Newzoo: ‘Clash Royale’ Tournaments Drive Revenue, Twitch Viewership

Supercell recently launched a new tournament function for their hit mobile game, Clash Royale. To celebrate, the publisher supported a week of competitions from July 4 to July 10 and the marketing effort has paid off, according to Newzoo. Revenues, downloads and Twitch viewership for the game increased compared to the weeks prior, particularly on the Fourth of July.

Using ESports As A Marketing Platform 

Recently acquired by Chinese mobile giant, Tencent, Supercell utilized the power of eSports engagement to increase brand awareness during the holiday week. In the two weeks since the tournament update, Newzoo reports more than one million additional Clash Royale downloads and more than $1.5 million additional revenues when compared to the two weeks before the tournament week. Total hours spent watching the game on Twitch more than doubled during the event to 614,200. At its peak, downloads were up more than 50 percent compared to the baseline.

clash royale tournament week
Tencent is known for creating an eSports scene around its games and using it to maintain a high position on the Chinese top grossing mobile charts. In fact, 24 out of the top 100 grossing games on all Android stores in China are mobile eSports titles, with Tencent owning at least half of them. With this in mind, Tencent is likely to invest more in eSports tournaments for Clash Royale to cement its place as the leader in mobile game revenue.

Influencers Drive Viewership And Revenue

Tournament week was a mutually-beneficial time for influencers, as well, and Newzoo observed an enormous impact on Twitch viewership. Compared to the week before, total hours spent watching Clash Royale increased by 117 percent. The top five streamers of the week were popular Clash Royale content creators who cater to the community with regular video game content. They, too benefited from the activation, enjoying a major increase in hours watched by fans. The top three, Phonecats, Trymacs and MonsterDFace increased their hours watched by 73.6 percent, 118.4 percent, and 257.8 percent, respectively. The top 5 streamers accounted for almost 45 percent of all hours watched throughout the week.

The Clash Royale tournament week was a success and perfect example of how a publisher can work closely with influencers who are already fostering communities for the franchise. ESports adds an interactive experience for those participating and drives revenues by inspiring viewers to try the games for themselves.

How Epson Is Reinventing Their Brand Through Augmented Reality

Epson is having a coming out party of sorts to let everyone know that they’ve long shed their image as your father’s favorite printer maker. One way the company is furthering its foothold in tech is through augmented reality.

AR—by way of the overnight sensation Pokémon GO—is certainly stealing headlines from the nightly news to The New York Times and all the way down to the mommy blogger as the next “it” thing, forcing brands to quickly react and pivot to get a piece of the proverbial pie. Nintendo’s stock suddenly skyrocketed by an excess of $7.5 billion, but as industries like automobiles have proven over time, the consumer applications have been open for the taking for a long time.

On the other hand, on lands far away from Lickitung, the likes of Epson are positioning themselves as leaders in AR through smart eyewear. Epson believes display technology—colloquially known as the fourth screen—will soon dominate the electronics industry.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 3.43.04 PM

One way the providers of the Moverio AR platform are

staying ahead of the curve is by teaming up with cutting-edge app developers to showcase mobile phone mirroring, 3D AR shopping, indoor location tracking and more.

Start-ups like AR-Cadia use Epson’s flagship product in the Moverio BT-300—which enables transparent, mobile AR for businesses and consumers, and is set for a fall release—to bring mobile phone apps to life. From social media sites to streaming video services, the AR-Cadia software allows mobile apps to be enjoyed privately through a large, transparent display in the user’s field of view; users can also “pin” apps, web pages or 3D images as “holograms” to targets in the physical world.

In May, Epson joined forces with Super Ventures on a $10 million AR incubator that will provide entrepreneurs with pre-production versions of its Moverio device and work with Super Ventures in discovering new companies like AR-Cadia.

By June, Epson was commanding primetime real estate—and serious attention—at the Augmented World Expo in San Jose, California, where they partnered with Atheer to deliver remote collaboration and task flow deployment on the Moverio platform. The collaboration enables solutions for enterprises that are ready to be implemented and is part of Epson’s ongoing strategy to leverage their smart eyewear.

