How Samsung Is Encouraging VR Content Creation

Considering how well the affordable Samsung Gear VR is selling on the market, it’s no surprise that the company wants to get more people involved with content for it.

The manufacturer has introduced a new program called Samsung Creators, one in which will help educate and inspire filmmakers and influencers alike when it comes to creating content for virtual reality. Launching alongside the rebranded Samsung VR service, Creators is meant to assist with producing programming, including films and shows.

"AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12:  Festival goers experience Samsung Gear VR at The Samsung Studio at SXSW 2016 on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Samsung)"

And for those concerned they don’t have the proper tools for the job, Samsung is helping out there as well with the ability to purchase its Gear 360 virtual reality camera at VidCon later this week, where it will be selling for $350. Those that don’t have a chance to make the event, however, will still have a chance to obtain the camera, as the company works toward a general launch sometime later this year.

Even with the limited launch at the event the camera is expected to be snapped up quickly and put to proper use by those interested in producing content. Expectations for both the new program and gear are going through the roof, based upon the popularity of the Gear VR headset. More than one million people have already used it since its launch, and it’s expected to be a major part of the overall VR market, which is expected to reach $40 billion by 2020.

Content creation has always been a major focus for the company. It was a notion further hammered home in on our interview with Samsung chief marketing officer Marc Mathieu last month. “The marketer’s job in the digital age has become the easiest job in the world. You don’t need to do anything anymore. You just need to [put it in the hands of the people] and let them do it for you,” Mathieu explained. “People are dying to do marketing for you if you give them a 360 camera to create content. Why would we want to do marketing when we have the technology platform that a lot of people want to embrace, share and talk about?”


President Tim Baxter had plenty to add with his own [a]listdaily interview earlier in the year. “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 said. “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.”

Between both the debut of its camera to the market (even on a limited basis) and the new Creators program, Samsung seems to be headed in a much more devoted direction with VR content. We’ll see how it all pans out—and just when the camera will be available to the public—in the months ahead.

Is E3 Still Relevant? Marketers Say “Yes”

Last week, it became apparent that E3 as an event was in a state of transformation. Not only is the definition of “electronic entertainment” being redefined to encompass virtual and augmented reality, but the once hallowed industry-only walls were being broken down by an urgent need to reach the community which supports it. Via livestreaming, EA Play and E3 Live, E3 is becoming gradually more open to the pubic to ensure its relevancy.

The question of E3’s continued relevancy had been on a lot of people’s minds—so much so that Kotaku even penned “People Sure Like Asking If E3 Is Still Relevant“—which is basically a compilation of articles much like this one. Naturally curious, we set out to ask marketers at E3 why they were there and why E3 is critical to them. As it turns out, there are a lot of passionate proponents of E3’s importance and influence.

“E3 has certainly evolved and I think we’ll continue to see more evolution and more change. How we market and how we put together games 10 years ago is not the same as what we do now,” said Candace Brenner, senior director of global marketing at Daybreak. “I think that’s why E3 is adding that element of consumer because they realize how vital our players are to the fabric of the industry.”


8 Games That Showed Off Open Worlds With Style

If there’s one statement that was often heard repeated at last week’s E3, it was how games were featuring worlds that were bigger than ever before. It seems as though almost every major publisher showcased an open world game, with a vast land for players to fully lose themselves in. Even Bethesda, still enjoying the success of last year’s release of Fallout 4, announced the upcoming release of Skyrim Special Edition—a fully remastered version of the 2013 game for current consoles and PC.

Huge games need an equally big presentation, and here’s how some of the most expansive games were shown to the world.

Battlefield 1

Although Battlefield single-player campaigns have historically been straightforward stories, with little opportunity to explore, the upcoming addition to the series deserves a mention. EA made a big show of Battlefield 1‘s dynamic game systems during its EA Play press event last week. The game promises to focus on three distinct pillars that make up the Battlefield experience: destruction, dynamic weather, and a variety of weapons and vehicles. These guarantee that no two matches ever play quite the same way. So, even though Battlefield 1 probably won’t be an open world game in a technical sense, no one is going to remember that when they’re flying a behemoth—a massive war zeppelin—around.

To fully demonstrate how large the game is, a 64-player multiplayer match was livestreamed at the press conference’s conclusion. Attendees joined celebrities Jamie Foxx and Zack Efron in trying the game for the first time from the EA Play floor.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands

With hits like the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry series, it’s probably safe to say that Ubisoft loves developing open world games more than any other company. This is evidenced by how there were three upcoming open-world games showcased at its E3 press event last week, not counting the two The Division expansions, the puzzle-oriented Grow Up, or the brutal melee combat of For Honor. Chief among them was Ghost Recon: Wildlands, which boasts the largest world Ubisoft has ever created.

Ubisoft emphasized the real world influences that went into developing Wildlands, with Dominic Butler, lead game designer at Ubisoft Paris, explaining to viewers that, “In Bolivia, the coca leaf is core to the culture. It’s found in every gas station, every hospital, and every town square.” Then he showed a lengthy gameplay demonstration video, where four players came to together to execute a mission. They needed multiple vehicles, including a helicopter, to traverse the vast landscape. E3 attendees were invited to try the game out for themselves from the show floor to help build up anticipation for the game when it launches next year.

Watch Dogs 2

Watch Dogs 2 is a game that’s so big that it took two separate events to showcase what it has to offer. The first was a livestreaming debut, where viewers were introduced to the new hacker’s playground: San Francisco. It also introduced the new main character, Marcus Holloway, and the tools he has at his disposal to take control of the city’s electronics. Considering how San Francisco is considered to be one of the country’s largest tech hubs, there’s a lot to play with.

The second presentation was at the Ubisoft pre-E3 press conference, where host Aisha Tyler’s introduction was “interrupted” by a hacker who took over the lights and screens. The hacker’s message transitioned straight into a quick recap of some of the features introduced during the livestream, followed by a mission demonstration. Furthermore, Jim Ryan, Sony’s president of global sales and marketing, took to the Ubisoft stage to remind audiences that a Watch Dogs movie was in the works, showing that the world is just too big for one type of medium. He also announced that PS4 players will have access to all Watch Dogs 2 DLC 30-days before they released for other platforms.

Considering how Assassin’s Creed fans will be treated to a movie in lieu of a game release this year, Watch Dogs 2 may be than enough to satisfy the need for an open world adventure when it releases this fall.


Extreme sports come to life like never before in the newly announced game, Steep. Inspired by the Alps, players can take on snowboarding, skiing and wingsuit challenges, compete with other players in events, and take in the snowy mountaintop view.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda was first introduced to the world in 1986, and it is arguably one of the first open world games. Now Nintendo wants to recapture that sense of adventure with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Reggie Fils-Aimé, president and COO of Nintendo of America described the game as “one of the biggest experiences ever created by Nintendo,” and the company practically dedicated its entire E3 presence to showing it off.

Of all the games shown at E3 last week, Breath of the Wild was perhaps the one game with that left the biggest impression. That’s because its 30,000 square foot booth was designed as a real world recreation of Hyrule, the game’s setting. This included real grass on the ground, the smell of pine, and other ambient features to fully immerse attendees into the world. Meanwhile, Nintendo played Breath of the Wild for all three days of E3 on a livestreams, so that online viewers could get a look at what the game has to offer. Even with all that was shown, the E3 presentation was only a small part of what players can explore when the game releases next year.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Featuring multiple solutions to practically every situation, the Deus Ex features choice and creativity as a critical part of its gameplay. Players need to figure the best way to navigate dark vision of the future by solving missions with combat or stealth, using a variety of cybernetic augmentations, weapons and gadgets. Among some of the announcements made during a livestream broadcast a week before E3, the developers at Eidos Montreal revealed the city hub where players would spend much of their time.

Furthermore, Square Enix’s booth was augmented using robotic arms. A person named Daniel Melville wore the world’s first Deus Ex-inspired prosthetic arm (created by Open Bionics), and he showed it off to attendees. Furthermore, attendees could control a separate robot arm contained in a transparent box using the Razer Stargazer motion-sensing camera.

Mafia III

One of the biggest themes of this year’s E3 was bringing the game worlds to life. That’s exactly what 2K did by recreating a 1960s-themed New Orleans-inspired block on the show floor to promote Mafia III. The publisher also revealed story and gameplay from the open world organized crime game to get viewers to pre-order the game.

Pokémon GO

Perhaps it’s cheating to include an augmented reality game, but when you think about it, the real world is about as big and open as it gets. Players will be encouraged to go outside and explore far outside of their neighborhoods with their mobile devices to “catch” all the Pokémon hiding out there when the game releases next month. The developer, Niantic, has stated that the game is designed to get players active and take in the world around them. It’s a task that will become even simpler when the Pokémon GO Plus accessory launches sometime later, which will let users catch Pokémon without having to pull their phones out.

Pokémon GO is currently undergoing field testing across multiple countries, and developers—including the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto from Nintendo—demonstrated the game live from the E3 show floor.


A Picture Tells A Thousand Words: Instagram Ad Spending Increases

Instagram is quickly becoming ad spending’s new Cinderella, and it’s no wonder. The photo-sharing app exceeds 500 million users and shares access to Facebook’s pool of three million advertisers who have the option to extend Facebook ad campaigns to Instagram. Ad targeting is improved by a user’s age, gender and interest data on Facebook, allowing brands to connect with their target audience directly. Since May, advertisers now have access to carousel ads, which is already being utilized by the likes of Samsung, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Showtime, who used thesel ads to promote the second season of Penny Dreadful.

Instagram Showtime Ads

recent report by automated advertising platform Nanigans demonstrates Instagram’s continued growth as an ad platform for mobile game developers. According to the report, eCommerce and gaming represent the two dominant verticals among Nanigan’s clients advertising on Instagram. In April, 54 percent of Nanigans’ clients who advertised on Facebook also spent on Instagram, and top-spending eCommerce brands have collectively driven 62 percent higher return on Instagram ad spend. (Comparing August through October 2015 and February through April 2016.) It’s not just that more companies are spending on the social platform, they’re also spending more money in general—average campaign spend was up 29 percent between February and April.

This month Instagram implemented a full-width, call to action (CTA) button below an ad’s photo or video, replacing the overlay behavior and prior CTA design. “Instagram found that a majority of ad clicks occurred not on the overlay, but on the CTA button itself, which now highlights in blue upon tapping an ad’s image,” Nanigans reports. “This new behavior further confirms a person’s intent to click through to a website, mobile app, or app store. When someone first clicks directly on the CTA button, their intent is clear and they are driven offsite.”

Communicating through images is a primal and universally understood method of storytelling, as taught by the adage, “a picture tells a thousand words.” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom attributes this fact to overwhelming success of their social platform.

“It’s grown to be very global, which I believe comes from the fact that images are a universal language,” Systrom told Forbes in a recent interview. “It’s not just photographers or tech mavens in Silicon Valley using it.”

Mazda Exec Discusses Autonomous Driving, Virtual Reality And Video Games

Mazda’s metamorphosis from a Japanese marque to an American automobile mainstay has mostly been possible thanks to stellar marketing.

Whether it’s hitting the streets of Austin for SXSW as a sponsor giving free rides to attendees, or introducing massive multichannel content campaigns highlighting its “kodo” design language, the car manufacturer is taking consumers on a journey under the modus operandi “Driving Matters” while positioning themselves as an upscale driver’s brand.

Eric Watson, Mazda’s marketing director who’s worked a slew of positions for companies like Land Rover, Jaguar and Ford throughout his career, joined [a]listdaily to discuss how the company is approaching autonomous driving and other immersive technologies.

Mazda was named “Best Car Brand” by U.S. News & World Report in 2015. How are you building a marketable brand profile to customers this year? 

Mazda has a very unique customer base who appreciates the joy that driving brings, and really, our marketing campaigns are designed to do that: to connect with people around one of their passion points around driving. Last year we launched a campaign on how a car is used in your daily life to bring that level of excitement and passion.

How would you describe the typical Mazda driver?

A Mazda driver appreciates their car. It’s more than going to point A and Point B. They like the driving experience. They like the way a car looks. They like the way a car feels in their hands, and how it responds to their inputs. And that’s the story we’re trying to tell . . . as a car brand, you really have to carve out what your niche is, and what you stand for. We want to connect with people who love driving.

Mazda announced it had its best annual sales year in two decades. What do you think was the cause for this?

I think we have a great product lineup, both from a design aesthetic and also from the engineering and technologies that go into our cars. We’re really at a place that’s connecting to our target customer with our message.

Would you consider the Miata the flagship car for Mazda?

We certainly have a great product line across the board. It’s a favorite of many people. It’s the best-selling roadster of all time in the world. It’s certainly a flagship in design and performance of what our philosophy is around of “Driving Matters.”

Mazda and Microsoft teamed up last year to bring the 2016 Mazda MX-5 to Forza Horizon 2 for free, as well as a chance to win an actual, real-life version of the MX-5. How does Mazda engage with video gamers? 

It was really a multi-faceted campaign that occurred over a six-to-seven-month time period. Not only was it an inclusion in the actual game with both our heritage cars and our new car, but we also had online contests within the Xbox system where people got to interact with Mazda through design contests. We took that partnership to SXSW (in 2015) where we invited people that raced over a couple month’s span to continue that competition and had an activation there, and also E3 later in Los Angeles that year where the finalists raced head-to-head against each other in a live environment and had a chance to win an MX-5 Miata. One of the cool things is that we surprised both of those contestants with a brand new car. So it was fun. 


Does Mazda have any plans of getting into eSports to acquire new target audiences?

People have grown up over the last 20 years playing video games. It’s become very mainstream, and that’s an audience we want to connect with now and in the future. There’s many there that share our passion for driving.

The car-buying process, and how customers encounter and explore a vehicle, is vastly changing. How can manufacturers use virtual and augmented reality in the retail experience?

Virtual showrooms can be a reality. We’ve seen a lot of demonstrations of technology. We explore from time-to-time different options to do that. As a marketing tool, VR and AR have potential to give people an experience without physically having to be in the vehicle. It will give an opportunity to take your product and make it accessible to more people in their own environment and own time. You’re able to change the color of car, go into the interior and really get an immersive experience. Eventually, someone will want to go to the showroom to have a one-on-one experience with the car. Virtual reality will aid their shopping process and narrowing down their choices.

Mazda and CEO Masamichi Kogai have taken a backseat on autonomous driving to instead focus on the actual pleasure of driving. What is the biggest challenge self-driving cars presents car manufacturers?

Mazda’s approach is going to be able to focus on the driver and be able to give an experience to the driver that is both delivering joy and pleasure but also providing safety for them and their drive. I think as the industry goes the next few years, there will be a balance between that driving pleasure and enjoyment and safety that autonomous driving can bring into the cars.

Are you personally looking forward to autonomous driving?

I think there are aspects of it. I think the safety features are going to be great, and make the experience more enjoyable. But I enjoy and want to have that connection to the car and be able to steer and press the gas and press the brake.


Will society have qualms of getting on the road?

I’m not sure exactly what the future is going to bring. I think elements will be brought into make the driving experience safer for everyone. But I think there’s many people who still enjoy that visceral driving experience. 

What are some specific strategies Mazda wants to execute over the next ten years as the autonomous craze drives by? 

Four years ago, Mazda took a very unique approach to develop Skyactiv Technology. It’s really a suite of engines and transmissions that greatly helped improve fuel economy, which is important for a sustainable future. But it also helped us continue to have a great driving feel. So we’re able to make advancements around gasoline technologies. . . . That was an important step in our transition, and kind of a view of where we’re headed in the future.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

Electronic Arts: Using ESports And VR As Tools Of Engagement

Electronic Arts scored big last week with debut of its EA Play event, which featured games like Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1 and many sports titles to draw in thousands of viewers. With it, the company also outlined its eSports-focused plans for the second half of the year.

Separately, during a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology Conference that took place earlier in the month, the company’s CFO, Blake Jorgensen, discussed how EA would grow to adopt virtual reality and eSports while maintaining a strong level of production with games such as Mass Effect: Andromeda and Madden NFL 17.

Jorgensen talked about how games are helping players “stick around”, thanks to “live” services. As a result, game longevity can be increased to a year or more after release, like with the downloadable content featured in Battlefield 4. Live events with sports titles such as NHL 16 and Madden NFL 16 have proven to be effective and will continue to be a feature in forthcoming sports titles. Jorgensen also made note of how all ages of gamers, from kids to adults, are taking part in gaming sessions as well.

But most of Jorgensen’s presentation focused on gaming technologies of the future, explaining that virtual reality has a great deal of promise and could lead to a much bigger market down the road. Between processing power and the depth of gameplay, Jorgensen feels that it’s an important part of the future. ESports also came up, with more people joining the industry both as professionals and fans. Watching competitions helps players learn better tactics, creating greater involvement as a result. While Jorgensen still isn’t sure how it can be properly monetized, there’s a lot of thought going into it.

Meanwhile, Peter Moore, COO of EA, laid out the eSports “master plan” while speaking with GamesIndustry International, explaining what the company has in mind with the EA Majors tournaments it announced during the EA Play press conference. “We have done a ton of analysis, and everybody loves eSports,” he explained. “They see big stadiums, and glitz, and glamour, and fine, that’s the top (of the pyramid). But there’s a lot more to it.

“When you really dig into it, the huge amount of people in competitive gaming sit right at the base of the competitive gaming pyramid, who look inspirationally at being able, one day, to play a top level.

“The analogy I always use is, I was brought up in Liverpool. I was going to play for Liverpool. No, I wasn’t! But did my dad spend money on me and did I kick the ball around and then go play for my village team? Did I dream that I was Kenny Dalgish in my head? Did I think one day I’d play at Anfield? There are tens of millions, hundreds of millions of people that have that same dream.

“‘I’m gonna play CS:GO one day in front of a million people on Twitch, or I’m going to be on a League of Legends team and you always have, in every part of your life, something you need to aspire to. You cannot ignore those people, so it’s a temptation to be purely the glitz and glamour side, and we’ll certainly do that, but we think of the three tiers.”

The company is also prepared for any bumps that may be on the road, like with team and fan behavior. “We’ve already written our terms and conditions, the Code of Conduct is built in that, it addresses, and if you’re taking part today, they already know what we expect of them. Because this is an EA Major right here, and if you’re going to compete, you need to be… you look over those things, drug taking, Adderall, Ritalin, match fixing, if someone is gambling on the game, which you don’t see so much here in the US but in Asia it’s a big deal,” said Moore.

“I think that the more organized we get, the more formalization on what’s expected, and certainly at the EA Majors you’re going to be expected to sign these things and say, the same way if you’re a real athlete, you’ve got morals clauses, you’ve got disparagement. You can lose your contract if you go out, make a fool of yourself, and embarrass the brand.”

He also brought up money management as part of the initiative. “Well, it’s six figures of big money showered upon teenage boys, what can possibly go wrong? So we need to help them. In the same way, you may not know, but when the NFL gets its rookies all together, they do two days away where lawyers talk to them, psychologists talk to them.

“We’re not quite there yet with competitive gaming, but it will be. And these are younger. These are teenagers, so it’s our obligation, I think, to be able to help them think through how they should behave,” said Moore.

Op-Ed: Apple’s Game-Changing Moves

Apple may be the single most important hardware manufacturer for the games industry, judging by the revenue associated with its devices. No other single device maker comes close. That’s why the announcements Apple made last week at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) can have such a huge impact on game revenues. The changes impact both game design and marketing, and it’s going to be a lot of work to take proper advantage of what lies ahead.

A Second Chance For Apple TV Gaming

Apple talked about the coming updates and important new features, but the most noteworthy ones may transform mobile games. The Apple TV, introduced last year, included an App Store, and that gave it potential as a game playing device. Many developers brought apps to the Apple TV, but it hasn’t set the market on fire the way Apple had hoped. Apple hasn’t announced sales numbers for the new Apple TV, but looking at App Store tracking figures reveals it hasn’t been making significant money for game developers.

Part of the constraint on the new Apple TV, which some say has held it back from becoming a game playing destination, has been Apple’s insistence that all games for the Apple TV must be playable using the included remote, which includes a touchpad, position sensors, and a couple of buttons. Many developers argued against this, saying that games like first-person shooters need a standard console-type controller. Apple has made a spec for those available, and several companies make them using Bluetooth connections, but Apple insisted that game makers had to also make games playable using the Siri remote control.

That restriction will no longer exist with the upcoming version of tvOS, and major publishers are taking a renewed interest in Apple TV with these changes, with NBA 2K and Minecraft: Story Mode coming to the platform. There will probably be more as developers take advantage of the restriction-free Apple TV.

Apple TV still has a long way to go before it becomes a major gaming platform. The company isn’t selling Apple TV solely as a gaming device, but rather as a device that lets you do a wide range of things. It will be interesting to see this fall if Apple’s marketing efforts for Apple TV change focus and possibly increase in scope.

Getting The iMessage Across

Meanwhile, Apple made many announcements about the future of iOS gaming, including how Game Center service will be removed in version 10. However, the most important iOS 10 announcements centered around the changes to iMessage, Apple’s messaging service that has remained mostly unchanged since its inception while apps such as Facebook Messenger, WeChat and WhatsApp have been innovating features. Changes include bigger emoji, video and handwritten messages, and even hidden messages that are revealed when you swipe on them.

The key feature for marketers is that Apple is opening up iMessage to third-party app access. That means apps can be triggered within iMessage, and there’s a great deal of potential interoperability. Why? Simply because messaging apps have been an enormously important game marketing tool in China, Korea, and Japan (with WeChat, Kakao, and Line) since you can tell your friends about games and link directly to them within your favorite messaging app. Publishers have even created messaging app-specific versions of their games to make it even easier for players to spread these games virally.

Now that iMessage is being opened up in this fashion, game publishers should be looking to work some viral marketing magic using this popular messaging platform. After all, there are more than 1 billion iOS users out there, and the platform accounts for the majority of mobile game revenues. Yet discoverability is an increasingly difficult problem, which iMessage may help solve.

The Next Generation

There’s still some time to work on this, as iOS 10 doesn’t release until the fall—likely coinciding with the announcement and launch of a new iPhone model, which typically occurs in September or early October. There’s going to be a section of the App Store devoted to iMessage apps, which will no doubt be crammed with stickers and photo apps. Sharp game marketers will make an effort to be there from the beginning, finding ways to work games into the new, improved iMessage with its 1 billion users waiting to be exposed in a new way to some exciting games.

PlayStation VR Architect Discusses 4K And Evolving Ecosystem

Sony dedicated much of its E3 booth to PlayStation VR, which will launch October 13 for $400. With 50 games shipping in its launch window, the leading game console maker is betting on the future of virtual reality.

Ian Hetherington, CEO of eeGeo, was the founder and chairman of Evolution Studios (Motorstorm, DriveClub). He became involved in the early development of Project Morpheus (PlayStation VR) after Sony acquired his Liverpool-based studio.

With HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, StarVR, and PlayStation VR all on display with a variety of games at E3 this year, Hetherington talks to [a]listdaily about the upcoming 4K upgrade for PlayStation VR and the evolving landscape of virtual reality as a gaming and entertainment platform in this exclusive interview.

How were you involved in the development of PlayStation VR?

Evolution had a very active R&D group employing specialists with advanced 3D technology experience, often cutting-edge. These specialist areas included stereoscopic visioning from advanced Euro Fighter HUD development, point cloud manipulation and sampling technologies, Lidar, etc.

Sony acquired Evolution in 2007, and these technologies were applied to driving game simulation and PlayStation’s early stage VR experimentation.

How did input from Sony’s game development teams influence the headset?

Sony was excellent. While a global studio resource operates under strict commercial business objectives, they allow the studios to experiment in diverse ways, which ultimately adds to the IP portfolio and creates an edge in the market—Eyetoy, Buzz, etc. This is a healthy approach which preserves the integrity and interest of studios, particularly those that are a result of acquisition. Most of the successful studios I have worked with, and there are many, live to innovate.

How did you design PlayStation VR to be upgradable to 4K?

This occurred after my time with the company. Due to a few dedicated pioneers, the VR head-mounted display specification has evolved to a base specification for a sustainable VR experience—head movement to retina latency, movement sensor accuracy, resolution, more than 90 frames per second, etc. Each and every one of these is fundamental to basic VR viability. 4K is becoming part of this basic specification and you will see it as a must-have for the next generation of VR-enabled mobile devices.

What do you think will be the PlayStation VR’s impact on the overall VR ecosystem?

By definition, the majority of console content will be games related. This defines itself as niche when compared to the mobile/VR ecosystem, which will run to tens of millions of users, and more importantly, location-based VR.

What impact are the new PC, console, and mobile VR headsets having on entertainment?

You have to differentiate between entertainment as in Hollywood and console gaming, and the mobile sector. There is no doubt that there will be impressive “experiences” on console, however, there is plenty of research which supports the fact that you do not need ultra-high resolution to create immersion and the mobile experience is more than capable of producing this.

How is this technology opening up opportunities for brands and sponsors?

We’re in the early days as we are just laying down the foundational layers of what the VR/AR experience will be capable of delivering. Much like the early days of 3D over 2D, this is quite a shift in user expectation. The quest right now is to deliver platforms that allow content creators to experiment easily and quickly.

What does eeGeo do?

EeGeo has developed a technology to map the world in 3D. We produce a country-by-country model of entire geographies including roads, buildings, terrain, digital height, etc. Uniquely, we model not only the outside of buildings but also interiors. We do this in a totally seamless way. This is a foundational layer for VR, and particularly AR. If you want to position data in the real world, then the eeGeo platform is the perfect platform to author and position that data accurately.

We have proven the platform with over five million downloads to date, and a commercial base of key customers in a variety of sectors.

We are already VR enabled on Cardboard architectures, and scaling up in resolution and features is relatively easy. We have a substantial backlog of platform deliverables, which will put us far ahead of the curve in VR and AR mapping. We firmly believe our core technology differentiates us sufficiently from Google, Apple, etc. to make this a sustainable proposition. I have disrupted established markets in the past, and I see no reason to stop eeGeo from doing that again.

What do you think about mixed reality?

VR form factors will inevitably give way to mixed reality devices. I see VR as a stepping stone where experimentation is more open, but real-world use cases will dominate in time.

How do you see VR and mixed reality evolving over the next five years?

Exactly that: evolving. I see us quickly moving away from the current use cases for experiences and gaming, toward social, communication, and location-based services. This is a mirror world where data is key and discoverability and proximity are the primary indexes. There is much talk of intelligent buildings, Internet of Things, etc. At the moment, this is mostly concerned with data harvesting and not data usage.

Tencent’s Plan To Dominate Mobile Gaming And ESports

The Chinese tech giant, Tencent, is the largest gaming company in the world, far outpacing companies such as Activision Blizzard, EA, Sony and Microsoft in global video game revenues. The company has a long list of partnerships and investments, which include a minority stake in Snapchat and a deal with Disney to broadcast ESPN content on its digital QQ Sports network, but its fame comes from owning the most popular social networking service in China: WeChat. The company used the popularity of the social media platform to invest in other areas of entertainment, including the virtual reality meeting space, AltspaceVR, and (most notably) a number of video game companies, many of which are based in the US.

Although the company keeps most of its investments a secret, its high-profile deals—including the recent acquisition of Clash Royale developer, Supercell—indicate a strong focus toward dominating eSports and maintaining its position as the biggest gaming company in the world. Here are some of the major game developers Tencent is involved with.


There was a great deal of speculation leading up to today’s deal, where Tencent purchased 84 percent ownership of the Clash of Clans and Clash Royale developer for $8.6 billion. Acquiring the mobile game giant was a logical move, considering how Newzoo reported that Clash Royale was the world’s top-grossing free-to-play mobile game for March 2016 by bringing in $110 million in global revenues. That’s on top of the $2.3 billion the game earned in 2015.

With the inclusion of Supercell’s Clash of Clans, Tencent has near complete control of the top grossing mobile eSports games in China. Tencent’s King of Glory debuted at number one on the list of top grossing Android games in China, and ranks at number 4 for top grossing mobile eSports games on iOS. That success is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

Riot Games

Tencent acquired a 93 percent majority stake in Riot Games in 2011, and made big news when it purchased the remaining 7 percent last December. Riot Games is the developer behind League of Legends, the most popular competitive video game and eSport in the world. The game maintains 100 million active users a month, and generates about $1.5 billion a year, according to SuperData Research.

Riot still enjoys complete autonomy, and still operates as an independent studio (as Supercell will), and while the buyout didn’t do much to shake up the gaming world, it helped to further strengthen Tencent’s eSports investments.

Glu Mobile

Niccolo de Masi, president, CEO and chairman of Glu Mobile, famous for the massively successful Kim Kardashian Hollywood, described how Asian companies that have found great success in their domestic markets will seek to expand to Western markets through investments, partnerships and purchases. He might as well have been describing his own company’s experience, as Tencent increased its stake in Glu to 21.5 percent in February.

Glu is currently working to develop a version of Tencent’s successful mobile shooter, WeFire, for Western audiences. The company also announced a $7.5 million investment in the Icelandic game studio Plain Vanilla last January. The studio is responsible for the hit mobile trivia game QuizUp, which is currently being adapted into a live prime-time game show. Glu might acquire the studio completely if the game continues to do well, which could help consolidate the web of partnerships, as Tencent has been a Plain Vanilla investor since 2013. In April 2015, Tencent worked with Plain Vanilla to launch a Chinese localized version of QuizUp called WeQuiz, which quickly rose to the top of the Chinese iOS App Store.

Activision Blizzard

Seeing Activision Blizzard’s revenues ranked second to Tencent (even after it purchased of Candy Crush Saga developer, King Digital, for $5.9 billion) makes the two companies appear as rivals. While that may be true to an extent, Tencent has investments in Activision Blizzard, so the success of its competitor is also success for Tencent. As Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo pointed out, “When Activision Blizzard broke loose from Vivendi back in July 2013 in a deal sized at $8.2 billion, a consortium called ASAC II purchased $2.34 billion, or almost 25 percent worth of shares.” A large contributor to this consortium was Tencent, and the company owns a part of the recently launched Call of Duty World League, which offers a $3 million prize pool.

Then there’s how almost every competitive game produced by Blizzard, including the recently released Overwatch, are popular eSports. Also, let’s not overlook the fact that Tencent is the official distributor of Candy Crush Saga in China.

According to a statement made to Fortune, Warman believes that Tencent has three main goals: “growing its share of the Western games market as a whole, growing the global mobile games market, and dominating eSports in China.”

Epic Games

Epic Games is famous for many reasons, chief among them being the Unreal Engine, the original Gears of War trilogy, and (most recently) the competitive MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game Paragon. Tencent bought approximately 48.4 percent of the company’s outstanding shares for $330 million in 2012, and the strategic investment gave Tencent the right to nominate directors to the game studio’s board.

In addition to bringing Paragon into open beta later this summer, Epic Games is heavily promoting the Unreal Engine (especially for VR development), developing two new games, which include Unreal Tournament and Fortnite. ChAIR, which is owned by Epic, is working with filmmaker J.J. Abrams on a collaborative project called Spyjinx.

Capcom, EA And More

Tencent doesn’t just specialize in investing outside of China. It also partners with companies to distribute games in its own country. It is currently partnered with Capcom to develop Monster Hunter Online in China and the game’s producer, Tao Weishi, has expressed that he’d be interested in continuing the partnership with some of Capcom’s other IPs—including Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Devil May Cry, Onimusha, Dino Crisis, and Sengoku Basara.

Monster Hunter Online is being developed using CryEngine, and coincidentally, Tencent is the exclusive operator of Crytek’s online game, Warface in China. Additionally, Tencent manages FIFA Online 3 in China for Electronic Arts, making for another not-quite-rival in the global gaming space. Who knows what these partnerships will lead to down the road?

Bud Light Becomes Latest Brand To Bring ESports To Its Strategy

Beverage brands like Red Bull, Pepsi and Coca Cola have been bringing out the big guns when it comes to empowering the burgeoning eSports industry through its integrated marketing campaigns. Bud Light became the latest brand to brew similar sponsorship plans by announcing its All-Stars program at E3.

“Bud Light stands for sports no matter what field it’s played on … When we came into the [eSports] space, I think the biggest thing for us was looking at the fans,” Jesse Wofford, Bud Light’s digital brand manager, told [a]listdaily. “We’ve been in sports marketing for 25 years. We really understand that. The cool thing for eSports for us is that the fandom there is so passionate. It’s really cool that when you go to an event, it just clicks. They love the players. They love the sport. So for us, it was easy to understand that kind of passion.”

The beer brand opted not to back a single team or league, and instead, let fans vote for five of their favorite players through Twitter on specific game titles like Halo, Street Fighter, CS:GO, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm under the Bud Light banner.

“We want to showcase these guys as celebrities and ambassadors of eSports, and elevate them to make sure they get the recognition they deserve as true athletes,” Wofford said. “We’re always going to look for ways for fans to connect with these guys better. … We have some surprises coming up.”

The beer brand first announced its eSports plans in April, then released its list of All-Star nominees in DreamHack Austin in May. Now, the All-Stars will hit the Bud Light Twitch channel over the course of this summer and be involved with custom content activations before heading to the TwitchCon main stage in September to compete in a three-round elimination tournament.

For more on Bud Light’s involvement with eSports, check out the interview with Wofford above.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan