Ad Blocking Rises To 419 Million Mobile Users

Desktop users are utilizing some form of ad blocking at a high rate, but now mobile users appeared to have surpassed them. PageFair has compiled a new report that details how much it’s being used.

With assistance from Priori Data, PageFair’s report explains a number of factors, mainly why it’s being used so much. “People are installing ad block for different reasons, many of which are indisputably valid,” the company noted. “If the open web is to survive, these reasons must be fundamentally addressed.”

The following statistics were included in the report:

  • At least 419 million people are using ad blocking services on smartphones. In fact, that number has eclipsed desktop ad blockers by nearly double, and it’s worldwide, with 36 percent of general smartphone users in the Asian Pacific blocking ads to some extent.
  • Overall, 22 percent of the world’s 1.9 billion smartphone users are blocking ads.
  • Ad blocking browsers have gained popularity, with 408 million people using them as of March 2016—a 90 percent growth (nearly double) from last year.
  • 5 million content blocking apps have been downloaded on iOS devices.
  • With 45 different ad blocking browsers available for download and iOS, a number of them provide users with options to save money on mobile data, a driving factor for downloading them in the first place.
  • Ad blocking services are becoming popular with some partners. In December 2015, ASUS partnered with AdBlock Plus to provide an ad blocking browser on 30 million new handsets for release this year.

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  • The country that uses ad blocking browsers the most is China, with 159 million users. India is close behind with 122 million. Meanwhile, only 2.3 million consumers use them in the United States.

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Several experts have taken note of the report, as well as its importance when it comes to mobile advertising.

“This research only amplifies our concern in the rise of ad blocking across digital media,” said Jason Kint, CEO for Digital Content Next. “The perception that all ads can be blocked is quickly becoming reality as awareness grows. Any channel of consumption is at risk at this point. We believe an industry-wide focus on creating a better consumer experience for the blocked web should be the first and only priority.”

“This new report highlights something we’ve been discussing in the industry for a while now: consumers are pushing back on mobile and online ads,” added Nancy Hill, CEO for 4A’s. “Now is the time for advertising professionals and marketers to take a hard look at ourselves to understand why consumers are not responding to these types of ads, and figure out how we can correct the issue to better engage with the consumers we’re trying to reach.”

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Nissan Teams With PlayStation For VR Racing Experience

This past weekend was huge for soccer fans, as they got to watch the UEFA Champions League Final. But those in attendance got an even bigger experience, this one in virtual reality.

The UEFA partnered with both Nissan and Sony to develop and host a virtual reality racing experience for fans to experience. Those that took part had a chance to get behind the (virtual) wheel with Nissan’s new 2017 GT-R, watch it drive through the streets of Milan, and feel the rush that the new vehicle delivers. Sony supplied the PlayStation VR devices used with the demo, which powered the GT-R racing experience while promoting the headset itself.

The demo was a huge highlight at the UEFA’s Fan Festival site, taking place in the Piazza Castello. It also gave them a taste of what they can expect from the PlayStation VR, which is expected to launch worldwide this October, with more details expected in a couple of week’s during Sony’s pre-E3 press conference.

Fans were able to not only cruise through the streets of Milan, but also the famous Autodromo Nazionale Monza race track, as well as the San Siro Stadium, where the Final took place. This allowed them to become even more immersed in the experience. In addition, another demo enabled them to fill the shoes of a Center Circle Carrier, holding a UEFA flag as he ran out onto the field.

The demo was a huge draw, and more than likely, we could see similar demonstrations using the PlayStation VR headset over the summer. Whether they’ll be as fast or as exciting as the GT-R demo has yet to be seen.

HyperX Exec Details NBA Star Gordon Hayward’s Headset Deal

HyperX, a division of Kingston Technology Company, has added NBA player Gordon Hayward to its roster of champion athletes. The Utah Jazz forward is the first athlete from traditional sports to promote HyperX headphones. Gordon will exclusively use HyperX gaming headsets, will be featured in marketing campaigns, regularly stream gaming sessions, conduct giveaways and make appearances for the brand starting today.

But the former Butler star isn’t a typical NBA star. He’s a huge gamer, having previously played Starcraft II professionally in the IGN Pro League when the NBA players were locked out in 2011, and Halo in pro tournaments prior to attending college.

HyperX currently sponsors hundreds of professional eSports players through its more than 30 organizational partnerships (including Intel Extreme Masters), but Gordon is the beginning of a new expansion for the company—one that echoes eSports’ growth overall—into a more mainstream audience.

