GameStop’s Interactive Promotion For ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’

Excitement has been building for the upcoming May 19th launch of CD Projekt Red’s open-world fantasy RPG The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and now GameStop has stepped in to help the process along with an interactive promotion. GameStop and Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment are using Google Maps to turn city streets into monster tracking courses. The promotion kicked off on Monday earlier this week, and in this digital pursuit, players will experience the exploration and great detail seen in the fantasy world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as they spot characters from the game in real-world locations and seek its monsters for prizes.

“We are excited to partner with WB, CD Projekt Red and, of course, Google, to bring this experience to life,” said Frank Hamlin, chief marketing officer at GameStop. “This program is the first of its kind for GameStop and we are having fun dipping our toe into new waters, especially waters filled with monsters.” The Monster Hunt is hosted on (, and easy to play on a desktop. It leverages the Google Maps API and Javascript API alongside the Street View function to transform a Google Map into a live race to find monsters hidden at historic and exotic locales all over the globe. From there, players can start their chase for 100 monsters and a chance to win one of 100 $50 GameStop gift cards.

Ashley Acks

GameStop’s Ashley Acks, director of marketing and promotions, answered some questions for [a]listdaily about the promotion.

Where did the idea come from for this promotion How did you develop this idea?

Given the immersive open world gameplay and monster hunting aspect of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, it was important for GameStop, WB, CD Projekt Red and The Marketing Arm to take that experience out of the game and engage fans with a unique marketing promotion. Google maps was the natural place to create the hunt for monsters, especially as it allowed locales all over the world to be part of the experience. The innovation was how the monsters and the game play come to life within the hunt with the blood vision and imagery of the ten different monsters used.

This is a complex promotion to create and execute. How long did this take to put together, and what was the process like for implementing this promotion?

Development itself took approximately five weeks and was a collaborative effort between GameStop, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, CD Projekt Red and The Marketing Arm. The Marketing Arm handled the development and the Google Maps API’s with the assets provided by the publisher and developer.

What are the pre-orders like for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? Do you feel that this promotion will help boost those pre-orders?

In terms of pre-orders, GameStop has received a lot of excitement from customers around the Witcher 3 launch. Unfortunately that’s all we can say right now. [Separately, Polish developer CD Projekt Red announced that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has already garnered more than a million pre-order sales, as it approaches its release on May 19. The game is being launched on PS4, Xbox One and PC, but the studio did not provide a breakdown of which platforms had more pre-sales than the others. It’s safe to say a very good portion of those pre-orders have come from GameStop.

“We’ve crossed the 1 million pre-order milestone and it’s all thanks to you guys! We would like to thank all the gamers for their trust and support,” said Marcin Iwinski, co-founder, CD Projekt Red. “This is the last stretch and we’re pushing hard — over the last two weeks, we’ve increased performance on all platforms and started working full speed on the expansions, Hearts of Stone & Blood and Wine.”]

Will this promotional game include material from or information about the expansion pass for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt?

The Expansion pass is not featured in this program. [Rather than try to monetize each expansion, CD Projekt Red has stated that anyone who purchases Wild Hunt will actually receive all 16 pieces of DLC for free. The plan is to start releasing the DLC in pairs on a weekly basis, starting from May 20th, the developer noted.]

What sort of feedback have you been getting from this promotion so far? Will GameStop be creating similar innovative promotions in the future for other game launches?

So far the feedback has been great. GameStop fans and followers have been engaging with the program and the clues posted on social channels. We had more than 2,300 people play the game in the first 48 hours, so we’re very excited to see the full results of this program. GameStop and The Marketing Arm are both always looking to create innovative promotions around title releases.

Oculus Rift PC Specs Revealed

Earlier this month, we reported that the Oculus Rift, at last, has a release date for the consumer market, set to arrive early next year with pre-orders going live later this year. Today, the team behind the device, Oculus VR, announced the first PC specs for the device, as reported by TechCrunch.

The company posted the specs on its blog page today, indicating just what kind of hardware PC owners will need to get it running efficiently. They’re fairly high compared to the standard PC, so some upgrades may be acquired. They are as follows:



  • NVIDIA GTX 970/AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM




  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture


Oculus’ Chief Architect Atman Binstock explained how these specs are necessary to get the unit running to full efficiency, since there’s such as reliance on GPU performance, especially running two 2160 x 1200 displays at 90hz at once to recreate the 3D effect. (That’s three times the normal GPU power required for 1080p rendering, he says.) It needs to be consistently running with frame rate, as drops can distort the effect that the Oculus is trying to deliver.

A desktop computer is recommended over laptops, and it appears that the team is pointing its development strictly towards the PC format at the moment. Binstock stated that the team still wants to develop the Oculus for Mac and Linux, but, at the present moment, it doesn’t “have a timeline.”

That may turn off some players, especially considering the accessibility of the Google Cardboard, not to mention Sony’s Project Morpheus, which will work alongside the PlayStation 4 console whenever it’s released to market. (We should know more next month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo next month.) It also doesn’t help that Oculus hasn’t released a price for the unit yet, although it’s likely to be around the $300 range – maybe more, maybe less.

While the prices for the required hardware will probably drop between now and the release date of the Oculus Rift, it’s still going to require a rather beefy PC. The Recommended level is going to probably put you in the $1000 category, as the graphics cards mentioned run around $350 alone. And, as usual, gamers will probably want to go higher than the recommended specs to make sure all the games will run smoothly. If you haven’t upgraded your PC in a while, you may want to start saving up.

Regardless, Oculus’ virtual reality is coming – and now it’s just a matter of seeing who reaches out and grabs onto it.

Tencent Rules The World As The Largest Game Company

The gaming industry continues to grow substantially on its way to $100 billion a year in global sales, largely on the strength of mobile games. While a number of mobile game companies have risen to join the $1 billion in annual sales club, it’s still the diversified game publishers that are the world’s largest game companies. Leading that list, once again, is China’s Tencent.

VentureBeat recently posted an article that explains how the Chinese company has taken over the industry, with a number of facts to back up that claim. Tencent owns the most popular social media and messaging services in China, but derives the majority of its revenue from games. The company has also invested heavily in Western game companies; it’s the majority investor in Riot Games, and it owns large stakes in Epic Games and Activision Blizzard, among others.

Tencent’s revenues managed to reach a whopping $3.65 billion in the first quarter for 2015, ending March 31. That’s a 22 percent increase from a year before, with a non-GAAP profit of $1.16 billion – a 37 percent increase from 2014. By comparison that quarterly revenue is only slightly below what Electronic Arts or Activision Blizzard took in during their entire last year.

“During the first quarter of 2015, we continued to expand our mobile user base and improve our engagement with users while delivering solid financial results,” said Ma Huateng, chairman and CEO for Tencent. “Our key mobile properties extended their leadership in China and continued to broaden user activities from social and communications to gaming, entertainment, media content, payment and beyond.

“Driven by mobile-social and video advertisements, our total advertising revenue more than doubled year-on-year,” Hauteng continued. “Our Red Envelope gifting initiative spurred increased adoption of our payment solutions and boosted total payment volume. Looking ahead, we aim to bring further technology benefits to users through our ‘Internet +’ strategy of connecting users with services in various vertical industries through collaboration with a broad range of partners.”

Going into further detail with the “value-added services,” Tencent stated that they rose in revenue by 29 percent, up to $3 billion. Online game revenue also saw a heavy increase, to $2.14 billion, over the year, through a number of its popular smartphone games.

Revenue from PC client games also showed no signs of slowing, contributing to the increase alongside social network revenues, which grew by 32 percent to $856 million.

In-game item sales in mobile platforms and higher subscription revenues from the company’s QQ membership also added up, with an increase by 131 percent to $439 million. Total cash overall equaled $4.08 billion, although that number was a 26 percent decrease from the previous year, mainly due to strategic investments.

Tencent reported that its monthly smartphone users for the QQ service reached 603 million, a 23 percent increase from a year ago, and the combined monthly active users for its Weixin and WeChat services grew to 549 million – a 39 percent increase.

As far as the most popular games, both FIFA Online 3 and Riot Games’ League of Legends (in which Tencent has a healthy investment) were revenue leaders.

Revenues from smartphone games reached over $700 million, an 82 percent increase from the previous year, making Tencent the largest publisher of mobile games in China. This includes a number of licensed titles, including Infinity Blade Saga and Naruto games.

Of course, a lot of this success comes from key partnerships, as Tencent has investments in Riot Games, as well as Activision Blizzard and Epic Games, the makers of the popular Unreal Engine technology.

In addition, it recently invested a whopping $60 million for a 20 percent stake in Pocket Gems, a popular mobile company that produced the hit War Dragons. It’s a key investment, as its releases have seen more than 200 million downloads since its release, according to TechCrunch.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Tencent, whose unparalleled strength in games publishing and operations in China will help us create great mobile games and entertainment for players globally,” said Pocket Gems CEO Ben Liu.

Indeed, there’s no stopping Tencent’s momentum now, as its dominance is sure to continue in the gaming industry for years to come.

Konami Shifts Focus To Mobile

Konami has been producing top-notch video games for the past 30 years, including entries in the Castlevania franchise, as well as Pro Evolution Soccer and Metal Gear Solid. However, following the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain this September, it’s looking to focus on making mobile games rather than console games.

Pocket Gamer has reported that Konami intends to shift into producing more mobile games – which means producing far less on the console gaming front. Konami president Hideki Hayakawa recently spoke with Nikkei about the company’s future plans.

“Following the pay-as-you-play model like Power Pro and Winning Eleven with additional content, our games must move from selling things like ‘items’ to selling things like ‘features’,” he explained. “We saw with these games that even people who buy physical games are motivated to buy extra content. The success of Power Pro especially has motivated us to actively push more of our popular series onto mobile than ever before.”

Previous earnings report have pushed the company to focus on the mobile market, even though sales of console-related titles haven’t exactly been bad. That said, Hayakawa explained that “our overseas games such as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Winning Eleven continue to do well, but we are always thinking about how to push our franchises onto mobile there, too.”

Konami is the latest company making the foray into the mobile world, alongside these other companies:

Square Enix: The longtime publisher of the Final Fantasy franchise continues to actively work on consoles with releases like Just Cause 3 and Rise of the Tomb Raider coming this year, but it’s also been releasing a number of its older titles on mobile with great success, despite prices that run into the $9.99-$19.99 range. It’s also been making waves with mobile innovation, as it did last year with Dive In.

Nintendo: Although we won’t be seeing Nintendo’s first mobile effort until later this year as part of its recently announced partnership with DeNA, the company has been promising a strong strategy for tablets and smartphones alike, as president Satoru Iwata explained earlier this week. And with familiar faces like Mario and Yoshi sure to be involved to some extent, they should be big hits.

Electronic Arts: For years, EA has taken a strong initiative with mobile games, releasing a number of its popular franchises for devices, including Madden, FIFA, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Battlefield, amongst others. That trend is likely to continue with the upcoming fall season, as new football and soccer games are already in the works, along with a possible new racing game from Firemonkeys, the developers of the highly popular Real Racing series.

Ubisoft: While it still has a strong console presence, Ubisoft’s mobile division has picked up quite a bit over the last year, with such free-to-play releases as Trials Frontier and Driver: Speedboat Paradise gaining big audiences. The Rayman games have also been quite accessible for players of all ages, with their beautiful presentation and easy-to-grasp running mechanics. As far as what the future holds, the company hasn’t revealed its slate yet, but it’s likely to launch an app alongside its next big hit, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, when it arrives on October 23rd.

Meanwhile, Konami’s proposed “final” console game, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, is still set to debut on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on September 1st.

Lay’s Introduces New Personalized Promotion

Personalization can go the extra mile when it comes to the promotion of a product. Coke, for instance, launched a campaign last year where consumers could purchase its products with their names on the bottle – provided they could find them in stores.

Now, Lay’s has a new campaign that takes that personalization effect to the next level. CNN has reported that its new summer program will allow consumers the opportunity to upload photos of themselves (or whatever they wish to photograph) onto bags of potato chips, using the Lay’s Summer Bag Creator.

The first 10,000 fans that take part in the program will actually receive a bag of chips that features their photo, along with whatever caption they wish to post alongside it. Everyone who does so, however, will get a digital version of their bag, which they’ll be able to share on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“The ‘Lay’s Summer Days’ promotion is a way for us to celebrate our fans and the season by personalizing their connection with the brand in a fun, unique way,” said Tina Mahal, senior director of marketing at Frito-Lay, makers of Lay’s chips (as well as a division of Pepsi).

This promotion will run through July 4, and will also tie in other Lay’s brands with summer packaging, including Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos and other types, which will reveal a hidden image when exposed to sunlight.

This is the latest program by Lay’s that allows consumers to take part with customization, as it previously introduced the “Do Us a Flavor” program, which allowed them to come up with as many chip flavors as they could – some even ending up being sold in stores. (Others, like the suggested Toothpaste-flavored chips, simply aren’t happening.)

Those that wish to take part in the promotion can do so on the official Lay’s home page.

Netflix Is Talking To Chinese Media Companies

By Jessica Klein

Netflix is making a concrete effort to enter the Chinese digital video market. The streaming giant’s been in talks with Chinese media companies such as Wasu Media Holdings about partnering on the expansion, as first reported by Bloomberg.

Wasu’s not the only media company in China Netflix has been in talks with, according to the report, though no others were named. Coming to China wouldn’t exactly be a smooth move for Netflix, hence the need for a partnership with a local media company, especially one that can license content for various devices, from mobile phones to connected TVs.

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.

SuperData April 2015 US Digital Game Sales: ‘GTA V’ Driving Sales

Analysis from SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen, follows:

  • The US digital games market grows to $1.1 billion in April.
  • Legacy publishers report $2 billion in combined digital revenues.
  • Top mobile publishers consolidate and raise barriers to entry.
  • League of Legends’ mid season invitational marks eSports growth momentum.
  • WEBINAR: Join our state-of-the-industry discussion as preparation for E3.


The US digital games market grows from $0.96B to $1.1B in April.
Overall, the digital games market in the United States performed well, growing well over 15 percent in April compared to the same month last year. In line with earlier expectations, the social games market further declined as the average spending per paying user dropped below $40 for the first time in over six months. Mobile broke a new record with more than 147 million Americans playing games on their smartphones or tablets in April, allowing monthly revenue to reach $380 million, up 13% from the same month last year. Pay-to-play MMO games showed a decline, too, as the overall US subscriber base dropped 18 percent since its peak late last year. Finally, the long-awaited release of the PC version for Grand Theft Auto V (NASDAQ: TTWO) improved the overall PC DLC market, selling 441k copies in the United States.

Top publishers consolidate and raise barriers to entry for mobile game development.
Following the announcement that Chinese gaming behemoth Tencent (OTCMKTS: TCEHY) had purchased a 15 percent stake in Glu Mobile (NASDAQ: GLUU) for $126 million, the latter’s shares jumped 23 percent. The news came just a few weeks after Glu Mobile signed an agreement with several new starlets, including Katy Perry. In particular, a celebrity’s ability to funnel traffic to the games has proven effective in offsetting user acquisition costs and improving retention by regularly posting updates on their Twitter feeds. To that end, it appears that the social media presence of singers, actors and other famous folk plays an increasingly important role in obtaining the lucrative agreements with content developers. Kim Kardashian, for example, receives 47.5 percent of earnings generated by Glu’s Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, according to company filings. The partnership with Tencent provides Glu Mobile the necessary capital as mobile game development has become more expensive. But it also gives it access to the growing mobile games market in China, which is on course to grow 19 percent year-over-year to $3.6 billion (2015E) and expected to soon reach 800 million monthly active users.

League of Legends’ mid season invitational marks eSports’ growth momentum.
Competitive gaming continues to be a flourishing marketing tool for publishers like Riot Games and Valve as a growing audience of eSports enthusiasts watches the matches online or attends them in real life. Following the success of its worldwide championship last year, Riot Games added a mid-season invitational this year, hosted in Tallahassee, Florida. The victory by Chinese team EDward Gaming over the powerful Koreans from SKTelecom T1 deserves mention as it meant a defeat for the long-standing favorites. As watching competitive gaming becomes a more common activity among consumers, participating teams are starting to build up a reputation and add a layer of friendly rivalry in and outside the game. In response, a growing number of other publishers have started to organize tournaments around their own games to increase their visibility and improve audience retention. Currently, the global market for eSports attracts 134 million viewers, and totals $612 million in spending across corporate sponsorships, advertising, publisher investments and direct consumer monetization.

Legacy publishers report $2 billion in combined digital revenues.
Judging from earnings reports released by several of the publicly-traded publishers, it is clear that their transition to digital is well underway and, in some cases, is keeping their traditional publishing business afloat. Activision (NASDAQ: ATVI) reported $538 million in digital revenue for the quarter, about 77 percent of the total, despite a disappointing slide in subscribership for World of Warcraft from 10 million to 7.1 million. The announcement of a June release date for its hotly-anticipated Heroes of the Storm leading to 11 million signups, the progress of its China-focused Call of Duty Online, and the announced stand-alone StarCraft expansion pack indicate that the publisher is looking to expand its current digital earnings. For Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA), digital grew 9 percent year-over-year and accounted for 67 percent of overall revenue, for a total of $602 million. Its most recent title, Battlefield: Hardline, performed well across platforms. As part of one of EA’s strongest franchises, the game presents an unproven innovation on the shooter game genre, but the initial signs are promising with well over $51 million in digital revenue in the first month of its release. It perhaps presents a first answer to the question of how Electronic Arts will offset its increasing reliance on licensed games, like the upcoming Star Wars title, which are financially far less interesting from a profit standpoint.

Square Enix (TYO: 9684) generated $933 million in digital revenues, representing roughly two-third of earnings for the quarter. Titles of note for Square Enix include Tomb Raider, Just Cause 3 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, each of which are expected to feature additional digital content. For Ubisoft (EPA: UBI), around 65 percent of Q4 earnings come from digital, for a total of $124 million. (At time of writing Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ: TTWO) had not yet reported its earnings.)

WEBINAR: Join us as we preview this year’s E3 conference in Los Angeles.
On May 29th, SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen will present his view on the current games market. Topics will include: digital console adoption, competitive gaming, mobile user acquisition, diversity, and East vs. West. Yes, it’s free, but seats are limited. Sign up is now open:


Nintendo Reveals Unusual Mobile Strategy

Earlier this year, Nintendo made waves in the mobile market when it announced that it was teaming up with DeNA to bring many of its beloved franchises to tablets and smartphones. But many are still wondering what the company’s huge outlook for mobile is, as it hasn’t revealed all of its plans just yet.

One thing it won’t do, however, is try to copy the prevailing mobile game strategy where a small number of well-paying players provide the bulk of the revenue. VentureBeat has reported that Nintendo president and chief executive officer Satoru Iwata has stated that it’s vital to realize what gamers are doing with free-to-play applications and where money is being spent. However, he doesn’t want development teams to bend over backward from data based on these purchases to create something that matches a current trend. He wants his company to make games that stand out.

“Even though this data may be an indicator, if we focus on such numbers alone as the basis of our thinking about what actions will be most effective, it means that we will analyze why certain game applications are selling well in order to make one with a similar structure,” said Iwata, speaking during a meeting with investors. “(And that) means we will end up copying exactly what is already happening in the market for smart devices.”

A quality app was able to make a good profit in the early going days of mobile, Iwata said, and although the market has changed since, Nintendo’s doesn’t want to resort to “cloning” ideas to gain success. “With intense competition, generating revenue on smart devices is no longer easy,” he said. “I don’t think we can realize what we aspire to by simply imitating a past success formula.”

A lot of developers have taken this stance as of late, including the likes of EA and Square Enix amongst others, while others have take the “copycat” route to latch onto current favorites, such as Candy Crush Saga. Iwata, however, believes “individuality” is the key” for both iOS and Android formats. Iwata also hopes to derive a small amount of money from a very large number of players, the inverse of the usual practice among mobile games.

We’ll see how these plans come into play when the company’s first mobile release arrives later this year.

Mandalay CEO Betting Big On Virtual Reality

The virtual reality consumer market is slowly coming together, between a forthcoming launch of the Oculus Rift in 2016 and products coming from HTC and Sony. Some are skeptical about the power of virtual reality, but Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber believes that it could be “the secret sauce for live entertainment,” according to Re/Code.

Guber recently invested in NextVR, a company that will be contributing to some form of entertainment for virtual reality. Although an exact amount wasn’t given, a NextVR rep did state it was “in the millions of dollars” range.

“The social element is critical, live in the arena,” said Guber, talking about a live sports experience that could easily be recreated in VR. “But you can only fill 18,000 seats, and there are seven billion people in the world.”

NextVR could take virtual reality in a better direction, broadcasting live events that allow viewers to look in any direction, recreating the “you are there” experience in full 3D, as indicated by executive chairman Brad Allen.

Along with sports events, Guber also believes that there’s potential for entertainment-based events, like the awards shows hosted by Dick Clark Production – where he’s currently a chairman. Users can also “move” around a stadium or theater to change their view, possibly through an implemented voice command system.

“You don’t have a director telling you where to look,” said Guber. “Individual capture devices can be put in separate places, and you can move from courtside to the owner’s suite, looking down.”

There are questions, of course, like whether people will think it’s comfortable watching whole games or events from a headset, and what kind of business model will be put in place for it. Pay-per-view is certainly an option, along with a possible subscription service. Nothing has been finalized just yet.

It’ll certainly offer a number of possibilities when it takes off in just a few months’ time.