Taking Deus Ex Beyond The Core

Note from the editor: This piece was originally published on GamesIndustry.biz and has been republished with permission.

Global brand director explains the strategy behind mysterious Twitch campaign to announce Mankind Divided.

by Brendan Sinclair

Last month, Square Enix ran an extended promotional campaign on streaming platform Twitch to get the word out about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. And the best way to do that, as Andre Vu, global executive brand director for Deus Ex at Eidos Montreal, told GamesIndustry, was with a three-day livestream that didn’t actually mention the game at all; it wasn’t until the conclusion of the “Project CKP” livestream that viewers would be linked to the YouTube trailer announcing Mankind Divided‘s existence.

“The experience was told through what was, at first, seemingly n innocent prisoner being interrogated,” Vu explained. “In the end, it was revealed that he was, in fact, a mechanically augmented terrorist, and those who were interrogating him were actually cops, who left no stone unturned in their attempts to get to the truth. The world of Deus Ex is not black and white, and this is the type of messaging we tried to push to the forefront throughout the Twitch campaign.”

Promoting a game by not telling people what it is might sound counterintuitive, but Vu said that was key to the campaign’s primary objective of reaching gamers beyond the existing Deus Ex fanbase. That was actually why the campaign was conducted under the Square Enix banner rather than Eidos Montreal, the studio known for Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

“I do believe that, in general, the exposure of a game announcement shouldn’t be limited to its core audience,” Vu said. “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided‘s themes (transhumanism, technological progress, world conspiracies etc.) are universal, and I do believe that it can touch a wider audience, even moving beyond gamers themselves. Ultimately, we feel we made the right decision, as the Project CKP campaign was picked up by both mainstream and enthusiast press as they speculated on what game was about to be announced. As a result, the game has now become more widely known amongst both gamers and non-gamers alike, something that we are very proud and excited about.”

Vu said the campaign exceeded the team’s rosiest expectations, with more than 1.7 million views from more than 1 million unique users, and more Twitch followers in 48 hours than unspecified “AAA competitors” had managed in the lifetime of their channels.

“We were also pleasantly surprised to see other major brands, such as Old Spice, deciding to run a similar campaign only one week after us,” Vu said. “This proved that we were right to follow this innovative approach, and that sometimes taking risks can definitely pay off!”

Even if audiences didn’t know exactly what game they were seeing promoted, Vu said it was still critical that the marketing campaign echo the franchise’s thematic pillars. The entire marketing and brand strategy is intended to echo everything about the franchise, including the in-game content and themes.

“We wanted the audience to experience the current state of the world in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which is referred to as the Mechanical Apartheid,” Vu said. “What was also important to us was that one of the core parts of the Deus Ex experience, choice and consequence, was reflected throughout the Twitch stream. This was done through the use of interactive votes, where players could decide which path would be taken by the characters within the Twitch stream, and view the direct consequence of their choice. ”

Eidos Montreal went with Twitch for the plan for more than just the streaming service’s trendiness (although the awareness and growth of the platform were definitely factors). The audience interactivity capable through Twitch made it a good fit for the nature of the campaign, and having an audience specific to gamers also ensured a higher engagement rate than might have been achieved elsewhere.

Unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan. A Russian website leaked the first details about the game partway through the Twitch stream, including the name, platforms, plot details, and some screenshots.

“I can’t enter into the details regarding the leak, but even after it happened, we decided to continue pushing forward with our Twitch campaign,” Vu said. “Like I said previously, we were not only aiming to create a marketing stunt… Obviously, this leak was unfortunate, but our fans, who spoke out against the leak and pushed for it to be removed due to it containing spoilers, were happy that we stuck to our initial vision. Overall, we definitely feel that the project concluded on a very positive note. ”

Though Vu acknowledged a debt to partners like Twitch, Goldtooth Creative Agency, digital marketing firm Work @ Play, and other Square Enix teams who helped bring Project CKP to life, he was particularly proud that the campaign was conceived in-house.

“In the past, I’ve often seen that creativity was dependent entirely upon a third party, and I really wanted to give my team, who understand the core DNA of the Deus Ex franchise better than anyone, the freedom to express themselves and be the leading force behind the creative process,” Vu said.

He went on to thank the Project CKP team by name for their efforts: Brand manager Rodney Lelu, marketing coordinator Jean-Philippe Chicoine, marketing coordinator Paul Gordon, community manager Sacha Ramtohul, and web content manager John Tsoupanarias.

Mobile Game Highlights: ‘Broken Age’, ‘Jurassic World’

Welcome back to another round of Mobile Game Highlights, where we look at the best mobile game releases of the week. Here are five titles that shouldn’t be missed:

Broken Age (Double Fine, $9.99, available for iOS and Android)

Due to the immense success of its KickStarter campaign years ago, the developers at Double Fine were able to return to the “golden age” of point and click adventures with its PC release Broken Age. Now, that experience comes to mobile devices, completely intact. Featuring an all-star cast (including Jack Black and Elijah Wood) and plenty of brain-tickling puzzles, Broken Age returns to a simpler time of gaming. Its price may be steep in mobile terms, but the value players get back is immense. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Jurassic World: The Game (Ludia, free-to-play, available for iOS)

With the soon-to-be blockbuster film due for release next month, Universal Pictures and Ludia decided to build the hype behind Jurassic World with a coordinating mobile release. In the game, players will build their own theme park, meddling around with dinosaur DNA (at their own risk, of course) and earning collector’s cards to earn new goods. A battle arena is also available, in case players are curious to see who the king of the dinosaurs is. It’s a free-to-play title with optional purchases available, so it’s certainly worth a look. And yes, Chris Pratt (or at least his likeness) is in it.

Marvel Future Fight (Netmarble Games, free-to-play, available for iOS and Android)

With Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron cleaning up at the summer box office ($200 million and rising domestically), it’s no surprise that there’s already another free-to-play Marvel game available for mobile devices. In Future Fight, players assemble their team of dream Marvel characters (including Hulk and Iron Man) and face off against a number of enemies across the universe. Special boosts can be acquired either as bonus items or in-game purchases, and new characters can join the fray at any time, heroes and villains alike. Comic book fans will want to assemble for this game.

Bears vs. Art (Halfbrick Studios, free-to-play, available for iOS and Android)

The creators of popular mobile hits Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride are back, and this time they’re pitting bears against art! In this entertaining puzzle game, players will take on a series of puzzles, getting past sneaky security measures as they send a bear in to destroy priceless works of art. Featuring plenty of challenges and unlockable goodies, this free-to-play title is a joy for all ages. Art lovers be warned, a lot of work gets destroyed here.

Ys Chronicles 1 (DotEmu, $4.99, available for iOS and Android)

Finally, fans of old-school role-playing games will find a lot to like with Ys Chronicles 1, an adventure that offers hours of gameplay for a meager $4.99 price tag. Originally titled Ancient Ys Vanished: Omen, this adventure features a vast cast of characters, heroic and evil alike, as Adol Christin sets out to save the world. Featuring a beautiful art style, groundbreaking soundtrack and deep story, Ys Chronicles will fit the bill for those looking to get sucked into a grand quest.

On Demand Entertainment Has Come a Long Way

Over the past few years, on-demand entertainment has become even bigger than anyone has expected, with channels like Netflix, HBO Now and Hulu flourishing with a number of offerings — even more than cable television could provide.