“Our AiR Suite for Enterprise on the Epson Moverio platform can deliver easy collaboration, management and rapid task flow creation and deployment to ‘deskless’ professionals in the industrial space,” said Ryan Fink, vice president of business development for Atheer. “By leveraging the robust features of Moverio smart eyewear, we can offer an efficient wearable computing solution that makes hands-on work easier and safer.”

Michael Leyva, product manager at the Long Beach, California-based Epson America, joined [a]listdaily to further discuss the company’s efforts in the field of AR.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 3.42.06 PM

What prompted Epson to embrace AR?

It’s a question everybody asks. They go, ‘Epson … Aren’t you guys a printer company?’ And it’s a very valid question. What most people don’t know is that Epson is more of an overall technology company. Our parent company in Seiko Epson Corporation in Japan makes a lot of different products that nobody sees, like internal components that we license to other companies, like the original iPhone screens, or motion sensors for the Nintendo Wii. A lot of people have no idea that there are Epson parts in there helping drive technology.

With regard to AR glasses in particular, there are two things that made it a natural extension for Epson. One is that our most dominant market is projectors. Epson has roughly 40-to-50 percent market share. You can imagine that with glasses, the technology from projectors was taken and used in a new way. The glasses have micro-projectors on each side, or ‘leg’ of the glasses that if we produce an image, it’s refracted back and forth through the prism, or the optic wave guides it until it reaches the prism, and then you get the virtual screen that you’re looking at. Second is that Seiko Epson, which also makes Seiko watches, is great at precision manufacturing, a process in and of itself that we have patents on and mass produce in.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 3.43.22 PM

What are some applications brands can use with Epson’s AR hardware to connect with consumers?

Our colleagues in Europe have had tremendous success in the B-to-B-to-C market with tour guide companies, or integrators in museums who build software. Let’s say you’re at in an attraction in Italy and want real-time translations, subtitles, or some sort of visual information to accompany the tour—digital information can now be overlaid on the real world. In the US, we’ve rolled out some experiences with sports teams where you get real-time analytics and information while watching a game. It’s been great for fantasy football, so you don’t have to look down on your phone. In general, enterprise is very much a work tool where you’re really trying to bring information to the forefront.

How has Moverio made its way into drone racing to help pilots? How are you furthering the growing industry?

There is a very defined reason to wear it. With something like our DJI Phantom 4 Camera Drone, the use-case that we’ve really built out with drone pilots, the biggest issue they have is when they use their phone or tablet to connect it to the holster on their controller, it gets washed out in bright sunlight. It can be very hard to see the screen at times. Another issue is that they’re looking down at their controller to get real-time telemetry information and video stream from the camera. That means they’re looking down, and not at their drone. What the glasses enable is that instead of having the info on your phone, you have it directly in the field of view.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 3.41.37 PM

What are the gaming and eSports applications?

Gaming is a fun one. It’s one for us that people might not buy the product right away as a gaming device, but if they buy it for drone racing, and they later want to go home and play games on it, it’s a great second-use case scenario. With gaming, the key is that you want the content to have some interaction with the real world. If you think about the mobile experiences, they’re often using multi-touch. With glasses, the great thing is that you can still interact with the real world since it’s transparent. You don’t want for the game to be confined to the screen. We’re hoping people can build experiences similar to mobile and tablet that are a little less power hungry.

How do you see the next handful of years developing for the AR industry? 

That’s everyone’s million dollar question—‘when will AR really hit with adoption?’ We’re seeing 2016 as the year with a lot of virtual reality momentum. You have all of the big headset manufacturers launching their products this year. We think VR has that chance first. AR is a little behind on that curve. Maybe a year or two from now. Epson has seen a lot of adoption. I’m not promising millions by any means, but we’ve sold a lot of units. We encourage to use AR hardware when they have an exact reason to do so.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

Virtual Passes Are Growing ESports Viewership Numbers

Not everyone can afford a trip to their favorite convention, but companies are steadily improving the at-home experience. That’s what Blizzard has been doing for the past few years with its Virtual Ticket—an online portal that streams content to those that can’t attend the show. With Virtual Ticket access, they can view panels, tournaments and other special events without worrying about missing out on anything.

Blizzard has begun offering this year’s BlizzCon Virtual Ticket, which goes for $39.99 and includes full access to watch November’s event along with a virtual “swag bag” of content for a bevy of Blizzard’s hit games, including Overwatch, World of Warcraft and StarCraft II. Those who purchase the Virtual Ticket will also gain access to physical goods, including a chance to pre-purchase a special BlizzCon Goody Bag, which sells for $35 (plus shipping) and is filled with collectibles. Those that purchase a physical ticket to BlizzCon are also eligible for these perks, so no fans are left behind.

