E3: Nintendo’s Direct Approach To E3 Marketing

The press events traditionally held by major game companies at E3 are an important opportunity for multiple reasons. The event generates plenty of attention for your brand among consumers and in the industry, and hopefully creates anticipation for upcoming products and in the end increases sales. Of course, with all the attention comes endless analyses, declarations of who “won” E3, and opinions all over the place about how well each company or game did or didn’t do.

Into this charged atmosphere Nintendo is taking a different approach than other console-makers Sony and Microsoft. Rather than a large live, well-attended event that’s streamed to the audience all over the world, Nintendo delivers Nintendo Direct as a video presentation. The advantage to Nintendo is not only a much lower cost (staging a large event in Los Angeles costs millions), but more precise control over the presentation. Embarrassing glitches can be edited out, special effects can be added, and everything optimized for maximum effect.

Regardless of the choice of presentation method, what’s important is the content. From a practical viewpoint, evaluating these events should first be done on how well they set the company up to have a successful holiday season, and only secondarily how much longer term (2016 and beyond) excitement the company generated. Nintendo succeeded well on both criteria.

Nintendo’s in an odd position for the company, where it’s already announced that it’s working on new console hardware, yet trying to keep people interested in — and purchasing — it’s existing hardware. Nintendo did mention that it is working on mobile games, and new hardware called NX — then moved on to what’s exciting right now. The company certainly has a good lineup of software for the rest of the year for both the Wii U and the 3DS line, with Super Mario Maker coming out soon to let players create and share Mario levels, to the return of the smash IP Star Fox in Star Fox Zero. That one is well-timed for the holidays, and should help generate some Wii U sales.

Interestingly, Nintendo announced a partnership with Activision to bring some iconic Amiibo into Skylanders. It seems the toy/game hybrid market is big enough to include cooperation, and certainly kids will get a big kick out of mixing and matching some of their favorite IPs. It’s a smart way for Nintendo to get some more brand impressions out there, and for Activision to bring some of the Nintendo brand luster to its Skylanders line. Might we see a Disney Infinity connection in the future

Nintendo also provided plenty to look forward to in the future, with Metroid Prime returning next year along with a new Legend of Zelda title. In the meantime, though, there will be plenty of 3DS and Wii U titles to capture some holiday dollars

The interesting thing is to compare Nintendo’s presentation to Sony and Microsoft. Microsoft had some significant announcements, including backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games, the new Minecraft title for the HoloLens, a new customizable controller for both Xbox One and Windows 10, as well as a slew of upcoming titles both for this year and next. Microsoft seems to be much more intent on using its success as the PC gaming platform to boost the Xbox, and to bring some of the best of the Xbox to the PC. It’s some smart marketing

Sony generated tremendous excitement at its event, but that was most evident for the titles furthest away (in 2016 and even beyond). Closer to this holiday, Sony offered some exclusive content for the PS4, but on titles that you’ll be able to get on other platforms as well. They did not have as strong a lineup of exclusive titles for the holiday as either Nintendo or Microsoft, but then again Sony still has the lead in next-gen console sales.

Overall, Nintendo’s event stood out for its family-friendly focus. If you were looking to get something for the kids, or to get the kids excited, Nintendo had much more of that than either Sony or Microsoft. Nintendo offered some familiar IP in exciting new configurations, with a lot of it coming in the near future. That should help the company do very well this holiday, despite a rough competitive environment expected at retail.

Razer Exec Explains What X-Games And ESPN Has Done For ESports

At the recent X-Games Austin, which was the third X-Games to feature video game competition with Major League Gaming, Razer used the event and the extreme sports fans it attracts to market its line of PC gaming gear. Razer gave away Nabu X wearables to attendees.

Razer-sponsored Call of Duty team eLevate earned a bronze X-Games medal at the event. Razer also sponsored pro skater Tom Schaar, the first skateboarder to pull off a 1080 in a halfpipe. He earned bronze medals in the X Games Skateboard Big Air and Big Air Doubles events. Razer released a “Life is just a game” video featuring Schaar via social media.

