Asia Digital Game Revenue Nears $20 Billion

A new report from Superdata indicates that the Asian digital game market is hitting an all-time high, clearing nearly $20 billion for the year.

A big portion of these games come from Japan, with an estimated 45 percent, followed by China with 38 percent and South Korea with 11 percent. As for what kind of games dominate, mobile leads the charge with 59 percent, while other categories, like free-to-play MMO, social and console follow with smaller numbers. It’s expected to account for 38 percent of the worldwide digital games market, with a rise of eight percent expected by next year — making its total over $21 billion.

The report indicates that Japan, even with its smaller population than China, has a higher revenue, by 16 percent. Most of this applies towards mobile, a market that manages to clean up with nearly twice as much made as China’s. That said, PC still makes a big dent in the market, especially in South Korea, where it makes up more than a third of the overall digital games market.

Out of overall payment preferences, gamers show a heavy preference to eWallet (32 percent), followed closely by credit/debit card (21 percent) and mobile (16 percent). Preferred payment methods like Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s Tenplay make eWallet purchases the most convenient option for many.

As great as this news is, there is some slight concern over conversion rate. The report shows that fewer players spend in Asia than in almost any other region, so despite the higher amount spent, the numbers aren’t as great as they could be.

China’s overall digital games market is expected to amass $7.5 billion for this year, with mobile showing the highest growth rate at 19 percent, followed by free-to-play MMO (11 percent) and social (seven percent). That’s a five times greater increase over other regions in Asia.

The report is available for download here.

Breaking Down The Birth Of A New Franchise

When you’re creating a new game franchise from scratch, it can take quite a while to get started. You need to build capital and interest in the title, make sure that development goes through without many hitches, and then work on the marketing side, assuring that there’s some form of outreach to consumers.

Andrew Stalbow, who previously spoke at the previously held [a]list summit, recently made a post on the Medium.com page, explaining what it takes to continue the establishment of a popular franchise on a new platform.

Best Fiends is the game in question, and, in the post, Stalbow breaks down the step-by-step process of continuing to build on its success. First, he explains his reasoning behind choosing the Apple Watch for the game. “We believe Apple Watch is the most significant new media platform since the iPad, and as a company we were determined to be there on day one,” he explained.

He then discusses the savvy development team, featuring head of game design Reko and senior programmer Mikko, and then showcased the game’s trailer, which can be found below.

But Stalbow also explained that he has a deeper vision than that for his team. “Our company vision at Seriously is to build the Pixar of mobile by marrying the creativity of our stellar team with the data we get from people experiencing our products,” he said. “We treat our apps, where we are directly connected to our audience, as the platforms on which to build out our franchise.”

Creative marketing also plays a huge part with the game, as demonstrated by the Valentine’s Day Challenge below, which includes YouTube talents like PewDiePie and others taking part in the shenanigans surrounding the popular game. You can see that video below.

Along with the game’s latest update, Stalbow also discussed how the team was giving back to charity, as it teamed up with Malaria No More to help take care of over 25,000 sick children through promotions with the game, raising over $30,000.

Other partnerships have helped the game oversee success in other countries as well, as a new deal with Incross will bring the series to Korea. This will no doubt see similar numbers to what the game has obtained in China, with a huge amount of downloads.

Kidrobot has also partnered with the company to produce branded vinyl and plush figures, which are being created by Frank Kozik. There’s no word on release, but they shouldn’t be too far off.

“We’ve been careful not to rush consumer products for Best Fiends, but now feels like the right time to do something collectible given the growth of our audience,” said Stalbow.

With over 12 million downloads of the mobile game and over 600,000 hours of engagement with the community, Best Fiends should have no trouble reaching a new success on the Apple Watch. “Now we have the foundations of an entertainment franchise in place, we’ll have a lot more to share over the coming months with new partnerships, frequent game updates and our second game later this year,” concluded Stalbow. “In the meantime, we hope you continue to enjoy playing Best Fiends!

The post can be found in full here.

