Bazooka Candy Partners With Ice Age For New Game

Even with its somewhat cool name, 20th Century Fox’s Ice Age seems to be one of the hottest properties around. Not only has Zynga produced the new mobile match three puzzle game Arctic Blast for players to enjoy, but now Bazooka Candy Brands is on board with the franchise.

The company has announced a partnership with the movie studio and Blue Sky Studios that will feature promotion across mainstream media, including a new Collision Course-themed ad, retail merchandising for Bazooka products and an online campaign that features tie-ins with yet another Ice Age game, Candy Collision, which is now available on Bazooka’s Candymania site.

In the game, players will choose from one of several Ice Age characters—Manny, Sid, Buck or Shangri Llama—as they attempt to stop meteors from crashing into the ground, using a number of Bazooka’s products, like the Ring Pop, to push them back.

“20th Century Fox is excited to once again be partnering with Bazooka Candy Brands for our iconic Ice Age movies,” said Zachary Eller, senior vice president of marketing partnerships for the studio. “We think the promotional concept and the incredible retail activation makes this a very fun way to bring Ice Age to life with families this summer!”

In addition to the release of Candy Collision, Bazooka will feature Ice Age characters on a number of its products, as well as promotional standees. “We are thrilled about the launch of Ice Age: Collision Course and to partner with 20th Century Fox once again,” noted Nicole Rivera, marketing director for North America Confections. “They have always been a great partner to work with. The fun and family-friendly nature of the characters in the franchise is a natural fit for Bazooka Candy Brands.”

It’s an effective way to promote the film and put familiar characters into candy stores for families to enjoy. So far, it seems to be rather effective, as Collision Course has already earned $210 million in worldwide box office.

ELEAGUE Season One Finals To Be Broadcast On Twitter

Twitter has been making a lot of deals to bring video content to its social network lately, including broadcasts involving the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB). But it hasn’t overlooked its growing video game-loving audience, and has just announced a pairing that will include eSports content.

Turner and WME/IMG have announced that the final rounds of ELEAGUE, which has been airing tournaments over the past few weeks on TBS and gaining a solid viewing audience, will also be streamed live on Twitter. This marks the debut eSports event for the social channel.

Broadcasting will begin Friday night at 10PM EDT for the semifinals, and Saturday at 4PM EDT for the finals. The event will also be shown on TBS and Twitch, but Twitter promises a larger amount of involvement with its streaming, including real-time highlights, GIFs, memes, statistics and score updates. Periscope will also feature content from the ELEAGUE event, including behind-the-scenes footage with select players.

“Twitter is the native social platform for eSports and this partnership provides our passionate fans with an additional opportunity to consume ELEAGUE content as we reach the pinnacle of our first season,” said Christina Alejandre, general manager for ELEAGUE and vice president of eSports for Turner Sports in a press release. “We’re excited for our first ELEAGUE championship and look forward to offering these content experiences to our high-engaged fan base.”

“ESports fans go to Twitter to see and talk about what is happening now in competitive gaming,” said Anthony Noto, chief financial officer for Twitter.” Gamers are one of the largest and most engaged audiences on Twitter, and we are thrilled to partner with Turner and WME/IMG to bring them the live content from ELEAGUE and Twitter commentary they are already looking for, on one screen.”

ELEAGUE already had its fair share of sponsors over the course of the season, including Domino’s, Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and Credit Karma—all of which will play a part in advertising during the semifinal and championship events.

The partnership with Twitter not only provides another way for fans to watch live ELEAGUE content, but also gives the social platform its first entry into eSports. Facebook made the jump to eSports earlier this year when it announced a partnership with Blizzard so that games such as Overwatch can be connected with accounts, allowing players to connect with friends and empowering streamers with more options.

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Jaunt Exec Explains What Virtual Reality Opens Up For ESports

Jaunt has launched its first 360-degree eSports documentary, CLG: Win Everythin’, as part of a multi-year deal with ESL and Intel, which sponsors the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) global tournament. The first documentary focuses on the League of Legends team, Counter Logic Gaming, and was shot at the IEM World Championship in Katowice, Poland earlier this year.

Jaunt has a team in Shanghai, China this week to shoot a second 360-degree documentary at IEM Shanghai. David Anderman, chief business officer at Jaunt, said the plan is to film content at each IEM global stop this season.

“We are focused on shooting the compelling stories surrounding the teams competing at IEM as they hopefully succeed, and sometimes fail, as well as the competition and games themselves,” Anderman said. “The Jaunt team has a great relationship with ESL and Intel via the events we shot in San Jose and Poland, and we can now tightly integrate VR content into the stories that will be told around the season.”

Anderman said the goal of these docs is to give fans a feel of the athletes’ lives behind the scenes, including how they train, what it’s like in their hotel rooms as they mentally prepare, witnessing interactions and attitudes on the bus ride to the venue and overall getting a feel for what it’s like to live life as one of these championship gaming teams.