Razer was the first company to sponsor a professional gamer in 2000 when it sponsored Jonathan “Fatality” Wendel with the Razer Boomslang, the world’s first gaming mouse that helped shape the 10-figure gaming peripheral industry. Today, Razer sponsors 27 teams and 270 competitive players in 33 countries worldwide.

X-Games Austin 2015 was also noteworthy because of ESPN2 airing the Dota 2 finals on TV. Call of Duty competition was seen digitally on ESPN3. Drew Holt-Kentwell, associate manager of global eSports at Razer, explains what X-Games and ESPN have opened up for Razer and all of eSports in this exclusive interview. 

What’s your background in eSports?

I started as a competitive Battlefield and Counter-Strike: Source player 10 years ago and was heavily involved in the ecosystem at large of the former — I captained the UK national side and went on to create my own team before running the ESL Nations Cup and becoming a part-time journalist for then Cadred.org {link no longer active}; during the same time I was also volunteering as an ESL admin. I moved on to join Reason Gaming, a UK-based team where I was brought on as Director of Marketing where I was handling sponsorships, social media, and business development. After that I joined Razer in July 2011, and that’s where I am today happily heading up our global eSports team. 

Why did you decide to join Razer?

It was an easy choice for me because Razer sponsored Reason Gaming at the time and I was already working closely with employees at Razer for sponsorship engagement. I knew Razer had been one of the early pioneers of eSports, and given Razer’s history in eSports and some of the plans it had for Team Razer, it was a challenge I knew I’d wake up looking forward to conquering every single day of the year. No regrets, and still as devoted and passionate as ever. 

What’s the perception of Razer among eSports fans? 

ESports fans have seen Razer involved in the industry for nearly as long as eSports itself has been around, and I think like us they’re just happy to see long-term to supporting and growing the industry on as many levels as possible. Fans are aware that we have and always will continue to work with the world’s best teams, players and events and we hope that fans can put their faith in us to inspire and pioneer eSports for a very long time to come.

Today we sponsor teams and events in nearly every major competitive title out there — some 300 professional eSports athletes from all over the world. These professionals have a direct impact on the lives of fans, and we hope that through the work we do with them that fans can also be inspired to get out there and help nurture the industry in the right ways.

How have you seen Razer products used by pros over the years?

It has been an incredible journey to see how Razer products have been shaped by feedback from our professional athletes, and in turn how some of their habits have changed over the years too, since the days of the Boomslang. In 2007 we built the Razer office in Korea solely for the purpose of testing with our professional teams and players that were based out there at the time — the feedback we received helped us build more accurate tools for them to dominate their trade, and in turn we could help the casual gamer or semi-competitive individuals improve their game too.

Today, our eSports athletes are integral to the testing of all of our products and initiatives, not just gaming peripherals. With the launch of the Razer Blade, Nabu X, Team Razer apparel, and software, pros are now part of a much bigger digital revolution, and we’re excited to have them with us every step of the way. 

What do you hope to bring to Razer’s eSports focus?

We want to continue to be pioneers for the eSports industry at large as we’ve done since 2000 and really lead the way on crafting the next crucial steps for eSports as a whole. We want to ensure that eSports is sending the right message to the general public around the world and attracting the right sorts of investors, teams, players and fans. Today the industry is growing at such a rapid rate that it’s even more important than ever before that we see professionalization among teams and managers especially, so we’d like to encourage proper legal practice, but also to encourage the right marketing and business practices among teams so that they can learn to develop and grow in the right ways themselves (and inspire others to do the same).

Above all we just want people to enjoy the passion, entertainment and friendships that eSports brings to millions around the world, and we hope that it continues to inspire many millions more for many years ahead. We’ll be there doing everything we can to make sure that happens. 

How have you seen MLG’s involvement in the X-Games evolve since last summer?

