They’re Back: The Business Of Resurrecting Older Video Games

Nostalgia is a powerful purchasing incentive, especially among gamers. There are many ways to resurrect an older game IP from the reboot (starting over) to the remaster (updating graphics), but another trend has emerged—continuing a game where the developers left off. Here are three games being resurrected soon, much to the surprise and delight of their loyal fans.

Red Dead Redemption 2

More than six years after Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar Games announced a sequel coming to consoles this year. Not only did the announcement garner positive attention from the series’ fans, but investors as well—the stock price of its distributor Take-Two Interactive rose nearly six percent following the game’s announcement.

Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter projects the game will sell 12 million copies during Take-Two Interactive’s second fiscal quarter in 2017, which runs from July through September.

“In its first hour, the announcement received 54,000 likes and 61,000 retweets on Twitter, 152,000 likes and 52,000 comments on Facebook, and 65,000 likes on Instagram,” Schachter said in a note to investors. “We think this demonstrates significant pent-up demand and interest for the sequel.”

Psychonauts 2

How much would you pay to get a sequel for your favorite game? Fans paid over $3.8 million to fund Psychonauts 2, the sequel to Double Fine Production’s first release, and another $8 million was invested by Starbreeze Studios, who will aid with distribution.

Despite critical acclaim and over a dozen awards, Psychonauts was a financial flop—selling around 400,000 copies between its launch in 2005 and 2012, when Double Fine acquired the publishing rights. As of 2015, Psychonauts sold nearly 1.7 million copies, with more than 1.2 million occurring after Double Fine’s acquisition.

For years, fans had asked Double Fine founder and CEO, Tim Schafer if they would ever make a sequel. Although he wanted to, the cost of development was too high without investment from a publisher. Thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign on Fig, resurrecting Psychonauts over a decade later has breathed new life into the franchise and involved fans in a unique way. Psychonauts 2 is scheduled for release in 2018.

Sonic Mania

There have been many Sonic the Hedgehog games over the years, but Sega is returning to its 2D roots this year with Sonic Mania—a game that some are calling “sequel they wanted 20 years ago.” The game is a sprite-based side-scrolling platformer game in the style of its original predecessors. Despite being an original game (as opposed to a remake), Sonic Mania oozes nostalgia, which has fans really excited. The game looks and plays like a long-lost sequel that has just now been released a decade later.

In a statement, Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka described Sonic Mania as a “passion project” that “was born out of our fans’ love of the classic Sonic 2D platform games.”

Sonic Mania is launching this summer for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PS4.

Continuations of beloved video game franchises not only soothe the pangs of unfinished business but encourage newcomers to play/replay the original titles.

In his essay, Public Memory and Gamer Identity: Retrogaming as Nostalgia, Dr. David S. Heineman wrote, “The marketing of retro games functions to create profit for companies whose older games remain popular. This alone, though, does not account for the kinds of reactions to these games that take place in retro gaming communities. Rather, the discourses of retro gaming suggest that the most salient function of this official memory is its capacity to (re)construct the identity of retro gamers.”

Good news, gamers, you can go home again.

How Arby’s Is Engaging With Gamers

Arby’s has been connecting with gamers over the past two-and-a-half years through its social channels. In addition to targeting popular games like Overwatch and Street Fighter 5, the company went all-in with esports last year as a key sponsor for Turner and WME/IMG’s inaugural ELeague season, which focused on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).

Jeff Baker, Arby’s vice president of brand content and advertising, oversees the different areas of Arby’s broadcast, social and marketing channels. He told AListDaily that the restaurant chain, which has over 3,300 locations around the country, identified gamers as having a heavy overlap with its guest base and decided to engage them through social channels like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

“We have targeted over 100 titles,” Baker said. “That covers a wide array of mobile, console and PC games, including the classic Zelda as well as the recently released Zelda for Switch. We’ve covered everything from 8-bit games to tabletop games. And it’s done in a fun way that has created some back-and-forth with publishers like Bandai Namco.”

Baker uses static image content and some animated content to connect directly with gamers digitally.


“We try to act as a fellow fan because we are,” Baker explained. “People in our office and at our agency are fans of these games and brands. We try to engage with a broad group of people. A guy in our analytics department worked on content as a fan of gaming. It’s not about using these games as a sales vehicle.”

That type of messaging, which aligns the Arby’s brand with the wide audience of gamers, also was employed for esports with ELeague.

