MobileBeat 2015: Topics That Should Be On Your Radar

This is a sponsored post on behalf of [a]listdaily partner VentureBeat.

The hot novelty of smartphones has been replaced by a colder reality: businesses that don’t know how to successfully engage customers on mobile will soon lose them to a competitor who does.

It stands to reason when smart phone penetration is at 80 percent in the U.S. — or 90 percent for 18- to -35-year-olds. And while reaching the right customers, with the right story, at the right time has been the golden rule of marketing for decades, mobile platforms are the latest frontier where most of the attention is now spent — and the right time has now transformed into reaching customers at the right moment.

Now in its 8th year, MobileBeat 2015 will be taking place July 13 and 14 in San Francisco — and is the place to meet and learn from the digital executives who know how to successfully harness this new landscape. With VentureBeat’s commitment to objective research and news coverage, the event features only the best stories of growth on mobile, free from bias.

Fireside chats feature unscripted interviews of the top visionaries and leaders about their recent initiatives. Breakout panels dive deeper during candid conversations into more tactical considerations to demystify the tools and partners that perform best.

VentureBeat’s network is also unmatched and gathers top brands eager to master this new channel, along with high-growth startups bent on quickly dominating the app stores charts, savvy investors, as well as representatives from all the media who matter.

Here’s a sneak peak at the kinds of topics we’ll be exploring. Don’t wait to reserve your place! Register here.

Messaging apps, video ads and emerging formats for engagement

The web was only the first digital channel, and mobile was its first truly different iteration forcing business to revisit their stack all over. Once again and now on top of mobile OSs, emerging platforms are already showing tremendous potential for engagement if one learns their ropes. Learn how to reach silo-ed audiences that don’t watch TV nor click on banner ads yet are eager to engage with the right digital campaigns.

Attribution and conversion

Mobile revolutionized the accountability of marketing campaigns. The competition is so intense that each dollar spent must be accounted for and optimized, and benefits from the tracking and testing mindset inherited from the web are exacerbated on mobile. Learn how the best teams are constantly improving their products and campaigns, and leave the guesswork to their distant second.

Storytelling and conversation

Fortunately for us humans, no algorithm can successfully trigger and sustain growth even in the increasingly programmatic realm of mobile. Succeeding on mobile also takes the carefulness of social media, the creative acumen of TV advertising and the willingness to put users in the center that up until now was exclusive to the greatest brands.

Mobile-first growth-hacking

For businesses that don’t have stores nor an established brand, reaching the top of the charts and keeping their users engaged is everything, while they operate on tight budgets and a breakneck pace. Discover the tricks that enabled the top App Store sensations to reach their spot and remain there.

Mcommerce, retail and convergence

In line with the theme of attribution, retail brands now can see how their digital campaigns help drive their sales in store, and how to close the loop with a new breed of loyalty programs and integrated user journeys.

Finding the “Halo” moments

Never send the right message without also ensuring the timing is right. Data is there for the taking and automation platforms are plenty to make sure you are never caught advertising

Leadership in a changing landscape

Meet the leaders who own the most successful mobile products of this decade, and hear from the horse’s mouth how they structure their teams within the organization, which skills they hire, outsource, and how they get the job done.

We look forward to seeing you at MobileBeat. Register now to reserve your spot.

Maker Studios Launches Another Channel On Sling TV (With Exclusive Content)

by Sahil Patel

Dish Network’s web-based pay-TV service, Sling TV, has added another channel from Disney’s Maker Studios.

Called Polaris+, the channel is an extension of Maker’s gaming vertical, Polaris, which attracts more than 3 billion views per month on YouTube. On Sling, it will offer access to an assortment of gaming, pop culture, comic, and live-event programming starring top Maker Studios and other online personalities.

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.

E3: Twitch Draws Huge Audience Streaming E3 Announcements

A lot of trends are popping up at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo – plenty of nostalgia in the air with the return of such franchises as StarFox and Shenmue, and new games like For Honor and Battleborn getting plenty of attention – but there’s one that’s clearly evident. Twitch has no problem garnering a huge viewing audience for its streaming activities.

