5 Takeaways from Digital Hollywood at CES

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is becoming an increasingly important place for ad agencies and brand marketers to go to find out what s next. It has escaped few that consumers are spending more and more time with digital and mobile devices. Optimizing content experiences for consumption on these devices and the services they are running is key.

Here are five take-aways from Digital Hollywood’s industry track:

Brands Are Shifting Budgets from Renting to Owning IP and Creating Franchise Content

Brands are starting to realize that they can move from renting to owning IP (Intellectual Property). This means that the brands will fund more original content rather than advertising in and around existing content. Forty-five million Americans have installed ad-blockers today, according to AOL Digital Prophet David Shing on panel about the future of advertising. The trend is to go direct to the audience with that ad blocker-proof content on their social channels.  

We are doing a lot of things with brands this year that will support that, said David Freeman, Co-Head of Digital Talent and Packaging, Creative Artists Agency.

If you add up how much brands are spending on branded content in all it s different forms, it adds up to more than what they spend on traditional (interruption) advertising, Mark Howard, Chief Revenue Officer, Forbes Media.

Brands Should Seriously Consider Experimenting with AR/VR Content

The most well-attended conference sessions at Digital Hollywood’s CES track were related to AR and VR. Questions from the audience alluded to skepticism towards it becoming a mass phenomenon, because the user experience still leaves room for improvement. However, with massive bets from Microsoft HoloLens, Facebook’s Oculus and Google Cardboard, this is the technology to watch in 2016.

We are fully aware of that Virtual Reality might fail to take off. It s a real possibility. Which is why AMD is very interested in talking to content creators. We need more really good VR content, said Roy Taylor, Corporate Vice President and Head of Alliances, AMD.

Traditional Media Is Building New Forms of Content Studios

Scripps, the parent company of cable channels like HGTV and Food Network, recently launched Scripps Lifestyle Studios. It s just one example of traditional media companies getting serious about video content for social media channels (and opportunities for brands to get involved).

Scripps Lifestyle Studios now employs around 100 people, mostly millennial women, and it produces content for new platforms like Snapchat for example, says Chris McCown, VP, Video Product Management, Scripps Network Interactive.  Millennials are a huge focus for us in the coming year.

Marketers Across the Board Should Target Micro-Communities

It s the opposite of mass-marketing, whether you are using influencers to create communities like Under Armour is doing with their connected fitness group or Fortune creating an exclusive mobile app for the list of people who are 30 under 30 so Fortune can connect with them and they can connect with each other.

We target people who care about health and fitness and create communities that adds value to the users lives, says Warren Kay, VP, Advertising, Under Armour.

Going from AdTech to MarTech

An interesting discussion speakers engaged in at the speakers lounge concerned the difference between AdTech (Advertising Technology) and MarTech (Marketing Technology). As digital media advertising (and venture capitalists) shift their focus away from banners and other forms of low-engagement marketing, the term AdTech is losing its allure. The new industry buzzword is instead “MarTech,’ which is more inclusive of new forms of digital marketing. Expect to see MarTech used a lot in 2016.



CES 2016’s Biggest Trends

This year’s CES offers a huge variety of  technologies and gadgets that may make their way into homes, cars, and streets all around the world. Here are the top trending announcements and technologies seen at the show that are sure to dominate tech conversations in the coming months.

Self-driving cars go into high gear

Nvidia kicked off CES this year by debuting its DRIVE PX 2 technology, which has the processing equivalence of  150 MacBook Pros, packed into a device the size of a lunchbox. Its size and power gives the device a significant advantage over competing self-driving technologies, which can take up the entire trunk of a mid-sized sedan. Volvo will be the first auto maker to employ the technology next year in an autonomous fleet of XC90 luxury SUVs, which will drive themselves around the company’s hometown of Gothenburg, and semi-autonomously in other locations.

Furthermore, the Volvo S90 sedan will be the first car in the US to include the semi-autonomous Pilot Assist system as standard equipment. The newest version of Pilot Assist can stop and steer, given clear lane markings, up to 80 mph – an marked improvement from the 30 mph limitation of its predecessor.

Rival car manufactures are also looking toward an autonomous future. Google continues to work in partnership with Ford to develop self-driving cars. After extensive testing, with 53 autonomous vehicles logging in over 1.3 million miles, Ford has announced that it will be tripling it autonomous fleet. GM, Delphi, Kia and others also have plans for self-driving vehicles, which is bound to define the future of automotive technology.

Never stop watching Netflix

With a vast library of TV shows and movies, in addition to a number of popular and award-winning originals, all streamed straight to a variety of devices, Netflix has become one of the most disruptive services of the past ten years. Now it has gone global.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Reed Hastings announced at CES that Netflix has become a global Internet TV network, servicing 130 new countries, which brings the total count to 190 around the world (but does not include China). That means, for one monthly fee, subscribers can enjoy streaming entertainment whenever and wherever they happen to be, using practically any device they please.

Becoming a fully globalized Internet TV network compliments last year’s launch of Netflix streaming over free in-flight WiFi on Virgin America airlines. With all its availability, binge watching can reach all new heights. At least it can until March, when the complimentary in-flight WiFi deal expires.

Razer makes a sharp impression

Razer, maker of high-end electronics for gamers, unveiled some truly spectacular devices this year. In addition to the Nabu Watch, which features fitness tracking and connects to smartphones for alerts, the company announced a direct-to-consumer ultrabook called the Razer Blade Stealth. The 12.5-inch notebook will feature a 4K touch display, and offers desktop-level gaming performance when hooked to an optional Razer Core accessory, which fits in a full desktop video card. By selling directly to consumers through Razer retail stores and online, the Razer Blade Stealth can sell for significantly less than many of its competitors. The base model will go for $999, and the highest end version will cost $1,599.

Perhaps one of the most impressive reveals is the Razer Stargazer webcam, which captures video at a high frame rate and features Intel RealSense technology. With its 3D scanning capabilities, users can scan objects or their faces into games. Furthermore, the camera recognizes both facial and hand gestures, which could bring computer interaction to a new level, especially given the launch of consumer level virtual reality technology this year.

Oculus Rift pricing shifts VR conversation

Last year’s launch of the Samsung Gear VR (developed in partnership with Oculus VR) may have put us on the road to the virtual reality era, but the pricing announcement for the high-end Oculus Rift headset has certainly set the pace. Although Oculus founder Palmer Luckey stated in 2014 that the company wanted the Oculus Rift to “stay in that $200-400 price range,” that clearly didn’t turn out to be the case.

The $600 price tag for an Oculus Rift headset bundle, which includes an Xbox One controller and two games, but not the Oculus Touch interactive hardware (which is sold separately and releases later in the year), came as a surprise to many. Taken together with how consumers will need a $1,000 PC and a high degree of technical know-how to make it work, and it seems like the VR generation is further off than many thought it would be.

Still, while some see the high price point as an obstacle, others view it as a big opportunity for less expensive mobile headsets like Google Cardboard of the Samsung Gear VR to take the lead. Sony, which has not yet revealed pricing for the PlayStation VR (formerly Project Morpheus), also has a huge opportunity to become a market leader, given of how the extremely popular PlayStation 4 console features standardized hardware that most consumers find accessible.

Internet of Things take over the world

Self-driving cars, endless video streaming, and smart cities may be dominating conversations at this year’s CES, but you can’t have any of those without the Internet of Things (IoT)- three words that describe the ubiquity of internet-connected devices, sensors and apps. Ralph de la Vega, CEO and president for AT&T’s mobile and business units, sees IoT as the new Industrial Revolution as the company works to build the infrastructure needed to make fully realized smart cities possible.

Furthering the trend is Samsung announcement that it is partnering with Microsoft to develop IoT devices that use Windows 10 as a foundation. To kick off the partnership, Samsung debuted the Galaxy TabPro S 2-in-1 tablet at CES. However some questions remain about how deep the partnership will go, given the device manufacturer’s longstanding relationship with Google and the Android platform.

Other partnerships announced at CES include the development of Microsoft powered smart cars. Office 365 productivity and collaboration tools are coming to Harman infotainment systems, so you can still collaborate and work with the office, even when stuck in traffic. Microsoft is also working with Volvo to create a voice control system inspired by the 80s television show Knight Rider. Users will be able to use a Microsoft Band 2 to set navigation, start the heater, lock the doors or sound the horn.

Ready for the future yet It’ll probably head your way in a self-driven smart car that you can talk to while watching a movie.

CES: Everything You Need To Know About Virtual Reality In 2016

We’ve tackled the topic of virtual reality on more than one occasion, like how it’s expected to become a six billion dollar in market in 2016, and how a number of developers and companies are already taking advantage of the format, whether it’s with movie-based promotions or being used through the convenience of a hotel room.

However, this week’s Consumer Electronics Show has taught us a bit more about the market as we’ve come to expect it, whether it’s with key announcements over the release of long-awaited devices, the introduction of new features, or the expansion of compatibility with said virtual reality gear. Here’s a quick wrap-up of what we’ve learned over the past few days regarding VR-related technology.

Compatibility Is On the Rise

Although the current set-up for certain devices like the Oculus Rift require a high-powered PC in order to run properly, virtual reality could soon see even bigger compatibility down the road.

Mobile has already played a big part with the VR market, with Google Cardboard and Samsung VR already showing easy compatibility with a number of smartphones and tablets. As 2016 goes along, though, we’ll see this open up with a number of new applications that take advantage of the format, all through the convenience of devices people already own.

