NPD February 2015 US Retail: All Rise

For once, every segment of the retail video games market in the US has something to cheer, as all segments improved sales over last February. “All three categories of hardware, new physical software, and accessories experienced sales increases in February 2015 with combined sales of $956 million, up 8 percent over last February,” said NPD’s Liam Callahan. Last February saw a total of $884 million in sales.

The new consoles did well this month, led by a strong launch of Nintendo’s New 3DS XL, which took the top sales spot for all consoles, not just handhelds, with 395,000 sold during February. “The great majority of these sales were New Nintendo 3DS XL systems, which sold 130 percent more units in its initial frame than Nintendo 3DS XL did when it launched on Aug. 19, 2012,” Nintendo said. The number one software title for February, Majora’s Mask 3D for the 3DS, helped fuel some of those purchases with 515,000 combined physical and digital copies sold. Nintendo said that it’s become the fastest-selling Legend of Zelda hand-held title in U.S. History.

Microsoft noted that the Xbox One had “record February sales in the U.S.” as it sold 84 percent more consoles compared to January 2015.

Sony claimed a sales victory for the month. “Demand for PlayStation 4 remains incredibly strong in the U.S. as it was #1 in hardware and software sales in February according to the latest NPD report. PS4 remains the cumulative leader in hardware sales with more than 20.2 million units sold to consumers worldwide demonstrating the fastest growth in PlayStation hardware history.”

The one area that performed poorly were the last-generation consoles, which dropped 41 percent in sales according to NPD. While the price is lower than the latest consoles, none of the last-gen consoles are getting any marketing love from their manufacturers, and without a significant price cut and/or a significant marketing effort we can expect sales to continue to decline.

The focus is clearly on the latest and greatest consoles, which (at least for Sony and Microsoft) have performed very well compared to the last generation. “The first 15 months the PS4 and the XBO combined unit sales have outsold the PS3 and the Xbox 360 combined 15 month totals by close to 60 percent,” noted Callahan.

Software, meanwhile, was up by only 7 percent. “New Physical Video Game Software sales rose by 7 percent due to the 84 percent growth in eighth generation software, which offset declines in seventh generation software; portables sales were boosted 30 percent by the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate,” Callahan said. “This is the first time since the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One that the top 10 console software SKUs were all from eighth generation consoles, a sign of consumer’s further transition away from seventh generation consoles towards the new console generation.”

February 2015 Top 10 Games (New Physical Retail only)
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS)** Nintendo
2. Evolve (XBO, PS4, PC) Take 2 Interactive
3. Dying Light (PS4, XBO, PC) Warner Bros. Interactive
4. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)** Activision Blizzard
5. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)** Take 2 Interactive
6. NBA 2K15 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC) Take 2 Interactive
7. Dragon Ball: Xenoverse (PS4, XBO, PS3, 360) Bandai Namco Games
8. Minecraft (360, PS3, XBO, PS4) Microsoft / Sony
9. The Order: 1886 (PS4)** Sony
10. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)** Capcom USA
**(includes CE, GOTY editions, bundles, etc. but not those bundled with hardware)

SuperData: February 2015 US Digital Game Sales

Analysis from SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen, follows:

  • Wildstar fails to deliver market share, as NCSoft earns 12 percent from Western territories.
  • Subscription MMOs drive $995 million February US digital games market.
  • Valve stumbles into pay-to-win as DotA2 breaks 1M concurrent users.
  • VR, cross-platform gaming and diversity steal the show at GDC15.

The overall US digital games market generated $995 million in revenues in February, a modest 2 percent increase from the same month last year. A big surprise this month was the enduring strength of the subscription-based MMO market, which earned $65 million, up 13 percent from February 2014. We do, however, expect this to taper off in the coming months as earnings return to the level before the release of World of Warcraft‘s most recent expansion. Activision’s release schedule for Heroes of the Storm and cross-promotion via Diablo III and Hearthstone may counteract this downward momentum. Mobile gaming dropped almost 10 percent month-over-month to $329 million after breaking $400 million in monthly spend during the holiday season. The social games segment is peering into the abyss as revenues reached an 8-month low of $151 million.

