SuperData: February Digital Game Strong, Despite Fewer New Game Releases

SuperData has released its latest sales numbers for the month of February 2016, and once again, digital game releases continue to be at the forefront.

The report noted an increase of digital game sales by ten percent for the month, totaling $6.2 billion. “Digital console sees the fastest growth of any segment for both revenue (up 34 percent year-over-year) and audience (up 27 percent year-over-year),” said Joost van Dreunen, CEO for SuperData. “Last month had fewer major new releases than the same month last year, leading to a decline of 180,000 in new game sales. Additional content purchases, however, were strong and resulted in a positive revenue figure. Growth for both revenue and monthly active users for mobile continued as the industry moves its focus to emerging markets.”

Call of Duty: Black Ops III continued as the big sales leader, followed by FIFA 16, Grand Theft Auto V, Madden NFL 16 and Fallout 4, which released a new expansion this month. Ubisoft’s recently released Tom Clancy’s The Division should make quite a dent in sales numbers next month.

Meanwhile, Chinese companies are making some big moves, according to van Dreunen. “Chinese companies will scoop up one to two Western publishers a month from here on. The lesson to be drawn from Chinese mining company Shandong Hongda in talks to buy RuneScape developer Jagex for $300 million is that it will happen again.”

The reason being, “China’s industrial firms are aggressively diversifying as the country’s economic growth slows. Western firms like Jagex allow Chinese companies to expand into new industries and regions. While the 15-year-old RuneScape does not have the mindshare it once did, remaining players continue to spend, and the browser-based MMO earned $6.2 million last month.” Van Dreunen also noted the popularity of Chronicle: RuneScape Legends, following the launch of its beta earlier this year.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive continues to top PC retail sales, while League of Legends is still the number one free-to-play game, and World of Warcraft still has a huge draw with the pay-to-play audience.

The report also notes that Ubisoft is more than ready to jump into virtual reality, with the release of forthcoming games such as Eagle Flight and Werewolves Within, as well as its recently announced Assassin’s Creed Experience, which should launch alongside the film later this year. “Ubisoft’s strategy contrasts with other major publishers such as Take-Two Interactive, which have been vocal about not devoting substantial resources to the new platform before sustainable consumer demand has been proven,” noted van Dreunen. “This year, we forecast game software on mobile, PC and console to earn a combined $410 million, and expect revenue to jump to $6.9 billion by 2020. Publishers that have not already invested in virtual reality development will likely need to acquire smaller VR-focused studios to enter the fast-growing market.”

On the mobile side, Clash of Clans continued to be the number one game for the month, and van Dreunen noted big things on the horizon for Apple following this week’s announcement of the iPhone SE. “The iPhone SE represents a key strategic asset in catering to markets like China and India, where Android dominates. Currently, Android claims 75 percent of China’s mobile games and 71 percent of the country’s mobile game revenue.

“Android’s share of the Indian market is larger still. Mobile games revenue in India will nearly double from $648 million in 2016 to $1.2 billion by 2018. With the new iPhone SE scheduled to launch in 100 countries by May this year, Apple’s strategy is clearly to cater to a wide, global audience with its devices, and build up its competitive strengths in markets where cheaper smartphone alternatives have so far dominated.”

6 Games That Blur The Line Between Video And Game Entertainment

Video games have often seen great promotion through spectacular trailers that some might say are movie quality. Sometimes a franchise will actually be turned into a movie or television series. However, there are some games that take cross-media to all-new heights, and these are the ones doing it this year.

Assassin’s Creed

There are a large number of Ubisoft games that translate well to film, but the most prominent is the Assassin’s Creed series, which has a big-budget movie starring Michael Fassbender premiering in December. However, it won’t be the first time Assassin’s Creed has been translated to other media. Assassin’s Creed: Lineage, a web series comprised of three live-action shorts, released in 2009. They followed the exploits of Giovanni Auditore, the father of Ezio–the series’ most popular character to date–and likely helped pave the way for the full movie to be made. In 2011, Ezio’s fate was detailed in an animated short called Assassin’s Creed: Embers, which was created and produced by Ubiworkshop to expand the game’s world and help promote a special editions of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.

