How Nexon M Makes Mobile Games For the Long Haul

Founded in 2013, Nexon M is the mobile division of Nexon — a company with a strong reputation for popular free-to-play online games on the PC like MapleStory and partnering with Cliff Bleszinski’s studio, Boss Key Productions, to publish BlueStreak. However, the successes on the PC don’t overshadow what’s being done on mobile.

Last year, Nexon M partnered with Big Huge Games to release DomiNations, a history-themed construction and strategy game for mobile devices. It is also working with Respawn Entertainment and Particle City to develop several all-original games based on the popular PC and console exclusive, Titanfall.

What’s more striking is Nexon M’s ongoing strategy of releasing games with a service cycle expected to last 10 years or longer. This is in stark contrast to how many companies are looking to put as many games on the market as possible in hopes of fast success.

[a]listdaily speaks to Nexon M’s General Manager, John Robinson, about the long expectancy for its games and a philosophy that seems run contrary to how many regard the mobile games industry.

John RobinsonWhat is the thought process behind developing mobile games with a 10 year life cycle

Nexon put out the first free-to-play games and had a tremendous amount of success. Even before the industry moved to mobile, Nexon had experience running live games with massive, multi-million, user communities for long periods of time. A number of those games just crossed their 10-year operation threshold, including MapleStory and KartRider. So, the precedent is set on the PC side.

We think less about what platform games are on, and more about how we can make great experiences for gamers. When Nexon moved into the mobile space over the last few years, our goals as a company didn’t change.

How do long-term service games fit-in when mobile devices have such a high turnover on both hardware and OS

In the same there are a lot of updates on Android and iOS, you see similar updates on the PC side. Evolving technology shouldn’t hold us back from achieving our goals. Some games, both by Nexon and others (like World of Warcraft), have made it through platform and technology transitions because the gameplay and communities are so strong. Those are what we focus on because we believe they really transcend technology and platforms.

It’s commonly thought that mobile games are popular because they provide quick experiences. Does this mentality contradict the 10 year life cycle plan

No, I think the difference is that our developers are thinking about things a little differently. A lot of developers are making games for today’s market. In today’s market, people are consuming games quickly. They’ll play them for a month or two and then move on.

The developers we work with and want to partner with have bigger goals than that. When they’re developing a game, they’re thinking about a much bigger time horizon. For example, I’ve been playing DomiNations for almost two years, and I’m still only 60 or 70 percent through the content… and that’s just the content that’s available today.

From that perspective, you can see that Big Huge Games is taking a much broader view, or a much longer view, of how long people should be playing these games for. They’re not thinking about it in terms of months. They’re thinking in terms of years.

How do you market a game with such a long life cycle

It’s actually something that really benefits us. Certainly, when we launch games, we take that as an opportunity to introduce high-quality and innovative games into the market. But at the same time, we’re not under the pressure that a lot of other publishers or developers feel to have their games rise to the Top 25 grossing overnight.

We believe that people are going to love playing our games for a long time, and they’re going to continue to grow. Again, we don’t judge our games as successes or failures after one month, or even six months. It’s more of something we’ll evaluate on a yearly basis, as we think about what the future opportunity is.

DomiNations has been out for nine months, and we’re expecting a bigger 2016 than 2015. Our hope is that 2017 will be even bigger.

Every game, no matter the platform, struggles to keep players interested. How does Nexon tackle the problem of user retention over that period of time

I think it’s two things. Number one is that you have to make unique games. If your game isn’t unique, there are going to be a lot of clones similar to it, and nothing that will keep your fans and players from moving on to something similar. I think if you provide something unique, you give more reason to stick around, play and love the game.

The second part is, the thing we prioritize above anything else is the ability to retain our players. That’s how we judge fun. If people play our game and continue coming back after six months — or even a year or two — that’s how we judge a successful game. We don’t really think a lot about early term retention or monetization of games. It’s all about long term retention and people loving our games for the course of years.

Does this mean Nexon M will release fewer games annually

Absolutely. For example, last year, we only launched one game and that was DomiNations. I would say that we’ve talked to over 300 developers, so you can see we’re being very selective, and we want to make a statement to the market and to gamers. When Nexon puts out a game, it’s going to be something that they should feel comfortable investing in, because they know it’s going to be around for a long time.

