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 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.

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.

Twitch, Old Spice Promotion Smells Of Success

Earlier this month, we reported that Old Spice was teaming up with Twitch  for a promotion where chatters could take control of a man’s actions in the woods for three days, with a number of wacky events that tied in with the fun. As a result, the promotion was a big success, leaving both parties smelling like a rose.

The “Old Spice Nature Adventure,” which took place this past week, managed to gain 2.65 million total views, with 1.4 million chatters taking part to see what happened next for the Nature Man, the subject in question. The top commenter managed to throw out 1,900 different comments during the session alone.

In addition, 57 percent of those total views came from uniques, with 702,920 total for the three days, and around 88,000 uniques per hour. That obviously helped generate new numbers for Twitch, already building on its impressive 100 million monthly viewers.

Over the course of the three day event, approximately 29 years of footage was watched between all the viewers, and the exclusive Old Spice chat emotes – little characters that were introduced for use in the chatroom – were used over 105,000 times.

As a result of the high viewership, the “Old Spice Nature Adventure” had no trouble keeping an organic spot on the front page of Twitch, and also got attention on Reddit through nine different consumer-submitted posts, including a request for an AMA directly with Old Spice.

With the success of this promotion – as well as other live-streaming tie-ins {link no longer active} that Twitch has done in the past with partners – it’s likely more companies could get on board in the future with the streaming service. To see just what kind of shenanigans went down during the three days “Old Spice Nature Adventure,” check out the video below.

Nature Man, you sweet smelling beast, you.


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.

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

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.


Blizzard Finds Live Stream Data Beneficial

Live streaming sessions of games have become a phenomenon over the years, and helped Twitch acquire over 100 million viewers on a monthly basis. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that many companies are turning to the stats from live streaming to help improve its business – and that includes Blizzard.

The publisher behind World of Warcraft, Diablo III and other eSports-friendly titles have begun using live streaming data to help shape certain aspects of the company, according to Silicon Angle. Said Kim Phan, senior manager of eSports for Blizzard Entertainment, “(Livestreaming) certainly has impacted the way our players experience our games. Usually, when people play the game, it’s what they do with the game directly. Now, with streaming, it’s a whole other way to experience it.”

Blizzard’s games have taken up a big chunk of time with players on Twitch, accounting for 17.4 percent of the total number of hours viewed for the month of March. Out of all the available titles, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft was the most popular, with nearly half of that overall number.

“It’s very important now that we always have streams and we find out where our viewers are from and what languages they like to watch, and which games they enjoy,” Phan explained. “I think that the data has helped us learn a lot from that. I think it’s going to continue to evolve. It’s impacted us, I think, throughout the entire company; even how we market the game.”

But it’s not just a one-way street when it comes to Blizzard taking advantage of live streaming stats, as this method enables a more intimate connection with its community, and, in reflection, what work needs to be done with future content for specific titles.

“We do reach out to the influencers who are really involved in our game because we want to support them,” Phan said. “We obviously appreciate the work that they’re doing and the promotion that they’re getting.”

Other companies are following suit as well, with Square Enix holding a recent promotion to introduce its new Deus Ex game through Twitch experimentation. It’s possible, with E3 around the corner, that even more may turn to the live streaming channel, or similar services, in an attempt to bolster attention for certain games, as there are plenty making their way to the market for 2015.

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.


Global Games Market To Reach Over $90 Billion

Think games still aren’t doing big business? Think again.

Newzoo recently posted its 2015 Global Games Market Report {link no longer active}, which indicates that the overall global games market will reach an all-time high of $91.5 billion for this year, including mobile and consoles. That’s a 9.4 percent increase from last year’s $83.6 billion, indicating that the industry is still quite healthy when it comes to games.

Now the real question comes into play – which country is leading the charge when it comes to the growth of this market The United States has held a grasp for some time now, but the estimates indicate that China could easily take the lead this year. Newzoo reports that an increase of 23 percent this year is enough to provide an edge, even if it is a small one – its market is expected to reach $22.2 billion, with the U.S. closely behind with $22 billion.

As far as what size of screen players are adapting to in the market, Newzoo indicates that PC/Mac computers lead with an estimated 37 percent of the overall market, or $33.7 billion. Closely behind is the Entertainment Screen, consisting of console and virtual markets, with 27 percent, and Personal Screen (or mobile devices/smartwatches) in third place with 23 percent. Floating Screen devices (tablets and handhelds) take up the slack with 13 percent, although handheld game devices have seen a drop of 16 percent. However, tablet sales make up for it, leading to an overall growth of 14 percent for the Floating Screen market.

Virtual reality, which is expected to shake up the market this year with the introduction of various devices, hasn’t yet been considered with its own category, instead being coupled in with others. Smartwatches also aren’t being given their own group, despite the Apple Watch launching in just a few days’ time. However, next year’s report could certainly be different in that regard.

Meanwhile, both APAC and LATAM show growth overall for the year, with China closing in on the United States. APAC shows a 15 percent increase, with overall revenues expected to reach $43.1 billion; while LATAM will reach $4 billion this year, an 18 percent increase from previous numbers. That said, even if the United States does lose the lead, the market is not expected to saturate anytime soon, especially considering the popularity of all its devices, including consoles, mobile and PC/Mac.

The full report can be found here {link no longer active}.