How Uber And Totino’s Won Over Gamers At PAX East

PAX East took place at the Boston Convention Center over the weekend, and thousands of fans made their way through the halls to check out the latest and greatest in interactive entertainment. With that, two brands have come away as big winners from the event: Uber and Totino’s.

An on-demand car service and a delicious pizza roll manufacturer might seem like an unlikely pair to come out ahead at a gaming convention, but both teamed up with noteworthy partners to create an impact with gamers without the huge over-branding that some other companies may be known for.


In a tremendous promotion for Blizzard’s upcoming game, Overwatch, the travel company brought a snazzy promotion to PAX East that took attendees all across the city.

Dubbed UberWATCH, the company’s app let riders order special Overwatch-stamped vehicles to drive them around the city. Riders could get a single-seater Lamborghini, a two-seater buggy, or a large multi-passenger truck to bring them around. The vehicles could be seen all across Boston and worked alongside Blizzard’s show floor promotion.


Needless to say, the promotion was a success, and sent thousands of fans over to the official Overwatch booth to get hands-on with the game. Overwatch releases on May 24th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.


Meanwhile, Totino’s, makers of wildly popular pizza rolls (which are considered a fond delicacy for many gamers), had its own presence at PAX East. In addition to offering attendees some sample products for nourishment, it also presented a rather peculiar challenge: the Bucking Couch.

Set up like a rodeo bull, the Couch challenged players to sit on it and play Sega’s classic Sega Genesis game Sonic the Hedgehog while struggling to stay on. It became a big hit on social media, with hundreds of attendees partaking in the challenge.

Totino’s partnered with Sega for the promotion, and they also gave fans the chance to play other classic games like Crazy Taxi and Golden Axe while celebrating the 25th anniversary of its iconic hedgehog character.

“PAX East is the perfect place to share our Bucking Couch with the passionate gaming community and give these gamers a unique challenge like they’ve never experienced before,” said Brad Hiranaga, director of marketing for Totino’s. “We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting event and work with top gamers and game developers to bring the ‘Live Free: Couch Hard’ experience to life.”


Old Spice had teamed up with Twitch before on a special promotion, where fans would issue commands to a character in real-time through the “Old Spice Nature Adventure.” It paid off quite well, with 2.65 million views over the three day event.

At PAX East, Old Spice returned, this time offering some sweet-smelling relief to visitors of Twitch’s booth. It offered sample products of both its body wash and deodorant, which turned out to be a huge hit, with thousands of fans picking up the products. It could point to the company’s return at future events, such as the forthcoming TwitchCon, which will take place in San Diego later this year.

Meanwhile, although Lyft‘s promotion wasn’t quite as flashy as Uber, it was on the show floor, giving away prizes to those who spun a wheel. Prizes including vehicle credits, candy bars and little pink mustaches.

Bud Light Looking For ESports All-Stars

With all sorts of companies getting into eSports these days, including ESPN, TBS and Yahoo, its mainstream appeal is becoming increasingly evident as it continues to draw in millions of viewers. Now one of the biggest brewing companies in the country wants to get in on the action.

Bud Light has announced (via USA Today) that it’s heading into eSports, and will announce a list of competitors for various games at the forthcoming DreamHack event in Austin, which takes place from May 6-8.

During the event, and running through to June 4, fans can vote for their favorite gamers, and the top five will be named as the Bud Light All-Stars at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). From there, the team will be featured in both a behind-the-scenes eSports series for Machinima and online game match-ups through Twitch.

The big face-off for the All-Stars will come at TwitchCon later this year, where they will take part in a three-round elimination tournament. For those who can’t attend the event, the competition will likely be streamed online.

“This is such an exciting area for us,” said Jesse Wofford, Bud Light’s digital sports marketing manager. “The growth in (eSports) is huge and this is really the right time for us to get in. We have identified it as a great space because, similar to how we identify in the NFL with fans, eSports fans have that same passion.”