NCsoft and Nexon release strong earnings, but still have a limited presence in West. After reporting their quarterly earnings earlier this month, it is clear that top performing Asian publishers like NCsoft and Nexon still mostly rely on the Eastern market for the lion’s share of revenues. For Nexon, 93 percent of last quarter’s earnings came from China, Korea and Japan, compared to a measly 7 percent from North America and Europe combined. NCSoft earned 12 percent of Q4 revenues in the West. Despite the success of titles like Guild Wars 2, which generated approximately $77 million in revenues last year, Wildstar has so far failed to capture a significant market share, generating only $45 million in revenues and showing a clear drop. This forces a greater reliance on NCsoft’s much older titles Lineage ($237M) and Aion ($85M). A notable exception so far has been TERA, which generated 58 percent of its January revenues in Western territories as a result of having a strong local publisher network in Europe and North America including Ubisoft and Gameforge. Vice versa, the success of Western publishers entering the Asian markets is still under debate. Activision’s recent beta release of Call of Duty Online, aimed at the Chinese free-to-play market with the help of Tencent, looks promising. However, if these two industry giants can’t make a monster franchise like CoD work in a market this size, then perhaps it simply cannot be done.

DotA2 reaches 1,153,407 concurrent users but stumbles into pay-to-win. The success of the MOBA genre continues as one of Valve’s top-tier titles broke the symbolic threshold of one million concurrent users in February. Worldwide, the game has a monthly active user base of well over 10 million players, earning Valve just over $18 million a month. However, the Year Beast Brawl event hosted by DotA2 in honor of the Chinese New Year tiptoed into dangerous pay-to-win territory. With the ability to add a giant monster to their crew, players can upgrade their new friend either through gameplay or the cash shop, making this contrary to the game’s usual free-to-play monetization strategy. Following the criticism from its fan base it is unlikely that Valve will pursue this further as games like DotA2 and League of Legends generally emphasize a high-quality user experience over monetization. The overall MOBA market in the US generated $54 million in earnings in January. The popularity of the genre has convinced several legacy publishers to develop their own MOBA titles, like the upcoming Heroes of the Storm by Activision/Blizzard and the recently announced Supernova by Bandai-Namco.

Three take-aways from GDC that will change the industry. First and foremost, virtual reality is a thing now. And a slew of big, billion-dollar companies are putting their money where their mouth is. Valve announced several hardware improvements to strengthen its position in battling over the center of the living room. While most of the industry’s attention was in San Francisco, HTC unveiled its new Vive device, a virtual reality head-mounted display powered by Valve’s Steam VR technology, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. And we saw the latest incarnations of the Oculus Rift and Morpheus, with the latter making the most meaningful improvements. Sony also revealed the device will launch in early 2016, as anticipated in our Virtual Reality Market Brief. Second, Microsoft is aggressively pursuing cross-platform play between its Xbox One and Windows 10. Creating an ecosystem across platforms might prove instrumental in expanding the Xbox user base and helps the company capitalize on growing trends like streaming and eSports. And the announcement of Gigantic (Motiga), which can be played across platforms, proves that Microsoft is serious and may just finally silence the eternal question: PC or console The third and final big take-away was the standing ovation following the #1ReasonToBe panel led by Brenda Romero and Leigh Alexander. As the industry has become more mainstream in recent years, diversity in game development has become a center topic in the industry. The panel tackled issues like harassment and the misconceptions about women in gaming. The positive tone of the presentation and its warm reception tells us that the industry is undergoing real change, allowing us to both appeal to a more diverse audience and elevate game development to the art form it really is.

Newzoo/Overwolf: February 2015 PC Game Rankings

For the first time in five months, the Top 3 of the Top 20 core PC Game Rankings have been disrupted: Minecraft (Mojang) has moved up a place to Rank 2 with Wargaming’s World of Tanks falling to Rank 3. Riot’s League of Legends remains at Rank 1, having dominated in this position since we began publishing the Rankings in April 2014.