BlizzCon Goody Bag

Over the past few years, BlizzCon has provided a hub for tournaments with games like Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and Overwatch. This will no doubt play a huge part in getting the attention of both those attending BlizzCon in person and watching online, especially once its new competitive modes are thrown into the mix. Favorites such as StarCraft II still have a strong international following.

Attendance for the event has dipped slightly over the past year, going down from 26,000 for 2013 and 2014 to 25,000 for 2015, even with the highly anticipated premiere of Overwatch. However, Blizzard should have no trouble rising above this number again, now that Overwatch is out and has become a runaway hit. Additionally, the sixth World of Warcraft expansion, Legion, releases this summer, so there should be plenty to discuss at the convention.

Virtual Ticket has been an essential part of Blizzard’s success with BlizzCon, thanks to exclusive items and the convenience of streaming the show. Around this time last year, the company offered a similar Goody Bag that featured items from Overwatch and Hearthstone, and it sold out almost immediately.

Meanwhile, Valve is ramping up for its annual Dota 2 tournament, The International. The event, set to return to Seattle’s Key Arena next month, is expected to bring in thousands of fans from around the world, along with millions of online viewers. What sets The International apart from many other eSports tournaments is that the prize pool is raised by fans who purchase International Battle Passes. These passes offer in-game goods such as emoticons and seasonal special features while raising the prize pool. So far, the prize has reached $18.4 million, and it continues to grow. Bundles start at $9.99, and they can be “leveled up” incrementally with boosters, or fans can purchase the premium Level 50 bundle for $26.99. Reaching prize pool milestones unlocks new rewards for Dota 2 players to enjoy.

Having an invested fan base really pays off, as Valve has had no trouble maintaining a strong audience over the years. The 2014 International tournament attracted an audience of over 20 million viewers worldwide with a peak of around 2 million concurrent viewers. Even though official numbers weren’t reported for the 2015 tournament, it’s estimated that the event reached over 4.6 million concurrent viewers for the final round—which would rival other eSports giants such as League of Legends.

We’ll see how the final attendee numbers add up towards the end of the year, but for now, all eyes are on BlizzCon and The International as both events generate an even more feverish buzz in the world of eSports. Other upcoming events include League of Legends‘ summer and seasonal tournaments, and Activision’s Call of Duty Championship next month at the Call of Duty XP event.

Mobile Devices Becoming The New Favorite For Web Shopping

When it comes to shopping on the web, more people prefer the mobile route.

A new study by Demandware indicated that smartphones made up 45.1 percent of web shopping traffic for the first quarter of this year, just barely squeaking past the 45 percent that prefer desktop computers, per Bloomberg. Demandware was quick to note that the numbers for mobile will continue to be on the rise, as phones are set to reach 60 percent of eCommerce visits by the end of 2017.


The chart above breaks down just how much mobile phones have grown with eCommerce over the past few years, going from $7 billion in the second quarter of 2013 to $22 billion for the fourth quarter of 2015. That’s triple the amount of increase in just over two years.

That said, it’s just a matter of retailers finding a way to make the most out of the format, and doing away with problematic issues that would prevent sales on their site, including checkout times that last longer than usual (a turn-off for those that are into impulse buys) and payment procedures with potential security issues.

Demandware made note of this, indicating that completion of orders on mobile is actually 11 percent lower than the combined rate through all other devices, including desktop computers.

“If they can get it right on mobile today and tomorrow, that’s where they’re going to see a lot of value going forward,” said Rick Kenney, who put together the study and serves as head of consumer insights for Demandware.

ECommerce continues to be a big deal for retailing partners, with sales reaching an estimated $92.8 billion for the first quarter of 2016, which makes up 7.8 percent of total retail sales. While this is a small percentage, it’s grown exponentially from 1.3 percent in 2002.

With that, more people prefer mobile shopping as a convenient way to buy the things they want. A comScore report noted that mobile sales have managed to double the amount from 2013 to 2015, and Demandware added that shoppers will use their devices now more than ever, leading to its projected increase by the end of 2017.

