How VR Could Forever Change The ESports Landscape

While still in its infancy, virtual reality is changing the way gamers view interactive entertainment, and that extends to eSports. A recent Juniper Research study predicts that VR revenue distribution for gaming will reach $9 billion by the end of 2020. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is the first AAA game playable entirely in VR and Capcom reports an impressive 9.4 percent of players are choosing to play this way (or at the very least, opted in to share this data). Resident Evil may not be competitive, but it’s a good sign that so many fans are willing to invest in VR.

In a similar vein, developers are investing in VR to enhance eSports both in how they are played and how they are viewed by the audience. “Active spectating in VR experiences is something I believe we’ll see a lot of development in over the next few years,” Ray Davis, CEO and co-founder of Drifter Entertainment told [a]listdaily. “Right now, we primarily watch our favorite pros superimposed over a video capture of the game. While that can be compelling, it rarely shares that same feeling as being physically courtside at your favorite ball game. With VR spectating, there’s no reason you can’t be toe-to-toe in that same situation, and get an experience that exceeds what you’d be able to experience in reality. Beyond that, there are a lot of interesting opportunities to involve active VR spectators into the match as well, much like how services like Twitch are offering more and more ways for fans to engage with their favorite players.”

Bryan Chu, vice president of marketing for VREAL agrees. “I see a broadening of the ways people watch eSports [and] engage,” said Chu during the [a]list summit last week. “When you get inside the game [with VR], it blurs the lines between viewer and broadcaster. You get a much bigger sense of presence and you start getting that connection between the fans, the athletes and the stars.”

ESL One New York became the first eSports tournament streamed in virtual reality this past October, thanks to a partnership with Sliver.TV. The CS:GO tournament was viewable in 360 degrees with either VR or normal video viewing. If screaming from the seats is more your thing, fans can experience a virtual eSports stadium experience, as well, beginning at the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) World Championship 2017 held on February 25 through 26 and March 3 through 5 in Katowice, Poland. While a premium experience is available for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR, anyone can check out the stream with Google Cardboard as an inexpensive alternative.

“At Newzoo we believe the biggest commercial potential for VR is on the spectator side,” Newzoo CEO, Peter Warman told [a]listdaily. “Watching an NBA game live from Jack Nicholson’s seat or walking around on the battlefield itself during a Dota 2 or CS:GO final are two examples. In that respect, eSports brings to VR what sports does. That appeals to a larger group of people than playing VR games itself.”

While there is an obvious market to bring spectators into eSports through virtual reality, what about the players, themselves? Developers are working on that, too. Chinese game company Hero Entertainment has entered a partnership with Virtuix, creator of the Omni motion platform—a full rig that allows players to run or walk in place in addition to the usual VR hand controls or looking around. Hero is bringing its popular shooter title, Crisis Action to virtual reality using the Omni to create a VR eSport in China. Hero also owns the largest mobile eSports league in China, the Hero Pro League, so that’s a great start.

Hero Entertainment is hoping to adapt an existing title into VR eSports, while other developers are building an experience from the ground up. Colopi NI CEO, Jikhan Jung believes that VR will eventually replace gaming on the PC. “This is why our strategy is to create VR games that are socially engaging.” The Japanese game developer recently released Cyberpong VR for the HTC Vive. “We think that VR is currently too isolated for a single player experience, which can be lonely. Having fun together is the most important part of good game design for VR, since the platform really lends itself to a social experience.”

Statements like these invoke visions of a team of players strapping themselves into VR and battling it out, Tron-style in a simulated arena. Meanwhile, spectators all over the world could virtually step right onto the game map, post on social media and interact with other fans all within a live broadcast. It may be a while before ideas like this become reality, but the wheels are already in motion so, we’ll just have to enjoy the ride.

Ad Blocking: Call To Action Or Threat To Marketing?

Whether we like it or not, ad blocking is on the rise across the world. Yes, despite all that hard work marketers put into advertising, a lot of consumers want none of it—especially on mobile devices.

While some brands view ad blocking as a challenge to create more engaging content, others condemn the practice altogether. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the practice of ignoring online advertising won’t go away anytime soon . . . although it’s not as bad as it might be perceived.

Analyst firm eMarketer has actually scaled back its estimates of ad blocking users in the US, reducing the number from 86 million to 75.1 million for 2017. While this is an improvement over previous estimates, more than one quarter (27.5 percent) of US internet users will still be using ad blockers this year. The younger the consumer, it seems, the less willing they are to view advertising. The firm predicts that 41.1 percent of millennials will utilize ad blockers in 2017 compared to GenX internet users at 26.9 percent. Baby boomers rarely use blockers, the firm suggested, predicting a usage rate of only 13.9 percent.

If you can’t block it, skip it. A study by online survey platform LaunchLeap found that 59 percent of millennial internet users watch ads only until they can skip them. Despite a majority of respondents displaying a desire to skip the ads, only 11 percent were blocking YouTube ads via an ad blocker. Surprisingly, 29 percent of US millennials reported watching YouTube ads all the way through.

US Ad Blocking User Penetration, Desktop/Laptop vs. Smartphone, 2014-2018 (% of population)

Teenagers, in particular, don’t have much patience for mobile advertising, according to an October study of internet users from Kantar Millward Brown. Approximately 56 percent of 16-to-19-year-olds said they skipped ads “whenever they can” on a desktop computer, while 47 percent of teens said the same about ads on a mobile device.

Mobile ad blocking is especially prevalent in emerging markets such as China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. Research by Priori Data suggests that 27 percent of mobile users in the Asian Pacific region use ad blockers on their mobile devices as of last March.

Is this bad news for the marketing industry? It depends on who you talk to. More than three quarters of marketers (76 percent) “think ad-blocking will be positive for the industry, encouraging greater creativity,” according to research by The Chartered Institute of Marketing.

On the contrary, IAB is strongly opposed to ad blocking, calling it, “a potentially existential threat to the industry.” Despite the company’s concerns, it does encourage brands to step it up in terms of customer experience.

“IAB research shows ad block use is caused by a general disdain for advertising and concern about the safety of user information,” the company explains on its website. “In our nationally representative survey, 89 percent of respondents who have installed ad-blocking technology reported using ad blockers to improve their experience. The ads deemed most intrusive are video ads that play automatically, screen takeovers, and blinking ads—all ad types that directly disrupt the consumption of content. These findings should be an alarm to everyone in media and marketing. We are mistreating our most valuable asset—our consumers. We can talk all we want about the ad-centered ‘value exchange’ between consumers and media. But until we commit to the cause of ever-improving user experiences, advertisers and media will be at risk.”

While marketers do their best to create authentic and engaging material that consumers will actually want to look at, online publishers are feeling the painful effects of ad blocking.

Ad blocking software could cost digital publishers over $27 billion by 2020, according to a report by Juniper Research. Paywalls are becoming more common, as fewer consumers agree to view ads that fund these outlets.

While 55 percent of US millennials pay for digital entertainment, only 25 percent are willing to pay for some kind of digital news service. A report by Business Insider notes that publications are questioning their pay-for-content models in order to reach this demographic.

A change, however, that might be shifting the scene in ad blocking may be looming on the horizon. According to advertising industry publication Campaign, YouTube is planning to eliminate its unskippable pre-roll 30-second ad unit by 2018.

‘H1Z1: King Of The Kill’ Battles Its Way To CW Tournament

CW and eSports fans should brace themselves because H1Z1: King of the Kill will soon be making its big network television debut. Developer, Daybreak Games announced a partnership today with the CW, Rick Fox’s eSports team, Echo Fox and Ben Silverman’s production company, Propagate to create a multi-platform docuseries.

The unscripted five-part series, called H1Z1: Fight for the Crown, will show digitally on the CW Seed and focuses on the members of Echo Fox and their lives as they train and prepare for the King of the Kill tournament. Echo Fox has a long relationship with King of the Kill, having won first place at last year’s invitational at TwitchCon (featuring the free-for-all mode), taking home $40,000. The stakes are significantly raised in the Fight for the Crown tournament, which is expected to be televised on the CW Network in April and will feature Echo Fox competing against 14 other teams of five (75 players in total) for their share of a $300,000 prize pool. Event sponsors include Asus, Republic of Gamers and Vertagear and the tournament.

Event sponsors include Asus, Republic of Gamers and Vertagear. The game itself pits combatants against each other as they seek out weapons, armor and supplies in order to survive and fight. Additionally, the Fight for the Crown tournament marks the debut of H1Z1: King of the Kill’s five-person team mode in an eSports tournament setting.

While cable channels such as TBS and ESPN have aired eSports tournaments on television, the CW is the first broadcast network to show an interest in eSports. The network, with a young viewership demographic, similarly aired Mortal Kombat: Chasing the Cup last year, featuring the fighting game, Mortal Kombat X.

Chris Wynn, executive producer of H1Z1: King of the Kill at Daybreak Games spoke to [a]listdaily about bringing the competitive free-for-all game to the CW, where viewers can enjoy the action and drama of competition.

Chris Wynn, executive producer of H1Z1: King of the Kill,Daybreak Studios
Chris Wynn, executive producer of H1Z1: King of the Kill, Daybreak Games

How did the partnership with Echo Fox and the CW come together?

We’ve had an ongoing relationship with Rick Fox and the Echo Fox team, as they were the first pro-team to get behind H1Z1. As we worked together on different ideas to continue pushing the game toward eSports, this partnership came up as a result of that. We have a unique opportunity to do something with King of the Kill that no one else can do—and that’s putting on a tournament with 15 teams of five players each all competing at the same time. It’s not a ladder-style knockout like in traditional sports. All these guys will get into one game, in one match, and all compete simultaneously. This unique experience is what appealed to the different partners.

For us, the ability to do something like this and work with great, established partners was a no-brainer. It was something we really had to jump into.

What makes King of the Kill the ideal game for a televised eSports tournament?

I think the unique element that makes King of the Kill successful is how easy it is to understand from a viewership point-of-view. It doesn’t require a ton of deep knowledge of game tactics and strategy to figure out if the player is skilled or not. Most times, the game breaks down to one person versus another, and it’s very easy to see at a glance how these opponents are trying to position themselves to gain the advantage and using particular weapons or items to succeed with. It doesn’t take a lot of explanation to see what’s going on and enjoy the experience.

How will the series be promoted?

We (Daybreak Games) and Echo Fox will have promotions going out on channels. Also, the CW has some social channel promotions and more slated as we get closer to the air date, similar to what they did with Mortal Kombat: Chasing the Cup. It’s a joint partnership.

With eSports tournaments being aired on cable channels such as TBS and ESPN, what are your thoughts on eSports growing as TV entertainment?

Yeah, TBS, ESPN and CW are all getting into this arena. It’s interesting because someone from the outside might look at it (eSports) and say, ‘I don’t know if I want to watch someone else play video games.’ But I remember people saying that when Twitch started to rise. Then you check it out and find that it’s actually thrilling and engaging. To see the skill that is applied by some of these top players can be kind of mind-blowing, especially when you play the game yourself. It’s no different than going to the backyard and trying to throw a football the way Tom Brady would.

The CW is a really cool and interesting partner, because both TBS and ESPN are cable channels. CW is the only over-the-air one that’s diving into eSports right now. If you look at their viewership and market, with how heavy they go into the superhero shows and the demographics they pull from that, there’s a ton of crossover with eSports fans and video game players in general. It’s the perfect broadcast network to take this on and expose it to more people.

H1Z1_FFTC_LOGO_FinalHave you been dropping hints about the series before the announcement?

Not really. I did an AMA on Reddit and tried to coyly suggest that we’d be doing more eSports content soon, but no one picked up on it. Maybe after they see the announcement, they’ll link it back.

How do you think fans will take to the news?

It’s going to be great. The invitationals were hugely popular, and people really got behind them. I think during both years of TwitchCon, they were the most viewed parts of the weekends. The prize pool is going to be bigger than anything we’ve raised in previous tournaments, which will be a draw. It’s also the first time we’re doing a big event with a prize pool for team games. Everything up to now has been a solo experience with one versus everyone else. This is the first time we’re doing it with teams of five, which is a very popular way to play the game. So, players are going to be really excited by that.

How has King of the Kill grown since it launched on Early Access last year?

It’s been growing like crazy. We spent last year working on the core experience and we launched a giant update in September. Then we had our invitational at TwitchCon at the beginning of October, and the game started to see a lot of popularity grow from that. We hit a tipping point in December, and the game has been on fire.

What would you say has been the key to growing King of the Kill as an eSport since splitting off from the single player experience?

It really speaks to why we split it to begin with. It’s all about focus at the high level—being able to focus on unique experiences. If we were constantly trying to balance between the two, I don’t think we would have ever been able to satisfy the needs of either one. By splitting the team and giving dedicated resources for each one, we get that dedicated focus that you need to drive the priorities correctly for what the community is expecting.

In terms of King of the Kill and how we continue to grow it, when you look at the success of eSports and how important skill and mastery is to players when progressing to being a skilled player—it’s all about depth. Instead of taking an approach where we’re adding new content all the time to add variety to try to keep people interested, for us, it’s about going deeper and deeper. That’s what adds more skill and things to master. I think that’s what’s key to growing eSports these days.

Do you have any advice for non-endemic brands that are looking to get into eSports sponsorship?

You have to be authentic. The eSports crowd and community don’t accept people coming in and trying to make eSports more than what it is. They really appreciate authentic voices that come in and speak their language and come from the same places they do. Those are the things they get behind. The ones that come in and are distant, at more of an arm’s reach, will have a tougher time breaking through to that audience.

Inside Oreo’s Global Marketing Strategy Featuring Shaq, Neymar And Christina Aguilera

When you’re a brand whose built bullions in equity by banking on the simple ritual of dunking a cookie in milk, then it’s only a must that you bring the biggest and baddest dunker of his generation to market your latest message.

Oreo has enlisted habitual backboard breaker Shaquille O’Neal to put a new spin on a timeless classic by launching the “Oreo Dunk Challenge,” a global marketing campaign that reminds consumers how delightful dunking a cookie in milk could be.

Famous faces in songstress Christina Aguilera and soccer star Neymar de Silva Santos Júnior have also been pegged to promote the innovative cross-channel campaign on mobile and social in 50 countries, as well as television advertisements and in-person activations.

“Dunking has been in my DNA for years, but it goes beyond basketball,” said O’Neal. “I’ve always loved dunking my Oreo cookies in milk—it makes me feel like a kid like no other snack or treat, which is why I was excited to join the Oreo Dunk Challenge. Being able to kick off the campaign by doing my first-ever dunk without using hands will always be a great memory for me.”


Mondelēz International, the parent company of Oreo, also announced their partnership with Google ZOO today through Oreo Space Dunk, a mobile game and site that integrates motion-detection technology and geo-location to allow fans to virtually dunk and launch their cookies into “space” and back.

Social is at the core of the campaign, and Google ZOO and #OreoDunkSweepstakes further encourage fans to post their dairy-rattling jams to win a variety of prizes in the coming weeks.

The next-level marketing move complements an overall strategy that already featured a Snapchat lens on February 12. The Oreo Dunk Challenge will also be front and center at the NCAA Final Four Fan Fest in Phoenix next month, as well as TV takeovers with Live With Kelly, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Chew.

From stealing the Super Bowl on social four years ago to emerging in the space of e-commerce with a holiday website that lets consumers buy limited-edition tins of fudge-covered cookies, Oreo is no stranger to digital success. In fact, Mondelēz International’s plans to grow e-commerce revenues to at least $1 billion by 2020.

Kerri McCarthy, Oreo’s senior global brand manager at Mondelēz International, the parent holder of the cookie company, joined [a]listdaily to detail how they’re reinventing a simple, century-long tradition in dunking to drive new engagement and social media conversation across the world.

What is the Oreo Dunk Challenge supposed to accomplish for the brand? Why was it critical for Oreo to dunk itself into the digital space through mobile, social and in-person activations?

The Oreo Dunk Challenge has a very simple mission—to get millions of people dunking Oreo cookies in milk as a way to reconnect with the kid inside, because there’s no more playful snacking moment than dunking an Oreo cookie in milk. Nothing will replace the joy of sitting down and dunking an actual Oreo cookie, but we pushed to bring our signature ritual to life in ways that would continue to surprise and delight fans, from in-person events and sampling to our collaboration with The ZOO at Google. A diverse set of dunks and touch points have allowed us to bring a fresh perspective to something that’s been so core to the brand for nearly 100 years. And with digital being core to how our consumers live, we knew it had to play a major role in these touch points across the campaign.

Kerri McCarthy, Oreo’s senior global brand manager at Mondelēz International.

With the Oreo Space Dunk, why is it critical to enter the mobile market and steer consumers away a bit from TV?

Consumers today engage on multiple screens at once, so we’re less focused on steering people in a particular direction and more about engaging them where they already are—whether that’s high-profile TV, on mobile, in-store or events. Tapping into the mobile market through our collaboration with Google was a way to create a customized, digital dunking experience that brings an offline consumer behavior online in a playful way that could only be Oreo. What’s so interesting about the Oreo Space Dunk in particular is that it’s a global experience that can transcend just one market.

What is Oreo’s strategy in communicating with digital-first consumers? How do you reach them?

We want to reach consumers wherever they are spending their time—whether it’s on a social platform, a messaging app, or an e-commerce site. We always want to show up in ways that are true to the Oreo brand, so we like to be playful and try new things to reach new consumers and deepen our engagement with existing Oreo fans. A key piece to fostering that engagement is creating something that’s personalized and custom, which we’ve achieved through the Oreo Space Dunk in collaboration with Google, by integrating motion detection technology and the user’s location.

What is the integrated social media strategy for #OreoDunkSweepstakes? What platforms do you plan on testing? What can fans expect?

#OreoDunkSweepstakes is the specific promotional hashtag for the United States; the entry specifics and mechanisms for the Oreo Dunk Challenge promotion vary from market to market. Our major platforms across the campaign are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, with unique assets for each. Beyond entering for a chance to win on their local social platforms, fans can expect to see a series of Oreo Dunk challenges through ongoing social content designed to inspire new dunks with Oreo cookies. This content will feature dunks from the Oreo brand as well as a variety of dunks from local influencers and our three global celebrity dunkers.

Why was it imperative to take Oreo’s marketing to a global level this time? What are the different intricacies you’ve encountered compared to a domestic roll-out?

Oreo is a truly global brand, sold in more than 100 countries around the world. For the past few years, we have introduced a global campaign in Q1 as a way to kick-off the year with momentum and continue to build our global ‘Wonderfilled’ creative platform. The key to ensuring a campaign is successful on a global scale is to come up with a creative idea that resonates with consumers across the globe, but also has built-in flex that allow the individual countries to cater to local nuances. Our local marketers will leverage global creative assets, such as the celebrity-studded TV and digital content and the Oreo Space Dunk partnership with Google, and then layer on a country-led activation—like content from local influencers and retailer-specific partnerships—to strengthen resonance with local Oreo fans. We’re proud of how we’ve taken such an iconic ritual that’s been a part of the Oreo brand DNA, and used that as a springboard to engage fans in markets around the world.


How was the activation received with Shaq at Chelsea Market in New York City, the location of the original Nabisco bakery where the first Oreo was made?

The Oreo event at Chelsea Market was the North America launch of the campaign. We knew we wanted to show consumers how fun dunking an Oreo cookie in milk is, and we knew we wanted to do it in an unexpected way. To do so, we used brain-sensing headbands and custom software to track the concentration levels of participants—when their concentration reached a certain threshold they were able to move an Oreo cookie toward a glass of milk without any hands. Fans had a blast at the event, which was held at the birthplace of the Oreo cookie, and some got to go head-to-head with Shaq as an added layer of excitement. We had over 1,000 people do the hands-free Oreo Cookie Dunk throughout just one day, and it was a great way to kick off the campaign by putting a new spin on the Oreo dunk ritual.

What are the insights and data that influence your marketing strategy? Is there a new product or service that you think will influence decisions?

It’s so important for any brand to be tapped in to what is happening in the market. We research extensively to understand consumer motivations, past purchasing behavior, future purchase considerations and media consumption patterns to inform new product development and overall messaging strategy. We also use marketing performance metrics, such as channel ROI and platform-specific KPIs, to optimize and prioritize our production and media investments.

What is on top of your marketing “hot list” this year? Are there any emerging trends that you’re looking at in order to explore and innovate the Oreo brand?

We consistently aim to reach consumers where they are increasingly spending their time and as a result, we’ll continue to invest in digital video as video consumption continues to rise. E-commerce also continues to be a priority for the Oreo brand and as such, we are working with our partners on e-commerce-specific offerings and content partnerships. From a global perspective, we have some markets exploring things such as live video streaming and chat bots, and others who are increasing the use of data-driven audience targeting and testing capabilities to get the right message to the right consumers within the right context. Overall, we are always looking for new, efficient and effective ways to reach consumers and will continue to test and learn as new offerings come onto the market.

GameStop: Nintendo Switch Pre-Orders’ Attach Rate Higher Than Wii U

With Nintendo rolling out additional marketing muscle to generate awareness for its Switch launch on March 3, including a traveling pop-up Switch and Play Store, retailers have been sold out of hardware for weeks. GameStop, the largest independent video game retailer in the world, has seen more interest in Switch than Nintendo’s previous console, Wii U, according to Eric Bright, senior director of merchandising at GameStop.

“We’ve seen tremendous demand for Switch,” Bright told [a]listdaily. “And of the initial allocation of pre-orders we took, the majority of them were done by PowerUp Reward customers. They’re definitely looking for this device. We have a ways to go before we satisfy all the demand that’s out there.”

There’s a link on for customers to provide an email address to receive news about the Switch, and Bright said that “the response has been amazing.”

Nintendo has captured gamers’ attention since revealing the Switch last month at events in Tokyo and New York City, where media got hands-on with the hybrid tablet and console device.

“They’ve taken a lot of franchises like Zelda and Mario that were popular in the Wii days, gave them HD graphics, and created a system that can be played on your TV and is portable as well,” Bright said. “Those are two big technology changes for games that didn’t exist before.”

Bright believes Nintendo’s decision to launch Switch in the spring will help propel the console throughout the year.

“The Q1 launch is one of the smartest moves Nintendo could have done,” Bright said. “Instead of pushing units out during the heaviest time of the year (in Q4), this allows them to build a base. So by holiday, we can focus on games. There will be millions of people who will be hungry for content, creating a richer development cycle for game publishers who will have an install base to support titles. This also will take some of the brunt off of Christmas and enable Switch to be better stocked at stores.”

Nintendo has also attracted over 60 developers who are working on over 100 games. “Nintendo has learned from the mistakes it made with Wii U because there’s a wide assortment of third-party games from developers like EA, Ubisoft, Bethesda and Take-Two, as well as first-party Nintendo titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2.”

Nintendo is also courting independent developers, including the GameStop-published Has-Been Heroes from Frozenbyte and GameTrust.

“The variety of indie games for Switch is one of the brilliant things Nintendo was able to do,” Bright said. “Any new console launch is all about software and content and providing people a huge variety of games. Indie developers will only expand how many consumers adopt Switch and expand the age range. We see this appealing from the hardcore gamer down to the overall family gamer.”

While there will be an assortment of different launch window games, Switch won’t include a pack-in game. Of course, retailers like GameStop are offering gamers bundles.

“The biggest win for the customer is they can make their own choice with games,” Bright said. “They can pick which of the games they want to pair with the hardware they’re buying—whether they’re Zelda fans or 1-2-Switch. From our sales perspective, we’re seeing incredible demand. We’re pleased with the Switch attach rate. People are not just buying one game. They’re buying multiple games.” Bright added that Switch is enjoying a higher attach rate than Wii U, which included a pack-in game, although he wouldn’t specify numbers.

GameStop will be rolling out hands-on opportunities for customers to play the Switch, which is expected to be in short supply for at least the foreseeable future.

“We’re looking at which stores, but you can expect to see all sorts of events throughout the year as we educate the customer on this launch,” Bright said. “We’ll also have incredible launch day activities on March 3.”

Bright sees Switch tapping into Nintendo’s Wii gamers. “Customers are going to easily be thrilled with the fact that it’s something you can play with anyone in the house because it has that Wii playability,” Bright said.

GameStop will carry the entire lineup of Nintendo products throughout 2017, which includes Nintendo 3DS, 2DS and Switch. The retailer is no longer selling new Wii U consoles. “We’re no longer purchasing Wii U units, although customers can come in and pick them up pre-owned,” Bright said. “That’s mainly because it’s no longer being made available to mass retailers. Nintendo and ourselves are fully engaged in the new hardware line-up.”

Another part of that Nintendo lineup is the NES Classic Edition. Bright said GameStop is steadily getting a flow of units that are either being put in stores or online to make sure customers can come in and get it.

“We’re still seeing incredible demand for the unit,” Bright said. “There’s no slowdown, and we don’t see that stopping. We see that continuing for some time.”

Cartoon Network Magically Expands ‘Mighty Magiswords’ Engagement With Mobile Game

Cartoon Network’s comedy series, Mighty Magiswords, has been renewed for a second season and it’s ready to engage its viewers both on screen and on mobile. The show is about a pair of siblings named Prohyas and Vambre who are “Warriors for Hire” and embark on quests using humorous weapons called magiswords. For example, the Lazer Pointer Magisword (as its name indicates) works as a giant laser pointer, which attracts a horde of cats to attack a target.

Created by Kyle A. Carrozza (The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water), Mighty Magiswords premiered last September and quickly became a number one hit among the 6-11-year-old key boy demographic. Its success may be credited in part to the MagiMobile companion app, which lets viewers collect magiswords of their own using automatic content recognition (ACR) technology to recognize content as they watch an episode. MagiMobile users can also play mini games, explore the land of Lyvsheria, win trophies, and meet characters from the show.

Now the show has stepped up its viewer engagement with Surely You Quest, a free-to-play role-playing game that launched for mobile devices last week. With it, players can use and upgrade their magisword collections to compete in challenges, collect new magiswords while watching the show, and even earn exclusive magiswords.

Chris Waldron, vice president for games and digital products at Cartoon Network talked to [a]listdaily about the launch of the new game, the first of several, and what it takes to engage with today’s young audience.

Chris Waldron, vice president for games and digital products at Cartoon Network
Chris Waldron, vice president for games and digital products at Cartoon Network

What inspired the development of a mobile game on top of having a companion app for the show?

From the beginning, we intended for MagiMobile to be a very entertaining utility app focused on collecting magiswords. The core features of this app were to be collecting via ACR and browsing your collection. We added other features to make it even more fun, but those were the two primary features.

However, we also knew that kids and fans would want more robust gaming experiences that allowed them to play with their magiswords. And, as with most of our shows, we plan to build several games in this universe—games that wouldn’t fit inside of the MagiMobile app. Surely You Quest is the first such game where fans can take the magiswords they’ve collected in their MagiMobile and play a much deeper game than can fit inside of MagiMobile.

What is the Surely You Quest game experience like?

Surely You Quest is an idle RPG where players use magiswords to help the series’ main characters, Vambre and Prohyas, defeat enemies and win Princess Zange’s adventuring tournament. Players can collect and upgrade magiswords in MagiMobile, then use a selection of those magiswords for gameplay in Surely You Quest. The gameplay uses a tap mechanic, and there is some strategy involved when selecting the right magisword for each battle.

Can you explain how the show, the MagiMobile app, and Surely You Quest are all connected?

Both the MagiMobile app and Surey You Quest use automatic content recognition. When watching an episode of Mighty Magiswords, viewers can open either app, tap the “collect” button, and the apps will “listen” to and identify the episode the viewers are watching. The users will then receive a magisword that appears in that episode and it will be added to their collection.

Additionally, in both MagiMobile and Surely You Quest, users will be able to collect other magiswords and upgrade them by completing quests, watching short cartoons, and other gameplay. Once the users have collected a magisword in either app, that magisword is automatically added to their collection.

If that’s not enough, users with the largest and most upgraded collection of magiswords will get bigger bonuses as they play Surely You Quest.

Each experience links together to form a fully engaged ecosystem.


Will Surely You Quest features crossovers with events from the show?

Yes. There will be times in the game where players will benefit from having magiswords that are available to collect only during specific on-air events. Cartoon Network also hosts special programming like 12 Days of Magiswords, a block that aired last December. During that initiative, every show on-air, no matter the series, allowed viewers to collect a new magisword.

What is the key to keeping a 6-11-year-old demographic engaged with an animated show?

We have found that this generation of kids (Plurals; Generation Z) demand choice and control, so content creators need to develop immersive, interactive experiences that empower kids to access great entertainment wherever and whenever. Mighty Magiswords consists of more than 400 pieces of premier content housed on linear television, online, YouTube and in mobile apps, allowing kids to become fans at every touch point.

Capcom’s Brand Messaging Says, ‘Our Games Don’t Die, They Respawn’

The term, “instant classic” gets thrown around a lot these days, but Capcom has a knack for developing video games that stand the test of time. From Mega Man to Street FighterResident Evil to Monster Hunter, this Japanese publisher knows how to keep the fans hooked for life.

If you ever wondered what “Capcom” means, the name is a compound clipping of “Capsule Computer”—arcade machines made by the company in its early years. It’s truly fitting, then, that Street Fighter—born on August 30, 1987 in the arcade—put the publisher on the map and is still going strong today. That same year, Mega Man debuted and remains a fan-favorite while becoming the company’s flagship franchise.

Paving The Way

Ever the pioneers, Capcom’s Street Fighter II is credited with establishing many of the conventions of the one-on-one fighting genre. If you’re a fan of “survival horror” games, Capcom literally invented the genre as a marketing term to describe Resident Evil.

Like Nintendo, Capcom has recently started a push to mobile with nostalgic titles like Mega Man (games one through six), Street Fighter IV and original titles like Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (a spin-off of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney) and Zombie Café. The new mobile division has “one eye on the latest technology and another on Capcom’s proud legacy,” according to press materials.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard took a major leap into virtual reality—a first for the series that proved a big hit among fans. Masachika Kawata, Resident Evil series producer told [a]listdaily that it was time to return to the game’s tense, “survival horror” origins. “We felt that the franchise has moved forward in a more action-oriented direction and we figured this would be a perfect opportunity to take RE7 and really go back to our roots—revisit them and rethink what it means.”


Thinking Outside the Game

Love it or hate it, Capcom isn’t afraid to make films from its video game franchises. While Street Fighter isn’t exactly considered a masterpiece, it was still a commercial success. Resident Evil is the highest-grossing video game film series of all time having grossed over $1 billion worldwide. The films’ writer/director, Paul W. S. Anderson is now attached to bring Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise to life through an original story. Now that the Resident Evil movie series has ended, time will tell if we’ll ever get that TV show spin-off.

Beyond games and movies, fans have been able to enjoy Capcom’s franchises in other ways over the years, especially in Japan. Whether they’re eating game-inspired food at the Capcom Café or getting close and personal with Resident Evil zombies or life-sized Monster Hunter creatures at Universal Studios Japan, fans are able to immerse themselves into worlds that are no longer limited to a screen. Last year, the publisher debuted its Video Game Live concert series that combined rock music with soundtracks from its most popular titles. It is this creativity that fuels Capcom’s ability to keep their classics alive . . . although the T-Virus may have something to do with it, too.

Facebook And Snapchat Shows Add New Meaning To Social ‘Media’

The friendship between social media and television continues with a new deal between Discovery Communications and Snap Inc. to produce a number of shows for Snapchat. The deal will include an exclusive program created specially for Snapchat’s platform, as well as other shows based on Discovery’s flagship properties such as Shark Week and MythBusters.

Snap, Inc. began soliciting original programming from the entertainment industry last year and has already struck deals with NBC, A+E Networks, BBC Worldwide, The New York Times and Time, Inc. Discovery’s shows for Snapchat will be available in the US only, and will launch sometime in the next few months.

Saturday Night Live debuted its first, Snapchat-exclusive sketch last week. “Boycott” was edited for the app’s vertical video orientation and employed split screens as well as audio and video cues that let users tap or swipe to advance to the next “chapter.” The platform has been a source for other shows produced recently, including offshoots for ABC’s The Bachelor, NBC’s Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Voice, as well as E!’s The Rundown and ESPN’s College GameDay.

"Boycott," the first chapter of SNL's Snapchat original series. (Source: Snapchat)
“Boycott,” the first chapter of SNL‘s Snapchat original series. (Source: Snapchat)

Why Snapchat? Well, it comes down to that young, engaged audience that media companies so desperately want to reach. It’s no secret that Snapchat is “what the kids are doing,” and the kiddies sure love their Snapchat Stories. In fact, a new report by Snaplytics revealed that 55 percent of brand followers will open brand-posted Stories and 88 percent will complete the full Story after opening.

With the rising popularity and accessibility to live video, Facebook has proven itself to be a major source of social entertainment, too. While social networks haven’t replaced traditional TV, they seem to go hand in hand. Eighty-four percent of Gen Z consumers browse an internet-connected device while watching TV, according to Deep Focus.

Facebook is also in talks to host original programming of its own. “Our goal is to kickstart an ecosystem of partner content for the tab, so we’re exploring funding some seed video content, including original and licensed scripted, unscripted, and sports content, that takes advantage of mobile and the social interaction unique to Facebook,” Ricky Van Veen, Facebook’s head of global strategy, told Recode. “Our goal is to show people what is possible on the platform and learn as we continue to work with video partners around the world.”

It appears that Snapchat and Facebook are following in the successful footsteps of Netflix and Amazon for creating its own series, although there’s no word as to when Facebook’s content will emerge into the ether.

For now, the social network has introduced a TV app that will be compatible with Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TVs, with more devices to follow. The new app will let Facebook users watch videos from their friends and their “liked” pages on TV, as well as watching the top live videos.

There’s no doubt that once original content does finally make its way onto Facebook, those videos will be featured on the TV app, as well.

New Balance Brings Values-Based Marketing

What is the message you would write to yourself? What’s message you’d write to yourself?

New Balance is encouraging consumers to channel their inner athlete and tap into their competitive drives with “Letters to My Future Self,” an inspiration-driven campaign that aims at redefining personal ambitions, motivations and sense of purpose through commitment to fitness and healthy living.

Through long-and-short-form films, and of course written notes, the digital-centered campaign captures the goals and messages of athletes that focus on who they want to be in the future. It’s complemented with a multi-dimensional experience on the Boston-based athletic apparel vendor’s brand website, as well as with a content partnership with The Players’ Tribune.

The time capsule campaign, which kicked off in January, highlights the aspirational stories of Houston Astros all star second baseman José Altuve, fast-food-cook-turned-Olympic-finalist Boris Berian, X Games gold medalist Alexis Sablone, tennis champion Milos Raonic as well as runners Ciara Mageean and Tom Barr.

New Balance is championing consumers to overcome obstacles, too, by encouraging an initiative where they can pen their own letter to their future selves. The brand will send the letter back to each author in one year after their submission through a unique capsule experience.

Cause marketing is a trend brands are increasingly employing because consumers value brands, retailers and even employers that believe in and enable giving. The campaign also comes as a timely one for New Balance, who suffered severe social criticism in November after supporting President Donald Trump.

Steven Ruhl, head of global brand marketing at New Balance, joined [a]listdaily to shed more light on the transformative experience that aims at advancing the athlete’s journey and outlook for the future.

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Why did you decide to take the route of inspirational marketing for “Letters to My Future Self?” What kind of uplift does a values-based marketing campaign have with consumers?

New Balance has always looked at how to help our consumers evolve and improve—both in athletics, and in life. It’s important for us to engage with young athletes around the world and we know that great stories that inspire and entertain can deliver stronger brand connections in marketing. These stories are also meant to deliver value for the consumer by posing questions not just about sport, but about life, and asking viewers ‘what would you tell your future self?’ We believe that if we can make you think about life, your best self, and the future you want to achieve, then we will have succeeded. We hope that consumers see this campaign also as a metaphor for our brand and its core values and how it reflects our decision to work with athletes who have strong character, integrity and intention.

How will you be marketing the multi-dimensional “What would you tell yourself?” experience on social with #MyFutureSelf? Will you be testing any emerging platforms?

We are bringing this to life across paid, owned and earned channels. Aside from strong paid distribution across video platforms like YouTube, we’ll create surround sound digital content on our social handles, and drive to an experience page where consumers can watch more, read more, and learn more about each athlete story. On our experience page, consumers can also submit their letter to their ‘future self,’ and we’ll send it back to them, in about one year. Another strong component of this campaign was the number of athletes on roster who’ve participated by sharing their ‘note to future self,’ with their followers, and encourage sharing on social media. The #MyFutureSelf hashtag was used more than 6,000 times in just the first week and a half, thanks in large part to all of our athletes and ambassadors around the world, who shared deeply personal and motivating thoughts for their followers.

How is New Balance’s marketing a reflection of its our values?

We created our ‘Letters to My Future Self’ campaign to showcase the true individuality, grit and unparalleled persona of our world class athletes. Through their own words, reflections and inner strength, they inspire athletes everywhere to unrelentingly pursue the best version of their future self.

Why is it important for New Balance to partner with a media company like The Players’ Tribune and use them as a distribution platform?

It was exciting to have our athletes tell an authentic story, through letters written to their future selves published on The Players’ Tribune, the new athlete-driven content platform. New Balance prides itself on being an authentic athletic brand, and this was an exciting collaboration for us.

What did you apply from your #GreaterThanTheWin campaign learnings from last year? Do motivation-and-caused-based campaigns work well with millennials?

We saw a significant increase for New Balance brand consideration in key markets, after consumers experienced the content. This was big validation in our approach to deeper human-inspired and unique storytelling, with focused distribution across digital video platforms.

How have consumers responded to previous branded content featuring long-and-short-form films? Do you complement them with an influencer marketing strategy for amplification?

We’ve received a great response when we provide long-and-short-form content that entertains and inspires consumers—but also talks to our shared values, and how we’re different in the marketplace. We recognize that our athletes and ambassadors are hugely influential in helping us amplify our brand message.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan CEO Talks About $15 Million Funding And Platform’s Rising Success, which launched in 2015, is a platform that lets gamers record, replay and relive their games. Its focus is to provide a video-based replay platform that doesn’t break after every patch and make it easy for professional players to review matches, analyze their gameplay, and share highlights with their communities.

Unlike other game capture utilities, you don’t have to hit any buttons when using with a game, and there are special features that work with top eSports titles such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Rocket League, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch with more added each month. The game capture tool automatically records entire game sessions, then breaks them up by each match. The videos also show key information, such as the champions selected for each match, the kill/death/assist ratio and whether the player won or lost. Additionally, the platform creates a visual annotated timeline of the match, marking all the key moments of the game. Those moments are automatically edited and tagged by the system, saving users a ton of time and work.

Dennis Fong, CEO and founder of
Dennis Fong, CEO and founder of

“For us, context is everything,” Dennis Fong, CEO and founder of, told [a]listdaily. The easy-to-use gameplay highlights tool is one of the main reasons why the platform is so popular among professional eSports players.

“It’s not just about video sharing,” explained Fong. “It’s about the fact that you can go back and replay the moments that you want to relive either for self-analysis or for sharing.” Although users can choose to put the videos on platforms such as YouTube, “ is a full 360 ecosystem,” he continued. “In our ecosystem, there are millions of people that are finding creators and sharing clips of people that they follow. We proactively recommend clips to people based on their gaming habits.” The more learns about you, your rank, preferred characters, and how you play, the better it can connect you with the content that best suits your tastes.

Last week, announced that it secured $15 million in Series A funding. Financing was led by Shasta Ventures with investors that include the San Francisco 49ers and basketball star Jeremy Lin, in addition to Accel Partners, Tenaya Capital, DAG Ventures and Founders Fund. The company also announced a partnership in December to have its video replay functions integrated into the tournament platform, FaceIt. Fong goes in-depth with [a]listdaily about how eSports played a key role in the incredible growth and success of

What is the goal of is about helping people tell a story about the games that they’ve played and allowing others to relive it with them. As opposed to coming out of a game with three random clips in your folder, with us, you see the timeline for your entire game with bookmarks, giving you a sense of the story arc. To create a highlight reel, you just select the clips, and we will stitch them into one for you.

How did the partnership with FaceIt come together last December?

FaceIt is the top tournament competition platform, used by a lot of pros and skilled, hardcore players. I think they heard from their community that a lot of people were using We also saw the same thing, with people using #FaceIt on So, the partnership kind of came naturally through both of our communities.

FaceIt has thousands of matches happening every day, but the only way to relive what happened in these matches was through stats, so they wanted video highlights from the point-of-view of the players. So, we connected and found a way to link FaceIt with a account so that videos are associated with specific matches, and those videos will appear on the match results page or the user’s profile page.

What will the $15 million investment allow you to do?

Well, is essentially a brand-new company. So, we have to pay for the staff and hosting all these videos. [The funding] also speeds up the pace of innovation. We’ve got a bunch of new tools and features that are coming out soon. It’s really about expansion. We have a lot of people who are using our platform already (it’s in the double-digit millions), and we want to continue building it out.

How did you get the word out about the platform to get such rapid growth?

It’s all been organic. We haven’t spent any money acquiring users. I would say that probably the biggest impact for us was the pro gaming eSports stars discovering it and using it as a tool to replay and analyze their game. Our replay tool is considered widely as the best one in the world. It’s even better than the in-game replay tools, which many games don’t have, and replays are available right after the match—you don’t have to do anything special. Because of those reasons, all the top pro teams—Team SoloMid (TSM), Cloud9, Team Liquid, Fnatic etc.—use as an indispensable tool as a way for them to improve.

It is also a video sharing tool, and these guys have massive audiences and fan bases. So, they started sharing their epic moments on and reposted them on Twitter and Facebook, in addition to using it on stream. Someone from TSM, with 40 to 50 thousand concurrent viewers, would use the tool to review his performance after a game before starting the next match. Viewers then asked about the tool.

That’s what got the ball rolling for us and was largely how we built our initial traction. There’s nobody that does what we do from the replay perspective.

How did Jeremy Lin and the San Francisco 49ers become involved with the funding?

Working with Jeremy Lin will be a tremendous opportunity for As a gamer, professional athlete and an investor, he will provide unique insight to help us shape our platform. He’s a professional athlete with tremendous talent and work ethic, a gamer, and an experienced investor who can help us in many ways, including advising us as we expand our service in Asian markets. We sought out investors who understood our vision for the company and who could help us succeed through their insight, relationships, and expertise, which is why our relationships with Jeremy Lin, the 49ers organization and TSM will be so important moving forward.

We were introduced to the 49ers and Jeremy Lin through personal connections. The 49ers give us access to one of the most successful sports organizations in the world, and I’m sure this will help as the lines between eSports and traditional sports continue to blur.

How would you say investments from traditional sports helps validate and grow the world of eSports?

The top athletes and sports organizations in the world see the level of competition and dedication that pro gamers have to be the best. They also see the massive audiences that attend eSports events and watch online. Given the similarities between the two worlds, the investments we see from traditional sports and athletes is tremendous validation.