Super Bowl Ad Spending At All Time High, But Worth It

The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will soon face-off in Santa Clara, and companies are lining up their promotions. Super Bowl 50 ads that have already begun airing and unique tie-ins featuring popular brands, like the forthcoming Deadpool film.

However, they certainly don’t come cheap. A report from Mobile Advertising Watch shows that Super Bowl ad pricing has jumped to staggering levels over the past few years. “The average rate for a 30-second advertisement in the Super Bowl has increased by 76 percent during the past decade and reached $4.4 million 2015,” said Kantar Media, per its report. “It’s the most expensive commercial time on television by far. Strong demand for ad time is pointing towards higher pricing for the 2016 game.” It could grow to nearly $5 million for a 30-second spot next year.

Screen Shot 2016 02 02 at 12.47.33 PMThat said, Bloomberg report indicates that the higher pricing is worth it, especially considering the 114 million viewer outreach (judging from last year’s numbers) the game usually garners – not to mention the countless fans that watch the ads online separately.

Viewership has remained steady at around 80 million in the start of the 2000’s, but by 2015, the number jumped significantly, with a record number expected for this year’s big game.

Screen Shot 2016 02 02 at 12.48.15 PMWith CBS also airing the game digitally, an even bigger audience is expected, and we could be seeing an interesting trend for the Super Bowl over the next couple of years as spending on digital advertising eclipses regular advertising. The “big game” interest is still going to be there, but there could be a bigger interest in how many people are watching online compared to just TV.

Screen Shot 2016 02 02 at 12.49.33 PMCost could play a part in this advertising game as well, as the below chart indicates just how much is paid per viewer in terms of thousand impressions. Network TV still leads significantly over in-stream video, although, again, this could possibly change.

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As for the time spent watching Super Bowl ads, it’s jumped quite a bit as well. Back in 2014, 370 million minutes of advertising was watched. However, by 2015, that jumped more than double, to 840 million. It’s likely to increase again, too.

Finally, if you need any real proof that Super Bowl advertising spending is effective, check out the below chart, which shows how it’s managed to grow from $162.5 million in 2006 all the way to $345.4 million for 2015. This year should be even bigger, although an estimate wasn’t provided in the report.

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All taken together, the Super Bowl continues to be a premium spot for advertising, with millions of viewers catching the advertising message and sharing favorite ads with their friends. Bigger companies like Anheuser Busch and Pepsi have continued to flourish with new ads, and even newcomers like the Clash of Clans and Heroes Charge commercials have done extremely well.

How CCP is Taking Virtual Reality Head-On

CCP, creators of the extremely popular EVE Online MMO, has been a big supporter of virtual reality from the very beginning. Development of EVE: Valkyrie, a virtual reality space combat simulator, for the Oculus Rift before Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion in 2014, and it was one of the first games announced for PlayStation VR.

EVE: Valkyrie has since become the chief example of virtual reality’s potential, with mind-blowing demonstrations shown at major gaming conventions like E3 and EVE Fanfest. In fact,Valkyrie will be included with every Oculus Rift Bundle, forever linking it to the start of the high-end VR era for consumers.

Gunjack, another space shooter developed by CCP, released for Samsung’s Gear VR last fall. So, it seems no matter what virtual reality device you pick up, CCP is there. The company further demonstrated its commitment to the technology by raising $30 million last year to back development of virtual reality content. With the Oculus Rift launching in March, HTC pre-orders beginning later this month, and Sony expected to announce the PlayStation VR’s launch date sometime soon, people are buzzing about the prospects of virtual reality.

CCP CEO, Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, speaks to [a]listdaily about working to forge a new technological frontier.

Hilmar Veigar PeturssonLast year, CCP stated a goal of building the world’s first AAA-quality game for VR, but EVE: Valkyrie seems to have picked up a few rivals, with more to come. In what ways will the game continue to stand out?

We celebrate the fact that more developers are joining the cause of creating excellent VR content. We will need a lot for this new platform to succeed. Our approach is to build our games and experiences from the ground up for VR, leveraging all the amazing strengths that the platform has, such as presence and immersion, like nothing else we have ever experienced. We appreciate that others take a different stance but this is our plan to stand out.

Between Gunjack and EVE: Valkyrie, CCP will have games for Gear VR, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. Is there a difference in promoting games across the three devices?

I don’t think we know the answer to this one yet! We’re learning along with everyone else what works best. We’ve had good luck partnering early with the platform holders and building games that showcase all the great things about their devices. What we have also learned is that the mode of input matters a lot, a lot more frankly than the output, so our focus is to build games and experiences leveraging the strengths of the input mechanism, which I believe will be the differentiating factor going forward.

Will we ever see Gunjack release for other devices like the Oculus Rift, or for other (non-Samsung) smartphone devices through Google Cardboard?

We’re definitely looking into other platforms. Gunjack is a natural fit for all most any VR platform so it’s just a matter of what’s the right thing for the team to do next.

What are the challenges in promoting a game for an emerging technology like VR?

The big one is that VR has to be experienced for people to fully understand what’s so great about it. You can’t demo a VR game on a stage or during a livestream and hope to capture people’s imagination. So we make an effort to be a part of as many live demo opportunities as we can and continue to be inspired by people’s reactions to our games and experiences.

How long do you think it will take for VR to catch on with mainstream consumers?

I think we’ll see a similar adoption pattern as most new technology. The first VCRs cost a thousand dollars in the late 1970s, but that’s what it took to prove that people wanted a way to record television at home. Generally, we keep in mind that we as innovators and early adopters have a tendency of over estimating the first three years and underestimating the first 10 years, so we are very mindful of planning around slow adoption but being fully prepared to follow through once the platform starts to take off.

Have Gunjack and anticipation for Valkyrie helped to grow the EVE Online player base?

We have noticed throughout the year that any move we make in the market raises our profile and makes people more curious about everything else we do. Our goal for Gunjack and EVE: Valkyrie hasn’t been to use them to grow EVE Online per se, it’s more about bringing the EVEuniverse to a new audience. But brand awareness for CCP and EVE grows as a result, and that helps with bringing more players to EVE Online.

What is the most important thing to keep in mind when launching a game for VR?

I would say that people should be prepared to be in the business long term. We’re not going to see multi-million-selling VR games this year.

Nexon CEO: Game Industry Needs ‘Less Commodification’

Nexon is a giant of the games industry with over $1.8 billion in annual revenue, diversified across PC and mobile games in both the East and the West. The company has made some significant investments in development studios in the west, including Big Huge Games (with its mobile hit DomiNations) and Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key productions, working on a PC shooter named Lawbreakers.

Nexon CEO and president Owen Mahoney is an experienced American executive with strong opinions about how to run a large game company. He’s been very successful during his tenure at Nexon, with the company projecting a 35 percent profit margin, reaping over $500 million in net income. Mahoney sat down with [a]listdaily before the holidays to talk about his approach to games, and in particular why he feels that games are works of art, not commodity products that you can just crank out.

“We come at it from a very particular angle,” Mahoney said. “The core principal is that games are very much an art form. You have to build great game art – you judge it on whether it’s fun or not. You think about it when you aren’t playing it, you want to tell your friends about it.” The idea that games should be seen as works of art runs counter to the prevailing business philosophy of creating sequels to established hits, adding some incremental improvements but avoiding too much innovation.

Isn’t the counter-argument to your strategy of looking for innovation and art is that it’s easier to sell incremental improvements – “This is like a game you already enjoy, only better” – rather than entirely new games “It’s hard to describe because it’s not like anything else?”

Ah, but it’s not. You’ve been in marketing – to sell a highly differentiated product, is that easy or hard? Is it easier than selling a commodity?

It’s easier creatively, but selling a commodity usually requires a big campaign and large amounts of money.

My old boss at EA, John Riccitiello, he came from Pepsi. That’s a hard marketing problem, an undifferentiated product – sugar water – in a mass market where your competition is Coke. Why is it the game industry insists on creating commodities out of pieces of art that are fundamentally not commodities?

Somebody thinks it’s less risky.

But it’s not. Everybody thinks this, but it’s not true. What you need is less commodfication of your industry. A year or so ago, I read some statistics that one-third of the approved games in Apple’s App Store were Flappy Bird clones. That puts aside all the Clash of Clans clones and all the other clones that were coming out. So why is that a bad strategy? Of course you can say “It’s just like Flappy Bird only better” but what are you doing? This gallon of oil is just like this other gallon of oil but slightly better for this reason? You’ve got no ability to differentiate. And yet we’re in the art business, which is by definition differentiated. It’s supposed to come from an artist. Id don’t find that it’s sophisticated product marketing, I find it lazy. I can’t think of a company that has sustained success using that approach. I can think of a lot of companies that have sustained success by doing the opposite. The companies that I think of are Blizzard, Valve, Nexon – these are companies that have ten or fifteen years of sustained success by doing something wildly different than what everybody else is doing.

Success can be seductive because it can lead to complacency. You’ve got a thing that’s successful, so you just keep doing it, and it’s hard to come up with something new. Look at World of Warcraft, for instance – it’s been enormously successful and now it’s in a decline that seems to be irreversible, yet it wasn’t until recently Blizzard started doing new games like Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm that are very different from their other games.

I’d say two things about World of Warcraft; specifically, Hearthstone is a fantastic game. World of Warcraft came out over ten years ago. In our experience, you can take a game that’s over ten years old and looks like it’s one the decline and revive it so it’s bigger than it’s ever been. We’ve done that multiple times on our games.

Nexon is one of the few companies that’s had MMO’s lasting that long.

The other one is NCsoft, and we’re the largest shareholder of NCsoft. Look at Lineage I – it was the second graphical MMORPG after Kingdom of the Winds, which was our game. They were both built by the same guy. Lineage I will go up, then it will go down, then it will go up again. That’s happened with MapleStory, that’s happened with Dungeon Fighter. So I wouldn’t count World of Warcraft out.

I think the main issue I’m trying to say is the reason why people don’t do it, this is just a theory – it seems obvious to me, why would you want to sell a commodity if you had the opportunity to sell a highly differentiated product? I think the secret to the riddle is it’s really hard to make good games. It’s an art form.

Looking ahead, it seems to me the potential for the games industry is huge because as an industry we’ve been making games for teenage boys of all ages. Now some games are starting to move beyond that demographic, and with mobile devices reaching every possible demographic there’s no particular reason games can’t reach everyone. We’ve got to break out of the old tropes and try some new approaches.

Absolutely. There’s going to be new technologies, there’s going to be mobile, a lot more power, Moore’s Law affects the games industry like every other industry. The thing about exponential growth is it starts off and you don’t even notice it, and then it goes vertical, and that will affect the games industry. So there’s a lot to like there. Where is it really at? Services. These incredible experiences that you can create, that are essentially sociological and economic experiments, that are so cool. All good online games have an aspect of that, and that’s where the real fun is, in my view.

How Hollywood Production Studios Are Tackling The Super Bowl

The Super Bowl will already serve as a great haven for advertising, based upon the number ofpartners who have signed up to air ads. However, a pair of movie studios will be hitting the field as well, with special promotions set to tie in with the big game.

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that 20th Century Fox will be teaming with the NFL to promote several of its forthcoming films, not only with presence during the Super Bowl, but also events leading up to Sunday’s conclusive game.

Several promotions will be aimed at Deadpool, Marvel Comics’ film adaptation that arrives in theaters Feb. 12. Along with an ad that will air during the game, Ryan Reynolds, who plays the smarmy superhero, is set to take part in promotional events. One includes serving chimichangas (a favorite delicacy for Deadpool) from a food truck on Friday, while another will have him and co-star T.J. Miller serving drinks, playing darts and more in a renamed Sister Margaret’s Bar on Saturday. The film will also hold its official press junket at the IMAX AMC Metreon in San Francisco that weekend near the site of Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara.

Deadpool won’t be the only one getting exposure, though. Fox’s forthcoming summer blockbuster Independence Day: Resurgence will get some exposure, with stars from the film (including Jeff Goldblum and Liam Hemsworth) attending the Super Bowl, and a rumored ad as well. X-Men Apocalypse will also see some form of promotion, with a pair of stars from the film set to come up, and a trailer of its own to possibly air during the game.

Fox isn’t the only movie studio taking part. Disney will also have some form of presence, with both the pre-game show and Super Bowl. Sources told THR that the company has plenty of films lined up for promotion, including the animated Zootopia, the live-action The Jungle Book, Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War, the sequels Alice Through the Looking Glass andFinding Dory, and possibly a hint of what’s to come with the late 2016 release Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. No word yet if these could get potential trailers during the game, but considering their appeal to millions of fans, it’s very likely.

Other studios that could possibly be taking part with the Super Bowl include Warner Bros., which may advertise its forthcoming superhero film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in some capacity (though not confirmed yet), and Paramount, which may have a new trailer forTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows in the lineup.

For now, though, it appears to be mainly Deadpool’s show, and he probably wouldn’t have it any other way.

PAX South: What Companies Can Learn From Independent Studios

The video game industry is still dominated by AAA properties and publishers, but independent studios are slowly but surely gaining ground. Games like Rocket League and Shovel Knighthave proven to be abundant successes, while others are finding exposure through deals with third-party partners.

The second annual PAX South was held in San Antonio this past weekend, and while major companies were in attendance, the event mainly served as a showcase for up-and-coming development teams and projects, such as Devolver Digital’s Enter the Gungeon and Armature Studios’ Dead Star.

So what can marketers learn from the exposure of “indie” game promotion at these events? It turns out, big companies can still pick up a thing or two.

It’s a great way to talk with consumers

Setting up a booth where anyone can walk up and play your games is a huge asset, compared to having cryptic trailers revealed at events, or behind-closed-doors presentations that only a select few get to see. It’s also an ideal way for an up-and-coming developer to explain the process behind the game’s creation, and you can see the sheer excitement on their face as they describe their vision. Communication is key when it comes to selling any product. With events like PAX South, developers can discuss their products and walk through them, getting more and more people interested. Of course, a social media push helps as well, but sometimes the direct approach is quite effective.

Partnerships can go a long way

Part of Rocket League‘s enormous success is attributed to Sony, which published the game as part of its PlayStation Plus program last year. With the right partners, “indie” developers can get their foot in the door and really give their game a greater amount of exposure.

Devolver Digital has proven to be one of these key partners, publishing games like Not a Hero, Broforce and the upcoming Gungeon. The company recently signed on a new project,Omnibus, a humorous driving game where players guide a careening bus through a series of wild objectives.

But publishers aren’t the only partners “indie” developers can turn to. Twitch was on hand at this weekend’s event, with streaming celebrities greeting fans and taking part in presentations, as well as an ongoing tournament for Ubisoft’s The Division. Developers realize the appeal streaming superstars have, with their huge community outreach, and pairing up with them for game giveaways or promotion is an option that pays off in spades.

The package deal

Finally, distribution of certain game content can go a long way for “indie” publishers. More companies are offering packages that showcase the best of the “indie” gaming world.Indiebox, for example, is a monthly subscription program that features a specific “indie” hit, like Nuclear Throne or Freedom Planet, for players to enjoy. The creators of a project can discuss making their game the focus of such a package.

Indiebox isn’t the only team doing that, either. Loot Crate, a monthly subscription program that features various “geek”-oriented items from the entertainment and gaming world, announced over the weekend that it’s working on its own game-oriented bundle, Loot Gaming, which will launch sometime in the months ahead. It not only intends to offer premium goods from hit franchises, but also digital codes for games and downloadable content later on, which could be a grand opportunity for an “indie” developer to gain exposure.

While some small developers still feel like making and marketing a game can be a tricky business, at least there are more options available when it comes to spreading the world and conveying the sheer excitement over said games. PAX South clearly demonstrated that this weekend, as the heart of “indie” gaming continued to proudly beat.

How Guitar Hero Live Got ‘Dangerous’ With Def Leppard

Music games saw a big comeback last fall with the release of titles like Guitar Hero Live for consoles and mobile devices. However, using a toy instrument to simulate the feel of playing alongside a live-action band before a massive audience only makes up half the game. The other half is an online experience called GHTV, which is the world’s first and only playable music video station. Think of it as MTV (back when it played music videos), except that fans can play along with pre-set blocks of programming or select a song from the on-demand list.

With GHTV, audiences can discover and engage with music like never before, and it is perfect for a longstanding band like Def Leppard to engage with fans. Formed in 1977, the band saw tremendous success in the 80s — particularly with the Hysteria album, which won numerous accolades and is ranked among Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The band released a new self-titled album last October, its first since 2008, and debuted the music video for “Dangerous” for U.S. and European fans on GHTV in a premium show that also features classic hits like “Let’s Go” and “Rock of Ages.”

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The Def Leppard: On Through The Ages premium show is available now, and can be accessed using real-world currency or by completing three in-game challenges until it expires next week on Feb. 9.

Rich Orchard, music supervisor at FreeStyleGames, talked to [a]listdaily about getting “Dangerous,” working with classic bands like Def Leppard and rocking out on GHTV.

How did Def Leppard become involved with Guitar Hero Live to debut the “Dangerous” video on GHTV?

We’re constantly looking out for the right music, both old and new, that we see as a great fit for the game. The band had their first record in seven years on the way and were keen to do something different for it. They very much recognize the way fans discover and listen to music has evolved so much since they began as a band, so when the idea was suggested of premiering the “Dangerous” video in Guitar Hero Live, they felt like it was an idea that was super interesting and the perfect fit for them and their fanbase.

The vision for Guitar Hero Live – and in particular GHTV – was to create a unique way for fans to both discover new music, and get a new gameplay experience with it. So, it’s gratifying to be able to work with the band to deliver exactly this type of experience, and we hope the fans love it as much as we do.

How do you go about choosing which artists to partner with for premium show experiences?

We’re lucky in that we have great relationships with most bands and their labels; and with two channels and a music set list of 300-plus songs in GHTV, we’re able to reflect the genre breadth you’ll see across all the music festivals this summer. So, we are partnering with artists across the spectrum (rock to pop, indie to metal) to deliver new music and gaming experiences for the bands and their fans. With the new tech innovation coupled with the core Guitar Hero gameplay that made the old games great, it makes for an enticing mix of old meets new, with classic bands such as Def Leppard sitting alongside your favorite band of tomorrow. Our GH community is also awesome at giving us shoutouts on the bands they want to see next.

Has there been discussion about including more classic Def Leppard songs in the GHTV catalog?

No announcement on that just yet, but they’re certainly very much up for consideration. Classic rock as a genre is always going to both be popular, and works well in Guitar Hero. The riffs and solos play great, plus with GHTV we now also get to revisit the classic music videos that many of us grew up with. So, more classic artists and tracks forthcoming for sure … I’d say stay tuned to our social feeds in the weeks ahead to find out which they might be.

What are some of the top songs played on GHTV right now?

It’s a musical journey right there! From classic 70s and 80s rock courtesy of Boston, Survivor and Queen, to contemporary rock icons such as Green Day and System of a Down, to today’s biggest global popstars in Bruno Mars, Calvin Harris and Ed Sheeran. All very popular in the service at this moment in time.

GHTV is a great way to discover and engage with music from the past 35 years or so, but are there plans to include songs that came out before music videos became popular?

Not at this moment in time, but we’ll have to see what future innovation we bring to GHTV. You can be sure though that with our commitment to the gameplay as well as new weekly content for the service, there will always be exciting and compelling new content, from all eras, to play in game.