What Millennials Are Willing To Pay For Entertainment

Millennials are to digital marketers to what baby boomers are to geriatrics — they’ll forever be linked like mac and cheese.

The demographic is so prevalent, the White House released a 49-page report last year titled “15 Facts About Millennials.” You know you have staying power when the government produces a headline-optimized sermon targeted right at you.

Discovering unique methods to reach Generation “Netflix and Chill” with tactics that actually work is when marketing professionals earn pay dirt. After all, adults ages 18-through-34 total $1.3 trillion in annual buying power, yet, still rather rent, share and barter than buy. Use trumps ownership, and getting them to change their ways is proving to be a tall task as they largely ignore traditional and online advertisements. So how can marketers make the most and capitalize on the demographic?

For one, big brands such as Royal Caribbean (patrons riding zip lines/chefs cooking meals on its ships) and BMW (24-hour teaser of the M2 coupe) are livestreaming via Periscope. “There is an authenticity to this kind of campaign,” said Kara Wallace, the cruise operator’s vice president of North American marketing, per Reuters. “This is going to be the future of marketing.”

There are many brand-building ways to use Twitter’s video app, allowing marketers to share news, provide product demonstrations, conduct remote focus groups and building personal relationships. Plus, Periscope is free — and that’s a universal world everyone gravitates toward.

But that doesn’t mean premium content and entertainment can’t come with a dollar sign. Millennials living stateside are willing to pay for entertainment. According to a recent survey from the American Press Institute, between news and entertainment, 78 percent of Generation Y pay for at least one type of entertainment service (movie, video games, cable, music and TV downloads) compared to 40 percent who pay for news.

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Christine Barton, a senior partner at Boston Consulting Group, told Yale Insights that “millennials are not the primary spend or the primary customers of every sector.”

“If you think about the way that marketing used to work, it was much more of a linear relationship,” she said. “Today, it is much more of what I would describe as an ecosystem. You see over time the sectors they are impacting. You also see the sectors that see them coming and know that they have to foundationally change their product, or service, or value proposition — and they’re starting to prepare for that.”

Deciphering the code to break into the first digital generation’s coffers remains great. Authentic content and empowering products will only ease those efforts.

Six Brands Already Leveraging VR With Apps

With the recent release of the Samsung Gear VR, coupled with the increasing promotion of Google Cardboard which both allow you to have virtual reality experiences by dropping your phone into display devices, we’re officially entering into the era of virtual reality technology. Although high-end headsets like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR won’t be commercially available until next year, low-cost mobile powered devices can provide a taste of what’s to come. Here are some of the biggest promotional apps that are sure to pave the way for the months ahead.

Star Wars App

While there are dozens of mobile VR apps to choose from, none wield The Force like the Star Wars app will. Updating with VR content on Dec. 2, the adventure represents a partnership between Disney, Google and Verizon to promote Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will include a serialized experience that ties directly in with the movie. This, in addition to the bigger Google promotion, where users can choose the Light or Dark side, and their entire Google experience from Gmail to YouTube is customized accordingly. The Force is strong here.

The North Face

The outdoors clothing company fully embraced VR in a number of surprising ways, which is hardly surprising given how the company wants to gear you up for extreme experiences. In a partnership with Jaunt, its promotion is based on sharing experiences like rock climbing and visiting remote parts of the world from the comfort of home. Perhaps these experiences will inspire audiences to go out and have some real world adventures of their own. Other clothing brands have gotten the same idea, with companies like Tommy Hilfiger using the Samsung Gear VR at select retail locations to give viewers a front-row seat at the Hilfiger Collection fashion show.

Just Cause 3 Wingsuit Experience

Although video games and VR go hand-in-hand, the promotion of Just Cause 3 took a different view with its promotion. The open-world action game isn’t designed for virtual reality. Square Enix created The Wingsuit Experience, which uses Google Cardboard to give audiences a bird’s eye view of the world and explosive destruction while gliding around in a wingsuit. It’s a breathtaking experience that sets players up for the actual game, which releases on Dec. 1, and those lucky enough to pre-order the game from Tesco Direct got a custom Google Cardboard for free.

