Intel Celebrates Super Bowl Of ESports

While eSports is still a new concept to many companies, especially mainstream brands, Intel is celebrating the culmination of its 11th season as lead sponsor of the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM). Through its partnership with ESL, Intel has turned the little city of Katowice, Poland, into the home of the Super Bowl of competitive gaming. This year, the event has been expanded to cover two successive weekends of eSports competition.

Top teams from around the globe will compete in League of Legends this weekend at the Spodek Arena, while the action will pivot to StarCraft II and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive next weekend. There will also be competition off the main stages with Heroes of the Storm and CrossFire tournaments in dedicated tournament areas. Additionally, there will be an all-female CS:GO IEM Challenger, which is part of Intel’s diversity initiative.

George Woo, worldwide event marketing manager at Intel, told [a]listdaily that IEM’s Katowice stop, which also serves as the Finals for the season, is different from a lot of eSports stops.

“Next weekend we open up the IEM Expo, which showcases the latest products for attendees to check out in 20 booths,” Woo said. “This year, we’re trying to push the envelope of this amazing experience by focusing on virtual reality, which is still a big industry focus and continues to carry a lot of buzz. Attendees will be able to check out VR by playing pre-release games on head-mounted displays that aren’t on the market yet.” has partnered with IEM and ESL to bring the CS:GO competition home in VR for the millions of fans who can’t travel to Poland. For those who are at the event, there will be viewing stations for people to check out the action in VR.

“There will also be a VR Festival Day on Sunday, March 5 in the auditorium showcasing three new Oculus Touch VR titles that are eSports friendly—The Unspoken, Lone Echo and Serious Sam,” Woo said. “We’ll have hosted tournaments with people coming up on stage to compete for some cool prizes, and it will all be streamed on Twitch.”

In addition to the public-facing IEM Expo, Spodek will host a business center with VIP suites for partners, interview rooms for media and Intel retail training and retail meetings with top accounts in the region. Inside this area, Intel will be showing its new VR headset called Project Alloy, which made its debut at CES last month in Las Vegas. VR games such as Ubisoft’s Star Trek: Bridge Commander will also be demonstrated there.

IEM Katowice is also the first event to attract non-endemic brand Gillette, which has partnered with League of Legends team owner xPeke in an activation that will allow fans this weekend to design custom IEM razors and then 3D print them at the booth. “Gillette joined our family this year and we’re slowly but surely getting more non-endemic brands interested in IEM,” Woo said.

Gillette will be reaching a lot of people on site, and even more via livestreams. “We project, with the two weekends and the sold out arena, we’ll have over 125,000 people here—on the conservative side,” Woo said. “There are people from all over the world that attend this event. There’s an influx of international people.”

While the Spodek Arena only holds 12,000 people, the IEM Expo has attendees coming in and out the entire time with long lines, according to Woo.

Last year’s Finals attracted 34 million unique viewers online, and Woo believes with two weekends of competition, this year’s numbers will be close to 40 million views. “Everything has been growing from each stop this season,” Woo said. “Our three titles (League of Legends, CS:GO and SC2) will have record numbers. There’s a lot more effort Intel is putting behind PR and social this year, and we’ll make history. Our overall program numbers are good and we’ve expanded to new markets like Korea, and the numbers there were fine. We’d like to find another market like Poland and emulate that.”

Woo said next season Intel is in discussion with ESL for potentially two new titles, although there are always discussions each season. Intel won’t go beyond the three premiere title slots, but there is room for additional content through smaller stages for publishers who want to promote their titles. Last year, Intel worked with Ubisoft to launch Rainbow Six Siege eSports, and this year the focus has been on CrossFire and Heroes of the Storm.

Livestreaming ESports In VR Gets Real

After livestreaming both ESL One New York and the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Oakland tournaments last year in 360-degree virtual reality, is ready to take things to the next level and continue its mission of transforming “the eSports spectator landscape forever.” The VR platform is partnered with ESL to broadcast the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice, which features one of the largest Counter-Strike tournaments in the world, from a virtual stadium. Audiences will be able to watch and interact with the event, which will be held in Katowice, Poland, on February 25-26 and March 3-5, like never before.

Mitch Liu, CEO
Mitch Liu, CEO

“At we’ve been on a mission to transform the interactive eSports entertainment industry,” CEO, Mitch Liu, told [a]listdaily, “recognizing that the player’s point-of-view is not necessarily the best spectator perspective, and on existing streaming platforms, you don’t feel the energy and excitement as when you’re in the physical stadium with 10,000 fans. Our virtual eSports stadium in a 360 VR experience is our first attempt at bringing this to millions of online and VR users.”

