Music Finds Better Connection With Instagram Fans

Sometimes, all it takes for better album sales is a strong marketing campaign and the right kind of social outreach. According to an Instagram-commissioned study by Nielson (via Adweek), which included more than 3,000 Instagram users, the photo and sharing platform is the most popular social network for connecting fans with their favorite bands.

The study also shows that 42 percent of Instagram users are more likely to spend money on music than general consumers. Additionally, those who follow particular bands spend twice as much on music compared to those using other social media apps.

It also noted that users spend an additional 30 percent more time listening to music on a weekly basis, particularly in the categories of R&B, rap, hip hop and pop.

Instagram has become a big portal for performers to connect with their fans, not only by posting pictures from performances, but also video. There’s a deep connection with that, and one that goes beyond just words on other social sites.

But brands shouldn’t immediately follow suit if a performer makes a big splash on Instagram. “It’s important that advertisers form relationships with musicians who are the right fit for their brands,” analyst David Deal said about the study. “Choose wisely. If your brand is edgy, find edgy musicians to work with. If your brand is about being friendly and accessible, find a crowd pleaser. Don’t make the mistake of getting in bed with musicians just because they are popular or cool–you’ll look phony if you do.”

Venues can also benefit greatly from the platform’s popularity, according to Jim Squires, Instagram’s director of market operations. He states an example where the House of Blues ran 13 days of direct-response ads on Instagram in an effort to boost ticket sales for a show. As a result, the campaign managed to draw a 64 percent higher ROI than previous attempts.

“The idea with creative on the platform, especially with music creative, is to communicate that feeling of being at the show,” Squires added.

An infographic complemented the study by breaking down additional details from the report. Social media at live events is huge, with 83 percent of users preferring Instagram over other platforms. The report also details how music fans on Instagram have increased across the board compared to general consumers who attend various music activities like live concerts with one main headliner (39 percent compared to 23 percent), going to musical theater/opera shows (24 percent compared to 16 percent) and going to music festivals (22 percent compared to 11 percent).

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How Syfy Labs Is Making A Splash In 3D Printing


Syfy Labs is extending its commitment to emerging technologies and storytelling by leveraging its lineup of popular programming into 3D printing by introducing a new line of exclusive models from the network’s original series.

Syfy’s recently launched innovation lab and MakerBot, an industry leader in 3D printing, are unveiling new models like the iconic time machine from 12 Monkeys and the alien skull from The Magicians. Models from shows like the Hunters, Killjoys and Dark Matter will be made available through Thingiverse, home to more than a million 3D designs.

This next wave of 3D models from Syfy’s programming was introduced this past weekend at the Silicon Valley Comic-Con in San Jose, California, as part of the Voodoo Manufacturing Booth.

Matthew Chiavelli, senior vice president of Syfy Digital, joined [a]listdaily to discuss the television network’s commitment to 3D printing.

SVCC Voodoo_SyFy 12 Monkeys

How much did audience engagement impact the decision to expand on the MakerBot partnership? What were the deciding factors? 

We’d always had the intention of expanding our 3D printable offerings to other original shows, and the incredible response from fans has helped us to decide what types of objects people are most interested in printing.

Why did you decide to tap Thingiverse as the go-to source for this activation?

Thingiverse is currently a very robust platform not just for sharing 3D models, but it also gives us a direct pipeline to this growing community of enthusiasts. We now have the ability to easily let our thousand-plus followers know when we release new models or make improvements or modifications to existing ones.

What have been some of the key takeaways since the MakerBot launch at CES?

We’ve gotten a lot of useful feedback from our fans on Thingiverse, and are starting to tailor our offerings to help cater to what people want to see us do. We’ve also modified some of the models to make them easier to print.

How can brands incorporate 3D printing campaigns to further boost audience engagement?  

The nature of Syfy’s content and fan base is such a perfect fit for this technology, so we jumped into this space at a bit of an advantage. Our goal is to engage our fans in new and innovative ways. Looking around our own offices, we saw nearly everyone’s cubicle had some sort of tchotchke (or collection of them) representing their favorite TV show, movie or sports team. We believe that putting the ability to print these items out themselves in the hands of our fans is pretty powerful.

What kind of commitment can people expect with Syfy and 3D printing moving forward?

What we’ve shown at CES and Silicon Valley Comic-Con is just the beginning for us. We have plans to make more printable models from more of our shows as the year goes on.

343 Industries Discusses Lessons Learned From Halo World Championship

Microsoft has gone all-in with Halo eSports, after severing ties with Activision’s Call of Duty last year. Microsoft has been active in the eSports scene for years, and the company continues to offer new offerings through the recently announced Xbox One APIs that allow developers to build eSports functionality into their games.

Halo is Microsoft’s most successful brand, and its biggest eSports game. The company opened up its $1 million championship prize pool to crowdfunding last year. And now the top Halo teams are competing for a record $2.5 million. This entire tournament is just the beginning of Halo eSports. Che Chou, franchise media director and eSports lead at 343 Industries, explains the lessons learned and how Halo eSports will evolve with stadium events and even more global competition in this exclusive interview.

Why did you choose Hollywood for the finals?

With the Halo World Championship, our focus was on creating a world-class broadcast for the majority of viewers watching at home while still allowing for a limited studio audience for local fans. We chose to host the tournament at Raleigh Studios because it is a fantastic production stage that allows us to do both.

How many people can watch live in the venue?

Again, our focus was on creating a world-class broadcast for the majority of viewers watching at home, but we understand a live audience adds excitement and tension to the event and we’re pleased to host a limited studio audience for Halo eSports fans. As our first world championship program, we wanted to make sure and nail production quality and broadcast first. As Halo eSports continues to grow and evolve, we will definitely work with our tournament organizer partners on big arena events.

What type of livestreaming numbers has this tournament garnered thus far? 

I’m not sure of the exact figure, but I can say the response has been awesome from fans around the world. The weekend is really the culmination of months of build-up, and we look forward to bringing fans a world-class broadcast with all the action from Hollywood.

How are you working with sponsor Mega Bloks at the championship?

Mega Bloks has been a close partner with Halo and 343 Industries for years. Besides being a great construction sandbox, Mega Bloks has always been in-tuned to the Halo community and their involvement in the HaloWC has been really authentic. Besides a sponsorship, they also built a Halo 5 battle rifle as an MVP trophy for the HaloWC.

How are you integrating sponsor Legendary Pictures’ Warcraft into the championship?

Legendary Pictures saw an opportunity with the Halo World Championship to reach some very like-minded fans and I’m glad they’re involved with the sponsorship.

What’s the learning curve been like for this new World Championship format?

We’ve definitely learned a lot the past few months and I would say continue to be humble students of eSports. I wanted to work with the best tournament organizers in the world – so we hooked up with ESL, MLG, and Gfinity, each of which are the best at what they do. But working with multiple TO partners also presented unique challenges as different TOs bring different styles, formats and best practices.

How have you seen the competition level in other territories compare to the U.S.?

North America is definitely where the majority of the best Halo players are today. That said, the Halo World Championship 2016 was a great way to identify top teams from around the world, a few of which came out of nowhere and were very competitive. I think as the Halo 5 eSports meta evolves, we will start to see European and Latin America teams come into their own and pose a real challenge to North America’s dominance.

What are your thoughts on the crowdfunding support the community has put behind the prize pool?

It really is exciting to think about how the community is directly contributing to the growth of Halo eSports. We’re at $2.5 million for the total prize pool, with the winning team taking home $1 million.  That’s the biggest individual prize pool in console eSports history. Having run Halo eSports for a few years now, the scope and stakes of this tournament actually kind of blows my mind. It’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done, and so far, I’d say it’s also the most important thing we’ve ever done for Halo eSports.

What role do you see crowdfunding playing for Halo eSports moving forward?

With the success we’ve seen with the Halo World Championship prize pool, it’s certainly a concept we’ll continue to explore in the future, though we have nothing new to share at this time.

How soon will you gear up for a new tour?

We will have more to share this weekend during the Halo World Championship finals. Be sure to tune in.




ESports Is Going Through Its Own March Madness

From the far future world of Halo, to the historic World of Tanks, eSports are revving up for intense competition. These are some of the big games to keep an eye on in the coming weeks as spring warms up.