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Tom Clancy’s The Division

Ubisoft clearly learned a big lesson from those Assassin’s Creed promotions, and applied them to Tom Clancy’s The Division. The online multiplayer game, where players try to help (or at least survive) in quarantined areas of New York City in the wake of a biological attack, saw a variety of promotions leading up to its launch. One of the least expected was a short live-action film called The Division: Agent Origins, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video. It tells the stories four agents who are called to action amidst New York’s decline.

The movie seemed to help do the trick, as The Division ended up selling more copies in its first 24-hours than any other game in Ubisoft’s history.

Overwatch

Every Blizzard fan knows that the developer is as good at producing cinematic video as it is at making video games. However, Pixar and Dreamworks might actually have something to be worried about with the series of Overwatch animated shorts, created as a lead-in to the game’s launch in May.

The first episode, which premiered earlier this week, tells the story of a genetically engineered ape named Winston (who also happens to be a brilliant scientist, inventor, and superhero), who longs for the old days of heroism. Later episodes will presumably focus on other heroes as they answer the call-to-action, and help build up the desire to be part of this world.

Battleborn

Gearbox Software is taking a decidedly unique approach with its sci-fi action game, Battleborn. Similar to episodic games made by Telltale Games (The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones), Battleborn‘s story is structured similarly to television shows. There’s an overarching plot comprised of eight episodes (and a prologue), each telling a self-contained story. In fact, the developer describes the game’s launch on May 3rd as the start of the first season. The trick is, the dialogue in each episode changes according to which of the 25 different characters you use, and reveals a bit more of the bigger picture. So, replaying an episode is never quite the same. Plus, Gearbox will be adding additional heroes and stories after the game’s launch, so players shouldn’t worry about getting bored with reruns.

Additionally, there’s a Battleborn motion comic that details the events leading up to the fight for Solus, the last star in the universe.

Ratchet and Clank

We end up with an interesting “chicken or the egg” scenario when it comes to the upcoming Ratchet and Clank movie and game. The original game released for the PlayStation 2 in 2002, which is the inspiration for the movie that premieres on April 29th. The movie then inspired Insomniac Games to remake the original, but in a “re-imagined” way that matches how the movie plays out. That might seem a little dizzying, but kind of fitting for the sci-fi action comedy franchise.

Angry Birds

Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds seems almost prophetic in a way. Angry Birds are everywhere. On smartphones, computers, gaming consoles, and they even have a cereal brand. The Angry Birds franchise began airing the ongoing battle between the birds and pigs on an animated TV show years ago, but the biggest release will certainly be the Angry Birds movie coming to theaters on May 20th.

Although the puzzle game series already has millions of fans worldwide, and its sequel released last summer, the premiere of a family friendly movie is almost certain to keep the franchise’s momentum going for the foreseeable future. As a way to help boost box office numbers, there’s an online trailer created in partnership with AMC Theatres to encourage audiences to go out and see the movie instead of waiting for it to come to home video.

Sonic Boom

It’s no secret that Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U did not do well commercially or critically, which led Sega to rethink its brand strategy. However, the game launched alongside the Sonic Boom animated TV series on Cartoon Network, which turned out to be a fantastic show. Although it’s not the first time Sonic the Hedgehog has had a television show, this one helped the blue speedster resurge with a newfound success on mobile by introducing Sonic and his friends to a new generation of gamers. So, just as it seemed as though the iconic character was falling down, it picked up an extra life thanks to television.

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Skylanders

The Skylanders series is crediting for starting the trend of toys-to-life games like Disney Infinity, Lego Dimensions, and the Nintendo Amiibo collection of figures. It has remained a large part of Activision’s annual release line-up for five years, with the most recent game being last fall’s Skylanders Superchargers. And although the franchise is already incredibly popular with kids, and it’s bound to grow even further with the upcoming television series, Skylanders Academy.

The show was revealed last year with the announcement of Activision Blizzard Studios–a division dedicated to bringing the publisher’s large library of popular games to other media. Although not much has been revealed about the show since announcement, it’s being headed by Futurama writer Eric Rogers and stars Justin Long as the voice of Spyro the Dragon, Ashley Tisdale as Stealth Elm and comedian Norm McDonald, as Glumshanks. It’s also expected to premiere later this year, so more news should be coming soon.

One thing is for sure: once kids get hooked on the show and the game, parents should plan on picking up a boatload of Skylanders toys.

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Mark Cuban’s Insights On The Future Of Virtual Reality

Mark Cuban has one of the best seats in the house every time he steps foot in an NBA arena—directly behind the bench of the basketball team he owns. 

He’s within shouting distance of the referees, within high-five distance of fans, and just close enough to his players to read a season’s worth of body language. His micro-level of involvement with the Dallas Mavericks has materialized into hardwood success that martini-sipping owners in the skybox should rival.

One way the NBA is trying to bring the entire world to the courtside seats Cuban and the well-off fans of his ilk own is through virtual reality.

At the start of the season, the league had a watershed moment when the Hornets-Warriors season opener was streamed over the Internet live in VR. It became the first such broadcast of any major U.S. sporting event, and in turn, established the NBA as the first major sport to lead the VR wagon.

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Cuban’s series of investments over the last handful of years prove he’s bullish on VR, but he immediately pumps the brakes when asked if the immersive experience can put fans in his seat, or even impact ticket sales.

“Not even a little bit. It has zero chance of impacting our business. The whole ‘front-row experience’ doesn’t work, and won’t.” Cuban told [a]listdaily in an exclusive interview. “I would rather be in the top row at a game than watching a live VR stream, and I don’t see that changing in many, many years.”

For the most part, Cuban is right. Although landing seats in an NBA arena could cost a pretty penny, physically being in a stadium is still a better experience than an incredibly isolated one with gear strapped to your head for three hours. How it’s great, for example, is for the Mavericks fans in Germany to immediately transplant themselves to a game in Dallas on a second’s notice to watch Dirk Nowitzki play. One could even argue VR experiences that make fans feel closer to their favorite teams actually make them go to games in person even more. Since VR for mass consumption is still very much in a nascent form, there are tech limitations and wrinkles that need to be ironed out. 

“The cameras are not close to ready,” says Cuban. “The cameras are a long way from being able to support live [programming] in a meaningful way. … Where [virtual reality] can be fun is enhancing the streaming video experience.”

The possibility of the NBA’s and TNT’s partnership with NextVR—the tech company that captured and delivered the Hornets-Warriors game—changing the future of sports broadcasts in a significant fashion is still “a few years away,” Cuban says.

The billionaire Shark Tank star says he’s most interested in non-entertainment and non-live VR content like medical, business and vertical applications, and is captivated by live 2D video integrated with complementary content. He brings up watching a Mavericks game while being able to turn to one side for fantasy stats, and to the other for live stats as an example. Cuban’s quick to encourage that the current VR flaws offer entrepreneurs an opportunity to master the media through innovation by creating unique experiences around such mediums as live 2D and 360-degree, on-demand video. 

Then there is the mobile component. Television networks can’t really give viewers exactly what they want, which is to do everything on their phones. As Samsung pioneers mobile VR—they partnered with the NBA to capture All-Star Weekend in 360 this year and are leveraging their sponsorship with LeBron James to create content—how can the league’s broadcast partners deliver with a VR experience that captivates a mainstream audience?

“I think the first step is to adapt existing steaming apps to work in [Samsung] Gear VR goggles,” Cuban says. “Watching your stream on what looks like a huge movie theater screen is the best first step. That will get people an incentive to experiment with basic VR. Watching Netflix on Gear VR is a great experience that all streamers should copy.”

Cuban’s vested interests in VR dates back to the iPad photo app Condition One of which he invested $500,000 in. In 2014, he invested $3 million in seed funding for Virtuix Omni. By CES in Las Vegas this year, the gaming treadmill was hosting a VR eSports tournament and attracting every eyeball on the convention floor.

Last year, he put VR on center stage yet again when he gifted $5 million to his alma mater Indiana University to further develop the technology; it yielded the “Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology.” In February, after collaborating with the Dallas-based company BigLook360, the school introduced VR and Hoosier Hysteria to IU basketball fans with Gear VR headsets. 

Like any of his investments, Cuban has personal preferences, and the so-called secret sauce; he’s definitely high on the advanced technology to further enhance the sports world and bring fans closer to their favorite teams. 

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The money he moves into industries—recently it’s been eSports and daily fantasy sites—can have an impact akin to a sizable sports bet shifting the lines in Vegas. Herds of opportunists usually follow.

His advice to anyone looking to invest and getting into the Olympic-sized pool that is virtual reality is a lot simpler: “Do your homework,” he says. “VR means different things to different people.” 

A magician never reveals his secrets.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan.

Report: Google Ready To Take On Periscope With YouTube Connect

There’s no questioning the dominance of Twitter’s Periscope livestreaming app. It has been trouncing the competition since its debut last year. Even its closest rival, Meerkat, had to change its business plan because of it. But now, a new competitor could be stepping up, and it may be big enough to overshadow Periscope.

VentureBeat reported that Google has been hard at work on its own livestreaming app called YouTube Connect. The service has the potential to put Periscope in its place, and do the same to Facebook, which has been slowly building its own livestreaming service, Facebook Live.

YouTube Connect reportedly has functionality that’s similar to other livestreaming apps, enabling users to log in with their account and quickly broadcast from wherever they are. The app will also come with social features, such as the ability to tag friends and locations, as well as chat with others. A news feed will also be available, providing the latest clips from friends and the channels users subscribe to, according to a source close with the project.

Google hasn’t confirmed the app as of yet, but it does sound like a promising prospect for its YouTube division, helping the company have a firmer grasp in the growing livestreaming market.

Sony Is Bringing PlayStation Games To Mobile Devices

Nintendo hit a major milestone last week when it released its first official mobile gameMiitomo, developed in partnership with DeNA. The quirky social network game reached 1 million downloads in three days, and that’s just in Japan. Now, Sony wants to follow-suit with its own move to mobile. 

The maker of the best-selling PlayStation 4 console has announced the formation of a new business unit called ForwardWorks Corporation, which will begin operating early next month. Its main purpose is to bring popular PlayStation IPs to mobile devices.

“ForwardWorks will leverage the intellectual property of the numerous PlayStation-dedicated software titles and its gaming characters as well as the knowledge and know-how of gaming development expertise which was acquired over the years with PlayStation business to provide gaming application optimized for smart devices including smartphones to users in Japan and Asia,” the official announcement reads. “The company will aim to deliver users with opportunity to casually enjoy full-fledged game titles in the new field of the smart device market.”

Although specific titles weren’t mentioned, it’s likely we’ll see a number of different franchises make their mobile debut, including Uncharted and Ratchet and Clank, two series that will see new entries on the PlayStation 4 next month. Sony might go with older titles first, such as games originally introduced on the original PlayStation One, like Twisted Metal and Crash Bandicoot. Popular games from the PlayStation Vita handheld console such as Gravity Rush, which was recently re-released on PlayStation 4, are also likely contenders for the move to mobile.

ForwardWorks has not announced what its first game will be, but we are likely to learn more when Sony presents its annual pre-E3 press briefing in June.

This is a big move for Sony, but not a surprising one, especially considering the incredible popularity of Nintendo’s Miitomo.

Brisk Details OpTic Gaming ESports Strategy

After watching rival Coca-Cola connect with eSports fans over the past two years, PepsiCo has officially entered the eSports arena through its Brisk Iced Tea brand. Brisk has partnered with top Call of Duty eSports team, OpTic Gaming to launch its new Brisk Mate line of drinks (available in Mango, Dragonfruit and Cherry). The 16-oz. cans are available in select cities, including Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Phoenix, Portland, Las Vegas, and Denver.

Brisk teamed up with OpTic Gaming at SXSW in Austin, TX to announce the exclusive partnership and launch the new Brisk Mate line. OpTic Gaming was on hand for the Brisk sponsored HipHop DX concert featuring Def Jam Recordings artists Pusha T, Lil Durk, Desiigner, BiBi Bourelly and HXLT.