Considering how more than 134 million gamers watch eSports on a regular basis, with a market value near $750 million, this move shouldn’t be a shock. But it does introduce yet another big non-gaming brand into the picture, and others could easily follow suit as a result.

Wargaming And Dark Horse Bringing ‘World Of Tanks’ To Comics

Wargaming had a huge weekend at PAX East (held in Boston), where it showcased the return of the classic space empire building game, Master of Orion, as well as giving plenty of appreciation to its avid World of Tanks fan base. But the history-themed competitive tank game will soon have new stories to tell, and Dark Horse Comics is along for the ride.

The game publisher has announced that it has partnered with the comic book publisher to create a new limited edition series called World of Tanks: Roll Out!, which will focus on tank battles that took place during the summer of 1944, when the British Cromwells battled against German Panthers armored units in post D-Day Normandy.


The series will be written by Garth Ennis (Preacher; War Stories; The Punisher), while Carlos Ezquerra (Judge Dredd; War Stories Vol. 2) and cover artist Isaac Hannaford (Halo: Reach; The Punisher) are contributing to the project.

The five-issue series is set to release on both in physical and digital formats for fans to enjoy, and will be available in both U.S. and European territories this fall.

Considering the massive success World of Tanks has seen on both PC and console platforms (it released for PlayStation 4 earlier this year), this gives the franchise ample opportunity to spread out into a new medium—the ever-growing field of comic books—to tell character-driven stories. As a result, a new audience could pick up the free-to-play game.

World of Tanks Roll Out comic book Preview page

It looks like a solid partnership for Wargaming and Dark Horse Comics, and one that could give the strategy game maker a greater presence at other upcoming events, especially the insanely popular San Diego Comic-Con.

If successful, there’s a possibility that this deal could grow to include Wargaming’s other franchises, which include World of Warplanes and World of Warships.

‘The Witcher’ Series Creator Talks About Making A Gamer-centric Brand

Much like Valve, CD Projekt is more than a game developer. The company is probably best known for creating the hit Witcher franchise, inspired by a Polish fantasy novel series written by Andrzej Sapkowski, but it also founded the digital game sales platform, GOG. GOG works a lot like Steam, but leans more heavily on classic and independent games. The service also prides itself on providing DRM-free games and adding more value to purchases through free extras like game soundtracks and a number of other features. Both the marketing approach for The Witcher games and GOG represent CD Projekt’s fundamental philosophy toward fairness and creating a “gamer-centric brand,” which has been at the core of many of the company’s decisions.

Aiming to please gamers in a fair way appears to have paid off in a big way. Not only has The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt (which follows the success of Assassins of Kings) been an undeniable sales success (sold without DRM on GOG), but it has also won numerous awards and gained top honors at GDC, SXSW, and The Game Awards Show. In addition to releasing a host of free content, the open-world game’s season pass includes two massive premium Expansions. Hearts of Stone released last fall and added 10 hours to the game, while Blood and Wine is expected to add another 20 hours when it comes out later this spring. Much like the main game, Hearts of Stone earned a tremendous amount of praise from both fans and critics, and players are eagerly awaiting the next addition.

Marcin Iwiński, co-founder of CD Projekt Red, talks to [a]listdaily about what a gamer-centric brand is, how it has applied to promoting The Witcher series, and how the game franchise has grown since the first game launched in 2007.

MIwinski_b&wHow would you describe a “gamer-centric brand”?

In a nutshell, a gamer-centric brand means that you put the interest of gamers in the center of everything you do. Selling games is, in reality, a bilateral deal between you and the consumer, so each time you make a business decision you need to ask yourself the question: how will gamers feel about that? Is that fair?

What I see happening too often nowadays is this bilateral deal becoming a one-way thing. You either get what the gaming companies offer or opt-out and get excluded from the newest pop-culture craze. We don’t want to be like that. Fairness is very important for me personally and for the entire studio.

What makes The Witcher 3 a gamer-centric brand, and in what ways does a gamer-centric promotion differ from a more traditional one?

