‘Hitman’ Promotions Take Aim At Celebrity Targets

The Hitman game has been rolling with creative promotions since the first episode released earlier this month, including one where YouTube gamers were able to guide a live actor playing the role of Agent 47, and the a chance to kill an ad with one simple click. Now the game is offering a chance to take the fake assassination contract theme to the next level.

The Choose Your Hit site is open for business, and gives fans the opportunity to choose between one of two forthcoming contract missions that will be added to the game sometime this summer. The catch? They’re both famous actors named Gary.

Gary Busey (Lethal Weapon, original Point Break) and Gary Cole (Office Space, Tallageda Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) are the stars that could be added to the game, depending on how the audience votes.

Both actors plead their case in terms of why they deserve to be taken out by the game’s star, Agent 47, with lines like, “I clip my nails in public transportation.” Over the next few weeks, Choose Your Hit will be updated with more videos from both stars, who will plead their cases and explain why their adversary is an unworthy target. For now, the video above is posted, along with details on each star.

This latest promotion for Hitman might be the best one yet, adding some familiar faces to the mix with a whimsical sense, instead of the seriousness of, “Hey, this guy could actually kill me.” Busey and Cole both look like they’re having fun with it, and as the weeks go on, fans are likely to become more involved.

The first episode of Hitman is available now for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. More episodes and content will be released over the course of the year.

Nvidia’s Marketing Through Engineering

How does marketing influence product development in the games industry? Sometimes, it’s more direct than you might think, and what Nvidia is doing with its GameWorks program is an interesting example. Nvidia had a large booth at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), where the company was busy demonstrating the latest graphics hardware and showing Nvidia’s devotion to virtual reality (VR) with some fascinating demos.

One thing is clear about VR: It’s a very welcome shot in the arm to computer and (especially) graphics cards manufacturers because it will happily chew up all the horsepower you care to throw at it and look for more. A hot new technology that begs for the latest video cards is clearly something both AMD and Nvidia should fully support, so it’s no surprise that both companies are backing it heavily.

The VR demo room at Nvidia’s booth showed perhaps the most impressive VR game demo at the show, with an HTC Vive rig showcasing the Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine demo put together by ILMxLAB, a division of LucasFilm. The demo was driven by multiple Nvidia GPUs, and was stunningly real—like living in the movie, where you wielded a lightsaber to bounce blaster bolts back at Imperial stormtroopers.

As impressive as it was, that demo just hinted at the efforts that Nvidia is making to push its business forward. Marketing is usually seen as the part of the company that is responsible for creating demand for products and services. That’s true enough, but what happens when marketing sees something in the marketplace that affects the saleability of products? Then it’s marketing’s responsibility to bring that information back to product development, which then can use that information to create more effective products.

In a sense, this is what Nvidia’s GameWorks program is all about: helping Nvidia by helping game developers. Nvidia’s senior director of GameWorks, Rev Lebaredian, explained it this way: “We’ve always had good relationships with game developers. But no matter how good our hardware is, if there’s no software that takes advantage of it, it’s all for naught. We’ve always had a group of engineers who work with developers to make games more beautiful and realistic. A lot of that work would be put out at Siggraph and GDC, and then we’d put out code samples. We realized that was not sufficient enough to gain adoption of those technologies. We could make a demo but then it would be years before you could see that in a game.”

Nvidia was seeing that while game developers responded well to each new generation of GPUs, it could take time for those GPUs to gain sufficient market share to motivate developers to support the hardware. Without games that take advantage of the new graphics cards features, there’s a lot less motivation for players to buy them. It’s a classic chicken-and-egg problem, and Nvidia needed a solution. “When we release new hardware, like the current 980-970 generation, or the next generation Pascal architecture coming up, each new architecture costs us a billion dollars to develop,” said Lebaredian. “The installed base is zero on release day. If you’re a developer it doesn’t make sense to put time in on such a small installed base.”

The answer was found in the GameWorks program. “We’re willing to take on the burden of developing those technologies so it’s easy for developers to take advantage of them,” Lebaredian explained. “We’ll go to the developers and help them. We have 300 engineers who will go to game developers and work with them on site. ”

The engineers Nvidia sends out are embedded with product teams at major developers, helping them implement functions so that the newest games support the latest hardware. This translates into better sales for Nvidia from the day-one release of new video cards. Not incidentally, the game developers get a marketing boost as well, with prime features that can be called out in reviews, advertising and social media to show how cutting-edge a new game is.