The channel, which has more than 100 monthly million viewers, has managed to draw some big numbers when it comes to streaming press conferences. In fact, all six major conferences were viewable live on the site this week, including Bethesda, Electronic Arts, Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft and Nintendo’s Digital Event.

According to numbers provided by the company, Twitch averaged at least 500,000 concurrent viewers for each of the conferences, with a couple of them even managing to get at least 700,000 and 800,000 viewers. Although specific company numbers weren’t given (publishers usually provide detail on audience numbers from its respective press conferences), it points out that when it comes to the E3 Expo, the world is watching.

Twitch has also provided a full streaming schedule from the event, with a number of publishers, streaming celebrities and others discussing the E3 Expo to some capacity. Although numbers weren’t provided with these individual segments, the variety has no doubt kept fans pleased, whether they were checking out a game that was on the way, or hearing about an upcoming favorite from one of their admired streamers.

It just goes to show that the company has come a long way in covering the event over the past few years, providing a more in-depth look at what happens on the show floor, as well as what titles are making an impact. It’s not alone either, as YouTube has attempted to enter the gaming arena with its own live coverage at E3 – something that Twitch was quick to playfully acknowledge.

Of course, the event is still worth attending live, but the fact that streaming has all the bases covered – and to a great extent – is a sigh of relief for those who aren’t able to attend, mainly due to monetary or time reasons.

Twitch continues its live streaming from the event today, and all the action can be caught here.

The Marketing Battle Ahead For VR

E3 2015 will be recognized as the point at which virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) became real for the industry. Sure, we still have a lack of solid ship dates and prices, and all of the major players seem to be aiming past the holidays. Yet look how far VR has come — the technology is working, consumer hardware is being shown, there are many VR games and other applications well under way. How real is VR getting? Check out the fairly significant expo floor area devoted to it. Oculus, Project Morpheus, and a host of smaller players are taking up an amount of room equal to one of the major players in the business, especially if you count the space devoted to VR in various publishers’ booths. VR and AR are coming to market.

Oculus Rift consumer edition

Yet there are major parts of VR and AR that have yet to be worked out. It’s clear that VR content will be digitally distributed, but by whom? What will be the cost of selling content on those platforms, and indeed what will be the pricing for VR content? Will free-to-play have any place? How will VR content be marketed? Who will be the audience?

Right now answers are in short supply, but we can start to see how the questions are being addressed. First, let’s look at the hardware. The Oculus Rift is refined and getting ready for its debut, and though we don’t know the price, we know that a basic system will cost around $1500 for a mimum PC and the Rift headset. Given the pricing of the hardware that Oculus specc’ed out, that’s around a $500 price point for the Rift — and essentially no current laptop will be able to drive it, though doubtless we’ll see some by the time the Rift ships next year.

Oculus Rift touch controllers

Just from what’s been shown, it seems likely that the HTC/Valve Vive system will probably be even more expensive, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Microsoft’s HoloLens and Sony’s Project Morpheus were all in the same range of $400 to $700. Essentially it looks like the first round of VR and AR hardware from the big companies will be more for early adopters, the hardcore technology and gaming fans who want the very latest.

There is, however, a growing array of lower-cost options for VR. Google’s Cardboard is only $20, and you can even make your own version for less. The Samsung Gear VR system is $200, but you have to have a compatible Samsung device (or purchase one). New entrants like MergeVR are offering a more reasonable pricing level of $129 and work with any smartphone, which will allow a wider audience to experience VR.

VR content was all around the E3 show, and it’s looking pretty good. The Assembly from nDreams is coming on Rift and Project Morpheus, and it’s an interesting adventure that unfolds as you experience its immersive setting of a secretive laboratory complex with sinister motivations. Talking to those and other developers, though, there’s no consensus on the length of VR experiences nor on the pricing. “We’re all experimenting,” said one developer. “No one knows what the right answers are.”