Many believe the best way to handle the coming consolidation of the mobile games industry is to acquire studios and have a high output of games. What are your thoughts on this, and how Nexon using the opposite strategy

I would not be surprised to see some consolidation over the next few years. Our strategy is certainly counter to that, in that we’re actually looking to help the small guys. We’re looking to help independent game developers. We want to help studios that aren’t owned by massive game companies have a lot of success. That’s what we’ve done with Big Huge Games, and that’s what we hope to do with a number of titles we’re launching this year.

There are always going to be great independent developers out there, and our goal is to help them make the best games possible, and help them succeed over a long period of time. We can do that because we have the resources to help them in publishing and development.

What goes into choosing the games that will be developed

I’ll give you a great example. We recently announced our partnership with Respawn Entertainment [Titanfall] and Particle City. We had a number of long conversations with Respawn, who is working as a creative adviser, and Particle City as the developer. What we found is that we shared the same philosophical values.

Respawn had built a tremendous community of passionate Titanfall gamers. When we talked to the developer, they made it very clear that they did not want to make a game that just succeeded on the Titanfall IP for a few months, but they would rather build something that people could play for years. So, it was an easy decision to want to work with them.


Nexon M intends to launch several Titanfall themed games, each with an expected service cycle of 10 years or more

That’s our goal. With every game that we work on, our goal is to make something that will last for 10 years. It’s certainly ambitious, and not all of our games will get there, but we’re absolutely OK saying that that is our goal.

If you look at the developers that we’ve worked with, like Big Huge Games, they’ve made high-quality strategy games that people love for a long time. So, we know they have the talent and ability to make games that will last that long. This year, we’re working with the studio Envision Entertainment [comprised of former EA Phenomic employees], which is working on a mobile RTS game [Path of War] coming out very soon. Historically, they’ve worked on a number of games including BattleForge and the Command & Conquer franchise. So, they know how to make great strategy games, and they know how to make MMOs [Massively-Multiplayer Online games], and now we’re trying to bring those to mobile.

The group of studios we’re working with all share the same kind of pedigree of making great games that can last a really long time. We’re really trying to do something different here, and we think that we have the talent to make that happen.

Path of War Banner

What will it take to remain competitive in mobile gaming in the coming year

I think it’s no longer just about the dollar amount you spend on a game. There are plenty of companies with huge budgets and can do a great job of marketing a game really big. But I think what will matter is how well you do in terms of marketing after your game is launched. That’s all about the experience you provide your users.

Are you providing them with regular updates, both in terms of new content, features, and ways to engage in the game both and outside of it, so that they feel like this is something that is meaningful to them Again, a big focus for us is building great communities and supporting them. 

Big Data Is Vital and Showing Strength

Although big data is a great way for companies to organize its information and keep everything in mind, it also comes with its fair share of challenges, according to new surveys conducted by NewVantage Partners.

Put together in a report titled An Update on the Adoption of Big Data in the Fortune 1000: Executive Summary, the consulting firm broke down several bits of information surrounding big data. Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

While adopting big data is on the rise, not everyone has accepted it just yet.

62.5 percent of firms have one part of big data in the works, which is an increase from 48.2 percent the previous year. Only 5.4 percent of those polled indicated that they don’t have any sort of plans for big data at the moment.

Big data is becoming more reliable with companies.

Last year, only 54.5 percent of companies felt that big data played a part in the success of their business. This year, that number rose to 69.6 percent, and 72 percent of companies have launched a successful big data initiative that has gone above and beyond expectations.

Big Data Chart

Insights and speed are vital to big data.

When it comes to the importance of big data in a business, 37 percent have stated that insights with business and customers come first, while speed (faster time-to-market, answering consumer questions) came in second with 29.7 percent.

In addition, the report also shows that 63 percent of those polled have a reliance on big data when it comes to day-to-day operations, while 60 percent utilize data for better consumer understanding, and 59 percent rely on it for measuring business objectives.

Investment is expected to increase.

Back in 2014, big data didn’t have much investment to speak of, with only a handful of companies investing $100+ million in it. However, over the next three years, those numbers will spike increasingly, with over 25 percent of those polled indicating they would spend a huge amount of money in big data. That’s nearly a five times increase over a three year span. The chart below breaks down just how vital these numbers are.

Investor Chart

It’s an eye-opening report, especially for those looking to invest further in big data.

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Periscope Brings Live Streaming to Twitter

There’s no question that Periscope has dominated live social streaming over the past few months, surpassing the competition at Meerkat. Today, the service’s owner, Twitter, opted to take it a step further, making it easier for social media users to broadcast and watch through mobile devices.

The company announced on Medium that Periscope on Twitter for iOS has gone live, enabling users to watch and stream without having to leave the app.

