Why YouTube Is A Huge Draw For Mobile Gamers

Although gamers are usually associated with PCs or consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, mobile gaming has had an undeniable impact on the video game industry by bringing in a huge audience of players.

A new report from Greenberg Inc., compiled by Think With Google, explains how a third of mobile gamers in the U.S. are defined as “avid gamers” that spend more than nine hours a week on average playing on their smartphone devices. Not only that, but this mobile group shows no restraint when it comes to sharing their love of gaming online, particularly on YouTube.

The report notes that, “Avid gamers are social influencers who tell friends when they find a game they like. These devoted players also are more likely to make in-app purchases, as well as rate and recommend their purchases.”


Based on the statistics, 64 percent of players share their love of mobile games with others; 83 percent spend some form of money on games (either with initial purchases or in-app goods); and 70 percent feel that mobile games can be intellectually stimulating.

This group also shows heavy engagement on YouTube, as the report noted that they access both their favorite mobile games and Google’s video channel several times a day. The two are connected, as those who look up videos on YouTube spend more time with games. An estimated 90 percent of viewers visit the channel to find tips for their favorite titles, as well as gameplay clips and discovering new games to play.

Turning toward discovery, approximately 64 percent of viewers download a new game to their mobile device after seeing some form of content on YouTube for it, either with a gameplay clip or information relating to the title. Google Search is also a vital tool for finding new games to play, as 71 percent of those who used the page downloaded a game after learning more about it.

In short, the more information there is about a mobile game–either through Google Search details or with YouTube videos–the more likely users are to discover the game and download it to their device. Greater presence on YouTube could definitely benefit mobile game developers or publishers if used properly, and could boost audience numbers, which could lead to more in-app purchases.

Nintendo’s ‘Miitomo’ Set To Make Europe, U.S. Debut On Mobile

As part of its partnership deal with DeNA, Nintendo began laying the groundwork for its mobile debut in Miitomo last month. With a focus on social features using its familiar Mii characters (originally introduced with the best-selling Wii console), the app promised an “entirely new way that transforms communication into a form of play,” according to Scott Moffitt, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Nintendo.

The app recently launched in Japan, and saw immediate success among both casual users and Nintendo fans, gaining over one million downloads within the first three days of availability. On Thursday, the free-to-play program will reach new audiences, as Nintendo is set to launch Miitomo for both Europe and the United States.

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Miitomo, which will be available for both iOS and Android devices, promises to inspire conversations between users through questions and topics, making it an ideal social tool for those looking for a way to communicate outside of the usual messenger texts, and Snapchat conversations.

“With Miitomo, Nintendo takes its first step into the world of smart devices,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo America’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Miitomo brings the special Nintendo charm and polish that people around the world love to an entirely new format and audience.”

Part of Miitomo‘s relatable experience lies within its Mii characters, which users can customize to their liking, and they’re free to recreate themselves realistically or go “off the wall” with an inventive new approach. From there, they can ask a number of questions, ranging from the weirdest thing they’ve ever eaten to how they would spend $10,000 in a single day. These varying questions, along with other topics Nintendo will update into the app, should help keep the conversation going, and may attract new players.

Also launching tomorrow is the new My Nintendo program, which will reward users that take part in the Miitomo program with Platinum Points. These points can then be redeemed for special Nintendo products. Points can also be earned by purchasing digital versions of games for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, the company confirmed. My Nintendo is meant to be a replacement to the previous Club Nintendo program, except with a greater focus on earning currency through social means in addition to purchases.

Judging by how well Miitomo has done in Japan, the program should have no trouble drawing a crowd in the other markets. Nintendo has already put its best foot forward in promoting what it can do for players through the official Miitomo site, and additional programs could be introduced over the next few weeks with the hopes of getting newer players involved.

Those interested in Miitomo can pre-register for free, with the official app set to debut tonight. Expect plenty of questions, answers, and the kind of social conversation that could push Nintendo in a bold new direction for mobile.

Gillette Oozes Cool And Defeats Sweat With Pressure Chamber

When pressure spikes, a pool of perspiration usually follows, and in a few short, painful moments, the pits begin to look wetter than a baby’s diaper.