“ELeague has been well received with fans, especially on Reddit with conversations around our brand,” Baker said. “Our strategy is to engage versus sell. We use our brand elements and create fun and lightweight stories that are about us being fans of the titles instead of us trying to sell the product. It’s been appreciated across the board with no negative commentary.”

Now Arby’s is taking its game connection in-house. Starting this month, Mountain Dew Game Fuel Citrus Cherry will be available at more than 3,000 Arby’s restaurants nationwide.

“Pepsi is our partner and they’ve established Mountain Dew as a credible brand for gamers, but Game Fuel is the focused product,” Baker said. “Game Fuel is exclusively available on tap for our restaurant, which is a great way to add a product that already has a connection with gamers.”


Arby’s is alerting consumers about Game Fuel through social, which includes nearly 3 million followers on Facebook, more than 731,000 on Twitter and over 135,000 on Instagram. Most of that is targeted specifically to gaming content with titles like The Sims 4.

“Because we’ve been engaging with gamers for a few years, we wanted to offer them something special in our restaurants,” Baker said.

Esports is just part of the overall gaming conversation for Arby’s.

“Through social, we can target all genres and platforms of games and reach the right people,” Baker said. “The reality is in a newsfeed we’re part of that conversation that gamers are having.”

Arby’s doesn’t engage in a lot of direct couponing with gamers, but it does perform media mix analysis and Baker has seen a positive response to the gaming content his team has put out.

“We know from looking at the data that people who are into gaming have a high overlap with our brand,” Baker said.

In fact, gaming is the largest of the niche interests that Arby’s targets, which also include golfing and hunting.

As for Arby’s next move in the esports space, since it is no longer sponsoring ELeague, Baker said, “Esports is still TBD on where and how it grows, but every day more and more people are getting more interested in it.”

How YouTube TV Is About To Change The Game

(Editor’s note: AListDaily is the publishing arm of the Ayzenberg Group.)

It was a big deal for me on Friday when Google unveiled live programming for their YouTube TV service. As a consumer, I felt like I could finally let go of the low-level anxiety that I made a significant compromise when I “cut the cord.” I mean, I can’t count the times I’ve had to take a defensive position when someone asked: “but how do you watch the Super Bowl or the Oscars?”

Image of Benjamin Tiernan VP Media Ayzenberg GroupAs a media strategist, the earth shook. For years, digital and broadcast media strategists have tried to get a grasp of emerging OTT and connected TV technologies. We’ve assumed a valiant test-and-learn attitude as we’ve encountered issues with scale, nascent technology, data limitations, walled gardens and brand safety. Now, YouTube TV appears to provide the most coherent platform for applying consumer data to target audiences in a TV-like or actual TV environment.

I called my YouTube representative and asked if we would be able to buy YouTube TV live content through TrueView. He wasn’t sure yet, but he confirmed that the YouTube TV ad-supported platform can apply Google’s consumer data to targeting.

YouTube recently suffered from a very public and very necessary industry reaction to issues with brand safety. Along with many advertisers, we are closely watching the roll-out of the new Brand Care features to inform how we move forward with the platform as a whole.

Another development that mutes my enthusiasm for all things YouTube is that the platform is becoming more of a walled garden with limited visibility into the data segments and recently eliminating support for third-party tracking pixels. Still, if even a portion of YouTube’s 180.1 million US audience takes advantage of the very attractive $35 per month offer, the landscape for digital and broadcast advertising will be changed permanently.

While this is good news for me as a consumer and a media strategist, I feel that I have to take a moment to recognize that entire industries that will have the wind knocked out of them by the announcement of this new service.

Broadcast Television

Broadcast ad budgets that support a huge infrastructure of local affiliates are under threat because they now have a mass reach alternative in YouTube TV’s data-driven, TV-like platform.

Other Ad-Supported OTTs

It’s unlikely that OTT competitors will go for long without a live TV licensing deal now that networks have opened the door to them and until they do, they are dead in the water. Hulu has already announced that they are working on a live TV service, and some expect the new service to be announced at the Newfronts.

Connected TV

It will be interesting to see the fate of Video DSPs, like YuMe, that have been pushing hard to develop the technologies and relationships necessary to make connected TV advertising more addressable. A better YouTube offering may actually bring more people to the connected TV ecosystem, and at the same time, it may take the lion’s share of the available ad dollars.

Netflix And Amazon Prime

They’ll be fine.

