When underdog middleweight world titlist Daniel Jacobs shocked the boxing world by knocking out Peter Quillin in 85 seconds last Saturday, it not only was a watershed moment for the fighter, but for the sport, too.
The “Battle of Brooklyn” at the Barclays Center marked the first time a boxing match was released entirely in 360-degree virtual reality.
The bout – don’t blink – was a fight fans had been longing for. Turns out, the same could be said for the premium cable network and their VR efforts in the sweet science. Showtime had been exploring opportunities for content throughout the year, and realized that boxing would be the perfect match.
“We’re always looking to use new technologies to bring our fans closer to the content that they love,” Ken Todd, Showtime’s vice president of video strategy and emerging platform marketing, told [a]listdaily. “Since the boxing ring has a relatively small footprint, it makes it an ideal venue to use VR to get fans close to the action.”
The tech advancements not only offer fans an improved and immersive viewing experience, but it provides fighters footage of angles never seen before to study tape during training camp.
Todd and the team at Showtime plan to ramp-up marketing VR to sports fans, and subscribers moving forward. “Initially, we’re looking to reach the nexus of sports fans and 360 VR enthusiasts by maximizing our presence on the platforms that support the VR format,” he said. “YouTube and Facebook present a great opportunity, because we have a strong presence on both and our fans are already consuming and engaging with our content on these platforms.”
Showtime’s audience certainly approves. In 24 hours, they aggregated more than 1.75 million video views across platforms including the live telecast as well as Facebook and YouTube’s post-fight video offerings. The fight was also the talk of Twitter as the social media channel revealed it to be the most talked about cable TV show of the night, per Chris DeBlasio, Showtime’s vice president of communications.
Promotion company Premier Boxing Champions, who handles both Jacobs and Quillin, introduced several production advancements in the sport since debuting with TV programming this year to Showtime’s parent company CBS (and others) – specifically with a 360-degree, 32-camera array above the ring, along with referees and cornermen strapped with wearbale cameras to their head.
Showtime’s efforts in the VR space are only beginning, but it won’t be limited to just sports. Todd said they’re looking for additional opportunities to utilize VR in entertainment content, too. “The challenge is not to just create VR content because we can, but to identify the best content for the medium. Because we’re still in the infancy of VR, we plan to test and learn.”
Showtime has broadcasted pay per view fights featuring everyone from Mike Tyson to Floyd Mayweather over the last 30 years. Is streaming live fights in VR right around the corner? It’s an “exciting proposition,” Todd says.
That day will likely come in the future – along with the sport’s next big draw. In the meantime, Showtime can take credit for landing the first big punch in the sport’s VR arena.
2015 has been a tremendous year for big video game promotions and record-breaking sales and launches, which is reflected in some of the unique campaigns that were run to promote them. Here are some of the biggest, boldest, and most successful video game promotional campaigns of 2015.
Fallout 4 Sets the World on Fire
Publisher and developer, Bethesda Softworks, began Fallout 4‘s juggernaut campaign with a teaser trailer that ended up being one of YouTube’s most-watched gaming videos of 2015. It was then followed by pre-E3 press briefing earlier this year, where the game was officially revealed with a gameplay demonstration, a first-look at the special Pip-Boy Edition and companion app, a release date for within the year, and the completely unexpected launch of Fallout Shelter a Fallout themed mobile game where players construct, manage and defend an underground Vault (an elaborate bomb shelter).
There has been no stopping the Fallout 4 hype machine in the following months, which has included everything from a real-life Nuka Cola Quantum (an in-game soft drink) themed soda, to an extremely popular and effective video series detailing the seven SPECIAL skills players can look forward to. To top it all off, a mobile app calledFallout CHAT released a week before the game’s launch, which lets users communicate with each other using Fallout themed animated GIFs and emoji. All this led to a record-breaking launch that totaled $750 million in sales after its first week.
Just Cause 3‘s Island Giveaway
With Just Cause 3, players are encouraged to leave a wake of destruction behind as they traverse a wide open world set in the fictional Mediterranean island nation of Medici. To stir up anticipation, the game’s marketing had to be just as bold and creative. Part of its promotional campaign includes a Collector’s Edition featuring a life sized model of the main character’s grappling hook arm brace. Additionally, there is a special series of Wingsuit VR videos, watchable through YouTube or using an app, which let audiences get a 360-degree view from the sky as chaos and explosions erupt.
