CES Unveiled Offers Smorgasbord of Gadgets

LAS VEGAS — CES kicked off with Unveiled, an arena for up-and-coming innovative brands along with some with longstanding industry staying power to exhibit their products and gizmos. Open exclusively to the press, [a]listdaily joined the fracas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to see what was actually fire, and what was only smoke. While tech titans are slowly matriculating into Las Vegas, the CES Unveiled proceedings served as a prime appetizer for the gadget-hungry masses. In the process, we collected enough flash drives bearing press kits and announcements to sink the Titanic.

But back to the news. Gamers who like the real-deal when it comes to experience rejoice! Immersit is looking to add 4D motion to virtual reality gaming by the end of this year. The product uses a VR headset to enhance 360-degree video. Gamers will be able to place the product underneath a couch or chair to add another dimension to their game play. The antiquated rocking chair now has new meaning. 

Arkamys was in town to show how 360-degree positional audio helps drivers react instantly to threats in a car simulation. CEO Philippe Tour explained that his product plays sound alerts from the direction of the actual threat as collected from a car s onboard sensors. Without such a system, collision alerts are just beeps that warn of danger. We can see in only one direction, but we hear sounds coming from everywhere. Adding positional audio to something, whether for entertainment or safety, provides a more complete and more natural experience, he said.

Speaking of car safety habitual texters and car multitaskers: put down your McDonald s bag meet your new road warrior. Smartwheel is looking to help put an end to the litany of distracted drivers that lead to harrowing headlines and even death by delivering real-time alerts when a driver has one hand off the wheel for too long or has no hands on the wheel at all. The snap-on wheel cover is like having mom or dad in the car right next to you. Forever.

And speaking of people who love to text, LG showed off two new phones via the K10 and the K7. They also debuted super UHD TVs that you can roll up like a newspaper. Yes, you read that correctly. When was the last time you swatted a fly with your TV Exactly. Much like other products brands are pumping up at CES too many to name here LG said it s possible these TVs will never hit stores. They just want to show off what s possible, even if it s not marketable. Who said newspapers aren t marketable

Living in Digital Times focused on products that pushed the boundaries of lifestyle innovation like a powered robot dog, a wearable tech bracelet, kitchen appliances and others. Their marketing and lifestyle focuses on from kids to fitness, from health to digital home, said Robin Raskin, the company s founder and president. 

WowWee s robo-dog was an eye-catcher as attendees worked their way through the exhibit floor. The robotics manufacturer also released R.E.V. Air and Lumi, aiming to push the limits of hi-tech, robotic flying fun game players by employing the latest in Mechatronics. The company will continue on its path of providing innovation with proprietary technology to deliver exciting experiences to robotics and youth electronics, said WowWee Canada president Richard Yanofsky.

Kensington announced the availability of its new expert mouse wireless trackball. It addressed several user requirements, primarily the need to minimize desktop clutter and increase flexibility, said Anita Chang, the company s global product manager. 

Blink is using some of the scratch from its $5.8 million investment to be the next big thing in smart home monitoring systems by taking on the competition with affordability and battery life.

Energy technology company Intelligent Energy unveiled prototypes powered by an embedded hydrogen fuel cell, with hopes of providing a solution to the battery life conundrum facing consumers today. According to Julian Hughes, managing director for the company s consumer electronics division, it can be scaled for a vast range of commercial applications either to independently power the device or complement the existing battery, extending device life by up to an entire week. 

If waking up to sizzling bacon wafting in the air each morning is wrong, we don t want to be right. Sensorwake is an alarm clock that first uses scents for three minutes to get you out of bed. Other scents it sprays into air is coffee, and money.

An alarm clock that emits the smell of money into the air at a Las Vegas convention show Technology just hit the jackpot it s work here is done.

CES 2016: Nvidia Moves Forward On Autonomous Driving

The Consumer Electronics Show kicks off tomorrow, and Nvidia has already gotten things moving (so to speak) by revealing its automated driving technology.

During its press event yesterday evening, Nvidia CEO Jen-Shun Huang unveiled the company’s new Drive PX 2 supercomputing platform, which delivers a whopping amount of power (about the equivalent of 150 Macbook Pros) and promises to improve the self-driving system as car manufacturers come to know it.