We know that Oculus will have its own VR app store, and so will Valve as part of Steam, though the terms and conditions aren’t yet specified. VR systems that use smartphones at their core, such as the Gear VR, MergeVR and Google Cardboard, will be using the Google Play store and Apple’s App Store (Google now supports iOS with Google Cardboard, too). It’s likely the new VR-specific app stores will take a 30 percent cut, similar to current mobile app stores.

Clearly, developers are expecting VR apps to be premium priced. “Free-to-play only makes sense when there’s a huge installed base, and we won’t have that for a while,” said one developer. As to what the premium price might be, that’s not clear yet. Probably smartphone-based VR apps will be in the $2 to $7 range, but it’s quite reasonable to think that longer VR apps for expensive VR systems will be more similar to current console game pricing than mobile game pricing. We’ll probably see a big range of prices initially, and consumer response will determine which price points end up as standards.

nDreams’s The Assembly

When it comes to marketing VR and AR applications, the field faces a distinct problem: You can’t effectively show VR on an ordinary screen. The experience is something that you have to try for yourself, as depictions and descriptions in other media fall short. Marketers are going to need to get creative in order to reel in customers. There’s plenty of interest in the technology, but that’s a far cry from making a purchase, especially when that purchase will be in the hundreds of dollars.

Marketers will be using influencers to help convince people that this technology is indeed worthwhile, and worth trying out. Perhaps simple, inexpensive VR devices like Google Cardboard may be used to provide a taste of VR, but the challenge will be to explain how your $500 device is that much better than the $20 device… or, perhaps, that the experiences aren’t really comparable to any great degree.

Finding a way to give people an experience with your VR hardware is clearly the best sales tools, and we’ve already seen how companies are working to make this happen. Oculus is moving people through its E3 booth as best it can, but there are always long lines. Will there be kiosks in retail stores Demos at conventions and public gatherings There’s going to be plenty of experimentation when it comes to marketing.

One thing is clear, though. VR and AR have had billions of dollars spent already by companies like Facebook, Google, Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung to bring the hardware to market. These companies aren’t going to let the hardware investment go to waste by stinting on the marketing budgets. When these devices start becoming available to consumers, there will be some massive marketing expenditures to drive adoption and outpace the competition.

E3: Harmonix Brings Music To Virtual Reality

Harmonix is having a wild time at Electronic Entertainment Expo this week, with hundreds of attendees checking out its forthcoming sequel Rock Band 4, sitting behind a number of plastic instruments and strumming, drumming or singing along to favorites. However, an even bigger innovation is coming from the company very soon, as a new program called Music VR could change the way users listen to music – by helping them visualize it.

Of course, Harmonix is no stranger to utilizing a spectacular visual style surrounding a musical experience, as evidenced by previous releases in the Rock Band series (namely the artistic The Beatles Rock Band) and the forthcoming Amplitude for PlayStation 4. But Music VR takes a step into an even more virtual experience, utilizing Sony’s Project Morpheus to create worlds on the fly based on music.

Jon Carter, designer for Harmonix, recently detailed the project in a recent post on PlayStation Blog, explaining just how much it innovates utilizing a virtual headset. “It takes any song you give it and generates a unique, musically-driven event sequence,” he explained. “The resulting experiences range from subtly magical to outright psychedelic, depending on the world you select. Sometimes fireflies show up to compliment a relaxing melody, and sometimes stars descend to engulf you in synesthetic spirals of color. It’s definitely weird. And as the title’s creative lead, I couldn’t be happier about that.

“We have a long history of making music games, but how much would we have to relearn to make quality VR ” he continued. “Additionally, we recognized that with Morpheus, Sony was about to provide one of the most thoroughly immersive platforms in the history of technology, and we couldn’t wait to use that immersion as an aid for musical appreciation. I mean, when was the last time you sat down and just listened to a record I’ve heard that people did that back in the 70’s, but if you’re like me and most people I know, you most often consume music as an activity enhancer – livening up your commute, making exercise less horrible, etc. Just sitting still and listening tends to make us 21st century multi-taskers kind of restless and distractible. But music provides so much worth focusing on and appreciating!”

