How Brands Are Taking Over San Diego Comic-Con

The San Diego Comic-Con 2016 is fully underway, and thousands have made their way to the sunny city to learn the latest about their favorite movies, TV shows and comic books.

However, brands are also there in droves, hyping their latest products and sponsoring a number of events for fans. Here’s a rundown of the many companies with mega-presence at this week’s event:

Conan O’Brien, AT&T, Funko and Snickers

Conan O’Brien is bringing his TBS talk show to Comic-Con for the second year in a row, featuring guests from such programs as Silicon Valley and the upcoming Suicide Squad film. For good measure, he’s also got some brands to help promote the event.

Funko produced a series of limited edition Conan figurines, advertised on a large banner on a hotel adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center. These will be handed out to guests and given out via social media, just as they were last year, and feature the talk show host dressed as a Star Wars Stormtrooper, Superman, a Ghostbuster and the Joker from Suicide Squad.


Additionally, two other brand partners are in tow helping Conan along—Snickers and AT&T. Snickers is working with TBS on a Satisfaction Station at the Petco Park Interactive Zone, where fans can dress up and have pictures taken as superheroes, then get their own custom comic book covers.

Meanwhile, AT&T is bringing Conan’s nightly talk show to virtual reality, as viewers can use CONAN360 VR to watch episodes of the show from several interactive angles. The tech was demonstrated last night on the show, with co-host Andy Richter giving it a try.

“Comic-Con is a unique opportunity to reward fans with access to their favorite shows and on-air personalities, and our sponsors are elevating this connection through even more engagement opportunities,” said Jennifer Cohen, senior vice president of entertainment content partnerships, Turner Ignite. “These multi-faceted partnerships not only bring value to fans of TBS and Conan, but also drive deeper consumer interaction, and in turn, business results for our brand partners.”

TCL and Anchor Bay

The electronics manufacturer has teamed up with IMDb to host convention coverage aboard a yacht with writer/director/podcaster Kevin Smith hosting.

TCL will serve as a promotional partner for the three-day event, featuring a Refresh and Recharge lounge with TCL 4K televisions. In addition, Anchor Bay will host a Blu-Ray screening lounge, along with an interactive photo booth featuring props from its many shows provided by Amazon’s Geek Boutique.

Sanrio / Hello Kitty 

In addition to hosting its own booth on the show floor, Sanrio is also launching a new brand called Hello Sanrio at Comic-Con this week. With it, the company is hoping to reach out to fans through a number of new mediums and unique products such as a clear vinyl bag filled with Hello Kitty characters.

“The introduction of Hello Sanrio is an exciting evolution in Sanrio’s history—a history that’s rooted in fostering social communication, connecting people and nurturing friendships,” says Jill Koch, SVP of brand management and marketing at Sanrio, Inc. “Hello Sanrio adds to this rich history by creating a world in which Sanrio’s fans can engage and interact with one another and with our expansive roster of characters through a suite of apps, unique digital content and supercute products.”

hello sanrio (PRNewsFoto/Sanrio)
hello sanrio (PRNewsFoto/Sanrio)

In addition, the company will host a special Hello Kitty Café Food Truck, which is located in the Petco Interactive Zone. It features, as you may have guessed, Hello Kitty themed snacks and drinks.


In addition to hosting a Game of Thrones panel tomorrow, HBO is also has a special House of Black and White Hall of Faces experience on the show floor. Additionally, fans can flock to 628 L Street (across from the Omni Hotel) to their pictures taken so that their faces can appear on a Hall of Faces portrait via a custom app. That’s not all. A Melisandre’s Flames exhibit, created with OC Dream holographic technology, will also be available, along with the Iron Throne and other props from the show, such as Arya’s Sword and Waif’s costume. The first 500 attendees of each day will also score an exclusive Funko figurine, designed exclusively for Comic-Con by artist Robert Ball.


To top it off, HBO is hosting a Scavenger Hunt, giving attendees a chance to tackle challenges both on and off the show floor in the hopes of winning a special prize pack worth $200. USAOpoly will also take part, hosting a special Clue: Game of Thrones Experience booth.

Sony and Lyft

With the Ghostbusters reboot in theaters, Sony continues to promote the film at San Diego Comic Con using a special promotion from Lyft. Fans lucky enough to be haunted by the Lyft app’s Ghost Mode can use it to order an ECTO-1 car, like the one in the film. Those that are able to secure a Ghostbusters-themed car will ride for free, but the company warns that they “can’t guarantee they won’t be spooky!”


The network will host its own event in Gaslamp Square, across from the Convention Center, where fans can experience activities based on upcoming shows such as Timeless and Emerald City, including free frozen yogurt and a variety of giveaways.


The mega company will have Comic-Con presence with a special exhibit over on Harbor Drive, featuring an exclusive 4D virtual reality experience based on The Man In the High Castle. There will also be life-size characters, behind-the-scenes footage and model sets from its hit show reboot, Thunderbirds Are Go. Fans will also be able to take part in an International Rescue mission, helping keep San Diego safe in the process.

Adult Swim

Taking place just behind the convention center, Cartoon Network is hosting a special Adult Swim On the Green event, where it will have a carnival midway, access to a special Rick and Morty virtual reality game, and nighttime screenings of upcoming shows, including the return of Samurai Jack.


