‘Muhammad Ali: Puzzle King’ Steps Into Mobile Gaming Arena

There’s a new champion entering the mobile gaming arena, and its name is Muhammad Ali: Puzzle King. Developed by Cosi Games, the studio behind Pele: Soccer Legend, Puzzle King is the official mobile game inspired by the boxing legend. In this match-3 game, players throw punches by connecting three or more gems. The more gems in a combination, the harder Ali hits.

The mobile game also pays tribute to The Greatest by recounting moments that defined his life and career, ranging from his childhood in Louisville, Kentucky to his three championship titles and post-boxing career. A portion of the first month’s proceeds from the game will be donated to the Muhammad Ali Center, which was founded by the Ali family to preserve and share the boxer’s legacy and ideals.

The goal of Cosi Games is to “create the next wave of celebrity-focused mobile games built with world class quality and delightful gameplay,” and it is certainly looking to capture players’ imaginations with an official Muhammad Ali mobile game. Joshua Blitz, co-founder and CEO of Cosi Games, spoke to [a]listdaily about creating a match-3 game based on the boxing legend, and how Muhammad Ali: Puzzle King will enable players to float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Joshua Blitz
Joshua Blitz, co-founder and CEO of Cosi Games

How does Muhammad Ali: Puzzle King stand out from other match-3 puzzle games?

For starters, the gameplay is a lot of fun. Even if this were a straight-up match-3 game and had nothing to do with Muhammad Ali or boxing, it would still be fun. But what makes it truly stand out is the unique blend of match-3 puzzles and boxing action, where players can string together a long line of same-colored boxing gloves and then immediately witness the impact of their move by watching how strong their punch is. Players can even customize their own beautiful 3D Muhammad Ali avatar with a wide range of cool gloves, shorts and boots. And of course, for any fans of the boxing legend, or people who simply want to learn more about him, they will appreciate the attention to detail we spent when capturing his life and boxing career.

Why was Ali the inspiration?

We at Cosi are big sports fans and huge Muhammad Ali fans. We had built a game for the soccer legend Pele, and when we were looking for our next project, Ali was one of the few sports celebrities at the very top of our list. We admire him so much, not just for his amazing career and achievements inside the ring, but for his achievements outside the ring as a philanthropist and humanitarian as well.

In what ways does the game pay tribute to his life?

We were fortunate enough to work with Muhammad Ali’s team on this project and even the legend himself before he passed away. One way the game pays tribute to his life is that the levels mirror his career arc, so that players start in the gyms of Louisville, where he started his career, then after they’ve trained and fought some preliminary fights, they move on to Rome, where Ali made his mark by winning Olympic gold, and so on. In between levels, players are also shown great images, quotes and facts from throughout his career.

What stages of his life does the game include?

In the first five levels of the game, players are taken through the first five fights of Ali’s professional career, with each level culminating in a major bout. As we mentioned, players begin in Louisville before going to fight in Rome, with the subsequent levels taking them to Ali’s big fights against Archie Moore in Los Angeles, Charlie Powell in Pittsburgh, and then the really big one against Sonny Liston in Miami Beach. Altogether there are 150 levels, with bronze, silver and gold modes totaling 450 different challenges, and we will be expanding the game soon with more fights and more stages.

Why develop a match-3 game instead of a more straightforward boxing game?

We wanted the game to appeal to everyone, and match-3 games have perhaps the widest appeal of anything in the app stores. Once we came up with the idea of tying the puzzles into the boxing action, we knew that that was the direction we wanted to go.

Will any of Ali’s famous quotes be included?

Absolutely! The game includes practically all of his famous quotes.

Will there be any brand integration?

Yes, we have worked closely with the Estate of Muhammad Ali to integrate Ali’s brand image tightly into the game. We’ll also be conducting a lot of competitions in which we will give away prizes signed by Muhammad Ali himself. Also, 50 percent of the game’s first month of proceeds will be donated to the Muhammad Ali Center, a multicultural center, founded by the Ali family, that is dedicated to preserving and sharing Ali’s legacy and ideals.


SuperData: ‘Pokémon GO’ Is The Most Successful Mobile Launch In History

Making its world debut in July, Pokémon GO shot up to first place in both grossing and download rankings for every country it launched in. According to the latest digital game revenue report by SuperData, this makes Niantic’s creature-catching game the most successful mobile launch in history. While gamers worried about Nintendo’s move to mobile, Pokémon GO caught on faster than “YOLO,” and has been for many, far less annoying. The strategy of using “gateway” mobile games to attract non-traditional gamers to consoles and handhelds has thus far paid off, opening the floodgates of nostalgic fans and newcomers alike onto the streets. Music streaming services reported a spike in plays for the Pokémon theme song, and Nintendo responded with plans to explore additional merchandising to meet demands.