Mockingjay, Insurgent, Warcraft and Other Movies

Fantastic worlds, especially dystopian ones like seen in The Hunger Games and Divergent movies, are great to watch but you wouldn’t actually want to go there … unless it’s in virtual reality. That’s where apps like Mockingjay VR and Insurgent: Shattered Reality come in. Both promote their respective movies by taking audiences to these dangerous sci-fi worlds with 360-degree viewing experiences. Fans can visit iconic locations, and in the case of Insurgent, see the world through the eyes of a character as she goes through her own adventure. Other movie promotion VR apps include Insidious VR, which promoted last June’s horror movie, Insidious: Chapter 3. Then there’s Legendary VR, which showcases a number of inside-movie experiences, such as stepping into a Pacific Rim Jaeger (a giant robot), or riding a gryphon over Stormwind City to promote the upcoming Warcraft movie.

Netflix VR

The Netflix VR app takes meta to an all-new level. Using the app, viewers can watch movies and television streamed to their Samsung Gear VR from a luxurious virtual living room, complete with monster sized Netflix branding and a 110-inch television, all from the comfort of your (presumably) less impressive living room. Given time, perhaps more environments will become available for the app. In the meantime, other streaming services like Twitch, Hulu, Tivo and many more will be releasing their own Gear VR apps, all with varying features and functionality, ensuring that your home will always be the coolest place to be.

AltSpace VR

The online social meeting space is still in its beta testing phase, but it will soon become a virtual destination for likeminded people to come together, communicate and even get in a few games of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s being developed for a number of platforms, including the Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or plain old computer monitor screen. While it’s still a work in progress, there’s a great deal of marketing potential around this kind of virtual meeting space, including setting up themed rooms for movie and game promotions.

Digital TV Viewers Multi-Task While Watching Live TV

While the fight between TV and streaming services continues with a majority of advertising dollars leaning toward the latter it appears that there’s one definitive choice when it comes to what consumers utilize with multitasking.

According to TiVo research, more digital viewers multitask with live TV than any other given format. Per eMarketer, 53 percent of those polled indicate that live TV is the key choice to use while multitasking, followed by 28 percent with time-shifted TV and 19 percent with over-the-top or streamed content, including Hulu and Netflix.

The main reason for TV being the main choice is pretty simple: commercials. A majority of streamed content doesn’t utilize advertising (save for Hulu and other select channels), while regular TV still relies on it greatly in terms of revenue and sponsorship.

As far as how often these viewers multitask when it comes to TV programming, 44 percent stated that they do it nearly every time that a commercial comes on while 40 percent indicated that they do it sometimes; 12 percent do it every single time a commercial airs. Regarding what activities viewers take part in when it comes to multitasking, TiVo reports that the top choice was eating, as indicated by 76 percent of the audience, followed closely behind by sending text messages with 69 percent.

Because of its lack of commercials, Netflix has become a preferred choice for some viewers, since the current model of the service doesn’t use them (at least, for the time being). Of course, original programming like Jessica Jones certainly doesn’t hurt either.

So what can marketers and companies do to turn the tide? A big part of the solution lies in changing around how it caters to consumers with ads. Some companies go all out with catchy ad campaigns including some that get their start with big events, like the Super Bowl and avoiding the pitfalls of stale commercials. However, it’s hard to see what companies will take the initiative and try new things with their advertising.

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SuperData October 2015 U.S. Digital Game Sales

Worldwide digital games market has seen a significant increase, rising 7 percent year-over-year to a total of over $5.5 billion dollars.

Fallout 4, which managed to earn over $100 million in digital revenue within its first three days of release, is of the bigger success stories in the industry right now. That ties in with its overall sales numbers, which cleared over $750 million.

Although not everyone saw success over the month’s popular MMO DOTA 2 managed to drop out of the top five due to a number of bugs and a lack in tournament play — there were many interesting new venues that could lead to some shake-ups in 2016. These include Nintendo entering the mobile game market, as well as Tencent vowing to give the growing virtual reality market a try, which could lead to a $5.1 billion increase in 2016. Those are broken down into more detail by Van Dreunen below.