Let’s start with the editions, with the way we built them. Is what we put in the box of good value for money for the gamer? We decided that the best option is the simplest one, just like it looked back in the day: a beefed up standard edition and a really limited collector’s edition. The thing is, our standard edition contained many items that are typically reserved for higher-tier SKUs: the entire soundtrack, a map of the game world, a The Witcher medallion, we even threw in some stickers. We simply think we owe gamers for investing their money in our games.

Another part of being gamer-centric is the post-release support gamers get. Like I said before, when a gamer is buying The Witcher, they enter a business relation with us. Bilateral relations are never fire and forget—you can’t simply launch a game and never release a patch for it. We’ve released more than ten in the course of just a couple of months, and we keep on working to improve the game. We do our best to practice what we preach and continue this dialogue with gamers well after launch.

Examples of this are changes to controller input gamers requested (we introduced an alternative approach to controlling Geralt’s movements), or tweaks in the UI. These are real-life examples of things nobody explicitly has to do. We do them because it’s part of the gamer-centricity we so believe in. Obviously, we will never be able to introduce every change and fulfill every request The Witcher fans submit, it’s simply impossible, but we try and we don’t intend to stop. The above are just a few examples, but the possibilities for content creators to be gamer-centric are practically infinite. They just need to think how they would like to be treated as gamers… and then do it.

Did you have to change your approach when promoting premium post-release (DLC) content?

First of all, let me make a clear distinction between what we consider DLC and what we call Expansions. DLC are smaller pieces of content, something meaningful and of value, but not something we would feel comfortable charging for. An additional quest or armour set, in the grand scheme of things, is not something that costs us a lot to produce. DLCs should be free, they should have “thanks for your support” written all over them. I mean, older gamers probably remember times when developers published map packs for games; times when patches contained something like an additional weapon or mode. And nobody considered charging for that. We’re all about getting back to the roots with DLCs.

Expansions are a different thing. Again, getting back to the past, I remember something called an “add-on disc.” Something that frequently contained half or more of the content the base game contained. We believe in that approach, and this is how we see “premium post-release” content. Will gamers feel it’s fair if we charge them for this? This is a question that never leaves our minds when we design our Expansions. We’ve proved that with Hearts of Stone, and we’re working super hard to double down on that promise with the upcoming Blood and Wine expansion (it contains a whole new region for the game!).

Did the success of The Witcher 1 and 2 make promoting 3 easier, or did the high expectations bring additional challenges?

The answer to both parts of the question is yes. The Witcher 1 put us on the map. The Witcher 2 was built on the experiences we gained, but it also included something very precious you can’t “do” in-house—it gave us tons of player feedback, things we could never come up with on our own. It was also our first contact with consoles, as Assassins of Kings was released on Xbox 360. This, and everything in between, enabled us to set the third installment of the series in an open world. On the other hand, the high expectations a year before launch had put pressure on the team, just not the kind of pressure that makes you buckle—everyone was super motivated and knew that we had to deliver on our promise. And I think we did!

What are some of the ways promoting The Witcher has changed over the course of three games?

Back in the early days—with the first installment of the series—we were an unknown studio without any pedigree, and since the market back then was solely relying on box distribution, we had to get a publisher [Atari] on board in order to get the game to the market. It wasn’t easy—we were new, we lacked credibility, and every single company we were talking to were asking themselves the same set of questions: Will they finish the game? Will they deliver a quality product? Will it sell?

We mitigated those risks by financing most of the game ourselves, but in order to have it finished, we had to partner with someone. The game was PC-only, it was the first installment in the series, and nobody wanted to take a major risk on the marketing front. That made the marketing budget really, really tiny. Surprisingly for everyone involved but us, the game took off really well and started receiving critical acclaim. The sales were good, too. This was the best possible scenario we could have hoped for and it laid foundation for a much smoother setup for The Witcher 2. Here, we decided that we go all in. We used all the proceeds from The Witcher (and then some) and co-published. Co-publishing meant that all the decisions regarding marketing and PR campaigns, as well as what the value proposition for the gamer was, were ours. It went much smoother than in the case of The Witcher, and we were quite happy with the final effect.

The major change came with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Assassins of Kings has been a success, so again, we took all we made and went all in. There was one crucial difference, though: this time we exactly knew what we wanted to achieve on the promotional front. We decided to handle all the communication ourselves and do all of the gaming shows ourselves. In other words, we owned the entirety of the PR, marketing and value proposition construction process. Since we were launching for the first time on all the three major platforms (PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4) simultaneously, we managed to back it up with a substantial marketing budget and make the voice of The Witcher as loud and clear as we always wanted to. All around the world.

Subscriptions Reborn For Gaming

One of the factors that has propelled the games industry to massive growth in the last two decades has been the growing diversity of business models. Once almost all game revenue was derived from selling games in retail stores, but now we see games supported by advertising, in-app purchases and subscriptions.

Subscriptions were really the first business model to have a major impact on games other than the retail sales model—and it was the rise of the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) that drove this model into popularity, reaching its height with World of Warcraft —MMORPGs have delivered massive revenues and outsized profits for years. It seemed like subscriptions as a business model have been dying off in the past few years, though, as World of Warcraft is about the only MMORPG left that still uses it. Most other MMORPGs have moved to a free-to-play model, and even WoW allows you to play for free for the first 20 levels. With the new Legion expansion this year, WoW will likely see a boost in its subscription numbers once again.

Subscriptions have seemed to be out of step with the fast-moving pace of the Internet and games in particular over the last decade. Yet subscriptions are becoming increasingly popular for other media like movies and music, and that acceptance is leading to a growing use of subscriptions in the games industry. The model is changing, though, and the changes are important ones. Variations are being tried out and the increasing popularity of mobile games means there’s plenty of untapped potential there for this business model, too.

Marketers nowadays not only have responsibility for communicating and shaping brand messages, but also shaping how products are monetized. The variety of monetization options available to content creators means that understanding the market and the audience is critical to deciding on the optimal monetization methods. Marketers must do their best to help content creators shape content to optimize revenue, and that means staying on top of the latest trends in monetization. Subscriptions are gaining popularity for media businesses, and games are currently underrepresented in that business model—yet the potential is enormous.

The Power Of Media Subscriptions

Two of the biggest media businesses, movies and music, have moved in a big way from the retail business to the subscription business model. Streaming video from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others are generating huge numbers (Netflix has over 80 million subscribers now) and while DVDs and Blu-Rays are still a good business, it’s clear that the market has shifted to paying a regular monthly fee for access to a large number of videos, a mix of movies, TV shows and original content.

The strength of video subscriptions can be seen by the movement of HBO, Showtime, Starz and others from being purely an add-on package for a cable provider (a subscription plan in itself) to a stand-alone subscription being offered for a variety of devices. You can still rent or purchase individual videos from iTunes or other places, but the biggest audience is for paying monthly to access a large variety of video.Subscriptions

Similarly, music has moved from selling discs in stores to buying audio files through iTunes to the fast-growing streaming music subscription, which is being offered by Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal and others. Again, paying a monthly fee for access to a large variety of content has been growing rapidly.

The Game Subscription Reborn

The new life of game subscriptions is not coming from MMORPGs, but from a variety of places. The biggest of these subscriptions are Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, where Microsoft and Sony charge a subscription fee (which can be paid monthly, quarterly or annually) for access to multiplayer online gaming and new, free games delivered every month. These services have tens of millions signed up, and form a reliable income stream for these console gaming companies. Microsoft was the pioneer in this area, using Xbox Live Gold back in the Xbox 360 era, but Sony has joined in with the advent of the PlayStation 4. While Nintendo hasn’t yet offered such a subscription service, that’s something we may see after Nintendo introduces its NX console.

The Microsoft and Sony subscriptions were initially marketed primarily as ways to engage in multiplayer experiences, but now the monthly free games being offered by both services are an important part of the value proposition. Moreover, the new games being offered for free every month provide a great marketing opportunity to gain new members for the services.

Continuing in this style of subscription model are PlayStation Now from Sony and Electronic Art’s Origin Access subscription service for PC games. The EA service provides access to a number of games for $4.99 a month, along with early access to new EA games and a discount on EA game purchases. EA also offers EA Access for the Xbox One through Microsoft, which of course gives you access to EA games for the Xbox One. PlayStation Now offers hundreds of PlayStation 3 games through a streaming connection on PS4, PS3, PS Vita and selected Sony and Samsung TVs. The service is $19.95 for one month or $44.95 for three months.PSN

Beyond these “groups of games for a single subscription” offerings we also see a growing trend in offering downloadable content (DLC) for console games (and some PC games). The “season pass” is in effect a year’s subscription to all DLC that’s coming out for a game during a year, and it’s become an increasingly popular purchase for gamers because there’s usually a discount over buying each piece of content separately.

The Future Of Game Subscriptions

One area where subscriptions have yet to make much of an in-road is in mobile games, which is due to the restrictions imposed by the App Store even though Google Play allows in-app subscriptions.

“Considering that free-to-play is the number one form of monetization on mobile, it will be challenging to sell mobile gamers on committing to a monthly fee,” said SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen in an interview with Re/code. “Unless, of course, Apple rolls out a buffet-style offering (‘Best of App Store, every month for $4.99!’), but I don’t see any upside for them in that.” It would also be hard to get a group of publishers to offer access to multiple games under one subscription, even if you could convince Apple it was a good idea.

Since the Google Play store allows subscriptions, this is probably where we will see the concept appear first. Episodic content, such as we see from Telltale Games, would seem to be ideally suited to this. On mobile, subscriptions would seem to be something that a single publisher would implement, perhaps even within a single title, if there was a reliable stream of new content to offer.

Beyond mobile, we may well see expanded use of the subscription model among PC and console games (and perhaps eventually, VR) where there’s a steady flow of new material. Especially in certain free-to-play games, where new skins and other content appears with regularity, a subscription mode to in-game content might make sense if there’s a substantial bargain for players in the offering.

Game marketers and game designers should be examining subscriptions closely to see if it makes sense for their games, as consumers in general are getting very comfortable with the concept of a regular fee in return for regular access to new content or a large enough body of existing content. As always, consumers will respond well if you can provide a great value to them.

Newzoo: Global Games Market To Reach $99.6 Billion In 2016

Newzoo recently released an update to its quarterly Global Games Market Report, and it shows that gamers worldwide will generate a total of $99.6 billion in revenues in 2016, an 8.5 percent increase from 2015. Furthermore, mobile games will surpass PC and console revenues for the first time in history with $36.9 billion, a 21.3 percent growth globally.

It should come as no surprise that Asia is expected to continue dominating worldwide revenues, making up 47 percent ($46.6 billion) of the worldwide gaming market. One quarter of those revenues ($24.4 billion) will come from China alone. Newzoo predicts that the global market will eventually grow to $118.6 billion toward 2019, with $52.5 billion from mobile gaming.


North America takes second place, and is expected to make up 25 percent ($25.4 billion) of global revenues. Of that, the U.S. will bring in $25.4 billion, which is 4.1 percent year-over-year (YoY) growth rate. Newzoo notes how console revenues are still relatively stable as they move toward digital formats and continuous monetization. Meanwhile, Western Europe will see a growth rate of 4.4 percent in 2016, mainly because the region has been slow to adopt mobile games lately. Eastern Europe will see an even higher growth rate of 7.3 percent.

Latin America will comprise only 4 percent ($4.1 billion) of global revenues in 2016, but that means that the region will make a major recovery from its recent economic problems with a massive 20.1 percent YoY growth rate. About $1.4 billion of those revenues will come from mobile games, which is $900 million more than last year. Other reports suggest higher revenues, but Newzoo expresses that, “despite a huge mobile gaming audience of more than 190 million consumers, spending has remained low.”