“Since launch, there have been over 100 million broadcasts created on Periscope,” the post reads. “Whenever a broadcast is shared on Twitter, you tap the link to open the Periscope app. Today, we’re replacing those links with the broadcast itself, autoplaying right within the Tweet. And when you tap the video, it goes full-screen and shows Periscope comments and hearts from other viewers. You don’t need the Periscope app or even a Periscope account.”

This could be huge news for potential users who always felt that having to open up a secondary app to utilize Periscope services was an inconvenience.

Twitter wasted no time in demonstrating how this feature works, as the embedded tweet below shows. It’s easy to see Mitch Oates’ underwater adventures without having to open up a secondary app.

With this service, users of Twitter, personal and company alike, can utilize the ability to embed videos and have a far better reach for potential audiences.

As for Android users, not to worry, you haven’t been left out. Twitter is working on it. “To everyone using Twitter for Android or on web: we haven’t forgotten about you! We plan to roll these features out on all platforms as soon as they’re ready.”

This could be a nice turn-around for Twitter in terms of outreach to its users, although it’s still got a long way to go in regards to catching up to Facebook’s immense video success. Still, considering Periscope’s popularity with live-streamers, it’s sure to show a spike in increased usage for the social site. We’ll see how the next few months go.

Jace Hall Explains His ESports Vision For Twin Galaxies

Former game developer Jace Hall has some big names helping him on his eSports vision for Twin Galaxies, which he recently acquired. He’s partnered with leading game companies such as Warner Bros. Games and Ubisoft, and Hollywood celebrities like Jamie Lee Curtis and Rick Fox, to raise $250,000 through Indiegogo to build the ESPN of eSports and help promote the positive elements of video games (#Right2Game) and eSports competition through an online and mobile platform that will handle everything from record-keeping to livestreams. Hall details his plans in this exclusive interview.

Why did you decide to buy Twin Galaxies?  


Twin Galaxies was acquired because I knew it to be one of the few founding entities of the concept of eSports, and it was specifically focused on video game players as the primary point of interest in the equation and not the video games themselves.

Twin Galaxies was founded in 1981 and is the world’s most preeminent professional organization that is solely dedicated to the recognition, promotion, support and elevation of all video game players throughout the world.

I immediately identified that with some modernization and refinement, Twin Galaxies stood poised to position itself uniquely in the eSports world, and could expand itself much further into a critical area of need in the video game industry as the rise and popularity of eSports continued.

That need is to create and support a sustainable quantifiable environment that solely works to provide video game players a greater path to recognition, value and economic longevity throughout their careers regardless of specific game or platform.

What impact has the rise of eSports had on this brand?

ESports has been around since the beginning of video games. Competition among players has been a very present and essential theme. Twin Galaxies came into existence more than 30 years ago to not only help facilitate electronic gaming competition by establishing rules and procedures, but to also elevate and promote the player’s achievements in such a way that mass-society could understand and appreciate. That was critical. The promotion and significance of the players themselves is what was important. The purpose of elevating the players was for the benefit of the players themselves, whether that be greater economic opportunity or cultural recognition.

As eSports continued to evolve, a dramatic shift took place. Video game companies began to recognize that competition could be used to promote the sale of more video game product. This realization began to be leveraged heavily. This is essentially where we are today, with eSports events essentially being elaborate marketing tools to sell more copies of games, prize pools coming from sales of add-on game packs, and a tremendous amount of revenue generated for video game companies and their supporting partners. The players in this equation are essentially just consumers, last on the food chain both economically and from a longevity point-of-view.

The impact of this on the Twin Galaxies brand has been a clear purpose and greater pressure and need for Twin Galaxies to grow faster to fill the enormous opportunity vacuum being created due to everything in the industry being about the game and not about the player.

How important are the players in eSports today?

In sports like basketball or football, the players are the content, not the game. In modern eSports, the ecosystem is not designed to support that. Games are first, individual players a distant second. When the focus is selling game copies, how can the player be regarded as anything but a tool to promote that ultimate goal I make no criticism here of game companies – they are doing what they are supposed to do, sell games – but what about the players. Where is the long term career path for them?

So the impact on Twin Galaxies is that it makes it more relevant than ever before. The industry needs an organization that is only focused on video game players and their interests. That is Twin Galaxies.

What role do you see Twin Galaxies playing in this ecosystem?