However, these seem almost tame in comparison to the Just Cause 3 Win an Island Challenge, where those who pre-ordered the game for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One compete against each other to rack up the highest in-game score by creatively causing chaos. The winner wins a real life private island to call their own.
Star Wars Battlefront Beta Breaks Records
Star Wars fandom reached an all-new heights this year with the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, and few other products took advantage of the enthusiasm the way Star Wars: Battlefront did. Officially revealed in April and developed by DICE (of Battlefield fame), the game puts players in the role of a Rebel soldier or Empire Storm Trooper, fighting each other in iconic scenes from the movie series.
In October, weeks before the game officially released, a public beta was hosted to give developers a work out any game kinks, while giving fans have a chance to try out the game before they decide to buy. The response was tremendous, with a record-breaking 9.5 million participants taking part, making it the biggest beta in EA history, and building up anticipation for the game’s launch.
Rise of the Tomb Raider Survives Its Fans
Lara Croft saw a very successful revival when the Tomb Raider reboot launched in 2012. The follow-up released this year as an Xbox One exclusive, and Microsoft spared no expense in promoting it. However, some of the more creative promotional campaigns included a living billboard, where eight devoted fans were challenged to survive against harsh conditions (as voted on by viewers) like snow storms and rain for 24 hours.
Promotions featuring viewer interaction didn’t stop there. Viewers who tuned in to Rise of the Tomb Raider streams from their Xbox Ones received in-game gifts. Additionally, streamers had the option of turning on Expedition Mode, which lets viewers decide the player’s load out before they take on special challenges, leading to unpredictable results. One of the most popular modifications included giving Lara an extremely exaggerated “Big Head” as made her way through the obstacles.
Halo 5: Guardians Sets World Record
It has been a great year for Halo fans, with the release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection last fall, leading into the launch of Halo 5: Guardians in October. The Master Chief Collection included access to an early Halo 5 multiplayer beta, and the Master Chief’s momentum continued from there.
PlayStation love is at an all-time high, and Sony has taken advantage of it with events like live broadcasting its E3 presentation to select theaters across the US and Canada so that fans can come together and celebrate. It was at there that Sony revealed a flurry of surprises, which included a teaser trailer for a Final Fantasy 7 Remake, a lengthy gameplay video for The Last Guardian (finally ending rumors of the game being canceled), the launch of Shenmue 3‘s Kickstarter campaign (another game franchise fans thought abandoned), and how Call of Duty: Black Ops III was officially throwing its main support behind the PlayStation 4.
Microsoft has had a very good year by saying a little and doing a lot, starting with announcing in January that Windows 10 would be a free upgrade for all Windows 7 and 8.1 users for a year. There’s no better price than free, and the strategy has led to a very successful launch of the new operating system, which has cross-connective features with the Xbox One gaming console.
The Xbox One also saw some major upgrades with the launch of a backwards compatibility, which allows owners to access dozens of select games from the Xbox 360’s library. A very attractive feature, considering how this fall’s releases are marked by a great many sequels, like the previously mentioned Fallout 4. At the same time, Microsoft announced and launched an Elite controller, which quickly sold out among online retailers, despite the $150 price tag.
Last but not least, in a year when technology discussions have mainly been around virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift, Microsoft surprised audiences with the announcement of the HoloLens, which takes a decidedly different approach by augmenting reality with interactive graphics. Coupled with the announcement of an augmented reality version of Minecraft, along with other gaming innovations like Project X-Ray, the device tends to steal some of the spotlight away from VR whenever it takes to the stage.
If there’s one 2015 success story that just can’t be ignored, it’s Universal’s Minions.
Created by Illumination Entertainment (the same studio behind the Despicable Me films) and released by Universal Studios, the prequel became a huge box office success, grossing $1.1 billion worldwide. That’s not including the success the adorable little henchmen saw in other promotions, including tie-ins with the likes of Amazon and McDonald’s, and their widely popular mobile game Minions Paradise.
