Black Friday Marketing Is All In The Timing

This year’s Black Friday is shaping up to be sales madness once again, even if some retailers, like Staples and Costco, won’t be opening its doors beforehand on Thanksgiving Day. However, not every retailer is making the most out of sales opportunities for the day, according to new numbers provided by Yesmail.

The data, reported by VentureBeat, indicates that digital marketers have been trying to reach shoppers through social media and email, but the timing hasn’t been effective. According to the report, the worst day to email shoppers during the week of Thanksgiving is on Black Friday itself. Yet, most retailers prefer this time to ramp up their advertising, with over a third of Black Friday messages being sent out the day of the event.

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This chart shows the stats between 2013 and 2014. Email open rates tend to drop off the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, only to pick back up during the holiday. However, 2014’s numbers show that Black Friday’s numbers dropped, down from eight percent to negative one percent compared to hitting 8 percent the year before.

Facebook and Twitter also saw a number of posts relating to Black Friday on the day it was happening, with Yesmail reporting that this resulted in the second-largest number of Black Friday themed tweets getting the lowest engagement rate.

So what’s the problem The company notes that, with so many promotions going around, it’s easy to tune out certain deals by deleting emails or skimming over lesser posts on Twitter or Facebook. Finding the right time to post offers has become a challenge, especially with the competitive market being the way it is.

It appears that the most effective method is sending messages earlier in the week, which results in higher engagement. Engagement levels between 2013 and 2014 are similar, so Sunday appears to be the best day when it comes to Facebook engagement, while Tuesday is better for email and Thanksgiving day is ideal for Twitter.

With that, marketers have a prime opportunity of not only timing their messages properly, but making sure the personalization is nailed down, which should be relatively easy with the availability of consumer data. It’s just a matter of being able to properly capitalize on it, which a lot of companies don’t seem to be doing.

The full report can be found here.

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YouTube: Shoppable Ads Are a Big Win For Brands

Product reviews and unboxing videos are on rise on YouTube, and it’s easy to see why. Viewers get a better look at the products being reviewed, while unboxing videos provide a look at special edition of packages (such as Lootcrate or Japan Crate) from the unique user’s perspective. Now, YouTube wants to use these to help draw in more brands with shoppable ads.

Digiday reports that Google’s video channel has begun using these videos as a means of setting up potential ad spots, particularly with the holidays coming up. The company launched a special Awesome Stuff Week promotion in October that pointed out how click-to-buy content could be paired with relevant videos.

“There’s a growing opportunity for brands to engage with consumers through this type of content,” said Vikram Tank, one of Google’s product marketing managers. “Whether it’s through their own content creation, collaboration with creators or being present in the shopping moments on YouTube.”

By “being present,” Tank means having a click-to-buy ad combined with the product that the YouTube user is presenting. By providing an easy option, consumers may be more likely to purchase goods while they are persuaded by the video.

During Awesome Stuff Week, YouTube made a theme each day, such as Must-Have Mondays, Reviewsday Tuesday and Under-100 Wednesday, which showcases items that cost less than $100. With each video, the YouTube host indicated that the videos have shoppable ads, and that YouTube provided them funding to make the video.

The video above provides an example of how these ads work. YouTube star Jim Chapman talks about items he recommends, including a River Island scarf, H by Hudson boots and Dior cologne. As the video goes on, ads appear that enable swift purchases of these items. It’s up to the brands where they want ads to appear.

Blending online purchases with social content is a practice that’s really picking up. Citi Retail Services recently conducted a survey that indicates that 60 percent of consumers have no trouble making purchases through social media. As far as platforms go, YouTube came in as one of the top influencers with 25 percent. Only Facebook had a stronger response with 35 percent.

The Citi Retail Services survey notes that the biggest takeaway for retailers is that they must be where the shopper is for social commerce to take full effect. That’s where product reviews and unboxing videos can come into play. Influencers have a great reach with their audience, and brands can easily latch on to that success with the right partnership.

The findings of the report can be found here, but it’s clear that partnering YouTube-based content with brands could easily drive up sales.