“We believe that through VR, we can bring fans an experience they simply could not have before, in addition to the experience of what it’s really like to be on stage and in the arena while they are competing,” Anderman said.

Kevin Kelly, manager of content and communication at ESL, said IEM fans have always enjoyed being on the cutting edge of PC gaming, which is also where many early adopters of the VR scene have come from.

“Expanding the VR experience to cover eSports feels like a natural place for the medium to go,” Kelly said. “If you have never attended a full-scale, stadium-sized match in person, the VR experience from Jaunt will put you front and center into the action. And even if you have attended an event, living the experience in VR with the Jaunt app provides a front-row VIP ticket for everyone who watches.”

Jaunt supports all major VR headsets, including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Playstation VR and mobile viewers such as the Gear VR, Homido and Figment.

Kelly said it’s likely sponsorships will become a large part of how ESL delivers new virtual reality experiences in the future.

“With the Jaunt content shot at IEM Katowice, you will see the IEM logo on the ground under the camera,” Kelly said. “This could be great visibility for brands while maintaining our commitment to retaining the core experience we seek to provide to fans. We will be watching closely to see what other opportunities in this space might arise, and innovate to always bring the most legendary eSports moments for IEM fans.”

While the documentaries focus on 360-degree footage that was captured months ago, 360-degree livestreaming offers the next evolution of “being there” for an audience that watches most eSports content digitally.

“VR livestreaming allows brands to reach consumers in a very personal way,” Anderman said. “VR is the first entertainment medium that’s native to smartphones and the dedicated headsets that are based on smartphone technology. With the wide adoption of the smartphone, it becomes an opportunity for brands to reach their consumers with an unbelievable experience that’s truly an IMAX theater right in your pocket.”

Anderman said the short-term goal is to tell the stories of these teams and IEM tournaments, while introducing ESL to a new audience via the VR experience.

“In the future, we’d like to incorporate game content footage directly into the VR experience, so fans can accompany the teams directly in the games as they are playing it,” Anderman said. “The general idea is to cut between what the teams are doing real world in the tournaments and what the gameplay actually looks like in VR. As games get ported to VR, it’s going to be a simplified process, and the result is going to be an awesome, incredible experience—you’re going to be watching the competition as if you’re inside the game.”

Wargaming experimented with this type of virtual reality gameplay experience at the World of Tanks Grand Finals in Poland earlier this year.

Glu Mobile: ‘Gaming Is Poised To Be The Apex Predator Of Entertainment’

At the Casual Connect conference in San Francisco, Glu Mobile CEO Niccolo de Masi was interviewed by Michael Metzger, senior vice president of investment banking firm Houlihan Lokey, about Glu Mobile’s celebrity game strategy and de Masi’s views about entertainment and games. The following are some excerpts from the talk.

You released Gordon Ramsay DASH recently. What worked well and what hasn’t worked well compared to the other DASH games you have?

Glu’s strategy in celebrity gaming is fundamentally about, “how do we take a proven game that monetizes well and has a solid LTV [Lifetime Value] and turbocharge that experience?” We do that not only by trying to expand the audience, which fundamentally drives more installs organically, but it also tends to be a lowering of the average cost per install. So there’s a an audience expanding function for these partnerships. Then there’s also unique content tie-ins. Gordon Ramsay DASH demonstrates all three of these turbocharging factors.

Gordon has been a strong supporter of his own game. You can tell from his Twitter feed. He’s been on social media and TV talking about this. The game itself is quite unique. Gordon does a lot voice-over in it, you can be sworn at by him as you play, and it has a lot of his own refinements and polishing of the design. Whether you’re a Gordon Ramsay or Kim Kardashian, it’s the three same effects: grow the installed base, lower the actual CPI for paid marketing, and then sometimes you get a welcome boost in retention as well. Both in Gordon’s and Kim’s games, we have seen that people stay in the game longer than they do in predecessor titles, namely Gordon Ramsay Dash and Stardom, respectively. There’s probably, on the margin, a greater propensity to spend. We certainly saw that in Kim’s game and to some extent in Gordon’s as well. We are pleased with both of those partnerships. There a template for what we’re trying to accomplish with the rest of our roadmap. Next up for us will likely be a Nicki Minaj game this fall.

You mentioned that your celebrity games have higher LTV’s. How does the celebrity factor play into the LTV of these games?

Thankfully, we’re a public company so I can answer that fairly accurately. If you look at Kim Kardashian: Hollywood‘s cumulative revenue between June 2014 and the end of 2015, you come to something like $157 million in revenue. We’ve also done about 40 million installs, so if you divide that you get to about a cumulative $4 LTV so far. I expect that we’ll see similar numbers from Gordon’s game and other successful partnerships. The expansion comes about through a mixture of factors moving up, so it’s not one single thing. It’s a little bit better retention, a little bit better conversion, and together those ARPPU (Average Revenue Per Paying User), those three metrics if they each go up ten or twenty percent in aggregate you get quite a big boost to overall LTV.