Their success is continuing on the home front as well. VarietyÂ reports that the home entertainment campaign for Minions is outpacing a number of releases by 40 percent. That’s including big hits like Avengers: Age of Ultron, Inside Out and even Universal’s own blockbuster Jurassic World, none of which could touch Minions’ 7 million engagements within their campaign periods.Â
Minions also scored big on the Digital Audience Ratings (DAR) front, ranking within the top five for a second week in a row. The movie had no trouble notching its way into the top five, with onlyÂ Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice beating it out.Â
The social engagement with Minions has also been at an all-time high leading up to its home release, with nearly 10 million mentions across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social sites. Facebook even went as far as to add custom Minions stickers to its site, so users could chat with one another using the cute little guys, utilizing a number of reactions.
The momentum for the Minions doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon. In fact, don’t be surprised if they become the surprise holiday gift idea of the season, between stuffed plush dolls and other goods. Â
The home release of the film should no doubt sell well into the millions, keeping the Minions popular enough until the arrival of Despicable Me 3 on June 30, 2017.
Spike TV once hosted the Spike Video Game Awards, a show that not only handed out trophies to developers, but also featured exclusive announcements and trailers. However,following 2013’s online-only VGX Awards, producer Geoff Keighley, a long-time veteran of Gametrailers.tv, opted to do something different. He wanted to make an awards show that focused more on the games and less on celebrities.
That gamble paid off when his self produced The Game Awards show which made its debuted last year in Las Vegas, the day before Sony’s PlayStation Experience. It garnered two million viewers through channels like YouTube, Twitch, and Steam, which is nearly double what Spike’s awards events generated. It also generated more than 341 million impressions through social media. Not bad for a first-year effort.
This year, The Game Awards returned as strong as ever, premiering earlier in the month and featuring a number of special awards and other features, including the debut of Double Fine’s Psychonauts 2 and its crowdfunding campaign, along with a fitting tribute to Satoru Iwata, the Nintendo president who passed away earlier in the year. The show came in at a shorter length compared to the previous year’s show, but it still ran in a very timely manner.
Once again, the gamble paid off for Keighley and his team, according to Polygon. The show’s online viewership rose 20 percent over last year’s numbers, with 2.3 million people tuning in across Twitch, YouTube and other streaming channels.
Where The Game Awards really took off is through social media. The show managed to generate more than one billion impressions on Twitter that utilized the hashtag #TheGameAwards, well over double the previous year. More than 175,000 different users utilized the hashtag in all, and that doesn’t take into account the volume of messages posted on other social media platforms, such as Facebook.
This goes to show that bold ideas, even for something as lavish as an awards presentation, can work. Keighley is obviously no stranger when it comes to producing an effective games program, and his return to focus on those within the industry with little involvement from Hollywood stars (though the likes of Kiefer Sutherland and Shaquille O’Neal did make appearances) seems to be one of the strong factors behind The Game Awards.
Still, for subsequent shows, Keighley hopes to improve in a few key areas. “A tighter production technically, a shorter run time, and more on-stage awards,” he said. “The format feels good, and it’s been nice to see the audience response two sold years means we’re on the right path.”
As to where the show can go from here, Keighley is confident in a 2016 edition, which could hone an even bigger audience. “With the growth this year and all the sponsor support, I feel pretty confident we will be back next December for The Game Awards 2016,” he proclaimed.
With games like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and Deer Hunter, Glu Mobile remains one of the top mobile game companies of 2015. But with the ever-growing mobile gaming space, it will take a lot to get ahead as we move into the next year.
[a]listdaily recently spoke to Niccolo de Masi, Glu President, CEO & Chairman, for his thoughts on what mobile gaming may look like next year and beyond, especially considering emerging technologies like virtual reality.
The Great Consolidation
de Masi states that the mobile gaming industry has been going through a “maturation phase” that will continue throughout the next year. However, with the increasingly crowded market, it will be become harder for smaller companies to compete with ones that are Glu sized or larger, given what’s needed to ship a successful game. “There will be fewer big mobile game companies and fewer big mobile games.”