As the Oculus Rift makes its way to market, the team at Oculus could also make adjustments to make it compatible with other devices, including gaming laptops and, considering its partnership with Microsoft, maybe even the Xbox One console or Windows 10-related devices, like the Surface Pro line. That’s not confirmed just yet, but opening the door to more consumers would be better for the Oculus Rift overall.

Moving forward, virtual reality will not just be about immersion, but also ease of use and as the year goes on, we’ll see options open up to make it more acceptable to the market. It’ll take a little time, though.

Everyone Is Getting On Board

A number of developers have already begun working on games and applications for virtual reality-related tech, and by 2016, the field will be wide open in terms of possibilities.

Along with Netflix compatibility (through a living room-based app) and gaming partners signed on with Oculus (like Insomniac Games with its survival-based Edge of Nowhere), Sony also has plenty of games in the works for its PlayStation VR-related tech. Per this report from the BBC, CEO Kaz Hirai confirmed that there are already over 100 titles in development for Sony’s forthcoming device, including entertaining games like Rez Infinite and 100 Foot Robot Golf, as well as third-party sequels like Ace Combat 7.

We are working on over 100 titles that will play on PlayStation VR, he said. This is a testament to the kind of support we are getting from the content creation community. So we have a lot of support and I think it will be great product when it comes out later this year.

That’s a lot of titles to play, indicating there will be something for everyone in the market, from the hardcore fans to casual players looking to relax after a stressful day at work. That could make all the difference in accessibility for virtual reality on the market.

Immersion, But Not Too Much

While the immersion of virtual reality is promising, there are some companies that feel that convenience should be a part of its design.

That’s exactly what HTC did this week with an upgraded version of the Vive. The new design not only promises to be affordable to the market when it releases in April, but also convenient, as the new design features a front-facing camera, so a viewer can check on something in the real world should the situation call for it. This could help avoid collisions or accidents.

Comfort is also a big focus on some of these designs. The Vive promises to have interchangeable foam inserts and “nose gaskets” to make the wearing of the headset more convenient. The Oculus and PlayStation VR will have similar designs as well, so they don’t create headaches for those that are wearing them.

It’s Here But Are Consumers Ready To Adopt

2016 marks the year that virtual reality will finally be ready for the consumer market. Oculus has already made the big move with CES this week, announcing that the consumer version of its headset will initially ship in March for $599. While some customers have balked at the high price point, it’s been a best-seller in the pre-order front, with shipments delaying as far as June based on high demand.

The HTC Vive won’t be far behind, set to ship in April for an unspecified price point, while the PlayStation VR will follow sometime in 2016, with full details expected to be announced at Sony’s pre-E3 press conference in June and perhaps even sooner, based on demand.

It appears virtual reality is finally ready to happen, with the “big guns” coming out and promising a new experience that will certainly be worth the wait. Now it’s just a matter of seeing what developers do with the tech, and how much consumers are willing to accept it.

The Gadgets and Gizmos From CES 2016’s Show Floor

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show is in full swing in Las Vegas, and while we have reporters providing daily recaps and other stories from the event, we decided to take a look at some of the best (and strangest) tech gadgets being shown. 

Madrat Games SuperSuit

Alist Supersuit

Laser tag comes roaring back with this interactive suit, although its ability to control other devices like Sphero and remote control cars could provide a new level of interactivity in kids.

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The Smart Fridge

Alist Fridge

Why have a plain, boring, fridge when you can have one that plays music and run apps from a built-in touchscreen This will help expand the market of the Internet of Things, even though not everyone will feel the need to get a “smart fridge.”

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Goodbye, Rear-View and Side Mirrors

Alist BMW

As if self-driving cars weren’t changing the dynamic of vehicle technology, BMW’s i8 does away with mirrors entirely in favor of static camera systems. These could be marketable when it comes to promoting vehicle safety, providing a larger range than most vehicles are capable of.

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A More Rugged Smartwatch

The smart watch market could really take off with Casio’s Smart Outdoor Watch, which is perfect for rugged outdoor types, with its built-in microphone, water-resistant build and built-in features, including a compass. It’s sure to last longer than the Apple Watch on a camping trip.

Alist Watch

The smart watch market could really take off with Casio’s Smart Outdoor Watch, which is perfect for rugged types, with its built-in microphone, water-resistant build and features like the included compass. It’s sure to last longer than the Apple Watch on a camping trip.

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TV’s Are Becoming More Dynamic

Alist TV

While 4K is still a technology being looked at for televisions, some manufacturers, like Samsung and LG, are looking into HDR (high dynamic range) to give the best picture possible to consumers. A final cost has yet to be determined, so marketing to this audience could be an interesting challenge.

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Roomba Here’s the Powerbot Turbo

Alist Vacuum

Vacuuming is stepping up to a new level with Samsung’s Powerbot Turbo VR9350, which is capable of cleaning up messes via commands through a smartphone. It’s expensive at $1,200, but should be a neat gadget for those tired of pushing around a Hoover. 

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PicoBrew To the Future

Alist Pico

Considering how big the home beer brewing market is right now, the PicoBrew couldn’t come at a better time. It offers a simplified system, can download recipes via WiFi, and has an affordable price of $599. We’ll drink to that.

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Pinball Returns

Alist Pinball

Good ol’ gaming is on the CES show floor, with Stern Pinball showing off a trio of hit tables, featuring the band Kiss, the HBO show Game of Thrones, and a table inspired by the classic Spider-Man comics. They certainly provide a quick relief from all the high-tech action on the floor.

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High Tech Chairs That Don’t Go Out of Style

Alist Inada

Last but certainly not least, Inada has returned to CES with its massage chair line-up, for the 13th year in a row. Not only do they represent a new field of comfortable technology, but they provide a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the show floor.

Space Ape Talks About Asia’s Mobile Game Expansion

Space Ape Games, known for mobile titles like Rival Kingdoms and Samurai Siege, isn’t afraid to mix up friendly competition with hard statistics, as evidenced by the office’s heavily modified Foosball Table. That creative drive and enthusiasm is needed for the company to thrive, especially since many expect the mobile games industry to go through a major consolidation period in the near future. The market is likely to see a large number of investments and acquisitions, making it the opportune time for Asian companies, especially large ones like the China-based Tencent, to expand globally.

[a]listdaily speaks to Simon Hade, Co-Founder and COO of Space Ape Games about the Asian (especially China’s) expansion into global markets, and what it might look like.

space ape simon hade r225xIn what ways do you think Asian mobile game companies will look to expand internationally

Generally the expansion strategy of the top Chinese games companies falls into three types: 1) Publish: bring Western content to China; 2) Partner: acquire or invest in a company that will win in the West; and 3) Beach head: establish presence in the West.

Publishing has been the main model until recently. Tencent has been making big moves in the West for a while on acquisition, including stakes in Riot, Miniclip and many others. Increasingly, Chinese player’s expectations regarding production values are approaching that of the West, while Western monetization models and genres are looking more like China. We will continue to see Chinese games companies investing in the West.

 What are some of the challenges Asian game companies face when breaking into Western markets

Mobile game companies cannot just localize language and launch their game in the West successfully. While features like Gacha [collectible characters] are becoming more widely adopted in the West, games from Asia generally do not directly translate. In order to successfully bring a game to the West, you must invest resources, which takes time and money. The companies and games that invest well will have a better chance to create a top 20 game.

There is a clear trend in China right now towards high production games. It was most important to optimize for performance, and given the large number of low spec devices in China, this meant lowering the bar for fidelity. But with companies like Xiomi and others really driving down the cost of high spec devices, player’s expectations are changing, and as a result you see the top Chinese developers capitalizing. By next year most successful mobile games will have production values on par with the West.

Is it more challenging to expand into or out from Chinese mobile game markets

Whether you’re a Western company looking to make it big in China, or a Chinese company looking to expand to Western markets, you’re going to face challenges. I can tell you as a Western game company we have a great respect for the Asian market and closely watch China for trends and learnings. The biggest challenge in China is on the technical side, trying to manage the huge range of devices, platforms, and connectivity issues for always online games.

How fast do you think Asian game companies will expand internationally

Asian game companies have already begun to expand quickly, and it’s likely we’ll see at least one Chinese game and one Chinese developer break into the top 20 in the West in 2016. While Chinese investment in Western game companies will continue to rise quickly next year, it’s unlikely we’ll see much expansion from Japanese or Korean companies in that time.

Some say that the majority of Chinese games are incompatible with Western tastes, and vice versa. What is your response to that

We’re seeing more and more Chinese game mechanics translating to the West. It’s still the case that China, Korea and Japan are each very different markets and a lot of the charts are dominated by local players addressing local tastes. However, it’s feeling more and more like the concepts that work in China are easier to adapt for the West (e.g. Game of War). One big difference is around the pace of content. Chinese players consume content very quickly, and your monetisation needs to reflect that behavior in order to make a game viable.

How do you see mobile gaming in general growing and changing in 2016

Thanks to the dominance of the RPG genre in the East in 2014-2015, we’re going to see lots of RPGs  [role-playing games] — action RPGs, turn-based RPGs, and even RPG RPGs. It will be very hard to differentiate in this genre and only those with massive, well-known IPs are likely to succeed.

This year, the rising cost of CPIs was due in large part to the big game developers, but in 2016 the rising costs will be driven at least equally by big brands moving more of their digital brand budget to channels previously owned by performance marketers. Subsequently, a majority of new entrants on the charts will be well executed games with well known IPs.

Funding for companies who have yet to establish themselves will diminish will diminish due to player’s increasing expectations for high production values and the rising cost to acquire users. Those companies are more likely to seek publishing deals or acqui-hires as they are unable to raise the capital needed to break out. This is good news for those who have already had a hit, or have the ability to acquire small studios, but bad for new startups.

Brands Showing Preference For Facebook Native Video Over YouTube

Facebook Video has become quite the competitor to YouTube over the past few months, not only in overall views, but also with other features and ROI. Not only have brands taken notice, they’re taking full advantage.

A report from quintly indicates that a number of brands are showing preference to Facebook’s video format over YouTube. The study shows that YouTube videos only make up about one quarter of all videos posted on the Facebook site, showing that the rest comes mostly from Facebook native.

According to the data, it’s clear that Facebook’s video has a bigger outreach with brands, with 65 percent showing preference over YouTube, which sits at 24 percent. Meanwhile, only one percent of companies still use the Vimeo format, while ten percent utilize some other video service.

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In a separate study, Locowise noted that Facebook video has better native reach than YouTube. Facebook native videos manage to attain about 13.2 percent organic reach, while YouTube is a little less with 7.9 percent. Facebook also has a notably higher engagement rate, by 6.3 percent, compared to YouTube’s 3.2 percent. Even Instagram has a higher rate than YouTube, at 3.6 percent.

Out of all the posted videos, 96.4 percent are reported from Facebook native, compared to just 3.5 percent from YouTube.

quintly noted a few reasons why Facebook is more popular. The first involved the EdgeRank service, which utilizes its own algorithm that provides updates right in the user’s timeline, allowing the company to determine which reaches more people. Native video features were also pointed out, as they can increase interactions with users, especially on auto-play, since they would notice them while looking through their timeline. Even disabled, quintly believes it’s “greatly beneficial for marketing” on the site. quintly also noted that Facebook videos are sponsored more frequently because of this.


Min-Liang Tan Discusses Razer’s ESports Play

Video game hardware and accessories company Razer recently expanded its Razer Arena offering to include Riot Games League of Legends. It s part of an expanded eSports push by the company, which was formed in the early days of professional gaming.

Razer is also upping its tournament game. The company is investing $50,000 in Q1 2016, making it the largest amateur league prize pool to-date. MinLiang Tan, co-founder, CEO, and creative director of Razer, explains his company s eSports strategy in this exclusive interview.

What does League of Legends bring to Razer Arena

League of Legends is the largest eSports title in the world today. With Razer Arena now supporting this game, we re able to help gamers play in competitive-style tournaments with professional organizing tools. We aim to support the dreams of average tournament organizer as well as provide young budding teams with a completely automated platform to train and grow through Razer Arena.

Why is Razer sponsoring League of Legends tournaments

This is a way for us to improve the gaming experience. ESports is a huge part of our company s history and it will continue to be a big focus, whether that s monetary sponsorships, product support or platforms like Razer Arena that help players compete against each other at a pro level.

How does sponsoring tournaments fit into Razer’s overall eSports investment  

Basketball players and other athletes will have companies design specific gear like shoes to help them compete at the highest level possible. That s very similar to how we develop cutting-edge products for gamers. There isn t a better way to validate the merits of a product than having a pro gamer approve of it, so we test our concepts closely with our eSports teams. We once had a gamer that could tell the difference between a response time in a mouse down to the millisecond, and that s why all of our mice have the lowest latency possible one millisecond.

What are the advantages of building tournaments and how does it complement the traditional sponsorship of players and teams

With the ability to create more tournaments, players have more opportunities to practice teamwork and hone communicationskills, along with developing individual abilities. For those who enjoy watching eSports matches, it will also benefit them with more content to watch. This is a way to make eSports-type events more accessible to anyone.

How many players or teams does Razer sponsor in League of Legends And overall eSports  

Razer currently sponsors 17 separate League of Legends teams as part of our 24 sponsored eSports organizations.

How has Razer Arena grown since launch in terms of users and titles

Razer Arena was launched into beta early January 2015. In the space of a single calendar year, we ve grown by leaps and bounds, to improve and constantly polish the platform to what you see today. We ve more than double the number of titles we support, and with the introduction of World of Tanks as well as League of Legends, we re poised to service some of the largest gaming communities in the world. All of these would not have been possible without the unwavering support from our users, who struck with us as we worked out the kinks and continuously seek to improve the platform.

Razer Arena services thousands of players and full-fledged teams who have joined and formed to compete on Arena. Furthermore, we ve successfully ploughed through countless events, matches and late nights in an effort to work with our initial adopters to refine the platform. The solution you see today was born of the blood and sweat of everyone involved, and we re extremely confident that we can take Arena to even greater heights.

What does Razer Arena bring to the eSports ecosystem

Razer Arena is a fully automated tournament platform that covers a tournament lifecycle, end-to-end. This significantly improves the lives of event organizers by making processes easier for them, while providing a powerful platform for players and teams to demonstrate their skills. Being an online or offline platform means that we greatly extend the reach of organizers and, at the same time, provide an avenue for the casual player, regardless of where you are, to live your dream. Gamers are inherently competitive, and competition pushes boundaries. Going online breaks all physical barriers, and with the help of all gamers around the world, Razer Arena aims to be the best online tournament platform in the world.

What s more, game developers can work with platforms like Razer Arena to empower the community to create their own competitive scene from the ground up.

How big an eSports fan base does Razer have today and how do you see that growing

Razer s eSports fan base is in the millions figure, we have more than 10 million fans, friends and followers on our social media platforms alone. As long as we make the most advanced products in the world for gamers, and as long as eSports grows as a global phenomenon, Razer s eSports fan base will grow. Our products are the most prevalent gateway to eSports fandom people buy a Razer mouse, keyboard or system based on product merit and they re drawn to tournaments as expositions of what their Razer gear can do when pushed to the limit.

It s like a Porsche owner watching the Rolex Sports Car Series, or someone who owns a Big Bertha watching The Masters to see what his club can do in the hands of one of the world s great golfers. People are drawn to Razer from the other direction, as well, becoming fans of our products by virtue of our support of tournaments and the achievements of the players who we sponsor. Our logo is synonymous with high-performance gaming at every level on the eSports continuum.

What role do you feel eSports has played in making Razer what it is today

The vision for Razer from the very beginning was to be the world’s greatest gaming brand and to achieve that by designing the best products possible for gamers. As part of staying true to our ambitions, we systematically imagined, developed and produced some of the greatest tools known to professional gamers over the years. As the bar for professional gamers began to rise higher and higher, supporting the accomplishments of these athletes became a primary focus for us, and in many ways drove innovation time and time again. Just like we d like to think that eSports would not be where it is today if we had not taken the leap that we did in the early days with sponsorships of some of the world s leading gamers, like Jonathan Fatal1ty Wendel or Jaeho Moon Jang, Razer would not be where it is today if eSports had not been there to set new standards for gaming components and their relation to human performance.

Auto Makers Offer Glimpse Into Future at CES

If there s a more perfect setting for brand matrimony than the CES show in Las Vegas, we d love to hear your argument preferably at one of the 1,574 hosted parties. Just like Britney Spears 2004 New Year s Eve Sin City nuptials that lasted a whopping 55 hours, when brands unite to work happily ever after at the year s biggest electronics show, there s plenty of mutual lust, infatuation and love for one another. One specific marriage that s as common as a Kardashian alpha union these days are cars connecting with tech brands to merge expertise in their respective fields. They just so happen to last longer and actually yield results for the betterment of Mankind.  


The CES proceedings got off to a promising start at the end of last year when Google partnered with Ford to build self-driving cars. Google already has 53 test vehicles on the road with 1.3 million miles logged in autonomous driving. Ford came to CES to say it ll be tripling its autonomous car fleet; the expansion will make it the largest in the auto industry, Raj Nair announced. The car manufacturing company will have 30 fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid test cars hitting the road for 2016 in California, Arizona and Michigan. The pairing of the car and tech titans undoubtedly combines strengths and resources, and lays out the framework for the future of driving.

Ford didn t stop there. They also announced they re working with Amazon and Internet of Things platform Wink toward granting their car owners access to their connected-home devices from their cars, and vice versa. Soon, you ll be able to ask Alexa through Sync Connect to start your car, open a garage door, turn on home lighting, check a thermostat setting and inquire on the estimated time of arrival for your vehicle from inside your home. The people unhappiest about this development Teenaged children borrowing their parents car Saturday night.  

General Motors

Lyft announced that General Motors invested $500 million in the company. The partnership, announced Monday previous to CES, will build a fleet of self-driving cars that can work on the Lyft platform, and where Lyft drivers can also rent GM vehicles from. 

We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless and autonomous, said GM president Dan Ammann. With GM and Lyft working together, we believe we can successfully implement this vision more rapidly.  

John Zimmer, president and co-founder of Lyft, said: Working with GM, Lyft will continue to unlock new transportation experiences that bring positive change to our daily lives. Together we will build a better future by redefining traditional car ownership.  

This is an interesting development because the autonomous vehicle trend is now married to the I don t want to buy a car / let s Lyft, instead culture and crowd. 


Delphi introduced the automated vehicle at CES 2015, and this year, it took active safety and automated driving to the next level by incorporating vehicle-to-everything capabilities by using advanced software and hardware to communicate with streets, signs, traffic lights, other cars and even pedestrians.

We imagine a world with zero traffic accidents, said Jeff Owens, Delphi chief technology officer. To get there we will need a convergence of active safety, sensor fusion, connectivity platforms and advanced software. Delphi has proven we are the only company that has the right mix of all of these.


Toyota announced it will be adding cellular data connections to a broader range of vehicles by adopting Ford SmartDeviceLink Software the car makers open-source smartphone app interface software. The app allows Spotify, Glympse, iHeartRadio and other smartphone apps to be easily accessed by drivers using voice recognition and dashboard controls. PSA Peugeot Citroën, Honda, Subaru and Mazda are also now thinking about adopting this technology for their cars, Ford announced.

The true benefit of a common smartphone app communications interface is that it creates an industry standard enabling great experiences for customers while allowing different companies the freedom to differentiate their individual brands, said Don Butler, Ford executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services. Ford is making the software available as open-source, because customers throughout the industry benefit if everybody speaks one language.  


Kia recently announced plans to manufacturer partially-autonomous cars by 2020, and aims to bring its first fully-autonomous vehicle to market by 2030. At CES, they introduced the launch of a new sub-brand drive wise to encompass its future Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) a $2 billion investment program over the next two years. Drive Wise will enable Kia to introduce intelligent safety technologies to its future model range, helping to eliminate potential dangers and, for many, the boredom of driving, while changing the ways in which owners interact with their vehicles. 

Kia is undergoing a very promising and gradual process of introducing partially and fully autonomous technologies to its vehicles, said Tae-Won Lim, Hyundai Motor Group s senior vice president of central advanced research and engineering institute. Although the first marketable fully-autonomous car from Kia will not be available in the immediate future, the work our R&D teams are currently doing to develop our range of Drive Wise technologies is already improving on-road safety and driver assistance. The innovations presented at this year s show demonstrate the future direction we are taking.  


Fiat announced new fourth-generation Uconnect Systems in which Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available globally in select Chrystler and Dodge models during 2016.

“The Uconnect team is evolving Uconnect and making it even better,” said Joni Christensen, head of Uconnect Marketing, Fiat. “With the launch of the fourth generation of Uconnect systems, we are continuing to minimize the everyday stresses of busy lifestyles by providing drivers with a variety of ways to stay conveniently connected to their vehicles, while making every drive exceptionally informative, entertaining and unique.” 


Dr. Herbert Diess, chairman of the Volkswagen passenger cars brand, held a keynote discussing the latest developments in electromobility as well as the next generation of connectivity. 

“The new world will be defined by automated driving, Diess said shortly after unveiling the brand s newelectric Microbus dubbed Budd-e and the e-Golf Touch.


Nvidia unveiled new self-driving car tech at CES that has the power of 100 MacBook Pros.The Nvidia Drive OX 2 allows the automotive industry to use artificial intelligence to tackle the complexities inherent in autonomous driving. It utilizes deep learning on Nvidia s most advanced GPUs for 360-degree situational awareness around the car, to determine precisely where the car is and to compute a safe, comfortable trajectory.

“Drivers deal with an infinitely complex world,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and CEO, Nvidia. “Modern artificial intelligence and GPU breakthroughs enable us to finally tackle the daunting challenges of self-driving cars.

“Nvidia s GPU is central to advances in deep learning and supercomputing. We are leveraging these to create the brain of future autonomous vehicles that will be continuously alert, and eventually achieve superhuman levels of situational awareness. Autonomous cars will bring increased safety, new convenient mobility services and even beautiful urban designs providing a powerful force for a better future.”


Panasonic is bringing the studio to the 2017 Acura NSX via ELS Studio. The electronics company collaborated with multiple Grammy Award winning producer and engineer Elliot Scheiner and luxury vehicle manufacturer Acura to bring studio quality sound to the vehicle. 

Panasonic also partnered with Lincoln for the 2017 MKZ Hybrid to provide Sync 3 communications and entertainment system along with lithium-ion battery. 

The Sync 3 infotainment, developed in collaboration with Panasonic, features improved user responsiveness, enhanced voice recognition, hands-free calling, and capacitive touch screen with swipe capability. “Luxury consumers have high expectations that their infotainment systems will provide an experience that is as responsive and elegant as their mobile devices,” said Tom Gebhardt, president of Panasonic Automotive. “Despite the fact that vehicles are infinitely more complicated than tablets and smartphone, with Panasonic’s history in both consumer electronics and automotive, we have been able to expertly marry the two worlds and create a vehicle experience that is smart and sophisticated.” 