Revenues By Screen

Newzoo further breaks down the global games market according to screen types, and with this kind of segmentation, computer screens (PC and Mac) will bring in the highest revenues ($31.9 billion), thanks largely to MMO games, while casual web games decline. This number is followed very closely by television screens ($29 billion) and personal mobile devices like smartphones ($27.1 billion). Smartphones have the fastest YoY growth rate of 23.7 percent, which is expected to globally outpace all others by 2018. Meanwhile, tablets and handheld consoles will be the least important gaming screens as the latter continues to become less relevant. Handheld revenues are expected to drop another 24 percent this year.


The report further notes that VR is not considered its own screen, and expects revenues from it to “remain marginal for the near future and to largely substitute other game spending on console, PC and mobile.” With VR being at such an early stage, software revenues are absorbed into existing PC, console and mobile revenues. Newzoo further states that, “VR and AR will in the long term change how consumers communicate with each other and interact with content. In the short-to-medium-term, Newzoo expects the lion’s share of VR revenues to be generated by hardware sales, spectator content, and live viewing formats.”

ESports Key To Global Growth

Some of the biggest drivers of revenue growth will be the global convergence of games and video, primarily due to the spectacular growth of eSports. Newzoo states, “This trend is transforming games into all-round entertainment franchises, opening up new ways of engagement and complementary revenue streams. This is good news for the games industry, which was already on a healthy growth curve through success on mobile.”

ESports Sees Stronger Involvement From Women

Earlier this month, Nielsen released a report indicating that the current eSports audience is over 80 percent male. However, that’s not to say women aren’t making their impact on the scene. In fact, a new report suggests that their demographic is far bigger than anyone realizes.

The research company PwC recently published a new report in its Consumer Intelligence Series, indicating that (per a survey) 22 percent of women say they’re involved with eSports. That may seem like a small number, except only 18 percent of men surveyed said they were involved.

“While the difference is relatively small, it indicates an early trend that women may be just as, if not more, engaged with eSports than males,” PwC noted in the report. “For viewing versus playing, men are playing slightly more than women, and men appear to watch from a competitive lens, while women appear to watch for enjoyment and for the social aspect of the viewing experience.”

PwC also found that a majority of eSports viewers (around 68 percent) are under the age of 35, which indicates a strong appeal to a younger audience. That said, there are a good amount of older viewers. “The increasing popularity of eSports has attracted the attention of companies industry-wide, and they are trying to reach the coveted millennial audience…” the company wrote. “As it becomes harder to reach millennials on traditional platforms, such as linear TV, companies are seeing an opportunity with eSports as its viewers tend to be highly engaged.”

While the report also shows that only 15 percent of those surveyed had awareness of eSports activities to begin with, the scene is growing, and those that tune in to one event tend to come back for a lot more.

“Viewers are just as much a part of the overall competitive gaming experience as the players itself,” said the company. “Among total viewers, PwC’s survey says one in five watch weekly, with the general eSports consumer averaging 19 days of viewing per year. Asian (27 days) and Hispanic (23 days) viewers tend to watch more frequently, with self-identified hardcore gamers watching the most at an average of 32 days a year. As for the device of choice, 57 percent of respondents who have watched a competition have done so on a laptop or desktop computer. The most favorable genre of game to watch is first-person shooter games at 63 percent, followed by multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) at 37 percent.”

Image Source

3 Upcoming 2016 Games That Could Be Tremendous ESports Hits

Millions of fans tune in to eSports competitions for a variety of games that include League of LegendsDOTA 2 and Call of Duty. But the industry still has plenty of room for new games to join, such as the current eSports darling, Rocket League.

