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.

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:


‘Monster Strike’ Cleans Up On Mobile

Monster Strike has slowly grown into an immense mobile success, if numbers reported from GamesIndustry International are any indication.

We first reported on Mixi’s popular mobile game last December, where we discussed how it was gaining ground on GungHo Mobile’s unstoppable Puzzle & Dragons, amongst other competitors. Over the months, however, it’s become an even bigger hit.

How much bigger Mixi’s earnings report show that the game made more than $3.7 million a day for the fourth quarter of FY 2014 (which ended March 31, 2015), based on its overall ¥40 billion ($333.8 million) revenue for that quarter. It’s passed Puzzle & Dragons to become the most popular mobile game in Japan, and it’s also gaining popularity in other countries as well.

Mixi’s revenue for the entire fiscal year 2014 was ¥111 billion ($927 million), an 829 percent increase year-over-year. Mixi’s profits were ¥33 billion ($275.4 million), up from ¥227 million ($1.9 million) the previous year.

As you can see from the chart above, the growth has been amazing in the last year, with growth quadrupling since the beginning of the 2014 sales season.

That’s a huge success for a game that’s only been out since October 2013, and it’s not likely to slow down anytime soon, with more and more players coming aboard. As a result, Mixi will host a Monster Strike Festival in Japan sometime this year to celebrate its fans, along with releasing an animated series based on the game. It’s also been announced for Nintendo’s 3DS handheld system, although there’s no word if it’ll be released in other regions just yet. (Nintendo could announce something as soon as next month with its E3 digital presentation.)

Monster Strike has also seen tremendous international growth, with Taiwan and Hong Kong gaining a great deal of attention, judging by the charts below. North America and South Korea aren’t far behind though, which indicates that the various Monster Strike products could end up in these markets as well, provided the game continues to be popular.

Mixi intends to use the game, along with its various mergers and acquisitions, to help it grow in 2015. It’s got good stature in the market, with ¥65.4 billion ($545.9 million) in cash and deposits, up from ¥17.8 billion ($148.6 million) the year before.

If it stays on track, it could earn as much as ¥185 billion ($1.54 billion) by the end of the fiscal year, with ¥52 billion ($434 million) in profit. Not bad for a little bunch of Monsters.


Mobile Game Highlights: ‘Grim Fandango Remastered’, ‘Goat Simulator’

Welcome back to another weekly round-up of this week’s freshest mobile games, Mobile Highlights! We’ve got some interesting picks for you this week, so check them out.

Rival Kingdoms: Age of Ruin (Space Ape Games, free-to-play, available for iOS and Android)

Those looking for another ferocious take on strategic battles along the lines of the popular Game of War: Fire Age should check out the latest release from Space Ape Games, Rival Kingdoms: Age of Ruin. Featuring outstanding next-generation visuals, MMO-based gameplay with chat and alliance support, over 300 various player raids and an immersive campaign, Rival Kingdoms will put players through their paces as they dominate their enemies and overtake the land. It’s free-to-play, with in-game purchases available for those who want to beef up their defenses.

Beast Quest (Miniclip, free-to-play, available for iOS and Android)

Things take a turn for the monstrous in Miniclip’s latest mobile adventure, Beast Quest. An evil wizard has managed to overtake the Beasts of Avantia, and it’s up to you to free them. Featuring a huge open world to explore, plenty of boss battles against monstrosities, and cool new artifacts to find, the game provides hours of replay value, as well as in-app purchases for those who can use some extra goods. It’s free-to-play, so this Beast won’t be an immediate burden on your wallet.

Catch the Rabbit (Ketchapp, free-to-play, available on iOS and Android)

Players looking for a fresh and entertaining platforming/running game will want to check out Catch the Rabbit. Featuring classic game visuals and an easy-to-adapt-to gameplay system, it poses a challenge around every corner as you pursue a mischievous rabbit, who’s stolen all the golden fruits. The game is free-to-play and offers a variety of fair in-app purchases, so it’s certainly worth a try.

Grim Fandango Remastered (Double Fine Productions, $9.99, available on iOS)

Old-school gamers will no doubt remember LucasArts’ original Grim Fandango, a humorous mystery revolving around travel agent Manny Calavera, and his bungled attempts to solve things. Good news, it’s back! Double Fine has remastered the game for mobile play, complete with fun graphics, challenging puzzles and plenty of laughs. It’s higher in cost than most mobile games, but there are no in-app purchases to worry about — and plenty of chuckles waiting. Welcome back, Grim!