The top-selling digital titles by category for the month are as follows:

FIFA 16 continues to show dominance on consoles, while Grand Theft Auto V still has great presence even a year after its release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Meanwhile, League of Legends and World of Warcraft still have heavily popularity and DoubleDown Casino is still the top dog on the social front.

ResizedImage600343 Chart 1130Van Dreunen also provided a number of observances from the report:

The worldwide digital games market hits $5.5B, up 7 percent year-over-year

In the lead-up to the holiday season, total digital games sales hit their highest point for the year so far. With the exception of pay-to-play MMOs, all segments managed to grow their revenue. Digital console revenues rose 14 percent year-over-year to $375 million, driven in particular by a spending increase in North America. The growing install base for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One drove digital console earnings by 41 percent. Global digital PC earnings were up 6 percent, totaling $622 million, as gamers in Asia pushed sales by 53 percent, proving themselves more accustomed to purchasing full PC games upfront. The size of the global mobile gaming audience maintains its momentum: the total monthly active users was up 13 percent year-over-year, totaling 2.3 billion in October. As emerging economies like India open up to mobile gaming, the growth curve behind average spending is slowing, increasing only 7 percent to $2.1 billion.

Bugs and a tournament hangover cause Dota 2 to drop out of top 5. FIFA 16 dominates

Valve’s popular DOTA 2 saw a decline in revenue and player numbers fell for the second straight month. Bugs have been pestering the game since its latest update, cooling audience excitement together with a comedown following the all-time-high around The International 2015 tournament. This rare moment of weakness allowed Nexon’s Maplestory to take DOTA 2’s place, knocking itout of the five top-grossing free-to-play MMOs. Expansions for Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, allowing both games to move up in their respective segments. As publishers held off on major new releases until late October and early November, legacy tiles with strong additional content sales won out on PC and console. EA’s FIFA 16 earned 52 percent of its October digital revenue from additional content, and strong sales of FIFA Ultimate Team card packs also boosted the year-old FIFA 15, earning it a spot on the top-five digital console titles.

Fallout 4 earns $100 million in digital revenue its first three days on the market

Bethesda’s hotly anticipated game launched on Nov. 10, selling 1.87 million digital copies in three days, with 1.2 million of those copies were on PC. As Bethesda managed to cultivate enthusiasm among an enthusiastic community of modders, a slew of mods further drove the success of the title. On launch day, the game had 440,000 concurrent users on Steam, a record for any game not published by platform owner Valve. The game’s success is proof that PC gamers are willing to spend $60 on the right title and do not exclusively wait for deep discounts.

Nintendo places first bet in pursuit of $6.2 billion Japanese mobile games market

In Miitomo, launching in March 2016, players create a Mii avatar that answers friend’s questions and interacts with other’s Miis. Most expected the first game from the Nintendo and DeNA partnership to be a mobile version of one of Nintendo’s best-known franchises. Miis are in fact an extremely recognizable Nintendo IP for the audience the company most needs to win back: Casual Wii and DS users who later moved on to mobile games. Miitomo is a natural fit for Japan, where local messaging app LINE is ubiquitous. Japan’s mobile games market is the highest grossing in the world, making the territory an ideal place for focus before Nintendo develops mobile games with more international appeal.

Overwatch is coming to consoles but won’t be free-to-play

Blizzard’s upcoming first-person shooter will not follow in the footsteps of the publisher’s free-to-play Hearthstone: Heroes of WarCraft and Heroes of the Storm. Instead, the game will start at $40 on PC and $60 on PS4 and Xbox One when it launches next year. Free-to-play games on consoles are still few and far between, so rather than venture into uncharted territory, Blizzard is opting for guaranteed revenue by charging upfront. While the premium model will limit the game’s audience at launch, Overwatch still has the potential to be a top-tier eSport. Of the five games with the largest eSports prize pools, two (Call of Duty and Counter Strike: Global Offensive) are both premium-priced first person shooters.