There needs to be a place where video game players of all gaming categories can essentially “bank” their accomplishments and retain value and build on them across their whole career. Twin Galaxies is not a game company. It is not selling video game product. It does not have a conflict of interest in this matter. Twin Galaxies’ function is to provide official structure and parameter to video game playing achievement across all electronic gaming platforms. It is where competitive video game rules are officially set, player performances are objectively measured/adjudicated, and the complete statistical data of official records/rankings are logged, maintained and updated for all video game platforms and types. Twin Galaxies is about quantification. Twin Galaxies translates all player achievement taking place into messaging that the non-gaming mass audiences worldwide can understand and appreciate.

What’s your vision for Twin Galaxies?

The vision is to help to lay a consistent, data-driven, bankable foundation that sponsors can trust and understand and use to provide opportunities directly to players regardless of specific game. This is a critical need in eSports today. No other organization is focused on this – every other effort is focused on the game as the primary importance.

This foundation of data that Twin Galaxies collects and refines, also works to provide evidentiary proof of the intrinsic value of the activity of playing video games to the mainstream. This is also critical for video game player longevity in the eyes of the mainstream.

What are your eSports plans since you have a physical eSports center?

There are many ideas, and thematically our goal is to have player-promotion events there, as opposed to game-promotion events. For instance, we have plans of producing essentially the equivalent of a “Video Game Olympics” where there are many simultaneous tournaments and contests for various platforms and genres taking place and that player achievement is measured and stored during the event both specifically and holistically (like the Olympics.)

How have you used this center in the past?

The center is new and we are still working things out with it, however we did recently hold a series of classic decathlons there as an exploratory format for competition.

A lot of eSports has focused on the pros. What opportunities do you see with the amateur level to get more gamers involved?

This is part of the opportunity that Twin Galaxies will be working to address. In modern eSports, “pros” are being defined by specific games and the companies that produce them. It is very insular. Essentially, it is difficult to be a recognized “pro” unless you happen to play one of the few games that happens to be incredibly popular at the moment and has a large marketing budget behind it. This is limiting for video game players worldwide because the vast majority of video game playing activity is taking place outside of these few games. Areas like handheld and mobile gaming are essentially ignored, as are almost all games that are not specifically formatted for tournament play.

So, unless a player happens to be playing one of the “hot” games of the day, they are potentially regulated by default to being an “amateur” or “hobbyist,” with no mechanism of elevation — which for millions of game players out there is quite insulting and discouraging. There is a tremendous amount of skill out there that is not being properly valued or recognized.

Twin Galaxies now has systems and the experience in place to receive, analyze, recognize and promote video game achievement outside of the closed system of video game publishers and one specific game title. This facilitates the creation and recognition of “pros” across all video gaming categories and platforms. These “pros” are promoted and elevated to the world and are backed by actual verified player statistic data that Twin Galaxies has collected about them and their performances. It’s a legitimizer, and it opens up much greater opportunity for video game players worldwide to not be confined to just a few “high profile” game titles.

With all games and platforms suddenly now becoming recognized possible areas to achieve in, the scope of opportunity really opens up to enormity, and Twin Galaxies is working to get the word out and encourage more and more participation. From mobile to retro to modern day consoles, there is a lot of video game talent out there — “pros” by every measure.

As a former game developer, what are your thoughts on how eSports has grown?

I am very excited about all of the growth. I am a huge video game player myself and to see all of the participation taking place out there is very heartening. However I am definitely concerned about some of the shape that certain areas are taking. All one has to do is follow the money and see where it goes to quickly see how lopsided some things are. The industry is working itself up into a frenzy, with video game publishers essentially trying to build all their own “silos” — which of course are all designed to ultimately do one thing, own their community and sell games to it. It reminds me a lot of the whole MMO industry frenzy that took place once World of Warcraft demonstrated so much success. Everyone started to build their own “silos” then, too. We saw where that went . . .

I believe that the future of eSports is bright, but it should be managed carefully. I feel it would likely be beneficial to the whole category if there was more cooperation between publishers on the matter. Of course, this will be hard to achieve because publishers specifically do not want their players to transition from game to game (unless they own both games.) So that is where an organization like Twin Galaxies can be very effective, and can work agnostically with all interested parties so that the player achievement taking place within a particular “silo” can be captured and officially stored for the benefit of the player.

That way the time investment made by players into mastering a game in any “silo” is not suddenly lost when the game eventually loses the limelight, and then they have to “start over” with an all new game in a different “silo” and build again to be regarded as a champion or “pro” once more.

Livestreaming has been a key factor in that growth. What opportunities do you see with that distribution method through Twin Galaxies moving forward?

Twin Galaxies has been livestreaming for nearly two years and we feel that it is a very important aspect of growth for eSports. The desire to watch people play video games well is nothing new. From the very first arcade game, people were always intrigued by a solid display of a player’s skill and on-looking crowds would regularly form around a player as he/she put on a great performance.

As arcade locations became more rare, and the rise of gaming at home with consoles or computers took over, there simply was no practical way for large groups of people to watch the activity. So there were many years of this until broadband network connections made it into homes. Now that the ability to broadcast video gameplay from nearly any device exists, the audience that was always there waiting has been able to make its return.

At its core, livestreaming is about an event that is taking place — both big and small and bringing audience interactivity into it. While the concept of big events for things like sports and music are well understood, I think the real growth opportunity is in the small event and what it can be evolved toward. That’s really what the average twitch broadcaster is, a small event taking place, and you get to participate! Ultimately this means more content options for people, which is always a good thing.

Twin Galaxies will leverage its experience and knowledge in livestreaming to take advantage of the livestream opportunity and use it to better facilitate the positive promotion and understanding of the activity of playing video games through the voices and interests of the players that it promotes. It will create live content that emphasizes audience interactivity, and while it will certainly create and broadcast big events, it will also put an emphasis on the small event as well — allowing individual players to receive focus and attention. This is key because it is only through the recognition of an individual’s achievements and the personalization of those accomplishments can the mainstream fully emotionally invest itself and learn, understand and respect the time investment value made by people into playing video games.

How do you see your scoring and ranking system connecting across various eSports titles?

Twin Galaxies keeps an enormous amount of records and score rankings (over 30 years’ worth) and is accruing more every single day through user submissions.  There are multiple ways (or variations) to measure achievement within any particular video game. We call these variations “tracks.”

While a game can have many tracks, and within each of those tracks there are player rankings, not all achievements within tracks are viewed equally in terms of the perception of the needed skills, artistry, strategy, or effort that individual tracks may require.

Keeping this in mind, every ranking that a TG member has on an individual leaderboard produces a calculated point value. The cumulative point values for every rank position held by individual TG members across multiple leaderboards covering multiple platforms and game categories are then algorithmically computed to produce each member’s Player Skill Index (PSI).

This PSI ranking idea is a powerful part of a logical holistic measurement system that can analyze achievement across all video games, platforms and categories for an individual person over any period of time. This is an important gateway to conversation with non-gamer audiences as well as sponsors and will begin to allow many more people to appreciate and understand the great talent being expressed by video game players worldwide.

A similar context is an Olympic Gold Medal. We all understand that when someone has earned a Gold Medal, that we should value their achievement. We don’t even need to know what the sport was where the achievement took place to understand the value. The specific Olympic “game” has been separated from the “achievement recognition.” This helps the mainstream understand and appreciate. Twin Galaxies’ PSI system creates a similar abstraction.

Every PSI has 100 percent all the data behind it that can show and demonstrate how it was computed. This is a huge difference from someone merely claiming that they are good at video games, or the insular vertical landscape of a video game publisher’s anointed tournament champions that work to self-serve. Twin Galaxies’ view is that third party objective adjudication data and multi-user comparative systemic data is what can legitimately validate skill and justify formal recognition. Actual “video game champions” are revealed through this data.

Twin Galaxies’ ranking system has a tremendous upside for video game players worldwide. It allows the player value to be separated from the games they play and creates a context for outside parties to understand and invest in. It effectively shifts the focus of content/interest from the Game to the Player, and it is a very meaningful shift. This is the future of eSports.

It also allows a video game player to accrue and “bank” their achievements as a lifelong third party computed value that is based on data and statistical analysis of their various performances across all games and all platforms they’ve ever played and submitted into the system. No longer does a player’s video game career have to end when the popular game they play falls out of favor. Their accomplishments are recorded and value is accrued and preserved while they move on to a different game to play to build even more career value. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

Crytek Reaches For New Heights With ‘The Climb’

After a spectacular trailer showing Robinson: The Journey, Crytek (Crysis, CryEngine) continues to push the virtual reality envelope. The Climb will take players on a grand rock climbing experience where they can enjoy breathtaking vistas without all the sweat and pain of actually climbing. It might even help you get over your fear of heights.

[a]listdaily speaks to Crytek’s Executive Producer, Elijah Freeman, about where the climb might take you.

ResizedImage300450 Elijah Freeman 1Tell us about what The Climb is and what inspired it.