The television network has plenty of panels lined up, including presentations for returning shows such as 24 and Prison Break, but its main event will take place on the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Lawn. Here, fans can interact with exhibits based on upcoming shows, including Son of Zorn and Rocky Horror Picture Show Live. These include a giant rock wall for climbing, a huge stunt bag to dive into, and custom lip art designs inspired by the world of Rocky Horror. There is also an American Horror Story VR Experience for those that want to get spooked out.

Comedy Central

The network is back, this time promoting South Park. In addition to recreating the small town of South Park, its exhibit stream of all the show’s episodes via Hulu. There is also a Coon and Friends exhibit, where fans can check out items from the Ubisoft video game, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, which releases this holiday. A retrospective gallery will also be available, featuring rare samples from the original pilot.

Warner Bros.

The studio has major presence at this year’s Comic-Con, including panels for Suicide Squad and the next year’s Wonder Woman film. However, it’s also hosting a Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Experience at the MLK Promenade, where fans can go on a daily scavenger hunt and take part in exclusive giveaways. The timing is ideal, since Dawn of Justice: Ultimate Edition recently released on Blu-Ray.

The company is celebrating Wonder Woman’s 75-year legacy with an art exhibition featuring the comic book star, in addition to a nighttime exhibit that includes an interactive Invisible Jet that’s lit up during the evening. The DC Comics show floor booth also features costumes from Wonder Woman film.

Microsoft (Xbox One), Sega and Nintendo

Video game companies are having a field day at the event, most of them hosting panels during the four-day convention. However, Microsoft is keeping busy with various events around SDCC, including a special Xbox lounge at Nerd HQ, where players can engage with upcoming titles like Gears of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3, and register to win big prizes, such as an exclusive Gears of War 4 system bundle.

Meanwhile, Nintendo will once again host an open lounge at the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina hotel, close to the Convention Center, where fans can play games like Yo-Kai Watch 2 and Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and interact with other exhibits.

Finally, Sega is keeping busy with its mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, as it’s hosting a number of events over the course of Comic-Con, including a special 25th anniversary party and game demos for Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice. Limited edition merchandise is also available at a number of locations around the hall.


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US Olympians Star In Kellogg’s Campaign And VR Showcase

A crowning moment for any athlete can range from the moment they’re coronated as champions, or the second they sign a multi-million dollar contract. One accolade that few ever get to achieve though is the hallowed grounds of cardboard courtship by way of a cereal box sponsorship. Kellogg’s is taking a unique approach with their new “What Gets You Started?” campaign by showcasing a team of first-time US Olympians and Paralympians both on their brand of limited-edition boxes and across digital and social platforms as well to share the stories of what gets them started each day as they train toward the Summer Games.


“Everyone has something that drives them to succeed, and I am thrilled to be able to help people explore their motivations and find common ground in what gets us all started, fans and athletes alike,” said Olympic swimming legend and Team Kellog’s captain Dara Torres.

With Samsung and NBC partnering to broadcast over 85 hours of virtual reality programming over the course of the 2016 Rio Olympics, Kellogg’s is capitalizing on the fast-moving VR content train too with a 360-degree experience featuring decorated swimmer Tom Shields. In the video, viewers are transported with Shields from the starting platform, into the pool and all the way to the final touch of the wall.

Athletes being depicted on the front flap of cereal boxes dates back to the 1950s when General Mills started their popular Wheaties marketing ploy with Bob Richards, a two-time Olympic pole vaulting champion who was the first athlete to be featured on the front of the cereal.

Kellogg’s has a history of donning US Olympians, too. Their stable in recent years include Michael Phelps, Summer Sanders, Kerri Walsh, the gold medal winning 2012 US Women’s Gymnastics Team, among countless others.

Now the cereal maker is the latest brand vaulting from two-dimensional marketing to 360-degree videos—even competitor Post recently unveiled a VR activation via Fruity Pebbles. And consumers are eating up everything VR-related.

According to a study released by Greenlight VR on Monday, 52 percent of respondents would like to be associated with a brand that sponsors VR, while 71 percent of them consider a brand forward-thinking and modern for such an activation.

Andy Shripka, assistant marketing director for Kellogg’s, joined [a]listdaily to discuss the company’s latest integrated marketing campaign.

Tom Shields_Cereal Box

What is the “What Gets You Started?” campaign designed to accomplish?

This year we’re working with swimmer Tom Shields and four other first-time US Olympian and Paralympians, including Simone Biles, Julie Johnston, Ajee’ Wilson and Natalie Bieule, to make the unprecedented connection between the starts of everyday people and Olympic athletes. Whether you’re a mom getting her kids ready for school, or an elite athlete preparing for competition, we understand that everyone awakes in the morning with a personal motivation to get them started. We started 100 days out from the Games with a launch event in New York, and have since been working with each of these Olympians to showcase their stories.

How will the 2016 Rio Olympics and this specific campaign help elevate the Kellogg’s brand profile?

Kellogg’s has a long history of helping athletes get a great start to their day, at home or while on the road competing. In 2016, Kellogg’s is making unprecedented connections between the starts of everyday Americans and those of first-time Olympic hopefuls—athletes whose stories are untold and potential yet to be defined. We focused on selecting first-time Olympic athletes for our team who were getting the start on their Olympic journey and toward achieving their dreams in Rio.

Ajee Simpson_Cereal Box

What kind of marketing activations can customers expect with the physical boxes?

All of our athletes will be featured on the front of their favorite Kellogg’s cereal boxes from now through the Olympics, including Simone and Natalie on Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries, Julie on Kellogg’s Special K Original, Tom on Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Ajee’ on Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, all in stores now. On-pack art continues the conversation on social media, as fans are encouraged by prompts on the cereal box to post photos about what gets them started each day using #GetsMeStarted on their social channels.

How is Kellogg’s using social media, content and other storytelling tools to engage in new ways with consumers? What’s the strategy behind the #GetsMeStarted campaign? What kind of social rollouts can followers expect?

To get the #GetsMeStarted message out there we created unique digital content to bring their stories to life. Throughout the run-up to the Olympics, each athlete will engage with fans on social media, showing their daily motivations with posts using #GetsMeStarted. We’re seeing great engagement with fans and expect things to really ramp up the closer we get to the opening ceremony. In the instance of Tom, we went a step further and brought people a unique perspective of what motivates him as he shares his thoughts and a morning swim through a fully immersive virtual reality experience.

Julie Johnston_Cereal Box

A bevy of brands are frequently using emerging technology such as 360-degree video almost daily. Why is VR critical to a present-day marketing campaign?

This is a new space for a lot of brands, including Kellogg’s, and presents a unique opportunity to share our stories in a fully immersive way. In the example of Tom, we already had a lot of great content about how he starts each day, but wanted to bring fans closer. Tom allowed us to bring fans to the pool with him each morning, even underwater, and listen to him share what gets him started. Because of that, we feel the VR experience makes the connection between Kellogg’s, Tom and fans that much stronger.

How does using VR and other immersive experiences best position Kellogg’s marketing efforts moving forward?

We’re excited about the engagement our VR video has seen to date. The spirit of the Olympics presented a great opportunity for us to tell the #GetsMeStarted story via VR. It’s still too soon to tell where we’ll go from here, but we’ll continue to look for more opportunities to engage our consumers in interactive ways.

Kellogg’s also has previously partnered with Marvel to present a VR game and a separate viewer for the release of Captain America: Civil War. What was your integrated marketing strategy for that specific brand implementation? What were the results?

Captain 4

Kellogg gave fans a unique way to experience the excitement of this epic showdown with an immersive VR app and free VR viewers. The app and viewers let you choose a side and do battle as either Captain America or Iron Man. Turn, spin and fight in any direction—fans are put in the center of the action. The app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or at Google Play. The viewers could be ordered by redeeming proof of purchase codes from specially marked products. We also celebrated the arrival of this newest Avengers movie with limited edition products, including Captain America: Civil War cereal and fruit snacks.

Other cereal makers like Post are using technology and innovation to create brand awareness. Why do you think immersive experiences are conducive to positive results for cereal brands?

This is a big time for all brands to experiment with VR and for consumers to engage. At Kellogg’s, we’ve used it to present fun games and to tell inspirational stories in a truly immersive way. There’s a lot of competition out there for the attention of potential fans, and we’re always looking for the best way to connect.

How will Kellogg’s continue to leverage interactive promotions in the future?

We’re always looking into the best ways to share our cherished heritage and promote our brands. As interactive technology continues to grow, we’ll look at which technologies and stories fit together and leverage them accordingly.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

Brands And Consumers Want Virtual Reality, But Is The Technology Ready?

Brands and consumers everywhere are more than a little excited about virtual reality. In fact, the VR industry could see its first $1 billion year, according to a report from Deloitte Global, with around $700 million coming from hardware sales and the rest coming from content.

With the dream of making all of our science-fiction fantasies come true, brands are pouring money into the technology like never before. According to research from venture capital database, CB Insights, the amount of investor dollars pouring toward virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) has increased about 7.5 times in the last year. In fact, investment in those technologies reached $1 billion in the first quarter of 2016, eMarketer reports, compared to $144 million in the same quarter of 2015.

Separate research from the UBM Game Network found that 20 percent of gaming professionals were working on AR apps last year, up from 7 percent in 2014. Mind you, those figures reflect a time before our benevolent Nintendo overlords conquered the world with Pokémon GOIt’s kinda hard to hear over the sound of investors writing checks and programmers furiously typing at the moment.

We all know that virtual and augmented realities are all the rage, but how do consumers feel about it? According to a new study by Greenlight VR, 71 percent of those surveyed views a brand that sponsors VR as forward-thinking and modern, while 52 percent would like to be associated with that brand. Additionally, 53 percent say they are more likely to purchase from a brand that sponsors a VR experience, such as a concert, or eSports broadcast.


“We’re seeing specific VR activities have unique emotional footprints, offering fascinating insights for those who are considering their VR strategies,” Steve Marshall, senior vice president of research and consulting for Greenlight VR, said in a statement. “For example, among our sample, watching a live broadcast event in virtual reality generates significantly higher ratings of positive emotions such as ‘happy’ and ‘energetic’ when compared with playing a VR video game.”

Even those who have never experienced VR for themselves had good things to say about the technology after watching informational videos—91 percent reported positive feelings about it. Among those who haven’t tried VR before, 65 percent were interested, 32 percent were surprised at what it could do, 25 percent felt “happy” and 58 percent reported being “amazed.”

Not everyone is excited about the sudden interest, however. Veteran investor Mitch Lasky admitted that his “intense emotional experience” while using the current high-end headsets did not convince him that VR was a smart investment within the next few years. Considering the fact that Lasky can count Riot Games and Snapchat among his own smart investments, it’s a perspective worth considering.

Speaking at Casual Connect USA on Tuesday, Lasky expressed concern with the sudden sense of urgency for brands to jump onboard the VR hype-mobile. “When I look at it more structurally, I’d say something that may sound a little strange: perhaps the Facebook acquisition of Oculus wasn’t the greatest thing for the development of VR in the long run. It set such a high watermark, and it rung the bell so loudly for the industry, that it sort of forced the hand.”

As brands jump in the deep end to keep up with trends, they run the risk of creating a so-so or broken product that audiences will not appreciate. For Lansky, his biggest concern is whether or not the technology is truly ready.

“I’ve seen 25 or 30 excellent demos,” he explained. “I haven’t seen a lot I would consider finished products, or even things that suggest finished products. And if it’s anything like mobile games, I started a mobile games business in 2000. It wasn’t until 2008 or 2009 that they really became viable as big businesses. It was not just the launch of the iPhone, but the launch of the App Store, and even the launch of in-app purchases, that were necessary to get mobile games catalyzed in a way that made it meaningful as a business. VR may take a while.”

EA’s Peter Moore Discusses Relationship Between Traditional Sports And ESports

Electronic Arts used its EA Play event during E3 to host a Madden Championship, which aired on ESPN2, and is part of the four-tournament $1 million Madden NFL Championship Series. That live event at E3 was part of a multi-eSports offering that also included UFC 2, Need for Speed and FIFA. And EA is just beginning to explore the opportunities of competitive gaming in this golden age of eSports.

EA was early into the eSports game, thanks to its NFL license that made Madden Nation an annual reality eSports show on ESPN2 long before Twitch was launched. With a strong line-up of sports and original games, EA has placed its future of eSports under the guidance of Peter Moore, executive vice president and chief competition officer for Electronic Arts. Moore talks about the role EA’s mainstream sports brands open up for eSports in this exclusive interview from E3.

What are your goals in “officially” stepping into the eSports realm?

We’ve been in eSports and competitive gaming for the best part of 12 to 14 years now, with both the Madden Challenge and the Madden Bowl, and of course the FIFA Interactive World Cup, and in most recent years with our Battlefield games. So we’re not noobs to this whole thing, but it’s time now to really step it up. Forming the competitive gaming division with EA, which I head up, really puts a focus on building it out to scale, taking care of our players, and putting up big prize money so we take care of their commitment to it. And making sure we’re creating formats in which we can really do this 12 months of the year now.

Can you talk about the pyramid and its three tiers?

At the base of the pyramid, there may be as many as 60 or 70 million people who love to play online, love to go to the dorm room in their college and play with their buddies—maybe on weekends, maybe Saturday mornings go to a bigger event. But these people—let’s call them at the amateur level—they’re a part of our Challenger Series. Our goal at EA is to provide tools to these people to have fun web tools so you can do your brackets or your league tournaments.

As we move on up to the middle of the pyramid, it gets a little bit more organized and we’ve got the premier events in which we’ll work with our partners around the world like the ESL and Gfinity and help support them with FIFA, Madden, Battlefield, Need for Speed and UFC, and then build towards the top, which are the EA Majors.

That’s where we will invest heavily, building out major events. That’s where the prize money will be. So you build this aspirational pyramid, but you don’t make it just about the top of the pyramid. You make it all the way up, so you’re building a feeder system, and you’re just providing fun for what is now hundreds of millions of people.

FIFA Interactive Cup

We’ve seen competitive games that have nothing to do with traditional sports explode on PC. What advantage do sports have when you look at the mainstream audience?

It has advantages and it has disadvantages. We have to be able to optimize our games for eSports. We’re not in denial that there’s a lot of work to do. To your point, it’s a PC free-to-play MOBA-dominated environment, and we’re bringing console games that are one-versus-one, for the most part, that are true sports. The plus side of them being true sports is everybody understands the rules of soccer, everybody understands (for the most part) American football, and you can sit and watch it as a spectator event. The flip side is that we’re competing with “the real thing,” and so our goal is to build it out to make real stars of all of the players no matter the skill ability. We used E3 to focus on the top players, people like Serious Moe, Skimbo and Problem, and show how the game is played at the highest level and provide a showcase for people.

ESports has exploded over the last five years thanks to livestreaming, and EA was on ESPN with the Madden Challenge early on and now again with the Madden Championship. What role will traditional television play verses livestreaming?

Livestreaming is where it’s at. Traditional television is coming into ESPN. We’re seeing what TBS is doing with ELeague. There’s not a network that isn’t watching this space very carefully, and here’s why: their demographic, their consumer has retreated to the bedroom. They’re watching the livestreams. They’re then looking at their heroes on YouTube Gaming and video on demand. And “traditional media companies” are looking at this to figure out how they play in this because they need this millennial male and female.

Certainly, ESPN has been a great partner here. They recognize the power of what we’re doing. They recognize the power of our licenses with the NFL in particular, and they want a piece of it, and rightly so. They want a younger demographic. They want to seem to be having their fingers on the pulse of what’s new and exciting, and they want to make sure that they’re preparing themselves for a future where eSports could be on a parallel path with regular sports in regard to the viewership numbers.

EA has done the Madden Bowl at the Super Bowl for many years and this year held a Madden Bowl at the Rookie Challenge. How do those traditional players help spread the word about eSports?

There’s not a player in the NFL that hasn’t played Madden. Many of them will tell you that their goal was to be on the Madden cover as well as playing in the NFL, but the power that Madden has as both a franchise and as a part of mass market culture—27 years of delivering a Madden game—is very important. Our research tells us that if you play Madden you’re smarter, you’re more informed, you’ve got a better grip on strategy, often more than players who actually play the game itself. So it’s a very important part of the culture of the National Football League, the culture of young males and what it teaches them about the game.

The Madden Bowl is a celebration of that, and NFL players want to play in the Madden Bowl. They want to hold up that trophy and say “I’m the best Madden player in the NFL.” And we’ve seen it with Maurice Jones Drew over the years, Marshawn Lynch has given it a go, and Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs was a great story last year. So having these players play it validates it to our fan base. It also shows that this is bigger than just a video game. It really is part of football culture.

When it comes to professional athletes, Rodger Saffold of the LA Rams owns a professional Call of Duty and Overwatch team. We have Shaquille O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez, and Rick Fox who all own League of Legends and CS:GO teams. How do you see that mixture of real sports getting involved in eSports outside of traditional sports like Madden and FIFA bringing validity to video games?

They’ve got a common thread, and that’s competition, teamwork and building together. You can throw Mark Cuban and David Stern in with that list to see the power of what this is. It’s this next generation coming through, looking at “sports” through a different lens than you and I did growing up. They all are intrigued. They’re dipping their toes in the water. They like the idea of ownership. We love the idea that high profile celebrities and athletes are getting involved. I think it’s great for the space.

We’re seeing clubs like West Ham, FC Schalke and Valencia CF invest in eSports. And now we hear that Manchester United is bidding for an Overwatch team as well, so all of this validates the power of what eSports is and gives it some real momentum in the broader space that it’s not just “boys in their bedrooms.” This is big business.

Harnessing The Marketing Power Of Messenger Apps

People are talking, and brands want in on the conversation. According to Pew Research, 49 percent of smartphone owners age 18 to 29 use messenger apps, so there’s no surprise that it’s become the next big marketing platform. By 2019, the number of messaging app users is expected to reach 2.19 billion, about the same amount of people on social media today.

Sponsored Content

Communicating to an audience has become more than a static ad plastered across the screen. Savvy brands have been utilizing messaging apps to seamlessly integrate ideas using timely messages, digital stickers and emojis.

For Mother’s Day last year,, Inc. created a mobile campaign that provided free digital stickers through native in-app delivery on messaging platforms like LINE Messenger, Kik and Viber. The interactive digital stickers also drove traffic to the e-commerce site. Kik’s Promoted Chats feature allows users to opt-in to receive messages from specific brands, such as Seventeen Magazine and Funny or Die.

Now that Facebook offers sponsored content, brands are racing to the platform, which now sees more than 900 million monthly users. WhatsApp, which boasts a user base of one billion, is ad-free. However, the BBC used its Broadcast Lists feature to deliver news last year. The feature only allows for lists up to 250 people, and users must add the contact to their address book to receive messages.

Snapchat offers Sponsored Snaps, but other brands, like WeUndies are using the popular social network to create brand awareness through comedic skits and exclusive promotions. Snapchat recently applied for a patent to create custom ads based on photos using object recognition technology.

messenger apps

Customer Service

Large companies like Bank of America and Virgin Atlantic use Facebook Messenger as a customer service tool. Rather than wait on hold for an eternity, consumers can report issues and obtain support with the same ease as texting a friend.

LINE first made a name for itself as a messaging service in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan in 2011, but has more recently evolved into an all-conquering and fully-fledged platform. The company recently launched The Line app, which integrates with the main app and allows businesses to communicate with users.

To aid themselves and others playing Pokémon GO, Razer created RazerGO, a chat app that seamlessly integrates into gameplay to communicate between other players. To support the new app, Razer is introducing guided Pokécrawls along multiple routes around RazerStore San Francisco with giveaways and special promotions at the store and online.

Messaging apps can be used to create brand awareness, start conversations and offer support. Video game companies like Chinese mobile giant, Tencent, know this all too well. “Entertainment companies, especially on mobile, will start integrating messenger app functionality to build their user base,” said Joost van Dreunen, CEO and co-founder at SuperData Research to [a]listdaily. “Discovery continues to be a challenge for companies in the space. It also opens the market up to new revenue models, allowing game companies to rely more on ad revenue, provided they can build a large enough, and relevant, user base that is of interest to brands and advertisers.”

Oasis Games Shares The Excitement And Challenges Of ‘Naruto Online’

Naruto Online is a new, massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) based on the popular manga and anime franchise. Armed with the only officially licensed online RPG for the brand, Oasis Games has the unique opportunity to bring this ninja-fighting universe to life. The game is now available for browser play on PC and Mac.

The Naruto manga, written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto, has sold over 200 million copies in 35 countries. Combined with multiple Naruto films, novels and 220 episodes of the popular anime still running on TV and streaming servicesNaruto ranks among the top anime franchises in history.

Martho Ghariani, who oversees business development for Oasis Games, the first publishing partner of Sony Computer Entertainment Shanghai, explains the advantages and challenges of appealing to such a large, existing fan base.


What was it about the Naruto franchise that attracted your company to this project?

This one is the easiest to answer! For fans of Naruto and anime-lovers in general, Naruto has been something of a household name that most of us grew up with. From a personal level, we’re all huge fans of the series and are very excited to be part of a new chapter in Naruto gaming. From a publisher’s point of view, a series with a fan base as huge as this one, well, how many series can claim that? It’s a great starting position for a game, with an enormous potential. To have this rare chance to get the publishing rights for the world’s first MMORPG set in the universe of Naruto, and with Naruto Online having acquired the official license acquired from Bandai Namco, the answer was obvious for us: we can’t miss out on this!