In addition to having a fun game, you need distribution solutions by either having a great IP or through aggressive marketing. The game also has to be fun enough to retain its users over a long term while monetizing that time, which requires a lot of analytics. At the same time, the success of existing games are elongated. For Glu, the biggest titles of 2014 continued being big in 2015.
Furthermore, “game companies aren’t just competing with other game companies on the Apple App Store any longer. They’re competing with all entertainment products.” These include non-gaming apps like Netflix, Facebook and even Yelp. They’re all competing for the consumer’s time on their phones, so game companies are increasingly describing themselves as technology companies and platforms. They have to in a world that has gone mobile.
As a result, mobile gaming will look increasingly like other entertainment industries like music, TV, books and movies over the next five years. There will be a lot of consolidation, with a handful of huge companies at the top, acquiring smaller ones, while small companies will try to put out breakthrough hits in hopes of being acquired. Very few companies will fall in between. “Activision’s purchase of King for $5.9 billion is a mark of things to come.”
Hollywood needs to get personal
Among the game predictions, de Masi states that we’re likely to see a mobile first-person shooter game (hopefully published by Glu) release in 2016 that will break $200 million in cumulative revenue across its lifetime, setting a high bar for both revenue and longevity.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we’re likely to see celebrity themed game that will meet or surpass the success seen with Glu’s Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Although Glu has published games based on movie franchises like James Bond, Mission Impossible and The Terminator, none have performed as well in 2015 as Kardashian, which is based on a person instead of a movie brand.
He describes this as the “personalization of media,” which will be an enduring trend, and “the future of Hollywood will increasingly be more about people than a third party brand.”
Virtual Reality and The Living Room Experience
Glu released Deer Hunter 2014 for the Samsung Gear VR, and is very confident about the technology’s growth. However, we probably won’t see big revenues come from VR in 2016, and the primary opportunities won’t be with the “thousand dollar, connect-to-the-PC experience.”
Instead, it will be with the $49-99 devices that you can use your phone with. Not only does its low cost make it more accessible, but it’s more compelling for people traveling on a train or plane, or even kids in the back of a car. As we see continuing hardware improvements over the next few years, we can look forward to Oculus Rift quality experiences dropping to a $99 price point or less. Momentum will continue to build up over the next few years, and de Masi predicts that we will see a hundred million devices on the market by 2020, instead of one million.
As for other technologies, de Masi states that smart watches “probably won’t sell as well as people think in 2016, and tablet sales will be flat.” Smartphones will remain the primary mobile gaming device, and “will remain the biggest revenue platform in 2016,” which will probably remain the same in 2017 and 2018.
Despite how primary focus will stay on phones for the foreseeable future, de Masi also talks about how companies like Apple and Google will continue to promote a “quad-screen experience” across their brands of phones, laptops, tablet and TVs. These companies are competing to for living room space, and are looking to different ways to push out the competition and become a single branded entertainment experience. Although devices like the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV aren’t effective gaming platforms yet, “Glu is poised to expand by following them into the living room” when they are.
While a lot of social media platforms have showed interest in producing “buy” buttons for ads on their sites for some time, they don’t seem to have equal reception when it comes to consumer use.
A new report from eMarketer indicates that, based on numbers reported by a November 2015 poll conducted by GlobalWebIndex, Tumblr showed the most popularity when it came to whether users would be interested in using a “buy” button â and even that number came in at a low at 17 percent. Other sites that followed closely behind were Instagram with 14 percent, Pinterest with 13 percent, Twitter with 12 percent and Facebook with 9 percent.)
Even with the reemergence of social commerce on many of these sites, it appears that buying direct is a practice that still hasn’t caught on. Regardless, some retailers believe that using these buttons could result in some form of revenue change, as indicated on the chart below.
So will “buy” buttons take off There are a couple of pain points that come into play, like the security of using them on a site that already has most of your information gathered. In addition, some consumers simply like shopping around a particular site for deals, such as Amazon, instead of jumping onto something randomly offered through a social site.
This practice could obviously change as more effective methods are introduced around the “buy” button, particularly if companies introduce special deals that are coordinated with them. For now, though, it appears interest is at a minimum level, even though some companies remain optimistic.
Another study fromÂ Boston Retail PartnersÂ pointed out that, once the end of next year rolls around, retailers expect to see a 34 percent increase through social media, including the use of “buy” buttons. However, 28 percent stated that there was no change expected from this.
Liz Zink, the social media strategist at online menswear and accessories retailer JackThreads, toldÂ eMarketerÂ such buttons could do wonders for business:Â âNot only have the buy buttons been incredibly exciting for us, but [thereâs] also the opportunity to advertise and reach a larger scope of audience.â
Newzoo has released its latest report detailing the top core PC games for November, with the top three games (League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Minecraft) remaining unchanged from the previous month. However, the rest of the list has plenty of movers and shakers, including a solid debut for Bethesda’s highly anticipated Fallout 4.
One of the biggest movers on the list is Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard’s latest PC hit, which managed to make its way up seven spots following the World Championship that took place at BlizzCon last month. Another fan favorite from Bethesda, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, moved up five spots to number 15, despite being a four year old game. This is likely because of the impressive mod community, showing that consumers want to be more involved with the games they play.Â
The full top twenty list is below:Â
Fallout 4 may not have broken into the top ten with its debut, but it performed significantly on the PC front, with more than 445,000 concurrent players on Steam alone â a number that breaks the previous record set by Grand Theft Auto V upon its debut. Newzoo believes part of this success comes from the mod-creating community, encouraging players to try out new perks and tricks within the game’s universe.
As for Heroes of the Storm, Newzoo noted that its ties with eSports provided a big push, as the World Championship offered a $4 million prize pool, and generated $1.5 million in physical ticket sales, while also attracting a large, healthy online viewing audience.
Other findings within the report include the following:
Blizzardâs Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, possibly also boosted by BlizzCon, gained one spot to #4, displacing Wargamingâs World of Tanks to #5.
World of Warcraft remains stable at #6 despite the fact that Blizzard itself seemed scared of subscriber loss.
Psyonixâs Rocket League seems to have finally lost its momentum, falling once place to #13.
November saw a new title at #20. Point Blank developed by South Korean company Zepetto is a fast-pace online first-person shooter that is very similar to Counter-strike:GO. Along with NCSoft, Zepetto is the only Asian publisher to feature in rankings.
Newzoo’s been keeping quite busy, not only with its report numbers and articles, but also with expanding its company. It recently confirmed that it would be expanding into the San Francisco area this January into the RocketSpace tech office space, within the heart of the city.
Regarding overall business and expansion, CEO Peter Warman noted, “This year has been intense, in a very positive way. We welcomed more than 50 new clients, deepened our working relationship with our running subscribers and doubled our headcount. Being first to spot, quantify and report on trends like eSports and video has ultimately broadened our product portfolio and client base considerably. To maintain our leading position and be the go-to partner to navigate change, we have developed an ambitious strategy going forward. This will become clear soon as we enter 2016. I am particularly proud to see that our team still has the âplay hard, work hardâ attitude, despite our explosive growth.âÂ
2015 was a fundamental year for the gaming scene, with best-sellers across the board for mobile, PC and console. Today, YouTube revealed the official statistics on the top gaming videos for 2015, including the most popular trending videos and the top ten games.
Four of the top 10 trending videos were teasers for upcoming games, including big hits like Fallout 4 and Star Wars: Battlefront, but short reveals for games like the Final Fantasy VII remake and Pokemon GO! are enough to get buzz sturring.
Dawn made a surprise debut in the top ten, along with Agar.io, but others, like Black Ops III and FIFA 16, are assured favorites.
In addition to these statistics, the following information was also revealed:
30 percent of gamers on YouTube are women
YouTube is not just “for the kids” – a third of gamers on YouTube are 35 and up
47 percent of the YouTube Gamers surveyed are now parents
These numbers indicate that PC, mobile and console games alike still have thriving popularity, and newcomers like Until Dawn, Star Wars: Battlefront and Agar.io can still find a place in the gaming realm alongside established sequels. Look for 2016’s numbers to follow similar traits, with titles like Battleborn and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will likely compete for a first place victory alongside other popular favorites.
With Oculus, PlayStation VR and others set to hit the market, 2016 is going to be a big year for virtual reality. Previous estimates indicated the industry is expected to see a big windfall over the next few years, but a new report from TrendForce indicates it’ll be even stronger.
The research firm estimates that the virtual reality market could grow $6.7 billion next year, per GamesIndustry International. That’s a staggering number, but the future estimate for 2020 is even bigger, to around $70 billion. That’s $20 billion accounting for hardware, and $50 billion based on games and applications.
TrendForce believes that a good portion of next year’s numbers will come from the hardware side, as people begin to show interest in the technology. “These explosive growth projections actually do not sufficiently reflect just how hot the VR industry is right now,” said Jason Tsai, a wearable device analyst for TrendForce. “The figures do not include the value of non-commercial uses of VR technology. For example, the industry is currently pushing the development of free software and do-it-yourself apps. While these projects do not immediately generate revenue for the developers, they have a vital role in the promotion market growth and innovations.”
As for how virtual reality could succeed, TrendForce believes that social media will play a huge part, as user-generated VR content will push others to give it a shot even if it’s not “their thing,” per se. “The development of the VR industry is not solely based on wearable devices launched by major hardware vendors such as Sony, Oculus and HTC,” said Tsai. “Much of the growth drive also comes from independent developers that contribute innovative apps to the VR industry. Their market value is not often reflected in he data. Since making apps does not have a high entry barrier, there has been a proliferation of non-commercial software made by students, independent developers and content providers. Instead of being guided by immediate commercial interests, they aim to attract consumers’ attention with innovative products.”
Previous estimates pointed at the VR market only reaching around $30 billion by 2020, compared to augmented reality going as far as $120 billion. However, with the buzz surrounding upcoming gear like the PlayStation VR and Oculus, it’s safe to say that the excitement has definitely leaned toward VR’s favor.
Now it’s just a matter of approach, as finding a way to effectively market a virtual reality headset is sure to be a hefty challenge for some of these companies. Still, Oculus did pretty well with its previous press event, and also has the power of Facebook to back it up. Meanwhile, Sony can easily cater to its PlayStation 4 fanbase, considering more than 30 million people currently own the console which provides more than enough potential for PlayStation VR.
Let’s see where the future virtually goes from here.
Rocket League, a quirky game that combines the thrill of rocket boosted battle cars with the excitement of soccer, was one of 2015’s biggest unexpected hits. Independently developed by Psyonix as a sequel to 2008’s Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, the game saw incredible success, thanks in large part to being an exclusive free offering to subscribers on PlayStation Plus last July. It took off in a big way as a result, and millions of players have experienced the sheer veracity of what could be defined as “soccer with cars” on both PlayStation 4 and PC.
[a]listdailyÂ recently talked to Psyonix’s director of development, Thomas Silloway, about Rocket League‘s success, and what’s in store as it zooms its way to Xbox One early next year.
Rocket LeagueÂ turned out to be a far greater success than its similarly themed predecessor,Â Battle-Cars, andÂ Silloway explained why. “Probably the biggest factor is just timing. It was the right time, we came out in the summer, PlayStation Plus, it just kind of got huge. There weren’t that many games coming out during that time period, so we think timing is the biggest reason. PlayStation Plus, getting that huge audience.”
Social network activity, discussions and online streamers also played a huge role. “[Gamers] just got really viral on YouTube and Reddit and everything, it just kind of built upon itself.”
As far as howÂ Rocket LeagueÂ ended up being part of the PlayStation Plus program, Silloway stated, “I think it was a combination. We showed some interest, and Sony was interested, so we were able to work out a deal.”
Silloway also had plenty of say regarding the positive reaction behind the game. “It’s amazing. All of us are very humbled by the game. We’ve already had eight million players, and it’s done so much better than we’ve thought. And with the eSports ramping up, it’s a blast to watch, and we’re huge fans of the different eSports teams. It’s just really, really exciting, and we’ve got some cool things coming up next year as far as eSports, too.”
The game has seen a considerable amount of promotional content and updates, including the debut of the DeLorean fromÂ Back To the Future, just in time for the film’s 30th anniversary. More free and premium content is being planned for the game going into next year.
Finally, Silloway touched upon the game’s release on Xbox One. “We hope that the success of the PS4 and PC versions will help build up the audience for Xbox, and get people hyped up for it.”
Thank you for your continued support and readership.
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