The game was previously demoed with a different virtual headset at the company’s booth at PAX East in Boston a couple of months prior, with outstanding results – even with the surrounding hype of the then-announced Rock Band 4.

“Traditional, old-school music visualizers are many and varied, but all of them were limited to a 2D screen and the use of real-time audio spectrum analysis,” said Carter. “With Harmonix Music VR, we have control over every aspect of your surroundings, using our internally-developed, amazingly effective song analysis voodoo. We still use real-time data, but we can also look at the entire song, break it into sections, identify specific drum hits, and even categorize the feel of song sections to drive the visual and environmental transformations.”

A release date hasn’t been given on the project, but it could arrive when Sony’s Morpheus hits retail – and that’s good news for anyone who’s tried to recreate “Margaritaville” in a virtual world.

The trailer can be found below.


E3: A Classic Returns With ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’

For years, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a financial success for Activision, starting with the original game’s launch in 1999 for Sony PlayStation, and followed by subsequent sequels that expanded on the formula. The series, developed by then-thriving studio Neversoft, became a big hit with fans, as they could build together tremendous point-based combos by chaining together tricks based on real skater activities, like grinds, grabs and manuals.

However, in an effort to get in on the motion gaming craze that shuffled in with Nintendo’s Wii console, Activision changed the series around with the debut of Tony Hawk Ride in 2009, featuring a board that players could use to mimic in-game actions. Unfortunately, the game was a bust, selling only 114,000 copies in its first month, and receiving some of the worst reviews for a Tony Hawk game yet. Activision tried again with Tony Hawk: Shred a year later, but similar results came, mainly due to high pricing and low game quality.

This proved one thing – you shouldn’t mess with a successful formula. And it appears Activision learned its lesson from that, as the company has returned to form with the upcoming Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, which will debut this fall for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and later in the year for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

As with other successful games in the series, Pro Skater 5 “gets it right,” going back to the combo-building trick-based style of earlier releases – something the fans have been greatly clamoring for. The developers at Robomodo are following the old style that Neversoft introduced long ago, putting tricks in the hands of fans while introducing some interesting new components that they’re sure to grasp onto.

These including community-based features like online multiplayer, where friends can take part in competitions to see who’s the best skater around, as well as customization tools, like creating their own skateboarder to stand alongside Hawk and company. In addition, a “Create-a-Park” feature enables the building of a dream skate territory, then sharing it online for others to try, and experimenting with new creations that are made by others. Activision already intends to back this feature with plenty of support.

But, most importantly, the gameplay is vintage Tony Hawk. During a hands-on session with the game, we discovered the ease of executing the moves of old, although a couple of new features do make things a bit more interesting this time around. A “special” meter can once again be filled up, enabling players to execute special tricks (like Tony’s signature 900 spin) with the press of a button. In addition, a new “slam” feature makes it easy to land a trick, even when a skater is coming off a ramp and headed for what appears to be a “bail” (or a crash, in this case).

Activision appears to have learned its lesson from the ride-based Tony Hawk games, instead sticking with something that’s sure to be grasped in the community with ease. And it’s not the only franchise that’s going back to basics. Transformers, Hasbro’s popular toy line, will also return to games, but this time reverting back to the classic 80’s series with the action-packed Devastation. That game, shying away from Michael Bay’s cinematic style that Activision had been using in games for years, will release later this year for multiple consoles.

And in case you missed it, Guitar Hero Live is due for a comeback this October as well.

With the publisher, it appears what’s old is new again – and sure to lead to big sales.

Gameplay for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 can be found below.


PewDiePie May Be King Of YouTube, But BuzzFeed Rules Social Video

by Jessica Klein

You can always look to subscriber numbers to see who’s the most popular creator on YouTube (yes, PewDiePie continues to hold onto the number one spot when it comes to individual creators), but don’t forget that video has become a central part of other social platforms, as well.

What with the likes of Twitter and Facebook making changes that increasingly accommodate their video watchersTubular Labs has decided to take a look at the performance of media brands and creators across multiple social video platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine. The video measurement company aims to provide a regular chart of cross-platform performance for the digital video industry, appearing with fresh stats on a monthly basis.

