Taco Bell Launches Gold PS4 Promotion

There’s been some pretty cool versions of the PlayStation 4 that Sony has produced, from the 20th Anniversary PlayStation 4 to the Metal Gear Solid V Phantom Pain Edition to the new Star Wars Limited Edition PlayStation 4. Now there’s a limited edition that you can only get if you’re very lucky and you like tacos. Meet the limited edition gold PlayStation 4 bundle, being given away every 10 minutes at Taco Bell from September 24 to November 4.

The bundle comes with a gold PlayStation 4 and a gold DualShock controller, both with black accents, along with a copy of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (which launches October 9). How do you get a chance at one of these beauties Gamers must “stop by [their] local Taco Bell and purchase any Big Box, and receive a unique code.” You then text that code to a special number, which will reveal whether or not you are a winner. If you don’t want to buy a $5 Big Box, though, you can mail in a request for codes, and after the first month of the promotion you can request a single code online.

Or, of course, you can plan on eating at Taco Bell regularly to get more chances to win a gold PlayStation 4. Which, of course, is exactly what the clever marketers at Taco Bell want you to do. Hasn’t it been a while since you’ve tried the Taco Bell menu Wouldn’t a gold PS4 look great under your TV Oh, yeah, it’s starting to work.

Scopely’s New SVP on How Big Data Can Boost Mobile Games

Scopely has been experience rapid growth publishing hit mobile games like Walking Dead: Road to Survival — Inc. Magazine named Scopely the sixth fastest-growing private company in California and ninth fastest-growing in the U.S. That growth has led Scopely to expand the management team. Financial technology veteran Steve Seoane has joined the team as SVP, Publishing Platform, bringing with him years of experience at large data-driven B2C companies including Capital One, LexisNexis Risk Solutions and LifeLock. Seoane will oversee the company’s analytics program to evolve the platform and utilize all data from its millions of users around the world to ensure the success of future titles. Seoane spoke with [a]listdaily about some of the complex issues ahead for Scopely and Seoane.

Steve Seoane

Your previous experience dealt with Big Data, but not in games. How do the challenges that Scopely’s user base present compare to what you’ve dealt with before

There are certainly some areas where the work I have done in the past is wholly applicable. The core challenges we face at Scopely are not dissimilar to those of any consumer product driven company. Questions like “How do we attract, convert, and engage consumers in a competitive environment” or “How do we deliver a personalized experience to millions of consumer that delights them on a consistent basis” These questions are core to all consumer product companies.

The consumers in gaming themselves are quite different in that they can be more fickle than in other industries and their switching costs are extremely low, particularly at the beginning of their game experience. This makes the stakes quite a lot higher at launch. The challenging paradox is that you have little information but have huge leverage at the launch phase of a game. This dynamic is one reason why publishers like Scopely add so much value to game studios and IP owners. The team we assembled have been a part of many of the most successful mobile games to-date and have backgrounds from gaming and entertainment companies ranging from Zynga, Kixeye, Storm8, GREE, EA and Kabam to Disney Interactive, Sony, Hulu and Warner Bros, amongst others. That incredible pool of talent has given us the tools, infrastructure and processes to specifically address launching and operating a game from inception, to execution and throughout the lifespan of the game.

There are also unique challenges and opportunities that are less about the players and more about the complexities encountered when you are essentially creating and managing whole digital worlds and economies. Many of the decisions we get to make are simply not possible in other industries. Where else do you get to create whole economies that are tailor-made for the experience you want the player to have To do this well, you have to use a whole range of analytical tools and techniques from diverse fields of study such as economics, behavioral economics, game theory and mathematical optimization. This can be as simple as basic heuristic segmentation and A/B testing to complex machine learning techniques like Support Vector Machines. This range of problems is quite appealing to decision scientists.