With that, there are a lot of releases coming this year that have plenty of eSports potential. Here are the top examples of what we could see show up in highly publicized tournaments and online broadcasts over the months ahead:


Bethesda’s reboot of the iconic id Software franchise, which popularized first-person shooters in the ’90s, is less than a month away from release. Last month, the publisher hosted a Day of Doom event, featuring well-known online personalities who teamed up with real-world athletes in an all-out competition. This helped lead in to the open beta on consoles and PC, which showed the world just how addictive the multiplayer can be. The fast and furious gameplay includes weapons that can shred opponents instantly, and a rune that temporarily transforms a player into a powerful demon, which can often turn the tide of a competition.

What’s the eSports potential? The multiplayer is a throwback to the classic days of the Doom franchise, when the game was one of the biggest multiplayer shooters on the planet. Doom‘s fast gameplay and relatively short matches make it an ideal choice for the eSports scene, and with Battlecry rumored to be put on hold, it’s an ideal opportunity for Bethesda—which is famous for publishing immensely popular single-player games like Fallout 4—to get into the eSports scene.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Although Sony’s marketing of the game focuses primarily on its single-player campaign, which caps off Nathan Drake’s long adventure, the game also includes a multiplayer mode where thieves and gold hunters compete on a series of maps. Using up-close attacks and an array of powerful weapons, each team tries to keep the treasures for themselves.

What’s the eSports potential? While Uncharted isn’t necessarily regarded as a competition-based franchise, the multiplayer beta got a lot of attention from PlayStation 4 owners, and the game is expected to be updated with plenty of fresh content in the months ahead. This could mean potential livestreams that show off multiplayer content once players have completed the main story, and perhaps some will become pro players. The game is expected to be one of the popular games to release for the PlayStation 4, so having it be adopted into eSports is very possible.

Gears of War 4

As Microsoft did last year with Halo 5: Guardians, players can expect a big eSports push with the newest chapter of its Gears of War franchise. Developed by The Coalition, the game takes place several years after the events of the original trilogy, with Marcus Fenix’s son and company battling a devastating new enemy.

What’s the eSports potential?

Immense, considering how Gears of War 3 is already an eSports hit. The fact that the game, in partnership with ESL, is premiering the Gears of War 4 competitive mode at PAX East this weekend alongside the Gears of War pro league season two finals, all but guarantees a future in eSports. Microsoft recently launched an open beta for Xbox Live Gold subscribers on Xbox One, which introduced a number of new modes such as Dodgeball mode where players can be recalled even after they’re killed. The response to the beta has been huge, indicating that Microsoft could have another hit on its hands. Pro Gears players are also likely to get involved in the mix, and while competitions may not be as popular as Halo tournaments right now, the franchise still has plenty of time to grow and catch on.

How The ‘War Dragons’ Ad Destroyed A Fake TV Show To Launch On Android

In the mobile game War Dragons, players collect and breed (as the title suggests) dragons to fly in and wreck opponents in real-time battles. Developed by Pocket Gems, the game released a year ago on iOS, and has since been climbing Apple’s top-grossing charts with its vibrant community fighting over 183 million battles and raising more than 13 million dragons so far. The game recently debuted on Android, and it has a very special TV commercial and related promotional campaign to mark the occasion.

Created by renowned animator, J.J. Sedelmaier (the mind behind Beavis and Butt-head; Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law; and the Saturday TV Funhouse bits on Saturday Night Live), the humorous tongue-in-cheek commercial pokes fun at the Saturday morning cartoon style from the ’90s era by introducing a fake children’s show called Dragon Days. The show ends up having a very short run, as the peaceful land and its happy inhabitants are attacked by ferocious 3D creatures from War Dragons.

“Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to contrast the children’s programming we all grew up watching with the intensity of the gaming realm?!” said Sedelmaier in a press release. “On top of that, this was a wonderful chance to combine two animation techniques that have been fighting each other for decades anyway.”

The joke goes even further with an official Dragon Days website, which showcases the cancelled episodes and fates of the fictional characters. It even has a link to the show’s theme song, written by Grammy Award winners Adam Schlesinger and Steven Gold, which is almost sure to get stuck in people’s heads.