Goat Simulator GoatZ (Coffee Stain Studios, $4.99, available for iOS and Android)

The goats are back, and this time, they’re . . . dead. The follow-up to the popular Goat Simulator introduces zombies to the game, and it’s even crazier than ever. In GoatZ, players can experience a number of new scenarios with objects and undead folks alike, with a huge map to explore and plenty of survival techniques to master. Let’s also not forget there are additional goats to unlock with special powers — and that makes this worth a purchase in itself.

See you next time for more Mobile Highlights!

Facebook’s Instant Articles Illustrate Why Integration Is Key

Today, Facebook has managed to do what many publishers have been dreading as an inevitable consequence of convenience. They have now officially collaborated with the New York Times to showcase the news titan’s very first “Instant Article,” an article specifically designed to seamlessly integrate Facebook’s mobile app to allow articles to load faster. This is just the beginning for Facebook, too. We’ll be seeing future Facebook collaborations with some of the world’s biggest publishers: BBC, Buzzfeed, Bild, The Atlantic, The Guardian, National Geographic, NBC, and Spiegel in the coming days.

Along with Facebook’s move to become a robust and competitive video platform, this collaboration with publishers shows that Facebook has now, as other social networks like Snapchat and LinkedIn have done, moved into platisher territory.

So, we’re seeing an interesting trend happening here. Not only do social media giants want to be publishers, but brands like Coca Cola, Dell, Adobe and more are aspiring to as well. So what is the appeal of being a publisher, especially at a time when the publishing industry itself is in such a painful flux Of course, the primary concern is content, but there’s something to the mutual aspiration here.

Yesterday BuzzFeed published a post co-written by Dao Nguyen and Ashley McCollum about how their experience with building BuzzFeed Motion Pictures had led them to define for themselves a different model, the “network-integrated media company.” When you look at how they visualize it, it makes sense how and why brands, platforms and publishers are all shifting to occupy the same space.

From the data and learnings, BuzzFeed understands that although they may create the content, it doesn’t just live on their own site. In fact, only five percent of video views are happening on their site. BuzzFeed relies on social media for 75 percent of its traffic, after all. It’s little wonder then why the publisher has openly defended Facebook:

“Facebook saw an opportunity: average app users wait eight seconds between clicking a link in their newsfeed and seeing the mobile web page loaded from a publisher. Facebook aimed to fix this problem by rendering stories natively within the app, thereby reducing load time by 10x. This is particularly important for content that contains images, GIFs, and videos, and the Instant Articles product speeds everything up for the reader,” wrote BuzzFeed.

In the end, it’s not just about the content. What is perhaps most important is to create a streamlined experience for the user; one that affords more engagement with the content you’ve created through reduced load times and a holistic, integrated experience. Just as the article page has superseded the homepage, so too might the platform supersede the article page.

KontrolFreek: Building A Lifestyle Brand For The Passionate Gamer

While attention has largely been focused on the console manufacturers and software publishers during the latest console transition, the multi-billion dollar videogame accessories business has been steadily improving. The category encompasses everything from headsets and speakers to keyboards, mice, and controllers, along with stored-value cards and toys. One accessory that console gamers truly appreciate is something that can help them perform better in a game, and that’s where KontrolFreek comes in. KontrolFreek, according to their website, “is the leading developer of innovative gaming accessories that enhance the gaming experience and give gamers of all skill levels the competitive edge.”

KontrolFreek’s controller stick addons give gamers more precise control over aiming, moving, and shooting — and there’s nothing more important to players in a first-person shooter than getting off more accurate shots faster than the other guy. Ashish Mistry, President and CEO of KontrolFreek, spoke with [a]listdaily about the videogame accessories market and where it’s headed.

What has the accessories market been like for KontrolFreek?

We started in 2009. What I wasn’t sure was a big market has proved to be a pretty substantial market. We’ve been able to build an array of products and a lifestyle brand that’s continued to grow. It was just me in an office tinkering at first, and we’ve got 20-odd people here in our office plus the back office working on the company now. We doubled in size last year, and we will double in size this year.

What has the transition to a new generation of consoles been like for KontrolFreek?

Fortunately we were able to navigate that fairly well. The console transition we thought was going to be really painful, was slightly painful overall but ultimately was a big asset for our business. It drove a lot of adoption for new customers that may not have had the new consoles. It drove some customers to port over, but ultimately the amount of awareness the console manufacturers have generated has just helped us, collectively, to draft in on their OEM sales. Any time you get those sort of marketing dollars applied to a product you’ll generally see a lift across the board for those products that are supported and within that ecosystem. We’re a beneficiary of that, for sure.

Are your products allowed in eSports competitions Do pro gamers endorse your products?