There’s been an ongoing discussion in the games industry about the proper balance between analytics and creativity when it comes to making games better. Obviously analytics can make a game better by showing you problem areas, but are there times when creativity should overrule data Is there a place where that line should be drawn, or is that something still to be determined

Definitely. Games at their core have to be fun and while there certainly are ways to structure games to deliver “fun,” it is a balance of creativity and data-driven approaches that result in the best experiences. One place where I have seen this combination unlock lots of value is when you need to move from one local optima to a higher global optimum within a product’s usage. We often don’t have data to envision and jump from one local optima to a second higher optima. In fact, often times the data-driven optimization work companies do to maximize near-term value keeps you from seeing the possibilities of a step change in the game. It takes judgment and experience to see these opportunities. One thing that was so appealing about Scopely was the deep bench of industry expertise that Walter and the team have accumulated.

Ethical game design is a hot topic in the industry and rightfully so. As far as where or even how to draw the line, I think of two guiding principles to this problem. The first principle I think of is channeling Warren Buffett who although is notoriously tech-phobic, does preach good common sense values like building businesses for the long term and treating your customers (players in our case) the way you would like to be treated. It turns out that building games that exploit customers is just not good for business. Building brands and businesses is about trust and respect in addition to fun. Great game teams and IP owners know this intuitively. The second principle I focus on is that the player gets to decide what their experience is like. It is our job to let them build their own personalized experience but not force them down a path. We use data and design to allow a customer to build a very personalized experience within our games.

Do you see a role for predictive analytics in helping Scopely choose which projects to pursue, or in shaping what features games may have as they are being designed In other words, what role should predictive analytics play at the beginning of the game design process

Yes, I do see a role at the conception phase. The data available is obviously quite different and therefore the tools used at this phase are very different “analytics” than people typically associate with data science. You aren’t going to use a boosting algorithm or something along those lines at this stage because you don’t have the outcome data to train your models. Market sizing work, evaluation of consumer and design trends, competitive analysis, financial modeling of economic drivers within game genres lead to an understanding of what items are critical to the success of a project. That of course leads to key design decisions early in the thinking of game construction. Applying the appropriate rigor is key to reducing the likelihood of bad outcomes. One thing that appealed to me about Scopely is the track record of doing this well. With the wildly successful launch of Walking Dead: The Road to Survival, which saw 4M downloads in a week and was listed in the Top 25 Grossing Chart you see the benefit of this competency at Scopely. The team here has a great track record with 6 consecutive #1 game launches and that doesn’t happen without some solid rigor.

What’s the biggest challenge facing you as you move into the games industry, and what’s the biggest opportunity

Without question, my biggest challenge is learning the industry. It is a big, rapidly changing, and complex space and I am lucky to have amazing resources at Scopely to allow me to rapidly come up the learning curve. I would also say, that the learning process is one of the things that appealed to me the most about Scopely. I am a naturally very curious and the chance to immerse myself in learning this space was a big selling point to me.

I think the biggest opportunity to me is bringing an outsider’s perspective into the industry and into Scopely. I spent the last 15 years in Fintech, consumer credit, fraud, and identity working with some of the biggest and most successful brands in the world in hyper-competitive markets. There is a deep expertise in applying both internal and third party data that I developed during that time and I hope to bring that to Scopely as we continue to deliver world-class analytics and data tools that allow game studios and IP owners to build amazing games that consumers worldwide love to play every day.

What’s your favorite game right now, and what type of games do you tend to prefer

Well, obviously Walking Dead: Road to Survival and Yahtzee with Buddies are my favorites!

But if I had to pick one other than our games, I would say that I have to pick two. The first is Clash of Clans because my kids play it. I have four kids and the older two are avid gamers. It is fun to participate with them in something that they love and the social connection you can get through play is a unique chance to connect as peers in a game rather than as the authority figure. It is humbling to get crushed by your nine-year-old son or your thirteen-year-old daughter!

If I am playing alone, I prefer casual games like WordBrain. I am super busy so a chance to quickly pick up a puzzle and solve it in between meetings or in line at the airport is like mind candy to me.

Facebook To Sell 100% In-View Ads

The voice of the advertiser has been heard by Facebook, as the social media giant is changing to a 100 percent viewability standard for Facebook ads, according to the latest report from Ad Age. The change will take place sometime later this year, but there’s no minimum requirement for how long an ad has to be on-screen before the advertiser is charged, according to a Facebook spokesman.

The 100 percent in-view buying option only applies to ads running in Facebook’s News Feed (the only place ads appear on mobile). The lack of a minimum time requirement means that someone could be scrolling swiftly through Facebook on their mobile phone (which seems to happen often) and then the advertiser would still get charged. The issue isn’t that important for some advertisers, though, who feel the viewability percentage is a much more important issue.

Facebook’s move brings it some kudos, though, as it does exceed the 50 percent viewability standard set by the Media Rating Council. Unilever, for one, was happy with the news. “It is very encouraging to see Facebook joining the ranks of digital media partners who are setting themselves apart — and this commitment continues the momentum,” said Keith Weed, Unilver’s chief marketing and communications officer, in a statement. “Our hope is that these steps will lead ultimately to 100 percent viewability through third party verification across the industry.”

Android Phones Can Soon Stream On YouTube

The battle between Twitch and YouTube for streaming supremacy is heating up, as YouTube aims to show that as the underdog it’s going to be aggressive at introducing new features. At the Tokyo Game Show, YouTube announced that Android phones will soon be able to stream live video onto YouTube. No date was provided, but the update is expected “soon.”

YouTube Gaming will be introduced in Japan soon via a YouTube Gaming app release for the country. This will take advantage of the huge and enthusiastic following for mobile games in Japan. “Japan’s mobile games define its gaming culture, far more so than in other countries,” says YouTube’s global gaming head Ryan Wyatt in a statement. “This trend shows there’s a real need for gamers to easily share what’s on their screen with the gaming community, as it happens.”

Android is a step ahead of iOS when it comes to game streaming, which is as yet not available for Apple devices. Meanwhile, YouTube is taking advantage of the popularity of mobile gaming in Japan to gain some mind share ahead of Twitch. We can expect YouTube Gaming to appear in other countries in the future, too. As mobile game streaming becomes more popular, this is going to become a very interesting area to watch. How will Twitch respond.

Newzoo eSports Q3 Report: Revenue, Audience Growth Continue

Newzoo has released the Q3 update to the “Global Growth of eSports Report,” the first ever comprehensive eSports report launched in January. Newzoo is publishing quarterly updates to keep its clients and the industry up to date on the latest trends and developments in the eSports economy. Based on recent research and analysis, Newzoo estimates a higher year-on-year growth rate for eSports revenues than previously anticipated. Revenues are now expected to reach $278 million in 2015, up 43.1 percent from 2014. The number of eSports Enthusiasts worldwide has also grown slightly more than anticipated, from 89.7 million last year to 116.0 million in 2015. The eSports economy’s growth is fueled by a stack of KPIs: growing global connectivity, awareness, audience, engagement and revenues per Enthusiast. Newzoo’s Global eSports Audience and Revenues Model combines a variety of data sources and validation methods to track all these KPIs to come to a realistic and clear understanding of why and how fast eSports is growing on a regional and global scale.

Online Advertising is Fastest Growing Revenue Segment

ESports revenues for 2015 are anticipated to grow by 43.1 percent to reach $271 million (compared to the previously expected growth rate of 29.6 percent). As mentioned in a previous post, Newzoo’s revenue estimates take into account the eSports crisis in Korea in the period 2008-2012, which impacted the global eSports economy as a whole and has been overlooked by other research companies. Online advertising is the fastest growing revenue segment, up 64.2 percent on a global scale compared to 2014. The North American eSports online advertising business is expected to almost double this year as more and more brands benefit from the enormous video content generated by eSports and the competitive gaming scene. Media rights will continue to take a higher share of revenues as the economy matures, pushing overall eSports revenues up to $765 million in 2018. The 2014-2018 Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of eSports revenues is 40.9 percent.

Occasional Viewers Evolving into eSports Enthusiasts

In 2015, the number of eSports Enthusiasts worldwide is expected to reach 116.0 million, a year-on-year growth of 29.3 percent. Of these Enthusiasts, 18.5 million are in North America, 16.8 million in Europe and 53.9 million in China. The majority of consumers that now engage with eSports more than once a month (eSports Enthusiasts) have migrated from the Occasional Viewer audience. In turn, Occasional Viewers show a 3% decline. Combined, this results in a 12.4 percent growth of the total global eSports audience. In 2018, the number of eSports Enthusiasts is expected to grow to 165.1 million.