The Impact of Oculus Rift’s Official Price Point

Over the past few months, there’s been a lot of talk about how virtual reality will shake up the consumer market this year, estimated to take in $6.7 billion for 2016 alone. But some customers have been taking a “wait and see” approach, wondering what the upfront cost would be, and now Oculus VR has given them a clear idea.

The company has launched pre-orders for its long-awaited Rift headset, with the first order set to ship out sometime in March. However, it comes at a larger-than-expected price of $599 for a package that includes a carrying case, an Xbox One controller, a remote control for use with the headset, and a pair of games: Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie. The bundle does not include the motion tracking device, Oculus Touch, which is expected to release later in the year.


The $600 price point has been the subject of discussion all over social media today, with some obviously opposing a high cost in favor of cheaper alternatives, like the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard.

GamesRadar‘s Susan Arendt spoke about the price point for the Oculus, stating that “All of the above might be ignored if the Rift were relatively cheap – say, $200 or so. Now, I m not suggesting for a second that the current $599 is outrageous. Given where we are in the Rift timeline, that s a reasonable asking price. But that is not ordinary consumer price, especially considering that the Rift s primary use at this point is playing games, something many other things do already. That is not ‘Oh, hey, this looks nifty!’ price. That is laser disc, 3DO, Neo Geo, Betamax, only-super-technofans-with-deep-pockets-need-apply price.”

Even with the higher-than-expected price, pre-orders for the device have sold very well. The initial March shipment sold out in just under 15 minutes, and current pre-orders are estimated to ship at a later date in May, and the timetable could move even further as the day goes on.

SuperData‘s Joost van Dreunen spoke to [a]listdaily about the Oculus Rift’s price point. “It’s on the high end, especially since we’re looking at the introduction of a new platform,” he explained. “Historically, a new device enters with a substantial subsidy in order to capture market share early on. The first Xbox lost $250 per unit, for instance.

“Combined with the additional expense of necessary PC hardware, I suspect that initially it will be mostly affluent, early adopters and industry folks that will buy this. Which means that the first wave of sales gives us no real sense of whether average consumers will care enough for this to become a household device.”

Cheaper alternatives may be the way for some consumers to go until the Oculus Rift can prove itself, even with the fast-selling pre-orders. There is great potential for mobile to lead the virtual reality market, and Sony’s PlayStation VR could end up having a significantly lower price point.

It’s too soon to tell just how successful Oculus will be in the long run, but we should get a better idea after it officially launches.

Mobile To Be Leading Factor In Virtual Reality Gaming

Just in time for this CES this week, SuperData has revealed some big numbers for the future of virtual reality, especially in regards to mobile.

A new report, the VR Gaming Market Brief 2016, explains how the market could expand with virtual reality-based gaming, and not just with the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. SuperData estimates that the market will be worth $5.1 billion and set to reach 56 million consumers by the end of the year. However, mobile will play a huge part in the market.

“Initially, affordable smartphone devices will drive the bulk of sales as consumers first explore virtual reality before committing to the more expensive platforms,” said Stephanie Llamas, director of research for SuperData. “After this first wave, consumers will likely move more high-end VR devices on PC.” 

As far as interest in virtual reality goes, SuperData estimates that younger consumer groups have the most, with 74 percent of U.S. respondents under the age of 18 stating they’re “very interested” in the technology. Millennials were close behind with 65 percent; Gen Xers ranged around 54 percent; and Baby Boomers were at 42 percent.

Now it’s just a matter of seeing what consumers are willing to spend on virtual reality-related items. The report shows that hardcore gamers are mostly likely to pick up on it, willing to spend around $300 for a virtual reality-enabled gaming device. That said, some companies may have to subsidize their hardware in order to claim their piece of the market, as consumers get used to lower-budget VR options like Google Cardboard before seeking out new options. A “proof of concept” is likely needed before consumers are convinced.

SuperData also made additional notes on the VR market, indicating the following:

  • The worldwide market for VR gaming is set to reach $5.1 billion in revenues by the end of this year, with 55.8 million consumers. Meanwhile, the European market will be a leading factor in this, with an estimated $1.9 billion in total sales.
  • It’ll be easy to enter the light mobile VR market, reaching 71 percent of consumers with 27 million units by the end of this year. This could lead to the largest install base for certain devices. 
  • Virtual reality gaming will work with big and small studios alike. There are over 800 VR-based games in development, though some publishers are taking the “wait and see” approach.
  • Total investments for virtual and augmented reality will reach a grand total of $6.1 billion between the past four years, creating a momentum within the market. Expectations managed to grow with this as well.The full report can be found here, and provides plenty of insight in terms of what to expect from the future of virtual reality.

The full report can be found here, and provides plenty of insight in terms of what to expect from the future of virtual reality.