Gillette is helping men combat unexpected Category 5 storms in their shirts by introducing the “Gillette Clinical Clear Gel Pressure Chamber,” a Discovery VR co-sponsored content program using 360-degree videos and virtual reality, to explain the direct correlation stressful situations have on their bodies.

Gillette, owned by parent company Procter & Gamble, is fighting the lifelong battle between sweat and odor by engaging with potential customers through immersive storytelling methods, and sharing that their line of clinical products helps keep men drier than the Sahara Desert even when adversity strikes.

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“Our goal is to show guys what happens to their bodies during extreme scenarios, proving that they need to be confident in the antiperspirant they use for those pressure-inducing moments,” Janine Miletic, marketing director for Procter & Gamble, told [a]listdaily. “While guys aren’t always faced with unexpected, adrenaline-pumping scenarios such as canyon swinging or skeleton racing, they are constantly facing obstacles every day and Gillette Clinical Antiperspirant is helping them keep their cool.”

The Pressure Chamber was on the road at SXSW in Austin earlier this month and received rave reviews as show goers strapped on VR head sets and wearable devices to monitor their heart rates through a roller coaster ride, among other experiences. Gillette tapped Discovery VR, a fast-rising leader in creating fully immersive virtual reality experiences, for an activation that promoted the new release of the Pressure Defence Antiperspirant.

It continued the growing trend of brands using virtual reality as a medium to connect with audiences.

In addition to a 4,000-foot long roller coaster that tops speeds of 60 miles an hour, Gillette and Discovery VR have created tight rope walking and extreme sports experiences, among others, too. “Discovery was a natural fit given its long history of bringing together emerging technology with storytelling via broadcast, and now using VR to create thrilling content for audiences,” said Miletic.

Miletic added that Austin was the ideal place to directly connect with their target demographic as they received an overwhelmingly positive response as a brand driven by technology and innovation.

“We know our guys like to know the science behind why the products they purchase work,” Miletic said. “So rather than tell them, we show them through cool, innovative experiences.”

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan.

Why Ad Targeting Is A Priority For Consumers

College students will pay attention to ads, provided that they’re targeted for their demographic. A new study by Fluent shows how the relevancy of content and the social platform in which it is places impacts their interest level. Out of the students ages 17 to 24 polled, more than half indicated that they wanted to click on a Facebook ad because it’s something that relates to them. Of all social platforms mentioned in the poll, Facebook scored high marks. YouTube was second to Facebook in terms of ad relevancy, but scored the highest with engaging and fun branded content.

It is clear how important ad relevancy and targeting is to reach younger consumers as those polled cited ads containing “something I need or care about” to be the strongest reason to click. Marketers should also note that the least impactful social ads for the group were ones featuring celebrities.


However, ad targeting isn’t just top-of-mind for millennials, either. In fact, both millennials and Gen X audiences alike are more likely to click on ads aimed specifically to their age group.

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A report from eMarketer explains that about 37 percent of millennials said they would be more open to clicking on an ad with content that better relates to them, with 34 percent stating that they would even buy a product from a brand that makes effective use of targeting them.

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‘Tomb Raider,’ Lara Croft, Celebrate 20 Years Of Being Cultural Icons

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since the original Tomb Raider released for PC, Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. With it, video game fans were introduced to a bold new heroine named Lara Croft, an explorer who who faced a variety of dangers (including a live T-Rex dinosaur) in a search for lost treasures.

This year, her legacy lives on, thanks to the release of the critically acclaimed Rise of the Tomb Raider, which is a big hit on Xbox One and PC. Square Enix, the game’s publisher, recently announced that it has big plans for Lara’s 20th anniversary, which kick off next month at the PAX East event in Boston.

“Since its introduction, Tomb Raider has held a significant place in video game history, and further cements with this milestone,” said Ron Rosenberg, co-head of studio for the development team at Crystal Dynamics, in a blog post. “We look forward to celebrating with fans, and honoring the iconic Lara Croft with special events, retrospectives, giveaways and other surprises throughout this year of Tomb Raider.

The original game was a smash success for the then-publisher, Eidos Interactive. In the years following, sequels continued to perform just as well, even though the original developers at Core Design were eventually replaced by Crystal Dynamics, who created the best-selling 2006 release, Tomb Raider: Legend. Since then, the game franchise has sold into the millions. The game was also made into a couple of films, featuring actress Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft.

Lara also managed to leave her mark on real-world culture. She was named “most successful game heroine” in the Guinness Book of World Records on different occasions (including 1996 and 2010); she ended up getting her own stamp in France; she was the first (and only) video game character to appear on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and she appeared on-screen during U2’s PopMart Tour.

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Tomb Raider saw several sequels, but it was the 2013 reboot Tomb Raider that brought the franchise back to true form. It introduced the world to a younger Lara as she fought for survival on an enemy-laden island, in the hopes of fulfilling the legacy of her father left. It has sold over 8.5 million copies since its release, making it the best-selling game in the series to date.

That led to Microsoft inking an exclusive console deal for the sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider. The game released in November 2015 with some very heavy promotion, and managed to sell one million copies over the course of the holiday season. Its sales success continued with the game’s release on PC earlier in January.

Tomb Raider has become a cultural phenomenon over the last 20 years, selling millions of copies worldwide, sparking one of the most successful video game film adaptations in history, and inspiring our amazing fans of all ages,” said Scot Amos, co-head of studio with Crystal Dynamics. “It’s incredible to be part of this legend and to see how much the series has evolved over time, and think about what’s yet to come. Here’s to 20 more years of adventure together.”

Square Enix already has promotions in full swing, offering a free digital copy of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot to those who donate to GameChanger Charity, with plenty of prizes to those who donate in higher amounts.

A special panel titled Lara Croft: The Undisputed Queen of Gaming will be held at PAX East in late April, followed by a special cosplay event where fans can celebrate their own Lara Croft legacy.

Square Enix hasn’t gone into much detail about what it has planned for later this year, as we approach the October 25 anniversary date, but we’re likely to see announcements like the release of Rise of the Tomb Raider for PlayStation 4 come out of E3. There’s also talk of a new movie in the works, with Daisy Ridley from Star Wars: The Force Awakens negotiating for the role of Lara.

Lara just keeps getting better with age.

4 Ways Netflix Is Using Non-Traditional Approaches To Marketing

A non-traditional marketing program for a non-traditional streaming channel. Sounds like business logic to us.

Netflix has come a long way, going from being a DVD rental distribution network, to popular streaming channel, to one of the leading providers of original programming. Its original program offerings include House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black and various Marvel superhero-themed shows. It’s managed to amass an impressive audience of millions of viewers, which continues to grow with its lineup for the past month, including an all-new Pee Wee Herman film (Pee Wee’s Big Holiday) and the highly anticipated second season of Marvel’s Daredevil.

So how does Netflix advertise its movies and shows? Not the traditional way. While TV commercials have done well to promote its lineup, the company has taken a unique route with advertising them, including the following:

Making Marvel comics mature

Where most of Marvel Studios’ productions are produced for fans of all ages, Netflix’s slate of shows based on popular comic books have a much more mature approach. Daredevil and Jessica Jones have violent and sexual themes that are better suited for adult viewers, while forthcoming shows like Luke Cage and The Defenders will probably follow suit.

While this may turn away younger Marvel fans, it caters to an incredible audience of older comic book lovers that make up a huge demographic for the streaming service. As a result, Netflix recently extended its deal with Marvel, which will introduce a number of characters that will be getting their own shows, among them being Spider-Man 2099, Moon Knight and The Punisher, who makes a blood-soaked debut in Daredevil’s second season.

Reaching a global audience

Where most companies struggle to find ways to cater their content to other countries, Netflix has dialed in a system that has given it huge appeal in international markets, reaching 130 new countries over the past year alone. It has broken down region-related issues, while offering the same level of diverse programming that appeals to its mainstream U.S. audience.

“We found not just approaches that will make Netflix better for those signing up in the 130 new countries, but in fact better for all Netflix members worldwide,” the company noted. “Our global journey is just beginning and we look forward to making our service dramatically better over time.”

A custom look

Netflix has put a lot of work into its imagery so that users can more easily discover and connect with the content they love. That includes a design that could feature the appearance of actors that are in their favorite show, or drawing in newcomers with the introduction of a new program.

“We have 30 seconds, 60 seconds or 90 seconds to capture your interest,” Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt told Variety. “It’s best to catch the viewers’ attention with something that will draw them in, or risk losing them to another service.”