The company already has one partner on board with the technology, Volvo. The automaker has partnered to include Drive PX 2 with its 100 XC90 luxury SUVs, enabling cars to drive around automatically through the manufacturer’s hometown of Gothenburg. Nvidia’s self-driving tech will also feature sensors, enabling a 360-degree view of the environment around the car and its passengers. “The rear-view mirror is history,” Huang confidently stated.

ces end to end deep learning cars webAlthough not everyone is warm to the idea about self-driving cars, even though some car companies have already begun presenting examples, Nvidia provided plenty of stats to back up its technology. It indicated that an estimated 93 percent of car crashes are caused by human error, resulting in the death of 1.3 million drivers each year. It also stated that many American teenagers die from these accidents, with texting being the main cause.

Productivity has also been brought into question, as Americans waste 5.5 billion hours of time each year in traffic, which estimates to $121 billion, according to Texas A&M’s Urban Mobility Report. With the Drive PX 2, Nvidia hopes to change that. Along with self-driving, the technology will also present the largest “infotainment” system to date within vehicles, utilizing a medium-sized horizontal screen and a tall vertical one to provide details on a drive. Nvidia’s blog details the assets that the Drive PX 2 is built around, as well as how its “deep learning” system could help car manufacturers improve consumer safety with future models.

Does this mean all consumers will be hopping on board It’s simply a question of price and convenience now, and whether they can put their trust into an autonomous system. 

That won’t stop companies from pressing forward with auto tech at this year’s CES event. Along with Nvidia, a number of other exhibitors will be showing off the latest in the field. Ford will have something involving its Smart Mobility project at the show, focusing on more flexible transportation models. Faraday Future could have another battery-driven vehicle on display, while Chevrolet’s new electric Bolt EV is also likely to get attention. 

MobilityWare Discusses the Future of Mobile Gaming

With the explosive growth of mobile gaming, and the introduction of new devices like the Apple Watch and Apple TV, the struggle to succeed is greater than ever. Among companies that are reaching forward is MobilityWare, known for popular iPhone games like Solitaire and Blackjack. It also recently released Solitaire for the Apple watch and Android wearables.

[a]listdaily speaks to MobilityWare CEO, Jeff Erle, about the future growth of mobile gaming and how to get ahead.

Jeff Erle headshotMany predict that the mobile games industry will consolidate until only a handful of big companies are in control. What will it take to compete in mobile gaming’s future

Right now in this space, it’s “innovate or die†and the corollary to that is “grow or dieâ€. One way that you can see this is through the rapid power consolidation at the top whereby small and mid-tier players are being squeezed out. That means to compete, this do or die mindset needs to be built into and made part of everything the company does (e.g. strategy, corporate culture). If you aren’t innovating and growing, there are consequences.

Conversely, there is great opportunity because companies in this space are at the nexus of three growing ecosystems: 1) growth of mobile devices, 2) growth of mobile gaming, and 3) growth of mobile monetization (via IAP and advertising). So there’s a lot of opportunity there for a company to ride this tide. This opportunity is so compelling and the timing of it isn’t going to last. 

What do you keep an eye out for when acquiring new talent, IPs, and other assets

This idea of innovate or die forms our growth and acquisition strategy. It’s not just about throwing bodies at the opportunity. We have a strategic goal to build enterprise value and the way to do that is to invest in people (human capital) and acquisitions that help us do this. 

For example, we want to continue to make data something that we can leverage so a lot of hiring new talent has been in this area. We want to buy companies/assets to help us get faster to market (again, comes back to the idea of a grow or die mentality). In order for us to continue to have the next phase of growth we have to do 1 of 2 things (build more aggressively or buy and we’re actually doing both). We have to do both because you can’t plan for or guarantee a hit.

 What will be some of the most important factors to promoting new mobile games

UA will continue to play a big part but new avenues e.g. TV commercials will start to play a bigger part (it already has). As UA costs continue to rise, it’s becoming more important to explore alternative, outside-the-box approaches to promoting mobile games. We’re lucky in that we can cross promote our new titles to a huge existing user base of players currently playing our Solitaire game. Building communities via social media outlets will always be something we will do.

What are some of your marketing goals for 2016

Our key marketing goals for next year are related to the launch of our new games: efficiently acquiring quality new users. However, lots of pieces need to work together to make that happen, for example: Live Ops and Analytics. We recognize that in order for us to aggressively grow in the F2P space, our technology, product and marketing expertise needs to evolve. Too many developers don’t recognize this and release a F2P game without thinking about the proper tools and strategy. We recognized this early on and been working hard to evolve the team and platform in 2015, and we are excited to see it come to fruition in 2016.

Tell us how do you think VR technology might impact mobile gaming

There is no doubt that VR will enable and empower content creators to conceive new, immersive ways to delight mobile gamers. However, content creators will have to think differently about how they engage their players. VR games will likely take on a different shape from how we experience mobile games today. Players will not necessarily be able to ‘play on the go’ or casually consume content with a few minutes to spare. Instead, VR will create engaging experiences that influence most of what we see and we feel. We’ll see premium VR content specifically designed and built for the mobile gamer that craves that immersive experience. As a result, we’ll find ourselves playing games modeled after the ‘real’ world, reimagined for the ‘virtual’.

Ultimately VR will create wonderful new opportunities for content creators to dream big while giving mobile players the ability to experience something new without necessarily giving up what they currently love about mobile gaming today.

How do you think games for wearable devices like the Apple Watch will grow and develop

As Robert Jackson [MobilityWare VP] previously stated in the interview with Re/code, “The mobile game market is about filling your day with quick gameplay sessions. The watch is an even more extreme version of that.”

I think we will see the types of games and apps evolve as platform capabilities also evolve. Currently, gameplay is limited by a number of performance restrictions around memory and asset management. However, Apple is exceptional at continuing to iterate on their platforms I expect the “wow factor†in games will increase as the watch capabilities (and screen dimensions) advance.

With devices like the Apple TV, mobile games are finding themselves in the living room. What are your thoughts about mobile games competing for living room space against traditional consoles and entertainment devices

One of the great things about the Apple eco-system is the connection between devices (desktop > phone > tablet > watch and now TV!) across one OS. Each of these platforms has their own unique strengths and I look at each of them as a challenge for game developers.

Apple TV is an obvious extension of the Phone & Tablet and it’s easy to see someone starting a game on their iPhone and continuing that same game on the TV, or vice-versa. What really excites me about the TV is the ability to make the game experience more social. Imagine cooperative gameplay! Families challenging each other on teams sitting around the living room! Head-to-head gameplay! All of these things were available previously on console, but set-top console boxes can be intimidating to the casual player. Apple TV has the ability to take huge amounts of casual gamers and bring them to the big screen in a way that traditional console devices simply couldn’t before.

In what ways do you think mobile games will continue to grow and change in 2016

Most of the good ideas have been taken, so it’s much harder to deliver little true innovation. It’s no longer good enough to find a better mouse trap you have to figure out a whole new way to trap a mouse. 

New FTC Rules Could Force Companies to Change Up Native Ads

While native ads can certainly be effective when implemented alongside editorial content, there are readers who find it can be difficult to distinguish between the two even though the FTC has guidelines in place that state that a company must indicate when a story is “promoted.”

Digiday reports that only 30 percent of publishers are in compliance with the new guidelines the FTC has put in place for native ads. Todd Krizelman, co-founder and CEO of tracking and ad analyzing company MediaRadar, revealed this statistic, along with the fact that 26 percent of websites run native ads without any sort of mention of the sponsor whatsoever.

With the new announcement of guidelines, changes are certainly coming. “The majority of publishers are actually going to be impacted by this announcement,” explained Krizelman.

Companies feel that these sort of ads are “less intrusive and more appealing” to consumers, according to The New York Times, but obviously the FTC has changed up the guidelines in the hopes of distinguishing that, yes, it’s still advertising that stands out from a site’s general content.

In general terms, the FTC states that advertisers “Should not use terms such as ‘Promoted’ or ‘Promoted Stories,’ which in this context are at best ambiguous and potentially could mislead consumers that advertising content is endorsed by a publisher site.” Jessica L. Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated, “People browsing the web, using social media or watching videos have a right to know if they’re seeing editorial content or an ad.”

Another ad firm, Nudge, recently analyzed 64 publishers’ native ads, and found that only a small handful utilize indication of advertisement. Its findings show that only 12.7 percent stated they were “sponsored,” while 9.5 percent use the term “presented by.” Lastly, 7.9 percent have the words “sponsor story” or “sponsored story” in use. Therefore, the new guidelines represent some much needed changes.

Considering that companies are looking to spend more money on native advertising this year (approximately two-thirds of marketers indicated they would be doing so), it appears that they’ll have to proceed with caution, making sure sponsored stories are marked as so.

Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a consumer protection agency, noted that “What’s needed is a 21st-century set of safeguards that enable consumers to control the data used to deliver them ads, especially formats like native that are specially designed to be disguised as content.”

That said, some are concerned that the guidelines, though not considered law, could be problematic when it comes to advancing the state of native advertising. “As soon as you start to standardize things and put guidelines around things, you limit the creativity and innovation that is able to occur,” said Mark Howard, chief revenue officer for Forbes Media. “If you put out stringent guidelines, are you going to put people back in the box “

Of course, let’s not forget that a number of consumers as of late have been picking up use of ad-blocking software, which reached a record high last year. With changes to native advertising, companies may have to be a little more creative to overcome this particular hurdle.

The FTC’s full guideline list can be found here.

Image source: Mindsea

Activision’s Buyout of Major League Gaming Could Shake Up ESports

Activision Blizzard has confirmed today in a press release that it has purchased Major League Gaming in a deal estimated at $46 million. As a result, it will expand its reach across the rapidly-growing eSports ecosystem by adding proven live streaming capabilities and technologies to the Activision Blizzard Media Networks division, led by former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and MLG Co-founder Mike Sepso.

“Our acquisition of Major League Gaming’s business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of esports. MLG’s ability to create premium content and its proven broadcast technology platform – including its live streaming capabilities – strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming. MLG has an incredibly strong and seasoned team and a thriving community. Together, we will create new ways to celebrate players and their unique skills, dedication and commitment to gaming. We are excited to add Sundance and the entire MLG esports team to our competitive gaming initiatives,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard.

Sundance DiGiovanni, Chief Executive Officer and MLG Co-founder, added, “Our mission for over 12 years has been to promote and expand the growth of competitive gaming worldwide, and today the industry is at a key inflection point as its popularity soars and rivals that of many traditional professional sports. This acquisition and Activision Blizzard’s commitment to competitive gaming will expand the opportunities for gamers to be recognized and celebrated for their competitive excellence.”

Although MLG saw a profit this past year, it’s still struggling to keep up, amassing a large debt that reportedly will be paid off with a majority of the $46 million. It also lost the rights to broadcast the World League tournaments to the Electronic Sports League (ESL) last year.

This is just the latest move by a publisher to move eSports-related activity in-house, rather than relying on a third party network for assistance. Last year, Electronic Arts introduced a new Competitive Gaming Division that would focus primarily on eSports, with EA Sports COO Peter Moore leading the charge.

Activision has been making a strong push towards developing its eSports, particularly with the introduction of the Call of Duty World League, which is co-sponsored by Sony and starts its regular competition this week. However, its latest purchase indicates that the publisher is more serious about eSports than anyone could have expected.

SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen provided some feedback on the purchase. “The larger underlying trend is that game publishers have started to attract online audiences and are increasingly looking to diversify their efforts across media channels,” he explained. “In addition, considering the current momentum behind eSports, it is no surprise that the segment is starting to consolidate.

“Earlier in the year, Swedish broadcasting group MTG acquired a majority share in ESL, MLG s rival, for $64M. Previously, Blizzard already acquired the assets of the IGN Pro League back in 2013. Now, with the acquisition of MLG s assets, Activision is on a path to further vertically integrate its effort behind competitive gaming and bolster its position.

“Following several other acquisitions and announcements from Activision, it is clear that the firm is evolving into a media conglomerate rather than a company that simply develops and publishes video games. This is a consistent trend we have also observed elsewhere in the industry, with firms like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Take-Two Interactive, as the potential of ad-based revenue has come into focus,” he concluded.

Superdata’s stats regarding eSports is as follows:

  • The current worldwide market for eSports totals $748M in revenues, and is on track to reach $1.9B by 2018E
  • The bulk of eSports revenues come from advertising, totaling $579M
  • Activision owns several of the most popular competitive gaming titles, including Hearthstone, StarCraft and Call of Duty. Most recently it released its MOBA contender, Heroes of the Storm, as a competitor to League of Legends (Tencent) and DOTA 2 (Valve).

MLG will continue to operate MLG.tv, MLG Pro Circuit and GameBattles platforms, and will continue to work with its partners and other publishers across the industry, according to the press release. No word if this will affect the company’s coverage of other franchises, like its Halo World Championship.

Between the purchase of MLG and the Call of Duty World League, it’ll be interesting to see where Activision Blizzard’s eSports interests go from here. It certainly looks like it’s ready for the competition.

Mobcrush Discusses the Future of Mobile Livestreaming

Although Mobcrush is still in beta, it’s already looking to take on established streaming services like Twitch and the more recently launched YouTube Gaming channel by offering a platform dedicated to mobile gaming. While some might consider it a daunting challenge, the fact that the service secured $11 million in funding from a variety of investors goes a long way toward meeting it. As mobile gaming continues to grow, with titles like Vainglory and Hearthstone fast rising as eSports, an increasing number of players will want a convenient way to stream and watch directly from mobile devices.

[a]listdaily talks to Koh Kim, Co-Head of Business Development at Mobcrush, to learn more about what’s ahead for mobile game streaming.

Koh KimIn what ways do you see mobile game streaming differing from traditional console and PC game streams

Streaming a game on PC and console requires capture cards and complicated equipment setups that are intimidating for the mainstream user. Mobile game streaming should be easy, accessible and seamless in any situation a user wants to create content.

Streaming a mobile game unlocks different opportunities and use cases. Streaming from a console or PC means that you’re likely tied to your living room or bedroom. Streaming from mobile means freedom. You can take it anywhere or anytime, and it opens up more interactions with players in real life or online.

How fast do you think mobile games will be adopted as eSports in the coming year

It’s already happening right now. Communities and players make games into eSports. Vainglory is already making strides as teams are already forming around the world to compete in various tournaments with cash prizes.

Mobile game developers are already thinking about how to design and develop games to be watched by players, so we will see the first generation of mobile games specifically for the streaming audience in mind.

How you think that emerging technologies like VR will help shape streaming on mobile

Mobile devices are getting more powerful with faster processors and GPUs with every new model. In addition, mobile broadband penetration and bandwidth are expanding at exponential rates, especially in regions where people are coming online for the first time.

Mobile devices have the potential to take VR mainstream. VR is currently limited by the fact that you need incredibly expensive equipment and a cord, and you are often limited to a single location due to the PC attached to the head gear. Eventually Moore’s law will allow mobile devices to stream high fidelity content and audio for immersive VR experiences.

In what ways do you think streaming will continue to grow and change in 2016

As I mentioned, more games will be designed and developed with streaming in mind. We will see more game mechanics and experiences that allow audiences to participate like what you see in the Hunger Games.

What Marketers Should Keep an Eye Out For at CES 2016

The thirst for technology is real. That rings true even more so in the desert as the biggest consumer technology show of the year unfolds in Las Vegas every January. Global brands in wearables, drones, robots, connected cars among countless others travel to CES in Sin City looking to hit the jackpot with the estimated 175,000 visitors and international press corps in attendance.

With over 3,600 exhibitors traversing in more than 2.23 million net square feet of space across several locations on the iconic Strip, CES certainly is not for the faint of heart. Brands ready to reveal the ace up their sleeves will revel once it pays off in spades.

You can always count on CES to kick-start the New Year with the largest gathering of media, executives, marketers and consumers looking to share, listen and learn what new platforms, innovations and products we will be connecting with at work, home or on our personal body, Chris Younger, a principal at the Ayzenberg Group, a full-service advertising agency, tells [a]listdaily.

Younger will be moderating the  Gaming and Celebrities: Mobile Branding and Monetization  panel at the Digital Hollywood track, part of the official CES industry conference, discussing how gaming platforms serve as vehicles that capture customer loyalty. (Editor’s note: [a]listdaily is the media arm of the Ayzenberg Group.)

There ll be plenty of panels discussing brands, gaming and celebrities and the movement behind socially connected consumers that generate billions in revenue for these companies, Younger said. It s no surprise that gaming plays a significant role in this week-long event.

Although E3 is where the game sharks come out of the tank, CES still proves to be a great marketing opening for brands in the land of the card sharks. Turner will be a big part of Vegas gaming proceedings when they showcase their latest jewel in the portfolio in eSports with a $50,000 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Championship tournament that feeds into a $2.4 million prize pool for 2016. And with eSports, there s big money to be made all around, of course.

Sponsors want to partner with us and figure out how to create the most value for both of our brands without turning off the gamers, said Craig Barry, executive vice president of production and chief content officer at Turner Sports, per Fortune. Instead of approaching this as this is our ELeague and pounding our chest, we want to help the entire eSports ecosystem and be authentic to both TBS and CS:GO We want to help bring stability to the ecosystem.

Jay Baage, executive director for [a]listdaily who ll be speaking at the Cross Platform Content: Branding and Programming panel, says content is also a focus for marketers at CES.

No matter what the new gizmos will be at CES, we re seeing a shift to marketing the experience and entertainment value that the product can provide to the consumer, rather than the product itself. I m especially interested in getting a better understanding of new augmented-virtual reality content experiences and seeing what s the best way for marketers to help enhance those experiences for consumers as well as get more involved in actual mass media implementations like 360 video on Facebook.

The virtual reality hype machine is real, and it s here it certainly has the makings of being the darling of CES. Long gone are the days of traditional gaming there s a real desire and need for VR content. Last year set the tone with a series of momentum-shifting developments like the first broadcast of an NBA game in the platform. The VR industry could grow to $6.7 billion in 2016 alone, driven mainly by hardware sales as the main contenders battle for market dominance. More than 40 exhibitors Oculus VR, Virtuix and Sphero among them will showcase the next wave of VR systems and environments at CES.

Developments in virtual and augmented reality have made significant strides to allow us to engage in a 360-degree gaming experience, explore the inside of foreign landmarks, treat phobias, better train medical professionals, virtually attend an event and much more, said Karen Chupka, senior vice president of corporate business strategy for CES. The gaming a virtual reality marketplace at CES 2016 will showcase all of these immersive innovations that are advancing this futuristic industry.

Why Coors Light Embraced Retro Gaming

With the average age of a gamer now 35, according to the Entertainment Software Association, there are more opportunities for brands to connect with older gamers. The stigma of games being for kids has virtually evaporated in recent years, thanks to the explosion of mobile and free-to-play games. That’s all played into the marketing plans of Coors Light, which has expanded its video game footprint in 2015 through its Refresh-Men retro game.

Erin Mulligan, associate brand manager for Coors Light, explains how the beer company is connecting with Xbox and mobile gamers 21 and older through its ad-based game in this exclusive interview.

Erin Mulligan

Erin Mulligan

Why did Coors Light decide to develop a video game

In 2014 we launched Coors Light Refresh-Men, an ad-based video game that lived on the Xbox 360 platform. This 8-bit, brawler style video game garnered more than 50 million impressions, 300,000+ game starts, and more than a 12-minute average playtime. We wanted to build on the success and approach taken in 2014 by adding new characters, moves, storylines and bad guys to keep our audience engaged and excited by the Refresh-Men.

Do you have any market info on how big a crossover there is between your customers and gamers today

A significant percentage of our core consumer base also plays console video games frequently each week, so this is an effective way for us to strengthen their connection with Coors Light.

What studio did you work with to develop the game and what were the goals for this game

The goal of the game was to drive engagement with the brand, and it was a collaborative effort between the Coors Light team with various agencies and studios.

How do you see the retro gameplay connecting with the older gaming demographic

The graphical style of these “8-bit†games has seen a resurgence and become more culturally relevant in recent years. We want our game to embrace the retro qualities of this 8-bit look, from colors and font style to moves and gameplay strategy. Our audience grew up with these games, so they relate to the style.

How many levels and how deep is this game

There is an intro to the game, five levels and an outro.

Can you detail the release of this game across platforms

The original Coors Light Refresh-Men from 2014 was available only on Xbox 360. With the release of Super Refresh-Men, it is now on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and for download on Apple and Android mobile devices. Our Xbox effort will now encompass both current-gen systems, for maximum exposures to gamers.

What are the advantages of having a game living out there for people to play over other social media or marketing efforts

We felt this was a fun, unique way of bringing our brand to life and of paying homage to our brewing roots. We know that embracing the platforms consumers are on is critical for creating emotional connections with beer drinkers, and we’re proud that Coors Light has been leading the charge on this among alcohol and beverage brands.

What’s the messaging behind this game for Coors Light

Coors Light Super Refresh-Men is perfect for people 21 and older who remember and celebrate classic games, and who like to enjoy an ice-cold Coors Light while playing with friends.

What does the huge smartphone audience open up for brands today

We know our audience continues to play console-based games, but we wanted to give them a way to take the Super Refresh-Men on the go, knowing smartphones are glued to the palms of today’s consumers. This always-on-demand reality inspires us to reach our consumers in innovative and engaging ways – in this case, evolving a fan favorite with unique, new elements and on expanded channels. Smartphones also make everyone a broadcaster, which encourages us to engage our consumers with rich experience they can’t help but share instantly with their friends and social networks.

Is this game an experiment or do you see further exploration of gaming for this brand

We will continue to explore gaming as a means to engage consumers.


The Biggest Gaming Stories of 2015

2015 was a tremendous year in gaming, with Sony selling 32 million PlayStation 4 units, Microsoft gaining ground with its Xbox One console, and Nintendo gaining huge buzz going into 2016, between its new mobile plans and its rumored NX system.

Here are some of the biggest stories we reported in gaming for the year.

Activision purchases King and sets big eSports plans.

Activision had a number of big name sequels hits over the holiday season, including Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Guitar Hero Live and Skylanders Superchargers. However, it also made tremendous moves in the business world, too.

Its biggest move was purchasing mobile game publisher King for a whopping $5.9 billion, in a bid to establish a stronger presence in the smartphone and tablet market. There’s still no word on what will come out of this union, but chances are we’ll see the results from it in 2016.

In addition, Activision Blizzard also promised big moves in the eSports world. Along with creating a devoted tournament based around the Call of Duty franchise titled the World League, it also introduced a new division devoted to competitive gaming, which should make some big moves next year.

Activision also looks primed and ready to get into Hollywood with Activision Blizzard Studios, which will feature movies and TV shows based on its popular franchises, including Call of Duty (which it hopes to build a cinematic universe around) and a new Skylanders show which will debut next year.

Things are looking up for Activision, as it’s taking its momentum to new heights.

Star Wars hits with full force

With The Force Awakens dominating the global box office, making over a $1 billion in 12 days, 2015 is the year that Star Wars came back in full force. Not only did the film get a number of lucrative partners, but a pair of new game releases also made waves as well.

After much build up, EA’s Star Wars Battlefront was shown to fans during the Star Wars Celebration event this past April, and it lived up to the hype, with beautiful levels based on locales from the original film trilogy, as well as addictive multiplayer options. The game sold reasonably well throughout the holidays, and its energy should stay strong going into 2016, with plenty of downloadable content on the way.

The Force was also with Disney Interactive, as the latest version of Disney Infinity was mainly based around the Star Wars universe. Featuring playsets based on the previous films in the series (as well as The Force Awakens, which released earlier this month), the game has been a critical success for the company, and should continue onward in 2016 with new expansions, including a new multiplayer based Marvel game and more figurines.

Considering the success of the Star Wars franchise this year, we’re likely to see more game releases emerge sooner rather than later.

Sony leads the game market

Sony’s PlayStation 4 led the industry with a whopping 32 million units sold before the big holiday season, and sales should continue well into 2016 with major sequels to franchises like Uncharted and Ratchet & Clank waiting in the wings. However, Sony did much more for the industry beyond that.

The company will soon delve into the virtual world with its PlayStation VR tech, which expanded with each new trade show thanks to newly announced titles like Rez Infinite and Ace Combat 7. A release date and price weren’t given, but we will see it hit market next year and it’s likely to make a much stronger impact than the company’s PlayStation Move technology (although VR will use it in a number of innovative ways).

In addition to attending various trade shows, Sony also held its own for the second year in a row. The PlayStation Experience made its move to San Francisco this time around, but kept its momentum going with hundreds of first and third-party titles for attendees to try out. There were also panels and a special keynote with plenty of surprises, along with Capcom’s fighting tournament, the Capcom Cup, which closed out the show. No doubt Sony will bring it back next year, bigger and better than ever.

Finally, Sony has big plans for the future, with a number of new games in the works, AAA and independent alike, to help bolster the PlayStation 4’s growing library. Considering it’s the most popular division Sony has right now, that comes as no surprise.

Games take on a new reality

Video games began taking big steps toward adopting virtual reality technology 2015, with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR set to release next year.

PlayStation VR will play a big part in Sony’s plans for 2016, however, others have big moves in the works as well.

HTC unveiled its Vive headset in collaboration with Valve (the creators of Steam) at the Game Developers Conference earlier this year. This reveal was accompanied with the announcement of Lighthouse motion tracking technology, which allows users to interact with virtual reality. Although it was only unveiled in March, it quickly became known as a major rival against the Oculus Rift.

Not to be outdone, the Oculus Rift also made strides forward. After being purchase by Facebook last year, many were wondering what Oculus’ plans were. It answered these questions with a special press conference, announcing several new games, in addition the Oculus Touch technology for interaction. Furthermore, Oculus announced a partnership with Microsoft, making the Xbox One gamepad its official game controller, and one will ship with each headset.

Samsung brought the Gear VR headset to market. Developed in partnership with Oculus, the Gear VR uses Samsung smartphones to power its virtual reality experiences. It launch was accompanied with a games collection such as Land’s End and Eve: Gunjack, along with classic titles offered through the virtual Samsung Arcade, including Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog and a variety of favorites from Bandai Namco and Midway.

Virtual reality is set to make even bigger strides next year, with a number of new titles from each company, as well as advancements that will draw in more and more consumers willing to give the tech a try.

Microsoft gains speed

Along with introducing a number of highly anticipated sequels for the Xbox One, such as Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider, it also made big plans for the year that lies ahead. 

With the introduction of Windows 10, the company has a more streamlined approach to how it operates with games as PCs, Surface Pro tablets, and Xbox One gaming consoles all feature its technology. This is sure to expand into next year with more accessibility and features, including more ways for users to socialize.

Along with a number of exciting games in the works, including Scalebound and Gears of War 4, the company is also dabbling with augmented reality technology that will change the way people game. HoloLens had a stunning presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo this year that laid some great groundwork for the future, for games and other means across the board. We’re likely to see more of these plans unfold in the next year, with several apps coming into play.

Nintendo’s got a big year ahead.

While Nintendo’s Wii U console continued to lag in sales behind the competition, it still benefited from a number of original titles, including Super Mario Maker and Splatoon. But the company’s planning a major comeback in 2016, with some promising new developments 

Following the tragic death of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata earlier this year, the company went through a major reorganization and begun laying the groundwork for the future.

Part of that organization came with the long-anticipated arrival of the company in the mobile market. Nintendo announced its plans to team up with publisher DeNA to feature a number of its familiar characters, and the first title is set to arrive sometime this spring.

That’s not all, as the company also teamed up with Niantic to present a new virtual experience for fans of the popular Pokémon game series. Pokémon GO will enable fans to use the app to capture their favorite characters through their mobile phone. They’ll be attempting to “catch ’em all” when the game arrives in early 2016 for mobile devices.

While the Wii U will still see big games like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD and StarFox Zero in 2016, Nintendo has already begun building a bigger and better console, which is expected to be unveiled sometime this summer. The rumored NX hardware is likely to have some sort of mobile technology built in, so users can play their games either at home or on the go. There are still several mysterious questions surrounding the tech, but we’ll get answers in just a few months’ time.

It’s an exciting time for the game industry, as we’re likely to see an even bigger and better year than what 2015 has offered.

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What You Need To Know About Our Love Affair With Binge-Watching

If there’s one trend that really took off with home viewing this year, it’s binge-watching. Of course, when streaming services like Netflix and Hulu offer up quality original programming like Jessica Jones, as well as favorite episodes of hits like Friends and Seinfeld, it’s all too easy to get lost in the “just one more episode” run.

Here are some great statistics we dug up over the year revolving around the habits of binge-watching:

Perceptions about binge-watching are changing for the better.

This report, which we published back in June, discussed the small negatives that come with binge-watching, mainly with 52 percent of those who partake in it experiencing downtime once their favorite season comes to an end. In addition, 31 percent have managed to lose sleep over binging, mainly due to the quality of programming they’re watching.

TiVo indicated in the report that “binging is booming” with 92 percent of those surveyed indicating that they will finish watching a show’s season all the way to its completion even if many episodes lay ahead of them.

In addition, negative perception of “binge viewing” also dropped from 53 percent two years ago down to 30 percent. 61 percent manage to watch three or more episodes of the same show in a single day, while 32 percent prefer to wait until the time is right to binge.

Meanwhile, 45 percent state that they watch the show after hearing about it (either through social media or conversations with friends), and 40 percent state that “binging” on a show on a back-to-back basis is far better than waiting for a new episode to arrive days later.

People don’t seem to mind the commercials.

Despite the fact that a majority of viewers prefer to watch their programming without commercial interruption, there are a few who don’t mind putting up with an ad or two during their sessions, based on this report in July.

Per research from Annalect, 58 percent of viewers prefer to watch at least three episodes of a show in one sitting, missing out on most ads as a result. However, it did state that ads could be tolerated under the right circumstances, providing a break (for restroom, food or something else) before their next show comes on. A third of those polled indicated that they would be fine with the so-called “ad break”.

In addition, 20 percent of those binge watchers talk about ads with others, compared to 12 percent of non-bing viewers. 15 percent also share this information via social media, too and that could mean a big break for companies.

Although not all companies utilize ads with streaming, those that do seem to benefit from including them. Of course, those who want to skip them can always pay a premium fee (usually $9.99 monthly) to do so.

There are more options than ever.

2015 saw a number of significant new competitors in the streaming market. Along with dominant companies like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video, individual channels stepped up with their own on-demand services, including HBO, Showtime and even network channels like CBS, each with their own specially designed apps for use on set-top boxes and mobile devices.  

This indicates that the audience is ready for more streaming entertainment, compared to just watching services on their regular television. The shift is easy to notice, and by 2016, we could see streaming take over altogether, creating a new trend of viewing for millions of fans. Plus, older services like Netflix and Hulu aren’t backing down from their original programming, with new seasons of series like House of Cards on the way, as well as original movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2, among other offerings.

No matter what a viewer might be in the mood for, there’s plenty to binge on, thanks to the many on-demand choices.

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