Liu describes the virtual stadium as “an immersive 360 VR space where you can see the two teams on stage in front of you with live stats and scores in real-time. An IMAX-style screen with the broadcast feed and dynamic lighting synchronized to the game mood adds to that feeling of presence—of being there.”

He continued by explaining that “online viewers can see their avatars and interact with other live viewers through emoji and view each other’s gamer profile via integration with Valve’s Steam API. Viewers can then jump into the live game by teleporting into the 360 VR stream, putting them in the middle of the action.”

Liu confirmed that, as with the ESL One New York and IEM Oakland livestreams, VR viewers will be able to spectate from within the game itself using computers, mobile devices or premium headsets such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. “The in-game POV is always there and available to users,” said Liu. “The live interactive stadium is a much more social way to watch the livestream.”

However, Liu admits that there will be a difference between the mobile and premium VR experiences. Although mobile users can access the 360 experience, the new virtual stadium will be limited to premium headsets. “The mobile VR app is limited to our in-game 360 video experience, which you can use with the mobile phone and gyroscope, without the need for a VR headset,” he stated. “The VR experience is far more immersive and puts the viewer in the virtual stadium, and inside the game in 360 VR rendered with our virtual camera array technology.”

IEM Katowice will take place at the Spodek Arena, but the initial interface won’t be based on the stadium. Instead, it will be using a default model for its debut. Liu confirmed that “in the future, we’ll be building models based on the actual stadiums.”

As the virtual stadiums continue to grow and develop, they will eventually include the sponsored branding and banners that audiences would normally see in the real-life stadium . . . and perhaps more. “That’s part of our future plans,” said Liu. “There are a lot of branding and sponsorship opportunities, given the expanse of a 360 VR space.”

Fast Cars, Fake Social Accounts And Other Must-Read Marketing Stats

This week, we take a look at what makes a consumer loyal, why more people are switching to messenger apps and in case you didn’t notice . . . Ferrari is still pretty cool.

Messaging On Mobile

It’s hard to imagine a time when cell phones weren’t a part of our daily lives. If losing sight of your phone sends you into a panic, you’re not alone. Eighty-nine percent of consumers reported living “within an arm’s reach of their smartphones at all times,” according to a study by AOL. Video is a major draw for consumers, especially on the go—although 70 percent reported watching video on desktop, mobile is only slightly behind at 67 percent, and 57 percent reported watching videos on their mobile phone daily. When it comes to video length, shorter seems to be better, as 59 percent of consumers reported watching video that runs 1 minute or less every day, but only 31 percent of consumers reported watching video that was 20 minutes or more every day.


Messaging apps that offer multiple features like video are attracting more time and attention from consumers, according to new data from Gartner. This is the start of a “post-apps” era, the analyst firm says, based on changes in consumer interactions that are leaning toward privacy and multi-purpose. Messaging apps will become more popular than social media apps within the next two years, the firm predicts. Usage of standalone maps apps shrunk by three percent, year-over-year, according to the data, and social media app usage reduced by two percent. Messaging app usage, however, grew three percent over the same period.

Virtual reality is taking off through the mobile platform, and ABI Research predicts mobile VR devices will see a 42 percent CAGR through 2021. Stand-alone devices will see much more growth, the firm predicts, at 405 percent by 2021.

Left Is Right

If you want consumers to remember your brand, appeal to the left side of the brain, according to a new study conducted by Neuro-Insight, a neuroscience-based market research firm. Testing editorial articles from publisher partners including Time Inc., Condé Nast, Forbes and The Atlantic, the company found that high-quality editorial content was found to have a 19 percent greater impact on memory than social news feeds, which appeals to the right (emotional) side of the brain.

A new report called, “Turbo Charging Your Skippable Pre-Roll Campaign” found that consumers are paying attention to video ads, even if they are skipped. Of the 65 percent of viewers that skipped their pre-roll ads in the study, 10 percent could still recall the brand. Thirty-five percent watched the videos, but only 45 percent were able to recall the brand.

What makes a customer loyal? While discounts are nice, being trustworthy is far more important, according to a survey by Accenture Strategy. Eighty-five percent—more than four in five US internet users surveyed—said that trustworthiness in regard to privacy is an important component of what makes them loyal customers—more so than any other factor. Not harassing them certainly helps, as well, with 81 percent valuing minimal contact via phone or email.

The report “Seeing Beyond the Loyalty Illusion: It’s Time You Invest More Wisely” gauges the experiences and attitudes of 25,426 consumers around the world, including 2,532 US consumers, about their loyalty relationship with brands and organizations. The report found that 54 percent of US consumers have switched providers in the past year, and 18 percent confirm their expectations around brand loyalty have completely changed.

There’s one brand that customers are happy about, and that’s Ferrari. The luxury vehicle brand’s value increased 40 percent to $6.15 billion, according to Brand Finance. Not only is Ferrari the world’s most powerful auto brand on the annual list, it’s among the top 10 strongest brands from any industry. Its brand strength has improved by three points this year to 92.

Gone Phishing

Meanwhile, there’s something you shouldn’t trust, and that’s fake social media profiles. According to social media security company, ZeroFOX, the number of fake social media profiles created for fraudulent purposes increased 1,100 percent from 2014 to 2016. LOSERS! SAD!

Agencies To The Rescue

Brands are relying more on agencies for help with data management, according to a new report by Forrester. Studies showed that brands plan to invest more, with 57 percent saying they base every major marketing decision on consumer insight. Over half say they rely on their agencies to use a data management platform on their behalf. In addition, 45 percent or more brands plan to increase spending with agencies in the next two years in areas such as technology integration and content marketing.

Marketers are becoming more confident in the technology their company utilizes, however. According to eMarketer, 24 percent of US marketers “strongly agree” that their company invests in the right amount of marketing technology, compared to only nine percent in 2015.

Still Got It: Why ‘GTA V’ Dominates The Charts After Three Years

It was the sixth highest-grossing video game last year and yet it’s not a new game at all. Grand Theft Auto V, the open world, gangster’s paradise from Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive continues to outperform all developer expectations and has shipped over 75 million copies since its initial launch in September 2013. Grand Theft Auto V has consistently been in the top 10 for game revenue each month, often at number one.

Hype for GTA V began soon after the release of its predecessor, GTA IV. Rockstar took a slightly different approach to its already popular formula by creating three protagonists instead of one, each specializing in different skills like driving, shooting or flying. Players have the option of completing missions to further the protagonists’ journey or simply explore the massive world filled with challenges of its own. While this is no different than previous games, the three characters offer more variety for play styles and strategy. By the time GTA V hit shelves in September of 2013, fans were so excited that the game broke industry sales records and became the fastest-selling entertainment product in history—earning $800 million in its first day and US $1 billion in its first three days.

The secret to GTA V‘s longevity is the seemingly infinite outcomes for play sessions. Gamers aren’t limited to playing alone, since they can join up with friends on Grand Theft Auto Online, a standalone multiplayer mode launched soon after that of the main game. In it, players can recruit crews of up to five people to explore the world together, engage in various activities and perform in-game heists. Grand Theft Auto Online is continually expanding through free updates that keep content fresh, such as new missions or holiday-themed items. Sure, a lot of games get updates—but this one receives as many as any other popular MMO today. Extensions like Import/Export released this past December open up even more possibilities for gamers to explore, collect and interact with one another. While GTA Online is technically a standalone game, it ties into the same environments of GTA V, keeping the main title in the minds of players on their adventures.

“[GTA Online] has been a really extraordinary story,” Take-Two Interactive CEO, Strauss Zelnick told [a]listdaily in a June 2016 interview. “The title is nearly three-years-old and the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year were respectively the best quarter and the best fiscal year ever for Grand Theft Auto Online in virtual currency sales. And those sales are obviously attracting engagement, and engagement is tracking delight, and that’s what we’re here to do. Grand Theft Auto V has sold over 65 million units. It remains the highest-rated title on Xbox One and PS4 and it has become clear that—for an age-appropriate audience—when you get new hardware, you need to have Grand Theft Auto. And when you have Grand Theft Auto, generally speaking, you connect to the internet. And when you connect to the internet, generally speaking, you try Grand Theft Auto Online. We’ve remained excited and gratified by it.”

Another aspect of the game’s ability to stay relevant is its re-release for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2014. In addition to upgraded graphics and new licensed songs added to the game, players could switch between third- and first-person view. Game Informers Andrew Reiner considered the addition of first-person “another significant breakthrough for the series” in his review. To reward existing players on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Rockstar offered a number of rewards for those to upgraded to the new platform. Events, story lines and challenges were offered exclusively to those to transferred their save files to the upgraded platform. In addition to all their current progress, players were able to retain all special rewards earned from special editions. It’s not often a gamer will buy a title twice, but in this case, a lot of people made an exception.