When MLG first announced its involvement in the 2014 X Games, I remember being a bit skeptical. I couldn’t imagine that MLG’s tournament was actually going to be integrated in to the extreme sports event. However, players were treated as athletes by the ESPN staff including the receipt of medals, the tournament received off-hours television broadcast time, and MLG’s event was a listed activity on any and all X Games program materials. In 2015, all of these elements of integration were taken a step further with ESPN taking a very hands on approach in building the “Gaming Shack”, an area of the X Games campus dedicated to gaming. This year’s X Games included two separate MLG tournaments, live event interaction between the professional gamers and extreme sports athletes, live television air time, and PA announcements updating the entire X Games venue of what was going on with the MLG tournaments. In both years, major strides were made for eSports as whole and we’re honored to have played a part in the latest iteration of the X Games. Â

How do you utilize social media to connect with the larger Dota 2 and Call of Duty fan base?

Social media is an incredible tool through which we can reach like-minded eSports fans. On a small scale we try to bring daily content to fans about the teams and players we work with, the events we visit, and some of the people we meet while working in the industry. It’s also a great opportunity to give people a spotlight into the lives of professionals — their daily routines, the places they live and train, what their parents are like, and how they deal with the pressure of the professional gaming lifestyle.

On a much bigger level we use social media to help our teams connect to the rest of the eSports audience at large. It’s a platform which they can use to grow and develop their own brands, and we’re always encouraging teams to make use of this. We try to run widespread campaigns with most teams through the year which allow fans to jump in and get involved, whether through competitions and giveaways to visit pros at events, or to win some of the actual gear the professionals use for themselves.

ESPN2 aired Heroes of the Dorm earlier this year and Dota 2 at X-Games. What role do you see traditional broadcast playing for eSports in the U.S. moving forward?

Traditional broadcast has a part to play in showing the mainstream audience what eSports is and how it’s changing today’s younger generations for the better. 205 million people watch eSports around the world, and it’s generating thousands of jobs — at developers and publishers, tournaments, professional organizations, and tech companies like Razer. Today, eSports is a $612 million market with plenty of opportunities — traditional broadcast can help bring these opportunities to the mainstream and help inspire eSports around the world.

As far as broadcasting events, it’s fantastic to see companies like ESPN step up and invest in the production of eSports. There’s a lot we can learn from traditional companies, on a technical and strategic level, about how to better broadcast competitive gaming.

What are your thoughts on the recent rise of Fantasy eSports and eSports betting sites and how this could help the growth of eSports?

Seeing the whole ecosystem grow is fantastic, and I think the introduction of fantasy eSports and betting sites encourage people to support the games they like to play and watch on a deeper level — people will be able to follow their favorite teams like never before, and it allows them to focus on teams they may not previously have been interested in as well. It adds an element of excitement and makes it more exciting to follow. It’s a great way to generate exposure for eSports at large.

Are there issues that gambling can open up at the player level once this business takes off and the money grows?

That’s always a concern in any sport, but we expect that if companies, tournament organizers and teams work together to implement the correct regulations that any wrongdoing will be minimized. At the end of the day players want to be the best they can, and their passion is competing on the world stage — we don’t think eSports fantasy or betting sites will change that basic instinct.

E3: For Ubisoft, A New ‘South Park’ Game and ‘Ghost Recon’ Reveal

Next in a day chock-full of press conferences and palpable excitement, Ubisoft’s event kicked things off at Los Angeles’ historic Orpheum Theatre. Ushering things along was the hilarious Aisha Tyler, lending the conference more levity than usual.

Ubisoft opens with a cinematic trailer for South Park: Fractured, But Whole and brings South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to the stage. The game is a sequel to last year’s popular Stick of Truth.

 

Xbox Delivers Exclusive Content To E3 Fans Right To Their Phones

E3 is where all the greats of gaming come together to see the latest and greatest in the industry. But even with three days, it can be tough to visit every booth, wait in line, and play every game that catches your eye. So how can Xbox, who is offering some of the hottest titles of 2015 and 2016, allow everyone who comes to their booth walk away with a totally unique and special experience

Deliver it right to their phones for consumption at their leisure.