How is Oasis Games marketing to the existing anime and manga fanbase for Naruto?

Naruto Online is indeed something different in terms of being an existing series, with longtime fans in every nook and corner of the world. You can imagine the expectations they will have for any Naruto game, let alone one in a completely new genre. That’s why we want to emphasize all of those parts which will make players of Naruto Online feel at home right away: having the original Japanese voice actors as well as footage of the original anime, the chance to visit all the landmark locations of the series and reenact all the famous battle scenes, marked by the faithfulness both to the series’ story line as well as to the entire universe of Naruto. What we want players to know is they’re getting the best of both worlds: everything that the fans expect of a Naruto installment while also the chance to make their own choices, alone or together with other players, featuring their own avatar alongside Naruto and his friends.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Naruto brand, what efforts, if any, are being made to attract newcomers to Naruto Online?

One way of answering this question would be to point toward the quality of the game, which in and of itself is very high and offers a level of depth of gameplay that would be interesting to try out even if it wasn’t set in the world of Naruto (examples include the many varied ways of setting up your formation of Ninja Teams, changing strategies, the combo-system etc.) So even for newcomers to the series or fans of the genre in general there’s enough to dive into. With a foundation like this, and Naruto added to the equation, for us as a publisher to reach out via anime networks and game publications, in addition to exciting initiatives yet to be announced, we feel confident we will pique the interest players from any kind of background.


Why do you feel that an MMORPG turn-based browser-game would be the best way for fans to explore the world of Naruto?

If you look at the long line of games out since the days of the GameCube, the majority if not all of them are single player or multi-player fighting games. While this fits the series perfectly, with Naruto Online, you get to experience the anime from a different and refreshing new angle, as well as the scope and size of our game that is set for the long-term. Of course, the fights are still there (and then some!), but at the same time the MMORPG turn-based genre creates a whole new space full of exciting possibilities, meaning a more tactical dimension to the fights, as well as a huge social component offered through the chance to play together with players (and fellow Naruto fans) all over the world in a lively and ever-changing game world.

What sets Naruto Online apart from similar titles?

When you compare Naruto Online to other online titles, we of course benefit greatly from the fact a lot of the original Naruto anime is in there, and so it offers many elements that made the series such a hit. Aside from this, Naruto Online offers so many different game modes, both single and multi-player, that gaming fans of every type will find something they like. When compared to other Naruto games, one of the most thrilling parts of the game is the fact that it features five completely new characters for the player to choose from, based on the elements of water, fire, wind, earth and lightning. These exclusive additions to the world of Naruto is something which will definitely attract fans.

ESports Has Yielded Nearly $1 Billion In Earnings So Far In 2016

Considering that ESPN’s coverage of EVO 2016’s final round on Sunday drew over 200,000 viewers and millions of social media impressions, it’s no surprise that eSports is reaching the mainstream in a big way.

A new SuperData report provided even more proof of this statement, noting that eSports earnings have managed to reach $892 million for 2016 thus far, as more brands and publishers invest in the growing competitive market.

A lot of this revenue comes from ads and sponsorships, but a good portion is also generated from direct revenue, with prize pools for tournaments sponsored by EA and Microsoft reaching well into the millions.

In addition, there’s more investment coming from the regular sports scene as well, according to the report. Many professional soccer teams are calling on FIFA game players to help carry the torch, and some are even taking part in non-sports related games, with Germany’s FC Schalke 04 acquiring a number of League of Legends teams with hopes of expanding their brand.

SuperData also made note of the worldwide eSports audience, and how much it’s grown over the past year, expanding from 188 million to 214 million. That growth will continue, although at a slightly smaller rate. Regardless, it’s set to accumulate over 300 million viewers by 2019—if not sooner.

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As far as which games rule the eSports roost, League of Legends continues to be the top dog with 27 million unique viewers tuning in to the 2015 World Championships—that’s higher than the entire audience for the 2014 MLB World Series.

“Riot Games’ hands-on control of the game’s eSports ecosystem means League of Legends eSports production values are top-notch,” the report notes. “Professional League of Legends is relatively easy to follow, thanks to clearly defined pro leagues.”

Valve’s DOTA 2 follows in a close second, and SuperData was quick to report the success of The International, which will have a record-setting $18 million prize fund (thus far) up for grabs when it takes place later this summer.

Games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and other “legacy shooters” also have a place in eSports, though SuperData says that “the market is currently undergoing a transition, much like how MOBAs replaced real-time strategy games as a top eSports genre early this decade.”

But the diversity is likely going to stay this way for a while, with games like Rocket League and Overwatch continuing to show popularity across Twitch and Azubu—thus continuing their growth into the eSports realm. Facebook is also getting more into the game, particularly with its recent deal with Activision Blizzard to feature integration, as well as more Overwatch-related features for the site.

The report concludes that, even with more TV exposure for eSports (like TBS with its eLeague and ESPN’s recent coverage of EVO), many people will stand by Twitch to get their eSports fill.

“Online streaming platforms offer a superior viewing experience by letting viewers easily chat with others and track competitor stats. Additionally, eSports’ culture and core audience originated online, so long-time fans not feel TV is necessary to legitimize eSports.”

Op-Ed: Boom Or Bust? Burst Marketing For Mobile Games

One of the earliest successful marketing strategies for mobile games was burst marketing—using tactics to get your app installed by a huge number of people in a short amount of time. The advantage is that you get a big boost in viral uptake because, hopefully, your app showed up higher on the charts, much more often in searches, and got more buzz on social media.

