Patrick Gilmore, studio head at Amazon Games joined [a]listdaily on the floor of TwitchCon 2016 to discuss the announcement of three games, the Lumberyard engine and of course, Twitch Prime. “I’m just blown away,” exclaimed Gilmore, speaking about the value of a subscription and the way Twitch Prime helps support broadcasters. Above all else, Gilmore said that gaming was at the heart of the service planning. “When Twitch Prime was born, we wanted it to be a love letter to gamers,” he said.
Twitch Prime, a free, upgraded service for Amazon Prime members includes benefits like free games (including Streamline), one free subscription to any Twitch channel each month and discounts on new release box games on Amazon during the pre-order period and first two weeks following launch.
Amazon Games’ Breakaway is getting a lot of attention at the show—a game that was designed with Twitch in mind and the first to utilize Twitch’s new currency system. “The game itself is designed to be fun to broadcast,” Gilmore told [a]listdaily. “It turns out that a lot of the thing that you do to make a game fun to watch also make them fun to play.” Metastream can be overlayed over a broadcast with data provided by Amazon games in real time—providing information akin to a sports player’s stats during a live game.
Crucible, meanwhile, is a last-man-standing multiplayer game. The broadcaster plays as a sort of game master (much like a Dungeon Master in Dungeons & Dragons), hosting and interacting with viewers then changing the gameplay elements to “put on a great show.” Although the broadcaster isn’t meant to be a troll, “that’s part of the fun,” Gilmore laughed, which leads to some interesting social elements. There can only be one player of the game, so alliances form, as do plots of betrayal on top of first person shooter skills required to win.
New World is being developed in Amazon’s Orange County studio and taps into the ever-popular open world survival crafting genre. The game takes place an alternate 16th Century North America, where European legends and folklore are true and what was supposed to be a promised, virgin New World turns out to be a country of nightmares. Although frightening, Gilmore calls New World one of the most beautiful games he’s ever seen.
These games were built using the free Lumberyard engine, a way for Amazon to create strategic partnerships from the ground level of game development. “We’re here to build business around our games,” said Gilmore. “We need to survive as game developers inside of Amazon just like any game developer.” Gilmore went on to explain that Amazon Games will sit down with engineers to provide feedback and ensure the success of the engine. Lumberyard is designed to give independent developers and publishers a full suite of products to make them “more powerful.”
Miss the[a]listdaily live stream from TwitchCon? Watch it now:
Hungry for marketing data? This week, we’ve got you covered with some tasty tidbits.
Less Than 20 Percent Of Marketers Are Prepared For Digital Challenges
When Adobe surveyed 735 digital marketing pros in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, only 19 percent said their organizations were equipped to face current and future digital challenges. 51 percent plan to invest in mobile technology over the next 12 months, however. When it comes to having a strong web presence, 53 percent of survey respondents said their organizations have responsive mobile site designs, 50 percent have mobile apps, 34 percent have adaptive mobile websites, 30 percent have dedicated mobile sites and 9 percent said they currently have none of those things.
Bank Of America Scores A Touchdown
Twitter is trying its hand at football livestreaming this season, which turned out to be a huge success for ad sponsor Bank of America. While the stream resulted in 243,000 viewers per minute, compared to 15.4 million people who watched on NFL Network and CBS, Bank of America’s ads during the game had a 98 percent completion rate on the platform.
People Get A Whole Lot Done On Mobile
Ninety-eight percent, to be exact. According to a survey conducted by Google, mobile users use search throughout the day to research, particularly for purchases. “In fact, 70 percent of smartphone owners who bought something in a store first turned to their devices for information relevant to that purchase,” Google reported. “And when people search on mobile, it tends to lead to action: 92 percent of those who searched on their phone made a related purchase.”
Twitter Users Interact With Brands
In Twitter’s annual Online Video Playbook, the social media company reported that 82 percent of users interact with brands on Twitter. Additionally, research found that video ads in Twitter feeds are twice as memorable than when found elsewhere. Millennials surveyed felt that Twitter video ads were more relevant to them.
Branded Content Leads To Higher Brand Recall
A new joint study from IPG MediaLab, Forbes and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School resulted in some interesting nuggets of marketing joy about branded content, including the fact that brand recall is 59 percent higher for branded content than display and native ads. Also, consumers are 14 percent more likely to look for additional content from a company after a single impression of branded content.