Halo World Championship

Today marks the start of the Halo World Championship, where 16 international teams (reduced from 900) go head-to-head to win a $1 million cash prize, which Microsoft boasts as “the biggest individual prize in console eSports history.” The tournament concludes on Sunday, March 20th. In the meantime, fans who don’t own the game yet can purchase Halo 5: Guardians and the Limited Edition at a 50 percent discount this weekend to get in on some action themselves.

The Halo World Championship comes days after Microsoft announced the Xbox Live Tournaments Platform, which gives developers tools that enable players to set up small-scale tournaments for their favorite Xbox One and PC games. Perhaps, with this feature, the next championship will see even more players than the 4,000 that registered for this year.

Rainbow Six Siege Pro League

While the Halo Championship reaches its conclusion this weekend, others are heating up. The Rainbow Six Siege Pro League, where teams face-off in Attackers vs. Defenders style matches, has competitors vying for $100,000 grand prizes in separate PC and Xbox One leagues in North America and Europe. We’re only two weeks into the seven week of playoff schedule, with the top two teams in each division (and region) eventually going on to the finals, so this is a great time to tune in and get caught up.

Heroes of the Dorm

The old adage that studies, and not video games, get you through college may be coming to an end. The Heroes of the Dorm tournament, a collegiate Heroes of the Storm competition, is now in its second season, with competitors from all across the U.S. and Canada. Credited as the first eSport to be broadcast live over ESPN 2, 64 college teams are battling in bracket tournaments starting tomorrow in the hopes of becoming one of the “Heroic Four” on April 3rd. Those top teams will battle it out for two days starting April 9th at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle, Washington in an epic championship that will be again be telecast over ESPN 2. The winning team earns big money to pay for their college tuition. So, study hard and play harder.

Smite Pro League

It’s hard to believe that Smite, the game where deities from different pantheons battle in 5v5 competition, only hit the scene two years ago today, yet has made a considerable eSports impression. Its console league qualifiers start this weekend, and with the Pro League beginning on March 24. The game is getting some considerable upgrades this season, with new characters, updated maps and more strategies.

In February, Hi-Rez Studios announced that Smite will be coming to PlayStation 4, with a Closed Alpha going on right now. The game’s 2016 World Championship included leagues for two separate platforms, with a $1,000,000 prize for the PC World Championship and $150,000 for the Xbox One Invitational. Perhaps, in the future, we can expect a PS4 league for one massive, god-like, championship.

The Grand Finals (World of Tanks)

World of Tanks continues its eSports blitz with The Grand Finals taking place in Warsaw, Poland from April 8-9. Twelve teams will try to blast each other to scrap in an effort to win part of a $300,000 prize pool. Attendees can also get in on some the action, with playable stations where pro players offer expert tips, and headsets to experience World of Tanks in virtual reality.

Rocket League Championship Series

Psyonix and Twitch have partnered to launch the official Rocket League Championship Series, with registration starting on March 25th. PC and PlayStation 4 players can face-off against each other to win a prize pool of $75,000. Rocket League recently released on Xbox One, which means the platform might not have a chance to participate this season. But there’s a lot of potential in the future, especially if Sony agrees to allow cross-network play, creating a milestone in both eSports and video game history. Always go for the goal.

Epic Games Showcases The Future Of Entertainment

Epic Games, the company behind such franchises as Gears of War and Unreal Tournament, and the widely used Unreal Engine, was out in full-force at the Game Developers Conference this week, with two devoted game demos at its booth in the main hall. They included the finally-confirmed Star Wars: Trials On Tatooine experience created by Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB division, along with a full VR lounge, where attendees could try over ten different demos.

This was on top of a stellar keynote held by the company earlier in the week, where it showed-off its next-level motion-capture technology for games. Highlights included a live demonstration, where an actress’s movements and expressions were captured in real-time for Ninja Theory’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a upcoming action game with a dark medieval fantasy story. Real-time motion capture is bound to have an impact that will go beyond video games and into animated films.

Epic’s virtual reality demos were among the most impressive available, with the most notable being Star Wars.  Players had to battle with Stormtroopers while protecting R2-D2 as it made repairs to the Millennium Falcon. Bullet Train presented a dynamic action experience, where players could warp around the room and shoot at enemy agents using a variety of weapons.