Developing the next generation of graphics hardware requires Nvidia to look into the future of game design. “Our architecture group always has this problem when they’re starting on a new architecture: There’s a whole bunch of features they could put into this new hardware, but what will game developers use? We’re essentially making bets on where we allocate our transistor budget and our research and development time. We have to predict what future games will look like, what kinds of features they will have. Our group starts designing software and effects for future games early on in the GPU development process.”

Virtual reality is an extension of this problem. “The real engine that’s powering VR is our GPUs. You need to create the pixels, and it’s all about the hardware and the software stack that creates the experience,” said Lebaredian. “If you just look at taking today’s games and putting it on VR, you need about four or five times more horsepower to do the same quality.

“GameWorks encompasses all of the libraries for our gaming technologies, as well as the performance tools, and it includes all of the engineers that work directly on our games,” Lebaredian noted. That’s some 300 engineers working with 175,000 registered developers, according to Nvidia. “This past year has been a really good one for GameWorks. The top games of the year all had GameWorks technology in them: Fallout 4, Grand Theft Auto V, The Witcher 3—all huge games.”


At GDC, Nvidia introduced five new technologies for game developers, which were showcased in games like Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider and The Division. These technologies, incorporated into top games through Nvidia’s GameWorks program, have a huge marketing impact. Buyers of the latest games are people likely to be interested in a new graphics card, after all. Nvidia’s investment in GameWorks may look like a product development effort, but it owes a lot to marketing, and does a lot for marketing.

Marketers need to understand that in a fast-moving industry like the games business, marketing needs to both disseminate information and to bring back information from the market. Ultimately, marketing is the liaison between the audience and the company, and it should be responsible for the information flow in both directions.

Cross-Platform Play Could Be Huge For Consoles

A sports game about cars playing soccer could change the face of multiplayer gaming as players know it. Last week, Psyonix, creators of Rocket League, spoke with [a]listdaily about the potential of cross-platform play between Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Windows PC platforms, and its impacts.

Speaking with Gamespot, Psyonix vice president Jeremy Dunham explained, “Technologically, everything works, we’ve got it figured out, just a little bit of time to get everything up and running. Right now, excitement is the best way to put it. We just want to get in there and make it happen.

“The only thing we have to do now is sort of find out where we stand politically with everyone, and then it’s full steam ahead to finish the solution that we’ve already started.”

But what does cross-platform play mean in the long run? Dunham goes on to state, “More players, for everyone, means more games, and more games means more participation and community feedback, which we can then put into the game as a whole and not have to worry about siloing off certain features or certain platforms because this version doesn’t have it, or whatever the situation may be.”

A lot of players may think that supporting cross-platform play with both Xbox and PlayStation systems could mean a lot of red tape. But it appears as though Microsoft and Sony are seemingly on board with the idea.

Microsoft already confirmed that it’s fully supporting cross-platform play on Xbox One, with Rocket League being one of the first supported titles, and “an open invitation for other networks to participate as well.” Sony responded with, “PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross-platform play.”

This could potentially be huge for players who felt like they were being shut out from their PlayStation 4 friends for owning an Xbox One version of Mortal Kombat XL. It could also be a big selling point for both consoles, compared to other game platforms that don’t support the feature. After all, not everyone is really bred to be a PC gamer, preferring the simplicity of a game console instead. Since both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 offer diverse first-party exclusives, along with third-party hits like Tom Clancy’s The Division, they’re both likely to be huge draws.

For now, the process is going slow but steady, with Psyonix working on its technology to make sure that match-ups go smoothly. From there, Sony and Microsoft are bound to speak more with publishers about the possibilities of cross-platform play.

In the meantime, fans can enjoy Rocket League now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, which will be taking sign-ups for the Rocket League Championship Series eSports event on March 25.

Console Owners Show The Most Interest In Virtual Reality

The virtual reality market is set to take off this year, with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR set to explode onto the market. That said, a new survey commissioned by GamesIndustry International and conducted by Ipsos indicates that an unlikely gaming audience is more excited for the technology than others.

The survey (with answers that came from France, Spain, Germany and the U.K.) reveals that console gamers in Europe are showing far more interest in investing in virtual reality than PC players, with 63 percent showing interest, compared to 51 percent of the PC audience. That number grew to 72 percent when the survey focused exclusively on Xbox One and PS4 consoles.