Daniel Kelley, director of corporate marketing at HyperX, explains how this new strategy ties into the bigger convergence that’s going on between eSports and traditional sports in this exclusive interview.

Why did you decide to partner with Gordon Hayward?

We’re trying to go to wider audiences. We look at our core DNA in eSports and PC gaming—our lineup of products, from memory to SSDs—and they all work with that customer base.

At E3, the CloudX is our first officially licensed Xbox product, which opens up our audience to console gaming, but is still very rooted in eSports. We’re exploring ways to get into the competitive scene with Gears of War tournaments and talking to eSports teams with console-focused teams.

How do professional athletes tie into the eSports and gaming audience?

More and more people will see eSports over the coming months and years through deals like Turner broadcasting games on TBS. We work with MLG, ESL, and other leagues. As more professional athletes get involved in eSports, we see HyperX as being a crossover company. We see opportunity for traditional sports fans to fall in love with eSports. Gordon represents the ideal personality. He’s a pro basketball player, but he has a history of passionate gaming with League of Legends streams and playing games like Overwatch, Halo, and Call of Duty.

Approximately 90 percent of NBA players are gamers. What separates Gordon from the crowd?

A lot of professional athletes are gamers; some are casual and are some are more into it. Gordon has a unique story in that he was competing in Halo tournaments in high school and had to make sure his basketball coaches at Butler, where he won a scholarship, gave him permission to play. He’s a regular proponent and advocate for eSports and gaming. He has a great personality and likability. And he had some fun with LeBron James a few years ago with his “I’m the best in the world” at League of Legends Tweet and blog post. He’s the epitome of who we’re looking for. He has the respect of the NBA scene and the eSports scene, and a passion for eSports overall.

How do you see former NBA pros like Rick Fox and Shaq and NBA team owners like Andy Miller and Mark Cuban impacting eSports through their teams?

It’s all connected. A lot of the moves we’re making are seeing that bigger picture. We’re the official headset sponsor of Echo Fox and we like what Rick Fox is doing. He’s a strong personality in traditional sports, and he’s doing all the right things in eSports and taking care of young players. His team is coming in May 31st to a boot camp here.

Andy Miller’s NRG is another team we sponsor and they’ll be creating content with us in the next few weeks.

Is this deal with Gordon similar to LeBron James wearing Beats by Dre before an NBA game?

It’s similar to the traditional headphone maker sponsoring an athlete. Our unique take is he’s a professional basketball player and our headsets are versatile and you can take the mic off and use them in your everyday life. He’ll be doing some stuff on social media for us. We’ll be working with him to come to select events to sign autographs and do streaming sessions. We’ll be doing giveaways and contests. We’ll do some cool video content with him. His fans are from traditional sports teams, and he’ll allow us to introduce those fans to what we stand for in terms of quality and focus and dedication to the gaming customer.

How long is the deal?

It’s a year to start. It’s new territory for both of us. We’re looking at it as a long-term engagement, but will explore how to grow the partnership beyond the initial year.

Will the types of promotions we see with Gordon be similar to how you work with pro gamers?

We’ll do a lot of the same stuff we’d do for an eSports athlete, but with Gordon we’re hoping different customers will see this. Hopefully, eSports fans will also enjoy it and respect it and help share it.

Will Gordon be at E3?

He has a crazy schedule right now, so he won’t be able to make it. But there are a lot of events, like PAX and DreamHack, so there will be opportunities for him to appear during the summer and interact with fans and do content stuff.

Which headphones will we see him wearing?

He’ll eventually wear all of our headphones and gravitate to the ones he likes most. We have a lot of launches coming up and things we want to try. There’s the Cloud Revolver and the E3 launch of Cloud X. Those are the two primary ones he’ll wear to games and day-in and day-out. Those headphones have the same comfort and shape and quality of the Cloud 2. They all work across PC and mobile and console. As we introduce new headsets—and we have quite a few launching over the rest of the year—he’ll wear others.

Will Gordon be involved in offering insight for future headphones like you typically work with pro gamers on?

We want to make the best quality headset at a reasonable price for gamers. We’ve had success to date because we care about these professional athletes’ opinions. We have them test everything in the pipeline, so they can tweak things. I see Gordon falling into that same atmosphere. He’ll have opinions on what we send him and that all falls into the R&D pool. Any gamer spending so many hours a day gaming has valuable information. We keep that core focus on comfort and sound quality.

How will you look at future pro athlete endorsements for products?