Chris Luhur, director of performance marketing at Pocket Gems, talks to [a]listdaily about having a little fun with the War Dragons promotion at the expense of many cartoon dragons.

Chris LuhurHow did J.J. Sedelmaier become involved with creating the War Dragons ad?

Our agency, Wexley School for Girls, were the ones who facilitated that. Once we had nailed down the creative concept of having our 3D dragons obliterating these cute cartoon characters, we knew that it would mesh perfectly with J.J.’s style. Luckily, he was available and interested in working with us.

What inspired the idea to match up ’90s era cartoons with 3D fire-breathing dragons?

One of the reasons people love playing War Dragons is that they get to be in control of this massive army of savage-looking dragons. The game has everything from three-headed monsters to undead wyverns. We thought a great way to showcase how cool and brutal our dragons were was to contrast them against fluffier, happy dragons that you’d probably find in a ’90s cartoon. We knew the hypothetical meeting of these dragons probably wouldn’t go great, and thus the commercial idea was born.

How did you come up with the inclusion of

A fun part of creatives like this is looking at ways you can expand the universe that you’ve created. J.J. and Wexley did such an awesome job making the Dragon Days characters that we knew it would be a huge missed opportunity not to have some more fun with it. Along with the site, we also made an Instagram account for the show, a fake wiki and sent out a fake press release about the Dragon Days massacre.

Any advice for War Dragons players picking the game up for the first time on Android?

The War Dragons community is really awesome and welcoming. New players should definitely join a guild to learn from their team members. Our forums, social media and Twitch channel are also great resources for newer players.

The [a]list summit In 10 Minutes

The [a]list summit may be over, but it certainly delivered a wallop, with dozens of speakers delivering great presentations on a number of topics.

You can always catch the full coverage of the summit right here, but here are some of our favorite quotes from the event:

  • Mike Sepso, head of Activision Blizzard Media Networks and co-founder of Major League Gaming: “In the simplest terms, eSports is just competitive gameplay. It’s me playing you in Call of Duty, Counter-strike, or whatever your favorite game is. And just like football or basketball, there are professionals who do this, with professional broadcasts and professional broadcasters announcing the games. There are lots of amateurs trying to make it into the big leagues, and most importantly, there are millions of passionate fans who really love and engage with this as a sport and are really focused on the personalities behind the sport and drive it forward.” (His full recap can be found here.)
  • Andy Swanson, vice president of eSports for Twitch: “You can’t say ‘I want to market to eSports.’ You have to be more focused. What is the demographic you want to reach? What level of penetration do you want to have? You have to understand the content. You’re going to want to look for titles and communities that are similar.” (His panel can be found here.)
  • Dan Ciccone, managing director for rEvXP and agent for OpTic Gaming: “Don’t get hung up with a particular game. It’s the ‘typical geek culture’ aspect and lifestyle that’s appealing. Some of it is stereotypical, but their social lifestyle revolves around it. But don’t get too hung up on it.”
  • Rahul Sood, CEO of UNIKRN: “Brands have to be creative on how to leverage social as a platform. You have to get in front of this audience in a relevant way that is authentic because the gamers are very fickle.”
  • Matt West, director of content strategy for Ayzenberg: “How do we reach bigger people? Investment, structure, organization and align everything.”
  • Paula Batson, vice president of public relations and communication for YouNow: “The audience is demanding participation media. This is a new kind of media where viewers are contributing to the media, as well as the broadcaster. It’s not just a push medium. It’s a great way brands can get involved because 70 percent of users can interact. It’s ‘one to many’ that feels like ‘one to one.’” (Her presentation can be found here.)
  • Eric Gradman, co-founder and chief technology officer for Two Bit Circus: “Consumers now want to have an experience unlike anything they’ve seen, or had before. They want new and novel experiences. And they want to have a social media takeaway to share with their friends.” (His presentation can be found here.)

Be sure to check out all our coverage of the [a]list summit in the coming days!