AdWeek recently posted a large infographic detailing just how popular on-demand entertainment has become, even though some aspects — like downloads — have dropped a bit. Ninja Metrics compiled the numbers, which include the following statistics:

  • Streaming services cost 39 percent less than a bundle of expanded basic cable channels, which could explain some of the “cord cutting” that consumers have gone through.
  • Music downloads have dropped, while streaming services like Pandora and Spotify have increased in popularity
  • Over 40 percent of homes in the United States have some form of access to a subscription-based video-on-demand service, with 36 percent having Netflix, followed by Amazon Home Video (13 percent) and Hulu Plus (6.5 percent)
  • Homes with video-on-demand watch almost one hour more of TV per day versus traditional cable TV households, with nearly two hours and 45 minutes compared to one hour and 57 minutes
  • There are 41.3 million Netflix subscribers, compared to 95.2 million subscribers to cable/satellite TV subscribers, nearly accounting for half
  • The average monthly cost of video-on-demand versus cable is startling, with $39.22 for VOD services compared to $64.41 for expanded basic cable, even though the channel count is higher
  • In the streaming music department, over 164 billion songs were streamed last year, equaling 8.2 billion hours of songs
  • 67 percent of people in the U.S. use streaming services on a weekly basis
  • As for general revenue for music, streaming revenue saw an increase of $1.9 billion last year, while downloads dropped $2.6 billion

The full infographic can be found below, and it points the way for streaming services to become even more popular over the next few years.

The Mobile Tipping Point Is Here

Mobile advertising has certainly come a long way, even to the point where it’s more used than traditional desktop advertising — and some companies may change their approach as a result.

VentureBeat has reported mobile advertising has seen a significant increase, based on findings from a recent report from Opera Mediaworks.

The platform has already seen a large amount of attention from companies, serving 90 percent of the top global advertisers and reaching out to over 800 million unique mobile users. However, Opera noted an even larger growth for the medium, with a five-times increase between today and a year ago. Video ads have jumped the highest in that time, going from 2.5 percent early last year to nearly 13 percent now. And that video is responsible for a large amount of revenue for publishers, accounting for 55 percent.

As you can see in the chart above, Android takes up the biggest portion of that revenue, with 65 percent of traffic accounted for, and 45 percent of revenue. iOS is in second place with only over 22 percent of traffic, but about the same amount in terms of revenue. Meanwhile, Windows had such a low count that it couldn’t even muster one percent in either category.

“What we get excited about is TV for the next generation,” said Opera CMO Will Kassoy, speaking with VentureBeat. “The number one action that consumers do after a brand campaign is click to watch more video.”

While the numbers don’t represent the entire mobile advertising ecosystem, they show that video has made quite an impact, between a number of mobile advertising acquisitions and its increase over the competition by a staggering 20 percent.

“We hit a major milestone in Q4,” continued Kassoy. “We surpassed $100 million in revenues for the quarter for the first time. We’re the largest independent ad network, and our reach is now over one billion monthly impressions.”

The U.S. has the largest count with this change in video ads, followed by other nations like Canada, the U.K. and Australia. This is mainly due to the size of infrastructure, and quality of video offerings. As you can see from the chart above, the growth of video in both impressions and revenue delivered to publishers and app developers is incredible, and not likely to stop anytime soon.

Social networks play a part in this advertising, too. It’s the biggest leader for impressions and revenue, followed by general music, video and media, communications services and games.

As for what division got the most attention in video, movie and television entertainment unsurprisingly lead the charge, followed by other, food and drink, and automotive, as indicated by the chart above. Games fell into the lower count here, probably due to developers focusing more on game content than commercials (though some apps still do it).

“The key question is how do you drive marketing effectiveness and efficiency,” said Kassoy. “The brands that are more advanced and sophisticated are moving from awareness — like TV— to some form of engagement . . . which would lead to learning more about a product or service, and ultimately to a purchase.”

AdWeek has reported that Google is already adapting to the shift to mobile advertising, seeing as how desktop numbers have dwindled. “The purchase funnel is officially dead,” said Jerry Dischler, vice president of product management at Google. “What we’re seeing are these short bursts of activity that we’re calling micro-moments. We see the new challenge for marketers is to be there at those moments anytime, anywhere.”

With smartphones accounting for more than half the searches across ten countries (including the U.S.), Google wants to take more of a focus on mobile, a plan it intends to reveal later today at the AdWords Performance Summit, which can be seen here.

This includes expanding location-based tools for more businesses, as well as gauging the success of a mobile ad. “We’ve been building on it since December — we expect by the end of the year that this will work for thousands of advertisers in more than 10 countries,” said Dischler.