We’re not just looking to sign any and all pro athletes. We really want to find those that do have an understanding or appreciation or passion in gaming as a prerequisite. We know that our headsets are comfortable for everyday use. We know that if we can satisfy the quality of a pro athlete, that can transfer to mainstream appeal. But traditional athletes need to have that passion and appreciation for what gaming is.

What role will traditional sports play for HyperX moving forward?

ESports is a bit of the tipping point of going mainstream. We’ve been active in the scene for a long time. Our roots and DNA are in eSports. As it catches the eye of traditional sports and more investors and teams and broadcast channels, we want to be in the thick of it. HyperX is an authentic brand for gamers.

Mark Cuban Explains Why The Mavericks Are Mashing Up With ‘Minecraft’

Mark Cuban is bringing Minecraft to his beloved Dallas Mavericks in a unique mashup that will let fans experience a scale model of the American Airlines Center in all of its blocky beauty.

“Mavs World” will allow visitors to unleash creativity and compete in basketball mini-games, as well as participate in building contests. The unprecedented partnership was announced with the mega-popular Mineplex, one of the largest Minecraft servers in the world. It will launch later this summer, and will be free for all players.

Cuban saw the collaboration with Minecraft as a unique way of approaching and supporting education not only in Dallas, but on a global scale, too.

“It was pretty obvious that [Minecraft] was exploding, particularly among younger kids,” Cuban told [a]listdaily in an exclusive interview. “No one in the sports world had created a connection for fans. I saw it as a great opportunity for the Mavs to connect to, and create new fans.”

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Cuban is a big believer in exploring and learning the fundamentals of computer science through Minecraft for both adults and children alike, especially with his six-year-old son Jake. Microsoft, which acquired Minecraft in 2014 for $2.5 billion, released the Education Edition, designed specifically for the classroom, earlier this January. There are even applications like 3D Sunshine that reimagine Minecraft through virtual reality.

But as is the case with any deal for the shark investor, there is business to be done as well. Cuban also identified the building game that boasts 3 million active users at any given minute as a proper move that positions him well in the sports spectrum, too.

With servers in both the United States and Europe, Mineplex hosts millions of unique users every month. It even has Mineplex Competitive League for players like uber-popular YouTube influencer Jordan Maron—also known as Captain Sparklez.

When asked if the merge with Minecraft puts his NBA franchise at the forefront of the league’s tech movement—highlighted by its foray into virtual reality—Cuban smiles and says: “We are always there. I try to push the Mavs and the NBA into new fronts, whether it’s Minecraft, biometrics, analytics, and more to come. We look for any edge we can get.”

Hardcore video gamers and sports fans generally have little in common, and the recent eSports boom—which Cuban has millions invested in—has made reaching the gaming audience crucial. However, Cuban believes sports teams don’t have to acquire them because “there are plenty of fans of both.”

“The real connection will come when NBA [2K] get competitive and professional,” he says.

In the meantime, the fully immersive recreation of the Mavs’ home arena, which users have dabbled with in the past, will serve as a stride to unite a generation of video gamers and basketball fans into the same space. How, exactly?

“Because anything that is fun, is fun,” Cuban simply states.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

How ‘Galaxy On Fire 3: Manticore’ Will Set The Mobile Gaming Universe Ablaze

With the Galaxy on Fire series, mobile gamers take to the reaches of deep space to trade or combat other ships in the name of fame, fortune and adventure. Featuring beautiful, high-end graphics, and an open world where players are free to pursue the life of a mercenary, trader, smuggler and more, it’s little wonder why the series has so many fans. The series will soon offer an all-new adventure with Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore, which will put players into the roles of hard-hitting bounty hunters going after the galaxy’s most wanted criminals in a hazardous fringe world called the Neox Sector. The game is expected to release later this summer and is currently taking closed beta sign-ups.

A prequel called Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore Rising, which introduces players to the story, setting and characters, launched exclusively for Apple TV last year. Fans can also get a taste of what Manticore will have to offer mobile gamers by checking out the recently released a 360-degree trailer that spectacularly details what it’s like to play the game.

Michael Krach, head of studio at Deep Silver FISHLABS, talks to [a]listdaily about what it takes to navigate through the mobile gaming space.

Michael Krach, Deep Silver FISHLABS head of studio

What is Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore about?

Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore is a mobile space shooter with high-end 3D graphics and intense action gameplay. It takes place in the Neox Sector, a newfound El Dorado on the outskirts of known space. There, the players take over the roles of hard-hitting bounty hunters dead-set to take down the galaxy’s most wanted criminals.