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.

E3: Mobile Mayhem Emerges With ‘Minions Paradise’

Electronic Arts had no problem showing its might on the Electronic Entertainment Expo show floor this week, with a variety of titles set for release over the next year, including the incredibly popular Star Wars Battlefront and upcoming sequels like Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2.

However, tucked away in a small corner of the company’s booth was its mobile division, where it showcased upcoming sports games like Madden Mobile and FIFA. The real highlight, though, came with the debut of a new free-to-play game that’s sure to be a hit with kids and casual audiences alike – Minions Paradise.

This release ties in with the forthcoming animated film Minions from Universal, which will make its debut in theaters next month. The prequel follows the adventures of the gibberish-talking assistants who find themselves supporting a new client, a female villain voiced by Sandra Bullock.

For their game debut, Minions Paradise introduces an open-world dynamic where players can unlock new activities on a tropical island, bringing in new minions to help out with menial tasks, such as resourcing materials like bamboo and breeding piranha (with the help of a turkey on a fishing lure, of course).

The game is set up on a very fair structure, with the option to buy secondary items with real money, but also opens up a number of fun activities, such as taking part in a water skiing mini-game or watching the minions react to any given task, such as one causing an accident with another when he accidentally harvests one of his bamboo walking stilts.

Mike Rasmussen, the general manager on the project, explained to us how Minions Paradise came into fruition. “This is a really close partnership with Universal and Illumination Entertainment, and what we did is we just came to them and said what we think our players want to do is have close interactions with the Minions,” he said. “We think they want to have the ability to see the Minions’ animations in almost everything that they do. So they really liked that idea and worked very closely with us to see all the animations in the game. They were very involved.”

“It’s a very close partnership, for sure,” he added.

Rasmussen also touched upon the open world, which gets even larger depending on what progress players put into the game. “That was part of the game from the very beginning,” he said. “It was about immersion. In fact, we talked about how one of our core points was Minions, Minions, Minions. They are coming to this game to play with their Minions, so we must deliver on that, or we fail. It’s about immersion into this amazing universe that Universal and Illumination have created.

The Minions have already begun taking over the world, as Paradise is already out in some foreign markets. It will release in other markets soon, which gives fans plenty of time to finish up that tiki bar before they take over.


E3: A Virtual Return To The ‘Battlezone’

Seeing older games resurface at E3 is nothing new, especially when it comes to this year’s show. Nintendo brought back an old favorite in a new light with StarFox Zero for the Wii U, and Microsoft announced a celebration of older releases from Rare Ltd. with the forthcoming Rare Legacy, which will release for Xbox One this August.

However, the developers at Rebellion may have the most attention-getting revival at Sony’s booth this week, as the developer has announced that it’s bringing back Atari’s classic tank arcade game Battlezone for the Project Morpheus.

It’s a curious announcement, mainly because many didn’t believe that a new virtual reality-based game could be inspired by an 80’s classic like Battlezone. Alas, it seems virtually perfect for the headset, as players can immerse themselves in a futuristic landscape, blasting away at foes using the sheer firepower of an armored tank.

“Project Morpheus and virtual reality gaming marks a new and exciting shift in gaming tech. E3 is a celebration of incredible artistry and creativity so it’s only natural that VR plays an important part at this year’s show,” said creative director and co-founder Jason Kingsley in a PlayStation Blog post. “But E3 is also mainly about the future of games, and sometimes we just need to take stock and look at gaming’s past. The industry may not be as old as film, theatre, and other arts, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect our cultural heritage!”

He went on to explain how the original Battlezone created an ideal playfield for virtual reality, since it created a 3D space that, at the time, was unheard of for most arcade games. (After all, it comes from an era where the likes of Pac-Man and Asteroids managed to dominate on a clear 2D level.)

“Players looked into the game world from the perspective of a tank commander by using a periscope viewfinder built into the unit. Combined with the game’s pseudo 3D graphics, Battlezone is now considered by many as the first ever virtual reality game,” said Kingsley. “It was both rudimentary and revolutionary. The isolation from the world around you, the perception of depth and “being” in that world — even a simple one — was like nothing else at the time. And without Battlezone and that sense of wonder and unlimited possibility, Chris and I might never have started making our own games, or formed Rebellion.”

The game will feature plenty of unique battle tactics, while at the same time paying tribute to the arcade classic that started it all. “If we can capture the same revolutionary thrill of the original Battlezone for a whole new generation of gamers, then we’ll have done gaming history proud,” added Kingsley.

For those in attendance at E3, the game is available for a “heads on” test drive. As for everyone else, it should make its debut at the same time as the Project Morpheus headset, although a release date hasn’t been given just yet.

Ubisoft: Taking Risks to Expand the Market

Ubisoft had the most star-studded E3 event, featuring Aisha Tyler as the emcee, and bringing out at various times Matt Stone and Trey Parker (for the new South Park game, Fractured But Whole), Angela Bassett (appearing in Rainbow Six: Siege) and singer Jason Derulo to get the crowd excited for Just Dance 2016. But the newest entry in the Just Dance franchise didn’t really need someone on stage to be big news, because Ubisoft had some really big news to announce about Just Dance: You don’t need to have a camera accessory or motion detection on your console to play it any more, just a smartphone. That’s really big news, because it opens up the already successful franchise to millions more potential players.

Opening up new market possibilities requires taking risks, though. In some ways it makes marketing both harder and easier. It’s nice to be able to say you have new features or even a whole new product because people like things that are new. However, marketing new things means you may have to find ways to reach new market segments or convince people that they really need this new thing. The convergence of smartphones and consoles is an interesting area for innovation, and it’s certainly a risky one.

Ubisoft’s vice president of digital Chris Early spoke with [a]listdaily about Ubisoft’s risk-taking and where it can lead.

Ubisoft’s announcement that Just Dance 2016 won’t require a Kinect on your Xbox One or Move controllers on your PS4 seems like a huge thing, but it doesn’t seem to have gotten much attention yet. What does it mean to you?

It is a huge announcement, and you’re right, I don’t think many people got it. It really harkens back to two things. You know us as a company, we take risks. Making a smartphone work with a console is a hardware risk, and it’s something that we dug around in for a while. It took a while to get it to a place where it worked well and it synchronized well. As we were working on Just Dance Now, which is the fully mobile version of Just Dance, that’s when we perfected using the smartphone as a controller. Then we realized we could take that back to the console as well. That type of risk on the hardware side is something we’ve done with Kinect, with Wii and Wii U, and we’ve done that along the way. That risk is also there for much of our IP. I think we break more new IP than any other company. At some level, that’s kind of a dangerous position to be in as a publisher. You’re making a huge investment each time you develop an IP, and we’re thinking ‘How do we make an IP that’s a franchise ‘ It’s not just a one-time thing. It’s not lightly that we go into creating Watch Dogs or Assassins or Just Dance or anything. Maybe it works, and maybe it doesn’t along the way.

Isn’t the biggest risk for a game publisher, though, to take no risks If you just create sequels to the same game on the same platform in the same way year after year, eventually you will get caught out by a transition to a new game or a new platform, won’t you?

You’re right, it’s far riskier to just sit still and rest on your laurels. That said, I don’t think there are other companies that are taking the kind of risks that Ubisoft takes. You’ve looked at some of the things we’re doing with some of our franchises to extend them, like with Rabbids the combination of a theme park and VR. Trackmania has a Morpheus connection. We’re trying to figure out how we make games in this space. We’re not waiting.

Of course, you’re still moving forward with your big franchises, though.

We’re not going to stop making Assassin’s Creed while we experiment with VR. We have Yves [Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft] to thank for this. He’s always encouraging the creative aspect of the dev teams. Not just the game creativity, but the freedom to try new things as well. Hardware, mechanics, engines… That’s what led to the Just Dance franchise, which sprang from a mini-game on Rayman. Now it’s the #1 music franchise in the world.