Reddit Launches New Video Division

Video-on-demand has been growing immensely over the past few years, with Netflix acquiring more than 40 million subscribers and other services showing impressive numbers as well. With all the original programming available, there’s certainly a lot for people to watch. And that’s exactly what Reddit is betting on.

VentureBeat has reported that the social page has launched a new video site, which provides original content based on stories that are shared throughout the site.

“Video is a pretty hot thing right now, and we wanted to get the best people we could to launch Reddit Video,” said Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in New York City earlier today.

The site has been home to millions of users, engaging in community discussions and content sharing, as well as celebrities, authors and others hosting popular AMA sessions. It’s gathered more than 160 million monthly views in its ten years of existence, and that’s exactly the audience the company is banking on to make its video side popular.

Reddit recently took $50 million to help get video off the ground, and brought in two former video leads from The Verge, Stephen Greenwood and Jordan Oplinger, to help lead the charge.

Not only will the videos provide content for users to get interested in, but it could also open up a new way to generate revenue, since video-on-demand has shown that there’s money to be made.

As for what kind of programming Reddit has in mind, it didn’t go into too much detail, although videos that focus on the AMA (Ask Me Anything) are likely to come first, since celebrities and other types are so eager to take part in them and communicate with the vast community. More programming is likely to be introduced in the months ahead, depending on how successful the service is.

One In Four US Adults Watch Original Online Video Monthly (Study)

by Jessica Klein

Original, digital content is gaining on its cable counterparts. According to IAB research, about one in four (24 percent) US adults watch the former at least once a month, which marks a 13 percent increase from the year before.

The IAB’s “2015 Original Digital Video Study” overall shows how much original online video influences cord-cutters/nevers in terms of pay TV. These viewers are roughly twice as likely to watch original digital content as other US adults, and while 53 percent of cord-cutters considered this content “very” or “somewhat” important to their decision not to have pay TV, 65 percent of cord-nevers felt the same way.

This sentiment comes with more viewing on connected devices than ever before in the US. Viewers are watching video on connected TVs, tablets, and smartphones about twice as much as they were two years ago, with connected TVs becoming increasingly popular.

Perhaps most significant, 65 percent if these viewers were tuning into digital content during TV’s primetime, between 8pm and 11pm. A majority of those in the IAB’s study say this is happening because the quality of digital programming has gone up.

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.

Now Hiring This Week: May 6th

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5 Questions With Jay Baage On This Year’s [a]list Video summit

We’re pleased to announce that on August 19 at the W Hollywood Hotel, we’ll be holding the [a]list video summit. While video as a format has always gleamed with potential, particularly this year, mobile has pushed the format into the limelight as older platforms and new apps are reinvigorating the video space. The challenge to marketers to is make the most of it.

We sat down with Jay Baage, executive director of [a]listdaily at Ayzenberg to talk about what attendees can expect, how to get involved, and why video is so important right now. 

Jay BaageJay Baage, Executive Director, [a]listdaily

Why was it important to hone in on video for this [a]list summit?

At last year’s [a]list summit in July, we focused in on influencer marketing. That is still one of the most exciting fields of marketing with so much native talent emerging everyday on different social content platforms like YouTube, Vine and Instagram. In the last year, we have seen so many other important developments in the broader field of video marketing that we felt it made sense to spotlight some of those as well at this year’s summit.

One of the biggest developments is that Facebook video now finally rivals YouTube in scale and many new interesting rivals are on the horizon, offering brand marketers a whole new landscape that they need to map out for themselves. What does the audience look like on these platforms What do the ad formats and other marketing opportunities provide and where can you get the most bang for your buck

What will the programming of the [a]list summit be like What trends are you focusing on?

We’ll be talking to top talent and executives running brand studios as well as emerging video content and platforms expected to grow exponentially over the coming years, such as streaming video services covering everything from eSports to make-up tutorials. We’ll also be taking a look at what video opportunities there are for marketers on emerging virtual and augmented reality platforms such as Facebook-owned Oculus and Microsoft’s HoloLens.