In his July 2016 revenue report, SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen notes a connection between the success of Pokémon GO and increased consumption of the Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming system. “3DS unit sales rose by over 50 percent year over year,” van Dreunen reported, “An astonishing feat for under-powered hardware nearing the end of its lifespan. Furthermore, sales of 3DS games boomed. Combined sales of Pokémon Omega Red and Alpha Sapphire and Pokémon X and Y (2015 and 2013 releases) nearly doubled. Pokémon GO is the only factor that can explain jumps in sales of this magnitude. We are optimistic that mobile spin-offs for Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing will have a positive impact on Nintendo’s ecosystem.”

Thanks to Pokémon GO and reduced prices for the 2DS, the combined spending for 3DS and 2DS handheld systems increased by 44 percent to $28 million in July 2016, according to a report by The NPD Group.

COD Black Ops 3
Call of Duty: Black Ops III was the top-grossing game for digital consoles in July 2016.

July 2016: Digital Video Game Sales

The digital games market reached $5.9 billion in total sales last month, up 10 percent from July 2015.  The mobile game category experienced the most growth at 16 percent, followed by digital console and free-to-play PC games, both growing by 11 percent. SuperData describes the summer video games season as “much stronger than expected” due to several high-performing titles such as Overwatch, The Division, and of course Pokémon GO. Overall, social gaming, PC DLC and pay-to-play MMOs all saw a decline in sales.

Top-selling digital console games include Call of Duty: Black Ops III, FIFA 16, Grand Theft Auto V, Tom Clancy’s The Division and Overwatch (listed in order from number one to five). For PC DLC, Overwatch reigned supreme in July, followed by Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO)Minecraft, Guild Wars 2 and Doom. The top free-to-play MMO title was League of Legends, while World of Warcraft West topped the pay-to-play MMO category. On mobile, it’s no surprise that Pokémon GO took the number one spot, knocking Monster Strike down to number two.

Clash Royale superdata

To Clone Or Not To Clone?

SuperData observed the pros and cons of IP-sharing, particularly when it comes to Supercell’s Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, which dropped to number four and five on the charts for July. “It appears Clash Royale is cannibalizing Clash of Clans,” noted van Dreunen. “Clash of Clans revenue initially tumbled 23 percent from March to April while Clash Royale experienced a similar drop in the same period. The downward trend has continued, with total revenue for the two titles falling 16 percent from May to June and 12 percent from June to July. Despite Clash Royale’s initial success, aggregate revenue for the Clash franchise has seen little growth overall.”

“In comparison,” van Dreunen continued, “In October 2015, Machine Zone launched Mobile Strike, a Game of War: Fire Age clone with a modern warfare theme. Despite its humble launch, Mobile Strike grew rapidly achieving 3rd place in revenue ranking this July, right behind Pokémon GO and Asian juggernaut Monster Strike. However, Mobile Strike’s impressive rise came at little cost to Game of War. Both titles are enjoying significant growth, with total Game of War revenue for the first half of 2016 up 16 percent year over year.”

How ‘Deus Ex GO’ Augments The Game Franchise

Today marks the launch of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, a cyberpunk sci-fi thriller that deals with issues of cybernetic augmentation and its potential impacts on society—topics that were discussed in detail at the Human by Design conference, presented by Square Enix and CNN’s Courageous studio. However, even with all the attention on Mankind Divided, we shouldn’t overlook the launch was a different kind of Deus Ex experience. Last week saw the release of Deus Ex GO, a puzzle game based in the Deus Ex universe designed for mobile devices.

The series started in 2014 with Hitman GO, developed by Square Enix Montreal. It was then followed by Lara Croft GO, which released last year and became a critical success, and the studio won the Apple Design Award for the game. Deus Ex GO builds on that success by offering a puzzle experience where players are free to use cybernetic augmentations and stealth to progress. Furthermore, the mobile game helps to promote the launch of Mankind Divided.

Nicolas Bertrand-Verge, marketing content and community manager, Square Enix Montreal
Nicolas Bertrand-Verge, marketing content and community manager, Square Enix Montreal

Nicolas Bertrand-Verge, marketing content and community manager at Square Enix Montreal, spoke to [a]listdaily about the series and how Deus Ex GO ties in with Mankind Divided, developed by Eidos Montreal.

We asked about the studio’s roots, starting with the inspiration to develop Hitman GO. “The studio was founded back in 2012 to develop a completely new AAA Hitman game,” said Bertrand-Verge. “After a year of pre-conception, the studio’s mandate was shifted to mobile. Since so much research on the Hitman universe had been done, the studio decided they would focus on Agent 47 for their first products. The studio divided up into teams and pitched different concepts on how to do a Hitman mobile game, and the unique, turn-based—almost board-game approach—of Hitman GO caught the attention of everyone at the studio.”

Bertrand-Verge also discussed how Square Enix Montreal selected games for the “GO” treatment.

“After Hitman GO, it really felt like we could explore the same GO gameplay with other titles. The Square Enix portfolio is extremely vast, complete with legendary franchises and very interesting new additions. Lara Croft was a very emotional choice for us. Lara is such an iconic character, and it seemed like we could explore different elements, mostly verticality. Deus Ex was also an easy pick—Montreal is now the new home of Deus Ex with our close friends at Eidos Montreal developing the last two titles and on a fundamental level, the base mechanics like stealth, augments and hacking we’re almost begging to be transposed to a GO game.”

Deus Ex GO is “a turn-based puzzle infiltration game set in a stylized interpretation of the Deus Ex Universe,” according to Bertrand-Verge. Players take the role of Adam Jensen, who is also the main character in Mankind Divided. They use hacking, combat and augmentations to uncover the truth behind a terrorist plot. “The game is very much in the continuation of the [GO] games that came before it, but offers some of the most challenging puzzles we’ve ever created. We’re also bringing a level creator feature sometime after release that will allow players to create their own puzzles and share them with their friends.”

As for how the mobile game ties in with Mankind Divided, Bertrand-Verge explains that “Deus Ex GO’s story takes place right before Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, so you’ll get to be introduced to some of the cast before the console release. That said, if you’re a newcomer to the game, the story is very much self-contained, and you won’t need prior knowledge of the franchise to appreciate it. We’re also excited about the fact that by playing Deus Ex GO and completing a few challenges, you’re able to unlock Praxis Kits, which are basically upgrade points, in the Xbox One and PC versions of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.”

Given the recognizable brand name of the Deus Ex franchise and the success of previous GO games, we asked Bertrand-Verge to describe the challenges of promoting a new game onto the crowded mobile games market. “The challenges we face in terms of marketing are pretty much the same that we’ve had to face for all Square Enix Montreal’s games,” he said. “Since we’re working with well-known gaming franchises, we need to make sure and communicate to our hardcore fans as well as the very casual App Store crowd. Everyone has to find something they like in what we’re doing. We also have very short and intense campaigns. We announced Deus Ex GO in June, and the game came out in August. Time is limited and becomes very precious, and all this happens as the developers are closing out the game since we have very short development cycles.”

Bertrand-Verge also shared what he thought fans loved most about the GO games that made them such a success.

“I believe the power of the GO games is how they invoke the feeling of playing the classic games from their franchises even if the actual gameplay is miles away from the original games. It’s nostalgia, but presented in a completely new gaming experience. They harken back to games of the past while feeling new and fresh.”

Video Ads Are Getting Longer, Especially on Instagram

According to the latest report from research firm Sensor Tower, video ads are not only becoming more popular and effective, but the length of these videos is growing.

Video Ads On Instagram

Today, twenty-six percent of advertisements on Instagram are video—up twenty-three percent since January of 2016. In an attempt to attract more brand advertisers, Instagram has steadily increased the length of videos from 15 seconds at launch to 60 seconds beginning this past February. The move has paid off, with one out of every four ads on Instagram being a video in the second quarter of 2016—up 23 percent over January. The average length of video ads on Instagram is now 25 seconds, a growth of 67 percent. While video games remain the top category for iOS apps represented by Instagram ads, mobile-first shopping apps such as Mercari, SHEIN and OfferUp remained a dominant presence in the second quarter.

sensor tower instagram video ads

Top Advertisers For The 2nd Quarter 2016

Strategy game, Mobile Strike was the #1 advertiser based on impressions for Facebook, Google and Tumblr, and held the #2 spot for Instagram. The type of advertisers flocking to Instagram was the most diverse in the second quarter, with the site’s top advertisers including mobile publishers from 10 different App Store categories. While gaming was the most popular advertising, HBO NOW received a major push across social platforms, taking the #1 spot on Instagram.

The Sensor Tower study notes that Facebook advertiser rank correlated with the existing revenue of the app in question. In fact, 40 percent of the top advertisers on Facebook were also in the top 25 grossing apps for June 2016.

When it comes to Pinterest, 80 percent of advertisers represented shopping and lifestyle brands, a perfect fit for the idea-sharing platform. For the second quarter in a row, Etsy was the #1 advertiser in terms of share of voice.

The Future Of Video Marketing

Marketers are ramping up their video efforts, and for good reason. Facebook earned 84 percent of its ad revenue from mobile during the last quarter and earlier this year, Google stated that it is now serving more search queries on mobile than on desktop. According to a recent survey by Animoto, a cloud-based video creation service, 70.8 percent of respondents said they plan to invest in social video ads, including ads to boost content in the next 12 months.

Polyphony Digital Founder Explains How ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ Was Designed For ESports

There’s a reason Sony’s November 15 release, Gran Turismo Sport, isn’t called Gran Turismo 7, according to Polyphony Digital founder and president Kazunori Yamauchi.

“This is a title we could have called Gran Turismo 7; it has that many features included,” Yamauchi said during a private demo behind closed doors at Sony’s E3 booth. “The reason we called it ‘Sport’ is because our major challenge was to implement the eSports elements into the game.”

Yamauchi said the game’s “sport” mode is the future of motorsport as imagined by Gran Turismo. Polyphony Digital has teamed up with FIA (Federation Internationale de Automobile) to debut the Gran Turismo Championships. The PlayStation 4 game includes two different eSports offerings: the Nations Cup and the Manufactures Cup. The Nations Cup is like the World Cup of racing with country-vs.-country competition—pitting drivers in mano-a-mano race—while the Manufacturer Fan Cup is fan-focused and based around car brands such as Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and Ford.

“With GT Academy, we try to find the single fastest player in the world, but you end up with one winner and the rest of world has lost, and that’s something we want to avoid with Gran Turismo Sport,” Yamauchi said. “It’s always fun to participate in sports and watch top players in the world compete. That’s what we’re trying to achieve here. Everyone from children to the elderly can participate and enjoy the competition. We want to produce lots of winners every month and provide a small sense of accomplishment to everyone, which is the allure of sports in the first place.”

The Nations Cup will track points rankings by region, and the top racers will compete in regional finals in the US, Europe and Japan for the chance to go to the world championship. The Manufacturers Fan Cup will have the top players from each region forming a three-man team with a brand like Toyota and proceed to the finals. There will be a representative team for each manufacturer featured in the game competing in the finals.


Yamauchi said the new advanced matchmaking system has been designed to enable fair, clean, races online. There are two indexes evaluating players: driver class, which tracks speed and how well one does in races, and sportsmanship points, which tracks manners and behavior on the track. Each score effects the driver rating.

“If sportsmanship is down from driving rough, it’ll end up that you’re only matched with similar drivers who race rough on the track,” Yamauchi said. “Clean racers will be matched with clean racers.” He also added that if you want everyone to be involved in the “sport” aspect of the new Gran Turismo, you need a rating system that’s fair and visible to everyone.

The video game championship will occur as part of the FIA World Final and FIA Ceremony, an annual live event where all country and manufacturer representatives gather for real-world car racing. Gamers will be awarded alongside real drivers.

Sony and Polyphony Digital offered a preview of what this live competition will look like at the official unveiling of the new game in London on May 19-20. During the FIA Gran Turismo Championships Pre-Season Test, 32 GT players from Europe, Japan, and the US competed for virtual racing glory.

Polyphony Digital is also partnering with FIA on a real-world FIA Gran Turismo Digital License, which gamers can earn by completing all campaign modes with silver or better results and undertaking an in-game racing etiquette program. Twenty-two countries have agreed to participate in this program (but not the US), which will award a real racing license to gamers. Yamauchi has his own FIA racing license, having earned it the old-fashioned way: by racing real cars on real tracks.

Yamauchi headed to the FIA conference in Torino after E3 in the hopes of expanding the motorsport licensing program.

“By the time of launch, and as years go on, I believe more countries will announce participation in this program,” Yamauchi said.

Expanding its focus on the manufacturers behind the cars featured in the game, Polyphony Digital is debuting Brand Central in Gran Turismo 6.

“Instead of the car dealership from past games, Brand Central is a place where boys discover cars for the first time,” Yamauchi said. “When I was in my second year of junior high I walked into a BMW dealer to pick up a catalog and my heart was racing. We want to recreate that experience of discovering cars for the first time.” Car enthusiasts will be able to further explore vehicles with a Channel section that features videos. And there’s a Museum, which Yamauchi said will give depth and color to automotive history.

“The Museum is reborn with this game,” Yamauchi said. “We’ll give automotive history as well as the history of art, music, literature and society alongside the introduction of automobiles. The player will get a feel for the history of automobiles and the history of the world at that time.”

How Hilton Is Using 360-Degree Video To Give Viewers Virtual Vacations

The greatest asset hospitality advertisers can showcase almost always boils down to one thing—setting the stage for their scenic and scintillating properties.

Hilton Worldwide recently opted against the usual serving of static images on social media and incorporated a 360-degree mobile video ad campaign featuring hot shots of their exotic Barbados locale. The immersive and engaging experience—“Destination: Inspiration”—was complemented with a “book now” call to action at the end of the video.

Stuart Foster, Hilton Worldwide’s vice president of global marketing, joined [a]listdaily to detail how the hotel company is using 360-degree video and virtual reality to drive brand awareness—and bookings.