Once can easily refer to Pokémon GO for a high-end example of what a huge audience gained in short order can do for visibility. However, the Pokémon GO craze was entirely viral, with no marketing effort to speak of involved in its success.

Yet burst marketing isn’t the compelling proposition it once was. Back in the halcyon days (only a few years ago), the cost-per-install (CPI) was low and a mere $20,000 or $30,000 spend was enough to get you a good position on the top downloads chart. Now, we’re in the land of $4 or $5 CPIs, with many more apps vying for visibility and a great deal of different ways to spend your marketing dollars. Is burst marketing still viable?

Yes, say experts in the practice—if you are careful, burst marketing can still deliver good results. First, though, let’s be clear about how burst campaigns are typically put together. A typical burst campaign is designed for a two-to-three day period to achieve maximum awareness, visibility, store ranking and organic installs in the long run. These are composed of either incentivized or non-incentivized campaigns that are either paying users to install your app or not. Of course, there’s really no choice on iOS since Apple banned incentivized installs. For the most part, though, there are some ways around the issue.

User Quality

One thing that’s going to be true of a burst marketing campaign is that you’ll probably not be getting the very best group of players, the kind that stays engaged with the game for a long time and spends a lot of money. In fact, just a small percentage of those players will go on to make in-app purchases—and that would be considered a good amount. That’s an inevitable byproduct of the goal of a burst campaign, which is to get the largest possible number of users in a short time.

Still, you should try to find ways to make your audience as profitable as possible. Look for demographics that match your prospective paying players when you’re searching for ad inventory to buy for the burst campaign. Make sure the ads you create are aimed at getting the right kind of players, choosing among the audience you’re reaching to find those that are most likely to get engaged with your game.

When Should You Run A Burst Campaign?

The obvious time to run a burst campaign is at product launch, when you’re trying to get a large number of users as quickly as possible in order to generate some organic installs. Some research shows that paid installs drive three organic installs, so running a campaign can generate long-term benefits.

Besides the initial lift for a game, though, burst campaigns can be useful at a particular time of the year—the holiday season, when gift-giving and app installation is a popular activity. With new mobile devices and gift cards for app stores, finding and installing apps gets a boost. So that’s a prime time to try a burst campaign to see if you can inject some new life into sales. It would probably be best to pair this with a significant new content release, and/or a holiday-themed content release. Your burst campaign advertising, if properly constructed, may help reactivate some lapsed players by highlighting what’s new and exciting in the game.

When your game’s installs plateau, it’s also a good time to consider a burst campaign to drive numbers back up. Again, pairing this with new content, particularly new game modes, is important to make the most of your expenditure.

Best Practices For Burst Campaigns

Certainly a burst campaign has its downsides, perhaps now more than ever. You’ll get mixed results even in the best cases, with many low-quality players. That’s going to affect your rankings and reviews, and if you get too many players who are a poor match for your game, you may find your review scores dropping. That’s why it’s important to find the right target audience by selecting the right ad networks—and the right ad inventory.

It’s very important to realize that a proper burst campaign is expensive—or it should be. Underspending on your burst campaign is throwing money away. Take a look at your goals for the campaign and the costs you’re likely to see, and budget to make it possible to meet your goals. That means careful planning and selection of ad networks is a must, and there are so many to choose from it’s going to take some work to select the right ones for you.

Plan the burst campaign carefully, with an eye toward finding audiences that you haven’t reached before. This may be in a different geographic area or a different demographic area. Work with new ad networks and inventories to see if they can reach an audience that’s new to you.

One of the interesting ways to succeed with a burst campaign on a smaller budget is to try to make a run at the top downloads chart in a smaller country, where your ad spend won’t need to be as high. What good will it do you to chart high in a place like Denmark, or New Zealand? There are several reasons. First, it may help you gain a significant audience in that country, which—and you’ll spend less money doing that.

One thing that you should realize is that the App Store and Google Play aren’t going to give you the same results with any kind of burst campaign. Google’s rankings use a large number of factors, unlike Apple, and in general the top ranks are just more static on Google. Besides, you’re probably going to want to tailor your campaigns somewhat for the nature of the iOS and Android audiences and introduce even more reasons for the campaigns to perform differently. Expect that difference and work it into your strategy.

Before A Burst Campaign, Polish Everything

It’s important to make sure that your app is ready for the burst campaign in every way you can. You’re going to spend a significant amount of money, and it doesn’t make sense to do that when your app page isn’t in great shape. You should make sure you’ve got the right icon, the right videos, the perfect screen shots. Everything. Your game needs to be in the best possible shape, too—major bugs should already have been squashed, the game play and game balance have been refined and tested—and especially your monetization is working well. Ultimately, your burst campaign has to be about making a profit, so you need to keep that goal firmly in mind.

How Android Holds The Lion’s Share Of Game Installs

In an effort to help game developers get a better understanding of mobile gaming trends, app usage, device share and OS penetration, Unity Technologies has produced a new report, Games By the Numbers, to help break down a number of statistics.

“The global games market continues to grow, with exciting progress in emerging economies,” said John Cheng, general manager of Unity Analytics. “Unity’s dedicated to helping developers succeed, and the information provided by Unity Analytics will help mobile developers capitalize on emerging trends.”

Unity began the report by noting that Brazil, Russia, India and China account for four of the top five countries in global game installs, with a 41 percent total overall and 42 percent for Android.