The Climb is a free solo rock climbing experience in VR. The game was inspired by a sense of exploration, our exploration of a new medium and our desire to explore new exciting environments.

How are you promoting The Climb  

VR is all about the experience; the best promotion is to allow the gamer to play the game. Recently we have invited press to Frankfurt to try The Climb directly.

Is it OK to look down while playing The Climb

The Climb is built on the premise of sense of scale and verticality, your immersion would only be amplified by “looking down†In addition, this would allow you to experience more of the incredible environment.

Between The Climb and Robinson: The Journey, it looks like Crytek will be a big part of VR. What is your approach to making a stand experiences on emerging technology

At Crytek Innovation is in our DNA, we thrive on emerging technologies. The games that we are currently building emerged organically from our exploration of the VR tech available today. As long as we can build fun comfortable gaming experiences, Crytek will continue to push the envelope on VR technology. 

In what ways do you think VR will impact gaming in the coming years

As with all new mediums, virtual reality is providing new and interesting challenges for game developers. I believe that the demand for visual fidelity will continue to increase; developers will need to evaluate their engine and hardware choices.

What do you think are the most important things to keep in mind as VR technology continues to grow

As developers, we need to keep in mind that technology is only half of the solution and that we need to make responsible decisions that take advantage of any technical advancement available to provide the most comfortable and fun experience possible.

Digital Display Ad Spending To Overtake Surpass Search This Year

We already know that digital ad spending is set to reach record numbers in 2016, but it’s surprising how much it’s going to take over traditional means, like search ad spending.

A new report from eMarketer suggests that, across the categories of video, sponsorships, rich media and “banners and other” will make up for nearly 50 percent of digital ad spending, to the tune of $32.17 billion. Out of all those categories, “banners and other” appears to be the big one, thanks to various native ad types and social media-related programs.

The report, titled US Digital Display Advertising Trends: Eight Developments To Watch For In 2016, also points out that one in five dollars for digital in 2016 will go towards that specific category, while video will have its own significant number, to the tune of 14.3 percent – up from 12.8 percent the previous year.

Rich media will also play a part, though it really depends on growing adoption of “out-stream” and in-feed video ad formats, according to the report. Video will see an increase with publishers looking for more high-value in-stream video ad inventory, with outlets such as Twitch being looked at with their abundant audience counts.

Desktop appears to be the biggest receiver of these video ad dollars for the year, accounting for 57.5 percent of an overall $9.59 billion in spending. However, there will also be a good amount going towards tablets and smartphones. 77.5 percent of the overall $22.58 billion going towards banners, rich media and other formats will be directed towards such devices. That’s $17.5 billion.

What’s more, spending will continue to rise over the next few years. Display-based ads will show the highest growth, increasing from $21.07 billion in 2014 all the way to $46.69 billion. Meanwhile, Search will be close behind, and other formats are showing positive signs as well – though mobile messaging, it seems, will see a decrease in spending, based on the chart below.

Chart 011116

Mobile will see the biggest growth in numbers over the next few years, getting as high as $65.49 billion by 2019 – over three times its $19.15 billion back in 2014. Display will increase over four times its $9.65 billion in 2014, going to $33.70 million in five years’ time. One noticeable item, however, is how little Desktop will improve. In fact, by 2019, it’ll show a drop-off, down to $28.21 billion – a drop of over $2 billion.

Chart 2 011116 

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How Brands Creatively Use Twitch

Twitch has an outreach of over 100 million monthly viewers, and has become a huge outlet for brands partnering with gamers, artists and others that draw in a large, supportive audience. With that, we’ve seen more companies step up its Twitch game in terms of events and sponsorships, including Old Spice with its Nature Adventure campaign and Coca-Cola.

Now, it’s just a question of how effectively these companies are utilizing Twitch to extend its reach. Some companies are going the extra mile by creatively reaching out to Twitch-ers.

Here are few examples of what companies have done with the streaming channel:

Make Room For the Hero Slot

Though usually reserved for Twitch streamers that can attain a large audience (around 20,000 to 30,000 concurrently), the Hero Spot provides a way for brands to create a video player that runs at the top of the user’s home page. It’s a convenient, simple way to draw an audience, with very little marketing needed. It can also lead to bigger endorsements in social media, like with IIJERiiCHOII’s tie-in with Jack Link’s beef jerky, which can be found below.