Stuart Foster, Hilton Worldwide's vice president of global marketing.
Stuart Foster, Hilton Worldwide’s vice president of global marketing.

What was the impetus of the “Destination: Inspiration” experiential marketing activation? What are some insights can you share?

Hilton Hotels & Resorts’ “Our Stage. Your Story.” brand initiative, now in its third year, is about inspiring audiences to travel and helping them turn their travel dreams into reality. We know that visualization plays a major role in our guests’ decision-making process. In fact, according to data from an online survey commissioned by Hilton Hotels & Resorts, over 9 in 10 travelers say they set goals for themselves, and for these travelers, visualization is the most common method used to achieve those goals. Through the “Destination: Inspiration” 360-degree video, we took visualization to a new level by allowing potential guests to immerse themselves in our hotels and surroundings before they even step foot in the lobby. The video features the Hilton Barbados Resort and not only creates a fully immersive experience at one our most beautiful hotels, but includes a new avenue for travelers to instantly book their dream trip via an end card linked to Hilton.com’s reservation system if they’re inspired to do so in that moment.

Was it a success in that regard?

Success for this campaign was in driving awareness and consideration for the Hilton brand. We used cutting-edge technology that creates an immersive experience unlike anything else out there for our guests as they start to plan their next trip. We’re excited about how consumers have responded to the video campaign thus far and are exploring options for follow-up videos that will immerse audiences in our portfolio of over 570 hotels based on learnings from this first campaign.


How did you go about securing advertising partners to provide access to mobile in-app audiences for a targeted ad campaign?

We partnered with Opera Mediaworks to reach mobile audiences for this campaign. Through this partnership we were able to deploy one-of-a-kind mobile ad technologies like Instant-Play HD Video and gain access to unique and powerful data signals to target the right person at the right time.

Consumers who typically use VR are not necessarily the ones who book hotel and resort packages. How do you reach high-end leisure travelers and parents? How about digital natives?

Brand adoption of VR and consumer use and familiarity with the technology has truly exploded over the past year. What’s great about 360-degree video as an extension of VR is that while it can be viewed through devices such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR, it doesn’t require headgear and thus is accessible to everyone—including consumers who are only able to view it through video streaming websites on their smartphone or computer.

With virtual tourism, how do you give just enough of an experience for people to be tantalized to actually visit? How much is too much, and how do you find the right balance?

Until the day that technology can physically transport viewers to the doorstep of one of our hotels in an instant, there will never be ‘too much’ given away via these virtual experiences. It is our mission at Hilton to be the most hospitable company in the world and our passion to create exceptional experiences for our guests wherever their travels take them. No matter how immersive a video is, nothing can compare to actually experiencing Hilton hospitality at one of our hotels.


Is incorporating VR a crucial strategy you see the entire hospitality industry adopting in the immediate future? Why is it a natural fit for the tourism industry?

There’s no comparable technology like virtual reality, and by extension 360-degree video, that creates the same type of immersive experience our guests are looking for as they plan their next trip. The habit of ‘virtually experiencing’ a hotel has been part of the guest-booking experience for years now, only it was previously limited to scrolling through a property’s social feed or website. Virtual reality technology is here to stay and we will continue leveraging this exciting capability to create new experiences for travelers from the moment they begin thinking about their trip to when they’re ready to book that dream vacation.

How will Hilton continue to use VR and other immersive ad experiences to help drive reservations?

The “Destination: Inspiration” video that you saw is the first 360-degree video we’ve created, but is certainly a medium our brand and hotels will continue to explore. For example, our Hilton Waikoloa Village property has created a series of 360-degree videos (which may be seen on the hotel’s Facebook page), and as I said above, we’re looking into options for follow-up installments that will further immerse audiences in our portfolio of hotels.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

Facebook Features Engage High Value Gamers

Facebook has become an advertising powerhouse over the last few years, particularly with mobile ads. The company’s second-quarter earnings showed sales up 59 percent to $6.44 billion, while profit nearly tripled to $2.06 billion. Mobile ads comprise nearly 64 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue—a truly impressive growth from a standing start a few years ago. Yet the company isn’t resting on its laurels, according to Kelly Graziadei, director of global marketing solutions at Facebook, who spoke at the recent Casual Connect conference in San Francisco.

Kelly Graziadei
Kelly Graziadei, director of global marketing solutions at Facebook

Facebook has seen a range of games grow over time, from canvas games to mobile games, and “explosive growth over a number of categories,” said Graziadei. That led Facebook to look closely at the game market to inform its choices in building out advertising products. “What have we learned from a product perspective, and how do we think about that? What are we looking to build now and into the future that ultimately helps you grow your business?” Graziadei asked.