Facebook Gets 4 Billion Video Views Daily; Shifts To Mobile

Those thinking that Facebook’s video component still has a long way to go before catching up with YouTube may want to take a look at the social site’s latest numbers – because they’re quite staggering.

AdWeek recently reported that the company’s Q1 2015 ad revenue numbers are adding up, showing a 46 percent growth to $3.3 billion. That’s an incredible growth, especially considering the mobile side of things, with 73 percent of overall ad sales. That’s a four percent increase from the previous year’s numbers.

Despite the huge numbers, however, this actually indicates a slight decrease in business sales, although there’s not much to complain about. The market share in general continues to hold strongly, with Facebook accounting for eight percent of the overall $145 billion online advertising space for this past year – up from six percent the previous year, according to eMarketer numbers.

This won’t stop the company from continuing to try and make its video features more prominent for advertisers, especially considering that partnerships have managed to drive home big numbers, benefiting both parties.

Other stats from the company’s recent earnings report:

 

  • Monthly active users (MAUs) rose 13 percent year-over-year
  • Mobile-only MAUs totaled 581 million, marking 40 percent of the platform’s total audience
  • North America accounted for 49 percent of its overall revenue
  • Revenue from payments and other fees managed to fall five percent from the previous year, but this is due to a consumer shift from desktop to mobile gaming

 

Re/code also reported that the popular social site has managed to reach four billion video views daily, a huge leap over the one billion reported back in September 2014. 75 percent of those overall views came from mobile devices. Most of that comes from successful formatting. “We’ve always believed that the format of our ads should follow the format of what consumers are doing on Facebook,” said COO Sheryl Sandberg during a recent investors call. “The fact that there’s so much consumer video, that gives us the opportunity to do more marketing video as well.”

In the meantime, Mark Zuckerberg and company will keep a close eye on trends and see what more it can provide for brands. The second quarter numbers should certainly be interesting.

Facebook Makes Exclusive Branded Video Pitch To Advertisers

by Sahil Patel

Facebook has officially unveiled its Anthology program, which is designed to pair digital publishers with advertisers to create exclusive video content for the social network.

At launch, Anthology has seven media partners: Vice MediaElectus Digital,Vox MediaFunny or DieThe OnionTastemade, and Disney’s Oh My Disney digital division.

“Anthology is equal parts art and science, pairing publisher creativity with Facebook advertising insights to create custom campaigns that meet brands’ business goals,” the social giant said in a blog post. In other words, Anthology will focus on combining the storytelling and production capabilities of its publishing partners with audience and other insights from Facebook to help advertisers create video ads that get viewed and shared on Facebook.

Keep reading…

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.

Victorious Launches Apps For Online Stars

A few months ago, Victorious launched their online service, hoping to reach out to young online superstars in the hopes of creating applications that would provide an easier outreach to their growing fan bases. Today, that plan has been put into motion.

TechCrunch has reported that the company has launched the first two of these applications onto the market, featuring superstars like Ryan Higa and The Young Turks. Even those who aren’t “superfans” of these stars will notice that this is a great new business model for Victorious, one that can benefit them and their clients alike with professionally built applications.

Higa, with 14.2 million subscribers on YouTube, will use his app to release unseen footage, as well as debut new shows directly through it, as well as allow fans to interact through an interactive community, where they can share their own content.

Co-founder and CO Sam Rogoway explained to TechCrunch a while back that the key to making successful apps is to work closely with the superstars the team has in mind. “We’re big believers in not just handing an app over to our creative partners and saying good luck. We spend a lot of time working with them to find ways in which we can activate superfans and keep them highly engaged,” he said.

“More than ever, the creator is king,” added co-founder and chief creative officer Bing Chen.

So far, stars seem quite pleased with what the service has to offer. Said Higa, “I’ve always wanted to connect with my viewers but there’s only so much you can do through commenting and tweets.”

Victorious is just getting started as well. The company plans to introduce a series of apps for other stars, including Michelle Phan, Freddie Wong, Jukin Media, and DeStorm Power, along with popular YouTube channel Geek & Sundry and its associated superstars. With 250 million fans in tow, its own network is growing as well – and it intends to expand upon that with partnerships with undisclosed franchises and TV shows.

Those who want to check out Higa’s TeeHee app can do so on iOS and Android, and The Young Turks can be downloaded for iOS and Android as well.

Mobile Games Highlights: Garfield, Halo

Welcome back to another edition of Mobile Games Highlights, where we look at some of the newer releases that have dropped into the Apple App Store and Google Play. Here are this week’s highlights!

Garfield: Survival of the Fattest (PIXOWL, free-to-play, available for iOS {link no longer active})

Garfield has been hating Mondays and eating lasagna for many years now, but he hasn’t really made a big impact on the gaming scene — until now, that is. PIXOWL’s Survival of the Fattest follows a similar format to previously released Simpsons and Family Guy games, letting players build their dream eating utopia around the popular tabby. Featuring a variety of characters from the strip (including, yes, Odie) and many mini-games to choose from, Survival of the Fattest is a delectable treat.

WWE 2K (2K Games, $7.99, available on iOS and Android {links no longer active})

Wrestling fans, it’s “time to play the game.” 2K’s WWE franchise has finally made its way to the mobile front, featuring a number of top-tier superstars from yesterday and today, from John Cena to Sting to The Big Show. Players will guide their favorite heroes and villains through a series of matches, in the hopes of capturing the WWE championship. Featuring stunning visuals, fun gameplay and plenty of unlockable items (including gear to customize a superstar from scratch), WWE 2K is a real slobberknocker.

MLB Perfect Inning 15 (Gamevil USA, free-to-play, available on iOS and Android {links no longer active})

Now that baseball season is literally in full swing, developers are producing some great apps that will help fans get the most out of their favorite pastime. MLB Perfect Inning 15 is the latest game to join the ranks, featuring a number of teams from the American and National League as they compete for the championship. With a full-blown season mode, sharp visuals and the collect authentic players from the sport, Perfect Inning swings for the fences and connects.

Halo: Spartan Strike (Microsoft, $5.99, available on iOS {link no longer active})

After spending the longest time exclusively appearing on Microsoft’s Windows devices, Spartan Strike pulled a surprising move this week, simultaneously appearing on iOS devices as well. The sequel to the popular Spartan Assault includes plenty of top-down action, as you blast enemy forces using a member of the Spartan squad. Players who enjoy twin-stick shooters with a great deal of challenge will no doubt get traction out of this Strike.

Halo: Spartan Assault (Microsoft, $5.99, available on iOS {link no longer active})

As if Spartan Strike didn’t offer enough thrills, Microsoft surprised the App Store community by also releasing the original Spartan Assault for their favorite iOS devices. Featuring all the run-and-gun action we’ve come to expect in the series, but with crisp visuals that take advantage of Apple’s high-end screens, Assault will definitely appeal to fans of the genre — and those feverishly awaiting the arrival of Halo 5: Guardians this fall.

Side note: both Spartan Assault and Spartan Strike can be purchased in a bundle package for $9.99, for a limited time.)

See you next time for Mobile Games Highlights!

Coke Exec Matt Wolf Discusses Opportunities In eSports

Coca-Cola is clearly the leader when it comes to mainstream soft drinks involved in eSports. The company partnered with Riot Games on the League of Legends Championship Series and even helped with the creation of the minor league Challenger Series. With the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI taking place May 7-10 in Tallahassee, Florida, Coke will be part of the event that will feature teams from Europe, North America, China, and Korea facing each other under the same roof. Matt Wolf, Coca-Cola’s global head of gaming, talks about the LCS and its expanding eSports initiative in this exclusive interview.

Matt Wolf, Coca-Cola's global head of gamingMatt Wolf, Coca-Cola’s Global Head of Gaming

What did you learn from last year’s partnership with Riot Games on League of Legends?

We learned that it works. Working with a powerful gaming brand and something that has the stratospheric lift that eSports has is really good for Coca-Cola marketing communications. We’re continuing to double down on eSports and gaming in general.

How will Coke be a part of the League of Legends Mid Season Invitational in Tallahassee, Florida in May?

ESports is special and like traditional sports you can play it, watch it live or watch streaming. We love to create experiential and trial programs with Coca-Cola. At MSI we’ll do the same type of program that we used at the World Championship in Korea last fall. We’ll have a physical structure, but we’ll try a couple of new things.  We know what fans love to express themselves through cheer boards and meet the pros. So it will be more of the same but bigger, iterative real-time marketing. We’re evolving with each of these events. You’ll see some new things and some things that previously worked. We’re never totally satisfied.

What did you learn from your first year in the Challenger Series?

We’re still involved in the LCS. We learned that no matter how we activate, as long as it’s authentic messaging and we’re being timely and bringing value, we have a great platform to build on. What you’ll see with how we’re evolving around this space is that we’ll continue what we had success with and we’re scaling. With LCS and everything we’re doing around it, it’s a more scaled approach. That gives our markets the ability to tap into the value of this in ways we can keep fans engaged and happy. We’ll offer the entire gamut of options from various broadcasts and experiential elements. We’re continuing to scale and create more opportunities.

How has the @CokeESports social media audience grown?

We have over 249,000 followers on @CokeESports. It’s hard to explain how substantial and incredible the growth has been. We work closely with Twitter because it gives us a close one-to-one relationship with people who follow us and we can communicate quickly with that audience. The response by players and fans has been positive. We use it to announce new programs and initiatives like renewing LCS and the Cinemark movie theater deal for viewing parties. It’s been a very strong bright spot. It’s an interesting byproduct as it relates to Riot and eSports in general. Fans are very social. Twitter can be a tenuous form of communication, but we continue to create messaging and content that ultimately is about positivity and celebration of eSports. I read responses very carefully, and when fans respond it makes all of this work worthwhile.

Coke recently released a commercial painting a positive message around social media in movie theaters. Do you see the possibility of eSports becoming the subject of a Coke commercial in the future?

I think the answer is yes, and I think a company like Coke with how we tell stories, the way we tell them, we have an opportunity to bring a strong voice and tell stories like that. We can shine a more positive light on gaming as a whole, and eSports is a great avenue to do that with because everybody is watching it. Given the teen Millennial market that’s important to companies, that quality storytelling and socially conscious message it can bring to tell the eSports story, or tell a unique eSports story and bring it to a platform like digital streaming would be interesting.

What opportunities is Coke exploring outside of League of Legends?

Riot Games is a valued partner of ours and League of Legends is a cornerstone of our strategy. But we activated with Blizzard’s Hearthstone and McDonald’s and did an event last December in Austin, TX with the developers in the dining room. Austin was a pilot Fireside Gathering with Jason Chayes and other Blizzard developers. It was interesting because Jason got emotional with fans who had showed up to play the game, drink Coke and talk to the developers. We’ll continue to look at that program, and other eSports games that are complementary. I’m constantly looking at complementary partnerships, and hope to put that strategy in motion across a few different games. Riot wants the growth of eSports and its global acceptance as a form of entertainment. Any time we go in with a new idea they know we do it as well as we can and they’re supportive of us. We’re going to be selective and these partnerships will be carefully orchestrated. We’ll choose wisely to make sure we’re leaning to an organic experience.

Are there other opportunities in eSports for Coke?

At the end of last year we did a Game-a-thon at our Atlanta headquarters on Twitch. It was a four-and-a-half hour game-a-thon for charity. It was an awesome way of building our relationship with gamers at our headquarters. Our employees got to see the world of eSports in a studio setting that we built in our lobby. Everyone got to see our building and celebrate eSports and competition between these personalities. We want to continue working with Twitch and I’m excited about doing it again. We set the table pretty well.