‘Care Bears’ Apple TV App Another Step for Interactive Shows

Apple recently launched the Apple TV, which features Siri-enabled search, and the ability to play games using a specially designed touch sensor controller. With the set-top device comes more opportunities to take advantage of “appisodes,” which are apps that show an interactive animated cartoon episode. Some are made from actual broadcast TV episodes from popular series, remade to include interactive elements, making it a great time for a brand like the Care Bears to shine.

Variety reports that American Greetings has released a new interactive video application that kids of all ages can enjoy. Titled Care Bear-A-Thon, the app enables users to guide their favorite Care Bear from the popular television and toy series across various stories, using the remote control as a motion controller.

Available now free of charge, the app will draw kids into the world of the lovable bears, based on a series of interactive experiences. These include working with the main star, Funshine Bear, through different scenarios, like riding a bicycle or writing on a notepad. Other characters, like Tenderheart Bear, are also featured.

The app was co-developed by start-up team Plumzi, a company that specializes in creating appisodes based on animated TV shows, with more offerings sure to be on the way. Care Bears, which were created by American Greetings in the 80s, became a popular TV show, and has seen multiple resurgences. One of the most recent being a Netflix show called Care Bears & Cousins that will premiere in the fall.

“The Care Bear-A-Thon appisode for Apple TV is an exciting and immersive experience for Care Bears fans of all ages,” said Sean Gorman, president for American Greetings Entertainment. “Plumzi is a premier appisode technology platform, and we are very proud of our collaboration on this first-to-market innovation starring the Care Bears.”

“The linear TV format as we know it was invented for what television sets could do 80 years ago play images and sound only,” said Plumzi CEO Guillaume Cohen. “With the emergence of new viewing platforms like the new Apple TV, viewers have many more ways to experience a story and take part in the narrative.”

American Greetings is no stranger to providing Care Bears fans with various products, including greeting cards, consumer products and a new Netflix series, Care Bears & Cousins, set to premiere on Netflix in the months ahead.

This isn’t the first time that a company catered to an all-ages group using a motion-sensitive device, as Nintendo returned to top-form in the market back in 2006 with its Nintendo Wii, entertaining players of all ages with various games with motion-based controls. However, that platform never really got a Care Bears game to cater to that audience, where Apple TV has Care Bear-A-Thon to turn to.

Many animated kids shows are picking up the appisode format, so fans should look forward to plenty more Care Bears adventures to come. For those who don’t own an Apple TV, there’s also an iOS version available.

Sega’s New VP of Product: “We Will See New Classes of Mobile Games Evolve”

Today, Sega officially announced that it has hired Joseph Kim as Vice President of Product, to lead its mobile product strategy in the West. Kim’s previous position was as FunPlus’ Studio Head in the Strategy Division, but his history includes work on other noteworthy games like Faraway Kingdoms: Dragon Raiders, NBA Rush, and Fantasy Quest. He has also consulted on a number of mobile games, and is responsible for launching an early social game called League of Heroes on Myspace and Facebook, which ended up being one of the highest monetizing games of its time.

Chris Olson, COO at Sega Networks states, “This position is instrumental in pulling all three of our wholly owned studios and two studio investments together to drive Sega’s success on mobile.”

Sega’s mobile division is growing at a steady pace, with releases like Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom and Puzzle & Glory. The original Sonic Dash, which released in 2013, recently hit a milestone of 150 million downloads.

When asked about Sega’s focus on mobile gaming, Olson told [a]listdaily, “It’s a huge focus for us. Sega created a separate division in Japan to better compete with the rapid market changes we’ve seen in the mobile space. They’ve been highly successful and our division in San Francisco, Sega Networks, have modeled ourselves in similar fashion. We have three studios in the West devoted to mobile titles with strategic investments in two more companies. It’s a growth market and we aim to bring our games to as many players as possible. We think we offer a competitive advantage as we have a deep heritage in creating compelling entertainment experiences; as the market matures, player expectations will rise and we have a lot of experience in bringing high quality games to market. It’s an exciting time for games and we are enthused to bring our creations to market.”

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[a]listdaily talks to Joseph Kim, newly appointed to VP of Product, to find out what the future might have in store as Sega moves deeper into mobile development.