“With the rise in mobile games, our primary goal was app discovery and installs,” Graziadei explained. “In 2012 we built the mobile app ads product. Since product inception, we’ve driven over 2 billion installs across app and desktop lifetime. We’ve also seen over 90 percent of the top 100 grossing apps in the US log app events on Facebook. What we’ve learned, as the mobile gaming industry matures, it’s not just about scale, and it’s not just about installs. Where we are today is seeing games balance the objective of discovery and driving installs. And balancing that with re-engagement of the right gamers who will drive the most lifetime value, those gamers that are going to play more and ultimately make a purchase. Many of the partners we work with a focus solely on customer acquisition and user acquisition to get as much discovery as possible to drive low-cost installs. This strategy has worked, and it’s worked for some time. But what we’re seeing is that shift to move beyond the install. We need to find that right gamer and that right customer.”

“Where we are today is seeing games balance the objective of discovery and driving installs. And balancing that with re-engagement of the right gamers who will drive the most lifetime value; those gamers that are going to play more and ultimately make a purchase. Many of the partners we work with focus solely on customer acquisition and user acquisition to get as much discovery as possible to drive low-cost installs. This strategy has worked, and it’s worked for some time. But what we’re seeing is that shift to move beyond the install. We need to find that right gamer and that right customer.”

Finding the right customer is ever more challenging in today’s app environment. “The data is pointing to the need for this even more,” Graziadei noted. “We see over 50 percent of users who install a game don’t open a game after the first day. For those that do open the game after the first day, another 50 percent do not make it through the first week. So it’s never been more important to find the right users and drive them through that first week after they install the game.” That’s a combination of a game design challenge and a marketing challenge, because a design that keeps one player engaged and eager to keep going with a game may not work as well for another player—and that means it’s important to target your marketing efforts to the first player.

There’re some basic insights that Facebook has gleaned, which have guided how it is developing features for ad products. Graziadei summed it up this way: “Not all installs are created equal. It’s important to recognize the balance between scale versus finding valuable gamers and driving those repeat actions,” Graziadei said. “As we think about the entire customer life cycle, there are three areas to consider. First, to acquire gamers who will provide the most value. Second, to engage them with compelling creative. Third is to encourage repeat behavior that will ultimately drive lifetime value (LTV).”

Facebook Analytics 1

Graziadei went on to provide several examples from Facebook’s partners, showing what sort of results it’s possible to get with Facebook’s new tools for analyzing app installs. “To acquire installs that will provide the most value, it’s important to know what your business objectives are beyond cost-per-install,” Graziadei said. “What are those high-value actions in your game that you ultimately want people to take? The next is understanding who is valuable—all gamers are not created equal. No one knows your game or gamers better than you. Even if you’re just tracking cost-per-install, you can dig in and understand the demographics better, and who is that high-value customer that you should reach more of.”

Some of the new tools Facebook has introduced are of obvious use for marketers, providing more granular detail about customers. “We’ve recently introduced Audience Insights into Facebook Analytics for Apps,” Graziadei said. “This enables you to glean even more insights, such as education, profession, income, marital status. All of this information allows you to better target your audience, and it allows you to create relevant and compelling messages for those different sub-segments of your audience.”

Facebook is continuing its development of tools for advertisers, and it announced one at the show. “To further help gaming companies find the right gamers, we’ve announced App Event Optimization,” Graziadei said. “It essentially allows you to find new gamers who are not only likely to install your games, but are also likely to take a valuable action that you designate, post-install.” This might be a game purchase or reaching a certain level. Graziadei noted that PennyPop, which participated in the beta for this new feature, saw an 80 percent decrease in cost-per-event when it optimized for that specific event, and saw a 5x growth in revenue and LTV. As another example, Smule found that when optimizing for subscriptions, it was able to improve the cost per purchase by 32 percent, and revenue figures were increased by 22 percent.

App Event Optimization provides an event-based bidding process, where advertisers can choose whether to pay less for an install or bid more for someone who is likely to use the app. Advertisers can select from 14 different user actions that might signal how likely a user is to become a valuable long-term customer. This also provides value for users, who could end up seeing more ads for apps they might actually want rather than a stream of irrelevant products.

In addition to introducing Event Optimization, Facebook now lets advertisers drive app installs and in-app purchases with Dynamic Ads. These ads are shown to users after they’ve indicated interest in a product, again producing more relevant results. Another new feature added are full-screen Canvas ads that allow a developer to give users a preview of what the full app looks like in action.

NPD: ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ And Nintendo Dominate July 2016 Sales

The NPD Group has just released its monthly sales figures and July 2016 saw a significant drop in video game revenue compared to last year. NPD’s video game industry analyst, Sam Naji, attributes the drop to “lack of strong new titles for the month,” resulting in a 14 percent drop year-on-year for hardware, software and accessories.