You have a wide range of celebrities with a large following in your games. What makes for a more successful celebrity game, and what makes for a less successful one?

Making games is hard. It’s not only difficult to bring together the art and the science so that there’s a really good experience, but there’s an element of market timing to it as well. There’s always an element of variability, a balance between what’s old and what’s new, ultimately. When you look at our portfolio of celebrity games, the successes we’ve had have been a mixture of the art and science coming together well and being a great experience. Also, something that hasn’t been seen before helps. There’s always an element of whether or not you are doing something that is fresh enough. We perhaps didn’t do that with our Britney Spears or Katy Perry games, for example. We were counting on a new brand and a more established monetization engine to carry the games forward. What we’ve seen in those games is a decent LTV but not a big enough audience.

What’s interesting is when you think about Kim’s game audience, it’s actually three or four audiences pulled into it. You’ve got Kim’s core fan base, which at the time was 40 million followers. Today it’s more than 60 million. She’s actually pulled in other adjacent demographics: you’ve got people interested in Hollywood and becoming famous, then you also have young adult female decision makers, 14 or 15-year-olds, and then those who want to experience what it’s like being a celebrity. You pull all three of those together, you have a $150 million to $200 million game by the time you’re done. Gordon—to some extent—is doing the same thing, there’s never been a celebrity food game before, so we’re first.

We continue to believe in what we are doing. We are leading what I call the personalization of media through gaming. It’s the same trend you’ve seen on TV and on all forms of media, where in the Western world people are becoming what is followed, what is more important. When Tim Cook says “we figured out the future of TV is apps,” we totally agree. The future of everything is apps—the future of magazines, the future of TV, the future of music, and the future of gaming is obviously an app as well. I think gaming is poised to be the apex predator of the entertainment space. We can generate more revenue per second of engagement, [and] more revenue per daily average users, than any other form of entertainment because we are better at driving that compulsion loop. The future of gaming and entertainment is intertwined. The personalization of entertainment is what we’re going to see a lot of in the next five to ten years.

Will games be a key platform for celebrity engagement with their audience?

Performance is the #1 revenue generator if you’re an artist. After that, you’ve got merchandising. I think gaming and apps are poised to be right there on the podium. For Kim, we are #2 on the podium; according to Forbes we were 40 percent of Kim’s haul last year, which means we’re probably #1 or #2. For Taylor or Nicki, we’re planning to do the same thing.

What is your vision of the future of the mobile entertainment space? You look at the top apps and the media streaming apps weren’t there six to twelve months ago, and now they are. What is this doing to gaming apps?

We’re keeping our eyes on it. There’s no hiding the fact that in the past 18 months, a third of the top 25 grossing spots have been taken away from gaming companies and are occupied by Spotify, HBO, Pandora etc. The world has gone mobile and it’s here to stay. For the first three years, the App Store was just a game store. Today, Facebook is a majority mobile revenue company. YouTube is a top-grossing app.

Consumers are spending the majority of their time and revenue on mobile devices. So we have to compete in that landscape. That’s why I think gamification of entertainment is a really interesting intersection for the entire gaming industry to sit up and take note. There will be Pokemon GOs that punch through and occupy the top-grossing spots. But subscription apps have a sizable advantage: a simple UI that cycles a lot of content through, and it’s frictionless, it’s very mass-market. We can learn from this. In the future, our roadmap is going to integrate some of what’s been successful there. Certainly, we’re already making entertainment products with our celebrity partners that are competing for that time. If 20 percent of consumer time goes on Facebook or instant messaging, that’s something we actually have to compete for as part of the consumer’s day.

American Customer Satisfaction Has Dropped On Social Media

While Americans spend much of their time on social media, a new survey shows that they are less satisfied with the experience than in previous years. According to the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released on Tuesday, social sites such as Twitter and Facebook saw a decrease in satisfaction year over year.

Facebook dropped 9 percent in customer satisfaction, while Twitter dropped 8 percent among those surveyed. Overall social media satisfaction, meanwhile, dropped 1.4 percent from 2015. While you can’t please everyone, the drop in satisfaction could be attributed to a number of factors related to user interface, changes in privacy agreements and social strife (cyber bullying, for instance).

The constant comparison between ourselves and others on social media can even lead to depression, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

“People who use social media are particularly touchy about two elements of the experience that are never going to go away as issues,” ACSI’s managing director David VanAmburg told NBC News. “They’re concerned about privacy and about doing the very thing that social media is all about—putting personal information out there and then being concerned with what people are doing with that information.”


A drop in Facebook satisfaction hasn’t stopped users from flocking to the site, with 71 percent of American adults using it, according to Pew Research. Advertisers love it, too, naming Facebook the best platform for calculating return on investment (ROI). Facebook Messenger is now the top messaging platform of its kind, with a whopping one billion active users.

If you’re wondering which social media site ranked the highest in customer satisfaction, Wikipedia dominated with a 78 ranking. Top satisfaction rates were followed closely by YouTube (77) and Google+ (76). Pinterest (76), Instagram (74) and Tumblr (67) all dropped 3 percent. LinkedIn (65) tied with Twitter for last place.

Social media is an ever-changing landscape (just look at MySpace), and brands are utilizing new tools like messenger, virtual reality, livestreams and emojis to connect with their customers on an emotional level. As more brands use social media as a means to provide customer service, it will be interesting to see how—and if—this affects satisfaction rates in 2017.

How ‘Pokémon GO’ Captured The Mobile Gaming Market

Pokémon GO, the augmented reality mobile game that took the world by storm, continues to be an incredible success. At one point, the game had more daily active users than Twitter, and the phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down.

The Power Of Pokémon

Nielsen recently used its mobile game tracker to uncover some key insights regarding Pokémon GO’s launch and how it rocketed to the top spot on the Top 10 Mobile Games to Download Next list. During its launch week, most US players (52 percent) who were aware of the game wanted to download it next. Leading up to launch, about 28 percent of active US mobile gamers were aware of Pokémon GO, which is above average for both new and established titles. Of those aware of the game, over 60 percent indicated that they wanted to download the game, and the game resonates strongly with kids between 7-12 and millennials aged 18-24.

Nicole Pike, director of games at Nielsen, discussed the spectacular launch of Pokémon GO with [a]listdaily. When asked if she was surprised about the meteoric success of the game, she replied, “I wouldn’t necessarily say surprised—more impressed. One of the things that really popped up to us in the data is that it’s not typical for mobile games to go to the top of the charts and be ahead of other games in terms of awareness and interest so early. What we see in the mobile category is that it takes a while for awareness of a new game to ramp up, unlike the console industry, where there are months and sometimes years of anticipation for a game. For mobile, a game is announced, then suddenly released, and awareness slowly builds as people start downloading and reviewing it.”

Pokémon GO was an exception to that,” she continued. “We saw that even before it released—especially in the weeks prior to release—there was really high awareness for the game, not only in terms of a new game, but any game new or established. With that being the case, it only makes sense that when it launched, it would have that advantage that quickly propelled it to the top. Then that cycle continues to self-perpetuate. More people downloading early means more people are recommending early, and the whole cycle becomes faster than average for a mobile game.”

So what contributed the most to the initial awareness of the game? “I think, unlike a lot of mobile games, there was some anticipation from announcements around it coming,” said Pike. “So people knew that it was coming out, and there was that waiting period that really helped. Certainly, there’s the Pokémon franchise. People are already aware of Pokémon, and it resonates very well with millennials. Millennials, being such strong consumers of content and mobile games (at least for now) align nicely with that target.”


Pokémon GO saw tremendous success in its first week, and we asked Pike if a game that rises that quickly can sustain its popularity. “So far, it looks likely,” she said. “Again, what we usually see with a mobile game’s trajectory is that it continues to go up for a while because we have a lot of people who are adopting early and telling other people about it. With buzz being a really big driver for the mobile game category, I think that for the foreseeable future, we’ll see it near the top.” She further notes that it will be interesting to watch the game grows with new content and the engagement balance between experienced and new players.

In addition to having a higher than average awareness and interest percentage at launch, the game quickly became the most liked game on Nielsen’s list of Most Liked titles. “What we saw for the week of July 11—which was the first full week of data we had post launch of Pokémon GO in our mobile game tracking product—was that it was at the top of the list across all mobile games that we track for most watched game,” said Pike. “Number two was Candy Crush Saga, and number three was Candy Crush Soda Saga. In terms of likability, it climbed to the top very quickly.”

However, that’s not to say everyone loved the game. Nielsen’s research also shows that the game had a higher than average number of detractors, with 22 percent of those who were aware stating that they would not download the game. Yet, even the negative buzz might have helped the game grow. “One of the things we’ve seen with our research in mobile gaming is that awareness is highly correlated with the potential of a game,” Pike explained. “In that sense—whether the buzz is positive or negative—the fact that more people are becoming aware of Pokémon GO can help it. Of course, people will still need to make the decision of whether it’s for them or not once they find out about it, but the name and concept are reaching a lot of people early in its lifecycle.”

A High Number Of Spenders

E-Commerce analytics firm, Slice Intelligence, did its own study on Pokémon GO‘s launch week and found that the game made up around 47 percent of the entire mobile gaming market on its launch weekend. The game was so popular, it even managed to attract new spenders, as 53 percent of those who made in-app purchases in Pokémon GO had made one mobile game purchase within the past six months. Comparatively, 16 percent of paying trainers purchased nine mobiles games in that time period.

When asked about player spending in Pokémon GO, Kenny McCubbins, manager of data analytics at Slice Intelligence explained to [a]listdaily that, “what’s compelling is the volume of spenders who are making purchases in Pokémon GO. We’ve previously reported about the state of in-game spending and found that Game of War in-game spenders spent an average of $550 in-app, but the big story with Pokémon GO is the sheer number of spenders who are making in-game buys. There has been a massive number of people who’ve been playing this game, which is resulting in a huge spike in purchasing.”

Slice Intelligence’s data, similar to Nielsen’s, shows that 52 percent of Pokémon GO spenders are between the ages of 18-34, and about three-quarters of players are men. The most popular item is the 100 PokéCoin in-game currency bundle, which accounted for 37 percent of in-app purchases. Additionally, the 1,200 PokéCoin bundle, which goes for $5, made up 30 percent of the game’s revenue.


“Currently, Pokémon GO shoppers are spending on average $10 for the first week of purchasing,” said McCubbins. “We’ll see how that matches up to the rest of the games as time goes on.”

Catching The Power

When asked what he thought what other mobile games might be able to take away from Pokémon GO‘s success with monetization, McCubbins said, “I think the biggest thing other mobile games can take away is that the mobile games market is not tapped out by any means. Nearly half of the Pokémon GO buyers hadn’t previously made a mobile game purchase prior to it. If we’ve seen anything from this phenomenon is that there is a very large untapped market for mobile games. Pokémon GO has captured the attention of hardcore gamers, kids and their parents, which is truly unique to this game.”

We also asked Pike what she thought was the most interesting aspect of Pokémon GO‘s success.

“A lot of people are referring to it as an AR (Augmented Reality) game, but I think the geolocation on it is just as, or more important,” she replied. “I think there’s always the stereotype that gamers are just sitting and not active, and Pokémon GO has really turned that on its head, where you have to get up and get out to play the game. There’s also how far it’s spread from a social perspective. We know that buzz and word-of-mouth are very important for a game’s success, but Pokémon GO has taken that to the next level with all the buzz, news and press it’s getting.

“The other thing that will be interesting to follow, moving forward, will be all the possible brand and co-promotion integrations that are possible. With gyms being located at certain businesses and the different PokéStops—it opens a lot of opportunities to partner and try to use brand integration in the game. As a researcher, I’m really excited to see what Niantic ends up doing with that.”

Imgur Survey Shows That Most Of Its Users Are Gamers

Earlier this summer, Twitter revealed how more than half of the users are gamers that love discussing and sharing information about their favorite titles. However, it’s not the only social platform to have a high gamer population.

VentureBeat reported on a survey the image sharing service recently conducted that reveals how the overwhelming majority of its audience—about 91 percent—are made up of gamers. Imgur also reported that 63 percent of gamers who visit the site tend to play games at least once a day, while 88 percent game several times a week.

Imgur also detailed a number of other interesting statistics, such as how 52 percent of players would be willing to cut one meal out of their day if it meant more time with their game, and 25 percent  of users spend at least $50-$100 on their favorite games regularly. Ten percent spend a higher monthly amount, somewhere between $500 to $1,000.

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Considering that Imgur has a monthly audience of 150 million users, making it one of the top 50 sites in the world, it’s a better social platform than some may expect.

Steve Patrizi, vice president of marketing for Imgur, noted that users can “surface really entertaining moments” from the service, with the right amount of creativity. “Gaming is mainstream. We don’t position ourselves as a hardcore gaming site. There aren’t a lot of non-gaming destinations where you have a high concentration of hardcore gamers. We are not a site about gaming. But the gamers are here.”

The survey also shows that gamers are big spenders, with 33 percent stating that they buy at least one game per month, while 27 percent pick up one or more games a week. Meanwhile, 22 percent wait a good six months, and nine percent can hold out for an entire year, which is the same percentage as those that buy a game a day.

Chart 2

So where does Imgur benefit from a gaming audience? Usually with screenshots and images from new releases. “There’s funny Grand Theft Auto scenes where a tractor-trailer goes off a cliff and lands perfectly in a parking spot,” noted Patrizi.

GTA isn’t the only popular franchise. About 49 percent of users play Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series, while 43 prefer its other hit title, Fallout 4. Other notable entries include Minecraft (41 percent), Pokémon (3 percent) and The Legend of Zelda (31 percent).

“It’s hardcore, on the PC side of the spectrum,” noted Patrizi. “Pokémon GO is certainly a big topic.”

Video games and social networks have a bigger connection than expected. Gleana Albritto, industry marketing lead for media and entertainment for Twitter, explained that “gaming’s popularity is anything but a game, as 65 percent of Twitter users say they play video games, and 55 percent of those users say they regularly play console games.”

These sites also provide a place to talk about new game announcements and details right away. “Gaming audiences like to stay up-to-date on all the latest equipment as well,” Albritto added. “A whopping 78 percent of them researched a game or console as a result of following a gaming handle. Of these followers, 81 percent own a console and 53 percent bought one in the past 12 months. Nearly 40 percent of them intend to buy a gaming console in the next year.”

Imgur is certainly no stranger to embracing its unique audience. In fact, earlier this year, it revealed a culture poll discussing the growth of the “millennial geek” audience, with 23 percent proclaiming themselves as full-on geeks, and only 12 percent stating they weren’t geeks at all.

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Reddit Introduces Marketing Support For Posts

While Reddit may not yet be as much of an advertising boon as social brethren Twitter or Facebook is, a recent business move may very well grab them a seat at the table.

The site has confirmed that starting on August 4 it will offer a new ad system called Promoted User Posts. With it, marketers will be able to sponsor user generated posts through the platform, with their given consent, according to AdAge.

One example involves a user making an enlarged item based on a company product, like Taco Bell’s hot sauce packet—the fast food chain could then step in and make a deal to turn that into a sponsored post for the site. That, in turn, would allow it to be shown off on various parts of Reddit, including targeted audiences that would be ideal for said post.

Of course, Reddit is proceeding with caution, since its user base of 240 million isn’t fond of being hammered with promoted posts that stand out from the real content on the site.

“Reddit users don’t like being bullshitted,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman told AdAge. “Reddit is a platform where you can call people out on it. And a lot of traditional advertising feels like we’re being taken advantage of and nobody likes that. But when advertisers come with honest intentions we see a much higher level of engagement with the brand. We don’t see hostility and we have valuable connections.”

As part of the acceptance of promoted posts, users will get a lifetime of Reddit Gold, with a number of additional benefits included.

Strategists for Reddit are already hard at work teaming up with brands on the deal, including Coca-Cola and eBay; Proctor & Gamble has already confirmed that it will invest $300 million into advertising for Reddit.

Although not all Reddit users will be happy with the move, the company as a whole sees it as an opportunity to real in new revenue. “There are car enthusiasts on Reddit,” said Huffman. “Makeup addicts, people who discuss movies, books and video games where these commercial relationships are already developing with our users. It is not a stretch for the advertiser to come in here and engage with our audience.”

With the move, Huffman believes that Reddit will evolve out of its “teenage years” and become more popular than Facebook. “We are a developing company and we are taking this very seriously. We are learning to be adults here . . . Of course, Facebook and Reddit serve different needs for people. There will never be total overlap so I don’t think you have to choose one or the other. On Facebook, you have your real world identity and your friends, and that is important to people. But on Reddit you have all the other facets of your persona and you can talk about things you can’t talk about with your friends and family.”

Many companies have already taken advantage of the Reddit platform in the past, including the following:


The auto maker listed a thread on Reddit in 2014 asking what users would want from Amazon. It was an interesting move to help promote the company’s Versa Note vehicle, and one that paid off in spades with a number of creative responses, including “30 months of Reddit gold.”

President Obama

The Commander In Chief utilized Reddit for a half hour virtual question and answer session in 2012. It was so popular in traffic that the site had to shut down temporarily, per the Washington Post. “Ask me anything”—also known as AMAs—are a favorite for public figures looking to use Reddit to connect with their fans.

‘Glamour Magazine’

A while back, Pitch Perfect starlet Anna Kendrick appeared in Glamour Magazine. To help promote the issue, the publication introduced a subreddit called “Shower Thoughts,” compiled of Kendrick’s thinkings. As a result, it gained quite an audience, between both the subreddit account and the separate video, filled with plenty of quandaries. For instance, “Does a frozen yogurt headache burn less calories than an ice cream headache?”

This small sample of previous examples have worked pretty well with just regular posts. One theme is clear, though: the set-up caters to Reddit’s unique audience.

We’ll now wait to see what promoted posts—and more elaborate marketing set-ups— can do for brands.


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Intel Exec Explains Importance Of ESports

The Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) launches its 11th season on July 28 with its stop at ChinaJoy in Shanghai. The global tournament, which is run by ESL, has awarded over $5.5 million in prize money at IEM events in the last decade. Over $500,000 was given out at the IEM World Championship in Katowice this past March alone. That event also attracted over 113,000 attendees.

IEM has visited five continents with 58 events in cities such as New York, San Jose, Dubai, Los Angeles, Hanover, Chengdu and Katowice over the last decade. The first season of the eSports tournament attracted over 500,000 video sessions, while Season 10 exceeded 132.3 million video sessions.

With a new season and new countries, George Woo, worldwide marketing manager at Intel, explains how the tech giant has benefitted from its investment in eSports.

“The key lesson we’ve learned from the growth of IEM and eSports over the past 10 years is that we have to continue to evolve, scale and deliver an amazing experience for gaming fans worldwide who are now accustomed to the world class experience that IEM delivers,” Woo said. “By working with ESL we have accomplished that with great results year-over-year. For instance, we’re now hosting our tournaments in sports arenas; we’ve added CS:GO to our tournaments; we’re adding new locations like Oakland and Gyeonggi (South Korea) for this season and we’re continuously raising the bar with our overall event and broadcast production.”

Since IEM is publisher-agnostic, Intel has the ability to use different game titles in its tournaments. Each season, the game titles are recommended by ESL. Woo said the plan for season 11 is to continue the use StarCraft II, League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

IEM is a global tournament series and Woo said the goal is to have an event stop in key geographies like the Americas, Europe, China and Asia Pacific. The locations are selected based on the size of the eSports community in the region, Intel’s top enthusiast countries per territory, logistical hurdles, strong local partnerships and cost of venue and local government support.

“We are very excited about the addition of IEM Oakland and IEM Gyeonggi for this upcoming season,” Woo said. “Both markets have strong eSports communities, and we’re thrilled to host IEM events in these cities to further extend our reach by delivering an amazing eSports experience. Gyeonggi will be IEM’s first-ever stadium event in Asia.”

According to SuperData Research, pro gamers won $53.8 million through eSports tournaments and events around the globe. Woo said prize pools have always played a significant role in eSports tournaments, and they will play an even more important role as the overall eSports landscape continues to grow and get more congested with more leagues starting up.

“Prize pools have always been important in IEM, but they will never be a top priority,” Woo said. “We put our main focus on delivering a consistent world class tournament experience, which the players and gaming communities have expected from IEM over the years and can expect for upcoming IEM events in the future. With enough money, anyone can always top another’s prize pool, so that has never been what solely defines the value of IEM.”


Beyond the prize pool numbers, Intel is involved with team sponsorships that can help with player salaries, travel, providing the latest Intel-based gaming PCs to practice on, as well as PR/social opportunities. The company also takes care of hotel accommodations for players at IEM events.

New this year is the ESL eSports TV channel, which will broadcast IEM events. Woo sees this development as a natural move for ESL.

“Expanding eSports coverage is good for the entire industry, as well as for IEM,” Woo said. “We want to strengthen the current community and reach new audiences to continue to push the growth of eSports, and ESL eSports TV will help with that.”

The new ESL content partnership with Pilgrim Media will also open up new opportunities for IEM in the future.

Creating unique eSports content to drive awareness and reach new audiences is the goal,” Woo said. “There are no immediate plans that directly impact IEM at the moment, but we are very open to unique and fresh ideas to grow the IEM brand and eSports in general.”

Both of these initiatives open IEM to a broader audience, which introduces new opportunities for non-endemic brands.


“ESports is a key passion point for millennials, where there are an estimated 225 million eSports viewers worldwide,” Woo said. “So there is a huge opportunity for non-endemic brands to reach that demographic through eSports.”

Woo said Intel measures its IEM ROI through surveys and sales programs, and the value the tech giant gets out of its involvement in the eSports community is enormous.

Intel has been involved in eSports for more than 15 years. The company sponsored other leagues prior to IEM.

“Gaming is very important to Intel, and we’re proud to be involved with the evolution of eSports by providing an amazing eSports experience where gamers around the world can enjoy and learn about our newest gaming product offers to support their gaming passions,” Woo said.

IEM will run through March 2017 and once again culminate in Katowice, Poland for the world championship.

How ‘Prison Architect’ Became A Breakout Hit

Introversion is known for creative and quirky games such as Uplink, Defcon and Darwinia, but the independent developer struck a chord with fans with the development of Prison Architect. As the title implies, it’s a game about constructing the perfect prison that keeps the inmates contained and in relatively good shape.

“Build and manage a maximum security prison. That’s our tagline, but I think it actually sums up the game pretty well,” said Mark Morris, founder of Introversion, while describing the game. “You start with an empty plot of land and a bus full of prisoners heading your way. You need to get a holding cell built pretty quickly followed by cells and a kitchen/canteen. After that, things get interesting. Do you build a yard or solitary confinement cells? Do you add visitation rooms or install CCTV? Every action you take will have an impact on your prisoners’ behavior and also on your bank balance, but fundamentally you are free to make your own decisions in pretty every aspect of the penal system.”

What sets Prison Architect apart from most other games is how it was crowdfunded without the use of services such as Kickstarter. Instead, the company sold pre-orders of the game and used those funds to develop it. It then spent about three years on Steam Early Access before officially releasing last October and becoming a phenomenal success.

The developers stated earlier this month that Prison Architect sold over two million copies, generating more than $25 million. The announcement came days after the console version, developed by Double Eleven, released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Morris discussed the success of the crowdfunding effort with [a]listdaily, and whether Introversion would consider doing something similar with its next project. “Yes and no,” said Morris. “I’m not a fan of Kickstarter, because I don’t believe it’s possible to accurately predict the cost or time required to make a game. Our approach was to run a campaign with no stated end date, but always deliver value to the backers. Right from the beginning, PA delivered a good 4 or 5 hours of gameplay, and over the following years we have continually updated and enhanced it.

“Not every game concept is going to be amenable to those kinds of regular updates and replayability. More narrative based forms can only really be played through once, so the idea of iterative content delivery just doesn’t fit as well.

“For us, it’s always about making great games, and the business strategy will always follow the game concept rather than trying to conceive an idea based on a business model. We’ve recently announced our next title, Scanner Somber, but that will be delivered in a very different way.”


Prison Architect spent a long period of time in Early Access, and when we asked how the game was being promoted during that time, Morris said, “We started out with a mail to four or five journalists from some of the big sites to cover the very first launch of Alpha 1. The response from players was just enormous, and I think that really got the ball rolling. We produced monthly YouTube update videos which now receive about 100 thousand views. The biggest change in recent times has been the huge YouTubers covering us. These are often totally out-of-the-blue, and suddenly we see a big sales spike and find that Sips or Markiplier or some other massive video maker has dropped a video.”

When asked what he learned about promoting independent, crowdfunded games while developing PA, Morris replied, “YouTube is massive. It’s the only channel that we have ever been able to track against a change in sales. Static ads make no difference. I’m not sure that any single review really contributed that much. Twitter was pretty much irrelevant and Facebook was like pouring a glass of water into an ocean. When we launched v1.0, we did manage to get over one million hits to our Steam page, but we didn’t have a major uplift in sales on that day. Perhaps the price was too high.”

We also asked how Morris imagined the game would continue to grow. “Honestly? We don’t know,” he replied. “We are shortly going to launch v2.0 which will be our ‘feature complete’ version. We’ll still keep the game current with the latest hardware and fix bugs, but it’ll be the last of our monthly updates. As a creative business, it’s time for us to be creative and put out a new game, but we have no idea how that will affect the background sales of PA. We do still have some cool ideas for some pretty major features that we may decide to implement at a later date, but at 2 million players, we’d be happy if PA never sold another unit on PC.

“That said, we’ve just dropped the console versions, and early indications are that PA is going to do well on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I’d love to be able to get some title updates and new features in for the console audience, but we’ll have to see. We’ve also got a tablet version in the pipeline that we’re really excited about.”

Mark South, COO of Double Eleven, spoke to [a]listdaily about promoting the console version of Prison Architect. When asked if there were significant differences in promoting the console edition compared to the PC version, he said, “Promoting the console editions of the game was its own unique challenge, that Double Eleven worked relentlessly on.

“It’s pretty safe to say that, broadly speaking, at present, PA sits in its own genre—strategy, simulation, builder or any combination of those words. At the same time, we didn’t take it as a given that it would be as known of a quantity on console as it was on PC. That ‘known quantity’ factor on PC also presented its own challenges, as we needed to give something to our media partners that was fresh, especially when they had previously reviewed the PC version. In short, we operated on the basis that no one on console had heard of it and that we’d have an uphill struggle making it known—despite all the success and accolades PA has been fortunate enough to attract.

“Double Eleven’s key message for the console editions was more focused on the broader thematic elements of the game, more akin to someone’s favorite TV prison series. With that more familiar context, we could introduce them to the simulation heart of the game. To that end, the messaging was more to do with the lives of the inmates and the emergent behavior that could occur. For console players, PA would provide all the stuff they need to explore how they would build and run a prison and see the outcome of their designs on their prisoners.

“Double Eleven ticked the normal boxes carrying out interviews, previews tours and sponsored YouTube content but also engaged in smaller, more personal projects. This included activities like creating a web tool that would allow anyone to create a prisoner, becoming immortalized in the game as well as a number of videos focused on the heart of PA and what it had to offer.”

One outcome releasing Prison Architect on consoles was that there was no, in effect, two versions of the game with differing features. We asked South whether there were any plans to bring match the console release with the PC edition’s features.

“Double Eleven ultimately created their own edition of PA and introduced it to a new audience,” said South. “Although the versions play the same with the same core mechanics, they’ve made hundreds of changes, improvements, and tweaks to their editions in line what they believe a console gamer would want from PA. So to that end, we see the console edition not as a port but as a uniquely different experience on its own path.

“Given that we see both editions as being on separate paths, they were promoted independently but with a shared awareness of each other.

“Of course, it’s still early days for the console editions so we will continue to support the game with updates and content right for its community, not necessarily to mirror it to the PC version.

Finally, when asked about what he thought about Prison Architect‘s appeal, Morris explained, “I think everyone’s interested in prisons. I think everyone has an opinion on whether they are too lenient or not tough enough, and I also think people enjoy exploring their creativity in video games. I think we did the topic justice, but I guess a better answer to this question can be found in the pages of the Steam user reviews!”