Much like Minecraft—another hit that ages extremely well—Grand Theft Auto V has become not just a game, but a destination for friends and spectators alike. There is a massive following of streaming and modding communities that cater to both players and viewers, keeping the entertainment alive with countless outcome possibilities. Rockstar has tapped directly into this avid following by inviting popular YouTube stars to play Grand Theft Auto Online together from the developer’s official channel. The game is available on multiple platforms and its open world appeals to a wide demographic from teenagers to adults, making it accessible to more players across the world. As the game and its audience continue to evolve, GTA V evolves with it—and it will remain at the top of the charts.

Inside Qualcomm’s Approach To Connected Devices And IoT

Qualcomm’s flagship processor shunned smart phones for the first time last month when they partnered with Osterhout Design Group (ODG) to introduce their first line of augmented reality smart glasses in the R-8. Powered by the new Snapdragon 835 processor, it will open up a variety of gaming, entertainment and work functionality in AR and IoT.

On Tuesday, they furthered their footprint in the mobile chip race and padded their Qualcomm Network IoT Connectivity Platform by debuting a swathe of products designed to ease standard fragmentation. The processors also support Google’s Android Things IoT operating system.

Qualcomm’s goals in IoT is rather simple—to be a Swiss Army chip for all deployments, and to speed up current mobile networks ahead of 5G.

After all, by 2020, there will be over 26 billion connected devices in the ether for what is being billed as a $151 billion market; one third of executives admit that their companies actively deployed IoT in 2016, per Deloitte.

Jim Merrick, Qualcomm’s ‎marketing director for IOT, joined [a]listdaily for a video interview to explain why the Internet of Things is a great opportunity for the company to reach consumers.


How do you see IoT advancing and developing throughout this year?

IoT is such a broad spectrum of products. It’s often times thought of being anything that’s not a smart phone. It runs from something as simple as a water meter in your front yard that wakes up once a month, to connected cameras to smart watched that have its own cellular connection. Collectively, it’s really hard to even get your arms around it right now. Every one of these subsets in IoT is growing tremendously. 

How do you think IoT personalization will evolve?

A good example is wearables. Wearables started out will limited capabilities. First and foremost, it’s about fashion—the ultimate form of personalization. The watch that I wear says something about me, and my taste, and my character. Its functionality? Sure. But the style? You see that right away from 10 feet. Fashion brands like Michael Kors, Nixon, Fossil and Swarovski are bringing a lot of credibility into the [wearables] space. It’s all about making products for very different audiences.

What are the appropriate entry points for brands that are not in the business of IoT?

You have big brands and marketers like Mountain Dew using IoT to communicate their story, and that’s one way to get into it. You also have Happy Meal activations using augmented reality. They are very great. They are very engaging, and help people relate to the brand. If you want to become part of the IoT ecosystem, then there are many different entry points—most of them come with some expertise and a niche opportunity. IoT is coming from all kinds of different directions. Qualcomm, just to give you one example, is working with home appliance manufacturers for washing machines to make it more cost-effective with a touchscreen than with individual buttons and have it communicate over wi-fi to order its own detergent when it knows you’ve done a certain number of loads. It’s less expensive for the manufacturer, and it’s beneficial to the consumer because you are coming from an area of expertise.

Is the consumer education that needs to take place the biggest challenge the industry is currently facing?

From the consumer IoT standpoint, it’s learning how to identify products that are IoT devices. Is your thermostat or garage opener an IoT device? But then there are the industrial IoT devices in lighting and HVAC systems, or a smart car talking to a smart parking meter as you enter an area looking for a place to park. It’s a lot, honestly, for the consumer, and the industry, to get their heads around. As an IoT guy, I’m pretty excited about that, particularly as Qualcomm diversifies and moves away from the leadership we have been able to establish in smart phones and into automotive, drones, robotics, cameras, health care, wearables, and a tremendous amount of areas. It’s a great opportunity for us to reach consumers.

How is Qualcomm addressing this consumer pain point through marketing?

A lot of it does come down to 5G, which is about really advancing the speed and technology of the 4G connectivity—it’s also embracing other connectivity channels like wi-fi and Bluetooth to bring them into all one standard connectivity model that works for all of the different devices, so that consumers don’t have to think about which is which. It’s all about bringing it together under one seamless solution.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan


Startup, AirConsole Hopes To Change The Multiplayer Game

While much of the world may be focused on the Nintendo Switch launch on March 3, there’s another (much more affordable) option for gamers looking for multiplayer party games. Zurich-based startup, N-Dream has launched the cloud-based AirConsole with over 50 web-based games, and there’s even a Nintendo emulator for retro classics. Gamers can play any of these games for free with advertising or pay a $3 monthly subscription for an ad-free experience. There’s no downloading required, so it becomes an instant gameplay experience.

AirConsole operates on hardware already sitting around the house. It uses a smartphone as the controller and a big screen with internet access (such as a PC, Mac, Smart TV or tablet) to showcase the browser-based game. Each smartphone automatically adapts to fit the control scheme of each game.

According to Alice Ruppert, lead game developer at N-Dream, AirConsole was created because local multiplayer games and party games are becoming hard to find on traditional consoles. “With AirConsole, we try to bring back that social casual gaming experience,” Ruppert told [a]listdaily.

A team of six runs the company, but they’ve garnered the support of over 600 developers. N-Dream has hosted a couple of developer contests to incentivize small teams to make multiplayer games for its platform. The first contest received 20 submissions and 15 of them are launching for the platform. The current contest runs through the end of February and Ruppert expects 20 to 30 game submissions. The best game receives $10,000.

While AirConsole is available globally with servers in three continents, Ruppert said the majority of the platform’s user base is from the US with a large following in Western Europe. “We have had players from just about every country in the world,” Ruppert said. “We’ve tripled our traffic in the past few months, adding 10 percent more users every week. Each of our top games has been played by hundreds of thousands of players.”

A lot of the games currently available are exclusive to AirConsole, which ties into the dearth of local multiplayer games within the ecosystem. “Local multiplayer games have been named dead a few times, but we believe that there’s an interest and demand to play local multiplayer and we’re starting to get the numbers to prove that,” Ruppert said.

Ruppert said the goal is to add more quality games to the platform over quantity of games, stating: “We’re always looking for developers, but we have the monetization in place, the product is working and we know people are interested.”

The free-to-play model, which requires gamers to watch about eight or nine 30-second ads within an hour (and some ads are skippable), has been popular with gamers. “We’re working with different ad providers to fill the ads to experiment with which types of ads work best with our users,” said Ruppert.

To date, N-Dream has marketed AirConsole through ads on Facebook and some influencer campaigns. A lot of promotion has come organically online, especially through platforms like Reddit. Since all games are browser-based, games can be played on Smart TVs and Android TV, which will be a coming push for the company.

“Some of the games need individual apps because of limited performance on some Smart TV devices,” Ruppert said. “We’re trying to get more games on Android TV and we’re also talking to hardware manufacturers.”

N-Dream will be at GDC looking for new development partners.

Pop Culture Loves VR, But Are Consumers Ready?

Remember when Marty McFly, Jr. wore virtual reality glasses in Back to the Future II? Or when Neo unplugged from his virtual existence for the first time in The Matrix?

VR has become a hot topic in pop culture from movies to TV and even commercials, but is it enough to drive consumer adoption? It seems that every day we read, watch—or in my case, write—about VR, but the technology isn’t catching on as quickly as developers would like.

It’s no secret that brands want to tap into this immersive entertainment as a new way to engage consumers, but studies vary on whether consumers are ready . . . or even willing to play along.

According to a new report by Forrester Research, 42 percent of US online adults have never heard about VR headsets and an additional 46 percent said they don’t see a use for VR in their lives. A report by Research and Markets revealed that 83 percent of consumers said they have a positive attitude toward VR, up from 72 percent last year.

Whether it’s watching the invasion of dreams in Inception or going on adventures with the Chick-fil-A cows, VR has firmly planted itself in the public’s eye as both works of fiction and an emerging reality. NBC is has even ordered Reverie, a new drama series about VR gone wrong that will star Jessica Lu (Awkward) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes).

Above: Restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A released its own VR footage during the 2017 Grammy Awards.

While very few (if anyone) is running out to buy VR after watching a movie about it, keeping this emerging tech on the minds of the public isn’t a bad thing.

“It not only increases VR’s visibility, it shows consumers that it is viable enough to warrant investment from large media companies and brands,” Stephanie Llamas, vice president of SuperData Research, told [a]listdaily.

Llamas doesn’t believe it’s possible just yet to produce a film or commercial so popular that consumers would rush out to buy headsets on a mass scale just to watch it.

“Feature-length content is few and far between mainly because consumers can’t sit in VR for that long,” she noted. “Even with episodic content like Invisible on Jaunt, it is not part of a recognizable franchise, so it really only appeals to people who are willing to give VR a shot in the first place.”

Right now, VR is where cell phones were just five-to-ten years ago, and although the potential is there, it may be a while before our dreams of all-out VR experiences becomes a reality.

Veteran investor Mitch Lasky has funded successful ventures such as Riot Games and Snapchat, but he expressed concerns about the technology’s readiness for consumption.

“When I look at it more structurally, I’d say something that may sound a little strange—perhaps the Facebook acquisition of Oculus wasn’t the greatest thing for the development of VR in the long run,” he said during Casual Connect USA last July. “It set such a high watermark, and it rung the bell so loudly for the industry, that it sort of forced the hand.”

Still, smart phone VR and inexpensive units like Google Cardboard are making the sci-fi tech accessible to just about anyone, which is helping consumer adoption.

Juniper Research predicts that hardware revenues from VR headsets, peripherals and 360-degree cameras will reach over $50 billion by 2021, up tenfold from an estimated $5 billion in sales in 2016.

This rapid growth, Juniper predicts, will arise from a widespread adoption of VR by smartphone users as well as high prices for VR headsets.

Understanding Minute Media’s Crowd-Sourced ESports Plan

Yet another media company is entering the competitive eSports landscape. Minute Media recently raised another $15 million in growth capital, bringing total funding to $60 million, with a focus to expand beyond soccer and traditional sports. The company has launched to offer fans a platform to create content around eSports.

Minute Media, parent company of fan-driven sports media platforms 90min and 12up, has grown from 30 million monthly users to 70 million over the last 12 months. Launched in late 2011, Minute Media is the world’s fastest growing digital sports platform. Through its worldwide fan contribution platform, Minute Media delivers over 20,000 pieces of original, socially-driven and then curated editorial in 11 languages to users in more than 200 countries.

Duncan McMonagle, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at Minute Media, explains what opportunities eSports opens up for brands in this exclusive interview with [a]listdaily.

How are you applying lessons learned from traditional sports like soccer and basketball to eSports?

We have learned that traditional journalism is increasingly shifting to citizen journalism, content consumption from legacy destinations to social platforms, that being informed and authentic is as important—if not more so—than simply being the first to report the news. We have built a platform that leverages these shifts and accelerates them in many ways. This has enabled us to carve out a unique brand of storytelling and helped us scale in two of the most saturated and toughest media markets imaginable: in global football (soccer) through and US sports on It is an approach that is equally applicable to eSports as it is in traditional sports.

The eSports media landscape went from barren to saturated very quickly over the past few years. What are the challenges of finding an audience today as a new entrant to the space?

It depends on what sort of coverage you are providing. We are focussed on providing fan-centric content that surfaces what happens around the life. Whilst the competition for scheduling tournaments and the battle for streaming platforms has intensified, nobody has really centered on content that brings the event to life, or an experience which is the next best thing to being there for a fan. With an addressable and growing market of over 250 million eSports viewers, we think this offers a huge opportunity for finding existing and new audiences.

How will you differentiate your approach from Yahoo, ESPN, The Score, DoteSports and other media companies?

Everything we do comes down to the fan. Our proprietary CMS provides rich, interactive content templates that enables all fans to have a voice and generate discussion. You don’t need to be a journalist to create great content or be able to share your point-of-view on our platform. This enables us to create an authentic, informed opinion and scale across every team, game, genre and market where fans exist. We believe this approach, combined with the access to tournaments and talent that our partnerships with the likes of ESL, Dreamhack and teams such as Fnatic afford, will be a unique and very powerful combination.

What have you discovered about the type and length of content eSports fans are interested in across video and editorial today?

We have found that there is a huge appetite for short-form video content and interactive articles that include polls or opportunities to engage. Not everyone can or will sit through five hours of live broadcast, so we provide match highlights, Top Frags and Daily Round Ups and Best Of videos. Beyond the live-action, formats that get you closer to the teams and athletes to find out what they are really like, or day in the life formats with tournament organizers of team managers work well. In addition, fans love discussing topical news such as roster changes, heroes and villains—all the content that exists in other sports but isn’t currently well catered for in eSports.

What’s your rollout launch plan?

We plan to soft launch our platform from the start of Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice at the end of February. We’ll be testing further content and video formats, continue to learn and optimize the offering from community feedback, and follow this up with a number of key product rollouts between now and the end of May when we aim to make more of an official PR and marketing splash.

What’s your strategy in working with established eSports leagues?

To be authentic you need to be present. Working with the established leagues enables us to create our unique blend of arena floor reporting style that offers fans a different point-of-view, and a glimpse inside the world of eSports. It enables us to get close to the action, the teams, and the players, to ask the questions that fans most want answered, and in certain formats have the fans ask the questions themselves directly. It provides credibility to our platform and also creates valuable complementary content for the tournaments themselves.

What role will team and player sponsorships play for your company?

This isn’t something we’ve focused on as we hope to remain tournament/league/game/team/player agnostic in order to provide neutral unbiased coverage in our content. That said, we haven’t ruled out the idea of potentially creating our own team or tournaments if the opportunities arise, but it’s not a near-term focus.

What opportunities will your approach open up to marketers and sponsors?

DBLTAP enables brands and sponsors to interact and communicate directly with fans and gamers. We already co-create credible, authentic, on-the-ground storytelling and leverage engagement tools to get fans involved on 90min and 12up, and the same opportunity exists in eSports. The brands and marketers we have spoken with have all identified that eSports is already large but fragmented across games and audiences, and we will help them to come up with engagement programs that bridge multiple games and provide global scale

How will the latest round of $15 million help with this eSports expansion?

The latest round helps us expand the team and resources required to scale in eSports, to commit to certain strategic partnerships we have identified, and to help produce the best eSports destination for fans. It also affords us time to build a viable product and to scale faster into more markets.

What type of crossover do you see between the 12Up and 90min audiences and the eSports audience?

Our user surveys have shown that over 80 percent of our global sports audience are also avid gamers (playing over nine hours per week with friends) which fits with our demographic profile, so there is huge crossover potential from our 75 million monthly unique users. Many users are naturally focused on sports titles such as FIFA, Madden and PES however, so we’ll be looking to support the development of leagues and tournaments that focus on converting sports simulator gaming into professional eSports.

We’ve seen EA Sports aim for the broader competitive gaming space. Who’s your target audience?

We see there being two distinct audiences key to building a brand and scaling content in eSports. One is the existing eSports community for whom we aim to provide rich, engaging and entertaining content experiences. The second is active gamers that haven’t yet made the switch to mainstream professional eSports, and sports simulators definitely fit into this bracket. The reality is that there are many diverse audiences across eSports as a whole depending on the genre, game title, and country, which is why we will take a slightly different editorial approach for each where we need to be sensitive to the demographic or interests of the fans of those games.

‘Futurama’ Set To Blast Off Again, This Time As A Mobile Game

The animated sci-fi comedy show, Futurama, developed a huge following before it officially went off the air in 2013. But as the saying goes, at least (and especially) in Futurama’s case, cancellation can’t keep a good show down. Created and produced by Matt Groening (who also created The Simpsons) along with executive producer, David X. Cohen, Futurama was named as one of the 60 Greatest TV Cartoons of All Time. Now it’s making its long overdue entry into mobile gaming with Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow, which was announced today and is expected to launch later this year.

Groening, Cohen and much of the team behind the beloved series are involved with the game, and it is developed by TinyCo (a Jam City company), the company behind Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff—which is similarly based on the animated show, Family Guy. So, there is little doubt that the game will capture the same sense of style and humor that helped propel the TV series to greatness.

Andrew Green, head of business operations at TinyCo (Jam City), spoke with [a]listdaily about how the game came together and the inevitable future of Futurama.

Andrew Green, head of business operations at TinyCo, a Jam City company
Andrew Green, head of business operations at TinyCo, a Jam City company

What inspired the creation of a Futurama mobile game?

Our love of Futurama. Our executive team, and all of the team leadership on down have seen every episode of Futurama multiple times. Some people have some downright encyclopedic knowledge of the show. We had an existing relationship with Fox, and when we had enough creative ideas for a game to show, they made an introduction to the creative partners and it all went from there!

What will the game be like?

We knew that in order to make an authentic Futurama experience we needed to build out space adventure to be a big part of the game. We aren’t talking about this new gameplay in-depth yet, but I can confirm space adventure outside of New New York is going to be a big part of the game. One system that has performed really well for TinyCo is how we integrate narrative into our games. That narrative integration will be similar to some of our other games, but the rest of the gameplay is going to be very different and focused on adventure throughout the galaxy.

How are Matt Groening and David X. Cohen involved with the development of the game?

David and some of the show’s original writers work every day with our writers to make sure the dialogue, quests, conceit and world are as authentic to the show as possible. David has also directed a bunch of the VO sessions with the original cast. Matt works a lot with David and has been providing a lot of great ideas and feedback over the course of development and making sure the overall quality of the milestones are up to par.

How will the game enhance appreciation for the show?

Matt and David wanted to make sure the game had the ability to flesh out more of the worlds and characters you might have only gotten glimpses of on the show. You will be just as likely to end up on Amazonia in the perils of Snu-Snu as you might end up getting more backstory on a character like Scruffy.

Why do you think Futurama fandom remains so strong even though the show has been off the air for over three years?

This is just my opinion as a fan and someone who’s had the privilege of working with some of the team—but I think Futurama created its own unique world, humor, lore and style of parodying our real world, and the creators and writers did it their way. I think they didn’t bend to fit in too much to what they thought would work, or what the mainstream TV audience or network executives would expect, and that created a real authenticity to its voice and humor. I think it then created a deep connection with the people that understood and wanted more of that voice. I also think that as it proliferated on digital, more people were able to connect with the show.

How will you be letting fans know about the game?

Everyone can connect with the development team and other Futurama fans on Facebook and Twitter. They can also pre-register at and on Google Play.


M&M’S Markets To Millennials By Marrying The Colorful Candy With Movies

If you ever wanted to be trapped inside an experience where it felt like you were eating mouthfuls of M&M’S, but only with your eyes, then look no further than the candy brand’s latest marketing material that promoted their 75th birthday.

M&M’S debuted a four-minute film with contemporary artist KAWS and fashion and art publication Visionaire that combined the colorful chocolate hues of the candy with the intricacies of the artist to create a virtual reality experience filled with swirling colors, mystifying perceptions and transforming shapes.

Tanya Berman, brand director for M&M’S, joined [a]listdaily to offer more details on their immersive marketing activation and how they want to veer into artistic storytelling.

James Kaliardos, Cecilia Dean, KAWS
James Kaliardos, Cecilia Dean, KAWS

What is M&M’S trying to accomplish with VR and being a patron of the arts?

There are a lot of consistencies between the colorful chocolate M&M’S and the colorful wildness of KAWS’ mind. We wanted to connect with a new audience to help show the fun of the M&M’S brand in an artistic light. Working with KAWS and Visionaire to bring this to life was a natural fit.

How was the in-person experience received at the New York Public Library?

Last month we screened the virtual reality film at the New York Public Library to give more than a thousand consumers a chance to put on a VR headset and step into KAWS’ virtual studio. This was the first time many of the attendees had watched a virtual reality film—they were amazed by the 360-degree video angles and excited by the immersive experience.

Are you testing any other new emerging technologies and platforms?

We’re always looking for the next fun idea and are currently exploring creative ways to use technology for the launch of M&M’S Caramel innovation later this year.

Are there any emerging trends that you’re looking at to explore and innovate the brand?

We’re looking to explore a presence in the entertainment space with a strong focus on movies and music, as M&M’S are the perfect candy for these types of occasions. We want to remind consumers how M&M’S are all about fun—and what’s more fun than concerts and movie? 

What are the insights and data that influence your marketing strategy?

The M&M’S brand strives to connect and remain relevant with millennials. To celebrate the brand’s 75th anniversary over the last year, we were able to bring to life the fun that our iconic chocolate brand stands for. Looking ahead, we’re going to be bringing fans more experiences to participate with M&M’S at concerts and movies.


How would you assess your 75th anniversary marketing that started in March 2016? What kind of messaging worked well? Which was your favorite?

Celebrating M&M’S 75th anniversary was a successful experience. We took our fans on a year-long celebration to the next level with the ‘Celebrate with M’ campaign. It featured star-studded events, exciting new products and iconic collaborations that cemented the brand’s place in pop culture history. It was great to get fans involved in the celebration. My favorite initiative was our ‘Flavor Vote’ campaign where, for the first time ever, we asked fans to vote on the new M&M’S Peanut flavor. Coffee Nut was the winner.

What else is in store for the brand? How do you think it can further evolve? 

As we move forward in 2017, we’re really excited to launch new M&M’S Caramel Chocolate Candies. They will feature a smooth caramel center covered in delicious M&M’S Brand Milk Chocolate and coated in a colorful candy shell—offering the ultimate combination of flavors in every bite-sized piece. Launch plans are still a secret, but we’re looking forward to an exciting year.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan