Op-Ed: 5 Reasons Why iOS 10 Is Great For Game Marketers

Apple launched iOS 10 this month along with the new iPhone 7 models, and iOS 10 is arguably the more important of the two launches. If past experience is any guide, hundreds of millions of people will install iOS 10 on their Apple devices over the next few months. At best, the iPhone 7 will only sell perhaps 50 or 60 million between now and the end of the year. So iOS 10 will have a much greater impact on the market than the iPhone 7—and the impact of this new operating system on marketers will also be huge.

Overall, perhaps the most important change for iOS 10 is in the way that notifications will be front-and-center for users. When you pick up your device running iOS 10, you’ll see the notifications on the screen without having to unlock your device or even swipe. Notifications are therefore going to be far more apparent to users that ever before—and that’s a very important tool for marketing that just became many times more powerful.

Here are five reasons that iOS 10 is going to be a big boon to marketers.

Rich Push Notifications

Push notifications are a mainstay for mobile marketers, particularly for mobile games. There’s nothing like letting someone know their opponent is waiting for a move, when there’s a big sale going on, or when your virtual town has been sacked and burnt to the ground. Those notices that show up on your screen are a potent call to action. Now, iOS 10 is making them even better by adding rich push notifications and a whole array of features that marketers should be ecstatic to see.

Marketers will now be able to use rich media in push notifications, which means images, GIFs, audio or even video files can be added. These notifications will appear with a thumbnail preview, not just as a text list. Marketers will have an array of powerful choices to make—should you use a video or a GIF instead of text to make a notification? There will be plenty of experimenting ahead for marketers. It’s an area where no one has much data, and the audience for one game may be very different from the audience for another game in how they respond to rich media notifications. Experiment, get feedback and be careful not to offend with rich media—but track the performance carefully, and you may just find that rich media can substantially outperform plain old notifications. Seeing a town explode may motivate a player much more than simple text that says “your town was attacked!”

Siri, What Do You Think Of Marketing?

The answer, with iOS 10, should be that Siri is going to get to know a lot of marketers. Why? Because iOS 10 opens up Siri to developers with SiriKit, meaning you can build voice controls into your own apps. SiriKit will be available initially for six types of apps: Ride Booking, Photo Search, Payments, VoIP Calling and Workouts. Apple hasn’t said whether SiriKit will be expanded to other app types, but you can bet that’s going to be a much-requested feature. Will we ever see Siri in games? Someday, perhaps—and that has tremendous possibilities for game designers.

Meanwhile, it’s important to keep an eye on how Siri evolves and is being utilized by marketers for those apps allowed to work with SiriKit. That way you’ll be ready when Apple lets you into the fold. It seems likely that Siri will lead to plenty more business for those apps that take advantage of the interface. Marketers should be watching closely.

Messaging Gets Supercharged

After years of unchanging complacency, Apple’s iMessage is becoming a full-fledged platform in iOS 10. There’s a broad array of new features, from full-screen animations, to allowing you to draw, to being able to post handwritten notes, secret messages that are only revealed when you swipe, calendar scheduling and mobile payments . . . and an iMessage App Store. Developers can build applications right into iMessage, giving it third-party functionality like the best Asian messaging platforms and Facebook Messenger, too.

This means SMS marketing is going to be supercharged with iOS 10, and marketers should take full advantage of this—after all, it’s where mobile phone users spend an amazing amount of their time. If you are wondering whether this is a good idea, here’s a hint: Coca-Cola is going to be spending 70 percent of its mobile budget on SMS in the next fiscal year. They know a thing or two about marketing, and it sure seems like they see mobile messaging as a powerful tool.ios-10-imessage


There’s a new monetization method coming with iOS 10—or, rather, an old monetization method that has never been built into iOS before: subscriptions. Apps can let you buy a subscription, with an interesting twist: Apple will take its normal 30 percent revenue share of the subscription price, but only for the first year. After that, Apple’s share is reduced to 15 percent. And subscriptions will now be available across all app categories—meaning subscription-based games are possible.

Yes, magazine publishers love this idea. It certainly makes sense—Apple seems to be figuring that their platform helps you acquire a subscriber initially, but if you hold onto them for a year that’s become your product’s power holding the subscriber, so you should get more of the revenue. This has the potential to become a serious revenue source for mobile games that can take advantage of it.

Game marketers and game designers will have to put their heads together to see if this makes sense for their game. Regular content updates would probably be expected under this scenario, so if your game isn’t capable of cranking out good content on a reliable schedule this probably isn’t a good idea.

Paid App Search

Apple will now be allowing paid app searches. Unlike Google AdWords, only one ad result will show at the top of the keyword searches in the App Store. However, this is going to be an enormously powerful way to showcase your app if you can find the right keywords. The first companies to leap into this will probably reap outsize benefits. Marketers should expect this to evolve quickly, and it’s anybody’s guess as to how paid app search in the Apple App Store will settle out in the long run. Marketers should be quick to try it out, though, and test how well it works before everyone piles in.

EA Sports Takes ‘FIFA 17’ To The Streets With Limited Edition Cleats

EA Sports continues to ramp up promotion for FIFA 17 ahead of its September 27 launch, this time with a pair of gloriously colorful, limited edition cleats. Limited to only 1,500 pairs, the EA Sports x Nike Mercurial SuperFly shoes celebrate the legacy of the FIFA franchise from its humble beginnings in 1994 to its innovative, HD gameplay of the present. This is visually represented a 16-bit print on the medial side that transitions to the high-definition look of today on the lateral—all backed with a vibrant orange hue. More special details include the EA Sports logo on the heel, an iridescent plate, and metallic gold threading through the laces. Each pair is individually numbered on the heel.

“This collaboration came together rather organically,” Nathan Van Hook, senior design director for Nike Football told The Mirror“Our design team spends a lot of our free time playing football—both on the pitch and via video game—we’re pretty obsessed with both. We wanted to create something memorable that brings together the physical and virtual worlds.”

The EA Sports x Nike Mercurial SuperFly will be available for sale via the Nike Football App and Nike’s website on September 26. For video game players, the shoes will also be available in virtual form through the EA Sports Football Club catalog beginning September 22, so your soccer star can play in style.

ea sports nike

EA’s partnership with Nike is just one of several promotions for its latest game. Coke has also partnered with EA by offering a collectible Slurpee cup activation at 7-Eleven stores across the US along with a FIFA 17 contest featuring over 10,000 prizes. During E3, EA Sports placed major emphasis on the players themselves and each individual’s journey to greatness—inviting gamers to interact with the title on an emotional level. Additionally, fans were invited to vote on the cover star, further creating a sense of personal investment in the game’s success. FIFA 17 is a major eSports contender—so much, in fact, that pro-Brazillian soccer player, Wendall Lira retired from real-life games to pursue a career in FIFA.

Why Lyft And Budweiser Joined Forces To Stop Drunk Driving

Lyft and Budweiser are collaborating on a first-of-its-kind partnership that takes a bold stance against drunk driving.

The two brands are rewarding beer drinkers who #GiveADamn about driving under the influence by offering 5,000 Lyft rides each week through the end of this year.

The “Give a Damn. Don’t Drive Drunk.” initiative started Friday in New York, Colorado, Illinois and Florida on Anheuser-Busch’s seventh annual “Global Beer Responsible Day.”

Here’s how it works: Each Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, Budweiser will share a unique code on its Facebook and Twitter channels, which consumers 21 and over can enter into the Lyft app to claim a $10 free ride credit. This ride credit can be redeemed the following Friday and Saturday, between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time, designed to be accessed when people are returning home after a night out. The first 5,000 Lyft users to claim these codes each week will have the chance to use them that weekend. This promotion is available to both new and existing Lyft users, and the claim and redemption periods will be extended during certain holidays.

Paige Thelen, Lyft’s communications manager, joined [a]listdaily to discuss why they joined the fight in promoting alcohol responsibility.

What is this partnership designed to accomplish for Lyft?

Budweiser and Lyft are committed to combating the issue of drunk driving by forming a partnership of this magnitude. Nearly 10,000 people are killed in alcohol-related driving accidents each year, accounting for 32 percent of all traffic-related deaths. Directed squarely at reducing drunk driving fatalities and making our roads safer, this is the first time a ridesharing and beverage company have come together to battle drunk driving at this scale.

What kind of a conversation can we expect with the #GiveADamn hashtag? How will you engage with consumers on social media? 

We hope to raise awareness of the issue of drunk driving by encouraging people to share why they #GiveADamn. Lyft will be actively participating in this conversation and sharing information via social handles so people know how to access the free rides from Lyft and Budweiser.

How did you decide on the markets of New York, Colorado, Illinois and Florida for the activation? What is Lyft trying to accomplish in those states?

These states fall on the top lists of states with the most drunk driving-related fatalities. They are also key markets for both Lyft and Budweiser.


Should marketing through social responsibility be a top tactic for ride-hailing services and alcohol brands? Will we be seeing more partnerships between Lyft and beverage companies in the future?

No plans to share today, but we look forward to expanding this partnership with Anheuser-Busch to increase access to reliable late-night rides for people across the country. Drunk driving is an important issue to Lyft, but Lyft is also a solution. With this announcement, Lyft is the first ridesharing company to implement a multi-state, months-long program to directly impact this important issue facing America. This is also the first time a ridesharing and beverage company have come together to battle drunk driving at this scale.

What are you looking for when considering and negotiating logical brand partnerships? What is the “it” factor?

Taking care of our communities is something we truly believe in, and something that we work hard to do every day. Finding partners with shared values and visions is the best way to create a meaningful experience for customers, while also making the partnership work for the business. We apply this thinking to every partner that we work with. At Lyft, we are focused on giving passengers a safe, reliable transportation alternative to driving their own vehicle. And with Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser, we share a strong commitment to making our roads safer. In Anheuser-Busch we found a partner with a shared vision for a better world, and a shared mission to bring people together and reconnect communities.

Everyone loves a good coupon code. How do partnerships help Lyft compete with the likes Uber?

Millions of people rely on Lyft to get home safely after going out with friends. By expanding access to these rides and opening 80,000 free rides between now and the end of the year, we expect to see more rides on the Lyft platform—benefiting passengers, drivers and everyone on the road.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan


Squanchtendo Founder Justin Roiland Explains Why He’s Hooked On VR

Justin Roiland became hooked on virtual reality after Valve invited the co-creator of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty animated series to Seattle for a secret meeting. Valve ended up showing Roiland the HTC Vive and he was hooked. While a lot of creative people have been captivated by VR, Roiland sought to make virtual reality games.

First, he partnered with Owlchemy Labs to create Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-Ality, which made its public debut at San Diego Comic-Con. Then he went a step further and co-founded his own indie VR game studio, Squanchtendo, with Epic Games veteran Tanya Watson. That studio has already launched its first (free) game for HTC Vive, Accounting, from Dr. Langeskov developer Crows Crows Crows, and there are more games on the way.

Justin Roiland

Roiland, who has been busy soaking up video game knowledge from shows like Game Developers Conference (GDC) and PAX, talks to [a]listdaily about why he’s hooked on VR in this exclusive interview.

How did your first GDC help prepare you for virtual reality?

GDC was awesome, in that I was able to go and see on the ground floor and hang out with a bunch of the VR devs that were actively programming and working on stuff for the HTC Vive. I spent a whole day with Dirk Van Welden (founder of I-lllusions), the Space Pirate Trainer guy.

We talked about VR and all the cool, crazy stuff you could do in the medium with that hardware. That was a really important step in this journey. I already had my Vive dev kit at my house set up, but there were a handful of things that I hadn’t tried that were really incredible. I started imagining what you could do on this platform with this medium.

How open have virtual reality game developers been with you?

Everyone is exchanging notes, which is good. I got a lot of information and discussed a lot of stuff in regards to what works in VR and what doesn’t work in VR. And now there’s so much out there for you to try that if you want to spend money, you can almost experiment with the titles that are out and go, “Yeah, this is something that I wouldn’t want in my game, or this is something that I would want in my game because it works perfectly.”

How do you see VR evolving?

There’s a lot of mini-games—a lot of short-form games—because there’s only been so much time for devs to spend working on stuff. I spoke to devs about how exciting the future is going to be when some of these more long-form games come out. When we get the more narrative-driven, bigger experiences like what Grand Theft Auto III was for console games—that shifting point where it was like, “Holy crap, you can do this on the hardware!”—it’s going to be exciting to see what comes in the subsequent months and years.

What are your thoughts on navigating through VR gaming worlds?

Usually, a lot of people now are moving towards the teleportation mechanic. At PAX, I got to try the Doom VR demo that they had set up at the booth, and that was just ridiculous. It was exactly what I was imagining in terms of [what] the locomotion would be. The ultimate way to do it [is] where you have your non-dominant hand point anywhere you want and then you actually see yourself zip over to that spot. You can point behind you and it works and you can point in front of you. It’s very exciting to see that in action and someone using and proving it out, because that’s the first time I’ve gotten to try that in a full 360-degree way, and it worked perfectly.

What are you personally learning from short-form VR game experimentation that you’re developing with Accounting and Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-Ality?

(Crows Crows Crows developer) William (Pugh) and I got together right before GDC with his buddy Dom (Johann) and it was really just a game jam. It was like, “Let’s have fun in this medium.” The goal was to lean into the characters and the weirdness that I’ve wanted to see in VR for a while, and I’m still waiting. I know that people have to be working on something that leans in that direction behind closed doors. We set out to put as many weird characters in a game and record as much dialogue and audio as possible.

To an extent, that’s what’s happening with the Rick and Morty game (from Owlchemy Labs), where I’m going in and retro-scripting everything. So you have two characters that are actually in the room and there’s a lot of character animation and stuff going on. We have some of that in Accounting, but it’s the idea of putting a character in a space with a bunch of bizarre characters that are rambling and rambling, waiting for you to do something that you’re supposed to do, but you don’t know what you’re supposed to do yet. Accounting is very much like a puzzle experience. You’re in a room, you’re not sure what you’re supposed to do, and you have to listen to the characters and do what they tell you to do. In some cases, they don’t tell you to do anything. They just yell at you, and you have to kind of figure it out on your own, which is really funny to me. In the Rick and Morty game, the characters are more like your guide, but they’re definitely commenting on the stuff you’re doing.

What does VR open up in allowing players to interact with characters you’ve created, whether from Rick & Morty or original game characters like Accounting’s cast?

I love the idea of having an audio drop for every single interaction that the player can make, that’d be my perfect-world scenario. So there’d be something that the characters say or comment and it really does feel like a two-way thing despite the fact that you can’t just open your mouth and talk to them. I’m sure there are people working on that, but that’s basically Alexa- or Siri-level stuff that we’re talking about there. It’s about how can you get around that and make the player really feel like they are interacting with the characters in the space. And the best way to do that is to have an audio drop for every single thing that they can interact with in the space. Some of those audio drops will just go on and on until they trigger the next one. That stuff’s really fun to do.

Accounting was really an experiment based on taking a puzzle-based “escape the room” concept and making it different by including bizarre characters that are going through an interactive talk and ramble experience. The whole thing about Accounting is that there’s quite a bit of replayability because a lot of players are going to figure things out quicker than other players in certain rooms. We’ve recorded so much that they’ll want to go back and listen to everything until it very clearly loops.

Coca-Cola’s Quest For Content Continues With JourneyxJourney

When consumers take a digital stroll through Coca-Cola’s corporate website, they’ll quickly realize that it has the look and feel of a news website.

Well, that’s done by design, because in late 2012, Coca-Cola solely dedicated the company website around brand storytelling and reporting. “Journey” is staffed with a team of bubbly brand journalists who unbottle stories about the 130-year-old soda pop maker’s business.

Earlier this month, fresh off of winning social media gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Coca-Cola’s quest for content kicked into another gear with JourneyxJourney when two of their millennial social strategists embarked on a 21-day cross-country expedition across America all in the name of some good ole brand storytelling.

JourneyxJourney’s purpose is to “connect and co-create content for millennials” through the exploration of food, sports, music and culture. And they’re taking soda storytelling seriously—further evidenced by the company’s grand unveiling of their “mobile brand publishing unit,” which is equipped with production gear, cameras, filming drones and editing equipment, trailing along for the ride in a 40-foot long mobile home.

The road trip started September 13 in Coca-Cola’s headquarters in Atlanta and culminates October 5 in Los Angeles.

Doug Busk, Coca-Cola’s global group director for digital communications and social media, who directly oversees Journey and other social and digital channels and initiatives, joined [a]listdaily to detail their refreshing approach to storytelling.

What is JourneyxJourney designed to accomplish for the brand?

JourneyxJourney, much like everything we do on our digital magazine Coca-Cola Journey, will publish engaging stories of and around our iconic brands. We felt there was no better way to build those stories, and discover new ones, than a classic American road trip. On the very first day, in fact, JourneyxJourney received an invitation from one of brand Coke’s most dedicated fans, who invited us to visit his personal museum of Coca-Cola collectibles.

What is the story and narrative Coca-Cola is trying to convey?

Journey and JourneyxJourney seek to publish rich, share-worthy stories of all kinds about the company and our brands, to be sure, but, most importantly, people—our associates, fans and friends.


What kind of a conversation can we expect with the #JourneyxJourney hashtag?

JourneyxJourney is a storytelling road trip and social networks represent the best way to publish our experiences real-time. You can track #JourneyxJourney on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and our newly launched Snapchat handle to experience the road trip with us.

Why is content creation in the form of this brand publishing initiative a prudent next step for Coca-Cola marketing?

We have a long history of storytelling at Coca-Cola and Journey’s brand journalism represents simply another chapter in that evolution. The Journey team, which is a part of corporate public affairs and communications at the company, partners with marketing teams to source some of our most compelling content.

What other marketing promotions are in store for the “mobile brand publishing unit” moving forward?

The mobile brand publishing unit is an element of the JourneyxJourney experiential experiment. We’re excited to see how JourneyxJourney pans out and plan to evaluate the next opportunity for the unit based on the success of the content generated by the road trip.

Emily Bucherati (left) and Meagan Priselac will spend three weeks on the read co-creating content on for Coca-Cola.
Emily Bucherati (left) and Meagan Priselac will spend three weeks on the read co-creating content on for Coca-Cola.

The content is slated to be published for audiences in real-time across Coca-Cola’s social channels. Where do influencers fit into your social media budget?

In the case of JourneyxJourney, our influencers happen to be our intrepid road trip reporters Emily Bucherati and Meagan Priselac—who, not coincidentally, happen to be Journey’s in-house social network strategists. Leveraging that expertise, they will publish real-time stories across our social media channels. More generally, Journey always aims to produce authentic content that has influence.

What is your overall marketing strategy for Coca-Cola Journey? How are you leveraging the digital media property to better connect with consumers?

Journey, as the company’s digital magazine, is but one of a wide portfolio of digital engagement paths at Coca-Cola. The common thread among all these efforts is to engage people, especially millennials, where they live, which, increasingly, is digital and social media. The primary aim of Journey’s content is always on engagement, so we’re constantly following our readers to find new, unique ways to share our stories.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan


Sketchfab Explains What Virtual Reality Opens Up For Brands On Twitter

Twitter has added Sketchfab 3D/VR viewer support, which brings 3D and virtual reality to tweets. This deal makes Sketchfab the sole provider of real­-time 3D and VR models on Twitter timelines and tweets globally, opening up its community of over half­ a ­million contributors and close to one million 3D and VR scenes to Twitter’s global audience.

In addition to allowing Twitter users to explore 3D models within a tweet, every Sketchfab embed is instantly viewable in VR at the tap of a button on iOS and Android mobile devices using viewers such as Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR. Desktop users who own the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive can also launch directly into VR using a WebVR supported browser.

“We’ve developed our tech on the backbone of WebGL and WebVR to be as universal and hassle-free as possible, rendering on 99 percent of websites across browsers on both mobile and desktop,” Paul Chambers, head of communications at Sketchfab, told [a]listdaily. “In essence, we’re looking to be the defacto format for 3D/VR content, so breaking down barriers to sharing and embedding has been a core tenet of our company since the very start.”

Sketchfab previously inked deals with Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Kickstarter and WordPress. It’s also going be the official 3D publishing partner of Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft HoloLens and Intel RealSense. These deals helped solidify this Twitter partnership.

“We’ve been working closely with Twitter for a number of years to make this happen,” Chambers said. “As we’ve built partnerships with all the other major players both on the sharing side and on the exporting side (for example, directly exporting to Sketchfab from 3D software packages and mobile applications), each new case built confidence in Twitter that we were the right company to commit to for 3D and VR delivery. We also needed to honor their development pipeline.”

Chambers has already seen brands interested in connecting with customers through virtual reality on Twitter. “Much like our native integration in Facebook in February 2015, we’ve seen brands eager to find ways to bring more engaging content to their fans’ news feeds and timelines,” he said. “A 360-degree spin of a consumer product is pretty well established at this point, so an opportunity to go beyond that into a fully interactive, and often animated and/or annotated brand experience has given them what they’ve needed to provide ‘thumb-stopping’ content.”

“Since we added VR support, every Sketchfab experience—no matter what platform it’s on—is also viewable in VR at the tap or click of a button,” Chambers explained. He also stated that it’s a big deal for brands looking to get their work into VR without needing to invest time and money in a limited audience app store or proprietary technology. “This allows brands to deliver 3D and VR content to consumers where they are,” he continued. “It’s as simple as pasting a link into a tweet. We’ve worked hard to ensure that sharing 3D and VR is as intuitive as sharing any other piece of content: a video, an image or a piece of audio.”

Sketchfab has already worked with multiple brands on its Facebook implementation, including Adidas soccer, Blizzard Entertainment for World of Warcraft and MTV, and virtual reality is just the beginning for Sketchfab integration on Twitter. At the end of June, Twitter hired former Apple designer Alessandro Sabatelli as the director of VR and augmented reality (AR).

“We’ve talked with Alessandro and suffice to say, you can expect to see news from Twitter on that front in the near future,” Chambers said. “And with Facebook backing Oculus, it’s safe to say that all the major social players see a future in which our social interactions will occur in VR and AR.”

Chambers stated that mobile VR has two things going for it: mass reach and mobility, meaning not being tethered to a larger processing device. “Google is certainly committed to a mobile-driven VR future,” he said. “Combine that with Facebook and Twitter’s investment in VR and AR on all fronts, and I think we’re going to see some very exciting news ahead of us in the next twelve months.”

Homido Brings Mobile Virtual Reality Entertainment To Kids

Although virtual reality is seen by many as the future of interactive entertainment, the technology still has a long way to go before it sees mass consumer adoption. Homido, a company that specializes in making VR viewers for mobile devices, similar to the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard, is working to help move the technology forward with its line of headsets. These viewers are attractive, affordable, and work with almost any smartphone to experience mobile VR and watch 360-degree videos.

The company recently announced the newest addition to its product line: the Homido Grab, which is designed primarily to appeal toward children and families. They come in a variety of colors and have the “Works with Google Cardboard certification,” which is a testament to their quality. Kids can use the viewer to interact with apps such as Cedar Point VR, which lets viewers take a virtual ride on the Valravn roller coaster. Or they can use educational apps such as Discovery VR (from the Discovery Channel) and Chemistry VR.

“When we were kids, we all imagined exploring places like outer space or going back in time to walk with dinosaurs,” said Homido co-founder and CEO, Mathieu Parmantier in a press release. “As an adult, I wish the kid version of me could’ve done those things. We want to make sure that no generation will ever say that again!”

Parmantier spoke with [a]listdaily about virtual reality technology and how the company is making it accessible to the whole family.

Mathieu Parmantier, Homido co-founder and CEO
Mathieu Parmantier, Homido co-founder and CEO

What inspired the creation of a VR viewer for kids and family?

The point of our whole company is to make good VR available for everyone. But right now, it’s positioned as this hobby just for geeks. Our first task was making a quality experience that everyone could get their hands on—something that doesn’t take a $1,000 computer to run, but is more comfortable than something made of cardboard.

We did that with our other headsets, and there’s nothing holding back a kid or a non-techie mom from buying one. But now we wanted something that would invite them in—to say “Hey, virtual reality is for you, too!”

What age group is Homido Grab designed for?

Young kids to mid-teens, and to parents of any age who want to share the experience with their kids.

What differentiates Homido from other VR headsets, particularly the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard viewers?

The thing about VR is that it’s dominated by the ultra-high end and super entry level. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are incredible, but let’s face it, they’re just not right for everyone when you need a powerful (usually custom-built) computer to run them on top of the headsets that cost hundreds of dollars.

Cardboard is likewise fantastic, for the opposite reason. It’s very affordable and works with most every phone. But seeing as it’s literally made of paper, it’s best for shorter VR experiences, more of a “first step” than something you can spend hours in.

The Gear VR is a pretty cool compromise—$100, and the tech is solid. But the problem is that it only works with Samsung’s latest phones. That means anyone with an iPhone, or a different Android phone, get left out.

So what’s different about our headsets is that they’re great quality, but everyone can use them. Elsewhere, you get one or the other.

How are you getting the word out about the Homido Grab?

We were just showing it off at IFA in Berlin, and now we’re working with educators in a partnership with Google Expedition to show how VR is a game changer for kids, even in the classroom. We actually just used it to take the French minister of innovation and digital affairs on a trip to Machu Picchu!


Homido has been developing viewers since 2014. Have you seen significant changes in the technology in that time?

Oh yes. It’s almost every day I hear of someone inventing some new technology in VR.

For us, the big thing is mobile technology. Mobile phones get a lot better each year—better screens mean sharper images, and better chips mean games and other apps with better graphics and faster frame rates, which makes things feel much smoother.

But the really interesting tech, which isn’t quite on the market yet, is all the features the mobile developers are planning specifically for VR. Google’s Daydream, for example, is going to make it way easier to make VR work on the software level. Google Tango, which will come out for the first time this fall on the Lenovo Phab 2, lets phones scan the world around them which opens up lots of doors in VR. And we all know Apple is doing something big behind those closed doors.

In what ways do you think mobile VR will grow?

In the long run, there’s no way any other kind of VR will compete with mobile. Mobile is what everyone knows, and it’s what’s already in everyone’s pocket. And the further the tech grows, the more mobile VR is going to feel as good as you can get with a hardcore gaming computer.

Slowly but very surely, we’re going to see non-geeks trying VR. And then, staying in VR—not checking out little five minute games, but jumping into VR as a real hobby, the way TV or video games are. And that’s why we’re inviting them in with Grab.

How The Rams Are Reintegrating Their Franchise And Brand Into Los Angeles

Sequels are all the rage in Hollywood, and on Sunday, after a 22-year sidetrack in St. Louis, the Rams charged back into the script of LA’s sports scene with a resounding victory against the Seattle Seahawks.

Like a long-lost friend, Los Angeles’ latest franchise played to 91,046 loud and proud fans like they had never left in the first place.

It was the perfect re-acquaintance for what was once an estranged relationship.

The Rams officially returned to the nation’s second-largest market in January and have since been positioning the team in an all-out rebrand to repair the franchise’s fractured fan base by honoring its past—all while attracting a new generation of fans for the long run.

As an homage to their history, the Rams’ regalia on Sunday consisted of the original royal blue and yellow hues Hall of Fame players like Eric Dickerson, Jack Youngblood and Tom Mack donned decades earlier. The team made a strong statement to show they’re uniformly prepared to forever remain in the fabric of the city.


“It’s a two-fold process,” Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ executive vice president of football operations and chief operating officer, told [a]listdaily.The first is activating the core fans we’ve had forever from our forty-nine years in LA. The second is putting a modern twist on the logo, the colors and the uniforms, and trying to create new fans for those who have lived in the city for the last 22 years without NFL football. We’re trying to make our traditions more modern by blending those two together.”

If there were ever a person who understood the sensitivity and severity of the arduous task at hand, it’s probably Demoff, a native Angelino and “40 under 40” exec who lived in the city through high school and went to Rams games as a kid. But he doesn’t want to be perpetually stuck in the past and lose sight of the future either.

“The biggest pain point we currently have is transitioning people to understand that while we respect our tradition and heritage, we’re moving into a modern, world-class stadium, and we want our brand to reflect that—what LA will be in three years, and not what it was decades ago. It’s telling our fans ‘we’re going to be very respectful with the past’ but also making sure that we adapt to a new generation. Our focus is on really growing the younger fan base that didn’t grow up with the Rams.”

A quick drive around the city’s busiest intersections further reflects they’re amplifying excitement by way of a billboard campaign that features iconic LA settings as the landscape for their current stars. The “We’re Home” series is the team’s most visible branding and features larger-than-life Rams like Todd Gurley hurdling over a beachfront pier, Tavon Austin catching balls between downtown buildings and Aaron Donald running over the Griffith Observatory.


However, a quick survey of the crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday yielded a sea of Dickerson jerseys, which mostly says fans are still very much stuck in a state of nostalgia from the “Ram It” days until the current roster fosters new fandom.

“I’m really excited—they never should have left in the first place.” Dickerson, the NFL’s all-time single-season rushing leader, told [a]listdaily. “It’s great for Los Angeles to have football back in the city, especially with the Rams, and not the Raiders or Chargers. It will bring in a lot of jobs and revenue. The most important thing though is they have to win. Forget all of the other stuff. If they go 4-12, people will be going to the beach instead. You have to win in this city.”

Prior to the Rams and Raiders jointly jettisoning Los Angeles and relocating for greener pastures in 1994, they were two teams toiling in the bottom of the standings and playing to half-empty stadiums.

There is no magic marketing spray on Earth that will alleviate the stench of a losing team and excite a fan base to care about them—just ask the pre-Steve Ballmer-led Clippers.

Jack Youngblood, one of the Rams’ most revered players and a member of the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, is happy the only team he ever played for is back in the city’s fold.


“With the tradition we established, the Rams belong here,” Youngblood, the owner of 151.5 career sacks, told [a]listdaily. “There’s obstacles, and there’s opportunity, and both of them will make you better—not only as an individual, but as an operating franchise. Having a new stadium makes life a heck of a lot easier when the environment is a whole lot nicer. The boss [Stan Kroenke] understands that. He has the big picture.”

With a net worth of $7.4 billion, Kroenke is as shrewd an owner as they come in sports. After orchestrating the relocation by pulling every imaginable string, his vision now solely centers around ushering in the next wave of football-starved fans in a $2.6-billion palace.

Located in Inglewood, just four miles from Los Angeles International Airport, the new 80,000-seat stadium is slated to be the world’s most expensive complex once it opens its doors in 2019. The 300-acre development will be dressed with more than 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space, 2,500 homes, a 300-room hotel, 25 acres of parks and a 6,000-seat venue, making it a prime location to host future Super Bowls, which already includes the big game in 2021. They’ll also be bidding to host Final Fours, the 2024 Olympics, College Football Playoff Games, and a potential World Cup.


When Forbes released its annual list of the NFL’s most valuable teams last week, they estimated the Rams at $2.9 billion, an increase of 100% from one year ago. They jumped from the 28th most valuable franchise in 2015 to number six this year. With the NFL generating close to $10 billion in revenue per year, the Rams are now in prime position to build off their buzz and add a boatload more to their bottom line.

“People are excited about the opportunities and the transformative power the stadium will create from a retail and entertainment perspective,” Demoff explains. “We also then have to get them excited about the team. We have to play entertaining football and win games. The goal is to have people equally excited about the Rams and the entertainment complex it will eventually become.”

Tom Mack, an 11-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman who enjoyed a .720 winning percentage over 13 seasons for the LA Rams, says being a marketable brand all comes down to winning on the field and not on social media.

“The Dodgers have always pulled the city together, so the Rams need to be that rallying point, too,” Mack told [a]listdaily. “We always had a winning team when I played. It’s an interesting town, because if you’re a winner, they love you. If you’re a loser, they have other things they can do. Most places are not like that. Back East, all you have in the fall is football. Here, you can go to the mountains, the deserts or beaches all year long. The demand is to have a good football product.”


The fans have already spoken—even if it’s mixed. For their Monday Night Football season opener last week, the TV ratings in LA were lower than the ones from St. Louis for their opening game from 2015. Then again, the LA Rams sold out their allotment of 70,000 season tickets in just six hours earlier this summer and fans are already paying upward of $200 for parking.

The Rams brand is steadfastly evolving in the marketplace and demand will grow in due time. The HBO series Hard Knocks introduced the team to a national audience and further helped on that front.

Companies like Hyundai, Wells Fargo, Banc of California, Uber/Fanatics, Wingstop, Corona and Cornerstone, among others, have all lined up to procure partnerships with the team in recent weeks, too.

“We’ll be in a different place next year this time. As we roll out our marketing campaigns for 2017 and 2018 and into the new stadium, we’re going to tap into our fans by listening and hearing what they have to say,” says Demoff, who compares the franchise as a year-round content production company that blends sports and entertainment into one.

Those opportunities naturally extend to their current crop of players, who are already in prime position to capitalize on endorsements.

Todd Gurley is by far the team’s most marketable star and commands corporate courtship from the likes of Nike, Gatorade, Carl’s Jr., Bose and Campbell’s Chunky Soup. Jared Goff, the team’s No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, is next in line as soon as he takes his first NFL snap. We can already envision fans sporting “Gurleywood” and “Goffham City” shirts whenever an apparel brand is inclined to make them.

Hall of Famers Jack Youngblood, Eric Dickerson, Orlando Pace, Marshall Faulk, Jackie Slater and Tom Mack will play a prevalent role in reaching the Rams’ previous and future fan base.

If you want your portfolio to expand, Los Angeles is where it’s at. Just ask Dickerson, who’s still in serious demand despite retiring in 1993. “Man, are you kidding me. You want to play in LA,” Dickerson says while hosting a Citibank-sponsored Rams watch party organized by ProCamps. “I used to tease the guys when I was playing them like, ‘you want to play in Green Bay or LA?’ It’s great for the players’ star-power, which LA is great for feeding into.”

Even largely overlooked offensive linemen are in the limelight now. Starting left guard Rodger Saffold is one of the stars on Hollywood and Football, the E! reality docu-series which shows him and his Rams teammates adjusting to playing football in LA.

“There’s definitely a bunch of opportunities, to branch out and show myself a little bit more, which we really didn’t get to do in St. Louis.” Saffold told [a]listdaily. “They’re all great, but I just want to make sure I don’t change and become too Hollywood, and keep my family grounded, too. It’s a give-and-take battle, and it’s a constant one . . . It’s extremely tricky. When I’m doing stuff off the field, you don’t want to do too much. You want to have that balance. You always have to remember that the check to do a commercial is good, but you’re not making anywhere near what you are as an athlete.”

With their recent history of losing, the Rams can’t be in full-blown “Hollywood” mode until they start winning meaningful games. The team has been a dud in standings and has not made the playoffs since 2004.

The Rams don’t have the current makeup to be an immediate winner—they still haven’t scored a touchdown in the season’s first two games—but the foundation is surely in place, and the bond between the team and greater Los Angeles is evident and growing each day. The best part? They’re not going to say goodbye this time.

The big-budget blockbuster the Rams plan on being one day is still in production. Whether or not displaced fans stick around to make it the box office boon they’re envisioning will be the narrative of the sequel.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

‘Viral’ Marketing And Basketball Superstars: This Week’s Game Launches And Promotions

It’s a big week for video game releases and their eye-catching promotions. While Bungie thrust unsuspecting players into the backstory for its latest game expansion, 2K Sports invited basketball fans to get a head start on their in-game personas—both creating a sense of community and frontline marketing that gamers will remember long after they put down a controller.

Destiny: Rise of Iron

Ahead of Tuesday’s Rise of Iron expansion, Bungie did something very clever in the way of “viral” marketing—it created an in-game virus that Guardians (in-game players) want to catch. Beginning with the power of influencers, Bungie “infected” a popular Twitch streamer named SayNoToRage, who got a mysterious buff (power-up) no one could identify. A Twitch account called owl_sector then appeared in the gamer’s chat for all to see, stating, “We’ve detected an unidentified foreign intrusion into your systems, Guardian. Stay calm. We will investigate.” Viewers were then directed to a website, where they could track the infection and read various logs by members of the Vanguard (high-ranking Guardians in the fictional universe) discuss the outbreak, often in the form of comical banter. A few days later, the entire world seems to have been infected and dozens of YouTube videos have been uploaded by fans instructing players how to contract the virus for themselves.

Source: Bungie

SayNoToRage, who has nearly half a million Twitch followers, was a natural choice for the in-game virus. There are five viruses in all—Brilliance 3.2, Glory 2.1, Splendor 2.6, Magnificence 2.0 and Fortitude 3.1. You contract them by running into other players who already have them. So SayNotoRage, who plays every day, is slowly spreading the buffs throughout the entire player base. “You gotta give it to them,” SayNoToRage said on his stream the following day, complimenting Bungie on the promotion. “They’ve got everyone super, super riled up.” Players speculate that since the infection has something to do with SIVA, a plague mentioned in the expansion’s trailer, Guardians will learn more once the expansion drops September 20. The promotion is very similar to Microsoft’s Hunt The Truth promotion for Halo 5, in which a journalist detailed his findings about Master Chief on a podcast leading up to the game’s release.

For new players who have been meaning to jump into the fray, Destiny: The Collection releases the same day, offering the game plus all expansions and exclusive content for those playing on PlayStation.

NBA 2K17

Sports fans are ready to hit the basketball court for fame and fortune with NBA 2K17, releasing on Tuesday. Leading up to the game’s launch, 2K Sports has been promoting the title with a free, downloadable mini-preview demo called The Prelude. Released September 9, The Prelude allows fans to choose from multiple authentic Division I collegiate programs to start their MyCareer and raise their draft stock ahead of time. The preview launched alongside the MyNBA2K mobile app, which scans fans’ faces to create custom in-game basketball players.

2K Sports never fails to get the fans riled up over which stars grace the cover of its sports titles. For NBA 2K17, Kobe Bryant was named as the Legend cover athlete and Indiana Pacers’ Paul George is the cover athlete for the regular edition.

Fandango Partners With Facebook To Sell Movie Tickets

In a world where digital is king and fewer people are headed to the theater, Fandango is taking steps to make the traditional movie-going experience more convenient and social. Beginning this past weekend, Facebook users in the US can now purchase select movie tickets for titles like The Magnificent SevenStorks and Kevin Hart: What Now? directly from their news feed.

“It’s not just about purchasing ease, it’s also about bringing along groups of people,” said Paul Yanover, president of Fandango, regarding the new feature. “Hey, we’re going to see this movie. Why don’t you come along? Great. Boom. Done.”

Although Facebook’s millions of daily users is a great way to reach would-be movie-goers, especially since it’s now an eCommerce platform, that’s not the only way that Fandango is hitting the social circuit. Fandango began allowing users of Apple’s enhanced iPhone messaging app last week to buy tickets directly from a text conversation. The ticket merchant is headed to Snapchat, as well.

“This is about Fandango appearing in these environments in an organic, natural way—the way people communicate with each other now, the way they actually discover, plan and buy,” Yanover said.

As younger audiences opt for digital experiences and one-stop shopping, Fandango is rising to the occasion, servicing about 27,700 movie screens in the United States and growing quickly. Ticketing revenue is up 51 percent compared with the same period last year, a Fandango spokesman told The New York Times. In 2015, Fandango grew by 81 percent and about 70 percent of Fandango tickets are sold on mobile devices.

“We’re really proud of our growth, and people will still come to us, but we’ve spent a lot of time watching how movie discovery and planning is changing,” Yanover said. “And I think these offerings we are unveiling are an important shift, not just for Fandango, but for Hollywood as a whole.”