Fans visiting the Xbox booth or following Xbox on Twitter saw the call to action to text a keyword: XboxE3, Halo, ROTTR (for Rise of the Tomb Raider), or Forza, to 55755 to get a text leading them to all the latest content and some exclusive goodies, too. No waiting in lines, no elbowing your way over to get a poster — just great content on your phone that you won’t see anywhere else.

The program, created and managed by Ayzenberg, Xbox’s social agency, is powered by Waterfall and This Moment technology.

E3: Xbox One Pulls Out All The Stops; HoloLens Dazzles

Xbox One Will Have Backwards Compatibilty

Microsoft knows what’s been on gamers’ wishlists for a while now: backward capatibility. Now it’s really happening. Your turn, Sony.

A Juiced Up Controller

The Xbox One Elite Controller brings customization and and sensitivity to your gaming experience. Price not yet announced. 

Rare Replay Brings 30 Games In One Package

Rare is back and this time they’re packing 30 games into just one package. We’re talking Battletoads and Pro-Am and newers ones like Perfect Dark and Blast Corps.

Minecraft Comes To HoloLens

If you’ve been wondering how games might look and play on the HoloLens, Microsoft just gave us an exciting sneak peek at the “future” of gaming at today’s press conference.

Advertisers Aren’t Taking Advantage Of Summer Rates On YouTube (Study)

by Jessica Klein

Though advertisers tend to shell out less money during the height of the summer, Divimove, a European MCN, found that YouTube views increase throughout July and August. Of course, the latter makes sense — when kids are out of school, they have lots more time to tune into YouTube content.

Why the first is the case harkens back, quite possibly, to traditional TV schedules. Since the networks assume that people are away on vacation, they figure that these people won’t be tuning into regular programming. The internet doesn’t require such regular viewing habits, hence YouTube creators’ summer success. In fact, Divimove data shows that people watch as much as 10 percent more online video in the summer, which goes up to 20 percent more when it comes to teenagers between ages 13 and 17.

 

Divimove summer ads study

 

Keep reading…

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E3: EA Showcases ‘Mass Effect,’ ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’ And More

EA’s afternoon press conference opened right away with the announce trailer for Mass Effect: Andromeda, which opened a little confusingly with Johnny Cash’s ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’. But all becomes clear when this frontier was slowly revealed to be a whole new galaxy.

 

EA let out yet another crowd-pleaser with an expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, which story/character-driven and BioWare-like than you’ve likely expected. On top of that, it’s free. Free!

 

 

Another yarn game No, it’s not Yoshi’s Woolly World, but a new IP, Unravel, whose main character, Yarnie, is on a big, big journey. The game is a puzzle platform, and from the looks of the gameplay trailer, is quite stunning.

 

 

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is coming with a co-op mode and a whole new look. This isn’t the Plants vs. Zombies you played when the popular game first debuted. This time the announce trailer and the gameplay reveal were shown at the same time, giving PvZ quite a bit of time during EA’s briefing.

 

 

EA’s ever-popular sports games get some gameplay love, too, starting with NHL 16 and then with NBA Live 16.

 

 

EA also gives some time to discuss a few of the mobile games coming out. One is, unsurprisingly, Star Wars-themed one. Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is a collectible mobile trading card game and should do well for EA’s mobile offerings.

Minions get their own mobile game, too! Stranded on an island, they are tasked with turning it into a paradise. Thus, the game is aptly called Minions Paradise. Meet Phil in this trailer:

 

Next up, EA returns back to sports to bring someone extra special to the stage to promote FIFA 16. It’s none other than Pelé.

For players of FIFA 15, EA surprises with some free stuff when they next check their account. One of the biggest things of note for this next installement of FIFA is that they are bringing women’s soccer players into the game. Certainly this will be a huge appeal to fans of women’s soccer.

 

Last, but certainly not least the the Star Wars Battlefront gameplay trailer that has been much-anticipated to say the very least. With all the hype and a trailer a good idea of how this game will deliver, it looks like a huge game for EA is in the offing.