That, paired with customized recommendation lists that caters to what audiences like to watch, make Netflix more of a personable service than most on the market, helping add to its appealing marketing campaign.

Traditional advertising that breaks tradition

Netflix does use some traditional advertising, but does so in a big way, such as with a full-page ad for its Marco Polo series or with a clever billboard backed a social media campaign, like the one promoting Daredevil‘s popular second season in Canada. Their sponsored programs for Orange Is the New Black in the New York Times and Narcos in the Wall Street Journal have been big hits, too.

Netflix has gone through a lot of advertising changes over the past few years, but thanks to savvy business decisions, the right level of programming and a unique promotional push, the company has proven that the non-traditional route of getting consumers on board is quite effective. There’s plenty more to come in April, when shows like the new Danger Mouse and the new season of the comedy The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are set to premiere.

How SilVR Thread Gives You A Whole New Perspective Using Gear VR

With yesterday’s launch of the Oculus Rift, we’ve officially stepped into the virtual reality era, which is an industry that has already gained over $1 billion in investment this year. But while high-end headsets offer incredibly realistic experiences, it would be a mistake to overlook the tremendous impact of mobile VR viewers like the Samsung Gear VR (developed in partnership with Oculus VR), which sells for a much lower price of $99 and operates using smartphones. Although accessibility remains a tremendous draw for viewers like the Gear VR or Google Cardboard, the experiences are often said to be of a lower quality than ones on premium headsets.


That perception could change with the help of companies like SilVR Thread, which uses proprietary technology to create stunningly realistic experiences on mobile VR. Its first experience, Adrenaline Rush: Learn to Freestyle, lets users take to the slopes from the view of a professional skier, and was included with the launch of the Hulu virtual reality app (Hulu VR) for Gear VR last week. The app lets viewers experience VR videos in addition to Hulu’s regular streaming shows and movies, which are shown a giant virtual movie screen. What makes SilVR’s content stand out is the incredible sense of realism and physical presence its technology creates because it replicates human vision. Although this technology makes for fantastic entertainment, it also has tremendous potential as a VR marketing tool.

Tai Crosby, founder and CEO of SilVR Thread, talked to [a]listdaily about virtual reality, how it could be used for marketing and experiencing what it’s like to ski like a pro.

Tai_CrosbyHow does SilVR Thread’s content stand out from other VR experiences and 360-degree videos that are available?

We’re pioneering physical presence in live action VR, meaning actually seeing, hearing, and feeling through the perspective of another. We are different than any other VR in the market. You not only see 360 around the landscape but you’re in the action, because with our technology, the user can look down and see what ‘feels’ like their own body. It’s a game changer to know what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.

So, imagine being in the body of a pro athlete or climbing Machu Picchu step-by-step. How do we do it? With SilVR Thread cameras and software, the live action that’s filmed is turned into an incredible and transformative 3D VR experience, with full situational awareness and positional sound. It’s literally as real as being there.

Can you describe one of SilVR Thread’s experiences?

The content just released on Hulu’s new VR platform is a thrilling and intense skiing experience that was live shot from the perspective of a professional skier. It’s in full stereoscopic 3D VR with spatialized positional sound for true physical immersion and absolutely unlike anything else in VR. We always tell people “prepare yourself your mind will believe that you are flying down the mountain.” As they go over a jump in the terrain park, it’s fun to see them actually jump.

Adrenaline Rush: Learn to Freestyle is available for the Gear VR. Can we expect SilVR Thread content to come to other platforms?

Absolutely. We’re working with a number of partners in marketing from sports to film to tourism. We are also working on exciting learning and training applications. All of whom are bringing or really wanting to bring content to all headsets and mobile VR platforms.

How can marketers best put SilVR Thread content to use?

It’s well known that experiencing something first hand is far more effective than just seeing, hearing or reading it. For companies with products or services, VR is a huge ‘wow’ factor for reaching consumers. Because SilVR Thread technology extends VR further with physical presence and positional audio, marketers can literally put the product or service into the consumers’ hands resulting in greater branding opportunities. The experience is so much more connected, it triggers really great emotional and physical reactions with viewers leaving them talking about the experience for days.

Here’s are a few marketing examples only achievable with SilVR Thread’s unique technology.:

  • Imagine checking out the latest Nike basketball shoes while shooting hoops right next to Lebron James, or even more specifically as Lebron James.
  • Or being the first fan to tour the new Disneyland Star Wars park ahead of its opening next year, experiencing the new rides, shows, and attractions as a Jedi.
  • Or with the simplest example of selling a bicycle, in the days of radio, you could describe the bike, or with a TV you can watch someone ride the bike, or with 360 video you can watch someone ride the bike in circles around you. With SilVR Thread, you actually experience riding the bike yourself–and your brain believes it’s real.

In what ways do you see VR technology continuing to grow in the coming years?

The world hasn’t experienced a visual communication medium leap forward like this since the original invention of film at the beginning of the last century. In fact, our company name pays homage to the silver threads woven into early, high quality cloth movie screens.

In our work in VR so far, we’ve discovered tremendous benefits and opportunities for us all to learn, communicate, and connect. Imagine the shared understanding it can foster, and the unparalleled learning opportunities. We’re excited to be an early pioneer.

Rick Fox Is Running A Fast Break Into ESports

Madison Square Garden is synonymous with a cavalcade of sport’s biggest moments: the Willis Reed Game, the Fight of the Century, WrestleMania I, Michael Jordan’s double-nickel—et al. The World’s Most Famous Arena always brings out the best in athletes and entertainers.

For former Celtics and Lakers star Rick Fox, you can add one more event on top of that list: the North American League of Legends Championship.

Fox played a mountain of meaningful New York minutes at the Mecca of Basketball for 13 years as a bitter rival of the Knicks. His life on the hardwood is defined by winning three championships as a central piece to Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers dynasty. But it wasn’t until last August when Fox walked into a sold out arena at MSG for a different kind of five-on-five game that made him run a fast break into what he calls the next generation of professional athletes—eSports.

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In a career that’s had more acts than a Broadway show—Fox has made an off-court killing using his made-for-TV looks to act, model, dance and serve as a basketball analyst—video games is the next big thing tickling his senses. In December, he paid $1 million to purchase Gravity Gaming, which has since been rebranded into Echo Fox in the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS).

“The deciding factor [to invest into eSports] was cellular,” Fox told [a]listdaily in an exclusive interview. “Once I walked into a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden, everything in those two days spoke to me as a professional athlete. I knew it was the next generation.”

Fox’s fascination with video games didn’t happen overnight—he’s been an avid gamer since he was 12 years old playing Atari—nor is it another case of “retired athlete invests in hot trend.” The 46-year-old studied the eSports industry for three years, highlighted through an up-close-and-personal look at Riot Games, before he felt safe about pulling the trigger on owning a team. He’d also been a partner at Twin Galaxies, the official video game world-record and player-ranking authority.

In three whirlwind months since his purchase, he’s learned eSports “moves at a warp speed.” Echo Fox has already expanded into the ELeague and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with plans to add additional teams. He says that in the first year, they’re “looking to total four teams, with representation in the fighting community as well.”

The recent wave of momentum made Fox proclaim that eSports will “be on par with the NHL” in two years. In comparison, the League of Legends World Championship final was watched by over 36 million people; the NHL Stanley Cup Finals reached around 38 million.


His bold prediction is not a knock on hockey; it’s just how he currently feels about the blue-chipped industry—and basketball gets some of that shade, too. He’s donated his three championship rings to the fundraiser #Right2Game, a campaign that seeks to promote positive perceptions of gaming. But would he actually trade winning the NBA title only if Echo Fox wins a world championship and is recognized as the best eSports team in the globe?

“Yes,” Fox says. “I would trade one as I would still be left with two others.”

And if he has two tickets for both an NBA Finals game, and the LOL World Championship, fuhgettaboutit. “For me having experienced the NBA Finals on and off the court 10-plus times, I would have to say the LOL Finals with Echo Fox competing would be a first.”

Fox has always had a soft spot for video games. When the former-first round pick out North Carolina left the Boston Celtics and signed with Los Angeles Lakers prior to the 1997 season, it meant leaving his family behind in the East Coast. Although the move signaled a stretch of winning basketball and newfound opportunities in Hollywood, a 10-month NBA season and a coast-to-coast relationship with his son Kyle led to what Fox calls a broken home.

One way he was able to combat that and forge a better bond with Kyle during his formative years was through sessions of World of Warcraft and League of Legends where Fox would teach him life skills through the characters they’d create. Video games quickly became to be the fabric that wove their relationship together.

Now, Kyle is a sophomore in college and a professional video gamer with a desire to pursue a career in the industry. Considering the sizable cash flow eSports is promising—Newzoo is projecting $463 million in revenue this year—jumping into uncharted waters was made a lot easier for Fox knowing that his son has a vested interest, too.

“It didn’t hurt when I decided to invest,” Fox says. “The passion for video games was passed down to my son as a shared love throughout his childhood all the way up to present day. It was and still is how we share father and son time together.”

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The eSports market is currently worth $747 million, according to SuperData Research, and it’s expected to grow 150 percent by 2018. And there won’t be a shortage of funds anytime soon. Leading brands like Nissan, Intel, Pepsi, Coca Cola and Red Bull will be pouring roughly $325 million into the space this year, per Newzoo.

In addition to the corporate clout, a recent wave of people in pro sports are rushing to get a slice of the eSports pie. Earlier this month, Shaq, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins invested into NRG eSports, the team owned by the minority partners of the Sacramento Kings, Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov. Miller and the Kings are so high on eSports that their new basketball arena was designed for it. On the other hand, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban invested $7 million into Unikrn, which lets consumers bet real money on the outcomes of video game competitions.

“Professional athletes and owners admire and appreciate the talent, dedication, discipline and mastery of their crafts,” says Fox. “As a business model, eSports mirrors traditional sports with rapid growth.”

The Bahamian-Canadian Fox, who currently works as a basketball analyst periodically dropping video game knowledge on NBA TV, is a big believer that eSports players mirror “athletes” too, likening it to how a doctor or actor would recognize a peer as an equivalent.

“The same disciplines that go into the mastery of a craft are present—talent, attitude and skill aligned with unparalleled repetition that leads to mastery can only be attained through an unwavering focus, dedication and discipline,” says Fox. “Athletes compete with their entire mind body and spirit. Ranking and debating which sport uses a greater percentage of the three is irrelevant. In the end there is no denying the best in each field separate themselves from the average to become the top of their field. Professional gamers are athletes and deserve a seat at the table.”

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Although Fox has filled an IMDb page just as well as the back of a basketball card, the sentiment should not appear as scripted soliloquy. A who’s who list of athletes, including Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward and UFC champion Demetrious Johnson, back his sentiment: pro gamers are athletes.

As an eSports team owner Fox has already experienced the highs of an inaugural victory on the opening day of the season and the lows of forfeiting a game when his squad didn’t have enough eligible players available to compete.

His mission is to eventually return to the court of which he was coronated on—the 2016 League of Legends World Championship will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles this October.

Whether or not he’ll have his Jerry Buss moment remains to be seen.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

The Inexorable Expansion Of ESports

While there was major attention focused on virtual reality at this year’s Game Developers Conference, the continuing evolution of eSports was another important trend, and it’s one that’s raking in millions of dollars right now. An entire day of sessions was devoted to eSports, and there was plenty of news, data and opinions to ponder. ESports continues to be an ever-more-important force in the games industry, and changes are under way that should help encourage that growth.

This March is an exceptional one for eSports fans, with a number of big tournaments under way from the Halo World Championships to Heroes of the Dorm to the World of Tanks Grand Finals. That’s showing the popular appeal of eSports, while GDC offered a look at what the insiders think about the current and future state of eSports.

Rocket League is one game that has really taken off in popularity, both as a game and as an eSport. Twitch has partnered with Psyonix to launch the Rocket League World Championships, and the announcement of cross-platform play has created quite a stir. The prospect of widespread cross-platform play could have an impact on other eSports that have console and PC clients, expanding the potential audience by tens of millions.

eSports Diagram

Rocket League announced that Basketball mode is coming for April, showing the potential to continue the game’s growth, and Psyonix design director Cory Davis promises that it will be difficult. “That’s a concern for us,” Davis said when Techradar questioned him. “It’s a lot harder than hockey to pick up and score, and it’s kind of a test in terms of, like, is a more hardcore mode going to be received well or not?”

Davis gave a well-received talk at GDC about the factors that made Rocket League into a success, which provided some important insights for publishers and marketers looking to turn their game into an eSport. First off, it’s important to note that Rocket League was based on a 2008 PlayStation Network game (for the PS3), which never achieved great success due to a number of factors. The current Rocket League is a result of realizing that the initial game had some dedicated fans, and polishing the game to make the experience more broadly embraced.

Some of the important changes to Rocket League include product-focused changes like creating dedicated servers, achieving a steady 60 frames-per-second and polishing the matchmaking and physics. However, it’s important to note some of the key features were marketing or business-oriented, such as going premium (abandoning the idea of free-to-play), “creating a highly GIF-able experience” that made it more shareable on social media, and making the game part of the PlayStation Plus program so it was free for the PlayStation 4 launch. As a result, Davis said, “We spent zero dollars on traditional marketing.”

Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi, in an interview with GamesBeat at GDC, spoke about the state of eSports for World of Tanks and the market in general. “It’s good. It’s an inevitably upward trajectory now. Twitch and Kamcord and ESPN–these are all good signs. It’s been a bit like the wild west. Not every move companies are making is the right one. We might not be making all the right moves. But the eSports avalanche is coming no matter what. We’re not yet perfect, but every year we’ll learn more and more.”

The hugely popular League of Legends was the subject of a talk by Riot Games vice president of eSports Dustin Beck, who noted that the 2015 World Championships averaged 4.2 million concurrent viewers throughout the four weeks of the tournament, and the Grand Final had over 36 million concurrent viewers—figures that compare favorably with traditional sports. Still, Beck believes that League of Legends is still growing as an eSport, and nowhere near its peak.

While these talks were important, nothing beats a heaping helping of useful statistics for marketers, and Newzoo’s latest report on the state of the eSports market delivered, showing the growing value that eSports has for marketers. “Brands will spend $325 million on direct eSports advertising and sponsoring this year, 49 percent more than in 2015,” the report noted. Newzoo estimates that the audience will grow over 13 percent this year to 256 million worldwide, with more than half (131 million) being enthusiasts, and 44 percent of that total from Asia-Pacific.

The revenue growth of eSports is even more impressive. This figure that Newzoo calculates includes media rights, merchandise and tickets, online advertising, brand partnerships, and additional game publisher investment. That total will reach $463 million in 2016, a year-over-year growth of over 42 percent. As noted above, $325 million of that comes from brand advertising and marketing. That’s really an excellent deal for marketers, considering the broad reach of the audience.

The upward potential for eSports remains large, as Newzoo’s report points out. For one thing, the average revenue per eSports fan is $3.50, while the average revenue per NBA basketball fan is $20, and the average revenue per NFL fan is $60.

Meanwhile, event numbers and revenues are rising, with North America hosting 42 major events in 2015 (there were 112 globally), and a worldwide total of $21 million in ticket revenues. Prizes for tournaments skyrocketed by 70 percent, reaching a combined $61 million in 2015. The biggest was Dota 2′s The International, with a prize pool of $18 million (of which only $1.6 million came from game publisher, Valve).

Marketers are finding this a very attractive market, and the demographics explain why. Enthusiasts aged 21-35 account for 54 percent of the eSports audience, a group that’s more difficult to reach than ever through traditional advertising. These enthusiasts are more likely to have a full-time, high-paying job than the general population. Brands like Coca-Cola, Sk Telecom, MasterCard and Samsung are already sponsoring eSports, and more are expected as the industry continues its growth.

eSports Marketing Brands

Newzoo’s report highlighted a case study of Yahoo, showing how the site is using eSports to reach 19.4 million new eSports fans and strengthen its grip on 14 million fans that already visit Yahoo. This clearly shows how non-gaming brands are finding great value in eSports, and that this is continuing to make inroads into a much wider audience of brand marketers.

Yahoo eSports

The impact of eSports on the games industry, and the broader brand marketing business, is undeniable. While existing eSports already reach a very large audience, there’s no signs growth will be slowing down in the near future. New games will undoubtedly establish themselves in the eSports landscape, while current games seek to expand the existing audience. Right now, eSports is almost entirely about PC games, but efforts by Activision and Electronic Arts in setting up new eSports divisions make it easy to believe that console games will be getting a much bigger eSports audience. Meanwhile, mobile is already demonstrating the possibilities for eSports with an avid and growing audience for Vainglory and Hearthstone.

VR may have gotten the lion’s share of the attention at GDC, but eSports is already grabbing a considerable share of the hearts, minds, and wallets from gaming enthusiasts.

AT&T Foundry Makes Innovation A Priority

Since 2011, AT&T has operated the AT&T Foundry as an innovation hub, engaging with numerous startups and innovators to develop applications and services. Ruth Yomtoubian, director of AT&T Foundry, will be at [a]list summit on April 20 to discuss how the brand is utilizing the Foundry model to not only support innovation, but to make it an intrinsic and core element of the AT&T brand.

[a]listdaily spoke with Yomtoubian about the Foundry, emerging technology and the newest location dedicated to connected health set to open this spring in Houston.

Tell us a little bit about AT&T Foundry.

AT&T Foundry is the company’s network of innovation centers, set up to take great ideas and bring them to life. We have teams working across five locations whose job it is to explore new technology for AT&T, both as internal cross-functional teams and in collaboration with partners and startups.

What function does AT&T Foundry serve for the AT&T brand? In what ways is it different?

Foundry is one of the ways that AT&T maintains a meaningful voice in the innovation conversation and that’s critical for a technology brand. Foundry is the front door for AT&T in the Silicon Valley and the global startup community—we meet with over 500 startups a year. It’s also one of the ways we discover technology that can help us run our business more efficiently and power new services we are offering to customers, like a project we launched that lets you get your texts on your smartwatch, using your mobile number without your phone.

How are you getting the word out about what AT&T Foundry does this year? Any big things in the works?

Foundry has a major role in organizing the Shape Challenge, happening this summer at AT&T Park in San Francisco. This is an open innovation contest where we’re inviting technologists, innovators and students to submit ideas that might be the next big thing in smart cities, the Internet of Things and augmented networks. We’re also looking to expand Foundry’s role in thought leadership through our Futurecast series and content development. The Foundry is exploring the potential of many groundbreaking new industries that are no longer discussed in terms of if, but when.

What kinds of technologies are you seeing emerge this year?

It’s incredible how quickly technology evolves. One of our big focuses lately has been connected “things”—from your drone, to your car, to your city, to connected healthcare technology, to connected equipment in a business. On the operations side of AT&T, Foundry is also at the forefront of a major transformation in our network as the way we all communicate and collaborate evolves. We’ve seen more than 150,000 percent growth in mobile data traffic since 2007 and that’s expected to grow ten times by 2020—this shift demands innovative solutions to some major challenges.  

You’re also partnering with other companies like Ericsson, Alcatel, Amdocs, Cisco and more. Can you tell us more about how these came about?

AT&T Foundry was established in partnership with Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Amdocs, Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft, so collaboration is part of our DNA. Telco is going through a massive transformation. AT&T and our biggest partners decided to work together to disrupt the industry from the inside. We work together every day on projects that impact our business, as well as programs like Futurecast.

What was the impetus for the Futurecast with Ericsson?

Ericsson and AT&T share a vested interest in providing a platform for innovators to discuss the future of technology. The Futurecast Technology Innovation Series is a thought leader series designed to vet, debate and ultimately spark ideas that that will set the course of our collective technological future. Each event focuses on a single topic, such as navigating the innovation adoption curve, content in the Digital Age, or investing for inclusion. We established Futurecast as an opportunity to bring in smart thinkers—from entrepreneurs to government officials, investors, academics, authors and media—to help us to better understand these important issues and participate in conversations around how technology is shaping our world.

You’re opening up a new Foundry in Houston dedicated to connected health and health is an area people don’t typically associate with AT&T. What spurred this?

AT&T Foundry was built to accelerate innovation and nowhere is that more important than in health care. The Houston Foundry is an opportunity to apply our experience with connected devices toward health care, both in a clinical setting and the home. We’re looking forward to opening the AT&T Foundry for Connected Health this spring on Texas Medical Center’s campus, the largest medical center in the world.