Newzoo’s Global Esports Audience and Revenue Model

The methodology for Newzoo’s eSports data consists of three levels: 1) Data Input, 2) Predictive Modeling and 3) Result Validation. For Data Input, extensive primary consumer research across the globe sizes and profiles eSports awareness and engagement. Newzoo also continuously tracks and analyses company revenues, live event audience figures, prize money, and video content viewer data. In the graph below, for example, Newzoo’s Twitch data and Steam API data were used to track viewership and players during Valve’s multimillion dollar DotA2 event ‘The International’. Predictive Modeling uses parts of Newzoo’s Global Games Market predictive model, which consists of several complex databases combining numerous data streams, financial analysis, primary research, as well as population and economic census data. Result Validation is done in two ways: through additional research and by discussing findings with companies including game publishers, eSports teams, global streaming companies and local media companies.

‘Rocket League’ May Head to Movies, TV

Well, that didn’t take long. It was just in July of this year that Rocket League launched on PC and PS4, and the game notched five million downloads by the end of that month. In August, we found out the game had sold one million copies on Steam. The game has been a hit on Twitch, becoming the fifth-most-watched game on the streaming service. Now Psyonix is looking at offers to make the game into a film or possibly a television show, according to MCV.

Psyonix marketing and communications V.P. Jeremy Dunham told MCV that Psyonix has been approached by a number of companies and individuals about the possibility of bringing the excitement of Rocket League to a different sort of screen. There’s also talk about toys based on the game, which seems like a natural extension.

“We’ve had discussions with various people and studios in Hollywood about making movies based on Rocket League, or a TV show,” Dunham said. “We’ve had people come our way with possible toy deals and lots of cross-promotions outside of our game, some of which we have already done. Now we are getting to the point where the people who want to work with us are much much more famous. It’s crazy. The meetings that I have with new companies who I didn’t realize were Rocket League players it blows my mind. They’re still playing the game and are still interested in it. It makes us almost speechless, we’re wondering when it’s going to end.”

He continued: “There are many studios, agencies, creative people, directors and writers all from different places and saying this is something that could be really cool. Part of that process is wading through those kinds of things, finding out how many of them are legitimate or have the passion and then also weighing the idea of the game itself, about whether doing something like that would make the game better or worse. Right now it’s just at the discussion phase.”

It certainly seems like Rocket League is racing forward, and this expression of interest is another strong sign. Psyonix should take advantage of all the attention to keep the game’s momentum high as it. . . rockets upward in popularity. Will it come down to earth any time soon With luck and some savvy deals, Rocket League may well reach a sustainable orbit as a very successful game.

Adobe Introduces Dynamic Programmatic Ads

Adobe announced today that it’s adding what it calls Dynamic Creative Optimization, or DCO, to the Adobe Marketing Cloud, according to VentureBeat. The capability means that customized ads can be served up through a programmatic ad platform, and display ads can be customized on-the-fly to any group of users down to a single user, if so desired. Programmatic ads have already reached an all-time high, as we reported back in July. This technology should drive the category forward even further.

Adobe’s also added the ability for self-service of display ads in its Media Optimizer, along with new integration with anti-fraud service Integral Ad Science. That should help advertisers detect problems with viewability, traffic fraud , and brand safety.

The new Programmatic Platform represents a streamlining of the solution, director of product marketing Tim Waddell told VentureBeat. Adobe s ambition, Waddell said, is to take the notoriously complex and disparate pieces of the programmatic ad environment and integrate them into a relatively simplified, relatively transparent operation. It’s a vision that should help Adobe gain ground over competitors like Oracle’s Marketing Cloud and Google’s myriad capabilities in the ad space.

Survey Shows Strong Interest in VR

There’s plenty of anticipation for virtual reality products, now that the PlayStation VR has an official consumer name, Oculus Rift is holding a convention next week, and HTC/Valve’s Vive gear is getting closer. And let’s not forget more than million Google Cardboard VR viewers are already in place, and Samsung’s Gear is hitting stores before the holidays. Still, it’s good to see that there are actual survey numbers to back up the excitement many are feeling about the impending arrival of VR.

Virtual travel firm YouVisit surveyed 1,000 adults in the US through Google Consumer Surveys, reported Ars Technica. The results showed 11 percent of the respondents had tried VR, representing approximately 23 million people in the USA. There’s another 30 percent on top of that who said they are interested in trying VR at some point, making for 41 percent of the population. That’s pretty good, considering there’s no particular marketing effort behind VR yet.

Other interesting demographics revealed by the survey include the fact that VR interest skews younger, as you might expect 18 percent of the 18-24 age group has experienced VR directly, and 46 percent said they wanted to try VR. On the flip side of the age spectrum, only 14 percent of people over the age of 65 said they would like to try VR. Interest in VR is not as high among women, with 15 percent of men having tried VR and 36 percent more wanting to try it, while only 8 percent of women had tried VR and only 21 percent were interested in trying the technology.

That 41 percent having tried VR or being interested in VR represents a potential market of 86 million people in the US. That’s good news for the companies getting into VR hardware, and the far larger array of companies looking to create or utilize VR experiences. We’ll be watching carefully to see if that VR market turns out to be as real as the survey indicates.

Wargaming Comes to PlayStation 4

Wargaming has been very successful with World of Tanks on the PC, notching up over 100 million registered subscribers and a huge amount of revenue. Now, though, the company’s success has spread to other games and other platforms. World of Tanks has done well as the first free-to-play game on the Xbox 360, and now on the Xbox One. World of Tanks Blitz is generating good numbers on mobile. World of Warplanes is out on PC, and World of Warships launches soon. Now, CEO Victor Kislyi has announced at the Tokyo Game Show that World of Tanks is coming to the PlayStation 4.

Keith Anderson

GamesIndustry International interviewed Keith Anderson, Wargaming’s marketing and communications director for Europe, about the company’s latest moves. Anderson is particularly keen on the possibilities for World of Warships. “What we’re also looking at is opportunities to bring new players into the WarGaming family, and there’s many countries that didn’t have strong tank battalions during World War II, but had great navies, and we’re seeing uptake from these players,” said Anderson. “There’s something about images of the big ships from World War II that is just so iconic. The Warspite, the Bismarck, the Tirpitz, that’s attracting a new audience in too, so we’re really excited about that.”

Asked about how Europe performs when it comes to ARPU (average revenue per paying user), and Anderson has a ready answer. “We find that we have very healthy ARPU rates across Europe. World of Tanks as a game has been great for four years now,” he said. ” He went on to comment on Wargaming’s marketing approach to Europe. “For us Europe’s a very, very healthy market, it’s a vibrant market… What we’re definitely not doing is resting on our laurels. We’re driving growth very aggressively. We’ve engaged in two TV campaigns across Europe already this year, in twenty countries and in seven languages. We’ve got a massive Q4 TV campaign for Tanks planned. We’re working with YouTube Gaming right now, and investing very heavily in their new channel. And that’s not to say we’re not investing in the other channels at the same time, like Twitch, for instance. We are. It’s just that we’re always looking for new areas to grow, we’re looking for new areas to acquire new audiences.”

Anderson also talked about World of Tanks coming to Sony’s PlayStation 4. “As always, we will be adapting the game to meet the platform. So, in addition to making the most outstanding visuals on Playstation 4, we’ll have platform exclusive features, including complete dual shock controller integration,” Anderson said. “It’s a pretty awesome announcement for us to make, we’re very excited to do it. It shows our commitment to bringing our games to multiple platforms, to audiences wherever they’re going to be. In addition to that, World of Tanks on Playstation 4 will be free to play to all PSN account holders. So you will not require a Playstation Plus account to play World of Tanks.

“We’re doing exceptionally good business on the Xbox, on both the 360 and the Xbox One, but for us it’s really exciting to be engaging with Sony, to bring the game to the PS4,” Anderson continued.. “We will be having a few very good deals for PlayStation players when we make the announcement, they get a free premium tank with PS4 exclusive camo, they’ll get premium time if they’re a PlayStation plus holder when the game launches, all that kind of thing. Then for an exclusive limited time, we’ll also have two new maps on the PlayStation, which players on the PlayStation will be able to jump into and play first. So we’re very excited about this new partnership with Sony.”