As enthusiastic as I am about this development, there are still some basic concerns that I have about the platform as an advertiser: YouTube is still a walled garden, and without the ability to transfer data or reach audiences outside their platform, the application still has limits.

And, as a consumer, I’m not excited that I may have to watch commercials for content that I’ve DVRed.


Benjamin Tiernan is VP of media at Ayzenberg Group. 

How Esurance Drives Marketing With Word-Of-Mouth And Partners Like MLB, Buster Posey And The Scott Brothers

Esurance is hoping good things come in threes this year, as they have renewed their deal with MLB and tapped three-time World Series champion and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey for a television commercial and social media campaign. This is the third consecutive season that the digital-born insurance company has served as the sport’s exclusive auto insurance partner.

“Pep Talks with Buster” is a series of social videos featuring the four-time All-Star catcher, who currently is on the disabled list after taking a fastball to the head on Monday, giving meeting-on-the-mound-like pep talks to people who face challenges like changing a tire for the first time, or installing a car seat.

“I always have a lot of fun working with the Esurance team and can relate to many of the situations in the social videos, especially installing a car seat for the first time,” Posey said. “We’ve built a great partnership over the past three years, and they have a product I know and trust for my family.”

The Bay Area-based company is pairing its data-driven digital strategies and personalized messages with Posey with a wider baseball strategy to reach fans by serving as the title sponsor of the all-digital Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot and the Esurance MLB Awards at the end of the season.

Esurance’s union with the MLB has been successful in creating large-scale awareness and consideration over the last two years—and now the insurance company is looking to turn that awareness into conversion.

They’ve also paired their sponsorship efforts in baseball by procuring a partnership with home renovation brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott, stars of the HGTV show Property Brothers, and produced a series of music videos ditties to teach home and auto do-it-yourself hacks. The marketing collateral is part of a larger company strategy to drive conversion through word-of-mouth.

Kristen Gambetta, Esurance’s manager of brand sponsorships, joined AListDaily to talk about how they’ll continue to apply an efficient approach to their MLB partnership.

How is your marketing in MLB generating large-scale awareness and reach for the brand? How do you leverage this into intent and new business?

Our partnership strategy includes creating a yearlong activation plan that gives us consistent exposure during the season, postseason and offseason. Esurance is more than a sponsor; we are true partners collaborating with MLB at every level. Now that we’ve had so much success in generating awareness and consideration, we’re looking at digital strategies and re-targeting methods to convert new customers.

What kind of content and experiences have worked well for you in the past?

According to our research, people who are aware of our partnership with Buster Posey are also more likely to consider getting a quote from Esurance. We’re creating more content with Buster and will have a steady drumbeat throughout the season. We’re also leaning into the fact that he’s an Esurance policy holder.

Why are insurance companies a natural fit in sports from a partnership perspective?

Insurance is one of the top-advertised industries in the country, so it’s important to sustain brand familiarity over time, and sports partnerships are a great vehicle to do so by tapping into the passion of loyal fans. Partnering with MLB was a natural fit for us as we consistently use technology to modernize our customer experience, just like MLB does with their fan experience. We collaborated with MLB on the rollout of the new all-digital ballot and awards demonstrating our commitment to be fast, efficient and innovative in everything we do.

What is the specific social media strategy you plan on executing for the campaign? What social platforms are you currently looking at to further build out Esurance’s narrative in the space?

We created a series of social media videos with Buster called “Pep Talks with Buster” where he is giving pep talks to people having self-doubt in everyday, relatable situations. Our goal with the campaign is to drive word-of-mouth through social sharing with passionate baseball fans. We’ll release the videos throughout baseball season on our Facebook page, and to extend the reach MLB and Buster, will also share on their social channels. For baseball, we’ve mainly focused content on Facebook. Last year, we introduced Snapchat during the All-Star Week. This year, we’ll continue to expand our use of Snapchat and will continue to test Facebook Live integrations with MLB.

As you head into year three of your deal with MLB, what are some of the key learnings from your internal research that you can share? What tools do you use to measure results?

According to our research, our MLB sponsorship has maintained awareness of our brand over time, and more importantly, we have seen double-digit growth from those aware of the sponsorship to be more likely to quote and consider buying from Esurance. We use several tools to measure our results, from social media engagement to digital impressions and our internal brand tracker.

You just announced a deal with Drew and Jonathan Scott. What are you looking for when considering and negotiating partnerships? How do you determine what’s a great fit and what’s not especially since you have an online-only identity?

When evaluating partnerships, we look at how strong the property’s audience aligns with our target consumer, reach of the target within the property and image fit with our customer value proposition of smart, easy and tailored to you. We also evaluate how the opportunity could diversify our portfolio by providing unique ownership platforms and category exclusivity. For 2017, we were seeking a digital-first partnership that would drive word-of-mouth. After researching various influencer marketing opportunities, we found the Scott Brothers were the perfect fit for our brand as they empower their fans to do things themselves, just like we do with insurance.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan


Hisense Explains Why It’s Marketing 4K TVs to ESports Fans

Hisense has jumped into the eSports fray. The Chinese consumer electronics company has partnered with eSports powerhouse Evil Geniuses to market its line of products, including 4K TVs, to console gamers who follow games like Halo, Call of Duty and Street Fighter 5.

The marketing sponsorship, which makes Hisense the official television sponsor of Evil Geniuses, will run through 2017 and feature a variety of co-branded events, a presence at major eSports tournaments in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Seattle, and extensive digital activations aimed at bringing technological excellence to the gaming community. Additionally, Evil Geniuses team members will help drive awareness through targeted Hisense events across the country.

Mark Viken, vice president of marketing at Hisense USA, discusses the opportunities that eSports opens up for its brand in this exclusive interview.

How long have you been looking at this growing eSports industry and why did you decide to enter now?

 We’ve had our eye on the esports industry for a while. The audience is now at more than 225 million and growing at a rate of more than 30 percent annually. Plus, it’s a natural partnership for us —our target demographics are similar, and gamers are looking for technologies we specialize in like great picture quality and low lag time.

What opportunities does the global esports audience that Evil Geniuses connects with open up for Hisense?

Good gear is the mark of a good gamer; we want Hisense to be synonymous with gaming excellence. Being the official TV of Evil Geniuses offers adds to our credibility in the gaming space. To that end, Evil Geniuses will be traveling to our R&D facility in China to discuss how we can make our TVs even better for the ultimate gaming experience.

What types of co-branded events do you envision working with Evil Geniuses on? 

We’re currently working on a variety of activations across the country. We’re announcing an activation that we’re calling the “Dual Threat Challenge,” bringing Evil Geniuses and NASCAR together for the first time. NASCAR racers Erik Jones and Clint Bowyer, Evil Geniuses and two lucky fans will be part of a Halo tournament on the 16,000 square-foot screen at the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the weekend of the Hisense 4K TV 300. We’re really excited about bringing this activation to life and other experiential opportunities for esports and sports fans in the near-future.

What role will team-created videos or videos featuring the teams play in marketing to this eSports audience?

We know how important authenticity is to the gamer community so that will be our main focus as we approach content.

How will you work with Evil Geniuses in coming up with humorous or entertaining ways to connect with the gaming/eSports audience?

While humor and entertainment are always an important part of our marketing initiatives, our goal with our Evil Geniuses partnership is to create an authentic, seamless partnership that genuinely resonates with gamers and showcases how Hisense products can enhance the overall gaming experience. We look forward to exploring ways to creatively weave together the Evil Geniuses and Hisense story.  The Dual Threat Challenge is our first execution on this front.

What tournaments/events are you targeting and what TVs will you focus on for hands-on opportunities with fans?

In addition to the Dual Threat Challenge, we are planning a wide array of activations throughout the esports season. From a product perspective, we’re focusing on the best-selling Hisense H8 with low lag time.

What type of messaging about the Hisense brand will you be marketing to eSports fans?

We’ll share messaging around key product benefits, including immersive picture quality and low lag time, as well as overall premium technology that’s accessible for all esports fans.

What separates the Hisense brand from the competition?

Well, first and foremost, we offer our customers affordable luxury. They are getting state-of-the-art product quality at an accessible price that comes with excellent customer service and world-class partners.

What role do you see Evil Geniuses teams across Call of Duty, Halo and Street Fighter—all console games—playing in connecting with gamers who may want to upgrade to 4K TVs?

Fans are always looking for tips and advice from their favorite gamers. Evil Geniuses are the best of the best and offer the credibility we’re looking for. Their confidence in our 4K TVs speaks volumes, which we hope will resonate with their fan base.

The esports landscape, to date, doesn’t have a lot of TV brands attached yet. What opportunities does this early move to esports open up for your brand?

The esports market is growing so rapidly and we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. Being one of the first television brands to get involved makes it even more exciting; lets us really put a stake in the ground. Plus, we can learn even more about what gamers are looking for in displays so that we can continue to build world-class televisions.

Analysts Predict The Future Of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, a concept going back as early as the 1800s, has indeed come a long way from scintillating science fiction to straight to your shopping cart. Unlike previous attempts in the past, it appears that VR is finally going to stick around, but it still has plenty of evolution potential. Unfortunately there’s no crystal ball for tech advancements, and we’re still waiting for our flying cars. To get an idea of what the future holds for VR, we turned to the analysts instead.

Onward (Slowly) Into The Future

“There is no doubt [VR] will grow among consumers—whether that’s two years, or 10 years,” Stephanie Llamas, vice president of SuperData Research told AListDaily. “Samsung shipped almost five million devices last year, many of which were given away with preorders for the [Galaxy] S7, and they will be doing that again with their newest model and the S8. It clearly worked in terms of getting devices in the hands of consumers, and the biggest challenge for consumer adoption is actually trying the devices out. Also, as more robust content gets added there will be a larger catalogue of experiences to keep consumers coming back.”

While VR may be more commonly associated with video games on consoles and PC, mobile VR may follow in the footsteps of mobile gaming to capture the largest audience—and the most revenue.

“There are several factors that will contribute to the mass adoption of mobile VR, including improvement in the quality of the VR experience offered by relatively affordable mobile VR devices such as Google Cardboard, overcoming compatibility issues and a boost in content that caters to people’s great variety of interests,” Newzoo said in its latest report. “Additionally, the business model needs to be a good match.”

Currently, Android manufacturers like Samsung and Google have cornered the mobile VR market. “If Apple were to launch a high-end VR device,” said Newzoo, “compatibility with the iPhone 6S and 7 series would be enough to have a significantly bigger addressable market for mobile VR than Samsung—9.4 percent (Apple) versus 6.6 percent (Samsung).”

“I am confident Apple will release a VR headset in future,” Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo told AListDaily. “There is an array of cheap VR headsets out there that work with an iPhone of which the VR experience is extremely disappointing. Indirectly, this reflects badly on the Apple brand and hurts the image and limits the uptake of VR. It also proves that hardware, software and peripheral hardware should be perfectly tuned to offer an experience that will truly blow people away and get them to buy one for themselves. Most people first experience VR through the device of a friend or at one of the VR experience centers.

Current VR content producers are forced to promote the Samsung Gear hardware and to a lesser extent, Google Daydream. This free marketing for Samsung devices is an enormous bonus. Just look at the NBA live VR webpage. It features Samsung Gear. Apple is taking a risk because it is sport and entertainment live content that suddenly can spark accelerated uptake of VR devices in the West as well as in China. Western sports is tremendously popular in China and there are millions of people that would be happy to put down $10 to watch a live NBA or Premiership Game. Unluckily for these Chinese fans (and luckily for Apple), rights agreements are holding back the availability of Western sports VR content in China. The sports clubs often also make the mistake to include their VR experience in a subscription, a business model that requires a commitment that most people who want to try a live sports VR experience are not willing to make. A single-fee option of $10 a match would do the trick.”

Samsung Gear Vr

Trying Is Believing

“Another factor at play,” Newzoo continued in its report, “is the fact that many people have their first VR experience with someone else’s device. The need to own a personal headset is not yet big enough to justify the purchase.”

Since VR headsets can be rather pricey and the technology is still new, getting consumers to even try them is a challenge, Llamas noted, much less to keep them in the headsets.

“In our studies, we have seen all demographics represented at varying levels,” Llamas said. “Millennials make up 63 percent of the audience, which means older audiences still represent a significant piece of the pie, but generalized high quality content isn’t enough—it needs to be uniquely tailored to the different audiences. For instance, males 35-and-over and female millennials are the most inclined to use mobile devices, and both happen to over-index when it comes to their interest in content that features landmarks and destinations. Meanwhile, more females over the age of 35 use console devices than any other other demographic except male millennials. There are a lot of surprising things here and content makers really need to find these unique ways to capture different audiences so interest goes beyond just trying it out.”

Big Wins At The Arcade

Popular in Asia, VR Arcades offer an alternative revenue source for hardware manufacturers, developers and of course, brands.

Analysts expect the VR market in China will grow to $8.5 billion by 2020. While Asian consumers are taking advantage of trying without buying, from amusement parks to arcades, the movement is starting catch on in the western world as well.

“Location-based attractions such as The Void and Asia VR cafes made up 33 percent of last year’s consumer software revenue ($109 million) and are slated to $234 million this year, 18 percent of the consumer total,” said Llamas. “The only other segment that surpasses it is games. So we are already seeing traction, and growing opportunities in the year to come. The influence brands like IMAX and Six Flags bring to the space is big—it shows that companies with successful attractions see the potential in this.

“And it’s not just about Asia anymore. There’s been a lot of buzz around China and their VRcades, but in the last few months in New York City alone, there are a number of location-based VR experiences that have cropped up. It’s going to be great for adoption because it gives people the opportunity to try VR for a small investment and no commitment.”

The Impact Of Custom GIFs On Brand Marketing

Animated GIFs turn 30 this year, so what better way to celebrate than by highlighting the way these images positively work for brands?

Whether you pronounce them with a hard or soft g, to say that GIFs (graphics interchange format) are popular would be the understatement of the year, thanks to sites like Tumblr. Giphy, a major source for the world’s animated images, recently passed 100 million daily users and serves over one billion GIFs per day. Giphy’s massive library is accessible through many of the top social networks including Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Tinder and Slack. When Twitter added the Giphy search engine to its platform last year, it reported that over 100 million GIFs had been shared on Twitter in 2015.

“We are starting to see this behavior where people are using content and culture to communicate—they’re not using words anymore,” Adam Leibsohn, Giphy’s chief operating officer, told Adweek. “When they’re doing that, there’s an opportunity for that culture to come from a brand.”

Brands, in recent years, have effectively communicated ideas to their audiences through GIFs with infographics, product images and more, but especially through humor. As with emoji, digital stickers and memes, branded GIFs are able to communicate with audiences in a simple, yet authentic way.

Since GIFs are animated, they can convey a sense of relaxation or excitement, depending on the intended message.

A growing trend among brands is the “cinemagraph”—an animated image, usually in GIF format, that isolates movement to one area with more dramatic effect.

“Cinemagraphs are a great canvas for a variety of brands to experiment with,” Raashi Bhalla of Pinterest’s brand strategy team, told Digiday. “On Pinterest, we have found that while an individual pin represents an idea, with the cinematic feature, you are able to more clearly tell the story of that idea.”

Studies show that when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10 percent of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65 percent of the information three days later.

Brand recall is everything in a campaign and even a single, branded GIF can make all the difference. Twitter claims that people are three times more likely to engage with Tweets that contain videos and photos, according to the company’s internal data.

As technology continues to make the world smaller, images are an invaluable tool that transcends language, culture and sometimes, the need for words. Facebook is testing the ability to comment with animated GIFs, allowing users to both browse trending GIFs and search for specific reactions in-line.

“Everyone loves a good GIF and we know that people want to be able to use them in comments,” Facebook told TechCrunch, “so we’re about to start testing the ability to add GIFs to comments and we’ll share more when we can, but for now we repeat that this is just a test.”

How in-VR Hopes To Evolve the Convention Industry

While E3 has opened its doors wider to consumers for this summer’s annual Los Angeles trade show and Gamescom continues to attract over 340,000 gamers to Cologne, Germany every August, startup in-VR sees a unique opportunity to connect the public with brands and companies through virtual reality. The company is hosting the world’s first video game convention in virtual reality this December. While VR games will be part of the offerings, this virtual convention will feature games across all platforms, including mobile, console and PC.

“The video game industry is very early at adopting new technology and they already have a lot of games in VR,” Chryssa Tsouraki, co-founder and COO of in-VR, told AListDaily. “We thought the best way to start our venture was to focus on gaming.”

Chryssa Tsouraki
Chryssa Tsouraki, co-founder and COO of in-VR

Stelios Papagrigoriou, co-founder and CEO of in-VR, said gaming is also a fun industry to launch an event. It’s for all conventional games and experiences.

“Since we’re in VR, exhibitors can recreate their gaming worlds in their booth,” Papagrigoriou said. “You can have video game characters talk to visitors. You can offer the ability to download and play free game demos and we also have a click-and-buy option for selling games to attendees.”

The three-day event will offer lectures from leading game makers, both traditional and VR creators. HTC has already committed to two speakers and Tsouraki said discussions are on-going to “work on something great” with the tech company for in-VR.

Stelios Papagrigoriou
Stelios Papagrigoriou, co-founder and CEO of in-VR

In addition to the HTC Vive, in-VR will support Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR. Papagrigoriou said support for PlayStation VR is currently in its plans.

Although pricing hasn’t been finalized, attendees will be charged anywhere from $10-$15 to $100 to attend the virtual convention. The higher-end pricing will include all-access, as well as the ability to instantly create a virtual room for meetings at any time.

Tsouraki said the 72-hour non-stop experience will be something like an MMO VR game. There will be over 100 hours of content for people, including exploring the exhibition space, listening to lectures from 200 speakers and being able to ask questions during Q&As.

“It’s going to be a funky design and companies will be able to do crazy stuff in the venue because we don’t have to obey the laws of physics,” Papagrigoriou said. “We don’t have to limit the space. We’ll have high standards in content, so not just anyone can join.”

Virtual reality opens up a lot of creativity for game publishers and brands. Papagrigoriou said companies can sponsor everything from robots to the moon to parties.

“You can create a fun VR experience and engage with fans that way,” Papagrigoriou explained. “We have billboards that people can interact with. The arena is going to be amazing. There will be things flying around you. For sponsors with VR content, it’s a great way to showcase the product in a large room. We’re also discussing with someone to sponsor the moon. You can sponsor pretty much everything. You can showcase your service and product and artwork in an active way.”

While shows like E3 and the Game Developers Conference can charge millions of dollars for booths, Tsouraki said in-VR is giving the opportunity for creative people to design around their own budgets. Plus, she said the click-and-buy option opens up the ability to earn revenue.

“Game publishers have embraced it,” Tsouraki said. “We’re not doing a VR conference, we’re doing a gaming convention and using VR as a medium, but we’re welcoming all types of games.”

Companies can build their own VR booths from scratch or use in-VR partners for a turn-key solution to do all the work. Booth prices will range from $500 to $1,000 for independent developers, for a 5 to ten square meter booth, and the highest-end platinum package is $50,000, which includes everything from an 80 square meter virtual booth to a custom avatar with the company’s branding, as well a click-and-buy button and brand marketing pre-event. There will also be gold and silver package options.

Tsouraki said in-VR has received a lot of interest from an energy drink and payment brands that want to get involved in this event, which she expects will attract over 20,000 attendees.

“Anyone involved in a normal gaming convention could sponsor our event as well,” Tsouraki said. “We’ve built a really fun community around this and we have good advisors, so we can take a brand to this audience in a unique way.”

In addition to working directly with the VR platforms, in-VR is also partnering with many VR arcades across the globe to open the event to more people.

“We’ll have really well-priced tickets for them to go and attend it in that way,” Tsouraki said. “This wasn’t part of our initial plans, but we started getting inbounds from these indie VR arcades so we’re going to launch a campaign soon for them.”

While the current VR landscape is dominated by lower-powered mobile devices from Google and Samsung and even Sony, Oculus and HTC are slowly finding an audience, Papagrigoriou sees a mainstream VR future.

“Although VR is not widely adopted yet, we know it’s going to get adopted,” Papagrigoriou said. “It’s a bet we’d like to take. There are die-hard fans out there that will participate today. And we’ll grow in accordance with VR adoption. We’ll move into other industries that will embrace VR as well.”

AEG And Uber Aim To Change The Event-Going Experience

When fans walk inside the walls of the Staples Center this fall to watch a Los Angeles Kings hockey game, prized properties that are both owned by AEG, they’ll be watching an on-ice product led by a new regime.

And if some are so inclined, they’ll arrive to the arena courtesy of a new partnership with Uber that will further enhance the fan experience for events, and help provide a more seamless process in both arriving and departing the arena.

AEG announced a multi-year deal with the ridesharing company that aims on helping expand transportation options for fans and give benefits to eventgoers who are visiting the 27 different AEG venues around the world that are part of the deal.

“Across all of our assets, whether it’s a sporting event, concert or festival, we are always looking for ways to amplify the fan experience. We partnered with Uber because of their size, scope, advanced technology and similar commitment to a first-class fan experience,” Nick Baker, senior vice president of global partnerships for AEG, told AListDaily. “AEG is a global company spread across five continents. When looking for a transportation partner, it made sense for us to partner with a company that has a similar global presence. Our partnership officially kicked off in December, but we continue to roll out Uber Zones across our venues and assets worldwide . . . Each of the markets included in the partnership is key to AEG and Uber.”

The union makes perfect sense for both parties and fans considering having convenient transportation options are a primary part of an event experience. The deal also includes digital and traditional in-venue signage for Uber as well as premium marketing and social promotion and integration into select AEG Presents festival apps.

Baker said they will be marketing to consumers through customized perks and exclusive offerings across multiple social platforms. But there will be different strategies for both domestic and overseas.

“We want to make sure our offerings are fitted to reach each,” Baker said. “First, we want to inform consumers of the pick-up and drop-off locations and how convenient those will be. For example, fans will be directed to the Uber pick-up zone that is closest and most convenient to their section—not just a location they have to find when they exit the building. For folks that are taking advantage of this partnership, you can expect to see surprise and delights both as you’re arriving and departing the venues as well as special offers and promotions that will be connected to and based off of particular assets involved in the partnership.”

Although the deal incorporates marquee venues and assets around the globe—like The O2 in London—considering the Kings are one of AEG’s most acclaimed possessions, there will be a Los Angeles-specific leg to the marketing activations in the city, including special offers and merchandise for fans during away games, a driver incentive program for Kings fans who sign up to be Uber drivers and a “King of the Month” promotion, which will honor specific Uber drivers on-ice and reward them with tickets and VIP experiences.

Luc Robitaille, the franchise’s legendary left-winger, is the star of the video that was produced to promote the campaign. Robitaille, who on Monday was named president of the team and will now oversee all hockey and business operations, surprised fans by riding in an UberPOOL and playing a little trivia to boot.


The Kings had a complete front office makeover on Monday by firing the two-time Stanley Cup winning duo of coach Daryl Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi.

Another organization dealing with a diet of negative headlines in recent months is Uber, who now becomes the official rideshare and transportation partner of AEG while ramping up its experiential marketing efforts.

“I think through collaboration with powerful brands such as Uber, continued communication directly with our fans, and through feedback, we will keep looking down any avenue that enhances the game day or live event experience,” Baker said.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan

The Current State Of TV Viewership

With Upfronts season underway and digital streaming becoming more popular, is television going out of style? Quite the contrary, it turns out, according to recent data regarding viewership and ad revenue. Let’s explore how much we love our “boob tube,” shall we?

High Five For Watching Live

A majority of TV is viewed in a combination of live and time-shifted (DVR), according to Nielsen’s Q3 2016 Total Audience Report. Among the US population, viewers over the age of 65 watch the most TV with an average of roughly 48.5 hours per week, followed by those ages 50-to-64 watching nearly 40 hours per week. People between the ages of 12-to-17 and 18-to-24 watch the least amount of TV, at approximately 14 and 15 hours, respectively.

Between 2011 and 2016, Q3 traditional TV viewing by 18-to-24-year-olds dropped by more than 9.5 hours per week, or by roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes per day, according to Nielsen.

Those ages 18-to-24 spend nearly 19.5 hours on apps or the internet through a smartphone each week, instead of TV. A recent study by Deep Focus found that 84 percent of Gen Z respondents browse an internet-connected device while watching TV.

Bad News Means More News

Between warfare, political turmoil and worldwide tragedies, audiences tuned in for news more than ever in 2016. Adults over 18 spent over 72.5 billion minutes consuming news in the average week in 2016, Nielsen reported. This is an 18 percent increase from the prior year, with most of the increase coming from national cable news networks.

Ad Spend: Broadcast Versus Subscription

According to PwC, TV ad revenues in the US will grow from $73 billion in 2016 to $81.7 billion in 2020. Globally, worldwide TV ad revenue is expected to rise at a CAGR of 4.7 percent, reaching $210 billion in 2020.

“Terrestrial (or broadcast television) will see the slowest growth—at a 3.8 percent CAGR—through 2020, seeing its share of overall TV advertising revenues slide to 68.4 percent in 2020, down from 75.7 percent in 2011,” predicted PwC. “This decline reflects rising subscription TV penetration and the increasing number of premium entertainment shows and live sporting events available solely via pay-TV channels.

“At a 15.1 CAGR, online TV advertising will more than double to $10.19 billion in 2020,” said PwC. “However, with the prominence of ad-free subscription video-on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon, online TV advertising will still account for only 4.8 percent of global TV advertising revenue in 2020.”