What It’s Like to Have Super Powers in ‘Gemini: Heroes Reborn’

Many have dreamed suddenly waking up with amazing super powers, but how would they be used, and what would be society’s reaction to these gifted individuals? These are some of the themes that are covered in the NBC television miniseries Heroes Reborn, created by Tim Kring, and continues from where the original 2006-2010 show Heroes left off.

Although the TV series is approaching its epic finale, the fantastic world continues in the video game Gemini: Heroes Reborn, developed by Phosphor Games in partnership with Imperative Entertainment (co-founded by Kring himself). The game comes complete with a stand-alone story and all original characters, giving both fans and those unfamiliar with the series a chance to leap into the world of heroes and villains.

Brad Santos, Producer of Gemini: Heroes Reborn, speaks to [a]listdaily about being super powered and bringing gamers into the world of Heroes Reborn.

Tell us a little about what Gemini: Heroes Reborn is all about.

It is a first-person, action-adventure in which players assume the role of Cassandra, an ordinary college student who through a series of circumstances discovers a number of super powers within her. There are 7 powers in all, and what makes the game really unique and fun is the ability to combine your powers and use them simultaneously. This offers the player tremendous freedom in combat and puzzle solving.

In what ways is Gemini related to the Heroes Reborn television show?

Gemini was inspired by the Heroes universe, but it is a standalone story. The stories betweenGemini and our mobile game called Enigma are intertwined, and show different sides of the same story. Also, one of our main characters did make a brief appearance in one of the Heroes Reborn Webisodes.

What was Tim Kring’s role in the creation of the game?

Tim and his team from the show wrote the story and script for the game, and were involved throughout to ensure the game stayed true to the Heroes universe.

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Are there any cross over events and/or characters between the show and game?

None are planned at this time, but for fans of the show, there are a wealth of Easter eggs throughout the game which pay homage to both the original Heroes series and Heroes Reborn. We were very careful to design the game so that even if a player had never seen a single episode, their game experience would not be impacted.

In what ways will playing the game enhance the show’s experience and vice versa?

I think for fans of the show who have wondered what it would be like to discover you had powers, this is a chance to explore that notion. What would I do with them? How would I react when confronted by a bad guy? What would do with time traveling abilities? For players who have not seen the show, it a chance to see how the team of writers created layered stories with a lot of intrigue and surprises.

How will Gemini help grow the Heroes Reborn audience?

The game was designed primarily to appeal to gamers rather than fans of the show. When we started this project our mission was simply to create a great game, while at the same time knowing that with Tim and his team involved we’d also have a great story. So I do feel that players who love the game will find the urge to go back and check out the show, if they haven’t already.

Goldman Sachs: Virtual Reality Could Reach $80 Billion

[a]listdaily has discussed virtual reality at great length in the past, including the financial boon that will come from the introduction of various headsets this year. However, the team at Goldman Sachs recently published a huge report indicating that it’ll be bigger than anyone imagined – and it could surpass television’s numbers by as soon as 2025.

The report shows that the virtual reality market could reach as much as $80 billion by that time, pointing out several key factors in its success. The highlights from the report can be found below:

Adoption. Even though adoption for virtual reality headsets is likely to be slow at first (mainly due to the cost of around $600, based on Oculus’ selling model), it will ramp up, based on the chart below. It shows just how long it took for smartphone and tablet sales to perk up upon their introduction in the market, with VR headsets showing a similar, but slower, increase.

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Accelerated uptake. With the the chart below, accelerated uptake, as the report notes, is expected to be based around numbers, such as “volume adoption framework” and future pricing for models – especially considering that PlayStation VR and HTC’s Vive don’t have finalized pricing just yet. While the base sits around $80 billion, the “accelerated uptake” could go as high as $182 billion.

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Usage. While video games will be a primary focus for these virtual reality headsets, Goldman Sachs notes that they can be used for other purposes as well, including entertainment, augmented reality, and even practical uses like health care and real estate. The chart below shows just where these markets break down, and while video games have a whopping $11.6 billion forecast, there are others that will easily find their place, like live events ($4.1 billion) and video entertainment ($3.2 billion). Military, education and health care have a distinctive part of the chart as well.

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Price decrease. Some people are balking at the idea of purchasing a virtual reality headset upon release, mainly due to high pricing. However, Goldman Sachs estimates that prices will drop on these head-mounted devices over the next few years, making them affordable. The chart below breaks down just how conveniently priced tablets and smartphones have become since their introduction, even though top-of-the-line models like the iPhone 6S and the iPad Pro continue to command a high price. It just shows there will be balance in the market down the line – although budget-priced items like the Google Cardboard do make virtual reality reasonable to try out.

Chart 4 011516Learning from the past. Virtuality arcade machines and Nintendo’s Virtual Boy attempted to make their way into a mainstream market, introducing virtual reality to an awaiting public. However, their failure is noteworthy, and something today’s market can easily learn from.

“So what has changed that differentiates the current state from the 1990’s flop?” the company asked. “The answer is the technology, in our view.” It noted that with more powerful computers, better immersion and a relatively cheaper cost for building, there’s a far better chance it will “catch on” this time around.

“Fundamentally, virtual/augmented reality creates a new and even more intuitive way to interact with a computer,” the company noted. “In the world of virtual/augmented reality, the controls of the computer become what we are already familiar with, through gestures and graphics.”

Potential. There are many uses already in mind for virtual reality, and companies are already working on ways for better immersion with it. Microsoft’s HoloLens technology promises to be involving and creative, while Facebook, which purchased the Oculus Rift technology in a whopping $2 billion deal, considers Oculus Rift a “teleporter” tool, according to Business Insider. And that’s a far cry from the weird video games that emerged in the 90’s, with deluxe sized headsets and weird, contained cabinets. There’s more involvement now.

“We continue to believe that VR/AR is poised to be the next computing platform. And like the transition from desktop to mobile, it will be disruptive…” said analyst Ben Schachter, in a note sent out from Macquarie Bank on the report. “The first half of 2016 will see the most significant progress on VR/AR ever.”

He also discussed how more people could be swayed by the technology after trying it out. “We have been fortunate to be in the relatively unique position of having tried the latest versions of almost all known devices,” he explained. “And while each has its pros and cons, it is clear that progress is being made.

Now it’s just a matter of time to see how virtual reality sinks in. One thing’s for sure – it certainly isn’t the Virtual Boy all over again.

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Mark Cuban Isn’t Done Investing in ESports and DFS

Mark Cuban is walking through the halls of The Venetian hotel in Las Vegas and every passerby wants a minute with the man of the hour. He’s just wrapped up a conference where he, Shaquille O’Neal, the CEO of Intel and others talk about tech investing in sports and share how technology will shape future sports experiences. Bystanders begin to recognize the most colorful sports franchise owner of the 21st century, and immediately want to have a word, a picture, or offer a proposition.

One suggestion particularly catches the business-minded Cuban’s attention, and he casually fires off his email on the fly as he walks off to another meeting.

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Over 170,000 people were in town for CES, the world’s largest technology trade show, and the last thing a man who sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion is going to do is call a timeout on a potentially good deal. Shark Tank mode never ends.

It’s the first week of January, and Cuban’s enjoying his sixteenth year as owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Thirty-six hours before our meeting, he was in a dog pile celebrating a buzzer-beating, double-overtime game winner. As much as he’s revered for his past successes, he’s always looking toward sprinkling some of his special pixie dust on the next big undertaking, which is also part of the reason why he’s in town.


In recent years Cuban has turned business investments and entrepreneurship into somewhat of a sport, dishing out money like Steve Nash in his heyday. Today is no different. He uses the stage to announce his investment into Fantasy Labs, a platform offering daily fantasy sports (DFS) subscribers with data, analytics, Las Vegas odds and player trends to develop and test models for creating lineups.

Most of Cuban’s ventures have been a slam dunk. Some have turned out worse than a Brendan Haywood signing. How does he measure success for his investments? “By how much money I made from them,” he tells [a]listdaily.

The ebullient Cuban is especially excited about Fantasy Labs because he believes it further champions the progress of eSports, which he thinks is the next frontier of sports. Never a fan of playing from behind, Cuban invested $7 million into Unikrn last year. Unikrn lets consumers bet real money on the outcomes of video game competitions. Welcome to the future.

“I think it can be huge,” he says. “Like all of my businesses I look for leverage points. Unikrn and Fantasy Labs won’t be my last investments in the space.”

Startups like Unikrn and Fantasy Labs could someday signal the start of a seismic shift in the sports landscape: legalizing professional sports gambling in the United States. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver even penned an op-ed in The New York Times in 2014 calling for the legalization and regulation of sports betting. Cuban, whose Mavs won a championship over LeBron James and the Heat in 2011, has long supported that notion and thinks sports betting is inevitable.

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He took the CES stage and discussed DFS, and how multiple states are banning companies like FanDuel and DraftKings. “You have to be an idiot,” Cuban said, to think playing DFS games is like sports betting, or poker. “It’s not gambling, it’s not gambling, it’s not gambling,” he repeated. “The only people who think it’s gambling, as opposed to skill, are people who haven’t played or people who have other political agendas, because that’s also very important these days.”

According to Eilers Research, eSports wagering is estimated to hit $23.5 billion by 2020, generating revenues of $1.81 billion worldwide. Cuban discovered Unikrn when it’s company CEO Rahul Sood appeared on a TV interview on CNBC. Two minutes later, Cuban called. “I’ve known Rahul for a while and respected the work he has done,” Cuban says. “When he came to me with Unikrn I liked what they had accomplished to that point, the upside opportunity and the industry. That’s a trifecta that was the selling point.”

The man who’s witnessed mostly every minute of Dirk Nowitzki’s Hall of Fame-bound career classifies eSports as a “sport,” and even likens it to playing five-dimensional chess against the world. “It is accepted by a mainstream audience. You can’t find a kid 14-to-21 (years old) that doesn’t know about it. It’s just new to a lot of people outside that age bracket.”

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is a big-time League of Legends gamer, as is former Lakers three-time champion Rick Fox with his latest investment in a LOL team. So are owners of the Sacramento Kings. How can professional sports athletes further help legitimize eSports to its detractors?

“I think they make people ask what they’re doing. Just like they ask why I’m involved,” Cuban continues. “There is no reason to try to legitimize eSports to anyone. ESports is a real industry. People can choose whether to connect to it themselves. The participation numbers and the online viewership numbers speak for themselves. What matters is that people who love eSports really get into it. They watch clips and matches. They play the game. There is no need to try to convince those on the outside.”

When Cuban is briefed that the eSports market was estimated at $747 million in 2015, and it’s expected to grow 150 percent by 2018, he warns that those numbers mean nothing for brands looking for marketing and partnership opportunities. “It’s a sucker’s game to look at industry size and think it means anything,” he says.

What he is excited about though is the NBA working with partners to extend its games into the eSports world by turning titles like the NBA2K franchise into active competitive online platforms. He even has an open-door policy for hosting such events at the American Airlines Center in Dallas just like the ones that take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles.


Hours after he unveils Fantasy Labs and lays a verbal smackdown on anyone condemning DFS, Cuban is at a swanky Vegas nightclub at the Cosmopolitan, joined by rapper T.I. and fellow Dallas icon Tony Romo, among others. Cuban remains easily accessible just as he was earlier in the day. Allowing unfiltered access has long been his persona.

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Fans walk up to casually greet him. There’s nothing flashy or pretentious about his garb. He’s donned in his customary and casual courtside attire: jeans and a polo. The fitted shirt shows off that at 57, his physique is just as defined as his shrewd business acumen.

The outspoken Cuban is a contrarian and the antithesis of the archetypal boss. He’s served ice cream at a Dairy Queen, been slammed through a table at a WWE event, drew cats and sold them for $1,000 a piece, sold Mavs merchandise with an image of his likeness using a urinal, starred as the president of the United States in the movie Sharknado 3 and been suspended and fined close to $2 million for his cantankerous behavior toward NBA officials. In short, he does whatever the heck he wants and puts his money where his mouth is.

Aside from the du jour of headline-grabbing material, Cuban presides over a pool of projects – specifically at the helm of AXS TV – but there’s way too many to list from his $3 billion portfolio.

One multifold notion that rings true for the self-made man: You’re only as good as the company you keep.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan.

How Twitch Is Embracing the ‘Twitch Plays’ Community

Although Twitch is primarily used for broadcasters to show off their gaming skills and special events, it has also become a place for its community to come together and interact. Nothing demonstrates the communal sense of joy and frustration more than the “Twitch Plays” sessions like TwitchPlaysPokemon, in which thousands of fans enter commands into the chat room, which then translate into movements in the game. Since that time, more games have challenged the community, including Dark Souls and The Legend of Zelda, and now the channel has introduced a new directory devoted entirely to it.

The “Twitch Plays” directory makes it easier for viewers to find and discover community-based sessions with a number of games, including new entries like City Stream,TwitchPlaysZombidle, Kid Mech and TwitchVersusZombies, all with one goal in mind: letting the audience take control of the action. Of course, the Pokemon and Dark Souls channels are still running, along with ones devoted to the TinyBuild mobile game Punch Club.This indicates that the “Twitch Plays” format could be wide open for new games and partners looking to interact with the channel’s vast community.

“The Twitch community has consistently rallied behind organically created Twitch Plays games, with the trend growing rather than subsiding,” said Kathy Astromoff, VP of Developer Success, Twitch. “Making it easier for prospective players to find Twitch Plays games drives developer success, and encourages new developers to begin experimenting. Twitch Plays are just one of the myriad ways developers can discover new users and build stronger engagement with the Twitch community.”

To get further insight on the new directory, we sat down with Twitch’s PR director, Chase, speaking exclusively with [a]listdaily.

What do you think is the biggest driving factor behind the “Twitch Plays” sessions? Is it just how the community comes together for a singular purpose, or perhaps something deeper than that?

People enjoy playing “Twitch Plays” games for the same reason they enjoy multiplayer or co-op games – playing with other people is fun. On top of that, “Twitch Plays” have a live entertainment benefit: each big moment is unique, and that experience is shared among all the individuals who are present. The emotions you feel when you’re experiencing something live, in the moment, are much more powerful when shared with your peers.

The “Twitch Plays” sessions have grown quite a bit since the original Pokemon broadcast. What do you think is the biggest factor to consider when it comes to creating these sessions?

Like all games, “Twitch Plays” games are about building experiences.  We know it’s hard enough to build a compelling experience for one person – building them for thousands of people to play and interact at the same time is difficult indeed!

It’s incredible how other games have been able to factor into the “Twitch Plays” program, including Dark Souls, of all things. How does someone decide what would make a great community-driven game?

Our hope is that developers move beyond adapting existing games to creating brand new experiences specifically for Twitch, like City Stream and Twitch Versus Zombies have done.  Time will tell what makes a great community-driven game in this context.

Do you feel that the program will be a huge draw for potential new partners?

Our goal is for “Twitch Plays” to provide a venue for developers to share and monetize their “Twitch Plays” creations, just like streamers do on their channels today.  So yes, we certainly hope so.

Highlights from TwitchPlaysPokemon, as well as how users can get involved with it, can be found below.

Signs That ESports Are Officially Mainstream

It seems like a lifetime ago since ESPN president John Skipper declared that eSports was not a sport. “It’s not a sport — it’s a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition… Mostly, I’m interested in doing real sports,” he told Re/code.

The broadcast company seemed to backtrack April of last year by televising the Heroes of the Dorm finals on ESPN2, marking the first time a collegiate eSport has been put on television. Then in the fall, former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein was made head of a new eSports division created by game publisher Activision Blizzard, and has said that eSports are “larger than most major sports, and will grow to be bigger than all of them.”

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All these events and more seemed to be building up to today’s announcement of ESPN Esports, a new vertical on ESPN.com dedicated to eSport event coverage from League of Legends to Halo. If fans have been waiting for a sign that eSports have gone mainstream, then this move by ESPN should be it.

However, ESPN Esports is really the latest in a long trend of growth, marked events like how TBS will air a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament show in prime time this year, EA forming its own competitive gaming division, and how Activision bought out Major League Gaming to help further its own eSports plans. Not to mention the fact that former NBA starRick Fox bought a pro League of Legends team, and hosts of Inside NBA coming together to talk about eSports during this year’s CES. Shaquille O’Neal came out in defense of eSports as a sport by stating, “I heard the top guy say that the eLeague is the second biggest sport in the world today.”

Estimates show that the eSports could be worth $1 billion by 2017, and it’s not hard to see why. In 2015, The International DOTA2 Championship set records with a prize pool worth $18 million. The League of Legends World Championship 2015 final match is said to have drawn in 36 million viewers globally.

ESports has exploded into a major phenomenon, and it has reached a point where it’s no longer a question of whether or not it should be taken seriously as a sport. Instead, companies are wondering how far it will rise, and how to best take advantage of the industry as it continues to grow. One possible challenge is in the viewership make-up. As a July 2015 EEDAR report explains, the majority of viewers watch eSports to see high level competition and ways to improve their own game. However, only a minority of viewers are attached to any particular team or player, which is a distinguishing feature from traditional sports, where there are big stars and teams that are supported with great fanaticism.

Disruptor Beam Boldly Goes Into ‘Star Trek: Timelines’

With Star Trek reaching its 50th anniversary this year, companies are already looking to join in the rising enthusiasm around the franchise.

Disruptor Beam has wasted no time in providing an experience for fans of all ages to enjoy with its mobile release, Star Trek: Timelines, which is available on iOS and Android today.

The game takes place across numerous eras in the Star Trek franchise, including the original series, Generations, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and a number of classic films. Players can pick and choose characters and ships from each era, creating an immersive experience that draws them in like no Star Trek-licensed game before it.

[a]listdaily recently sat down with the founder and CEO of Disruptor Beam, Jon Radoff, aboutTimelines, including its creation and how big a draw the license continues to be after all these years.

How did the Star Trek Timelines project come to light? 

We shipped our first major title Game of Thrones Ascent in 2013, after which we started to actively pursue our next IP. We really needed to figure out what might be a good fit for Disruptor Beam and our model of creating games based around worlds with communities of passionate, dedicated fans. Star Trek was always high on our list, first and foremost because we are all huge fans of the IP. I mean, c’mon – it’s Star Trek!

Star Trek also happens to have millions of fans around the globe and there was an opportunity to create a great mobile game for those fans. We also recognized the sheer amount of content that exists in the Star Trek universe and also saw opportunity in translating that content into a rich, story- and character-driven game. There are hundreds of Star Trek characters — many whom fans adore, and even some that they don’t. We realized how great it would be to leverage those characters, the ships, the storylines and the entire universe that Gene Roddenberry created within a Disruptor Beam game. It was the fit we were looking for.

So, we reached out to CBS and they too recognized the potential for a great game that would bring together all eras of Star Trek. They saw the success of Game of Thrones Ascent and the potential to bring that same level of IP authenticity and depth-of-storytelling to a mobile game. And, here we are today!

How were the developers able to intertwine all these different Star Trek timelines into one product? We’re talking all the way from the original series to Star Trek Nemesis.

You got it: fifty years of Star Trek in one game. Well, it wasn’t easy, and it is something that we will continue to expand upon for months to come. But, the foundation of it all is in the opening storyline within Star Trek Timelines. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Q (a well-known character from the Next Generation series) is your guide. He informs you of a temporal anomaly in the universe that has merged time-and-space bringing together characters, ships, and locations from across all eras. It is that anomaly that provides the basis for players being able to assemble their dream crew of characters from The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise, plus the first ten Star Trek films.

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How closely did you work with CBS and Star Trek alumni to capture authenticity?

We have worked very closely with CBS. They are the stewards of the Star Trek IP and so we’ve been in lockstep with them throughout development. It was actually through discussions with CBS, and by talking to fans, that the idea for the temporal crisis storyline came to fruition. And, it was then that the opportunity to work with John de Lancie (who played Q inThe Next Generation and other series) came about. We’ve been in touch with some other Star Trek actors, but have worked most closely with John. He has been involved in story development, working with our narrative team, and has lent his voice throughout. John has even helped us to promote the game during his convention appearances and on Twitter.

Star Trek continues to be a hot property after all these years, including the Star Trek Beyond movie coming this summer. What do you think the biggest draw for the license is?

It really goes back to Gene Roddenberry’s original vision for Star Trek and the message of optimism for humanity’s destiny within the universe. Star Trek is different than many other science fiction shows and movies throughout the years in that optimism, as well as in its complex storytelling that involves not just conflict, but science, engineering, diplomacy, and more. That complexity is what I believe has appealed to fans of Star Trek for 50 years now and will continue to for many more years to come.

If successful, could we see more additions to the Star Trek Timelines universe in the future?

Of course! We’ll continue to add to the game over time, just as we have done with Game of Thrones Ascent. There are many, many hours of gameplay in the launch version of the game, but it’s still only a small portion of what we hope the product will become over the next several years. One of the most exciting things about having a passionate fanbase is that they have strong opinions and can help us make the game even better. We’re listening to the community and will continue to expand the game for those Star Trek fans!

Twitter Debuts @TwitterGaming

Twitter wants to not just join, but facilitate conversations on and around gaming on the platform. Today, the social site best known for its 140 character limit brought @TwitterGaming to life with one tweet.


Soon, others joined the party.


Things escalated quickly.


In a statement to VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi, Twitter gave us an idea of what we can expect from this new account.

Whether folks are discovering a new game, tweeting at a gaming personality, keeping up with gaming news or following their favorite eSport, we want to make it easy for gaming fans to find and join the most vibrant conversations about games.”

Twitter has lately shown an increasing interest in gaming. In December, Rodrigo Velloso, formerly Google’s director of gaming content joined the company as the director of gaming partnerships.

Publishers That Go Beyond Games

Video games revenues may surpass that of movies and other traditional forms of entertainment, but that hasn’t stopped the industries from partnering together, as seen with announcement like the upcoming Warcraft movie. So, it probably shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise when Activision Blizzard announced its own TV and movie studio last November, making turning the video game publisher into an all-around multimedia entertainment company.

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Activision Blizzard Studios named Stacey Sher as its Co-President today, who has produced films such as The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained, Erin Brokovich and more. She will be working alongside former Disney executive Nick van Dyk to bring Activision Blizzard’s library of popular franchises like Call of Duty, Diablo, StarCraft and others to television and movies. While opening a movie studio, hot on the heels of acquiring mobile game company King Digital for $5.9 billion, and starting an independently owned eSports league (which led to a buyout of MLG) is very impressive and certainly spectacular, it’s not the first time a publisher has decided to diversify beyond games.

Capcom, famous for its Street Fighter and Resident Evil series, once had a Resident Evil themed restaurant in Japan called the Biohazard Cafe and Grill STARS, and before that, operated a themed bar. The company, which can’t seem to give up its love of Capcom themed food and drink, opened up another themed cafe in November, based on the Monster Hunter series.

However, Capcom’s forays into themed restaurants pale in comparison to how Konami has diversified. Whether or not Konami is still in the video game business is still up for some debate, considering how it canceled the highly anticipated Silent Hills, which was being developed in partnership with director Guillermo del Toro and promised to star The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus. This is in addition to ousting former vice president Hideo Kojima from the company.

Although Konami has no games announced for 2016, last year’s release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was a huge success. Even without video games, Konami gains revenue from other sources, particularly in manufacturing. Konami Gaming Inc. makes cabinets for casinos, while its health & fitness branch operates a number health clubs that use machines designed and built by the company.

In the meantime, Hideo Kojima has started his own independent game studio, with the stated goal of producing more than video games in the future. Eventually, the Metal Gear creator hopes to branch into movie making and animated video. His company will follow a route that’s similar to Activision’s by first establishing video game IPs before branching out to other media.

Then there’s Nintendo. In 2014, the late Satoru Iwata announced plans for a non-gaming, non-wearble, Quality of Life (QoL) product that would track a user’s fitness and health. Since Nintendo was originally a playing card company before it started making video games and consoles, it shouldn’t have to resist the need to change and diversify into other industries. Partnering with the US company ResMed, the QoL initiative promised to further expand the trend started by the Wii, which used motion sensing technology and products like the Wii Fit to get gamers up and moving. However, it looks like QoL may have been canceled with Iwata’s passing, since the proposed product was said to launch in March 2016, but there has been no mention of it since it was originally announced.

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Instead, Nintendo may be looking to branch out in a completely different direction. Last year, Nintendo announced that it was developing its first mobile game, Miitomo, which is expected to launch in March. The game will feature a strong communication and personal information sharing aspect, which gives it the potential to be a new kind of social network platform. Additionally, Nintendo will launch a service called Nintendo Account, which will connect Nintendo hardware and mobile devices together, allowing friends to communicate with each other cross platform. There are also speculation that Nintendo Account will offer members special discounts or benefits at theme parks, movie theaters and stores.

Under the lead of new president, Tatsumi Kimishima, the company could go in any direction, including one where it grows beyond producing video games.

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Original Scripted TV Content On the Rise

Thanks to streaming networks like Hulu, Amazon and Netflix, broadcast television isn’t the only place to catch original programming anymore.

An eMarketer report indicates that the number of original scripted TV shows has managed to double over the past seven years. FX Networks managed to conduct a look at the progression of said programming over the years, showing that basic cable has seen a significant jump, from 66 shows in 2009 to 181 in 2015. That’s huge compared to broadcast, which merely jumped from 122 to 147 in that same time frame.

Broadcast Chart 011316Of course, streaming services have shown the biggest jump, from just two in 2009 all the way to 44 for this past year. Pay cable also saw an increase, from 21 to 37. Overall, that brings the count from 211 to 409. 

Original programming has become quite a hook for advertisers over the years, particularly Netflix, which promotes its hit shows such as Daredevil and House of Cards on other channels.

But not everyone is hooked on original content. A November 2015 report from RBC Capital Markets indicates that more than half of U.S. Internet users didn’t really let original content influence their decision to subscribe to a specialty channel. That said, more than 25 percent of overall respondents did say that having access to original content is a driving factor when it comes to interest in those channels.

That’s not to say original content is a waste, since eMarketer uses different RBC Capital Markets statistics that show how original content has caught on with viewers, although it’s not the primary reason they subscribe. The report shows that the share of Netflix users that didn’t watch any original content dropped by one-third. However, numbers compiled by RBC also show that 24 percent of users of the service don’t watch original content.

Chart 011316Regardless of whether it’s watched or not, subscribers still like having the option, with 73 percent indicating that they’re “not at all likely” going to cancel their service over the next three months.

2016 should continue to be a strong year for the channel’s original programming, with new seasons of House of Cards and Daredevil bowing over the next few months, along with its first original movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2.


These Brands Generated The Most Buzz in 2015

The past year has been big for certain brands, mainly due to the offering of new products, ideal advertising campaigns that tied in with said products, or popular new features that caught on with consumers.

YouGov BrandIndex recently revealed a report pointing out the top ten “buzzworthy” brands for 2015, based on its BuzzRankings system across a number of respondents. The list is as follows, with a small explanation for each one:

1. Amazon. This company has done extremely well with its “Prime Day” event for exclusive Prime members, as well as the introduction of expedient delivery service with consumers requiring refills of certain products. It’s already started 2016 in a big way as well, with a new program that saves Prime members 20 percent off of current and upcoming video game releases.


2. Netflix. The streaming channel did extremely well with its original programming in 2015, and it looks to continue the trend this year with new seasons of popular favorites like House of Cards and Daredevil, along with additional shows and films.

3. YouTube. Google’s video channel exceeded expectations in 2015, with the launch of its music service, the introduction of a new subscription-based Red program and more original programming. It celebrated its 10th birthday in style, and it isn’t stopping anytime soon.

4. Google. Thanks to a restructuring into a holding company named Alphabet Inc., the company also succeeded in 2015 with the introduction of new products, including driverless cars and the Pixel-C tablet. 2016 should continue being a strong year for it.

5. Cancer Treatment Centers of America. This is the only health care company to end up in the top ten, but the Cancer Treatment Centers of America have proven to be an established brand, taking care of patients and their families with ease.


6. (tie) Apple. Of course Apple had a big year, with the launch of new devices like the Apple Watch and iPad Pro, as well as its new Apple Pay program and various retail partnerships.

6. (tie) Samsung. Samsung also fared well on the smartphone/tablet front, with the new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, as well as the expansion of the Tizen operating system.

8. iPhone. Even though Apple already made this list, the iPhone gets its own place, thanks to the introduction of the new 6S and 6S Plus models, with more than 13 million units sold during the first weekend.

9. (tie) Walgreens. The pharmacy chain continued to do big business in 2015, with a new connected health partnership with Qualcomm, as well as the purchase of the Rite-Aid line of stores.

9. (tie) Lowe’s. The home improvement company managed to draw in a big audience of consumers this year, and also did away from products that used pesticides that may damage honeybees, earning the chain positive praise.

How will these rankings change for 2016