Ads Are Improving, But Still Being Blocked
Adobe compiled data from 800 billion North American web visits from January 2013 to June 2016 and a survey of more than 1,000 US consumers in August 2016, the authors said. While 38 percent of US respondents said they believed the ad experience online had gotten better in the past two years and 68 percent said it was either improving or at least not getting any worse, the proportion of people running ad blockers continued to grow. Desktop ad blockers have increased 400 percent since January 2013 to 220 million.
75 Percent Of Programmatic Display Ads Will Be Mobile By 2017
This year, mobile programmatic ad spending will grow 65.7 percent to $17.70, far exceeding desktop spending levels, according to eMarketer. Programmatic this year will represent 73 percent of all display ad spending in the US and is estimated to reach 75 percent by next year.
Retailers See High Return From Facebook And Instagram
According to the according to the annual State of Retailing Online 2016: Marketing and Merchandising report, conducted by National Retail Federation and Forrester, social media has become a major seller for online retailers. When it comes to paid social media, 68 percent of retailers surveyed say they were seeing increased conversion from their paid Facebook efforts and 40 percent claim the same from paid Instagram efforts.
Here are some of the top personnel moves in marketing over the last week.
Pandora Picks Up Nick Bartle As CMO
Music streaming platform, Pandora, has named former Apple and LinkedIn marketer, Nick Bartle, as its CMO. Bartle will join the company on October 3 and comes from LinkedIn, where he served as VP for member marketing and communications for the past year. Prior to that, he was the senior director for marketing communications at Apple. Bartle replaces Simon Fleming-Wood, who announced five months ago that he was stepping down after five years in the role.
Beth Goss Named 20th Century Fox Film Chief Brand Officer
Twentieth Century Fox Film appointed Beth Goss to the newly created position of chief brand officer. In this role, Goss will “manage the Fox film brands across their lifespans, including current releases and library titles and those projects in development,” according to a press release. In addition to developing properties for deep, ongoing fan engagement, Goss will also “collaborate with the studio’s key divisions to help steward the Studio’s signature franchises, world-renowned brands and myriad event properties to optimize all the various marketing and distribution windows and outlets on a global basis.”
Prior to her role at 20th Century Fox Film, Goss served as a consultant for the studio and founded the content distribution agency, 8.Eight Entertainment, which is dedicated to “identifying and maximizing media platforms for key entertainment brands.” Goss also served as the EVP of Cartoon Network/Adult Swim. Prior to that, she worked at NBCUniversal to maximize the company’s intellectual properties while developing strategic plans for core franchises.
Zynga Names Doug Scott As CMO
FarmVille creator, Zynga has hired Doug Scott as its new chief marketing officer. Scott is a veteran game marketer with over 20 years of experience. He replaces Jennifer Nuckles, who held the position for over two years. Before joining Zynga, Scott was an advisor to YouTube Music, where he helped musicians increase their revenues. Prior to that, he was CMO of BandPage, a company that was acquired by Google in February. Other employers include the video game companies DeNA and Electronic Arts.
American Apparel CEO Paula Schneider Steps Down
Paula Schneider announced that she will be voluntarily resigning as CEO of the clothing company, American Apparel. Her resignation goes into effect on October 3, and she will be replaced by Chelsea Grayson, American Apparel’s former general counsel and chief administrative officer. Schneider served as American Apparel’s CEO for over two years, taking over after the company’s founder Dov Charney was ousted by the board in December 2014.
SuperData has just released its digital video game revenue data for the month of August. Sales are up, there’s success “in the cards” for publishers and a change in Chinese spending habits offers new revelations for pay-to-play MMOs.
August 2016: Digital Video Game Sales
It was a strong month for the global video game market, grossing $6.1 billion in August—an 11 percent increase year-over-year. This growth was fueled by successful releases across console, PC and mobile platforms although the charts were topped by existing games, League of Legends, Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Pokémon GO. While premium PC, console, digital revenue and mobile sales all experienced growth in August, pay-to-play MMOs and social games saw a modest decline over last year.
On PC, League of Legends topped the charts, no doubt thanks to a major sale on champions and skins in August. Meanwhile, World of Warcraft‘s Legion expansion drove the popular title to the number two spot, followed by Crossfire and Dungeon Fighter Online.Overwatch held its position at number five. Although PC digital sales grew 21 percent to $401 million, pay-to-play MMO sales declined 4 percent to $226 million.
Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky came in at number six for PC, generating $78 million in digital sales in its opening month across platforms. While the much-anticipated (although highly-criticized) open world title also earned the second spot on the console charts, controversy over marketing vs. finished product may paint a different picture come September. Black Ops III held secured the perimeter around its number one spot, while Grand Theft Auto V stole the number three spot for console, dropping FIFA 16 down to number four. Madden NFL 17, which launched near the end of August, came in at number five but September sales may paint a different picture.
As for mobile, Pokémon GO and Monster Strike hold firm at number one and two respectively, followed by Mobile Strike and Clash of Clans. A month after its July release, Pokémon GO, earning a whopping $204 million still managed to push the mobile market to $3.04 billion in revenue, 16 percent higher than the same month last year. Nintendo is expected to continue its strong push onto mobile with Super Mario Run.
Collectible Card Games Prove To Be A Strong Spin-Off Opportunity
As MOBA and shooter titles have begun to saturate the industry, publishers are turning to franchise spin-offs to generate additional income. Collectible card games are a $1.3 billion market and one of the fastest-growing segments among free-to-play. Total market size is expected to increase by 8 percent in the next two years, SuperData estimates. Fueled by the success of Hearthstone, publishers are tapping into their IPs to create collectible card games of their own.
Upcoming titles in this lucrative genre include The Elder Scrolls Legends by Bethesda Softworks and GWENT, a spinoff of The Witcher 3 by CD Projekt Red. “The genre’s potential has also prompted some very unconventional experiments,” notes SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen in the report. “For example, Electronic Arts recently announced plans to create a mobile card game based on their first-person shooter franchise Titanfall.”
Chinese Spending Habits Take A Surprising Turn
It has often been thought that Chinese gamers, who typically pay for MMOs by the hour, would not be willing to pay for a video game upfront. That outlook is about to change, thanks to Activision Blizzard titles, Overwatch and World of Warcraft‘s Legion expansion. Up to 40 percent of full game downloads of Overwatch in August can be attributed to Chinese sales, SuperData reported.
“Overwatch and World of Warcraft show shifting Chinese spending habits,” explains van Druenen. “China’s games market may be dominated by free-to-play MMO and mobile titles, but Overwatch’s success indicates the potential for premium games in the country is growing.” NetEase, who sells these titles in the Chinese market, generated $382 million, excluding royalties to Activision Blizzard. NetEase changed their payment policy for World of Warcraft with the roll out of the title’s new Legion expansion. Players are now required to pay upfront for full monthly subscriptions, rather than by the hour, and as a result NetEase-processed revenue up to $37 million in August compared to $8 million in July.
“The success of both titles goes against the assumption that Chinese gamers will never warm up to paying for games upfront, and provides evidence that it is possible to convince Chinese consumers to purchase high-quality, full-priced games,” van Druenen concluded. “Whether this will fundamentally change the market remains to be seen, as local gaming behemoth and NetEase rival, Tencent is still sticking to free-to-play.”
[a]listdailys was on-hand at TwitchCon to catch all the action and explore how livestreaming has evolved.
Keynote: Twitch Prime Announced
TwitchCon 2016 keynote host djWHEAT: “Twitch is on the forefront of both embracing gaming culture and developing new subcultures.”
Twitch CEO, Emmitt Shear breaks down the numbers. At any given time, there are approximately 622,000 viewers on Twitch.
The number of concurrent viewers peaked at over 2 million on April 3, 2016 during an eSports weekend event.
Over 2 million streamers were broadcasting this past year, including over 17,000 partner streamers.
Over 10 billion minutes of content was broadcasted on Twitch since last year’s TwitchCon.
The most watched game of 2016 is Overwatch, followed by World of Warcraft: Legion, Destiny: Rise of Iron, Tom Clancy’s The Division and H1Z1: King of the Kill.
Earlier this year, Twitch acquired Curse Network. Shear announced today that the Curse Voice app is getting “Twitchified.” Curse app users can add a purple Twitch theme, complete with all the beloved emotes, when they link their Curse and Twitch accounts.
Streamers are getting a host of new features, including customizable loyalty badges to award viewers. The feature will become available in three weeks.
Beginning today, streamers will be able to upload videos to their channels for anyone to watch, and they’ll be able to download past streams for watching and/or editing.
Starting today, the Twitch mobile app will support livestream clips. To date, almost 16 million clips have been created by over 3 million viewers. Later this month, users will be able to trim clips to their liking.
Twitch Prime announced: Twitch is integrating Amazon Prime benefits into a new service called Twitch Prime.
Shear describes Twitch Prime as: “A new premium version of Twitch which comes free with an Amazon Prime membership.” It includes ad-free viewing, exclusive emotes and chat badge.
Twitch Prime benefits include: 1. Monthly game loot, which includes free games, in-game skins, characters and more. 2. One free subscription to any Twitch channel each month. 3. Discounts on new release box games on Amazon during the pre-order period and first two weeks following launch.
Blizzard Entertainment’s Ben Thompson, Hearthstone Art Director, took to the stage to reveal one more Twitch Prime benefit. Users that sign up for Twitch Prime between today and November 6 will get a special Hearthstone hero.
Additionally, the game Streamline will be free for users who sign up for Twitch Prime within 30 days.
Twitch Prime starts today, and users can link their Twitch IDs with their Amazon Prime accounts for access.
Here are the top highlights from [a]listdaily‘s exclusive interviews from the show:
Daybreak Games Discuss H1Z1 As An ESport
Jens Anderson, executive creative director at Daybreak Games, is joined by H1Z1 streamers to talk about eSports.
The H1Z1 Invitational tournament, which started at TwitchCon last year, is back.
Invitational pits 60 players against each other for a $260,000 prize pool.
It takes incredible dedication to train for the tournament.
Jens Anderson: “I don’t think you can manufacture an eSport.”
The prize pool is generated by fans that purchase a special H1Z1 game pack.
The H1Z1 Invitational takes place on Sunday, October 2.
Darude Finds Unexpected Focus From Livestreaming Music
Finnish musician and DJ, Darude discusses how Twitch has affected his following and creative methods.
Once he got over his nervousness about people watching, Darude feels that livestreaming helps him focus.
His song, Sandstorm is a common, pre-game “pump-up” track for players, which helped him integrate into the community.
People seem surprised that a streamer is not a gamer, but they seem very forgiving, allowing Darude to experiment with music.
Twitch followers—particularly gamers—notice things about his music that he didn’t expect.
Gunnar Optiks Celebrates 10 Years Of Preventing Eye Strain
Scott Sorenson, president of Gunnar is joined by streamer, Life With Laughs and musician, Darude.
Gunnar Optiks was founded a decade ago after one of the co-founders, a stock broker discovered that he had eye strain.
Gunnar glasses filter out harmful blue light, which is a major problem in a world of digital screens. Although Gunnar glasses are beneficial for anyone who works on a computer, gamers are especially prone to eye strain.
As the company celebrates its 10th birthday, Sorenson says that they will continue to focus on education to save eyes, “two at a time.”
Qazi Shares His Game Development Journey With The Masses
Artist and programmer, Qazi is a one-man game development team.
His games include Twitch integration, allowing viewers to play the games together.
Skyhook was developed with the help of Qazi’s followers and launched live on his stream.
Qazi enjoys getting feedback from viewers on assets, art and other fun activities like drawing pugs.
TwitchCon: It’s All About The Creation
[a]listdaily was joined by Amy Brady, head of Twitch global events.
TwitchCon, in its second year has already surpassed attendance by about 10,000 people.
Brady says that they care about the indie games as much as the “big brands” at the show.
Creation is at the core of what Twitch stands for, be it gaming or otherwise, and they enjoy the diversity.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment launched Legendary Entertainment’s movie, Warcraft onto 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on September 27. The reported $160 million production was an international success at the box office, raking in over $433 million with $47 million earned domestically. Many have yet to see Duncan Jones’ adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment’s PC game franchise, and Blizzard has partnered with Universal and Legendary to offer a digital copy of the game in select Blu-ray and DVD boxes. Actor Rob Kazinsky (Pacific Rim, True Blood) believes this is just one example of how the game developer and Hollywood studios can work together on this franchise.
Kazinsky is a life-long gamer and a dedicated World of Warcraft player. In fact, when he heard about this video game adaptation, he fought to get a role in the project. The role he landed was of Orgrim Doomhammer, one of the film’s central characters, and he was so excited to be part of this film that he showed up early just to meet the developers behind the game on set. The actor talks to [a]listdaily about the film and offers his thoughts on why eSports are so popular in this exclusive interview.
How did your background in gaming help bring Orgrim Doomhammer to the big screen?
It helped me understand the world in which we were living in. I didn’t need anything explained to me. I knew everything before we even started. There were a few times when people would pull me aside and ask who is this guy is or why is this important, and I would know those things. But we were making a film that did deviate from the game lore. When it was written, the game lore began to contradict itself and didn’t lend itself particularly to a great movie story. So we had to adapt a few things. We changed some of the origin [story] of Orgrim, and there’s no Mannoroth or Sedaris yet. So there were slight changes that came about making this film the best film it could possibly be without someone like me standing there going, “Yes, but Orgrim was from the Blackrock Clan, and he should be wearing his armor.” It just became about having a good story in the form of a film.
What are your thoughts on the Warcraft Blu-ray including digital copies of World of Warcraft and a Medivh hero in Hearthstone and Gul’dan hero in Heroes of the Storm?
It’s nice to have an infrastructure that can pull this type of thing together. There was an original idea of giving the base game away up to the last expansion with actual tickets if you bought an IMAX ticket, but they weren’t able to pull that off. The beautiful thing about having an infrastructure that works together with Blizzard, Legendary and Universal is that we can put packages together to reward people that love the game. The thing we struggled with [in] making the movie was getting people who haven’t played the game to come watch it. So it’s only fair that we reward those people that do love the game and did love the movie and do buy the Blu-ray or the DVD, because they’ll get the next movie made.
What are your thoughts about eSports, and how people are competing for real money in games like Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch?
I don’t know if eSports will ever have the same kind of mainstream appeal as actual sports and betting per se, but you also have to look at the personalities involved—whether it’s Jesse Cox, TotalBiscuit or any of these satirical gamers who create an environment that’s really fun to watch these things in. Gaming is very much a large part of everybody’s life now. The generation above me and beforehand grew up playing games. It’s not like something that the kids do these days. It’s going to be a part of everybody’s life forever. My girlfriend is as good a gamer as I am, and since when has that been a common thread? Gaming has been a part of the vernacular now for everybody who grows up, so it’s inevitable that there’s going to become and eSport element of it.
What role has Twitch and YouTube played in connecting you with other gamers?
People are really interested in watching people achieve things that we are unable to achieve ourselves. Ensidia used to make these fantastic videos—that they put up on YouTube—of their first kills that were really well structured and well made. Their first Algernon 25 kill is one of my favorite videos on YouTube that I will watch occasionally to remind myself how great this game is.
ESports encourages multiplayer gaming together, which is something World of Warcraft was built on. What do you think of that connection?
Yeah, I’ve been playing (WoW) with the same thirteen-ish people for a decade. And it’s even [in] things like Overwatch, where you’re on a team of six. When you see these teams come together and play in really smart moves, it’s really cool because you very rarely get coordinated teams on Overwatch. You have to have to set up and play with people that you know.
If eSports was as big back when you were starting, would that have impacted your career trajectory?
No. I don’t think it would have mainly because I’m not good at that kind of thing. These kinds of guys that make a career out of eSports, their personalities are what sells them. And I’m not that guy that can be nice when he’s in a bad mood or be funny when he’s feeling angry. If eSports had been around when I was a kid, I’d just have watched them play like everybody else.
The autumn wind is a pirate, blustering in from sea . . .
The title of one of the greatest sports-themed poems ever written also doubles as somewhat of a signal for when an army of men and women across the world start warming up their feet by slipping into some soft fur. You don’t choose the UGG life . . . the UGG life chooses you.
To celebrate the first day of fall and #UGGseason, the luxury-comfort brand launched a custom, fall-themed 24-hour Snapchat lens in North America on September 22 featuring leaves, earmuffs and mini UGG boots that appeared once a user opened their mouth. The frame was accompanied with the line “Finally UGG season.”
The filter was integrated with the second installment of the brand’s digital campaign with English model, actress and UGG brand ambassador Rosie Alice Huntington-Whiteley.
It’s been a big month of September for UGG, who also celebrated their men’s line by plugging New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with teammate Julian Edelman and actor Jeff Bridges for their “Do Nothing” campaign.
The five-part digital series celebrates the “art of doing nothing” with Brady, an UGG brand ambassador for the last six years who’s helped the men’s business grow by over 150 percent.
“The idea of ‘Do Nothing’ started last fall when I had a rare Sunday to watch football since we opened the season on a Thursday night. I relaxed on the couch by wearing my favorite UGG slippers. I posted a photo on Facebook and it was history from there,” said the four-time Super Bowl-winning Patriots quarterback. “As an athlete I know firsthand the importance of sometimes taking time out to do nothing—it helps me recharge and perform when I’m on the field.”
Still serving a four-game suspension to start the season, Brady sure has some extra “do nothing” time on his hands, and the tone and timing of the campaign, which features Bridges startling a sleeping Brady by softly singing “Buffalo Gals,” could not be more fitting.
Jim Davis, vice president of consumer engagement for Deckers Outdoor Corporation, the parent company of UGG, joined [a]listdaily to discuss the brand’s latest campaigns and how they plan on winning big this season.
Why was Snapchat the best social channel to launch your fall campaign? What does the platform offer that others don’t?
Snapchat is a focus for us because it’s a part of our fans’ everyday lives. If you look at Instagram as a visual lens into a person’s own brand, Twitter becomes their microphone—Snapchat occupies a unique space where the unpolished and goofy can be celebrated. Everyone wants authentic content—Snapchat is still one of the few platforms that offers that reality. Snapchat also offers the opportunity to reach GenZ and younger millennials in very authentic ways to help build brand heat with the next generation.
How will you measure the success of the National Lens? And what was the most surprising revelation?
We don’t have any numbers to share quite yet, but we will look at quantity and demo of the users of the lens, the network effects and related impression reach, and a brand lift study that Snapchat will conduct.
What is the foremost thing brands should know before diving deep into a Snapchat campaign?
You have to really think about it from a user’s perspective. People love lenses because they are ridiculous—for better or worse. Success comes when you take that seed of a fun idea and combine it with a culturally relevant time. The better your brand fits the moment, the more apt people are to brush the clear branding aside and let loose. It’s also important to consider the entire Snapchat ecosystem. You want to have a strong organic brand presence in place already. You also want to consider other paid media companion opportunities in places like Discover to maximize exposure and reach.
Since partnering with Tom Brady, the men’s business for UGG has grown immensely. How do you keep reinventing yourself to use his star power in order to market to men?
I think the key has been to present Tom as Tom. They know the football player, the Super Bowl MVP, they see him at galas with his wife Gisele Bündchen at his arm. They don’t see all the other elements that make him, him. Morning rituals with his family, the struggle to make it in the NFL, golf with his father—all of our campaigns present Tom off the field.
Your tongue-in-cheek approach to elevating downtime was clear in the “Do Nothing” campaign with Jeff Bridges. Has Brady’s suspension and turmoil with the NFL over Deflategate actually been great for you as a sponsor and partner?
Believe us, it was completely unintentional. Tom posted an image with his slipper’d feet up watching a football game last season and the idea was born. #DoNothing isn’t about nothing, it’s about owning your downtime—which could be a multitude of things.
How will you be promoting the five-part digital video series with “Do Nothing” and “Rosie’s Everyday Survival” moving forward this fall? What is your social media strategy as the season changes, and the holidays approach?
All of the obvious places. We only have one standalone men’s social channel, Instagram, so cross-channel promotion across our core channels will be crucial from an organic standpoint. We are also pushing the content out through a host of paid digital channels where we can reach targeted audiences like YouTube Truview and HULU as well as targeted endemics like Highsnobiety and ESPN. Given the nature of our business, come holiday timeframe our content shifts to be more focused on weather, and of course, gifting.
Brady is in a league of his own as far as pitchmen go. But where do online influencers and influencer marketing fit into your marketing strategy?
It’s a core tenet of our strategy. We work with influencers consistently, but for us it’s about finding the right influencers. For men, it’s not as simple as just identifying a few bloggers with large followings. Men seem to crave the aspirational and as such we’ve had a lot of success with influential photographers, in addition to our work with Tom and Jeff Bridges.
What other experiential marketing activations can consumers expect in the coming months?
The world of video games is always pushing forward, but technological advancement means that some of our favorite games aren’t playable on new consoles. Sometimes absence makes the heart fonder, and publishers know exactly how to tap into that nostalgia—remastered video games. Unlike a reboot or “remake,” HD remastered games update graphics but do not alter gameplay, aside from enhancements like trophies, achievements or developer commentary.
Revitalizing A Legacy
The most obvious reasons for a game’s remaster is to attract new fans and allow existing ones to relive their favorite gaming moments. Capcom has become an expert in resurrecting the dead with its Resident Evil franchise, particularly with the 2015 remaster of its 2002 remake of the original 1998 game. Released in January 2015, Resident Evil HD set a record for the biggest-selling day one digital title on PlayStation Network (PSN) and became Capcom’s fastest-selling digital title in history across Europe and North America. Bioshock: The Collection debuted at number one in the UK and features behind the scenes commentary by developer, Ken Levine, which results in . . .
Games are remastered at pivotal times for a publisher, and often used to garner attention for upcoming titles or other projects. Irrational Games co-founder Kevin Levine is no longer with the company, but the re-release of his games places him back in the spotlight during a pivotal time in his writing career. Levine is writing and producing the pilot episode for an interactive, live-action series based on The Twilight Zone, which will be published by CBS. As for 2K’s doomed city under the sea (or in the sky), fans haven’t seen the last of Bioshock. The remastered editions could hint at future games or (we can only hope), another attempt at a film adaptation.
Microsoft has seen tremendous success with its Halo franchise, strategically releasing The Master Chief Collection for Xbox One right before Halo 5 was launched. The hype worked so well that I bought it and don’t even own an Xbox One yet. Priorities.
Capcom’s string of remastered Resident Evil titles is timed perfectly with the franchise’s 20th anniversary and builds excitement for the launch of Resident Evil 7 next year. Luckily for Final Fantasy enthusiasts (or newcomers to the series), Square Enix has been rather generous with the remastered games, getting everyone ready for the launch of Final Fantasy XV, releasing November 29.
Nostalgia Leads To Brand Loyalty
Analytics firm Gallup recent reported that economic decision making is 70 percent emotional and 30 percent rational. Further, consumers with strong emotional connections to retailers will visit their stores 32 percent more often and spend 46 percent more money than those without emotional bonds. For PC gamers in the 90’s, there’s a lot of brand loyalty for point and click adventure titles from LucasArts.
In the case of LucasArt’s 1998 classic Grim Fandango, the original launch was critically acclaimed but did not produce the kind of sales that constitute a “hit.” When the game was remastered and re-released in 2015 by Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Productions, it was once-again praised by critics and fans alike but more importantly, proved a financial success.
“Grim Fandango was a lost game for a while,” Schafer, Double Fine Productions’ president and CEO, told [a]listdaily. “There was no legal way for people to buy it and play it, unless they found a used copy. But then we were lucky enough to secure the rights to not just make the old game available again, but to remaster it, and make it better than ever. We wanted to do right by fans of the old game, and also introduce the game to a brand new audience. And it worked! The remastered version surpassed the $5 million gross that the original made, and has sold over two million units. It worked out so well that we got the rights to do it again with Day of the Tentacle and Full Throttle. So it made money, which is awesome, but it also let us preserve and update a unique, collaborative, creative work that many of us cared deeply about.”
These titles not only introduce “back in the day” classics to new gamers, but reinforce the idea that Double Fine values what made these classics beloved in the first place. When “Double Fine Adventure” broke Kickstarter records in 2012, brand loyalty was proven without a doubt. Since then, Schafer and his gang of rogue video game developers and publishers have used this nostalgia to bring an emulated port of Psychonauts to PlayStation 4 this year and build hype for the game’s long-awaited sequel in 2018.
Remasters aren’t a new concept, especially in the world of film. Disney often revitalizes its legacy through special edition Blu-Ray remasters as one by one, the industry giant films live-action adaptations for its classic stories. When it comes to video games—a deeply personal, memory-laden experience, nostalgia has and will remain a major selling point and valuable strategy for publishers to come.
ELeague represents one of the big success cases in creating a synergy in eSports, balancing between digital streams on platforms such as Twitch and broadcasting live tournaments on television on TBS. It completed its first season of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) tournaments in July, and recently announced that the next CS:GO Major Championship will be held beginning January 22 in Atlanta. The Grand Final will be televised live on TBS with a simulcast on Twitch on January 29 from the historic Fox Theatre.
Christina Alejandre, ELeague’s general manager and vice president of eSports, spoke at the New York Media Festival this week about the success of the first season.
In the world of eSports, TV is a brought audience. The core community watched using platforms like Twitch, and ELeague knew that. “We wanted it on television because we felt that we were capable of giving it that kind of framework and exposure that eSports normally had [online],” said Alejandre.
The bet paid off, as TBS saw a 95 percent increase in the coveted 18-to-35-year-old demographic during the ELeague’s first season. Over 19 million people tuned in to TBS on Friday nights to watch ELeague. Many were people who had never watched an eSports tournament before. Friday nights had become a destination for families to watch eSports, with fans explaining concepts to new viewers.
When asked about the reaction fans had to ELeague, Alejandre said that the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. However, Alejandre also explained that there was some apprehension. “I think that when we started the first season, a lot of people who were into eSports desperately wanted us to succeed,” she said. “But the community was also kind of holding their breath for us to fail because it was definitely a risky endeavor to put eSports on television—whether or not we could drive a consistent audience.”
Part of the concern was in bringing a number of non-endemic sponsors into the eSports space. Alejandre explained that people wondered whether ELeague would be all corporate and “TV-ify” eSports. “We didn’t want to TV-ify eSports,” Alejandre explained. “They already had a solid foundation and our job was not to reinvent the wheel. It was to provide this framework and exposure. We also worked closely with our partners and sponsors to make sure they were integrated in a healthy way.”
ELeague’s sponsorship partners include Buffalo Wild Wings, Credit Karma, Geico, Dominos and the movie Sausage Party. There even once was a Sausage Party studio takeover on ELeague. Additionally, Buffalo Wild Wings would host weekly ELeague viewing parties at its restaurants. But one of the most successful partnerships was with the sandwich chain Arby’s.
ELeague worked very closely with Arby’s, which came onboard with the mentality, “Hey Turner, we’re super excited about eSports and you guys are experts in this space. What we don’t want to do is be the guys that show up to the party that weren’t actually invited,” Alejandre explained.
Arby’s sponsor integrations included the “Locked and Loaded” series of videos, which took eSports players to shooting ranges to fire real guns at sandwiches. Arby’s provided a different sandwich each week and released slow motion videos of them exploding. “It was just an amazing piece,” said Alejandre “and it was also just kind of funny to watch these players, who are the best at their craft, but some of them could not shoot a gun to save their lives.”
Then there were the TV commercials, which featured the deep voice of actor Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction, Mission Impossible) talking with Counter-Strike-themed language. In the game, one team plants a bomb and defends it while the other team tries to move in and defuse it. In the commercial, Rhames becomes agitated as a sandwich beeps and then explodes, which saddens Rhames. Some commercials have a message at the end reading: “Don’t try this at home. It’s a waste of a sandwich.”
“[The audience] saw that and were like, ‘you made this for the Counter-Strike community? You get us!’” said Alejandre. That’s when ELeague and Arby’s starting seeing a lot of positive feedback. Arby’s showed that it wanted to be part of the community instead of just selling roast beef sandwiches. “When people walk past an Arby’s now, I guarantee you they look at them very differently.”
“How often, in a sporting event, do you have people in the audience cheering for a sponsor versus cheering for what’s going on? Arby’s did such a great job with its commercials—their commercials were targeted toward the community and showed that they ‘got them.’ The audience showed its appreciation by cheering ‘Arby’s, Arby’s, Arby’s!’ And they were tweeting about the commercials,” said Alejandre.
ELeague did a study featuring Arby’s and found that brand awareness, how much people liked them, and purchase intent grew by double digits. So the partnership was very successful for both, showing the power of integrating partners in a natural way.
“For a lot of these partners, it’s not just ELeague saying, ‘look, you need to integrate so our game or product doesn’t get hurt,’” said Alejandre. “We need to be smart with how we integrate with you because that fan base can turn on a dime. But as long as you embrace the community, they’ll embrace you right back.”
Alejandre also explained how ELeague chose CS:GO for its featured game because “CS:GO is a FPS (first-person shooter) game and the basic rules of understanding it are very simple. If you choose a MOBA-type game to start with to be the primer for competitive gaming, you’re going to get a lot of people who are going to be overwhelmed with all the different rules, all the different characters, and will have no idea what they’re watching.”
When speaking to [a]listdaily, Alejandre explained the game-selection process. Did ELeague choose games based on their popularity in the eSports space, or ones that sponsors most likely want to be associated with? “I think it’s a combination,” she responded. “We have to look at all the different angles. Is it something that’s relatable or understandable? If not, can [Turner] make it relatable and understandable? How popular is the existing fan base? We’re probably not going to dedicate an entire ELeague season to a game that’s not as popular, but there are a myriad factors that go into it. We have a great research team, and we all talk about it. All of us are gamers too, and [we ask] ‘do we just understand this game because we play it?’”
When asked whether ELeague would consider following EA’s strategy of featuring sports games such as Madden or FIFA as eSports—ELeague is under the Turner Sports umbrella—Alejandre said: “I think there are a lot of benefits to it, and that people understand a basketball game or football game. And also, the Turner Sports synergies are there. But we’re closely watching it, and it’s definitely one of the things that we watch and evaluate.”
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