More companies are grasping ways to make mobile shopping more convenient, including PayPal with its quick transfer system, and devoted payment set-ups for iOS and Android devices, through Apple Pay and Android Pay, respectively.

Poonam Goyal, senior retail analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, noted that bigger retailers are seeing the biggest boost, thanks to devoted apps like Target’s Cartwheel, which offers shoppers discounts on the fly. “Retailing today is more about the customer experience than it is about anything else,” she noted.

As for where the market will go from here, the report noted that a “mobile only” space could be coming in the next few years. eMarketer added an estimate that indicates around 71 percent of US consumers will have some form of smartphone to utilize for shopping in just a couple years’ time—a leap from the current 59 percent estimate. Demandware was aware of this, and noted that by the end of 2018, phones will zip past computers for online orders by a margin of 13 percent.

Image Source

SGN Discusses The Growing Opportunities Of Mobile Gaming

The mobile games industry is a place of great opportunity from the perspective of SGN Games, according to its CEO Chris DeWolfe—especially since the company recently acquired mobile game developer, TinyCo. At the recent Casual Connect conference in San Francisco, DeWolfe talked to [a]listdaily about the recent acquisition of TinyCo, the value of licensed IP for games, and how VR looks to SGN.

Chris DeWolfe
Chris DeWolfe, CEO at SGN

How does the TinyCo acquisition fit into SGN’s vision?

We’re seeing massive consolidation in the mobile gaming space. There’s certainly room for some new entrants to come in. It’s pretty simple in economic terms. We’re seeing the industry grow by 20 percent, but it also consolidates for a bigger piece of a growing pie. That’s super interesting, but it also gets us into a new segment, the builder genre, or invest and express, where TinyCo is a leader using Hollywood-based IP. I don’t think we could have replicated that on our own.

What is the appeal of licensed IP?

I don’t think all licenses are alike. The really interesting thing about TinyCo is they had a unique take on the types of IP they would go after. It’s hardcore, rabid fans that want to watch a TV show or a movie and want to get immersed in the environment. They don’t get enough of it while they are watching TV or a movie, and they want to extend that immersion into playing a mobile game. That got us really excited. Their revenues—we think they’re going to do somewhere around $100 million this year—it’s a meaningful number, and we think it can get a lot bigger than that.

Why IP? Because you have to pay someone a licensing fee? User acquisition is tough for all you guys, it’s tough to get new players into your game—there’s a million new players coming into the App Store. IP helps you get more users, more quickly, and higher click rates that all accelerates. It’s a little bit substitutional for advertising costs. In some ways, it may be lower margin, in some ways it may be higher margin. It’s very nice to have a mix of the two.

When you look at the mobile market now, what worries you about its state? How would you fix the market?

I wish we could experiment with everything and try everything. I wish we could do midcore games, I wish we could do social casino, I wish we could do storytelling games. I think with the maturity of this market, you have to think about one thing that you do really well, and that you can be an expert in. Get really good at that, and then begin to try something new. For us, we always want to try something new. We want to do VR, we want to do AR, have a big R&D team, and at the end of the day, managing your resources is probably the most important thing.

When you look at the mobile game companies out there, which ones do you admire?

Everyone in this room probably admires Supercell. I don’t think we can learn enough from them or talk about them enough. They have maybe a couple of hundred people, they’ve sold their company twice, they’ve made plenty of money but they don’t seem to be worried about it. They’ve created hit games, they’ve created pretty original games, they’ve created brands in their own right. They’ve created games that work globally—probably the only Western game that actually works throughout Asia very well. I admire them a lot. I think EA’s done a very good job in the IP space.

How important is it for something to be global, when you’re thinking about IPs or building IPs?

At least in your portfolio, you have to think about it. If you have something like Family Guy it’s probably not going to do well in Asia, because they don’t know what Family Guy is for the most part. Then there’s other IP out there, like Marvel, that is very universal and works great everywhere. You need to have a good balance that works well in every country, and then you can think about what game mechanics work in which country. The US is very similar to Western Europe, and obviously Canada and Australia. You can’t even say “Asia” because China, Japan and Korea are so different. We’ve actually done pretty well in Japan. Over the next twelve months, we’re going to think a lot more about localizing in Japan, to the point where we may even change out a lot of our art.

Is VR going to be a big market for the types of games SGN is developing over the next few years? 

I don’t know if it’s the next couple of years. My point of view is that VR would work better with big core games and console games than it would be for pure casual games, but I’m sure there will be great executions on the casual side. There are still a couple of big problems. I still feel the latency and the technology may be an issue. Whenever I put on any of the headgear or the wearables, I still feel nauseous after ten minutes. I still think there’s a critical mass of people who just don’t feel good putting on that equipment. It’s got to get to a different form factor, it’s got to get to critical mass before a lot of money goes into it. There’s just not a lot of great titles out there and I don’t think people are going to invest in those titles until the problems are solved. I think it will happen, but people said 18 months 18 months ago. To me, it’s more like 36 or 48 months from now.

How would you categorize the types of players you are appealing to? Are they casual or midcore gamers?

That’s a big question. For SGN, in the past, it’s been more casual gamers, more female skewed. We have created games for more people that have typically been under-represented in the marketplace, like a female demographic for casual puzzle games that has deep gameplay with thousands and thousands of levels. You don’t have to invest forty-five minutes on your console. That’s what we’ve been doing on the SGN side.

The TinyCo side has been much more male oriented, all of their titles have been male-oriented. Some of the new titles which will be coming out will have more of a female skew to them. The majority of people playing games out there don’t self-identify themselves as gamers. It’s interesting because everyone has a certain amount of excess time where they just want to get away from all their problems, get away from all their stresses, and just hangout, pick up and play and escape the world. Those are the types of games we’ve traditionally made.

What Marketers Need To Know About Branded Content

Branded content is becoming more of the norm, and more accepted by consumers. A new study by Television News Daily reports that it has actually managed to take over pre-roll advertising when it comes to recall, based on numbers reported by Nielsen.

The report indicates that branded content has managed to generate an average of 86 percent brand recall amongst consumers—a much higher number than the 65 percent with pre-roll ads.

Stats across the board show higher numbers for branded content over pre-roll, including with branded entertainment (28 percent compared to 18 percent); purchase intent (14 percent over 11 percent); and recommendation intent (20 percent versus 16 percent).

In addition, Nielsen also noted that branded content impact with future TV/video episodes of a popular series scores well into the positive side, with a 40 percent portion noting that they “probably will” or “definitely will” tune in to the next episode.

Marketers that have embraced brand content have seen a greater chance of working alongside publishers with partnerships, with a 50 percent higher average than marketers that simply work with content on their own behalf—indicating that finding the right kind of marketing partner to spread awareness is a solid business tactic.

Branded content is all about making sure the brand is in center view, but not necessarily in center view. So far, a lot of companies have embraced the tactic, but it’s all about putting it together the right way, without making the message all about the brand—but still keeping it in mind.

Some insight can also be found from an older 2013 report filed by the Content Marketing Institute, breaking down the benchmarks, budgets and trends within North America. At that time, 86 percent of those participating in the study used content marketing to some extent—and those numbers have probably changed for the better with the introduction of new, more convenient digital means.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 2.12.21 PM

A  report from August by Marketing Profs breaks down more of the social media side of branded content and how companies are using visuals in order to attract consumers. “Posts that include images produce 650 percent higher engagement than regular text posts,” according to the team that put the report together, WebDAM. It also noted that, by 2018, 79 percent of overall Internet traffic will come from video content—a sure sign that companies may want to adopt some form of visual marketing sooner rather than later.

The report indicates that 81 percent of educated people prefer to skim through pages rather than do thorough reading, thus why the importance of memorable images proves useful. 20 percent of those who participated noted that they do remember reading text without visuals, but that leaves a hefty 80 percent that rely more on pictures.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 2.15.05 PM


Op-Ed: Why VR Smartphones Will Transform Mobile

The virtual reality boom is coming to mobile devices, and it has the potential to both reinvigorate slowing smartphone sales and boost gaming. The forces behind this include Google and ARM, and already major smartphone makers are signing up to produce VR-ready smartphones. The result will be a powerful new reason to upgrade your smartphone, and in the process, drive greater sales of mobile games.