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The main reasons for this are related to price and compatibility. Both the Vive and Oculus will require high-end PCs to run properly, whereas the PlayStation VR will be able to connect to a PlayStation 4 console—which already has an installed base of nearly 30 million users.

“New ‘virtual reality’ technology will soon be available, allowing you to experience more immersive entertainment at home,” the question reads. “Wearing a special headset linked to devices such as computers or games consoles, you will be able to move around within virtual three-dimensional environments and see and hear as if you were actually there.

“This could include playing video games, as well as interacting with other content (such as films or simulated environments). Assuming the price was acceptable to you, how interested would you be in having this type of ‘virtual reality’ technology at home?”

The answers were divided across many categories, including all gamers, console-exclusive gamers and PC audience members, ranging from very interested to not at all interested.

In summation, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gamers combined to show the highest general interest in VR at 72 percent, and 37 percent responded with a very high interest. They are followed by console gamers in general (63 percent) and mobile device gamers (56 percent). PC gamers responded with much lower numbers, with only 18 percent showing great interest in the technology, 33 percent that are somewhat interested, and 21 percent not being interested at all.

Although the Vive and Oculus are arriving on the market first, some gamers are patient enough to wait for the PlayStation VR’s debut later this year with exclusive titles such as 100ft Robot Golf and Ace Combat 7. So far, the approach is paying off, as pre-orders for the device, which kicked off this morning, are already sold out.

Spotify’s New Ad Format Is Music To The Ears Of Marketers

With an ever-growing number of subscribers, Spotify continues to prove its worth, and the introduction of a new ad format could turn it into an advertising powerhouse.

The company has introduced Billboard (popular among desktop users) to its mobile app, which presents display ads across both iOS and Android devices with a system called Overlay Mobile. It basically pops up ads as a large screensaver when users return to Spotify after long periods of inactivity, providing whopping 100 percent viewability.


Mobile is a huge target for the music streaming service, considering that 65 percent of its overall audience listens using these devices. Additionally, users spend up to 148 minutes per day listening to their favorite tunes, which is nearly a half-hour rise from the year before.

“There are very few mobile platforms that have this level of a highly engaged audience,” said Jeff Levick, chief revenue officer for Spotify, per AdWeek. “And not just a high engagement, but an attractive audience of 18-to-34 year olds and actually reaching them at that real-time, interest-based level.”

The company is working alongside data management group Krux to add audience segments for the app, with over 100 to choose from. This will help nail down first-party data across various groups, from sports enthusiasts to fitness fans and other audiences, allowing for better opportunities to set up key advertisements.

“A playlist really is a representation of a moment,” Levick noted. “People listen to curated playlists around the use case of what they’re doing.”

Levick also noted how the site has grown over the past year. In addition to its ad business showing a 100 percent leap, the site has now reported 30 million paid subscribers, alongside 70 million concurrent users. Daniel Ek, CEO and founder of Spotify, tweeted about the feat earlier this week.

It’s a huge growth from the ten million subscribers it had in 2014, and those numbers should continue to rise once it launches in more international markets. That’s music to the ears of marketers and subscribers alike.

3 Trends From Game Developers Conference You Need To Know

The week of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) is done, and the conference set a new record with over 27,000 attendees. The event covered all aspects of the game industry, and the scope was large, with over 550 companies at the show, offering product and tech demonstrations, along with networking and recruitment opportunities.

“This year’s GDC, paired with the inaugural VRDC, allows us to look both backwards at the legacy and lessons of previous years, and forward to the future of games and VR experiences,” Meggan Scavio, general manager of the Game Developers Conference, said in a statement. “As technologies mature and tastes in games change, we’re happy have a place for all of our friends, colleagues and soon-to-be-friends to meet about, learn about and discuss the games and VR experiences that we love. Games are becoming the most popular form of entertainment in the modern world, so it’s only appropriate that GDC carry with it the same spirit of fun, adventure and discovery as the games themselves, just as it has since its beginning.”

It’s easy to see how VR was the dominant trend of the show. That’s certainly one thing that’s happening, but marketers should be aware of the important trends in the games industry that aren’t as obvious at GDC.

Globalization of game creation

Indies are everywhere, and it’s spreading. Indie game development used to be rare, and confined to a small number of people who had deep coding experience and money to buy game development tools. Now extensive sets of tools are free, the cross-platform capabilities of game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine are a major selling point, and indies are everywhere as a consequence. At the show, there were large booths for countries like Mexico, Scotland, Peru, Korea, Singapore, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, the U.K., and more.

Why so many booths for countries? Countries are now seeing the economic potential in game development. The contribution may not be a significant percentage in wealthy countries, but in someplace like Peru, this could be important. It’s a way to move from an extraction economy (common in many countries, the bulk of their trade comes from resources like oil or minerals) to a knowledge economy. Now, game development is happening around the globe because the tools are readily available and so is the marketplace. Mobile games are found in every country, and games made in a familiar culture and language are going to have a big advantage. For every Candy Crush Saga that has near-universal appeal, there are dozens of locally-created games that have strong appeal in the country of origin.

This globalization of game creation has several important implications. First, it’s contributing to the array of games on the market, which means an ever-growing importance for marketing efforts. Second, it means a vast amount of creativity in games, with new ideas bubbling up everywhere. One of them may be the next Minecraft, which is something for marketers and game developers to keep an eye on. Finally, there’s a wealth of talented individuals who have game-creating skills that can often be hired at far lower rates than the high-priced economies of the United States or Western Europe.

Platform is no longer primary

Electronic gaming first became popular as devices became readily available to support it—first inexpensive consoles, then personal computers and handheld gaming devices. Later, mobile phones and tablets became game-playing devices. For decades, the difference between platforms and the difficulties of making content available on more than one meant that audiences were split, and they became partisan fans of platforms much more than they were of games.

This was reflected at GDC over the years, as the show was usually focused on the major console makers and PC tool vendors. Now, it’s clear that as the gaming audience has expanded, there’s a great game-playing device in nearly everyone’s back pocket. People don’t care as much about platforms as they used to. It’s about the game, and people want to play their favorite game wherever and whenever they can.

The larger issue for marketers to realize is that game audiences are less focused on the hardware that’s running the games, and more on the games themselves. There are still a few partisans waving the flags of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, and arguing about the primacy of one platform over others, but these voices don’t move the market like they used to. What matters are the games, and making them available to the widest possible audience. Look at the success of Blizzard’s Hearthstone, for instance. It began as a PC game, but it developed an even larger audience on mobile. Even hardcore PC gamers are likely to play Hearthstone on their smartphone because it’s so convenient. Give the audience the games they want, wherever and whenever they want it.

Mobile is mainstream

Mobile games are no longer the odd little thing that occupied smaller corners of GDC. They’ve taken their place as an equal part of the games industry. There’s no technical reason why you can’t have every genre of game represented on mobile, and with a high level of quality. In fact, some of the biggest profits in the games business are coming from mobile games. Just ask Supercell, which is generating revenues over $2 billion with less than 200 employees through games like Clash Royale.

Now mobile games are moving away from their focus on casual games, and we can see that the top-grossing games are more likely to be strategy games or other more engaging types. Mobile devices can deal with any type of game, though the interface may need to be rethought. There’s plenty of revenue there, even when the mobile games are an accessory to a deeper game on a console or a PC, as evidenced by the EA Sports Ultimate Team games took in some $650 million last year.

Game creators and marketers shouldn’t be restricting their visions or belittling ideas by saying “it’s a mobile game, so it can’t … ” There’s every reason to believe mobile games can be as engaging and profitable as games on any other platform, and they needn’t always be free-to-play; Minecraft on mobile has sold more than 20 million copies at $6.99. So, if you offer the right value, people will pay for it.

Polt Talks PlayStation Vue’s New ESports Reality Show

Choi Seong Hun, known by millions of StarCraft II fans as “Polt,” is starring in a new eSports reality show produced by Machinima and CSN (Cyber Sports Network) available on Sony’s PlayStation Vue. The series, Training Camp, also features pro gamer Woo Jung Ho, better known as “Violet.”

Polt and Violet each train a team of ordinary StarCraft II players in the hopes of turning them into champions. The fan contestants were initially selected by CSN from video applications that were submitted from members of the StarCraft II community. Polt and Violet then evaluated each of the players to select their own team members. Each team underwent a vigorous training camp before competing in an eSports competition—all while cameras captured the action. The six-episode series is available now exclusively on PlayStation Vue.