What initially drew you to Sega

Sega is a renowned brand with global recognition that I loved growing up. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work for the company that created two of my personal favorites, Golden Axe and Shinobi.  Aside from the quality IP, the team at Sega is filled with passionate people who value their work. I wanted to be a part of the enthusiasm that they have coming to work every day and share my knowledge with them. It’s also great having Sonic in the office to put a smile on my face.

Can you tell us a little more about your new role and your plans for it

My role is still fairly new. But I’ll be tasked with helping to ensure that Sega’s mobile titles are the best they can be. I’ll be involved with various partners across Sega to give input on our roadmaps, vetting titles in the pipeline, working closely with product managers to ensure high quality standards, and ensuring players get an exceptional game experience.

My plans are to do whatever it takes and within the scope of my power to ensure we make the best games possible. More specifically though, I want to start by ensuring that the studios we work with have the best support possible to improve their games. Sega has existing infrastructure to help the studios including BI, market intelligence, customer support/marketing, and product strategy functions. My initial goal is to help these teams make extremely impactful contributions to the studios.

How do you see Sega’s mobile offerings evolving and growing this year

It’s still too early for me to comment on this, but I can speak more generally on how I’d like to see Sega’s offerings evolve over a longer term period.

First of all, I believe that we are fundamentally still early in terms of new categories of mobile games in the market. I strongly believe we will see new classes of mobile games evolve that are unique and fun. I feel we are getting pretty close with strong hints of breakthrough gameplay in several genres such as tactical turn based role-playing, action role-playing, and strategy card battle hybrids. In each of these genres we have seen games that have solved different parts of the complete puzzle to break through but not quite there yet. However, I sense a game in one of those genres will break through similar to how DOTA Legends broke through last year in the party-based active skill battle game category. So, my hope is for Sega to aggressively attack these types of promising new game categories.

Secondly, I am a huge fan of existing Sega IP whether it’s Golden Axe, Shinobi, Virtua Fighter, Valkyria Chronicles, Altered Beast, etc. I’d also like to see us do tasteful +1 game design iterations on more proven game categories using our IP. This may be internal development or with talented 2nd or 3rd party developers we partner with.This isn’t a promise of anything to come, but certainly something I’m personally interested in looking into.

What are some of your favorite mobile games right now, and how do you think they influence your approach to mobile

One of the reasons why I think there is a big opportunity in mobile gaming is that I don’t really have any current games I’m playing. Some of my past favorites, however, have been Summoners War, Hearthstone, Frontline Commando 2, Paladog, Heavy Mach Defense, and WindRunner.

Hitbox’s CEO Explains Why They’re Investing In eSports Talent

As eSports continues to grow, has taken a unique approach in its sponsorship business model. The 4K livestreaming platform has invested in Dota 2 team OG (formerly Monkey Business), which is comprised of Amer Barqawi, Johan Sundstein, David Tan, Andreas Franck Nielsen, and Tal Aizik.

Hitbox is supporting OG’s individual players by ensuring that they have their own agency representation and profit from the brand’s success. The company is letting the players own their own IP, as well as steer their own direction. Martin Klimscha CEO and co-founder of Hitbox, explains why they’ve taken this approach and how they plan on expanding their presence in the eSports market in this exclusive interview.

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Martin Klimscha

Why did you decide to take this new approach with eSports sponsorships?

We have long been looking for a team and cause to support to strengthen our involvement in eSports. Doing something new is how we operate, and “democratization” is very important to us. People all over the world have helped grow eSports with their passion, their enthusiasm and their hard work. There was no big money in the early days, no big prize pools or famous sponsors, we did everything because we loved eSports and games. Today the Hitbox team is lucky to be in a position that allows us to make sure that these players – who bring us these great moments of entertainment – are able to grow with this industry.

How do you see this model impacting the larger eSports ecosystem?

ESports has grown so fast and we all know it would be nothing without the players, so we think it’s time to allow them to have a say in where their brand is going and whom they want to represent. Similar to traditional sports we want to see individuals have the option to close their own deals and make their own decisions. We think this is the future of eSports and will sooner or later be picked up by other organizations within the industry.