By establishing a connected online space that is constantly in flux, Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore puts an entire universe in your pocket. And although that universe will already be huge by the time the game launches, it will be constantly expanded in the months and years to come. We really have big plans for this game!

What inspired the creation of the 360-degree video trailer?

One aspect of Galaxy on fire 3: Manticore that we are particularly proud of is the complexity and vastness of the levels. The space stations and other structures are not only gigantic in size, but also organic parts of the orbits they are located in. You can approach them, traverse them and even dash through their ramifications. And while you do so, you discover a heap of details.

For us, 360 videos are the perfect medium to put our opulent level designs on display—since the viewers can change the camera angle at whim, they can explore the surroundings meticulously.

How close is the trailer to playing the actual game?

So far, all 360-videos we have seen of video games showed “artificial” pre-rendered scenes. They are fun to watch, but they do not give you an authentic impression of the actual gameplay. Our video is different. Nothing in there is staged—we maneuvered the spaceship by hand and the enemies behaved as they would in a normal play session.

Okay, we used an emulator on the PC and not a smartphone to record the video’s source footage. But still, everything you see in it is 100 percent as it is in the mobile game—the graphics, the physics, the sounds, the level, the mission and so on.

Galaxy on Fire: Manticore Rising is currently an Apple TV exclusive. Will it eventually come to other platforms?

As the prequel to Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore, the Apple exclusive Manticore Rising introduces the new game world and gives its players a first impression of what the “main game” will look like. But in terms of scope and depth it is much, much smaller than the upcoming mobile app. We are very proud that Manticore Rising made it onto an all-new gaming platform as a day-one title. But we do currently not have plans to port it to additional systems. Our focus lies on the release of Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore.


What are the challenges in promoting a game in the increasingly crowded mobile market, even one that’s as expansive as Galaxy on Fire?

You said it yourself: The mobile market is incredibly crowded and getting your app seen by a significant amount of people is a tough nut. With Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore we have an established IP that stands out, and after more than 10 years in the business, we know our trade very well. These factors help a little, but they are no guarantee that the app will take off.

Since we cannot compete with heavyweights like Supercell or Machine Zone [MZ] on the paid UA market, we constantly have to challenge ourselves to find alternate ways to create buzz and eyeballs for our titles: Tap into new channels, show exceptional assets, offer genuinely new gameplay, interact closely with our community and always give 120 percent rather than 95.

Have you given any thought to developing Galaxy on Fire for mobile VR devices such as the Samsung Gear VR or the recently announced Daydream platform?

Of course, we keep a keen eye on the market and follow new developments, such as VR, with great interest. VR definitely has tremendous potential, but at the moment we have no concrete plans to use it in the next Galaxy on Fire game.

Atari Partners With Sigfox For New Line Of Connected Devices

Video game legend Atari has announced a strategic partnership with Internet of Things provider Sigfox to develop a line of new connected devices.

According to Sigfox, the world will soon see a “wide range of new Atari products, from the very simple to the highly sophisticated.” The first Atari-branded products will be designed for home, pets, lifestyle and safety. The press release did not reveal any specific details, so fans of the iconic video game brand will just have to use their imagination for now. Development of the new product line will begin this year. Sigfox specializes in providing an internet network for the IoT and currently operates in 18 countries, registering over 7 million devices, and allowing Atari to connect their branded devices worldwide.

“Atari, which has disruption rooted in their DNA, was quick to envision the transformative role that the IoT can play in interactive entertainment,” said Sigfox CEO, Ludovic Le Moan in a press release. “Our network bridges the virtual and physical worlds simply, reliably and inexpensively and this collaboration will launch a new dimension to gaming, while supporting features that are limited only by the imagination.”

IoT, for the uninitiated, is the wireless internet connection between objects across the world. This technology as been available for decades—from ATMs in 1974 to Google’s self-driving cars, but has increased in popularity with the availability of internet as it gains accessibility and affordability across the world. Analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices. The IoT market is expected to grow to $151 billion by 2020, according to market researcher Research and Markets. That includes infrastructure, software, processors, sensors and other tech.

During this year’s Samsung Developer Conference, the company announced Artik Cloud, a cloud service specifically made for connecting IoT devices. Meanwhile, Intel is investing in IoT, despite company-wide cutbacks.

“We think this is going to grow to 50 billion devices and trillions of dollars of economic impact,” Doug Davis, senior vice president of IoT, told VentureBeat in a recent interview. “It will change the way we live and work. As we go out talking, we see more companies investing in it. We are making a transformation from a PC-oriented company to one that powers things that are connected to the cloud and everything necessary to make that happen.”

Lucid VR Founder Explains How New Studio Is Helping Brands Navigate VR

Lucid VR has a $400 consumer 180-degree 4K camera launching this December, but the company is already working with brands such as Sephora and schools like UC Berkeley through its new Lucid Studios. The new commercial virtual reality production service arm of Lucid VR was announced today at Computex in Taipei. The studio is filming 180-degree and 360-degree video content with the pocket-sized LucidCam, which made its debut recently at the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) trade show in Las Vegas.

Lucid VR recently raised $2.1 million to ramp up its manufacturing and shipment operations, advance its computer vision technology, and build distribution partnerships. The company also signed a partnership agreement with Wistron Corporation, a top five global ODM (original design manufacturer) based in Taiwan.

Han Jin, CEO of Lucid VR, explains how his new company is helping brands navigate the new virtual reality marketplace in this exclusive interview.

How does this camera differ from the wave of affordably priced 360-degree cameras we’ve seen announced since CES this year (once you add the two cameras together for 360)?

All the 360-degree pocket-sized VR cameras are all 2D and 30 frames per second, which means in VR you will be looking only at a flat screen. Also 30 frames per second sets you far from what your mobile phone runs (60 frames per second) with Google Cardboard and VR headsets run (up to 120 frames per second). The frame difference can cause delays in frame updates on the screen and make videos look choppy.

The main challenge for anyone shooting in 360-degrees today is post-production editing and stitching. What’s that process like for this camera?

360 3D’s challenge is post production, whereas LucidCam processes in real-time. No post, but instantly capture, process and view.

Why did you choose to focus on 180-degrees as a base instead of 360-degrees?

Stereoscopic 3D has the best depth in 180-degrees because lenses are perfectly aligned like the human eyes. And due to not having stitching seams, the viewing experience is smoother.

Why did you decide to launch Lucid Studios?

Lucid Studios gives us a great way to work with partners and beta testers early on, since hardware takes lots of time to manufacture. By staying continuously engaged with the content creation side, we can identify challenges early, improve our technology faster, and educate the market for LucidCam.

What does this company open up for brands interested in virtual reality?

Lucid Studios opens up opportunities for partners and brands to experiment fast in VR content creation. Easy content creation and faster turnaround times lead to more content, more iterations, more learning, and ultimately allows them to identify what resonates with their audience and generate more value for them.

How are you working with Sephora and other brands through Lucid Studios?

Some of this work is confidential so we can’t go into details about all of our clients, but we worked with Sephora for their store launch in San Franciso and we’re working with other retailers on product placements, store outlays, and training scenarios.

Since some of these VR projects are directed for internal and some for external audiences, we provide the experiences either through our app—but locked from public view—or through the brands’ websites, or on YouTube with our web plug-in.

We even brainstormed about use cases for users to capture their room and place IKEA furniture into it to see the fit and size before going to buy the actual furniture.

How do you see things evolving in this space?

We’ve thought about game development applications. Instead of developing a 3D environment using code, you could capture real 3D environment and use it for rapid game development within minutes.

There are way more opportunities and valuable applications than what we can imagine, but the depth and peripheral spatial caption does not only provide distances, object sizes, and position, but also a representation of how we humans see the world—moving away from the flat images and videos of the past.

How big a focus will retailers and brands be for Lucid Studios?

Brands and retailers occupy a higher percentage of our focus as of now, but we also work with universities, individual producers, and many other content creators. As long as we are aligned and create real tangible value together through VR, we are open to working together.

How big a market do you see VR becoming for brands?

Right now brands have been one of the early adopters of VR for marketing and promotional content. However, there is so much more value to capture through VR content. If content production takes so much time and resources, then it will take forever until the market becomes big. With Lucid Studios, we believe in accelerating that learning and taking the market to the next level.

How are you working with UC Berkeley?

The UC Berkeley Department of Recreational Sports is using Lucid Studios to create five or six sports team videos using the VR from a first-person perspective. Lucid Studios is also creating a UC Berkeley campus tour in immersive VR for the department. These videos will all be introduced at Caltopia event at Cal in August.

What impact do you see LucidCam having on the Hollywood and television industries?

It can become a low-end disruption for expensive Hollywood productions, making it way more agile to film and produce content for VR. Last year, we won the Lumiere’s Award from the Advanced Imaging Society at Paramount Studios for new technologies to disrupt the entertainment industry. We were right next to Nokia and JauntVR.

We’ve seen Hollywood studios work with Nokia Ozo and now IMAX in the VR space early on. What opportunities does Lucid open up for filmmakers?

“Found footage” is a great way for filmmakers to tell a story from a first-person perspective and build up tension in a movie, since they can frame and keep things out of the viewers eyesight.

With 180-degree 3D, you can enable a totally different way of VR content storytelling, similar to what previous filmmakers have done in movies such as Hardcore Henry and Project Almanac.

Hollywood has stuck with short format content to date. What length of content is Lucid Studios aiming for and is there feature-length storytelling on the docket?

Lucid Studios supports any length of content, but as we help the industry experiment and create previews, a large amount of our content is short form.




Sshhh—Don’t Tell Anyone, But Marketing Is Ending Game Secrecy

One of the biggest changes in the games industry over the last decade has been the change in game development from an utterly Top Secret process to a completely open process. While some long-time console game publishers still stick with old never-tell-anyone-anything philosophy about games in development, many newer publishers and developers are doing just the opposite: revealing their games as completely as possible even before development begins. In fact, that’s part of what has made crowdfunding so popular.

There’s a range of secrecy at work in the games industry. The classic game development process for big game publishers has been to conceive of game ideas, approve them and begin development without ever revealing to anyone outside the company that work is underway. Only until the game was perhaps less than a year away would the company admit to working on it. Then there would be a very tightly controlled series of information releases and press events, culminating in a grand reveal a month or two before launch. The idea was to provide retailers enough time to see the marketing for the game begin, and gauge signs of public enthusiasm, in order to place orders. Additionally, advertising would be timed to coincide with the retail appearance, as would feature reviews and interviews with the game creators.

That process perhaps made sense when the games industry revolved around retail sales, and there weren’t very many games being produced (perhaps one or two major games a month for most of the year). Now, though, we are inundated with games on the largest number of game-playing platforms the world has ever seen. Hundreds or thousands of new games appear every week. The main challenge for most game makers is to get some attention in this ocean of games, and to somehow attract an audience while existing games are putting out new content and making new efforts to keep their audience focused on the games they already play.

Let’s examine the other end of the secrecy spectrum, best exemplified by crowdfunded games. In that case, a developer or publisher has to reveal as much as possible about the game in order to get potential customers excited about it. Working demos are often used, too, as well as concept art or even some near-finished art. The prospective audience has to be excited by the idea of the game, believe that it will be fun, and believe that this team can actually carry out what they’re promising. So crowdfunding is a process that demands revealing most, if not all, of the key details of the game.

Similarly, crowdfunding is also a test of the game’s marketing strategy. When you describe the game, you’re road-testing some of the phrases and terms you might use to market the game later on. You’re also selecting which features of the game you think will be most compelling for customers in order to put together your crowdfunding pitch. Of course, one of the best parts about crowdfunding is that you very quickly discover which game features attract attention and which don’t, and what marketing phrases work and which don’t. Hopefully you put in enough compelling material to get the funding needed despite some bad choices, which you can correct along the way.

A crowdfunded game gives up secrecy for the entire development process. While actual code doesn’t get revealed, the development team needs to share progress with the backers, and talk about the ongoing design decisions that are being made. Sometimes the crowd will weigh in on design decisions, and the answers may not be what the development team expected. For instance, early in the Star Citizen development process Chris Roberts asked the backers to rate the importance of various types of game play, so he could focus on the most important parts first. Roberts thought that ship-to-ship combat would be the favorite, since that’s what the basic pitch of the game was. However, with over 10,000 responses, Roberts saw that about two-thirds of the backers wanted exploration as the most important feature of the game, and combat was second. This led to a major shuffle in how development resources were being allocated.

Similarly, marketing strategies are tried out early in the crowdfunding process, and then refined as feedback comes in. Abandoning secrecy means that both game development and game marketing can benefit from idea testing against the audience of the most interested future customers.

Many games now have much more openness in the development and marketing process than ever before. We’re seeing many open betas being conducted in order to test out server code and the robustness of the game design under large-scale, real-world conditions. But make no mistake—an open beta for a game like Doom is also a wonderful marketing opportunity, letting a large number of players get their hands on the game and whet their appetites for the finished product. Yes, there’s a risk that players will find bugs (which they expect) or they may not like aspects of the game (which can sometimes be fixed before launch).

With mobile games, the concept of secrecy has been shredded even more. A typical mobile game from medium to large publisher will soft-launch in smaller countries before launching in major markets. Testing in Canada or New Zealand may even go on for months as a publisher tests and refines monetization and marketing strategies, and tries to ensure that a game will do very well when it launches into major markets like the USA and China. Sometimes games never make it out of soft-launch, when a publisher determines it just can’t figure out how to make the game achieve sufficient profitability. Yet, during this whole process, the game is right there for everyone to see and play—before it gets launched officially in most countries.

There are still some examples of games that successfully use secrecy to boost enthusiasm, as with the very successful Fallout 4 launch last year. Only vague rumors about the game had existed during its years-long development process, at least until a very successful E3 rollout leading up to blockbuster sales. Of course, Bethesda was working with a well-established franchise that already had an enthusiastic audience, so mere mention of the title was enough to get people into a frenzy of anticipation.

Marketing should embrace the idea of greater openness about games under development. Getting an audience excited early is more useful than ever in this age of game abundance. The feedback you get can be crucial to making a game successful. For games that you intend to profit from for years, it makes sense to establish the game’s presence in the market as early as possible.

WorldViz Exec Explains How VR Is Changing Business

WorldViz has been working with enterprise businesses for the past decade on “warehouse-scale” motion tracking in virtual reality. This June, the company is adding Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 and Unity Technologies’ Unity 5 support to its Precision Position Tracking (PPT) system, which opens up support for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR and Google’s Daydream VR.

The technology tracks up to 10 people or objects simultaneously across spaces measuring more than 50 x 50 meters with real-time, sub-millimeter accuracy. High-precision cameras that capture position data and lightweight sensors can be affixed to headsets such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Daydream VR, or objects such as robots, while a sensor wand tracks hands.

WorldViz is currently working with 1,500 Fortune 500 companies in the VR space, including research, architectural and real estate walk-throughs, large-scale product and construction design reviews (e.g. planes, cars, interior building spaces, etc) and training applications.

Peter Schlueer, president and co-founder of WorldViz, explains how this technology is already transforming the business and enterprise sectors in this exclusive interview.

What opportunities have you seen for businesses in virtual reality over the years?

WorldViz has been working with B2B VR for Fortune 500 companies since 2002, long before the current headsets, input devices and software came around. We’ve found that VR can bring significant value to businesses in the areas of industrial, engineering and architectural design, industrial training, high-end sports training, as well as product and events marketing, just to name a few.

What impact have new consumer VR headsets had on businesses exploring VR?

Goldman Sachs recently reported that the VR market will grow significantly in the next five years, with two-thirds of that growth happening in the enterprise and public sectors. That growth is due in large part to the consumer VR headsets. In other words, the unprecedented hype around consumer VR is beginning to make it clear to businesses that VR is the next-generation computing platform. VR will transform every single industry in one way or another. Businesses at the forefront of innovation have made the leap already and have started internal VR departments. We’ve been helping those departments create and deploy a range of VR applications, and we see that demand growing.

How do you see Google’s Daydream impacting the business VR world once it launches?

With Daydream, Google is admitting Cardboard for what it is and going full-bore into the world of compelling VR hardware. But more importantly, Daydream launches an ecosystem that opens the doors for smartphone vendors and application builders to provide serious mobile VR apps.

What do video game engines like Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5 open up for businesses exploring VR?

Unreal and Unity are especially useful when the demand for graphics quality and dynamic lighting are high. For example, in automotive or architectural design review or marketing presentations, where photorealism can make all the difference, Unreal and Unity can play a very important role.

How have you worked with Epic Games and Unity Technologies on this project?

Both Epic and Unity have been very supportive of bringing our precision-tracking system to their customers. For instance, we’re working closely with Epic’s team of ensure that the plug-in is as easy to use as possible. Both Unreal and Unity are excellent choices for developers and we look forward to helping our customers make the right choices for their specific requirements.

What does your wide-area motion-tracking open up for business and enterprise clients?

Often with industry, one is dealing with large objects, such as cars, or airplanes, or architectural spaces. Being able to walk in VR is huge because it empowers multi-user collaboration with a 1:1 scale movement. Imagine our client Lockheed Martin doing a full-scale aircraft prototype review, or our client Siemens taking clients through design alternatives of a train car interior. Being able to naturally walk through and around large objects creates a whole new sense of presence and realism.

What are some examples of how companies are using this technology today?

Our client Turner Construction is displacing physical mock-ups with virtual mock-ups in the hospital design process, saving 90 percent in mock-up costs. As The Center for Health Design found in a study: “With WorldViz tech including PPT wide-area tracking, they are immersing physicians, nurses and hospital administrators in a virtual operating theater, letting them walk around in various design alternatives at full-scale. The user can add, move or delete objects and design features such as flooring or walling in real-time. This brings decision making power straight to the people who need it very early in the design process.”

Our client Premursa uses our VR technologies to service Paramount Pictures theme park designs. Premursa has reliably demonstrated that immersive design reviews save their clients money, speed project timelines and improve decision-making. Since our technology is flexible and portable, Premursa can pack up the client presentation system and take it to a remote location anywhere in the world to give hands-on, compelling demonstrations to potential partners and customers.

ASML, the maker of advanced microlithography systems, uses our wide-area VR technology for training engineers on maintenance procedures. ASML installations are typically unique per site, highly complex and often warehouse-scale. Maintenance operators must be highly trained to avoid costly damage to the delicate machinery. Prior to embracing virtualized training methods, ASML customers would incur high costs while shutting down production to accommodate in situ training needs. With our VR technology, virtual in situ training is now equally effective for much of the requirements and provides high value to the end clients.

Based on how quickly VR has evolved of late, what role do you see VR playing for businesses over the next five years?

While we agree that VR will be the next-generation computing platform, it’ll mostly impact businesses by becoming the next-generation communication platform. The question is not if VR can improve communication, speed decision-making and enhance teamwork, rather—the question is how soon. The recent consumerization of the displays are accelerating this schedule and widening its adoption, and we’re confident we’ll see significant use of VR as a core communication method in business within five years.

What are the advantages of using VR technology for business over AR technology?

AR and VR are a continuum, and we’ve provided solutions across this continuum over the course of our business. But to answer the question more directly, a chief advantage of AR is retained situational awareness, meaning it doesn’t block all visual and auditory cues of the real environment as can happen with VR. This is important because in business it’s sometimes more efficient to balance between the use of real humans and real props and virtual, digital assets. AR can sometimes achieve that balance best, though not without high technical hurdles.

How Brands and Music Streaming Networks Are Working Together

Music streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora continue to draw in millions of listeners on a daily basis. With that, brands are getting more involved with them, with marketers finding new ways to become integrated with the networks and make brands more noticeable.

Spotify has launched the latest initiative by announcing that marketers could sponsor the company’s owned-and-operated playlists for millions of followers. With this move, brands now have more options available, aside from curating a Spotify playlist. Now, through marketing, brands can reach out to specific types of audiences, according to Spotify’s VP-global head of sales, Brian Benedik.

These playlists, which range from Monday Morning Commute to Teen Party, have a massive outreach, according to Benedik. More than one billion streams are activated per week, and the top playlist has 8.3 million followers.

But brands have been building up this leverage for some time, partnering with music streaming services for mutual benefits. For instance, Pandora teamed up with Mazda to integrate its application into its latest car models, including the 2016 Mazda CX-3 and CX-9.

Marketers have also become more involved in creating ideal playlists that match up with their brands’ style. Bravo, for example, partnered with Spotify back in 2013 to produce DJ playlists based on shows like The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Thicker Than Water; T-Mobile partnered with Pandora for a Music Genome Project that analyzes songs based on consumer characteristics; and Toyota produced a playlist called Toyota Session on Pandora, complete with interviews and video performances from key artists.

Google also took on music marketing in its own way, working on a number of brand partnerships with its Google Play Music ad-supported player. Through its partnership with Essence, it managed to attract a number of brands, including Munchery and ASOS.

Munchery’s partnership put together playlists by popular chefs based around particular meals or recipes, thus leaving fans literally hungry for more.


As for ASOS, it put together a digital shopping magazine focusing on gatherings and other fun summer events, with Google-curated playlists relating to the activities on each page, adding a personal touch to the content.

While the integration of brands into music services might have some worried that they’ll become ad-laden as a result, Spotify wrote a blog post  to help alleviate those concerns. It noted how music streamers have come to embrace brands, noting, “Streamers are twice as likely as non-streamers to advocate for and feel emotionally connected to brands.” Music playlists go a long way into proving this, but with this new sponsorship announcement, it can get even closer to them.

Spotify also notes the following statistics comparing streamers to non-streamers:

  • Streamers are twice as likely to pay more for brands.
  • 61 percent of streamers are more likely to recommend brands to a friend.
  • 74 percent of streamers are more likely to describe a brand as “the only brand for me.”
  • 70 percent of streamers are more likely to describe a brand as fun and playful.

That’s not to say that brands will be immediately accepted with music services. They have to earn that trust based on the playlists and the right level of sponsorship, and not through pop-up ads that are likely to turn consumers off. Fortunately, music services are presenting a number of options to allow for smoother integration—and that could mean stronger results for all parties involved, including brands, the services themselves, and their listeners.