“[Hardware] spending declined by 30 percent versus last July due to a 10 percent decline in unit sales and a 22 percent decline in the average price,” Naji observed. “Spending on portables increased by 23 percent, but this was offset by a 37 percent decline in spending for consoles. Total spending came to $141 million, a decline of $61 million compared to July 2015.”

Xbox One was the best-selling eighth-generation console for the month in terms of units sold, thanks to a 30 percent average reduction in price since July of 2015. Together with the PlayStation 4, both current-gen consoles have earned 41 percent more cumulative hardware sales than their predecessors, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 when compared to the same point in console life cycles—in this case, 33 months since launch.

2ds july 2016 sales

Nintendo outperformed the competition overall in hardware unit sales, thanks to reduced average prices for the 2DS, resulting 78,000 sold—a five-fold increase. The combined spending for the 3DS and the 2DS increased by 44 percent to $28 million. “The 3DS also saw an increase in unit sales of 18 percent,” Naji noted, “Making the combined 2DS and 3DS platforms the best-selling hardware for July 2016 (based on units).”

Speaking of Nintendo, it’s no surprise that the July release of Pokémon GO inspired consumers to “catch them all” on other platforms as well. “The popularity of the app had a positive effect on sales for Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Pokémon Omega Ruby for the 3DS. Units sales for the two games increased by 79 percent compared to the previous month,” said Naji.

The NPD’s top 10 best-selling games for July 2016 are:

  1. Grand Theft Auto V
  2. Overwatch*
  3. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. Monster Hunter: Generations*
  5. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  6. Minecraft*
  7. NBA 2K16
  8. Doom 2016*
  9. Destiny: The Taken King
  10. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege

Asterisks indicate that digital sales were not accounted for.

Since June, Rock Star’s Grand Theft Auto V overtook Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch for the number one position, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens dropped one spot to number three and Monster Hunter: Generations took over the number four spot, pushing Doom all the way down to number eight. The best-selling new release for the month was Capcom’s Monster Hunter: Generations for the 3DS, but the title earned 52 percent fewer dollars than last July’s new game, Rory Mcllory PGA Tour.

“The lack of strong new releases for the month have resulted with a poorer comp year-on-year, and the top 10 games for July 2016 generated 21 percent fewer dollar sales than they did last year,” Raji explained.


When it comes to accessories, gamers took a step back from gamepads, headphones and interactive gaming toys compared to last July. Total spending in this category declined by 4 percent to $98 million, which includes subscription cards to console services such as Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus and named full-game download cards.

Raji added that previous-generation console accessories helped reduce the hit in revenue that eighth-generation (Xbox One and PS4) would have sustained. “Although dedicated eighth-generation gamepad spending and headphones/headset spending increased by 22 percent and 23 percent, respectively,” he said. “They were offset in declines in spending on older models such as dedicated seventh-generation gamepads and headphones/headsets.”

Disney Infinity and Lego Dimensions saw an increase in sales for July, taking a 34 percentage point shift in dollar share away from Skylanders accessories and amiibos. “Although total spend for interactive gaming toys declined by 3 percent compared to last year,” Raji concluded, “Consumers spent an additional 55 percent on Disney Infinity accessories and $3MM on Lego Dimensions, which launched in September 2015.”

5 Brands That Successfully Use Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is a combination of real life and a super-imposed image or animation, using the camera on a mobile device or special headgear. Although the use of this technology has been around for several years now, the idea has reached worldwide recognition thanks to the hit mobile game Pokémon GO.

The overnight success of this title has inspired other brands to explore the medium for themselves, and investors are more than happy to join in. Venture capital fund Super Ventures was recently formed to exclusively support AR technologies. The Venture Reality Fund was formed to invest in both AR and VR. In fact, VR/AR M&A advisor, Digi-Capital conducted research that suggests the AR market will be worth $90 billion annually in 2020, compared to a much smaller $30 million for VR.

Visualizing products and ideas could be easier than ever in the near future, bringing science fiction to life through mixed reality. In the meantime, here are some examples of brands who are already using augmented reality in a successful way.

L'Oreal 'Makeup Genus' App
L’Oreal ‘Makeup Genus’ App


Beauty brand L’Oreal uses an AR mobile app that launched in March. The “Style My Hair” app allows customers to virtually try hairstyles and hair colors before they visit a salon. Style My Hair, available on US Android and iOS devices, allows potential customers to explore new looks and share them on social; it was downloaded nearly 500,000 times in the immediate weeks after the launch. As for cosmetics, L’Oreal’s Makeup Genius virtual makeup app and the My UV Patch skin sensor app launched at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. Makeup Genius now has 6.3 million downloads.