First, let’s look at the state of the smartphone market and it’s not a happy one for marketers or those looking for high growth. The Gartner Group’s smartphone sales numbers for the first quarter of 2016 showed 3.9 percent growth, a far cry from the double-digit rates of smartphone growth in previous years. The growth is driven largely by low-cost smartphones in emerging markets. “In a slowing smartphone market where large vendors are experiencing growth saturation, emerging brands are disrupting existing brands’ long-standing business models to increase their share,” said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.

Daydream: The Game Changer

A big part of the reason smartphone sales have slowed is that so many people have them, and the phones have gotten very good. Why pay for a new phone if your current one works very well? The answer may very well lie with Google’s Daydream VR initiative, where Google has laid out the minimum specs for a phone to be VR Ready. Eight phone makers have already signed on to make Daydream-ready VR smartphones, including Samsung, HTC, LG, Asus, and more. Companies like Netflix, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and many others have promised apps for the platform. Furthermore, Google has stated that current phones won’t qualify as Daydream-ready for a number of technical reasons.

So the hardware is on the way to make Google’s Daydream VR a reality, which means there may be some strong sales of new VR smartphones once these new designs hit the market. That’s assuming the VR content for this new platform is there, which Google is pushing hard to achieve by creating special VR versions of YouTube, Street View, the Google Play Store, Play Movies, and Google Photos. Those are plenty of reasons to want mobile VR, and if you add in games from the likes of EA and Ubisoft, that’s going to move some serious amounts of smartphones.

Better still, all this extra horsepower for graphics on beautiful, high-resolution screens is going to be a major assistance to mobile games in general, as will the influx of hundreds of millions of VR smartphones with this level of power. Mobile games will be able to generate even prettier pictures, and the market for smartphones may actually start growing more substantially, creating a better environment for sales. It’s also quite likely that smartphone makers will be pushing games and entertainment on their new devices, making things even better for game marketers.

Where Does Apple Fit In?

Although Apple hasn’t announced plans for VR, the company has a history of waiting for others to pioneer new markets before entering them with something that is substantially better than the market standard. That’s how the company captures significant new markets—not by being first, but by being best.Apple VR

Analyst Jan Dawson believes Apple is preparing to launch a VR product by adding important features to its smartphones, like improving the sensors, and perhaps introducing the Smart Connector from the iPad Pro to its smartphone line.

Apple has also patented its own VR headset, and has several VR-related patents already. Although this indicates that Apple is planning something VR-related, we’re not likely to see anything come of it until at least 2017. This will give Apple time to watch how the market develops, see what the weak points are and where it can make a difference, before delivering an end-to-end solution that will have strong market potential.

The advent of mobile VR is a terrific opportunity for entertainment marketers as well as for game developers. Potentially stronger smartphone sales, along with an emphasis on VR entertainment, is a big plus and both smartphone makers and Google will be spending heavily to promote all of it.

There will be opportunities for savvy marketers to work with Google and with hardware makers to get featured roles for their software. Imagine being one of the titles that Samsung uses to showcase the power of its new VR smartphone. There’s a marketing opportunity that someone will seize. Even without that, it’s time to start thinking of how VR and mobile games can be positioned against this new market opportunity.

How Brands Are Taking Off With Some Help From Drones

Drones—they’re here to stay. These flying machines have picked up in sales, both among casual and tech-savvy users looking to film everything they can get a lens on. However, they’re also finding more use in the marketing world, taking certain brands to new heights—literally.

In the past, Amazon had mentioned how it was looking to introduce a local delivery service that would utilize drones to drop off packages to consumers. On Friday, however, 7-Eleven introduced a fully autonomous delivery service, approved by the FAA, that would enable consumers to order a number of food goodies for delivery. This ranges from chicken sandwiches to donuts to the company’s signature Slurpee drinks.

7-Eleven partnered with drone delivery service Flirtey to make it a reality. “This deliver is the first time a US customer has received a package to their home via drone, representing a historic milestone in both US and global commerce,” the company said.

So, how else have drones played a part in marketing campaigns? Here are a few examples:


No stranger to using its camera technology for more extreme adventures, GoPro announced today that it would be a presenting sponsor for the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships, which will take place beginning August 5. The event will be the first of its kind to be televised, as the championships will be shown on ESPN. It joins AIG (the official insurance partner for the event) and others to help spread word about it. “This is a big step forward for DSA and drone racing as a sport,” says Dr. Scot Refsland, chairman of the Drone Sport Association (DSA). “To have major brands like GoPro, AIG, EMC and EY follow ESPN and become our partners is an incredible testament to the immense growth of drone racing.”

‘Call of Duty’

In 2012, Activision released a limited edition Care Package to tie in with its Call of Duty: Black Ops II game release, featuring a fully functioning remote controlled Quadrotor Drone and Stand, similar to the ones featured in the game. It was the first time that a video game company offered a drone as part of a limited edition package. It caught on quite well with the Call of Duty community, and helped drive sales of the game to new heights, well over 7.5 million copies.


General Electric

Last summer, the leading tech company introduced a #DroneWeek event on Periscope, allowing viewers to get a bird’s eye view of a drone in action as it flew through a number of GE facilities, including a jet engine testing site in the Appalachian Mountains and a locomotive manufacturing plant in Texas. The promotion was well received, and generated more interest in utilizing drones for filmmaking purposes—one of its biggest technical draws.


While some drones are used for military purposes, Coca-Cola opted to utilize the flying tech for a happier purpose. In 2014, it partnered with Singapore Kindness Movement to create a new program called Happiness From the Skies. With it, it would award migrant workers in Singapore working on the city’s high-rises with Coke cans and thank you-notes delivered by drones. As you can see from the video above, the campaign had a very positive effect.

Red Bull

A company well known for its involvement in extreme sports activities wasted little time putting drones to good use. It paired with Cut Media to produce a short film called The Ridge, one that focuses on pro mountain biker Danny Macaskill’s trip to the top of the Cuillin Ridgeline. Although his feat was done through his sheer willpower, the film was made with the assistance of drones, showcasing his journey across the beautiful terrain.

Image Source

Square Enix Expands ‘Final Fantasy’ Brand Beyond Gaming

Square Enix is kicking off the fall season with a new entry in its long-running Final Fantasy series. The company has already begun promoting Final Fantasy XV, set to release in September for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Square announced the release date and provided a first look at the game in March on a special Final Fantasy Uncovered event, and a playable demo was released shortly afterwards to provide players a taste of what’s to come.

However, the game is part of a bigger picture, as the publisher will also be releasing a new CG-animated film to help tell story and build anticipation. Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive will mark the first animated film from Square Enix since its 2006 release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, which ties in with the 1997 video game of the same name.

Square Enix heavily promoted Kingsglaive over the weekend by releasing a new trailer for the film, which features the voice talents of Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Sean Bean (Legends) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones). It’s set for a limited theatrical release on August 19, followed by a home video release on October 4—which is less than a week after Final Fantasy XV launches.

A film coinciding with the release of a video game is a bold idea, although Square Enix is no stranger to filmmaking. In 2001, the publisher released the film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within to theaters. Despite its stunning visuals, it ended up being a financial disappointment, resulting in the closure of Square Pictures. However, Square later took a different approach by releasing Advent Children directly to the home video market in 2006, which was a big hit.

Director Takeshi Nozue assured fans that the release of a film like Kingsglaive is vital to the success of the Final Fantasy brand. “The current generation consoles haven’t necessarily taken off around the world,” said Nozue, speaking with Polygon. “We wanted to be able to reach a wider audience. A film gave us a lot more opportunity to reach more people.”

So far, response to the film has been off the charts. “We can’t believe the scores that we’ve got,” noted Nozue. “It’s been great. We’re really happy about it. Some people are saying it’s 100 times better than Advent Children. That feels really gratifying.”

Square has spared no expense pushing both the film and the video game, with everything from in-store campaigns for Final Fantasy XV to tie-ins with popular talents, including the voice actors for Kingsglaive and Florence + The Machine, which covered Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” for the game’s soundtrack.

Square also teamed up with DJ Afrojack to mix music for a special trailer for the game, highlighting its intricate battle system.

To open up the story even further, Square Enix has produced a special animated series called Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV, which focuses on the misadventures of Crown Prince Noctis and his three comrades, the main characters for the game. Episode one released back in March, and other episodes will release over the next few months, leading up to the game’s arrival in stores and on digital.

Last but certainly not least, the action of Final Fantasy XV won’t just be limited to consoles, as Square Enix is also preparing a mobile game called Justice Monsters Five, which will also release in late September. The game will focus on a pinball-style mini-game with “role-playing elements with some of the franchise’s most iconic monsters.” It will be playable in the main console release as well, but it gives players something to do when they’re on the go. There’s no word yet on pricing, but it could very well be free-to-play.