How are you selecting which teams and players to sponsor and work with?

Right now we are opening a new chapter in eSports sponsorship at Hitbox. There are many talented teams and individuals out there. We want to continue working with people who inspire us and then get inspired by us. With OG, we saw the potential for them to play in top tournaments, and we liked the personality, mindset and aspiration of the players. The chemistry was right for partnership.

How are you working with teams like OG to help them chart a path to success?

Stability in a team = great basis for continuous success. We believe in forging your own success and destiny (with all power to the players). Our support shall give them the freedom to focus on their path to success.

How big an investment/commitment are you making on the sponsorship side of things this year and next?

We don’t want to disclose that to our competitors – yet, but we can say that since we are growing as a platform, we plan to grow our investments in sponsorship for both events and teams.

How are you selecting which eSports games to focus on?

Of course popularity in the eSports scene has an impact on our decisions. The Hitbox team has its own strengths and connections through their own involvement (past and present) in eSports. We work to leverage those. And, we are always looking to help others to grow along with us, so we’re watching smaller titles and newcomers with a strong community and great potential.

How do you see pro teams helping to attract more eyeballs to Hitbox?

This association will help get the word out about Hitbox as a platform. Team loyalty and player fandom are important. Some of the OG players are already experienced streamers with big viewership numbers. And we have found that increasing content in one area/game title leads viewers to stick around and discover other streams.

What separates the Hitbox experience from YouTube, Twitch, Azubu and others in this category?

Hitbox is in a great spot. We’re at this intersection of digital, social and technology, which is critical to reach this gaming/eSports audience of Millennials and younger. While Twitch and Google are in similar positions, there are very few others who understand this and have the technology to do it. Plus, we’ve put our whole focus on gaming. We’re building what gamers and eSports players and enthusiasts want and need — from 4K streaming to chat integration to a new approach to team sponsorships and more.

How challenging is it to gain market share with Twitch so entrenched in eSports and gaming?

There are still millions of gamers who have not watched a stream yet. Twitch has a huge lead in terms of users so far, but that’s only because a number of audience markets haven’t heard of Hitbox yet, which we are starting to change with this investment. Our offering is better for gamers because our only focus is games and we’ve invested in better streaming and chat technology. So the community can do a lot more with Hitbox than other platforms.

How large is your livestreaming audience today and how has it grown since launch?

We’re a young company and with relatively no marketing, we’ve grown to more than 6 million active users in less than two years. We invested in our technology and focused on building a platform and community designed for gamers. Now, we’re expanding our marketing efforts. Our numbers grow each month and we expect that growth to accelerate as we head into 2016.

What impact have you seen YouTube’s investment in gaming have on eSports?

Overall, we’ve seen a growing interest in both live streaming and eSports. Having YouTube (and by extension, Google) step up and support eSports further solidifies esports as a major media category which benefits all of us. We’ve just closed a growth round, while other areas of gaming are having trouble securing funding. If you have the right combination of digital delivery, a social community and innovative technology, then this is a very good time to be in streaming and eSports.

Executive Director of Ubisoft Mobile On Acquiring Longtail Halifax

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Early last month Ubisoft, publisher of popular games like the Assassin’s Creed series, acquired Longtail Studios as part of its international network of developers. The studio, which most recently worked on Rocksmith 2014 Edition (pictured above), was renamed to Longtail Halifax and is now focused on the development of mobile games.

[a]listdaily talks to Jean-Michel Detoc, executive director of Ubisoft Mobile about the significance of purchasing Longtail Halifax, and how the publisher, with popular mobile games like Rayman Jungle Run and Valiant Hearts: The Great War in its profile, is set to grow.

With the acquisition of Longtail, Ubisoft now has a mobile hub. What was it about Longtail that got you interested

Mobile is one of the fastest growing segments in the video game space. Ubisoft has made it a priority to develop its mobile activity rapidly, and is constantly seeking out new talent to come on board this new venture. After many years of collaborating with Longtail Halifax on casual titles, and considering the team’s considerable experience with Ubisoft games, culture and processes, the studio is being integrated in order to further contribute its experience to the group. Ubisoft Halifax is reinforcing its mobile strategy by strategically growing its network of studios who are 100 percent dedicated to mobile game development.

You’ve begun to see some success in the mobile market already with Hungry Shark, that reached 100 million downloads. What were some key factors, in your mind, that made Hungry Shark successful

One key factor that contributed to this success is having teams fully dedicated to mobile development, which allows us to learn from best practices and get a clearer understanding of players’ in-game behavior. Our focus is to create a game experience enjoyable for all players. This has translated into huge success for Hungry Shark Evolution, which has now reached nearly 150 million downloads.

Are there future opportunities for Ubisoft to bring popular IP’s like Assassin’s Creed to mobile

Ubisoft’s portfolio includes several franchises that have huge global appeal. As we grow some of these franchises onto mobile, we’re able to create new memorable gaming experiences for our core fans, as well as introduce the franchises to a new audience who may not have played the original console games. When developing a mobile game based on one of these franchises, it’s essential to offer to players a brand new, high-quality experience, just like we did with Trials Frontier or Assassin’s Creed Pirates. With that in mind, the upcoming Rayman Adventures mobile game explores further territories with new gameplay.

Is the core gaming audience warming up to mobile

By definition core gamers love to play, and mobile is not only a platform that enables them to play anywhere, anytime, but also offer new ways to interact with the brands they enjoy the most. Many core gamers now play on a smartphone, thanks in part to the easy access but also the unique gameplay experience provided by mobile games.

With the increasing number of mobile games available, what is Ubisoft’s approach to creating a game that stands out

Our ultimate goal is to create surprising, fun and innovative experiences for our players on all platforms, including mobile. We benefit from almost 30 years of experience in making games, which means that we’re constantly trying to push the boundaries, and deliver the highest quality experience to all our players.

What challenges does the mobile space present that console does not

Our teams are always searching for new ways for the player to interact, which means developers need to take into careful consideration multiple factors such as screen size, interface, a wide variety of devices and length of game sessions to name a few.

Why Twitter Replaced ‘Favorites’ With Emotive ‘Likes’

It could be said that there’s a big difference between giving something or someone a “like” and calling them a “favorite,” especially Twitter, which feels that it’s compelling enough of a difference to make a change.

The company has decided to follow a path similar to that of rival social network Facebook by replacing its traditional “favorite” button with a heart, indicating more of a “like,” according to AdWeek.

Twitter announced the change-up earlier this morning in a tweet, indicating that “You can say a lot with a heart. Introducing a new way to show how you feel on Twitter.”

This isn’t the first time that a popular social network has mimicked another, as Facebook did the same in early 2014 with its Trending section (similar to Twitter), along with Place Tips, which could be compared in some ways to Snapchat’s Live Stories.

After testing the feature, Twitter’s product manager Akarsham Kumar indicated that “we found that people loved it,” noting that the icon/like button has become quite popular on the company’s Periscope livestreaming app, where hearts practically pour in with each like that the broadcast gets. “We’re delighted to bring them to Twitter and Vine, making them the common language for our global community.”

The Twitter community’s reaction to the change has been mixed. The following tweets show both favoritism and “dislike” for the new design.

The Verge also had something to say on the matter, indicating that “stars and hearts are not synonymous. To star something is to measure its quality. To heart something is to emote it. These are lessons learned long ago in grade school: gold stars were reserved for a 100 percent on a math test or when Mario defeated Macho Grubba, hearts were doled out like Valentines by a horny Periscope user. To change the icon would change the very meaning of a favorite tweet,” said the article.

The image below, also from The Verge, points out the subtle differences that can come between favoring a tweet and “liking” a tweet, especially given the subtext of the tweet itself.

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Twitter investor Chris Sacca defended the idea of replacing favorites with hearts just last month, saying, “A very high bar is set by using the word ‘Favorite’ on Twitter. Favorite is a superlative. It implies a ranking. In the early days of Twitter many of us interpreted the word literally and only keep a few Tweets in our favorites that were truly, well, our favorites. Today, many of my friends and I use the star as a ‘Like’ button equivalent or even a simple acknowledgement that we saw a Tweet. Whereas other people use favorites as bookmarks. However, the majority of users are baffled by favorites and they don’t end up using the star much, if at all.”

The question still remains if the change will be in Twitter’s favor for the long run, but things are looking positive. Results from an April 2015 SwiftKey Emoji Report discuss the effectiveness that a simple emoji icon can have, which speaks to the “heart” that Twitter is using to indicate liking something.

It’s a large report, but here are some general findings that could be back Twitter’s change:

  • In terms of emojis that are used the most, hearts came up third on the list, right behind happy and sad faces. That indicates that it’s heavily used, particularly on sites that support the emoji, including Instagram and Facebook. As a result, it’s easy to see why Twitter would adopt it in favor of stars, which is number 26 on the list.
  • When it comes to emoji categories as a percentage of overall usage, hearts are used 12.5 percent, which is far greater than the use of other emoji, such as monkeys, party and romance. Happy faces make up a majority with around 45 percent, with sad faces coming in second with 14.33 percent.
  • Worldwide, more positivity is being accepted on social media than negativity, particularly with messages revolving around emoji like the hearts utilize. Overall, statistics show that they are 70 percent positive.
  • French speakers use heart emoji quite extensively, four times more than the average emoji user. That makes the heart symbol accepted more worldwide than, say, stars.

The full report, which breaks down more extensive emoji usage, can be found here.

Additionally, there’s evidence that indicates that emoji use is on the rise across both social networks and mobile communication. That being the case, Twitter users will likely learn to love the heart.

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North Faces Gives Shoppers An Extreme VR Experience

Virtual reality technology has become more commonly used with certain promotions, whether it’s a tie-in with a film like The Hunger Games or Paranormal Activity, or a more involving vacation-based platform for the likes of Marriott, whisking attendees away to an ideal utopia. Not content with limiting its virtual outdoors adventure to Google Cardboard or in-store virtual mountain climbing, the outerwear company The North Face sweeps some of its Korean customers away on a wild virtual reality ride… followed shortly by a real one.

The promotion (via Adweek), launched in South Korea, enabled consumers to take part in a “#SuddenExploration” adventure, in which they put on an Oculus Rift headset to get swept away to a winter wonderland, where a pack of huskies pulled them through the snowy landscape.

Then things take a turn for the wacky, as the consumers have their headset removed, and thrust into a real racing adventure where an actual dog team through an real life shopping location, complete with a rider hanging on the back. From virtual to actual, the incredible experience is shown in the video above.

This isn’t the first time that The North Face has used an “extreme” advertising program, as it launched something last year in which consumers experienced a “Never Stop Exploring” campaign in which consumers found themselves in a room with a disappearing floor, forcing them to hop onto a nearby climbing wall. By doing so, they have the opportunity to grab onto a jacket hanging on a nearby hook or drop down to the safety mat below.

Are these videos a bit on the “extreme” side Yes, but The North Face has been known for its extensive outdoor gear, so these videos seem to be right up its alley when it comes to advertising. It looks like these VR-to-Life experiences are limited The North Face stores in in S. Korea, with no indication that a similar campaign is coming to the U.S.

Regardless, the videos are fun to watch, and can help to promote the clothing line in other parts of the world.

How Activision Will Benefit From The $5.9 Billion Acquisition of King

It’s been a while since we’ve seen large company buyouts like Microsoft purchasing Mojang for over $2 billion, or Disney acquiring the rights to LucasFilm and therefore Star Wars for $4 billion. However, both those examples are dwarfed by Activision Blizzard, which is going through with the biggest mobile company buyout to date.

Activision Blizzard announced in a press release late yesterday evening that it has acquired King Digital Entertainment, the creators of Candy Crush Saga and other popular mobile games, for an estimated at $5.9 billion.

Through the deal, shareholders for the company will receive $18 a share, but King will continue to operate as an independent unit headed by chief executive officer Riccardo Zacconi and others.

The press release states, “Activision Blizzard believes that the addition of King’s highly-complementary business will position Activision Blizzard as a global leader in interactive entertainment across mobile, console and PC platforms, and positions the company for future growth.”