 

 

 

What Marketers Need To Know About Vessel

You have probably heard of Vessel by now. The video platform has only barely been launched and is giving senior YouTube a run for its influencer content. So far, they’ve spent a lot of time recruiting these influencers to their platform and that work shows in the content already available on the site.

Founded by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar and CTO Richard Tom, Vessel has already cemented themselves as a player in the video space with a recent infusion of $57 million to “reinvent it.” On top of that, they’re keynoting VidCon.

With barely a month under its belt and brands already in the mix, it’s become crucial for marketers to know what the platform is all about and what the content is like. Most importantly, what exactly is the appeal to YouTube’s biggest influencers  We asked these and another questions of ION‘s team (Ayzenberg‘s influencer agency within an agency).

Is Vessel really becoming a major player in the video space? What differentiates them from YouTube?

Alexa Dobrowski, Talent Coordinator, ION: Of course the main difference between Vessel and YouTube is the fact that viewers pay a $2.99 monthly subscription fee to access the site and, in return, have early access to supposedly higher quality content from their favorite influencers, but another key difference is the difference in the way creators are compensated. On YouTube, top tier creators is earn $2-$3 per thousand views. With Vessel, that same video will bring the creator about $50 per thousand views. Also, where YouTube splits ad revenue on a 55/45 YouTube/creator split,  Vessel proposes that they will offer around 70 percent to content creators and only take 30 percent for themselves.

This alone will make a big difference in terms of Vessel becoming a big player in the video space, since it provides a strong incentive for the big content creators to sign up for the site, thus in turn making it more attractive for those creators’ fans to sign up for as well. It has a general vibe of exclusivity and quality, which will definitely appeal to creators’ superfans or those who passionate about short form video in general. I don’t think Vessel poses a serious threat to YouTube at this time, but I do think it has the aspects it needs to be a major player in the video space.

And what of Google Preferred?

Ryan Sterner, Talent Coordinator, ION: Google Preferred is YouTube’s way of getting more advertising dollars by creating “listings” of the top 5 percent of YouTubers in their defined category and offering up their ad space to marketers. In return, influencers who participate—still unsure if this is an invitation thing or a “hey, we’re selling your channel for big time bucks”—garner a higher CPM than non-Google preferred participants.

This clearly has nothing to do with rocking Vessel’s boat, but more that the conversation of paying top tier creators more money has been going on for a while. And not just by the people who run the video platforms, but by the creators themselves. Grumblings from both the advertisers and creators on the Youtube model could make the adoption of Vessel a pretty easy choice.

Content-wise, what does Vessel focusing on featuring? What was your first impression of the platform?

Alexa Dobrowski: My first impression of the platform was that it seemed really elegant, well designed, and high quality – it definitely seemed like a step up from YouTube in both quality and aesthetics. The videos were very sharp and well composed, and it seemed like Vessel provided videos from all categories YouTube does but curated the videos within them so it only highlights the best.

Steven Lai, Talent Director, ION: Content has run the gamut. Everything from exclusive Ellen clips, NBA highlights, to tech, gaming, comedy vlogs. Not specifically featuring anything besides quality content. First impression is that the design takes a slight learning curve and search functionality could be improved, but a clean UI.

Ryan Sterner: The ad integration is more native, more seamless. Almost more in-your-face, but much more subtle. They do have pre-roll, but they limit it to 5 seconds.

Are you seeing any brand activity on this platform yet?

Alexa Dobrowski: There is brand activity so far; from what I’ve read the company has deals in place with Corona Extra, Chevy, Land Rover/Jaguar, and Unilever’s Axe, Dove, Suave and St Ives. Ads in general are more shorter, more visually striking, and more integrated – so far it seems the two options are what the site’s creator calls the brands “motion posters” (aka ads that come up as users navigate through the site and that are pretty easy to bypass) and pre-roll ads like the ones found on YouTube (but on Vessel they generally don’t last for more than 5-6 seconds). The creator said Vessel had more of a “short but punchy” theme in mind with the type of ads they displayed, which he thought increased brand favorability/recall.

Steven Lai: Ad offerings so far have been much more integrated and interesting than YouTube. I haven’t seen any Vessel-specific brand integrations into content.

How could brands participate on Vessel in the future?

Ryan Sterner: Marketers have found a way to snake their way into most things that people gravitate towards, so I wouldn’t be surprised is in a few months if Vessel takes off we see a story highlighting out a brand utilized a Vessel creator in a very unique way.

What do you like about Vessel? Where is there room for improvement?

Steven Lai: Vessel’s overall design is better than YouTube but comment and community aspects could be improved. It does not seem as easy to get stuck in a video “black hole,” spiraling into related videos.

Ryan Sterner: It’s cleaner than YouTube in both aesthetic and content. I like the comparison of Vessel to HBO—it has that premium feel to it. Knowing that the content within is carefully curated, well produced, and the creators are monetizing really well could make for some really great pieces in the future.

Alexa Dobrowski: One thing I liked about Vessel was related to something I dislike about YouTube – YouTube is so saturated with videos (and I don’t think its search algorithm is all that great) that it can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible to find interesting content unless you already know exactly who/what you’re looking for. Browsing Vessel was a totally different experience and I found myself wanting to watch almost everything (including content categories I wouldn’t normally watch) because everything was so well done and visually interesting.

I think the main thing it needs to improve upon is variety and quantity, but since it’s new I’m sure that will continue to improve as time goes on.

Also, some negatives: there’s a lot of autoplay and high quality visual content to load in general, so it may be a frustrating experience to use for people with older computer systems or wifi signals that aren’t especially fast. I also think the initial process could be a turn off for people to check it out – before you can even see what it has to offer, you have to not only sign up but also go select at least three categories to follow and then from there scroll through a large list of current influencers and choose some as well. I think it might be a good idea for them to highlight their site a bit more and what it has to offer before requiring users to go through these processes.

 

Now Hiring This Week: April 22

[a]listdaily is your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings.

Looking to change your career path S’well’s CEO, Sarah Kauss, has some advice for you.

For last week’s [a]list jobs postings, click here. Have a position you’d like to place with us Email us at pr@ayzenberg.com.

Microsoft Makes Moves With HoloLens Games

When Microsoft sees a hot technology, it wastes no time making strides on it. Years ago, it catapulted motion gaming with the introduction of its Kinect device; and now, the HoloLens, which was introduced earlier this year, {link no longer active} is getting its full attention.

VentureBeat has reported that the publisher has already begun development on several games for the device and John Needham, formerly with Fable developer Lionhead Studios, has been brought in to help development for games that utilize both Xbox and HoLolens technology. With it, Microsoft intends to move forward into the virtual gaming world, before the likes of Oculus Rift and Sony’s Morpheus tech has a chance to hit the market.

Of course, HoloLens works differently than the usual VR gear, but it does provide the capability of putting gamers into virtual worlds with a number of franchises, such as Minecraft and Fable, with great technological tweaks. It could easily play a part in the projected $150 billion the market is projected to make by 2020 {link no longer active}.

Working alongside Needham is Kudo Tsunoda, who works as the head of Microsoft Studios’ portfolio of games, covering most of the company’s popular franchises, save for Halo, Gears of War and Forza. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Kudo was one of the masterminds behind the Kinect’s initial success.

“Kudo Tsunoda will lead the vision and experience development of our other Microsoft Studios portfolio in the United States, Europe, and across our global publishing team,” said the company in a statement. “John Needham relocated to [Microsoft headquarters in] Redmond in a new role overseeing internal development for several games and experiences for both Xbox and Microsoft HoloLens reporting to Kudo. All [other] responsibility for Xbox [in Europe, Middle-East, and Asia] will be overseen directly by [Xbox boss] Phil Spencer.”

In the meantime, interested parties can check out the video below to see just what the company has in mind.