How ‘SBK16’ Is Winning The Mobile Game Racing Audience

Motorcycle racing fans got their chance to fulfill their need for speed when SBK16 Official Mobile Game released last week for iOS and Android devices. Developed as the official game for the 2016 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship, the game is the latest addition to the SBK series on mobile, which has over 20 million downloads worldwide.

The Motul FIM Superbike World Championship is known as one of the top motorcycle racing series in the world, with over 400 million viewers worldwide. More than 100 riders, representing 22 countries, take part in the 13-event racing series. Unlike most other professional racing sports, the motorcycles are based on production models that are available for sale, which makes the motorsport series a means of showcasing vehicles manufactured by Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Ducati, BMW and others—thus the mantra, “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

The SBK16 Team at Digital Tales spoke to [a]listdaily about the new game’s release and how it ties with the sport.

When asked how the studio’s partnership with the 2016 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship began, Marco Boldini, sales manager at Digital Tales said, “We leveraged a previous relationship with the former WSBK licensor, the Italian FG Group, which was subsequently acquired by Dorna Sports. Our first contact with them dates back to the original Superbike games series on console and PC that was actually developed and marketed by some members of the current Digital Tales team.”

As to whether there were any cross promotions between the game and the event, Boldini said, “Yes, the game will be totally free to play through the rest of the 2016 Superbike World Championship, which is until the end of October.”


Alessandra Tomasina, Digital Tales’ marketing manager, added “Basically, we reconnected with them [the Superbike group] a few years ago and showed them Ducati Challenge, our first license-based motorbike racing game for mobile devices, which was climbing the iOS and Android charts worldwide at the time. Luckily, that was also the time when mobile gaming was gaining ground, and the Superbike license holder was looking into expanding its audience to the younger generations. Since the Superbike brand had not received the mobile game treatment yet, they found a partnership with Digital Tales appealing and here we are!”

Tomasina also commented on the importance of catering to mobile gamers the sport. “Mobile gaming is definitely here to stay and it is slated to get bigger and bigger. The way we see it is that it is introducing a new breed of gamer, rather than simply taking gamers away from other platforms—we see a future where mobile, console and PC gaming will coexist peacefully or even complement one another.

“As a matter of fact, SBK16 is appealing to hardcore and casual gamers alike, in addition to motorsports fans: they are all brought together by the use of very personal devices with multiple purposes, including entertainment, but they have very different needs and tastes, which makes it pretty difficult to please them all! That is why, on top of offering a flexible and customizable control system, we introduced a wide array of game modes—ranging from a faithful reproduction of the Superbike World Championship for WSBK fans to Quick Races for bite-sized gaming sessions on the go.

“There weren’t many realistic motorbike racing experiences on mobile before SBK Official Mobile Game, so we think we are targeting a relatively untapped market niche.”

When asked whether Digital Tales would use influencer marketing to promote SBK16, Tomasina replied, “Definitely. We are collaborating with Dorna in order to promote SBK16 more aggressively across their official channels and through social media. The WSBK riders are an easygoing lot; they have proven to be down-to-earth professionals and some of them have already supported the game in the past.”


We also talked to the game’s designer, Fabio Respighi, about whether the thrill of motorcycle racing can be fully captured on a mobile device. “We really hope so!” he replied. “Capturing the thrill of Superbike racing on a mobile device is definitely harder than on a home console or a PC; although mobile devices become more and more powerful every year, their performance is still limited compared to dedicated home entertainment systems, their screen is smaller, and their audio output is less immersive.”

“We have learned that you must share their passion for the sport in order to offer them a truly engaging experience,” said Respighi. “Superbike fans love speed, competition, horsepower, adrenaline, skill and challenge—and the SBK16 Official Mobile Game strives to take the above values to the digital domain while providing a slick and realistic racing simulation.”

Lastly, we asked if Digital Tales has given any thought to using virtual reality to expand the experience. Respighi said, “Not only have we given it a thought, but we have already developed a demo running on Samsung Gear VR! We are currently sharing it with selected partners and showing it at industry events around the world, as we are actively looking for gamers’ feedback and potential investors or publishing partners for a VR edition of our SBK Official Mobile Game.”