Polt defeated Snute 4-2 March 7 to win his fourth StarCraft II World Championship Series (WCS) title, along with $35,000, and a spot in the WCS Global Finals in November. He joined [a]listdaily to talk about his first reality series and discusses the impact of Archon mode within the StarCraft II eSports community in this exclusive interview.

CczK_S4WIAAC83L.jpg largeHow did you get involved in eSports?

When StarCraft II was out, I wanted to see how good I was, and fortunately I was able to have a chance to play on the main stage. I really liked that experience, even though I lost the match, and I decided to make a commitment in eSports.

What’s the difference between being good at StarCraft II and being a pro gamer?

In my opinion, the biggest difference between being good at StarCraft II and being a pro gamer is mindset. Pro gamers take their job seriously, and they always try to play in professional ways in front of audience. However, most good amateur players don’t have that kind of attitude.

How have you seen the StarCraft II popularity and ebb and flow over the years?

StarCraft II came out in 2010, so it’s been already more than five years. StarCraft II has had good days and bad days. It is not the most popular game at the moment, but we do have enthusiasts, and I believe StarCraft II has a potential to be one of the most popular games.

How has the level of competition improved since you began?

When I started competing in 2010, there were a lot of amateur players trying to attend at tournaments, and I was one of them. These days, there are almost no amateur players trying to compete with pro players because the skill level difference between amateur and pro players is huge. There are less people competing at tournaments, yet the level of competition has improved a lot.

What’s the secret to your success?

There could be few secrets, and I think one of the secrets is persistence. It sometimes has negative effects because I just keep doing something without listening to people, but it gave me an advantage in terms of being a pro gamer. I’ve tried to find my own ways to figure out the game no matter what other players say, and I eventually succeeded in finding better ways to play the game.

Why do Korean players still dominate StarCraft?

In my opinion, the reason why Korean players perform better than foreign players in StarCraft is because Korean people enjoy playing StarCraft more than others. Most of the guys my age played StarCraft together, and it made us to think about the game more. The competition level was so high because a lot of people were playing the game, and it made Korean players get better at StarCraft.

What impact do you feel Archon mode could have on StarCraft?

A lot of people think StarCraft is a difficult game, and I agree with that. There are a lot of things you need to think about in the game, and pro gamers can’t even play it perfectly. Having Archon mode in StarCraft makes the game easier if both players are friends or know each other well.

What was it like working on this reality series?

It was a totally new experience for me, and all of the parts were impressive. A lot of people tried to get in my team, and they looked so happy when they made it. All of my team members tried hard to get better and followed my instructions very well. They believed me, so it was so sad to see people leaving my team one by one.

What did you learn from working with the contestants on this show?

First of all, I learned that playing and coaching are completely different. I had a hard time delivering some ideas to my team members because I had no experience coaching people like that. By working with the contestants and coaching them, I got better, so I’m looking forward to having another chance like this show.

What does binge watching open up for Training Camp?

I think many people like to binge watch their content these days. This should allow them to not only learn something from watching the show, but do it in a pace that is comfortable for them.

What are your thoughts on PlayStation Vue as a new digital platform?

Having alternative content mediums to view entertainment is great. It allows people to have access to the specific channels or shows they follow. Especially in regard to the finances and having the ability to customize their plans.

What role do you see television playing for eSports as Machinima had Chasing the Cup on the CW and CS:GO is getting its own Turner ELEAGUE competition?

I see television being an additional vehicle to view the content, but do not believe it will take over as the main way to view competitions. It will be instrumental in breaking down barriers to the masses though, and getting eSports in front of new viewers.

Do you feel the U.S. will ever get dedicated TV channels for eSports like Korea has?

ESports has been growing impressively for the past few years. The number of people playing games and watching eSports grows every single year. Therefore, yes I believe the U.S. will get dedicated TV channels for eSports in the future.

Apple Makes Big Moves By Going Small

Apple turns 40 on April 1, and it’s celebrating how there are over 1 billion Apple devices in use around the world right now. Among the big announcements from today’s special presentation is how the company is very close to reaching its environmental goals. About 93 percent of Apple’s facilities around the world across 23 countries are running on renewable energy. And all of Apple’s stores and offices in the U.S. and China are using renewable energy.

Demonstrating the tech company’s commitment to a sustainable future is a robot called Liam, which is a prototype designed to efficiently disassemble Apple devices so that their parts, right down to the gold in the camera, can be recycled and used in other products. Once Apple was done demonstrating how it would preserve the Earth, it went on to discuss how it would make its inhabitants a little happier using its products.

Apple Watch reveals stylish new price tag

The Apple Watch has become the bestselling smartwatch in the world since it launched a year ago, with customers saying that it has become “an essential part of their daily lives” for alerts, receiving messages, activity tracking and more. Users also love being able to change out bands to customize the Apple Watch so that it fits a particular style, outfit, or occasion. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, about a third of users “regularly change their band.”

To meet the demand for change, the Apple Watch bands are getting new colors and a different material: woven nylon. The nylon bands will cost $49, feature a unique four-layer construction, and will be offered in seven different colors. Meanwhile, the existing sport and leather bands will have new colors of their own. However, there was no indication of whether the Hermès Collection bands, which were introduced last fall, would also be updated.

Yet, the most exciting news is for prospective Apple Watch buyers, as the price for both the 38mm Sport and 42mm models are dropping by $50 to $299, and $399, respectively.

Apple TV continues to grow

The new Apple TV remains committed to making the future of TV in apps a reality. Over 5,000 apps have released since the Apple TV’s launch in October. They include plenty of entertainment apps like HBO Now, which started the cord-cutting trend of subscribing to premium channels without having to go through a cable provider. Then, of course, there are plenty of games.

A new update to tvOS went live today, enabling users to organize apps into folders, enter in text like usernames and passwords by speaking, and use Siri to search through the App Store. Lastly, Apple TV users can access their entire iCloud photo library, including Live Photos, for viewing on large screen televisions.

iPhone SE offers big power in a small package

Described by Cook as, “the most loved smartphone in the world,” the iPhone has had an immense impact on the mobile market. Although many love the large-display 6s and 6s Plus models, there is still tremendous demand for the compact 4-inch versions. Last year, over 30 million 4-inch iPhones were sold worldwide, especially in China, where over half the Apple consumers are picking up smartphones for the first time. Therefore, Apple is keeping the 4-inch smartphone as part of its lineup, branding it the iPhone SE.

iPhon SE

The iPhone SE may be small, but it sports the same processing and graphical performance of the iPhone 6s, giving it all the power it needs to run the latest apps and games. It also has the same hardware features as the 6s, including a 12MP camera that can take Live Photos, 4K video capture and a full-screen Retina Flash for selfies.

Best of all, the starting price is $399 for the 16GB model, free when bundled with a service plan, or about $17 a month through an installment plan. The 64GB version will go for $499 when iPhone SE pre-orders become available on March 24, and they will start shipping on March 31.

iPad Pro gets a little sibling

Continuing with the theme of making devices smaller and more affordable without sacrificing features or power, Apple announced a new 9.7-inch display version of the iPad Pro that weighs less than one pound. The iPad Pro has only been available for 6 months, but users are already turning to it as full computer and notebook replacements.

This new iPad Pro is down from 12.9-inches, and Apple gives two reasons for the size reduction. The first is that the main iPad line has a 9.7-inch display, and it remains the best-selling version, with over 200 million of them sold to date. Its screen size is enough to get work done while remaining small enough to take on-the-go. The second reason takes a direct shot at Windows users. According to the tech giant, there are over 600 million PCs in use today that are over 5 years old, and Apple wants them to switch over to its “ultimate PC replacement.” Access to the App Store, with over one million iPad apps, is also strong incentive.


Other features include a booming sound system, powerful processor, and a screen that automatically adjusts the brightness and color temperature to match that of real paper, so there’s less fatigue when reading from it. The new, smaller iPad will still have Apple Pencil support, and users will also have the option to purchase a keyboard cover that’s specially designed for its 9.7-inch screen.

Despite a long list of other features, like a high-resolution camera that can shoot 4K video, and five different colors (including rose gold), it will likely be the relatively low price point that will convince many PC users to switch over to an iPad Pro. It starts at $599 for the 32GB model, which is $200 less expensive than its 12.9-inch sibling. The 128GB version will cost $749, and top-of-the-line buyers can look forward to a 256GB model for $899 when pre-orders start on March 24. Like the iPhone SE, the new iPad Pro will ship on the 31st.

