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Garfield: Survival of the Fattest (PIXOWL, free-to-play, available for iOS {link no longer active})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WWE 2K (2K Games, $7.99, available on iOS and Android {links no longer active})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MLB Perfect Inning 15 (Gamevil USA, free-to-play, available on iOS and Android {links no longer active})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Halo: Spartan Strike (Microsoft, $5.99, available on iOS {link no longer active})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!

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.

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Vessel Raises $57.5 Million In Series B Funding Round

by Jessica Klein

Vessel has raised a total of $57.5 million in a Series B funding round, said sources close to the company.

The round brought back investors from the company’s Series A funding, including Benchmark, Greylock, and Bezos Expeditions, Jeff Bezos’ personal investment company, but was led by Institutional Venture Partners. Within IVP, general partner Todd Chaffee led the investment. This follows his investments with the venture capital firm in other digital video/social companies like NetflixSnapchat, and Twitter.

Chaffee gave Vessel a big vote of confidence in IVP’s blog post, stating, “If you had to back one team to build the world’s most advances and user-friendly video platform, this would be the team,” further citing CEO Jason Kilar’s track record as founding CEO of Hulu and extolling the platform’s video content.

Keep reading…


‘Minecraft’ Still Leading Video Game Content On YouTube

Videos on YouTube have no shortage of popularity, and video game-related content in itself is growing through the roof, between designated Let’s Play videos, pieces produced by top-tier broadcasters, and more. Newzoo recently conducted a study that breaks down just how popular the Top 20 Game Franchises fare on the video channel.

Titled the Octoly-Newzoo Top 20 Game Franchises on YouTube, the report breaks down the deeper links between game brands, fan-created content and video streaming.

Video game views in general continued to rise to an all-time high, as fan-created videos accounted for 97.6 percent of all views on the channel back in March 2015. The total views of overall rankings multiplied incredibly over February’s numbers, rising 1.5 billion to 12.3 billion, a gain of 14 percent.

Out of all videos, ones related to Ubisoft’s Just Dance generated the most with 169 million views, 98.7 percent consisting of fan-generated content.

One other franchise that continues to move forward is Nintendo’s Super Mario series, which gained over 100 million views over the one month period, reaching a total amount of 547 million views. Again, most of the content came from fan-generated content, especially when an unlicensed high-definition version of Nintendo’s classic Super Mario 64 arrived on the Internet. Even though the game was eventually taken down, views continued to pour in for the content, keeping Mario’s success at an all-time high.

Microsoft’s Halo series continues to be a big draw on the video front, with triple the view rates at the beginning of this year. Between fan-related content on the multiplayer front, footage from the previously held beta for Halo 5: Guardians, and new trailers, it managed to gain 127 million views for March — up from the 42 million for February. This interest is expected to keep going, between last week’s release of Spartan Strike and Spartan Assault on iOS, and, of course, the release of Guardians coming later this year.

Other games that were hits on this chart include zombie-related titles like DayZ and Arma, as well as the survival horror game Five Nights At Freddy’s, with videos spanning across all three releases. Minecraft is also a huge draw in the community, with 3.9 billion monthly views.

The general ratings breakdown shows Minecraft at number one, followed by Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto in second place with nearly 1.4 billion views. The rest of the top 20 consists of Five Nights At Freddy’s (1.27 billion), Call of Duty (851 million), EA’s FIFA franchise (770 million), Garry’s Mod (690 million), League of Legends (667 million), Super Mario (547 million), Counter-Strike (362 million), DOTA 2 (282 million), Clash of Clans (259 million), Battlefield (177 million), Just Dance (169 million), Arma (156 million), World of Tanks (134 million), DayZ (134 million), Team Fortress (131 million), Halo (127 million), Mortal Kombat (123 million) and Destiny (118 million).

Not every franchise is benefiting, however. Angry Birds managed to drop out of the top 20, and Clash of Clans also lost some interest, despite being a strong seller on the mobile front.



The full report can be found here.

Kabam Shooting For Bigger Mobile Success In China

Kabam has certainly established itself in the mobile market over the last few years with several hit games – but that isn’t stopping the publisher from shooting for a loftier goal.

After receiving a whopping $120 million investment from Alibaba, the company now vows to create the first “billion dollar video game,” according to a report from Re/Code.

COO Kent Wakeford has noted that “we’re really going all in in China.” Its Beijing office, which was first established back in 2011, will move forward with plans to make games aimed at a Chinese market – a change of pace from its usual Western development. With a market of 700 million mobile devices, it’s going to be a big move.

Some restructuring of the company will take place, resulting in a loss of approximately 25 jobs, but in turn, it hopes to create a game that will reach the $1 billion mark in annual revenue – a goal that has yet to be reached, though Supercell’s Clash of Clans comes pretty close with its monthly earnings of around $80 million in in-app purchases.

Wakeford has high hopes for said game. “The real opportunity is what’s happening at the top,” he said. “Kabam is only one of a handful of companies positioned to go after the top of the market.”

As part of its transition towards this goal, output from 12 previous releases will be cut, with attention turned to four new games for release this year – “AAA mobile games,” as Wakeford notes.

Kabam is no stranger to mobile success, as its previous earnings of $400 million managed to top its previous year’s income of $360 million. But it has its work cut out for it if it intends to make a globally received game that can clear the billion-dollar mark.

Whether it can top the massive success of Clash has yet to be seen, but we certainly wish them the best of luck.

Brands Prepared For Apple Watch Launch

We’re just days away from the launch of Apple’s new Watch device, a piece of technology that promises to push wearable tech in a bold new direction. Whether it’s going to be widely accepted with an audience or not has yet to be seen, but several brands are already on board with an array of applications.

AdWeek broke down a number of companies that are on board with the device, providing efficient tools that users would utilize when it comes to the Apple Watch’s distinct features.

40 brands are signed up with the device thus far, although some are still preparing to get the most out of it. “Do I think most marketers are ready No,” said Mike McGuire, vice president of research for Gartner Research, regarding the device. “It is going to be about really having to nail this early on.”

One of the higher-end companies investing in an Apple Watch app is Starwood Hotels, which has poured in approximately $7 to $8 million into the tech, with a long-term goal of $20 to $40 million. With the app, guests will be able to remotely check in to their rooms, as well as access other traveler-related information, such as the approximate cost of taking a taxi to said hotel. 150 locations are already set to be tied in with the Watch’s launch this Friday.

A lot of work went into designing its app. “It can look deceptively simple, but to go through and develop it for our nine different brands (requires) a lot of design work and functionality under the hood,” said Stephen Gates, Starwood vice president and digital creative director for global brand design.

Other apps are taking advantage of the tech as well for consumer convenience. Target’s Apple Watch app enables voice and location-based technology to help customers put together shopping lists by finding specific products; Fandango has one that counts down to specific movie showtimes; BMW syncs with features on electric cars; and American Airlines enables flight reports to be displayed on the device in real time.

Not everyone is jumping in headfirst, however. Some companies are holding off on launching their apps until they see the effectiveness of the device in terms of sales. Michael Maginnis, president of the MJD Interactive agency serving car alarm manufacturer Viper, stated, “A lot of the feedback we’re getting so far is that it takes (consumers) a couple days to figure out why they even like the watch.”

Those that are launching apps, however, provided full details on them, which can be found here.

What To Expect At The 10th Annual Game Marketing Summit

The 10th Annual Game Marketing Summit takes place this Wednesday, April 22 in San Francisco, providing a full day of informative sessions, top-notch networking, and capped with the presentation of the Game Marketing Awards in the evening.

The general manager of the Game Marketing Summit, Marci Yamaguchi Hughes, took a few moments away from her busy pre-Summit schedule to graciously answer some questions for [a]listdaily about the Game Marketing Summit.

Marci Yamaguchi Hughes

What should marketers expect to learn from the Game Marketing Summit?

Marketers will walk away with actionable information about the latest tools and techniques that their fellow game marketers are successfully using. They will get in-depth information on a wide-range of topics, including psychological marketing, the most recent consumer data, how to connect with player communities, influencer marketing, the future of mobile marketing, and much more. We hope they walk away a little inspired too… with Bing’s keynote on monetization hacking as well as James Buckhouse’s on storytelling and how one can use story driven design to create the most amazing brands and marketing strategies. It is a packed two-track schedule this year!! Our attendees will also have an exceptional opportunity to network with the companies and leaders who can really impact their successes.

How has the Game Marketing Summit changed in its 10 years?

The core goal of providing a place for the amazing community of game marketers to learn and connect has remained constant. GMS’s mission is to arm game industry marketers and creative leaders with the newest and most impactful tools and knowledge — shared by inspirational experts in an environment tailored for optimal career growth and business success. Topics of discussion have of course changed to keep up with the changing industry, but overall GMS remains the industry’s must-attend, and only, conference exclusively for marketing professionals in the interactive game business. And of course, we end the day with the prestigious Game Marketing Awards where we celebrate the finest work by marketing and creative professionals in the interactive game marketing community.

What are the hot topics this year for game marketers to be keeping an eye on?

Monetization Hacking — There are now more ways than ever to monetize and market your company’s content. But how do you navigate all of these options and figure out which one is right for your business Bing Gordon will provide insights on how to do just that during his morning keynote address.

Virtual Reality — Why VR is important as a new form of entertainment and how the experience is different from anything else the audience sees everyday. Getting the folks in the room to understand how they can use VR for their marketing efforts.

The Battle for Influencer Influence in Marketing, What Really Works — Everyone in game marketing is talking about influencers and their increased value to brands. Every company in the world is telling game marketers that they hold the keys to unlocking influencers and their value. This panel will explore and compare leveraging multi-channel networks, talent agencies, versus forging direct relationships with influencers, in both paid and earned models as well as using media dollars and media companies to build brand value and impact. We will feature experts from each approach together on stage to debate the various models, and we’ll talk to brand marketers who have experience in using all of them.

If marketers aren’t able to be at the GMS, will the sessions be available online at some point?

Yes, the Game Marketing Awards will be live streamed for the first time ever on Twitch, and the sessions themselves will be available after the event on our web site,

How have the Game Marketing Awards changed in the last ten years?

The awards have always been about shining the spotlight on the most creative, most ground-breaking game marketing campaigns and their creators. This hasn’t changed, and won’t change in the future — it’s the core, and unique, mission of the GMAs. With that said, we have seen an evolution of some award categories over the years as the technologies of both marketing and games have changed — for instance the addition of categories related to mobile games, free to play games, social media, and so forth. And, for example, this year, for the first time, we’ve introduced a “fan favorite” category for best trailer, to give consumers a chance to get involved.

Top 25 Public Companies Generated $54.1 Billion In 2014 Game Revenues

The top 25 public companies by game revenues generated $54.1 billion in 2014 and accounted for 65 perfect of the total $83.6 billion games market, according to Newzoo’s latest public company performance review. The 10 percent annual growth rate is indicative of a healthy and dynamic global games industry. The top performers in 2014 were Tencent, Sony, EA, Apple, Google and Ubisoft. Chinese internet giant Tencent remains the unchallenged leader following another year of excellent growth: +37 percent. SuperCell, the biggest private company by game revenues, would have ranked 11 in Newzoo’s ranking if it were a public company.

These findings are part of Newzoo’s latest quarterly update of its Global Games Market Report Premium service. An overview of quarterly and full-year revenues for the top 25 companies can be found in Newzoo’s free online ranking: Top 25 Companies by Game Revenues Ranking.

Will Japanese Companies Make a Comeback?
In 2013, Japanese companies accounted for 33.7 percent of all revenues generated by the top 25 companies. Last year this fell to 29.8 percent and the decline in absolute terms was -2.5 percent, despite Sony’s strong performance. Without Sony, the numbers would have looked much worse. Tellingly, nine out of the 16 publicly listed Japanese companies reported a year-on-year decline in revenues in 2014. The weak Yen obviously hurts the share of global revenues of Japanese companies when expressed in US$, but the Japanese industry also suffered from two fundamental weaknesses: being very exposed to the traditional console market with low growth and the three of Japan’s four mobile powerhouses Nintendo (-13 percent YoY), DeNA (-38 percent YoY) and GREE (-23 percent) being big in the “wrong” mobile sub-segments, notably feature phones and handhelds. Both issues are being addressed with a shift in focus towards iOS and regular Android games, but whether the partnership between Nintendo and troubled DeNA is the best route to global success on mobile remains to be seen.

Can Apple Hold Off Google’s Challenge in 2015?
At CES in January this year, Google announced that developers grossed over $10 billion in its GooglePlay store throughout 2014, the majority of which came from games. In 2014, no less than 83 percent of the global $24.5 billion mobile games market was generated through the app stores of Apple and Google combined. This remaining revenues are shared between third party Android stores, Amazon, the declining feature phone games business in Japan as well as mobile web games and direct downloads. With an estimated $2.6 billion in game revenues for 2014, Google is getting closer to Apple with $3.2 billion. However, Apple had a great year in China in 2014 as Newzoo recently reported, becoming the biggest tech brand in China by revenues with $37.1 billion of sales and an equally impressive $14.1 billion in profit. If the surge in hardware sales in China, which will soon be the worlds’ biggest mobile games market, converts to game spending, Apple will enjoy a strong boost in revenues and may pull away from Google again.

Do the Top 10 Company Movements Reflect Structural Changes? 
Both EA and Ubisoft had very strong years reporting +22 percent and +33 percent growth rates respectively. EA took the prestigious fourth place from its biggest rival Activision Blizzard (-4 percent YoY) and Ubisoft entered the global top 10 by jumping up the ranks by an impressive four places. Where Ubisoft’s surge can be mainly attributed to several big releases in 2014, EA’s growth seems to be driven more by its continuous transformation and embracement of digital distribution, mobile platforms and monetizing games as a service. TakeTwo is the ultimate example of dependency on blockbuster launches as its 2014 revenues plummeted -60 percent following the release of GTAV the year before. Its recent launch of the PC version of GTA V and its commitment to give gamers the freedom they desire points to organizational change that could help remove the volatility in TakeTwo’s revenue streams.

The Impact of The Strong Dollar
With our company revenue analyses we use the year end exchange rates for the relevant period, so for the full year 2014 revenues this was December 31st, 2014. As a result, the growth of non-US companies in the top 25 may be lower than the growth figures in local currencies because of the strong dollar. For example, Ubisoft’s 2014 revenue growth in dollars would be more than 10 percent higher if the USD/EUR exchange rate remained unchanged since 2013. Most affected in 2014 were the Japanese companies, where for example GungHo Entertainment showed a 7 percent YoY decrease in US$, but a 6 percent increase in Yen.

Our market analysis incorporates a detailed review of reported quarterly revenues of over 60 public companies around the world. Together, these companies generated more than $60 billion in revenues in 2014. The quarterly revenues and the geographical and segment revenue breakdowns of these companies provide a good insight into a large share of the global games market. The remainder of the market consists of revenues generated by the retail channel and private companies. We estimate that in 2014 physical retail revenues decreased and the private sector grew strongly in terms of revenues, mainly caused by the growth of the mobile segment. In Newzoo’s global games market model, the public company data is combined with primary research, census data for the top 130 countries in the world and a variety of other game, platform and revenue data sources.

Newzoo performs continued company analysis for a variety of its products including The Global Games Market Report and its Premium Quarterly Report service. The annual 2015 report will be launched in June.

[a]listdaily Analysis

by Steve Peterson
The main messages you see in Newzoo’s report on the top 25 publicly trade game companies is that both growth and change continue unabated in the game market. Most game companies showed at least some growth, and some showed exceptional growth. That’s reflected also in the wide global spread of the companies represented here, as well as the very different games, platforms, and monetization strategies employed by these companies. Clearly there are multiple ways to succeed in the game market these days.

It’s equally true that you can quickly get left behind in the game market, even if you’re still showing a little growth. There’s been plenty of change in the rankings of these top companies, so clearly the industry is not static. Big new releases, or a lack thereof, also clearly matters a great deal, as witnessed by TakeTwo’s decline in a year without Grand Theft Auto.

The outlook for the future continues to be one of more growth and more shifting in the ranks of publicly traded companies, as new strategies either succeed or fail. Hits continue to be of huge importance, but it’s also important to keep a successful game generating substantial revenue for a longer period of time.

It’s also important to remember that this list only covers publicly traded companies, and a good one-third of the overall revenue in the game industry comes from privately held companies. Some of those are quite substantial, like Valve, Supercell, and Machine Zone. While some private companies may become publicly traded in the next year or two, it’s equally likely that some new privately held companies may rise to prominence in that time, or a substantial hit may lift an existing company multiple ranks in one year.

Facebook Versus YouTube

Facebook continues to try and battle against YouTube when it comes to pushing its video content, and it may have just found a new tool to help in its fight – exclusive content from publishers and partners.

Adweek has reported that several partners have already come on board to help push Facebook’s video features. Popsugar, for instance, will push a new program called Popsugar Rush, which will run exclusively on Facebook for 24 hours before being published on its YouTube account. “In every way, we are crafting the video specifically to be optimized for Facebook,” said Popsugar Studios president David Grant about the show.

That’s not all, either. Popular clients like Buzzfeed and Jimmy Kimmel, who hosts a late night talk show on ABC, have also struck similar deals with Facebook, producing video clips that either run exclusively or with a certain timed window on its channel before going to its competitor. The article also reports that several other partners have programs in the works as well.

Ever since it partnered with the social site back in September, Popsugar has seen strong dividends from its Facebook videos. It stated that views of the videos jumped to a whopping 18.5 million views in just a few months’ time, compared to the 20,000 it had when it got started. “Facebook has become a natural extension of our brand,” said Anna Fieler, executive vice president of marketing for Popsugar.

While Facebook feels that exclusive videos aren’t a part of its core strategy, it’s pushing for them anyway in an “aggressively” strong manner, according to the report. One anonymous publisher stated that video view results have been stronger on Facebook through direct posting, instead of just linking to YouTube – a practice that the social site isn’t too fond of, particularly with its pre-roll advertisements.

“Most companies know that a best practice on Facebook is that an image of a video performs better than a direct link (to a third-party player,” said Paul Kontonis, executive director for the Global Online Video Association. “But Facebook native video performs better than everything.”

Content promotion goes a long way with the site, and it appears that Facebook is offering plenty of incentives through deals with programming, although they weren’t highly detailed. Jimmy Kimmel co-executive producer Doug DeLuca said the show teamed with Facebook to help promote the content, through premium placements on the site. “Discovery tends to be easier on Facebook when you are doing something specific,” he said. “I don’t know if as many people would have found (the series) if we had posted it on our YouTube channel among celebrity-driven, high-profile pieces.”

Facebook could announce an even more company-friendly program this week with the forthcoming Facebook Anthology branded-content program, with several partners like Vox, The Onion and Funny or Die reportedly on board with its own content.

While this could have an effect on YouTube’s business in the future, Kevin Cronin, partner for search and social at Universal McCann, noted that it continues to be the biggest view driver in online video overall, and that if the site asks publishers for exclusive content, marketers creating branded content may be forced to limit said content to a single platform.

More details on the report can be found here.

Blizzard Cleans Up With Free-To-Play Games

Blizzard announced today that its free-to-play MOBA Heroes of the Storm will be going live June 2 after a highly successful beta period, and observers expect it will quickly become one of the top MOBAs in the marketplace using the many iconic Blizzard characters featured in the game. Blizzard is building on the free-to-play success it’s found with already in the past year with Hearthstone. After being on PC and tablets for months now, Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft finally made its way to Android and iOS smartphones this past week – and it’s making an incredible impact on the mobile market.

VentureBeat is reporting that Hearthstone has already become one of the biggest grossing games in various markets, according to data provided by App Annie. It’s number one on the iOS charts across eight countries, including South Korea, and in the top 25 for others, including Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, over on Android, it has become number 43 overall in the U.S., a reasonable number for its debut.

With the debut of the highly popular game on smartphones, Blizzard should have no trouble contributing to the success of mobile games, which reached $30 billion in revenue last year and is estimated to top that number with ease. Blizzard has already debuted two new adventure packs, as well as a major expansion, which players have been eating up.

With heavy spending already reported in the game’s most popular regions – being the United States, Canada, China and Japan – it’s still bound to be a hit in this year’s mobile market. And who knows, Blizzard could introduce even more expansions to stretch its appeal even further. It has the kind of simple “pick-up-and-play” elements to bring in new players with ease, while at the same time packing in the kind of tactics that true masters can indulge when battling their friends.

Clearly Blizzard has found success with free-to-play games, and it seems logical that its recently announced Overwatch game may follow in the same monetization path, though that has not been announced yet.

Players can get their hands on Heroes of the Storm during an open beta beginning on May 19. Hearthstone can be downloaded by interested fans can here for iOS, and here for Google Play {links no longer active}.