ads that disappear just as quickly as they’re seen. Now, a new article from Adage talks about the effectiveness of said ad.

Author Ephraim Bander talks about how ads can fit in with the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mantra of how SnapChat works, with users taking in as many images as they can, aware that they can disappear in a moment’s notice. “In a way, it’s an experiential platform that encourages users to pay attention now so they’ll remember something later,” he explains. “And that’s why I did not greet the news last month that SnapChat would charge advertisers a reported $750,000 for one day’s worth of (disappearing) ads with nearly as much skepticism or incredulity as any of my peers in the advertising world.”

However, the author believes that advertisers should look a little deeper beyond the price point. “Advertisers should be incensed by just how many of their ad dollars are spent on campaigns that don’t even get a chance to disappear – because they’re never in-screen and have no chance to be seen at all,” he explains.

“SnapChat’s $750K ads might sound expensive, but they offer us a guarantee that even Google can’t make – that ads will be seen,” he said, referring back to a report posted by Google in December titled The Importance of Being Seen: Viewability Insights for Digital Marketers and Publishers, which talks about the effectiveness of display ads.

Bander then went on to ask a few questions, such as whether publishers can get a guarantee about ads loading on time and in-screen, and what technology they might use to assure ads won’t be ignored. “These are all things that are inherently incorporated into SnapChat ads, by nature of the mobile screens on which the app runs, but these should be considerations regardless of what platform a given campaign will appear on,” he said.

“For ads to be effective, consumers must first engage with them, and then find them memorable. If advertisers started treating every ad like it was going to disappear, the same way the cliché says to live every day to its fullest, perhaps there would be far fewer invisible ads and more instances of possibly vanishing – but effective – messages reaching consumers,” he concluded.

The full report can be found here.

What Makes A Native Ad Click?

Native advertising is certainly quite a trend with a few companies these days, and it’s only going to grow even stronger over the next few years. That said, eMarketer has a few suggestions when it comes to getting the right ingredients for an effective native advertisement.

According to BI Intelligence, the forecast for U.S. native ad spending will rise a whopping 35 percent this year, up to $10.7 billion. It’ll go even higher by 2018, nearly doubling that amount to $21 billion.

However, what’s important to a native advertisement will help its effectiveness. A study by the Association of National Advertisers, or ANA for short, indicates that, through a recent poll, 96 percent of respondents explained that creating native ads that feature contextual relevance to surrounding editorial content can be an important key to an effective native ad. In addition, 63 percent of those polled said it was “very” important, and shouldn’t be missed.

Under two-thirds of those polled indicated that it was vital for native ad formats to match editorial content, although only 26 percent said that this was “very” important. Three-quarters of those polled also stated that native ads should act like surrounding content that interact with their articles. However, the key is that they need to be recognized as contextually relevant right away, or the interaction could be missed.

Out of those polled, two-thirds of the audience felt that native advertising needs a clear disclosure, so that potential consumers don’t get confused over sponsored editorial content. Only 13 percent of those polled disagreed and like it the way this is done.

When it comes to the proper terms with distinguishing native advertisements, the word “advertisement” came in first, with 81 percent of those polled easily recognizing the term. “Ad” was in second place with 70 percent, while a trio of “sponsored” terms, including “sponsored by,” “sponsored content” and “sponsored”, are also quite easily received. “Paid” and “paid content” are also easily recognized.

As for native advertising’s impact, The 614 Group and AdMonsters recently held a study late last year, in which 88.7 percent of US digital advertising, marketing and media executives stated that native advertising would be “somewhat” or “very” pervasive in 2015. Understanding how to maximize native advertising efforts is vital in order to continue its success, according to them.

More detailed information on the polls can be found here.

 

Not All Fans Are Created Equal: Seven Ways To Engage Your Brand’s Top Fans On YouTube

by Jessica Klein

On YouTube, only some fans can count as your “top fans.” Thanks to YouTube and Google+, these especially devoted followers are not hard to pin down. If your brand has over 5,000 subscribers (and let’s hope it does, now that you’ve had the chance to read up on YouTube tips from the Playbook for Brands), the video platform offers a “Top Fans” tool. By bringing together your brand’s Google+ page and YouTube channel, you can explore the “Insights” and “Fans” features to learn more about your followers and better engage with them.

1. Show Top Fans New Videos First

There’s not better way to reinforce how much your brand’s biggest fans mean to you than to treat them like VIPs to your videos. Using Insights, you can share your latest content with these fans (by uploading privately) before it becomes available to the YouTube viewing masses. Comments on the privately uploaded video will remain behind VIP doors, too.

2. Ask for Their Personal Opinions

Your brand’s top fans’ opinions matter because they know your content well and they know why they love it. Also, though they may feel like and act like friends, they’re not in one important way—they don’t have to tell you whatever you make is grand when it’s…not. Ask them for their thoughts on your brand’s latest video, what they want to see more of, what they don’t like, etc. Their advice will help you make the best videos you can make for the demographic your brand has already established, and soliciting it privately (via Insights) will let the fans share their thoughts more openly.

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.