Traditional games weren’t forgotten among the VR frenzy. There were plenty of demos on hand for its forthcoming free-to-play shooter Unreal Tournament. However, a great deal of attention was given to its upcoming MOBA, Paragon, which was recently revealed to be a PlayStation 4 console exclusive that can be played cross-platform with PC. The game launched its Early Access beta today.

Whether it comes to virtual reality, stunning games like Paragon, or providing a free-to-use engine to develop them, Epic Games is positioning itself at the forefront of interactive entertainment. The Unreal future is a bright one.

Why ‘Minecraft’ Is The Perfect Entry Into Virtual Reality

Virtual reality was a huge theme at this week’s Game Developers Conference, with companies that include Oculus, Epic Games and Sony presenting hardware and software demonstrations. However, one game managed to dominate the show floor without even being anywhere near it.

Earlier this week, Microsoft hosted a special off-site event, where fans and journalists delved into the world of Minecraft, one of the hottest selling titles in video game history. It was making finally making its way to virtual reality, and would arrive on both the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headsets.

The familiarity of the Minecraft world, which millions of console, PC and mobile gamers have been fervently playing for years, could be a tremendous launching point into VR, perhaps more so than many other games. The openness of the game, combined with the ability to creatively build or take apart objects will while fending off enemies, could be the kind of appealing gameplay that encourages more consumers to adopt VR. Availability through the low-cost Gear VR is sure to also have an impact.

“In VR, I want to go explore the world,” said Oculus chief technical officer John Carmack earlier this week (via Polygon). “I think that the ability to be wireless, to spin around and have that freedom, really makes this a unique experience.

Minecraft hits all of those buttons very, very well. It is the quintessential open-world game, and being able to explore that world in VR was what I always thought the core of this was all cracked up to be.”

The enhanced play style for the game, being able to move by looking around the world and interacting with objects more closely, is bound to become a big hit, even among those still skeptical about the technology. “Knowing that you don’t simply control your character to turn 90 degrees this way, to move over here and turn around, but instead to actually turn your body all the way around [is powerful],” Carmack explained. “You know that you’re 200 meters away this way down the hill and around the bend from where you started, and that sense of being in a big world is wonderful.”

While a release date for the game wasn’t given yet, Carmack believes that it could be coming out this year. “I said this was my grail for VR, that this was the most important gaming application that I could do, or that I could be involved with, and so I’m very proud for the part that I’ve had and I’m happy to have worked with Microsoft and Mojang to get this at the point that it’s at. I’m excited to be supporting it in the coming years as things continue to improve.”

Minecraft is one of many popular game experience coming to virtual reality. A special version of the hit multiplayer game Star Wars: Battlefront is already in the works for PlayStation VR, and Sony has hinted that other franchises will someday have a VR experience, possibly in the same way Until Dawn will have a VR spin-off.

Samsung President Tim Baxter Says Virtual Reality Is Ready For Primetime

Minutes after Public Enemy riles up the crowd of SXSW attendees at the Samsung Galaxy Life Fest to the tunes of “Fight the Power” and croons of Flavaaa Flaaav, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban leaves the VIP area and steps to the stage to play part-time emcee.

In a festival that has more headline acts than a newspaper, the party of the weekend is about to begin. Cuban introduces ColleGrove—the new superstar rap duo comprised of Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz. The performance will be televised on Jimmy Kimmel Live; the energy in downtown Austin’s makeshift venue is palpable. A sea of cell phones sits in the sky to document snippets of the show, surely to be replayed by each sober soul the next day.

"The Samsung Studio At SXSW 2016"

This brave reporter unearths his iPhone at the competitor’s party and begins to document a few clips for the personal archives, too. That’s when Tim Baxter, president and chief operating officer of Samsung Electronics America, who just hours earlier gave an exclusive interview to [a]listdaily, suddenly stands next to me, and begins teasing the photo quality of my pictures.

Baxter is less than 24 hours removed from releasing the Galaxy S7 and is more than eager to show off some new features. He pleads that we take pictures from the same vantage point, standing side-by-side. I oblige, only to swing and miss three times before pointing out that the mushroom clouds emitted from Lil Wayne’s smoking paraphernalia were clouding my frame—not to mention my frame of mind. Baxter laughs, and the evening goes on when later, his point is further driven home when my selfie with Cuban looks like a shot from an ‘80s TV set.

The night continues when Wheezy pours a bottle of champagne over an S7 to showcase the phone’s new water-resistant features, just like the commercial. The proceedings are a proper homage to Austin’s “keep it weird” mantra.

Baxter and the rest of Samsung were not only in town for fun nights that also featured The Roots and Sia as part of the company’s first Galaxy Life Fest that celebrated the launch of the new Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge devices. The electronics conglomerate unveiled a series of products and activations, but mainly made a strong statement that they’ve bet a sizable stack of chips for a pair of pocket aces they call virtual reality.

“We’re in virtual reality for two reasons: one, we’re an entertainment company. We create big televisions, mobile phones—this is an entertainment-consumption environment we’re living in, so it’s a big part of our business,” Baxter tells [a]listdaily. “The other reason is we think we have some unique technologies that are required for VR with the processors in phones, and our screens. Those two things are vital in the VR mobile space. That helped drive our thinking.”

Samsung made a statement by showing commitment to mobile VR ecosystem solutions the day they announced Gear VR—the undisputed highest-performance mobile VR, with the lowest-latency head tracking, and highest-performance applications with brands and top-tier developers building for the platform. Powered by Oculus, it introduced mass-affordable VR to people who may not have been fully aware of it. They’ve gone on to introduce a suite of substantial stuff, including Project Beyond, the Samsung Milk VR app—a VR content service exclusive to the Gear VR headset, and of course, Gear 360, the world’s first professional-grade automatic 3D virtual reality camera to quickly develop user-generated content. It’s designed to let consumers easily create, view and share their favorite experiences through video- and still-image content. User-generated content is the next big frontier, Baxter believes.

"The Samsung Studio At SXSW 2016"

What has Samsung learned since the Gear VR Innovator Edition was launched a little over a year ago? That people really love VR experiences.

“That really helped give us great confidence and really helped propel us to go deep into VR,” Baxter says. “We understand the responsibility of moving virtual reality forward, and it’s in our best interests. Virtual reality is poised for great, great growth. I’m also a believer that sometimes we overestimate the short-term impact but underestimate the long-term impact. I think virtual reality is going to continue to grow.”

Baxter says he’s most excited in developing and stimulating the content ecosystem to cultivate the mass-market mobile VR space. Enter premium immersive experiences like the VR Coaster, a ride creation for Six Flags Parks, or LeBron James’ exclusive film series. Now, Samsung has over 650 titles available on Gear VR, including documentaries, animations, short films and original programming like Gone. The proof is in the pudding: VR-specific content can drive the market.

“You have to be able to demonstrate, and that’s why we brought out the Innovator Edition to prove the concept, show the promise, which then stimulates the content community. They know brands like Samsung are going to get in (VR) in a big way,” Baxter says. “It’s an example of helping the content community create more content.”

Baxter compares Samsung’s current VR climate to the one the company saw in the transition from analog to high-definition television, or from DVD to Blu-ray—when you’re creating a new format, or new category, and you’re one of the leaders, it’s more than selling a piece of it. Providing an extremely high-quality experience attracts developers and consumers, and that’s a self-reinforcing cycle. He’s quick to note Samsung has endless experience creating new markets, formats and technologies. They’re well aware they have to build the value chain. It’s in their best interests.

“Just think of where virtual reality has come in a little more than a year. We’re committed to this, and we believe in it,” Baxter says while remaining coy of sharing future announcements. “It’s ready for primetime.”

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan.

Capcom To Release T-Virus Perfume Onto The World

Are fans of the best-selling Resident Evil series missing the smell of death, or at least the undead, in their lives? Capcom thinks so, as it recently announced that a T-Virus perfume will soon be going on sale at the Capcom Café in Saitama, Japan. The café launched last fall to provide a more “synergistic promotion” of Capcom’s library of games, and initially included food and décor based on the Monster Hunter universe, but it looks like it’s beginning to branch out.

For those that don’t know, the T-Virus transforms people into the zombies and raging monsters that populate the Resident Evil series. This being the case, and without a detailed description of the perfume, fans can probably expect the scent to be very strong, and it may or may not be contagious. The product, sporting a logo fashioned after the ampule that houses the dangerous substance, even warns users to exercise caution when spraying it. Buyers will find out for certain how overwhelming the T-Virus is when the limited edition perfume goes on sale on March 26, for 4,200 yen (US $37.25).


Complementing the perfume is a deodorizing spray, modeled after the Resident Evil first-aid spray. It goes on sale at the Capcom Café on April 2 for 1,300 yen (US $11.50). Both items will be sold in limited quantity, so fans that want to either smell like the zombie apocalypse, or need an emergency deodorizer, should head to the Capcom Café while supplies last.

Resident Evil 0, a remastered edition of the 2002 game, launched in January with updated visuals for current gaming systems. An all-new competitive game called Umbrella Corps is expected to release this May. Perhaps these products will help players immerse themselves into the Resident Evil world as they play.

How To Market Indie Games… And All Games

With the Game Developers Conference in full swing this week, there will be thousands of indie game developers at the event looking for ways to make their game a success. Generally, these indie game makers are long on game design, programming and art, and short on marketing and basic business knowledge. I’ve been mentoring game startups for years now, and the most crucial need for indie game makers is marketing.

What follows are the five top things I tell game startups about marketing their indie games. Not coincidentally, these are also important for game marketers at companies of all sizes.

Find the game’s hooks

This is essential for any marketing strategy to succeed, and indeed for any game to be successful. What’s interesting, special and attractive about the game? In other words, what’s the hook? It’s really best to think about this before you start working on your game idea to any great degree. What is a hook? It’s something about the game that is interesting enough to make you want to play it, or better still, tell someone else about it—and ideally is also different than other similar games.

Hooks can be an unusual game mechanic, an interesting setting, an impressive graphic style, a compelling story or subject matter, a well-known person is involved with creating the game—the list goes on and on. Some games even have multiple hooks, which is certainly useful. Of course, games from big publishers always start with a hook: the publisher has a large audience to begin with, so there are automatically a lot of people who will be interested in this game.

Why is a hook so important? It’s the foundation for creating your product platform, for deciding on the product position, for determining what it is you tell people about the game when you only have one sentence in which to describe it. Those hooks will be the foundation of your PR efforts, too, the best way to get people interested enough in your game to write about. The hooks are also what fuels your fans in using social media to promote your game. Make your hooks as sharp, pointed and compelling as you can.

Identify the target audience

As you begin to think about marketing a game (which ideally happens when you begin creating the game), the fundamental question for both the game designer and the marketer is this: who is the game for? Both your game design decisions and your marketing strategy decisions will depend on this, and for much the same reasons. Don’t wait until you’ve finished a game to try and figure out who might be interested in it. Sure, you can do that, and sometimes it works—even spectacularly, as with Minecraft. (It’s a good bet that Notch had no idea his game would end up being played by ten-year-olds all over the planet.) But this is too important to leave to chance and gut instinct if you’re trying to make a living selling your game.

You may create a game that is a thing of beauty, an absolute joy to play… and find out there’s only a thousand people who would pay to play it. That’s perfectly fine as an art project, but it’s terrible if you’re trying to make enough money to pay the rent. So to forestall this dire outcome, think about your game idea and try to create a portrait of who’s likely to pay for the game. How old are they? What gender are they? How much income do they have (or have access to if they’re a kid)? What other games do they like to play? What other activities do they like?

When you answered those questions, you have some guidance as to your game design decisions and your marketing decisions. How do you find the audience for your game? Well, if you know about the potential audience, you know where they like to hang out, what social media they use, how they communicate about games, who the influencers are for their communities.

Create the game’s position

Let’s face it, while you may be in love with all sorts of things about your game, at some point there will be a player of your game who is asked by someone else “What’s that game about?” Then your game’s player will say one sentence: “Oh, it’s about…” What is that sentence going to be? You should be utterly certain you know what will be in that sentence, because it will be one of your game’s hooks. Better still, you would be the one to craft that sentence, which is so memorable, compelling, and dead-on accurate that it would be used time and again to describe your game—and so compelling that the response to hearing it is “I’ve got to get that!”