'Battle for 'Cedar Point' AR Experience
‘Battle for ‘Cedar Point’ AR Experience

Cedar Point Theme Park

Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, Ohio and known as “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” recognized the tremendous potential of AR technology and updated its app with The Battle for Cedar Point experience. With it, attendees can join different roller coaster-themed clans to compete with each other by scanning different areas of the park with their smartphones, such as signs and special T-shirts, for an AR experience. The technology essentially turns the theme park into one gigantic video game. At the end of the day, members of the winning clan can purchase a special pin to commemorate their victory.

Epson Moverio BT 300 smart glasses are being used by businesses today.
Epson Moverio BT 300 smart glasses are being used by businesses today.


You probably know them as a major printer manufacturer, but you probably didn’t know that Epson is on its way to becoming a giant in augmented reality. From the DJI Phantom 4 Camera Drone to Moverio BT 300 smart glasses that double as a projector, Epson isn’t “your father’s printer company.”

“It’s a question everybody asks. They go, ‘Epson … Aren’t you guys a printer company?’ And it’s a very valid question,” Michael Leyva, product manager at the Long Beach, California-based Epson America told [a]listdaily. “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.”

‘Dragon Spotting’ allows viewers to hunt for Elliot in their own homes.


The Walt Disney company has always been at the forefront of emerging technology, from creating the first full-length animated film to featuring animatronics and holograms on their park rides. To promote their latest film Pete’s Dragon, Disney launched a website that encourages viewers to download the mobile game Dragon Spotting. The app challenges users to locate Elliot the dragon using their mobile devices around prompted locations, such as behind a couch, or under a table.


Disney has also partnered with Crayola to bring its characters life through coloring books with the Crayola Alive brand. As illustrated by the demonstration below, colored images are transformed when viewed through a tablet’s camera and downloaded application. Other Crayola Alive brands include Barbie and Skylanders.

HuffPost RYOT Exec Explains The Power Of Virtual Reality Storytelling

The Rio 2016 Olympics is officially in the history books, but there are more than just the achievements of Olympians Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Usain Bolt to reminisce about. HuffPost RYOT set up a pop-up shop in Brazil through a partnership with Samsung during the Olympics to develop original 360-degree content at the Rio Creator’s Lab.

That content, which covers topics ranging from the rainforest to the political climate in the country, is available on Samsung’s Gear VR headset as well as on Facebook 360, YouTube 360 and the RYOT and HuffPost apps and websites.

“Olympic coverage has leaned to the extremes, either glossing over the issues of poverty and infrastructure whole or exaggerating safety issues,” Molly Swenson, chief marketing officer of HuffPost RYOT, told [a]listdaily. “We sought out to find the truer character of this city that lies somewhere in between. Using 360 allows us to share that narrative.”

In this collaboration, Swenson said Samsung enabled the creators and the content rather than sponsoring or branding the content directly. Swenson said the filmmakers relied primarily on the Samsung Gear360, the GoPro 7-camera 360Hero rig and the Google Jump camera in capturing content in Rio.

The Lab released six 360 films during the Olympics and will have 10-to-15 more coming out afterward. Swenson said there will be dozens more pieces of ancillary content, as well.


“We chose stories based upon their potential to stimulate our audience visually, intellectually and culturally,” Swenson said. “We reached out to the most interesting journalists, artists, and researchers in Rio and asked them what stories were essential and not being covered. It’s less about positive stories versus negative stories, and more about stories told from the perspective of the actual people who live in the city, and will keep living there long after the games have ended.”

Swenson said Brazil is a country in the midst of political turmoil, and the citizens are overcome by insecurity and restlessness. They rely on their common bond as Brasileiros, as Cariocas, to find that sense of strength and community through their cultural traditions.

“The government has built walls to hide the less-fortunate from Olympic attendees,” Swenson said. “We hope these stories break down those very walls, educating the viewer of both the problem they represent and the beautiful things happening behind them.”

When they did focus on the Summer Games, the angles the 360-degree content took were much different than the Samsung-produced 360 Olympics coverage.

“Rio is one of the most geographically stunning places in the world, so much of our outdoor coverage features those aspects,” Swenson said. “We are more focused on the community than the competitors. For instance, our film that featured the Congolese refugee judo fighter focuses on the Caritas Refugee Center and the celebration of other Congolese expats in Rio.”

Swenson said partnering with Samsung in Rio allowed for 360-degree stories to be shared during the event, as well as after.

“Speed is a currency in both the humanitarianism and journalism which is at our roots,” Swenson said. “Your ability to be effective in these spaces depends in part on how fast you can act, so we are trying to crack quick-turnaround VR content, as in 24 hours or less. We’ve done this throughout the presidential primaries, the RNC/DNC and now at the Olympics.”

RYOT launched in 2012 as an “immersive media company linking content to action” and it was acquired by Verizon’s The Huffington Post in April 2016. Swenson said the acquisition has given RYOT the opportunity to achieve impact at scale in a completely new and dynamic way.