Tencent enters the virtual reality void as the global market approaches $5.1 billion in 2016

Tencent has announced VR support for the miniStation, its upcoming Android-powered microconsole. The gaming and Internet giant, which owns League of Legends developer Riot Games, will likely control China’s largest non-mobile VR platform. Tencent owns stakes in Epic Games, whose Unreal Engine is being used to power many upcoming VR games, and AltspaceVR, which focuses on virtual gatherings. Tencent’s VR project also benefits from a lack of competition in China. The Playstation VR will not be a major platform in the market due to limited PS4 adoption, and the high-end PCs needed for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are out of reach for most Chinese consumers.

Snapchat Makes Live Events More Fun With Story Explorer

Snapchat has become an increasingly important platform for marketers with features like My Story, Geo-filters and Discover. This week, they had announced they are going all-in and expanding with new features in an effort to boost user-generated content for Live Stories with Story Explorer. While viewing a Live Story, users can now swipe to see different angles of the same exact moment. The recent American Music Awards show is a good example of this, making users almost feel like they were there.

“It s the first time you ll be able to experience that incredible game-winning dunk from thousands of perspectives throughout the stadium – or feel like you re right there on the scene when breaking news unfolds,” said Snapchat in a blog post {link no longer active}. By including content from multiple people at an event, users will be more incentivized to share on the platform while they are there.

This development may be key for marketers who have been using events like music festivals to get the word out for their brands and provide another interactive element for eSports events. Story Explorer has launched in New York and Los Angeles Live Stories this week, but Snapchat says there are plans to roll out the technology across more markets soon.

How Marketers Are Combating Challenges of Video Budgets

Video marketing has come a long way over the past few years, and now it appears that a number of companies are looking to increase their overall budgets.

Vidyard, in partnership with Ascend2, recently shared results from a study, via Reel SEO, where 200 respondents discussed the ability to reach objectives with video marketing, as well as where it needs to increase in the future.

The study touches on important objectives, like increasing overall web traffic, generating potential new leads and sales revenue. However, not all marketers feel these objectives should be of focus, while others take advantage of video consumption data to find new leads.

When it comes to obstacles, the biggest one seems to be lack of an effective strategy, leading with 44 percent. The list also includes inadequate video budget (41 percent), lack of compelling content (40 percent), lack of production resources (39 percent), lack of performance metrics (30 percent), inadequate video distribution (25 percent), limited organizational buy-in (17 percent), and, at the very bottom, inadequate video SEO (14 percent).

Often, one of the big things that marketers discover is how video can be “siloed” into its own separate component, away from other plans being made. However, it can be used in conjunction with marketing activities and integrated into other strategies, according to the report. One suggestion: invite another part of the marketing department to share a brown bag lunch to discuss potential opportunities for collaboration.

When it comes to marketing effectiveness, the survey stated that it will increase for 91 percent of the companies polled, with more than half believing that it’s a change for the better.

Demonstration videos like the iPhone 6 Plus “Will It Blend” (below) seem to be the easiest for companies to create, and it’s the second most effective on the list.

The report also explained that 93 percent of companies outsource all or part of their video content creation in an effort to reach out with specialized expertise and technology, while another 21 percent outsource it entirely. Only seven percent create it in-house but this could change over the next year, depending on effectiveness.

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What Marketers Need To Know About The Virtual Reality Revolution

The world’s been fascinated with virtual reality since the good ole days of the View-Master. In recent months, the up-and-coming immersive viewing method is gaining traction by the minute. In fact, if you had VR gear strapped to your head right now, you d see promising, cutting-edge news coming at you from every angle.

By the end of 2016, Jupiter Research predicts three million VR units will be sold worldwide. Fast forward 10 years from today, and you can already see the field of greens. According to investment bank Piper Jaffray, the market for virtual reality content will be $5.4 billion by 2025, with 500 million headsets being sold.

Here’s a tip for marketers from Matt Bretz, vice president and creative director for Ayzenberg, a full-service advertising agency: jump on the bandwagon while there’s still some seats available. (Editor’s note: [a]listdaily is the media arm of the Ayzenberg Group.)

Bretz said that the first thing marketers need to realize about working with and for VR products is that there s actually at least three essential sub-categories to distinguish between.  (See bottom for breakdown)

It’s critical for marketers to start making the distinction between VR, augmented reality and mixed reality not just because it’s different mediums but also because it’s actually complementary emerging markets not competitive formats. So the good news is the revolution will be tripled.

David Cole, co-founder of NextVR, a purveyor of live and on-demand virtual reality programming with such credits as the NBA s first VR broadcast, and even the Democratic Presidential Debate, intimated on the popular notion: the VR revolution is coming.

Bretz said a second important insight for marketers is that VR, AR and MR marketing will roll out in two distinct phases.  “For the next five years before these devices saturate the market, we will have to make marketing assets that communicate the immersive, 3D experiences these devices deliver but do it on current gen-2D screens. This 2D marketing of 3D products will be a strategic and creative challenge that represents a relatively brief but lucrative opportunity to marketers. And at the same time, we ll be preparing to market VR, AR and MR on the devices themselves once the user base grows, presumably using native assets from the experiences built upon them.  So lots to do!”

The New York Times introduced their $5 Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer with hopes of kicking off the mass adoption of VR. Once Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, championing advertisers with 360-degree virtual reality ads seemed like a foregone conclusion. Have you seen how brands and publishers are capitalizing on the new-found storytelling technique

But make no mistake about it VR is still in a nascent stage. Ted Schilowitz, a futurist at 20th Century Fox, told the NYT the industry is in the brick-size cellphone days only to add every few months, we’re reaching closer to the target.

“It’s the next big arms race for businesses to win,” said Jonathon Oliver, global head of innovation at Microsoft, per Campaign U.S. “One thing that you can say that is very telling, is the level of investment, and the level of motivation from a number of difference companies.”

Bretz advised anyone readying for a head-first dive in the industry to buy a 360-degree camera or, if you are so inclined, open a specialized production company like, right now.

“It seems obvious that whether you’re working with VR, AR or MR 360-degree assets will be a key component of marketing 3D on 2D screens,” said Bretz.

In the near term, VR likely most appeals to prodigal gamer-types. SuperData Research forecasts that by the end of 2016, mobile consumers will have purchased 18 million VR devices, and that over the next two years, VR gaming will reach $8.9 billion, growing more than 10 times its revenue in 2015.

But those footsteps you hear in the interim is the virtual reality industry in its entirety, strutting with swagger, ready to kick down tech’s doors. The best part: You can see them coming from the other side.

3 types of VR, as explained by Matt Bretz: 

Virtual reality: A VR device like Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard replaces your view of the real world entirely with a digitally created fantasy.

Augmented reality: An AR device like Google Glass overlays pre-baked digital elements on your real world which you can still see. This is a quick, low processing power way to put digital tools and information at your disposal think Iron Man s heads-up-display.

Mixed reality: A MR device like Magic Leap or Microsoft HoloLens also lets you see the real world but adds programmable objects made of light or holograms with which you can interact in real time and which behave according to most laws of physics.

How Jaunt is Taking the Intel Extreme Masters ESports Tournament to Virtual Reality

The eSports phenomenon is quickly growing to rival traditional sports. Although countless people in the world use streaming services like Twitch to watch League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive eSports tournaments, there’s nothing quite like being there in person …until recently.

Jaunt, which develops virtual reality hardware, software and 3D cinematics (including a number of The North Face VR films and a Paul McCartney performance) has partnered with digital entertainment accelerator MTGx (part of the Modern Times Group) and ESL, the world’s largest eSports organization, for an unforgettable experience. Jaunt’s technology and expertise captured this year’s Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) eSports tournament in San Jose, California in 360 degree VR for viewers to enjoy using devices like Google Cardboard or the Oculus Rift, making the comfort of your living room the best seat of the event.

[a]listdaily spoke to Scott Broock, Jaunt’s Vice President of Content Deal Development, to discuss what it takes to capture the eSports phenomenon in virtual reality.

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What is the partnership between MTGx, ESL and Jaunt going to entail

Jaunt captured and will distribute 360 degree cinematic VR experiences from the Intel Extreme Masters eSports event last weekend. We were on hand with multiple Jaunt One cinematic VR cameras to capture the event from center stage. Fans will be able to download highlights of the IEM to their mobile phones as immersive VR experiences using Google Cardboard, or through tethered head-mounted displays, including the Oculus Rift.

What can viewers expect from the VR eSports experience

Jaunt’s technology presents the world to you as it was recorded — in full 360 degree, 3D cinematic VR. Paired with a sound field that reacts based on the direction you look, it produces a completely immersive experience. Fans will be able to experience slices of time as if they were ‘there.’

How was the Intel Extreme Masters eSports event selected for this showing

MTGx wanted to make a bold statement about the future of eSports, so what better place than Silicon Valley Cinematic VR and eSports can bring fans together, no matter where they’re located.

What makes eSports the ideal setting for VR storytelling and content

ESports has the same draw as any other modern league — big personalities, competition, success, defeat, fandom and sponsors. Capturing these moments for others to rewatch as if they were there is an incredible opportunity.

Why was an eSport event selected over a more traditional sporting event

ESports is a global phenomena that is just going to keep on getting bigger and bigger. Cinematic VR is on the same trajectory and the two perfectly complement each other. Technology is the thing that binds them, but at the end of the day it’s the incredible human stories of eSports that ultimately pulls fans in. VR makes people feel like they’re there in the center of it all, no matter where they live.

How well do you think audiences have taken to VR experiences

There is no question that VR is part of the public discussion. The New York Times recently mailed Google Cardboard headsets to over one million subscribers, and outlets such as Sky News and ABC News recently introduced their own powerful cinematic VR experiences. It’s difficult to ignore the buzz that VR is generating.

How do you think VR experiences like the Intel Extreme Masters coverage will evolve over the next few years

I think there’s a strong chance that you’ll have an option to view the IEM in cinematic VR as it unfolds in the real world with an ability to ‘flip’ into the game as a virtual spectator.

How will you be promoting the Intel Extreme Masters eSports VR experience

The eSports VR experience will be made available via the Jaunt VR App on Android and iPhone, and through Facebook 360 and YouTube 360.

Scuf Gaming CEO Discusses The Power Of ESports

Scuf Gaming has emerged as a leader in the burgeoning console eSports market. The company launched five years ago to fill a niche in the eSports console business by introducing controllers that were designed for first-person shooters like Call of Duty and Halo. Scuf Gaming continues to offer handmade custom controllers designed to give pros, and everyday players, and edge in gaming. Duncan Ironmonger, CEO and co-founder of Scuf Gaming, talks about the evolution of the company and its licensing deal with Microsoft in this exclusive interview.


Duncan Ironmonger, CEO and Co-Founder, Scuf Gaming

What are the origins of Scuf Gaming

Five years ago we felt controllers, in their traditional sense, were fairly outdated compared to the demands of everyday gaming at the elite level. Only using two fingers to navigate 20 buttons on the controller was challenging. We created a more ergonomic controller, and that’s how we came up with the paddles and the Scuf gaming controller. The goal was improving comfort and control and using more of your hand with the panels. We went through a series of features around triggers, different thumbstick sizes and heads and lengths and grips, and all of these things added to a more intuitive and comfortable controller.

What’s the secret to the Scuf controllers

By using the underside of the controller with the paddles we invented, we created a better way to play first-person shooters than just using the front of the controller. A lot of pro gamers were using a method called claw, where they’d move their first finger up to the A, B, X, and Y buttons to hit while they had their thumb on the thumb stick and then a second finger on the trigger. That could cause carpal tunnel and nerve damage over the years. What our controller did was allow for a more intuitive experience.

How did you market Scuf Gaming

We penetrated the market working with pro gamers. It was all grass roots marketing. We received no VC funding. From a timing perspective, eSports has grown rapidly over the last five years. To penetrate the market when we started was relatively inexpensive to incentivize the influencers out there. Now it’s more expensive, as it’s become more mainstream. We were able to give pros a free controller to allow them to improve their game, and we’d sponsor some teams to travel around the country and world. It was a natural synergy.

How did you expand marketing beyond the pros

On the business side, you have your top guys who are influences, and then it was trickle down. We focused on the top 10 percent or 20 percent of gamers out there. That was the social media and affiliate program model we put together. We had YouTubers doing videos about how Scuf controllers made them better. We gave them a code for 5 percent off and every time that it was used we’d pass off a small incentive to the YouTubers. Most of them would disclose that they were getting a small kickback.