According to Gary So, senior director of marketing for Brisk, research shows that over 90 percent of the Gen Z and millennial male audience is highly involved in eSports, engaging with games on Twitch, and looking for game tips and tricks online.

By teaming with OpTic Gaming, So says Brisk is able to connect with eSports fans and gamers to promote the new Brisk Mate messaging, “Power of the Tribe.”

“Looking at this smooth and energizing iced tea, which gives our consumers a smooth and energizing boost with a blend of South American Yerba Mate, eSports was the perfect avenue,” So explained. “It helps our consumers who have a passion to play games with their friends and get excited about eSports.”

According to So, Brisk wanted to be credible and authentic with eSports fans. “ESports is going to become mainstream and we want to be a bit ahead of this curve.”

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OpTic Gaming can speak directly to its massive social media audience, which includes over 1.24 million Twitter followers.

Mandy Mazzeo, brand manager for Brisk, explained that Brisk Mate is all about community. “It’s about the power of the tribe; you and your friends pursuing your passions together. OpTic Gaming shares this same sense of community and energy.”

So says Brisk focused on the console eSports audience, rather than the larger PC-based eSports market, because of “the element of competition and the collaborative need to be a team.”

“OpTic Gaming is probably the most influential team out there today,” So says. “We’re looking for the best of breed; the synergies between our brands and how they act as a team. They’re going after every moment like there’s no tomorrow. And that’s very in-sync with our brand.”

So calls this partnership with OpTic Gaming a true collaboration. “We’ve been working with them and giving them a lot of creative license,” he states. “We’re leaning on them to guide our marketing. They’ve done a great job of creating social media content creation that makes our brand become part of pop culture.”

Mazzeo says Brisk had been collaborating with OpTic Gaming for several months prior to the announcement. “Hector Rodriguez (owner of OpTic Gaming) came to us and wanted to do this new competition series on how to integrate our brand into fun team-based events like go karting and paintball,” Mazzeo says. “We’re releasing new videos every Friday in collaboration with OpTic Gaming.”

The next part of this collaboration will be to deck out the OpTic Scuf House, where the team lives. “We went to their house and looked around at the outdoor patio and some of the wall spaces, and we can bring in influential artists of our campaign ideas,” Mazzeo says.

But this is just the beginning for OpTic Gaming, and eSports as a whole. “As we look ahead, this is our first jump into eSports as a brand and we want to make sure our brand is authentic,” So says. “We want to build and learn from that.”

‘Batman v Superman’ Promotions Are Having Fun With The Epic Showdown

This weekend’s premiere of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice can be seen as many things. First and foremost, it is the follow-up to 2013’s Man of Steel (starring Henry Cavill), which introduced the world to a more flawed version of Superman. In Dawn of Justice, he goes toe-to-toe with Batman (played by Ben Affleck) in a clash of fists and ideology. Second, the inclusion of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) brings the big “Trinity” of the DC Comics universe to a live-action film, and sets the stage for an upcoming Justice League movie to take on the fantastically successful Avengers franchise. Third, and perhaps most important, it addresses the age-old comic book geek question of whether Batman can actually defeat Superman in a fight.

Fans got their first look at the movie during the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con, where the debut trailer gained a standing ovation. Hype and promotion continued to build over the following months, and although the movie’s promotion doesn’t have the same crazy, off-the-wall style of Deadpool, it does manage to have some fun while keeping to its dark man-versus-demigod theme. One of the more prominent promotions includes a Jimmy Kimmel Live sketch, which was shown after the Academy Awards, where the talk show host appeared in a “deleted” version of the confrontation scene between Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne.

In a slightly more serious promotion, Warner Bros. partnered with Turkish Airlines to produce a pair of themed commercials that aired during Super Bowl 50, which treated both Gotham City and Metropolis as fantastic real-life destinations thanks to wealthy benefactors like Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor.

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However, the heroes don’t get all the fun. Lex Luthor (played by Jesse Eisenberg) was featured in some promotions of his own. The fictional character spoke in a couple of in-depth (fake) interviews on Wired Insider and Fortune. His company, LexCorp, has its own website where you can sign-up to become a Lex/OS beta tester. The genius mastermind even posted on a personal Twitter account for a while.