Content Drives Session Times

The biggest change in the February Rankings was the phenomenal rise of Blizzard’s Diablo III, climbing an impressive seven spots to Rank 9. This is doubly surprising since the title has not been in the Top 10 for more than three months. A major reason for the dramatic increase in unique sessions lies in the release of Diablo III’s Season 2 on February 13th. With a host of new items, challenges and ranked rewards, players have been returning in ever growing numbers. Blizzard’s other title Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft dropped one place to Rank 10, the first decline in two months following the release of the ‘Goblins vs. Gnomes’ expansion in December 2014. With the next content patch ‘Blackrock Mountain’ set for imminent release in April 2015, we may see a slight increase in session numbers as players return to accrue in-game currency to purchase the expansion on release day.

An Indie Anomaly

We first pointed out Freejam Game’s indie title Robocraft back in November 2014. A unique mix of Minecraft mechanics, sci-fi overtones and plenty of guns, Robocraft is a F2P title where players design and deploy robots to competitively battle each other out. In December 2014, the game won ‘Indie Game of the Year’ on Indie DB, climbing the ranks driven by media coverage and positive reviews on Steam. Although it dropped six places in January 2015, the title has moved up four spots to Rank 16, spurred on by the release of its ‘Dawn of the Megabots’ expansion on the February 18th. Though it’s not surprising to see an indie title in the Core PC Game Rankings, Robocraft‘s tenacity in the Top 20 these past four months is truly impressive. Freejam’s success is not only due to the growing attraction to voxel-based creative titles with competitive mechanics, but also the reduced barriers to entry offered by Robocraft‘s F2P monetization model and Steam accessibility.

Zero Point MMOs

Overall, February was not an impressive month for big MMOs. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft and NCSoft’s Guild Wars 2 were stable at Rank 5 and Rank 6 respectively. Although Gaijin Entertainment’s War Thunder moved up two places to Rank 12 (with new content having been introduced on February 12th), February was not great for the remaining MMOs in the Rankings. EA’s Star Wars: The Old Republic fell three spots to Rank 14, due perhaps to the diminishing returns on the expansion ‘Shadow of Revan’ released in December. The release also divided the game’s highly vocal community, causing strife in some community segments due to the large number of bugs affecting game play.

Trion World’s ArcheAge had similar problems, falling four places to Rank 17. The once highly popular MMO has been afflicted with a large number of bots and hackers, causing a large outcry and community backlash. The problem was exacerbated by Trion World’s inclusion of HackShield, a program designed to stop cheating in games that has a negative reputation in the MMO community. The success or failure of online titles are very often decided by the online community (especially when potential players research a title before playing) and it remains to be seen if ArcheAge can move past its current mixed reputation.

MOBA Mechanics

Of the three MOBAs in the Top 20 Core PC Rankings, two are in the Top 10: Riot’s League of Legends and Valve’s DotA 2. HiRez Studio’s Smite, despite moving up one place in February to Rank 11, is not. The only month Smite moved into the Top 10 was December 2014, driven by the massive interest in its World Championship and registration for its Xbox release. Smite is, in some ways, a vastly different game than DotA 2 and LoL. For one thing, Smite trades the traditional MOBA ‘top down’ perspective for a third person view associated more with first person shooters. Core mechanics like ‘last hit‘ are absent from Smite and the punishment/reward for individual player performance is less severe when compared to the other two games. MOBAs are built on the core idea of competition: LoL and DotA 2, with mechanics focused on rewarding or heavily penalizing individual player performance, have generated higher session times than Smite since the Ranking began. The fact that both titles are top down versus Smite‘s third person perspective might play a significant role too. Blizzard’s MOBA Heroes of the Storm (currently in Beta) has been criticized by some communities for the lack of penalization for individual performance, emphasizing team effort instead. It remains to be seen over the coming months if session numbers remain high for traditional, highly competitive MOBAs or if newer, more casual titles can gain serious session time traction.Â

Find more information on the eSports market and audience here.

Phablet Mobile App Sessions On the Rise

When someone doesn’t want something as large as a tablet or as small as a smartphone, they usually go for a “phablet,” a middle-of-the-road device that provides both convenience and moderate size so that they get the best of both worlds. It sounds weird, but, in fact, the device has picked up quite a bit in sales over the last year.

eMarketer reports that, from sales numbers provided by Flurry, global mobile app sessions for “phablet” devices have managed to increase nearly 150 percent from the previous year’s usage for January. Meanwhile, the growth of the mobile industry as a whole was only at 78 percent — nearly half that number.

Devices like the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 provide larger sizes, but also convenience with usage. These two led that charge of popularity, while medium-based smartphones only showed a 38 percent increase, and small tablets followed way behind with 14 percent. Meanwhile, full size tablets and smaller phone models decreased, by 20 and 16 percent, respectively.

In addition to the popularity of mobile apps, mobile websites are also generating big audience numbers on “phablets.” Research company Chitika reported that the percentage of website traffic for North America coming from bigger smartphones (with a 5-plus inch screen) picked up around 160 percent between September 2013 and September 2014 — almost the same amount of growth as the numbers reported above.

The average size of a screen on a “phablet” has seen an increase on newer models. Previously, phablet screens clocked in at around 4.6 inches back in 2013. Currently, however, the popular norm is around 5.1 inches, and it’s likely it could grow even a bit more in 2015 with new models that are introduced (probably not to the point of tablet sizes, though).

More information on this report can be found here.

Publishers Buy In To Snapchat’s Discover Platform

Earlier this year, we ran an article discussing the ridiculously high amount Snapchat was asking for in terms of advertising on its popular mobile application. However, it appears that isn’t stopping some companies from hopping on board with Snapchat’s latest program, Discover.

Re/code has reported that the ad pricing for the program is running somewhere in the vicinity of $100 for every thousand views – something that can pick up incredibly quickly considering the popularity of Discover. Still, some companies have bought in due to the popularity, like mobile company Alibaba, who invested $200 million into the service.

Other partners have hopped on board as well, including CNN, Vice and ESPN, despite the high asking price for advertising. But with the deal, Snapchat seems to pay off with a guaranteed view count to ad buyers based on traffic patterns established over the previous few weeks. Publishers can demand anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 a day for content as a result, but with the 500,000 to one million views per day, it seems pay off in the long run, with so many eyes on advertising.

The program is experimental thus far, since Discover is still a new property. But there’s still a safety margin put in place for companies and marketers to try it out. For example, if the publisher gets fewer views than what was initially guaranteed, they will run the ads for longer than the 24-hour time frame that was originally paid for, until the number count is reached.

There’s quite an audience with the Discover app, between teens and millennials that can’t usually be reached through other apps or social networks, and even without the ability to create referral traffic (linking back to a company’s original website), there’s still plenty of buzz behind a product.

Yes, the pricing remains higher than usual, but it appears Snapchat is going all out to assure companies that it’s worth it. We’ll see how the Discover program fares as it rolls along through 2015.

Image source

Advertising Questions For Apple Watch

Advertising on a mobile device is a growing venue for ads, since mobile devices can easily show images and run videos, even let you install apps from an ad. Smart watches, on the other hand, are much more limited, and the Apple Watch is starting out with some significant drawbacks for advertisers, with no video playback, for instance. It’s not even clear what sort of advertising Apple may allow or disallow.

That’s not to say some people haven’t tried, though. AdAge reports that, before the launch of the Apple Watch next month, some companies have tackled advertising on werables on other devices such as Pebble Time and Android Wear. That’s not to say that the sales have always hit their mark, however, as Google’s product is still trying to find a key audience amidst a poor debut.

A few videos of such wearable ads can be found here, providing examples of how advertising can be effective on such a small device.

Even with some predicting wild sales (JP Morgan estimates 26 million units of the Apple Watch sold for this year alone), many companies are still on the fence just yet – and, again, it’s due to the limited format. VentureBeat reports that some of the ideas for the device will be “too niche to be significant,” such as with coupons popping up while passing by a particular store. Such an idea is “clever in theory, but will be complicated to scale.”

“New apps need sizable audiences to generate revenue,” says the article. “When experimenting with a new product and platform, developers nearly always avoid cluttering the experience with unproven ads. Only when adoption and retention levels are healthy and well-understood will developers integrate ad-based monetization.”

While many developers will be familiar with Apple’s iOS ecosystem when the Watch launches, however, there should be no problem finding interactive programs that work at launch, with “clean and thoughtful” ad implementations and a few “novel games and social applications” expected to be popular around launch. However, developers need to “find creative ways to carefully introduce ‘native’ ads into their experience,” according to the article.

One thing that Apple needs to ensure, however, is full disclosure on what advertising terms come with the device. “Guidelines on this have not been released, and given Apple’s lack of enthusiasm about advertising-based revenue, I would not be surprised to see Apple forbid some or all obvious forms of ads, at least until it feels the platform is off to a successful launch with consumers,” the author stated.

We’ll see how things fare when the Apple Watch hits retail next month.

Bianca Anderson: Struggles For Women In the Video Game Industry

A few weeks ago, the [a]listdaily ran an article explaining how involvement of women in the video game industry was growing, with a 52 percent chunk of overall gamers consisting of women. We also briefly talked about prominent women in the industry, including Jade Raymond and Amy Hennig.

What we didn’t elaborate on, however, was the struggle that many women face finding such a place in said industry. GamerGate (which continues to be an ongoing — and very ugly — issue), along with acceptance in eSports and development circles, are incredible hurdles — and a few industry peers stated that the previous article didn’t go nearly in depth on these issues.

So, to follow up, the [a]listdaily spoke in-depth to a couple of women in the industry to get their take on particular issues, including finding a place within it.

Bianca Anderson, Global Programs Specialist of Talent Acquisitions for Electronic Arts, gave her take on these issues. This is the first of two interviews, the second of which will be with #INeedDiverseGames creator Tanya D.

Some eSports-based male gamers have expressed disinterest in seeing women in their hobby (and even went as far as saying they would “rape” them, as one player said a few weeks ago), while some companies feel that having separate tournaments for the groups is the answer. What’s your take on this?

Separate tournaments are the lazy solution — you make the “safety” argument while refusing to correct the bad behavior that creates an unsafe and uncomfortable environment for women and other marginalized groups. eSports are still fairly new and working to be taken seriously, so I think it behooves them to make dealing with harassment and sexism a major priority. I’ve seen arguments about trash talk vs. actual threats, and my take there is — rape is not a joke, don’t include it in your trash talk, and you should be penalized if you do. Trash talk may work in small settings with friends, but it doesn’t belong in a professional event, which is why the NFL and other pro sports leagues fine people for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Personally, I find it pretty damn ludicrous to gender segregate eSports. Video games are all too often presented as a male dominated hobby, despite the fact that 48 percent of gamers are female — allowing this perception helps contribute to male gamers feeling that they should be able to exclude women. eSports are a perfect opportunity to combat that perception. You don’t even have the argument of different physical abilities based on sex as you do with traditional sports. The ability to sit in a chair for hours pressing buttons while drinking Mountain Dew is pretty sex and gender neutral.

Do you feel that certain male gamers are intimidated by the strength of female gamers, or do you think they just refuse to shake the notion that it’s a “man’s world” when it comes to their approach to games?

I personally think that the fear of change is a bigger issue than being intimidated by strong women. Others have said it better than me, but there’s this consistent thread of power/fantasy fulfillment that some of these gamers are afraid will change. Geeks, nerds, gamers, whatever you want to call us, a lot of us were the weird, social outcast kids who got picked on for having weird hobbies, being socially awkward, or un-athletic, etc. So along come video games where you get to play bad-ass heroes and rescue damsels and you are basically the center of the universe and everything is awesome. That is an INCREDIBLY heady fantasy — but the problem is everyone likes fantasy, and the focus on the sexually exploitative, violent fantasy aimed at the male gaze of white, straight, cis-gendered males age 18-24 leaves a LOT of people out in the cold. What if I want to be the mighty warrior who rescues a Prince instead of a Princess What if I want my wish fulfillment fantasy to look like me, but more bad-ass Red Sonja aside, I don’t think I’d feel bad-ass in a metal bikini, I think I’d feel cold and possibly chafed in uncomfortable places.

Once women and other marginalized groups started speaking up and asking for games that appeal to more people, some of the core gamers feared that all their wish fulfillment and power would be taken away, which is not what most of us want. You can play GTA V, or The Witcher, or CoD, or Battlefield and it doesn’t concern me in the least, even if those aren’t my games of choice. What I personally see most from women and others is that we want MORE games. You don’t have to get rid of games to make more, but you have to expand your horizons, and that’s what we’re looking for. Additionally I expect that if you ARE playing a game where you can murder a sex worker and take your money back, you need to have the mental faculties to look at the game critically and understand how it’s problematic. You can like problematic things — I like plenty of them, but just because I like something doesn’t mean it’s above criticism.

I think this is the big problem some gamers have with Anita Sarkeesian — they don’t understand that critique is necessary to art, and critique and censorship are two extremely different things. If games want to be taken seriously as art, critique is necessary. Art without critique is just propaganda. They want to have their hobby taken seriously, but they also don’t want to have to examine what certain games and their desire to play them may say about them, our culture, and issues of social inequality.

Do you think companies should just let loose and have tournaments where all players are welcome?

100 percent absolutely, yes. And they 100 percent need to have very specific rules about appropriate behavior. Many cons these days have anti-harassment policies clearly placed, and that’s what I think we probably need for eSports tournaments.

GamerGate is a rather ugly subject — and it’s exploded beyond the original argument over ethics in gamer journalism. As a result, certain women in the industry were affected, such as Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu. Why do you think things have gotten so far out of hand with the death threats and what not?

“Rather ugly” is the sweater your Aunt Myrtle gives you for Christmas, GamerGate is a whole new level of horrifying. I think it’s important to realize though, that the behavior associated with Gamergate is not new, and it isn’t specific to just them. Anytime women choose to publicly express opinions online (or in person) especially about “geek” topics, they receive backlash from a group of “men” (and I use that term REALLY loosely) who want to shut them down and are willing to do so in a way that’s basically an embarrassment to the entire human race.

GamerGate was a perfect storm — you had Zoe Quinn, who had already faced previous harassment for reasons I honestly have trouble even wrapping my brain around, her seriously terrible ex who decided to take a personal experience and make it extremely public, in hopes of hurting her, and a lot of people already pissed by the idea of “Social Justice Warriors” coming in and “ruining” their “identity” as gamers. Add some D-list celebrities who decided to cash in on a group of people who lacked the ability to critically examine the way they were being manipulated, and you just get a shit-storm of epic proportions. They topped it all off with a catchy hashtag and suddenly you have a harassment campaign/hate group masquerading as a “consumer revolt,” complete with a name, a logo, and a whole lot of terrible behavior.

I think in the beginning there were probably some really earnest, well-meaning people who were actually concerned about ethics in journalism. There may still be some left — but the GamerGate name has been so hopelessly besmirched by hateful, disgusting people who have turned it into something reprehensible, that I think it’s just totally beyond redemption. I just can’t imagine the kind of person who thinks that harassment, threats, “doxxing”, “SWATting”, and stalking is an acceptable response to someone doing something you don’t like in your hobby space. The presence of rapidly changing technology bringing people closer together and a justice system that has no idea how to deal with the online world just makes it a dangerous new frontier.

Do you think social media makes it too easy for certain male gamers to lash out It seems like Twitter’s lack of punishment for certain threats may not be helping, especially where Zoe and Brianna are concerned?

This is a complicated one — I’d say it’s less social media itself and more that the world isn’t ready to deal with the weaponization of social media. The US justice system in particular is WOEFULLY, almost criminally, inadequate when it comes to dealing with electronic crimes and harassment. Let’s face it, police have trouble dealing with threats of sexual assault, harassment, or violence against women terribly well in “meat space” let alone cyberspace. Technology is outpacing our laws at a rate that’s more than a little terrifying, and our national fear of science and technology doesn’t help us create policies and practices that can help stem the tide of problems. I’m not qualified to advise, but it’s a serious issue that really needs to be addressed. I believe, in the long run, the positives of social media seriously outweigh the negatives, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be focusing on those problems and figuring out ways to address them.

Do you have any advice for those that want to take a crack at entering the video game industry?

I get this question a lot, and I think my answer might surprise people — personally I recommend that you stop focusing on the industry and instead focus on your skills. There’s nothing wrong with having an end point in mind, but gaming companies will recruit people from an amazing range of other industries; the key is to make yourself a valuable commodity. Want to do art Focus on your art, building your portfolio, etc. Same for programmers, analysts, etc. — concentrate on building your skills and experience. I think people get really hung up on getting into the industry, but plenty of people transition into games from other industries after they’ve become more established in their specialty. I personally fell into the gaming industry almost completely by accident because I had administrative and communication skills that were valuable to my employer — at the time in didn’t even occur to me to think of working in gaming, even though I love games.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong, and everything right, with keeping up with the industry, with trends in gaming, and working on building a network and creating opportunities for meeting people in the industry. Twitter is actually a great place to network, and of course LinkedIn. Go to conventions and conferences if you can, talk to people. Be respectful and don’t make it all about you — and don’t expect them to help you get a job just because you said hi, no one really wants to feel like they’re being used. Be genuine and engaged, no matter who you’re dealing with, and learn to talk to strangers, it is probably the most useful skill you will ever develop!

You can follow Bianca on Twitter at @biancajand.

Why 2015 Is ‘Prime Time’ for Social Video

By: Hillel Scheinfeld

eMarketer is calling 2015 the “prime time for social video” estimating that online video ad revenue will grow to $7.7 billion this year with year-over-year increases over 13.9 percent through 2018. This increase can be credited to a few factors, including the availability of new social video advertising solutions, as well as increased video consumption.


Consumers love interacting with content on social media — whether it’s sharing, tweeting, posting, or  pinning — sharing content on social media means that consumers feel this content is resonating with them. When consumers share positive feedback with branded video, they’re giving that brand their personal seal of approval and spreading the word about its products or services to other members of their network.

Users are sharing more video content than ever before. Facebook recently reported that its users share 75 percent more videos globally on the platform than they did at this time last year, and US Facebook users share 94 percent more videos than they did in the same time period. It’s an interesting and impressive trend, but certainly not surprising.

Your New Social Video Advertising Checklist:

1. Leverage new targeting capabilities.

Facebook, InstagramTwitter and Snapchat all feel like natural places to share video ads, as they are channels that naturally express users’ interests. By sharing or liking a particular video, such action, even if not intended, is a type of endorsement or statement about the content. As a result, social networks are able to create a profile of our likes, opinions, interests and more based on these simple actions. Snapchat Discover 1-27-15

Therefore, it makes sense that social networks are a prime location for advertisers to reach certain audiences where they spend a huge amount of time and are already posting and engaging with videos.

In order to increase the impact of the video, coupled with better targeting capabilities, networks like Facebook and others have rolled out new autoplay formats so brands may be able to increase the number of viewers, especially if the content is entertaining within the first 5-10 seconds. These first seconds are crucial for engaging consumers because as viewers become used to expecting this small preview, they are also less forgiving if it doesn’t immediately catch their eye. Research also has proven that people are less likely to watch an ad than personal content from someone in their network, so those first seconds must be engaging enough to draw interest, but not too commercial to throw off the viewer.

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

The Relentless Advance of Pixel Power

The game industry’s growth continues to be linked to both the sales of game hardware and the technical capability of that hardware. Certainly its not a direct relationship, but electronic games depend on electronic devices to run — you can’t deliver any video game experience without some sort of device, after all. Tracking the past, present, and future state of game hardware is the mission of Jon Peddie Research, which follows “whatever influences a pixel” as founder Jon Peddie put it during his GDC 2015 presentation. Or, more precisely: “We monitor measure and forecast hardware and software markets that have anything to do with graphics,” said Peddie.

Peddie’s overview of the state of gaming hardware was chock full of numbers to chew, and salted with his opinions on the market. “The game industry is moving too slowly, and has been moving too slowly for quite some time,” Peddie said as he recapped the graphics history of the game industry. The progress was shown by an image of Lara Croft from 1996 versus 2013, and she has aged very well, thank you.

Peddie noted that recently we’ve seen some significant progress on the software side of graphics, as new drivers have been written that are much closer to the metal — with a corresponding improvement in performance. AMD’s Mantle API spurred other API development, like Apple’s Metal, Microsoft’s DirectX 12, and others. DirectX 12 in particular should reduce development time and cost for games as it stretches across Xbox One, PCs, and Windows 10 on smartphones and tablets. Developers who are addressing all of those platforms should be able to create games more speedily, although differences in the control interface still have to be taken into account.

“We’re predicting robust and aggressive growth in the gaming industry, fueled by robust APIs and better graphics,” Peddie said. He provided a snapshot of the 2014 Gaming Hardware market, which he pegged at $67 billion worldwide. PC hardware accounted for the largest share at 33 percent, with smartphones at 23 percent and tablets at 11 percent (which, combined, is now even larger than the PC market); consoles clocked in at 16 percent. Handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS only account for three percent, and that’s shrinking under the relentless onslaught of smartphones and tablets. Peripherals (headsets, controllers, and the like) are 8 percent, and location-based devices (like slot machines) are six percent of the market.

Peddie showed the current global software market at $26 billion, and projected continued strong growth for both PC games and mobile games, while console games are projected to top out by 2018. Of course, that assumes there’s no significant new console hardware coming up, or peripherals for existing consoles that might change the equation — such as VR or AR devices. Predicting numbers based on that is an exercise in educated guessing, though, since we still have no hard data on pricing, availability, or potential demand.

As Peddie broke down the segments of the game hardware market, it was most interesting to track what he believes will be the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of these different segments. He feels the PC segment will have a 5 percent CAGR overall, while the peripheral segment will have a 1.5 percent CAGR. Traditional TV-based consoles (the PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U) will have a 3 percent CAGR, while handheld consoles will decline at a -2 percent CAGR in Peddie’s estimation.

The star when it comes to projected growth over the next few years is a new category: New handheld gaming machines, such as Nvidia’s Shield handheld. The market is currently small at only $33 million, but Peddie sees it growing at a 50 percent CAGR, hitting some $75 million by 2018.

Peddie’s associate Ted Pollak detailed the case for another new category, Android consoles such as Amazon Fire TV or the newly announced Nvidia Shield console: “I believe Android consoles are going to shake up the gaming space,” Pollak said. “We are on the edge of a paradigm shift.” The increasing power of these devices along with the low price and features that even the Xbox One and PS4 can’t match (such as 4K video output) will translate into sales in the coming years.

Of course, Peddie didn;’t ignore the elephant in the room — smartphones, which are the biggest segment in gaming revenues for software. He noted that the average time spent playing mobile games daily is around 40 minutes, which is quite impressive. Peddie also noted that 84.9 percent of the 700 top-grossing apps were games, so it’s pretty clear where the money is in app development.

Peddie also noted some of the social media forces driving the increasing adoption of gaming as a cultural force. Twitch is a major contributor to the spread of gaming, with more than 100 million visitors per month. As an example of just how massive Twitch has become, on the week of February 3 this year Twitch accounted for 1.8 percent of peak US Internet traffic — ranking fourth after Netflix, Google, and Apple, and ahead of Hulu, Facebook, and Amazon.

The future appears bright for most types of game hardware, and the graphics power increases will continue. The broad adoption of smartphones has transformed the potential audience for games, though, and many game developers are finding success in seeking a broad audience rather than focusing on creating the very best possible graphics. Still, the increasing power of gaming hardware is going to mean more compelling visuals, more widely distributed — and that’s nothing but good news for the games industry.