Bobby Kotick, chief executive officer of Activision Blizzard, further adds that “The combined revenues and profits solidify our position as the largest, most profitable standalone company in interactive entertainment. With a combined global network of more than half a billion monthly active users, our potential to reach audiences around the world on the device of their choosing enables us to deliver great games to even bigger audiences than ever before.”

“Riccardo, Sebastian (Knuttson, CCO) and Stephane (Kurgan, COO) are some of the best minds in the business, and we have long-admired King for consistently creating incredibly fun, deeply engaging free-to-play games that capture the imaginations of players across ages and demographics. Activision Blizzard will provide King with experience, support, and investment to continue to build on their tremendous legacy and reach new potential. We share an unwavering commitment to attracting and developing the best talent in the business, and we are excited about what we will be able to accomplish together.”

NEWZOO Activision Blizzard Acquisition King Top Companies

Newzoo, which published its Top 25 Public Companies by Game Revenues report just yesterday, revised its findings in light of this deal. With King, Activision Blizzard now has a reach of approximately 81.4 million Americans in the mobile market. It also pointed out that, with the two companies bring in a combined income of $3.4 billion in half-year revenues, based on data collected in the report.

“People who think the $5.9 billion valuation is too high are wrong,” said Newzoo CEO Peter Warman about the findings. “One key value element is a complementary pipeline in terms of games in development. In addition to its Saga series, King has been rumored to be working on several mid-core games that will soon see daylight. I am certain Activision Blizzard has taken this into account in the valuation. Having King’s experience in running and monetizing mobile games as a service will be a priceless asset to a company that is still on the learning curve when it comes to mobile.”

Warman, spoke with [a]listdaily about what the potential impact this acquisition could have. “Activision wants to be the world’s biggest interactive entertainment company, and this is a huge step in that direction with only Tencent ahead of them on a global scale but leaving EA, Sony and Microsoft behind them in the Western world. I think it saves Activision at least two years in building up an organization and the expertise to develop, launch and run mobile games as a service on a global scale. This has become a true science or art, requiring different competences. To put that knowledge to work for all Activision Blizzard’s franchises and mobile marketing efforts is huge.”

As how Activision will further shift to mobile, Warman stated, “I think the new mobile franchises to be launched by Activision Blizzard will come from both studios. King is rumored to have a number of mid-core games in development, and following the success of Hearthstone, Activision Blizzard must also have some new titles coming up. These will be managed by teams that are a mix of both companies. Making successful PC or console franchises available on mobile is risky business. Companies such as Blizzard now realize that becoming a true cross-screen entertainment franchise does not particularly mean that you have to launch the game on each screen. As video and games converge through tools and platforms like Twitch, Hitbox, Mobcrush, Kamcord it turns out the mobile screens are the perfect viewing screens, and the PC and console the gaming screens. Therefore I believe that it will be new titles and franchises that will lead the charge for the new entity.”

Activision can also see expansion with the acquisition of the King brand. “It remains to be seen how Activision Blizzard handles the branding of Candy Crush, etc. over time. Will King become their Casual brand or will Activision be reborn as a brand that publishes across all genres as it did in the past Despite a higher overlap ratio than many might expect, it gives Activision Blizzard at least a couple hundred million mobile gamers that they previously could not get in touch with.”

King also gives the game publisher an even greater global foothold, particularly in China, to which Warman states, “Only a very limited number of Western publishers have proven to be successful in the $6.5 billion China mobile games market. King is one of them, Blizzard a second. Supercell outperforms King in China because its genre that appeals more to the big game spenders. I expect it is exactly these mid-core genre that will be the next big step for King and Activision Blizzard.”

Newzoo broke down the numbers even further, by regional demographic, in thee chart below, with 48.5 million Activision Blizzard players and 57.3 million King players included, with 24.5 million of them overlapping into both companies.

NEWZOO Activision Blizzard Acquisition King Overlap Players

Re/Code’s Peter Kafka had his own thoughts on the matter, indicating that some form of buyout for King was inevitable, following the company’s move to public stock back in March. It started out at $22.50 a share, only to drop down to $18.08 over the following months, making it prime for a pick-up.

“The thing about creating a megahit game in the iPhone/Android era is that there’s no flywheel effect: A Megahit gives you resources to market other games, which is nice. But no one has been able to prove that making one megahit lets you make other megahits. Ask Rovio, the people behind Angry Birds,” says Kafka.

“King’s gross bookings — its preferred analog for revenue — peaked in the third quarter of 2013, when they hit $648 million. Last quarter, they were down to $530 million. That’s still an amazing amount of money to make from a very small percentage of people: 340 million play King’s games, and only 7.6 million of them — 2.2 percent — pay King anything when they play. This quarter, that translated to $119 million in profits.”

Now the only real question is what kind of impact will come from the deal, and how Activision Blizzard could change its approach to mobile. The publisher has released various Call of Duty related games on iOS and Android, along with the recently released Guitar Hero Live. However, the company’s presence on mobile has been limited, with its most successful mobile games being Hearthstone and Skylanders.

With King, Activision Blizzard’s mobile presence, and gaming revenues leap far ahead. We can only wait and see.

Riot Games ESports Director Discusses Evolving LCS

Halloween night resulted in a treat for League of Legends fans as Riot Games awarded another Summoner’s Cup to Razer-sponsored Korean powerhouse SKTelecom T1 (SKT) to conclude the fifth season of the League Championship Series. SKT went 15-1 in Worlds (including a 14-0 run to start the tournament) to take home the top prize for the second time in three years (defeating Korean team KOO Tigers).

Whalen Rozelle, director of eSports at Riot Games, traveled across Europe (Paris, London, and Brussels) in October to ensure the $2.25 million Worlds ran smoothly and that the $1 million world championship in Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz Arena lived up to fan expectations.

whalen rozelle

Whalen Rozelle

How do you go about choosing where to host Worlds each year

We’ve seen strong growth in every region every year, but we love to spread the love around. We try not to hit the same region twice. Europe hadn’t been part of this since season one. And Europe is a major part of eSports. Once we’re in a region, we like to hit highly populated cities so international fans can easily make it to the events.

How has the size of the events changed since last year’s Asian Worlds

We actually scaled some things back this year to make the experience more intimate. We’ve increased the production value across the board, but we didn’t want to focus just on arenas. And we decided not to go with a World Cup soccer stadium with 40,000 fans.


What are your thoughts on Coke’s movie theater viewing parties for the world championship

It’s more than just a sports experience for people who attend. It’s community and social all rolled into one. Coke had over 90 viewing parties around the world and Riot is expanding that number out even more. We expect the movie theater experience of watching live events to grow.

What role do you see the League of Legends North American Collegiate Championship playing in the eSports ecosystem

In traditional sports, college is feeder system to the pro league. In our LCS ecosystem, it’s an alternative path because we have the Challenger series. The broader acceptance of League of Legends is a positive for teams, but in a more indirect way. If you’re a parent and you know your child can get a scholarship to college playing League of Legends, knowing they can go to school and learn the lessons of competitive team sports, that’s good for eSports in the long run. And that’s why we continue to support NACC.

What are your thoughts on random drug testing like we’ve seen ESL introduce with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

If drug use becomes an issue we’ll react appropriately to regulate it as we’ve done with other issues like minimum salaries, but it’s preemptive to jump into it now. We have a great relationship with our pro players and teams and we haven’t heard or seen anything relating to drug problems. There’s no need for us to do random drug testing and we hope there’s never a need for it.

What are your thoughts on the booming Fantasy ESports business now that both FanDuel and DraftKings are involved

Fantasy Esports, unlike betting, has a participatory interactive element that we like. It drives behaviors that are good for eSports because the more knowledge fans have about the players and teams, the more they enjoy the sport, and the more they watch games. We still think there’s a lot of positives around Daily Fantasy ESports despite some recent issues, as long as it’s done in moderation and in a healthy way, it’s a real big positive. It could become a major player in eSports just like it has become with real sports.

What went into the change for All-Stars

All-Stars had a split identity, where it was supposed to be fun and competitive at the same time. We introduced the Mid Season Invitational (MSI) for the competitive focus in spring. All-Stars will occur in the end after the season is over. It’ll be more fun and focused on the fans, who will have a say in the event. We’ll have more details soon on the event.