The company then leads into iOS and Android install percentage across 10 countries. Across the board, Android shows dominance in most of these countries, as high as 81 percent in China, 92.5 percent in Brazil and 96 percent in Indonesia. In the US, 68 percent of installs go to Android, compared to 30.6 percent for iOS devices. Keep in mind that this data was measured by Unity-supported games, like Sky Force Reloaded.


As far as overall total game installs go, China had the highest count with 29.8 percent, followed by the US with 10.3 percent, Brazil with 4.8 percent and other countries accounting for around two-to-three percent.

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Going into more specifics, Unity broke down top five countries with game installs by format. Up first, iOS, with a 32.7 percent lead with China, followed by 18.6 percent for the United States and nine percent for China. Other countries made up the remaining percentile of the group, but it’s clear that iOS is a big hit in China.

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Android’s 29.7 percent of its installs come from China, while 8.6 percent come from the US and 5.4 percent come from Brazil. The rest are made up of other countries.

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As far as which Android manufacturers are dominating, Samsung leads the market with 35.1 percent, while Hauwei managed to overtake Xiaomi in the global market, becoming the new second place company as a result.

What’s interesting about the report is how the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s continue to be popular devices on the market, with 28 percent of game installs. That means there’s no change from the previous Q1 report, despite the launch of new devices. Nevertheless, iOS continues to have a foothold.

Razer CEO Explains Impact Of RazerGO, ‘Pokémon GO’ Chat App

Razer wants to help Pokémon GO players catch them all. The technology giant has launched a free RazerGO location-based chat messenger for the Nintendo and Niantic hit augmented reality game.

The free app allows users to discover and chat with fellow Pokémon trainers in a scalable radius from 3 miles (local) to 60 miles (regional) to 600 miles (global). Users can toggle between public, team or whisper chat modes and can be identifiable by team color. An upcoming feature will allow users to drop “Beacons” on the map that other players can see and interact with, unlocking a regionalized chat room.

The interface seamlessly fits into Pokémon GO on both Android and iOS platforms. A web version is available today on, while the Android and iOS versions will go live by July 25.

To support the new app, Razer is introducing guided Pokécrawls along multiple routes around RazerStore San Francisco with giveaways and special promotions at the store and online. Razer will drop Lures available to RazerGO users on hosted Pokécrawls. The Pokécrawls will commence around 6 pm PST on Wednesday, July 20.

Min-Liang Tan, co-founder and CEO of Razer, talks about the opportunities this chat functionality opens up for Pokémon GO in this exclusive interview.

Was there any pre-planning on Razer’s part anticipating that this chat functionality would work with this augmented reality game and that it would be successful?

No, we developed RazerGO after the game launched by one of our in-house engineers to coordinate the Pokémon GO communications that he was having with our fellow co-workers. The iPhone, Android and web clients were hacked together by other in-house Razer software engineers in a matter of days.

How were you able to convert your RazerGO chat technology so quickly for Pokémon GO?

Razer is a software company and we’ve got some of the most talented software engineers in the world. While our hardware designs get a lot of attention, many aren’t aware that Razer also runs one of the biggest gaming online platforms in the world. Millions of gamers connect to our software services like Cortex and Synapse daily. Our Comms platform is already one of the world’s largest VOIP chat clients for gamers and our engineers basically hacked together a location-based chat for our internal use to discuss when lures were released or when rare Pokémon appeared.

Are you working officially with Nintendo and/or Niantic on this project?

No, this was done by us for ourselves and for the benefit of our friends and fans playing the game.

How does this app work and how flexible is it?

RazerGO provides an in-game social element to Pokémon GO. Location-based chat allows trainers in a specified region to locate and interact with each other in new ways. Essentially, it provides the social and collaborative element for trainers to work together.

How do you see RazerGO impacting the way people play Pokémon GO?

Adding an in-game social component can help create all types of new experiences. RazerGO can make in-game events like finding spawn locations of rare Pokémon more efficient and more fun. Lure modules and gym battles can attract local players in the area from the game itself, amplifying the social experience.

What eSports potential does this chat app open up for Pokémon GO?

That’s a great question and one I would direct to the game developers themselves. Razer has supported eSports since the beginning, and we are happy to find ways to support competitive gaming in any arena.

What’s the business model for this app?

We don’t have any business model for the app—basically I shared it on social media; many of the community wanted to try it out so we’re releasing it. We have no plans to monetize it.

Can you talk about Pokécrawls and how active Razer will be in this arena?

This will be a focus for us, especially at our RazerStores. We plan to do them regularly, and RazerGO fans can look for updates on our social channels.

How will Razer utilize Pokécrawls to market its San Francisco retail location?

We estimated over 2,000 Razer fans lined up for the grand opening of our RazerStore San Francisco in May. The store is packed on a daily basis with gamers, many of whom have been seen in the store playing Pokémon GO. To the extent that we may be able to do so, we plan to drop Lure Modules in the game while on walks throughout the city to attract players. We are working on the specifics with our hosted Pokécrawls and look forward to enjoying the experience with our fans. We’ll be announcing when the lures are released on RazerGO.

Can anyone set up Pokécrawls through this app?

Pokécrawls can be organized easily via RazerGO’s regional chat functionality. Additionally, we’re planning on releasing a “Beacon” function to the app. By simply dropping a Beacon anywhere on the map, users will be able to setup a micro-chat room so they can instantly rally team members for a gym assault, alert public players that a rare Pokémon have appeared, or organize Pokécrawls.