Your position statement is a one-sentence—or one-phrase—description that neatly captures the essence of your game and does it in a way that’s so compelling and memorable that people will pass it on to others virtually unchanged. That’s the ideal, anyway, though it’s not often achieved. But you should strive for it, because every game will have one whether you create it or not. That game? Oh it’s the best first-person shooter on consoles. That one? That game is like electronic Legos, it lets you create your own worlds. What about that game? Wow, it’s the most incredible 5-v-5 online battle arena game with the biggest audience and the most incredible characters.

Are those position statements? Not very good ones, but that’s how people might end up describing your game. Wouldn’t it be better if you had a great phrase already in mind to describe your game? Create that phrase, then use it everywhere when you talk about your game.

Make the game eminently shareable

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who played your game told two other people about it, or a hundred? Or if they could make a video about your game and share it, and then people who had never played your game thought it was so cool they would link to it? That’s what positioning your game for virality can do for you. Sure, that can happen by accident—Minecraft wasn’t created with the thought that one day billions of minutes of Minecraft videos would be watched every month. But there are plenty of games that owe at least part of their success to features in the game that helped encourage players to share with others. That may be pictures of the cool farm or horse or race car you created or customized, or a video of your creation, or an amazing kill you racked up in your favorite shooter.

These things can be integrated into the game design, which is another good reason for thinking about marketing early in the design process. Even if you’re late in the development process, though, you can usually add some sort of sharing functionality so that people can make a Facebook post or readily stream the game.

In any case, spend some time thinking about why people might want to share your game, and what they might want to share. A high score? A picture? A video? Advice on tactics? There are many things people do with games that encourage sharing, and you should look for that within your design. Then find a way to make it easier for players to share. That’s only the first level of sharing, though—you really want your game to go viral, which means people will be passing along what players have shared. That’s a more difficult challenge for both design and marketing, but if you can approach it your game will have much better odds of finding a large audience.

Be as creative with marketing as you are with game design

Finally, be creative! If you’ve made a game you’ve got plenty of creativity. Put that to work on your marketing—and don’t expect it to be easy, either. You should probably expect to put in a significant fraction of the effort you put into game design, and quite possibly ultimately more if your game has a long lifespan. Think of some events to put on, wear a costume to a trade show, make a funny video about creating your game. There are endless possibilities.

If you need inspiration, check out all of the things that are trending on the Internet each day. Can you do something compelling and interesting like that connected with your game? Just make sure you avoid anything dangerous or illegal, or something that might alienate potential customers. See what is being done with other games, other products, other media, and what gets people to pay attention. Look at your hooks, your product position, examine what’s shareable about your product, and find a creative way to bring all that together. And don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t get a lot of attention—keep trying! Your game didn’t work quite right on the first try, either, so don’t expect your marketing to do that. Try and try again. Good luck!


Are Marketers Afraid Of The Virtual Reality Era?

Virtual reality is running wild at South By Southwest (SXSW) and Game Developers Conference (GDC), both of which are hosting huge showcases for the technology. Device makers such as Samsung, Oculus, HTC and Sony, are showing off headsets and the huge variety of experiences to be had with them. At the same time, developers are eager to take advantage of the emerging technology.

That said, while the technology is impressive, it isn’t quite winning over everyone, as some marketers are concerned as to how it will work. AOL’s digital prophet, David “Shingy” Shing (pictured above), recently penned a piece on Adweek about how some might have trouble adjusting to this “new world” of media, where there’s little room for the current advertising model as it stands.

Shing writes that most VR experiences will be presented without any sort of context for ads, which means certain companies will need to adjust when it comes to how they can still represent their product while following the lines set for the technology.

“Consumers will be blasting off to far-away planets that may not even have the atmosphere to support ads, and the industry’s concern is that this will leave a barren Tatooine-esque advertising wasteland . . . This shift challenges the thinking behind the entire industry and the current model of the relationship between brands, creative, media and platforms.”

However, in even in the face of a barren ad landscape, Shing still sees hope, and invites marketers to take the problem head-on. Immersive worlds “provide unique challenges to content creators, viewers and advertisers alike, and their radical newness is a bright light that exposes some of the most insidious faults in our industry . . . As marketers and advertisers, we must rise to this challenge. Experimentation must begin now to have a chance at being ready when consumers have lift-off.”

Some companies have gotten an interesting jump on marketing VR. McDonald’s, for instance, has introduced a Happy Meal box that transforms into a VR viewer (although it’s only available in Sweden right now).