I think that there has never been a more exciting time to be a marketer with so many exciting new forms of interactive content and interesting technologies to tap into, but the question is: if you strip away all the hype, what will actually give you better results than TV or any other medium It’s a challenge all brand marketers face. Embrace new marketing platforms to stay relevant, but at the same time maximize ROI throughout the transition.

What are some things marketers should expect to happen in the video sphere in the coming year?

I’m so excited about all the great premium content for online platforms being announced at the IAB NewFronts in NYC going on. We are also seeing big live-streamed events. Most recently, the unauthorized Periscope streams from the weekend’s Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, but also big organized stunts by brands like the Red Bull Stratos jump with skydiver Felix Baumgartner which got a lot of traction.

I’m personally excited to hear what’s next in terms of premium and live video content from the speakers at this year’s summit and where the best opportunities are for brands to get involved.

Michelle Phan is keynoting this coming summit, but what other speakers can attendees expect to be at the event?

Yes, we are so excited about have Michelle Phan on board for the summit. Not only is she an amazing on-camera talent, but she understands the importance of building a brand and working with the right partners. She has built a business empire to show for it. In all, we’ll have over 30 speakers representing some of the most innovative content, platforms and technologies in the field of video right now. We will also hear from top brands about their strategies and tactics when it comes to video. Expect a lively discussion!

What are some ways that people can be involved in [a]list summit if they are interested?

There are a few speaking and sponsorship opportunities available, so anyone interested can email me directly jbaage@ayzenberg.com. Also tickets are available on the summit event page. For those who have not experienced an [a]list summit, you’re in for a treat. We try to bring in the best of current art and culture and it’s a fun and creative atmosphere and plenty of opportunities for networking and hanging out with some of the best brand marketers in the business.

Disney Infinity Enters the ‘Star Wars’ Universe

The Disney Infinity series has only been out less than two years and already it’s become a dominant force in the interactive toy/game market. VentureBeat previously reported that the game series has performed so well, it’s become a peak performer against its main competitor, Activision’s dominant Skylanders series.

Part of that success is due to the game’s tie-in with the Marvel universe, featuring such franchises as The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. But now its reach is going even further, tying in with another billion-dollar Disney franchise – Star Wars.

Disney Interactive announced Disney Infinity 3.0: Star Wars earlier today, which will release this fall for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, with a starter pack at $64.99 and supplementary packs featuring additional characters and sets to be available as well. The game will feature a number of fan favorites from the original Star Wars, including Han Solo, Darth Vader and Princess Leia, as well as characters from other products, like Anakin and Ahsoka from the animated series The Clone Wars.

But since it’s Disney Infinity, there will be room for additional characters and franchises as well. Avengers: Age of Ultron will have a playset that’s compatible with the game (and previously released Marvel characters from Disney Infinity 2.0), Disney/Pixar’s forthcoming animated film Inside Out will have its own playset, and side characters from Quorra from Tron, Olaf from Frozen and Mickey Mouse, among others, will also be introduced, as part of the build-your-own-level Toy Box initiative.

This Disney Infinity promises to be the biggest yet for the series, with a number of developers, including Sumo Digital, Ninja Theory and United Front Games, hard at work on content for it. Playsets include “Twilight of the Republic” and “Rise Against the Empire”, both of which focus on the “classic” Star Wars characters, as well as a new set devoted to Clone Wars. Other characters could be introduced as well, especially with the first new Star Wars film in over ten years, The Force Awakens, hitting theaters in December.

Judging by sales of previous games, this could be the biggest selling Disney Infinity yet, as the Star Wars name has proven to be a hot commodity. The latest trailer for Force Awakens managed to garner 88 million views in 24 hours on YouTube, setting a new record; and the recently announced Star Wars Battlefront, set for release this November, has already made some big waves in the community, with new content consistently being revealed for the first-person shooter.

It’s safe to say that the Force is strong with this one. Check out the debut trailer for the game below.