You certainly can, our product was one of the first actually sanctioned for tournament play. Since we’ve been around since 2009, the first products used in a test case were pro gamers. The pro gamers basically brought these to the major gaming circuits. Since they didn’t alter the actual electronics, and they didn’t permanently alter any attributes of the OEM controllers, the devices were allowed and officially sanctioned by all the major gaming organizations.

As much as anything, the product and the gamers have been our best attributes. In the context of how we’ve built and grown the business, we’ve put product front and center and tried to maintain real authenticity around who’s using the product and who we bring on board to support our marketing efforts. We’ve avoided the pay-to-play stuff. You know how these gamers are — they typically won’t endorse something they don’t use, because they know any audience they have would quickly turn on them if something they recommended didn’t work as billed.

What’s been your experience with retail sales as well as direct sales? What marketing strategies work best for you?

Up until August/September of last year we were 100% direct to consumer. Retail did not come online until last fall. We just landed all the GameStops, so as of now we are nationwide in all the GameStop locations. We’re excited about it. The business should change again as a result. What’s interesting is that all of this stuff is happening at a great time.

For marketing channels, what’s been most effective has been word of mouth. Our customers are vocal advocates, and they have been our best channel. Lots of these YouTube influencers and pro gamers have been the other key assets that we’ve built. All of these relationships are authentic in the sense that they were customers first, and and as a result of being able to apply marketing dollars to help, we’ve been able to build these great, deep relationships with them.

What does the future hold for KontrolFreek, especially over the next year or two?

I think the company will continue to grow, it should if not double be close to double in size. That’s a great marker for us. We will continue to evolve the product line. We’ve relied on our bread-and-butter products to date. We’ve got a lot of great new products that are on the roadmap that should start to come out at the middle of the year. We’re building a really robust product management function within the business such that the products that will roll out this year and the year after are starting to make their way onto the board.

What you’ll see from us is really more of a lifestyle brand in the gaming space that is anchored on these performance gaming products. We’ll use our strengths in the pro and influencer markets with these innovative products that we’ve come out with to really build what’s missing as a lifestyle brand in the passionate gamer segment.

‘Ratchet & Clank’ Movie Producer Discusses PlayStation’s First Film

Although Sony Pictures and Sony Computer Entertainment are sister companies under the Sony umbrella, they have yet to collaborate on a theatrical movie release based on an exclusive PlayStation franchise. While that track record won’t be broken with the new Ratchet & Clank movie, which Focus Features, a division of Universal Pictures, will bring to the big screen domestically in April 2016, the deal marks the first time a PlayStation franchise will be featured on the big screen.

Ratchet & Clank

Blockade Entertainment and Rainmaker Entertainment have collaborated with Sony and independent developer Insomniac Games on a 3D computer-animated Ratchet & Clank origin story. The movie is screening at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The movie features Sylvester Stallone as Victor, Paul Giamatti as Chairman Drek, John Goodman as Grimroth, Bella Thorne as Cora, and Rosario Dawson as Elaris.

These latest celebrity cast members join the voice talent from the successful Ratchet & Clank video game franchise: James Arnold Taylor as Ratchet, David Kaye as Clank, Armin Shimerman as Nefarious, and Jim Ward as Captain Qwark. Ratchet & Clank is directed by Kevin Munroe (TMNT) and co-directed by Jericca Cleland. Former Insomniac Games writer TJ Fixman wrote the original screenplay draft, with director Kevin Munroe contributing significantly to the script.

Ratchet & Clank tells the story of two unlikely heroes as they struggle to stop a vile alien named Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in the Solana Galaxy. Ratchet is the last of his kind — a foolhardy “lombax” who has grown up alone on a backwater planet with no family of his own. Clank is a pint-sized robot with more brains than brawn. When the two stumble upon a dangerous weapon capable of destroying entire planets, they must join forces with a team of colorful heroes called The Galactic Rangers in order to save the galaxy. Along the way, they will learn about heroism, friendship, and the importance of discovering one’s own identity.

Sony and Insomniac Games will release a re-imagined PlayStation 4 Ratchet & Clank game in April in tandem with the theatrical release. Foxhoven discusses this latest video game adaptation for the big screen in this exclusive interview.

What does Focus Features bring to the table for the theatrical release?

Focus is an idea partner — having done a fantastic job in managing the releases around Boxtrolls, ParaNorman and Coraline. They have a great understanding and respect for the game franchise, and the value of the fan base to the process.

How big a domestic release will the film get?

This will be considered a wide release. The exact amount of theaters has yet to be finalized.

Can you talk about the release date and what opportunity you see for this film in that window?

The reason why the film was moved into 2016 has to do with the release windows, and trying to maximize the time between competing films. April 29 gives us a solid amount of opportunity to be in theaters for as long as possible.

How will the film be distributed internationally?

CMG, an international sales company, is handing the overseas distribution for us. They have already sold the film in over 25 international territories in most major markets now. They are back in Cannes at the moment, locking down the remaining markets. Ratchet & Clank is set to be the most successful 3D animated feature for CMG since it started licensing independently produced animated features in 2004.

Who’s handling the home video release?

Universal Home Video.

How will you cross-promote the Ratchet film with Sony’s fan base?

The best thing that we are doing is aligning the PS4 game and the film. They are complementary stories and play off each other quite well.

With so many stories that have been told over the years, how did you decide on the plot of the film?

Our goal was to try to walk the line on creating a film that would both pay tribute to the fans who already knew and loved the franchise, as well as bring in a new generation of fans to the Ratchet & Clank world. At the core, this is an origin story for both Ratchet & Clank, and their first heroic journey together.

What do you think this CGI approach will bring to the video game movie genre, given that so many live action movies haven’t fared well at the box office?

We have the luxury of not having to worry about what actor will play Ratchet — he will look like he looks in the games (with some nice CG polish). He will sound like he is supposed to with James Arnold Taylor reprising his role. The challenge those live action adaptations have is trying to match audience expectations when they try to case a certain actor into the role. Thankfully, Insomniac gave us a killer set of digital assets to draw upon.

How important is it to have a game and movie out at the same time — a rarity in Hollywood these days?

I don’t think this is a necessity, unless it makes sense creatively. Meaning, the plot of both need to somehow support one another. We were in an advantageous position of having both PlayStation and Insomniac as part of the overall process. They were able to know how to develop a game that would follow the story of the film, but still have a unique voice. Typically a top tier game developer like Insomniac isn’t working on a film-based game. In our case, however, they were to the benefit of everyone involved.

What other games are you bringing to the big screen?

In addition to Sly Cooper, we have two others that are in the early stages of development/pre-production. One of them should be in a place to announce later this year.

Nintendo Brings Back The World Championships

Back in the late 80’s, Nintendo showcased its true devotion to gamers with the Nintendo World Championships, a gamer-friendly competition where players could prove their worth in games like Tetris and other titles, in the hopes of winning awards.

Sadly, that championship series has been dormant for 25 years – but fans should be pleased that Nintendo is bringing it back stronger than ever.

The publisher announced the Nintendo World Championships 2015 earlier today, as part of its overall plans for next month’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. The tournaments will kick off with preliminary rounds on May 30, before heading to the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles for the finals on June 14. Titles haven’t been confirmed for the competition just yet, but should be announced soon.

This is just the latest move by the publisher to “win back” its loyal audience, following its impressive sales numbers that were reported earlier in the month. The World Championships certainly hold value in their nostalgia, and that’s exactly what Nintendo is counting on.

“Whether you’re tuning in online or joining us at the show, we want to include fans of all ages this E3 with an innovative and nostalgic focus on fun,” Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s President and Chief Operating Officer, added in a prepared statement. “I’m especially eager to bring back the Nintendo World Championships and to crown the 2015 Nintendo World Champion.”

For those who are unable to attend the big event, Nintendo will hold a separate event at Best Buy locations on June 17 and 20, where people can check out the forthcoming title Mario Maker before it releases later this year. Those who attend will acquire a special 30 anniversary Super Mario pin as well.

Viewers will also be able to check out a special digital event that will air on Tuesday, June 16, and will highlight Nintendo’s forthcoming titles for the Wii U and 3DS systems for the coming year. Nintendo Treehouse: Live @ E3 will also air over the three days of the event, with various developers showing off titles that will be at the event.

Oh, and if that’s not enough nostalgia, Nintendo also released a fun little video, posted below, that features president Reggie Fils-Aime “working out” for the World Championships. His body is clearly ready.

Now Hiring This Week: May 13th

[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.

  • 2K Games – Product Manager (Novato, Calif.)
  • Red Bull – Partner Marketing Manager (Santa Monica, Calif.)
  • iHeart Media – Marketing Director (New York, NY)
  • Deep Silver – Senior Global Brand Manager (Larkspur, Calif.)
  • Sony Electronics – Associate Online Marketing Associate (San Mateo, Calif.)
  • Ayzenberg – Account Executive (Pasadena, Calif.)
  • Ayzenberg – Director, ION Business Development (Pasadena, Calif.)
  • Ayzenberg – Media Coordinator (Pasadena, Calif.)

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