Other gamers took part in the “Hangry moments” campaign as well, including Ellohime and GassyMexican, and took part in gaming marathons with easy-to-see branding. “These influencers even asked some of their viewers what happens when they get ‘hangry’ and had this two-way conversation,†said Kevin Papacek, director of marketing for Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, while speaking with Digiday. “It was natural to the platform.â€

Sponsorship with game events and tournaments

One of the most effective means for reaching out to an audience is sponsoring a popular tournament that broadcasts on Twitch. This includes companies like Geico and Totino providing prize money for certain events, like a Call of Duty tournament and the Capcom Pro Tour, among other events.

It’s been an effective initiative, with over 30,000 live viewers tuning in during the Call of Duty one, and the fact that Totino’s sells affordable dining for gaming audiences ($1 or so for a good sized pizza) makes it an ideal fit.

Alist Call 011116

With that, product placement can also play a part during these live events. Along with static ads for the products, other things can take place, like the Jack Link’s Beef Jerky mascot, the Sasquatch, appearing at an event for pictures, or Totino’s providing samples of pizza rolls.

Creating original events

Another great way to get your name known in the Twitch community is to host an event of your own, and make it interactive. As mentioned above, Old Spice did this last year with a Nature Adventure, in which people visiting in the chat room could provide commands for the person to perform in real time, creating a comical yet ingenious way for audience engagement.

While that’s not a gaming event per se, it was inspired by another game event that did take place on Twitch: Twitch Plays Pokemon, which has drawn in millions of fans and created similar events based on Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls, where the community comes together for a singular cause. While Old Spice’s campaign was a bit more lighthearted than those die-hard gaming sessions, they still got the job done when it came to attracting viewers to the Old Spice channel.

We’ll likely see a few more smart ways for companies to get involved with branding, in one way or another, on Twitch, but to see it become such an outlet that its community is not only desired, but respected, is a cool thing.

Marketing Trends from CES 2016

CES is famous for its vast showcase of diverse gadgets (some stranger than others), but there are certain technologies that set tone for what’s to come. It will be up to brands to take advantage of these growing trends as they emerge to make the most out of them.

Autonomous Cars Make More Free Time

If there is dominant theme to this year’s show, it’s in the future of automotive technology especially self-driving cars, as the show was kicked off with Nvidia’s announcement of the Drive PX 2 autonomous vehicle technology.

Big announcements, such as how Volvo will have a fully autonomous fleet of XC90 luxury SUVs driving around the city of Gothenburg next year, and that its S90 sedan will be the first car sold in the US with semi-autonomous technology as a standard feature, means that the vision of city streets filled with self-driving cars may be realized in relatively short time.

Passengers who don’t have to keep their eyes on the road or their hands on the wheel are free to engage in watching entertainment, which means marketers will need to find ways to take advantage of a captive audience that’s on the move. It’s likely we’ll seeing partnerships grow between companies and location based or navigation apps, so that passengers can set their cars to find the nearest restaurants, hotels, shopping centers or other services as needed. Especially if all passengers end up watching video on mobile devices instead of looking out the windows at billboards.

Similarly, video streaming apps like FOX NOW can be designed to track a viewer’s changing location and adjust its ads accordingly. Furthermore, the shows themselves may be specially created and queued up to fit in the expected length of the car ride, which will impact how brands will reach audiences. 

A Different Direction for VR

Last year ended with high hopes that devices like the Oculus Rift would usher in an era of VR, where users could fully immerse themselves in different locations and experiences. Those hopes were largely deflated when Oculus VR announced the $600 price tag for its Rift headset, which doesn’t take into consideration the $1,000 computer needed to get it to work, putting high-end virtual reality out of reach for a great many consumers.

However, there is still a great deal of potential for virtual reality to take off in other ways, particularly with mobile devices like the Samsung Gear VR. Companies have already been experimenting with 360-degree videos and games, which is bound to continue. Given the high accessibility of smartphones, it’s becoming increasingly likely that mobile devices will lead the charge in the VR revolution. It will be up to brands to create memorable experiences that will stand out when viewed through low cost headsets like Google Cardboard.

A possible alternative on the horizon is AR (augmented reality), which superimposes digital information onto the real world. Smartphone games like Ingress have already taken advantage of the concept, and upcoming devices like the Microsoft HoloLens are looking to bring it to an all new level. The beauty of AR is that users won’t have disengage from the real world, and can offer users incentives to visit physical locations.

CES 2016 Highlights, Told Through Tweets

The Consumer Electronics Show continues to be in full swing this week in Las Vegas, with hundreds of companies and thousands of attendees taking in all the technical sights and sounds. Various products have been introduced, and a number of worthwhile trends have emerged as well, from virtual reality to new advances in laptop, smartphone and smart watch design.

So what have we learned from the event, based on those in attendance and quotes across social media As it turns out, quite a bit. Here a sample of some noteworthy quotes and observations from this year’s event.

During the Turner Sports Conference, Mark Cuban, Brian Krzanich, Joe Ravitch and Shaquille O’Neal discussed the potential and draw for eSports. Of course, we already know how well it’s thriving, but it was great to hear Shaq make the point as clear as day: “eSports is a sport.”

During her panel at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, Facebook vice president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson brought up several points about the popularity of apps, indicating the quote above, shared by Jeff Cohn. The quote is very powerful, and reminds developers that user engagement should be a priority.

Even though it’s a random quote, the phrase does have some reflection when it comes to the technology presented at CES. Some companies work hard on creating ideal hardware for consumers to enjoy, but without the software to support it, it can be a struggle. Just ask anyone waiting on a firmware update for something Internet of Things-related.

Technology is a great thing, but it’s only as good as those who create it, and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich made this point during the opening keynote, explaining that behind every great technological feat is a person who drives it.

Automotive technology played a big part in this year’s CES event, with a focus on customer convenience using state-of-the-art items, like cameras in place of traditional mirrors. Volvo’s VP of interior design, Robin Page, summed it up best with her simple but effective quote, where time really does play a part with luxury.

ESports Kicked Things Up At CES

The growth of eSports competitions over the past few years has been tremendous, between multi-million dollar prize offerings, various partners emerging to sponsor events, and exposure on television. However, in order to see just how successful it’s become, one simply needs to roam the floor at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, where competition got a push in more ways than one.

Virtual Competition 

Virtuix jumped into the fray by hosting an eSports tournament using virtual reality technology. Utilizing the game Omni Arena, the company put together four different HTC Vive units, enabling players to pick up a replica gun and battle for supremacy in multiplayer match-ups. It believes that is unique treadmill technology will put the “sports” factor into eSports.

Now players will need to be physically fit and trained in addition to being a strong gamer, said Jan Goetgeluk, CEO of Virtuix. We feel that bringing eSports and VR gaming out of the chair and adding an active physical component creates an extra layer of excitement for both competitors and spectators. The faster you run on the Omni, the faster you will move in the game.

The competition has drawn over 100 players across various 30 minute sessions. It will continue to explore options, including talking to eSports leagues, such as ESL, Major League Gaming (which was purchased by Activision this past week) and the ESWC.

New Gear For a New Age

New peripherals also took focus at CES this week, with a number of companies introducing headphones, keyboards and other items with an emphasis on eSports. Thermaltake introduced its new Tt eSports gear line-up, including the impressive Challenger Prime RGB Membrane Gaming Combo.

Not to be outdone, Monster partnered with eSports veteran Jonathan “Fatal1ity” Wendel to introduce a new line of devices specifically tailor made for e-athletes, including the FXM 100 and FXM 200 headsets, which retail for $70 to $100 respectively. It should go on sale sometime this year.


Media Exposure

Social media also got an eSports push this week, with a number of e-athletes attending CES and reporting on technical marvels, as well as taking part in discussions regarding eSports. Miss Harvey, an established pro in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive arena, has been reporting all week from the show floor, posting pictures and videos to keep fans informed.

Inside the NBA Teams Up With eSports

Perhaps the biggest eSports related news that came from the Consumer Electronics Show involves Turner Broadcasting. The company is no stranger to the world of eSports, since it will be airing a Counter-Strike based competition show on TBS later this year. However, it decided to go the extra mile, bringing its entire crew from Inside the NBA to discuss eSports.

The discussion was very lighthearted, although former basketball player (and Inside the NBA host) Shaquille O’Neal already spoke supportively for eSports before the showcase. “I heard the top guy say that the eLeague is the second biggest sport in the world today,” he said.

He also made it clear that, despite what some at ESPN may have thought in the past, “eSports is a sport.” Highlights from that conference, including Joe Ravitch and Dallas Mavericks owner (and eSports investor) Mark Cuban, can be found here.

ESports has already found tremendous growth in its own right, but it’s great to see it get exposure at CES. Between the introduction of new gadgets, a brave new idea for eSports competition (some involving virtual reality) and even a few celebs join in to support its exposure. Now the only question is how much bigger that exposure will get with forthcoming events, such as the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.