Apple on the go

Amidst the product announcements, Apple also discussed upgrades to the iOS experience today, which include automatic screen color adjustments for nighttime use. However, one of the biggest reveals is how every major car brand, from Honda to Mercedes, has committed to integrating CarPlay into their vehicles. Over 100 car models have already been announced with CarPlay support. So, expect to see more vehicles to take advantage of features like Apple Music and Maps in the future.

5 Things Marketers Should Know For Adobe Summit 2016

The Adobe Summit 2016 kicks off this week in Las Vegas, with sessions, labs and workshops that focus on the very best in digital marketing. It can be quite a lot to take in, but those attending will come away with a stronger understanding of tools and trends for consumer outreach. Here are five things attendees should keep in mind this week:

There’s something for every kind of marketer

Through its vertical industry sessions, the Adobe Summit will offer something to each kind of marketer. These include a number of distinctive groups, such as high-tech, B2B, financial services, media, entertainment, travel, hospitality, retail and eCommerce.

Each one covers a number of different strategies, such as understanding profiles and audiences, enrollment into digital and mobile media markets, and “super sessions” that cover everything from finding viable content “everywhere all the time” to digital transformation for financial services. There’s plenty to find for almost every specialty.

You don’t have to be there to attend

The Adobe Summit will provide the opportunity to catch most of the sessions online, particularly the two primary keynotes: “Becoming an Experience Business,” which takes place on Tuesday, and “Inspiring Experience Through Creativity” on Wednesday.

Although these sessions run anywhere from two-to-three apiece, they have a huge amount of information, with speakers from both Adobe and other marketing industry circles. Conference sessions will also be available over the course of the week, for those that want to learn more about mastering their trade.

Watch for top guest speakers

The roster of speakers featured at this year’s Adobe Summit have their fair share of experience across a number of fields. Walter Levitt, the chief marketing officer of Comedy Central, has his own take on marketing, unique to that of, say, McDonald’s USA’s chief marketing officer Deborah Wahl.

Even top-notch talent, like actor George Clooney, performer Donny Osmond and actor Thomas Middlehitch are attending to discuss how effective marketing is for their lifestyles. Their presentations should be just as informative as more business-oriented ones.

No matter which sessions users choose to attend, they’ll be provided plenty of information that will be vital when it comes to their own business.

Have fun with it

The Adobe Summit is also an ideal social opportunity. It’s a chance to talk amidst marketing peers to see what they might have learned from the show, or what hot topics they recommend.

There’s no better opportunity to do this than with the Summit Bash, which provides the chance to talk with one another over food and drink before Weezer takes the stage for a performance.

New strategies can easily be adopted

With a summit as big as Adobe’s, there’s often an opportunity to learn something new.

For example, Acquity Group posted a huge infographic based on what it learned at last year’s summit, and it’s quite a bit. The company accepted several facts that have managed to open some eyes in terms of how marketing comes together. For instance, 90 percent of daily transactions are digital, with 65 percent done through mobile devices.



‘Forza Motorsport 6’ Races Into ESport Competitions

ESports have seen tremendous growth over the past few years, between tournaments like the Call of Duty: World League getting a devoted following, and The International offering record prizes worth millions of dollars. Now Microsoft, after wrapping up this year’s Halo World Championship, is revving up for competitions based on its best-selling racing game, Forza Motorsport 6.

Although there have been large events in the past featuring Forza Horizon 2, the announcement indicates that this is an official push toward eSports competition. Fans will have the opportunity to race against one another in a pair of tournaments taking place later this month, in the hopes of making it to the finals.

The first tournament, ESL, Formula E and Forza Motorsport 6Race Off Pro Series will start March 24, with rivals facing-off against one another in qualifying events. Those who qualify for the Pro Championship will get an all-expense paid trip to London, where they’ll compete against the top 10 finishers of the season for cash prizes.

Major League Gaming, which was recently acquired by Activision, will also host its own Forza eSports racing tournament. Kicking off on March 26 and running through May 7, the online tournament will be open to players of all skill levels, based on weekly one-on-one and team-based race events. This particular event will focus on S-Class cars, and will give players a chance to win cash along with the opportunity to be involved in the finals, which will take place on May 21. All finalists will automatically walk away with a free in-game car for participating.

These events show Microsoft’s continued devotion to promoting eSports. The company recently hosted the Halo Championship Series, where the team of Counter Logic Gaming walked away with $1 million, the largest prize of any console eSport to date.