Before you want to be an affiliate, we’d send out a controller and have them test it. Then if they like it, we’d talk to them about the affiliate. To date, 99.9 percent of people who have used it find it increases their game and they like what we do.

What separates how you make Scuf Gaming controllers

We handcraft all of our controllers. We have 145 people in the U.S. and another 45 in the UK. Our margin isn’t a lot, so we wanted to make sure we minimize the portion of discounts we put out there. We’re not made in China like so many other controllers in the market.

There’s also the practicality of producing something in mass production when it has to be customized to their game preference and to the size of their hand. One size doesn’t fit all. It’s not perfect for everyone to use. We do different metal configurations, different thumb trigger sizes, and they can also customize the colors. Sometimes there are hundreds of thousands of permutations, so doing offshore doesn’t make sense.

How popular is Scuf Gaming in eSports

Over 90 percent of console pro gamers in the shooter market use Scuf controllers, including Optic Gaming, Team Envyus, Faze, Epsilon and Team Kaliber. We sponsor over 30 of the main teams. But even if we don’t sponsor them, they use Scuf controllers.

Why do you think so many players use Scuf controllers

The secret sauce of why we have such a high penetration in the pro circuit is the paddles, which are patent protected. In theory, no one can put paddles on the back of a controller. You can hit them anywhere down the length, so it fits small, medium, and large hands. The second part is the trigger — racing game you want to squeeze faster to make the car speed. For COD, rather than pulling for 25 degrees, we put in a trigger stop and allow you to mechanically tune with a hex key that winds the trigger down to pull it to 1 or 2 degree movement to reduce all the latency for shooters.

How have you expanded your YouTube influencer program

We have over 200 influencers in our program, which includes YouTube influencers in our affiliate program and pro gaming teams. It’s quite a large network of influencers. Also, this isn’t about us buying business. It’s about providing a tool for them to improve their game.

Four years ago the YouTubers had a much larger reach, but now we’re seeing pro gamers like Optic Gaming and NadeShot take the limelight. We sell 95 percent of our controllers online.

What role has partnerships with eSports leagues played for your company

The strategy was always to get endorsed and partnered with a pro gaming league. From the outset, getting partnered with these guys was important because they need to approve the equipment and they’re the leagues where people are going to pay attention. Getting into some of those leagues is quite easy, but it took us a few years to get into MLG. In the end they saw the authenticity of the product because we had all of the pros playing with it. Today we work with ESL, UMG, GFinity, ESWC and MLG. I go to most of the gaming events around the world to get the word out there. Then it’s trickling down to the mass market.

Can you explain your relationship with Microsoft

Microsoft licensed our IP for the Elite Controller. We filed 55 patents and had 17 granted, so the Elite can’t exist without our license. We also have an exclusive partnership with Microsoft to create accessories for the Elite.

We specialize and customize controllers to the individual with Scuf Gaming, but then Microsoft has packaged a one-size-fits-all Elite and we take a royalty on every controller they sell. Microsoft is one of the biggest companies in the world and they can reach a much bigger audience than we ever could. We want to grow from within and grow the brand, and  the intention is to move forward in that direction. Microsoft has a more mass market model, and the two complement each other very well.

Microsoft with the Elite Controller has validated the market space that we created. We spent the last 4½ years educating gamers why they need these controllers. Microsoft will promote eSports to promote their games and hardware and controllers.

How Loot Crate Creates Brand Affinity With Streamers

“Influencers in general and mostly streamers have been integral to the company’s growth,” said Michael Petralia, Loot Crate‘s Product Marketing Manager. “We utilize them to get product out there.”

The subscription box that caters to gamers and those who lean geek has been working alongside influencers to showcase what kinds of surprises lie in their monthly mystery boxes. Loot Crate sees this relationship as a great symbiotic relationship between brand and streamer.

“Not only are they going to get something awesome in the mail, but they’re going to be supporting that streamer as well,” he said. “We are the supporting the culture and they are the ones build the culture, so it’s feeding back and forth.”