Food and soft drink brands were also quick to take advantage of the movie’s iconic heroes. Dr Pepper released a limited edition set of soda cans that feature the five main characters. Purchasing them can get $5 toward the purchase of a movie ticket, while scanning the Dawn of Justice-branded 20-oz. bottles with the Blippar app unlocks exclusive prequel comic books. Doritos joined the action with a sweepstakes, giving contestants a chance to choose between winning a Batman-or-Superman-themed prize. Choosing Batman could win you a trip to Barcelona where you can drive a Porsche Boxster, Lamborghini and Ferrari around the Montmeló national circuit or training track. Going with Superman gets you a “birds-eye view” helicopter ride around New York City. Meanwhile, Cold Stone Creamery is offering some hero-inspired ice cream treats with a toy topper, that also included a sweepstakes where winners are flown out to the movie’s red carpet premiere.

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Considering how successful Batman: Arkham Knight was when it released last summer, it would be a big miss if Warner Bros. didn’t use its video game division to promote the movie. Arkham Knight added the Dawn of Justice Batman costume and Batmobile last fall. Similarly, new versions of the heroes were added to the Injustice: Gods Among Us mobile game earlier this month. Furthermore, Warner Bros. partnered with Psyonix for the Batmobile to appear in the hit game Rocket League. Now we can find out how well the iconic car fares in an epic soccer battle.

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Speaking of cars, Fiat Chrysler revealed the 2016 Jeep Renegade Dawn of Justice Special Edition, which features all black, or black and granite versions. It probably doesn’t have any special armor or gadgetry outside of what you might expect from any other SUV, but you might feel sort of heroic while driving it.

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On Monday, Warner Bros. hosted a 24-hour Batman v Superman Snapchat Discover channel, where fans could watch video clips featuring the movie’s actors and director. It also showcased artwork that DC Comics produced for the film, in addition to videos on the new Batmobile and Batwing. The Discover channel came after a four-day sponsored selfie campaign, where fans could take a picture of themselves dressed up as their favorite hero using a Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman lens.

Lastly, Amazon unexpectedly joined in the Batman v Superman fun with its iPhone app, and the company seems to be choosing a side. The Amazon app has a little Easter egg programmed into it, and using the “visual search” function on a “face-off” movie poster will summon a 3D augmented reality bat signal. Unfortunately, Android users can’t call the Dark Knight, but it’s a fun addition to help build up to the movie’s premiere on Friday.

 

How Capcom Is Celebrating 20 Years of ‘Resident Evil’

It’s almost hard to imagine a time before Resident Evil existed. The game franchise, often credited for popularizing the survival horror genre, was originally released for the PlayStation system 20 years ago, and it introduced players to the S.T.A.R.S. team as it uncovered the mystery behind a zombie-infested mansion. Capcom is celebrating its legacy the best way it knows how.

The best-selling series, which has had several sequels and spin-offs over the years–along with a popular movie series starring actress Milla Jovovich—will see plenty of exposure from the publisher, starting with a series of developer interviews posted to its official Resident Evil YouTube channel over the next few weeks. The first video, an interview with series producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi, has already been posted—and this is just the start of a year-long celebration.

So, what has kept the zombie series going for two decades? In spite of current games like Resident Evil 6 taking a more action-based approach, the “horror” aspect has been its biggest draw. This has been especially true in one of the series’ biggest sellers: Resident Evil 4. It became the Nintendo GameCube’s biggest seller when it first released in 2005, and went on to be re-released on a variety of consoles and PC, doing admirably well each time. In keeping with the celebration, the game is coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this fall.

Capcom’s not through yet. The company has already announced a number of re-releases from the series. Last year, a remake of the original Resident Evil launched for modern gaming systems to great success. Resident Evil Zero, a game that helped plant roots for the franchise, was recently given a high-definition makeover for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Finally, Resident Evil 6 releases next week for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with the full collection of content, and Resident Evil 5 will follow suit sometime this summer.

Remakes are nice, but fans want Capcom to finally announce Resident Evil 7. The publisher has already promised that the celebration for Resident Evil will “continue over the next year” and that the team is “already hard at work to deliver some amazing new surprises.” There’s a good chance we’ll finally see the game’s reveal in just a few months’ time, when the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) rolls around. Coincidentally, the last Resident Evil movie, The Final Chapter, releases early next year. In the meantime, a new game called Umbrella Corps, which focuses on competitive multiplayer, arrives on Xbox One, PS4 and PC later this year.

That’s all on top of the other marketing campaigns Capcom has in mind for the game. The company continues to offer exclusive Resident Evil-themed products through both its online store and at game expos. It’s even going to introduce a limited edition T-Virus Perfume, with the Umbrella Corporation logo featured on the front. The perfume will go on sale at the Capcom Café in Japan starting next week, followed by a Resident Evil-themed deodorant spray. But given how fast it spreads, we could see wider release.

Congratulations to Capcom for reaching such a high benchmark with its iconic horror series. Here’s hoping for 20 more years of zombie dogs jumping through the windows.

Study Finds That Millennials Prefer Email

Marketers may be working to find new ways to reach the millennial audience, but a recent survey conducted by Epsilon indicates that going old-school may be the best route. It turns out that amidst the YouTube, social media and mobile app channels, most respondents prefer plain old email.

AdWeek reported that the company’s recent shopper-behavior study yielded interesting results, with email getting a higher response than social media and other advertising models. In fact, 43 percent of millennials, compared with 32 percent of other shoppers, have said they’ve looked at retailer emails more often over the previous six months.

It’s a bit of a surprise, especially since a lot of consumers utilize email-blocking tools to avoid messages sent by companies, but a good portion of millennials seem to have no problem accepting them.

Other findings from the six-month study include:

  • 51 percent of millennials used searches across brand sites more often than average consumers.
  • Nearly 53 percent of millennial shoppers used daily deals, compared to 38 percent of other groups.
  • Nearly 56 percent used price comparison sites more often.
  • Around 47 percent of the millennial audience printed out coupons for use with purchases over the past six months. That’s higher than the 34 percent of other audiences.

While email may be a bit “old school” compared to other methods, it still seems very effective, and less obtrusive as some other means of advertising.

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How Marriott Captures Next-Generation Customers Through Entertainment And Content

Nothing says “get me home right now” faster than when travelling becomes reduced to room service and watching local celebrities thousands of miles away on a TV you just can’t seem to operate.

Marriott International realizes the modern-day traveler welcomes fun distractions—yes, even on business trips—and is consistently adding layers of entertainment that serve to be just as refreshing as a great meal and a hot shower.

The global hospitality company used the 30th annual SXSW in Austin, Texas last week to showcase secondary elements to a marketing strategy that is not just built around a hotel-based touch point.

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Marriott partnered with Universal Music Group to provide a fully immersive music experience by presenting daily artist showcases, performances and other special events in the first-ever takeover of a hotel at the JW Marriott Austin during the SXSW Music Festival. The hotel was transformed into a music venue throughout the course of the week. The best part for Marriott Rewards members? They didn’t need a SXSW festival badge to attend concerts at the hotel.

Understanding very well that travel is connected through visual-based experiences, the Marriott Content Studio—the company’s in-house media team that produces first-rate content—was on-hand to capture El Dusty, Prince Fox and Mayer Hawthorne’s groovy music sets last Tuesday at the snazzy rooftop poolside DJ bash.

Marriott’s content studio, launched in 2014 by vice president of global creative David Beebe, has quickly become the standard on how industry-leading brands should deliver captivating material for consumers. Among a wide variety of coolness, they’ve brought virtual reality to guest rooms, and even used their in-house studio to bring back the award-winning, 19-minute film “Two Bellmen,” just to name a few. Travel entertainment is their forte.

Catherine Leitner, the senior director of Buzz Marketing at Marriott International, has seen the evolution for Marriott in the marketing space over the course of the last 15 years first-hand with the company. She joined [a]listdaily to discuss how they’re capturing compelling content to attract next-generation customers.

How did the partnership with Universal Music Group come about? Why did it make sense to do it?

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This is a great example of what the future, experiential space looks like for Marriott. I think you’ll be seeing more of Marriott International doing things in entertainment like this around the world. Something like music is really universal. It’s almost like a universal language—for anybody of any age—to connect to. When I think of Marriott, our aspiration is to be the world’s favorite travel company. When I think about UMG, arguably the most powerful music label in the world, it’s a great marriage because we’re bringing a universal language of music to our guests and consumers in a meaningful way. It goes hand-in-hand, when you think about it. In order to do that, you have to find ways to bring it to life for the traveler. … What we’re hoping to do with our partnership with UMG is really get in front of audiences that may not be as familiar with us, and that specifically is the next-generation traveler. They are the most important consumer for us as we look ahead. We want to introduce ourselves to them when they are young, and attention-seeking. What we’re hoping to gain from an activation like SXSW is a couple of things: We’re hoping to generate some real interest and awareness in our Marriott Rewards Program, and connect with them emotionally enough where they want to stay with us at some point.

Marriott is a legacy hotel and hospitality brand. What are the marketing challenges it’s currently facing? How are you trying to reach the next-generation traveler?

It’s an interesting question. I think we can agree that Marriott is a beloved and iconic American brand. Marriott International is not just one brand—it’s many different ones. Many people, from a brand recognition standpoint, are familiar with it. In many cases, we’ve traditionally been known as a brand for business travelers, or for frequent travelers. When we think about the next-generation traveler, we may almost think of it like ‘this is the hotel my dad stays in when he travels for business.’ What we’re trying to do is expand that customer base. As we’ve seen the traveler and travel landscape grow, it’s not just the business traveler searching for a hotel as a place to stay. They’re looking for something more meaningful, more experiential than just a hot shower and a clean bed. They’re travelling in a deeper way. What we’re trying to create in many of our different brand experiences is to connect with the consumer. In order to do that, you have to branch outside of traditional hotel marketing—which is a space that we are very comfortable with and do well in.

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Airbnb is a common and sometimes much preferred travel option for millennials. How do you reach millennials with your message?

It’s a great question. Airbnb is an unbelievable platform for people looking for authentic experiences all over the world. Marriott is doing that in a different way by creating and introducing new brands that are specifically targeted to this consumer. The best example of that is our Moxy Hotels brand that was launched in Fall 2014. It’s a brand that was created strictly for the millennial traveler. It’s led by a young, fresh, female executive who really has her finger on the pulse of what that traveler’s looking for—from hotel and room designs to public spaces—and the price point makes it reasonable and attainable.

The Marriott Content Studio is the envy of a lot of brands. What are some innovative ways that you are delivering content? What kind of content best resonates with your audience?

On the Buzz Marketing side, we’re creating partnerships with interesting like-minded global partners like UMG. Through an activation like the one at SXSW, what we’re able to capture beyond just the performances is really the content. Whether it’s a moment with the artist behind the scenes, or a sit-down interview, you can do it with a variety of ways. You can create it on your own, like ‘Two Bellmen,’ which was entirely developed by the Marriott content team. Or, you can look at our partners, like the NFL or NBA to see where we can leverage their tremendous content and opportunities.

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Marriott used the Super Bowl to make a splash on Snapchat, joining an exclusive group of brands who experimented on the channel. What’s been the major takeaway from that trial?  

As we’re looking for platforms beyond Facebook, Twitter and other familiar social media channels, I think it was a great experiment for so many different brands. Snapchat was something that we went out on a limb for, I guess you can say, and tried something different. There’s a huge consumer base using Snapchat, so it made sense for us. The key is finding the right way to share real-time moments. I don’t know if anyone has mastered it yet, but it’s an exciting space and it’s constantly evolving. We need to be where our consumers are.

The travel industry is a very competitive one. How is Marriott separating itself from the pack?

What really sets us apart, at least this is my personal feeling, is our standard of service across all hotel brands around the world. There’s a certain level of standard and service that comes along that customers have come to expect. That’s always a key differentiator, and will continue to be as we grow around the world and introduce new brands.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan.