T-Mobile was front and center at the MLB All-Star Game for the second consecutive year earlier this month in Miami, trying to hit a marketing campaign out of the park with a series of magenta-inspired events.
The world’s third-largest wireless carrier, which reported 1.3 million customer additions and record service revenues during its Q2 earnings call last week, was in South Beach giving fans unique ways to #ScoreUnlimited baseball with chances to win Home Run Derby tickets via in-market activations with Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton. Additionally, there were player-and-logo inspired haircuts, bracket challenges for a chance to win World Series tickets and on-field Magenta Lounges with behind-the-scenes access during the week. The multifaceted campaign culminated with their title sponsorship of the derby.
“When evaluating any partnership, we look at a lot of things, and a big one is fan engagement,” Andrew Sherrard, executive vice president and the chief marketing officer of T-Mobile, told AListDaily. “Anyone can share content, but is it fun and authentic—and are they engaging fans? MLB shares similar qualities when it comes to providing fans and customers with more access to the things they love, so we have a lot of fun with this partnership.”
The All-Star Game marketing, which had portions livestreamed on a screen above the company’s Times Square store, is complemented with T-Mobile commercials starring Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper and Nelson Cruz. Sherrard says the strategy this year is all about creating fun content that resonates with baseball fans of all ages.
“Baseball’s fan base is as uniquely expansive as its talent, and we love working with MLB and the players to reach that audience,” Sherrard said. “The sport has had a big year, and while a lot of young stars are shining, we saw some great veteran performances during All-Star Week as well.”
This year’s derby certainly got a jolt with a scintillating performance by ball-smashing New York Yankees rookie outfielder Aaron Judge, who’s quickly become one of the game’s most marketable stars. The derby was the most-watched since the 2008 edition, and fans who tuned in saw one particular color dominate the landscape at Marlins Park.
“For those who don’t know T-Mobile, they know our magenta hue, and associate it with the brand—even if they call it pink,” Sherrard says. “It’s an incredibly unique color for a brand, and something we embrace 100 percent. With everything we do, there is a lot of magenta, so extending this is huge from a brand recognition standpoint.”
T-Mobile’s magenta has hit nine different baseball teams by way of procured partnerships—Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins—and 11 big leaguers—Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Nelson Cruz, Evan Longoria, Justin Turner, Miguel Sanó, Dexter Fowler, Brandon Philips, David Peralta, Khris Davis and Mike Napoli.
Sherrard added that T-Mobile’s MLB.tv Premium offer since the start of the season has delivered an estimated value of $45.2 million to customers with over 600,000 hours of streaming this season alone.
“All-Star Week is an experience in itself. You have fans traveling to see their favorite players, local fans and then a massive national broadcast audience, where many are also consuming content digitally and on mobile devices, and engaging on social media throughout the events. It’s about creating a totally different and enjoyable campaign to reach baseball fans wherever they are—spanning across broadcast, digital, social, in the stadium and regionally,” Sherrard said. “As the Un-carrier, we’re all about giving our customers more of what they want. So with everything we do, we look at what’s important to our audience.”
FoxNext’s mission is to take 20th Century Fox and Fox Television intellectual properties to the next level with memorable experiences. Some of its most prominent creations include the Alien Covenant VR experience In Utero, where viewers witness the birth of a neomorph from the creature’s point-of-view. Earlier this year, the group formed FoxNext Games as the company’s first in-house game development division, which acquired Aftershock Studios (the studio that was created after Kabam was acquired by Netmarble) in June.
Headed by Amir Rahimi, vice president and general manager of the Los Angeles studio for FoxNext Games, the studio is currently developing a number of mobile games. Most prominently, it is working alongside Lightstorm Entertainment to create a mobile MMO based on James Cameron’s Avatar universe.
“The current focus for us is to build games that we can legitimately have over 100 million people play,” Rahimi told AListDaily. “That’s the scale, scope and opportunity with Avatar.”
Rahimi was joined by Aaron Loeb, president of studios at FoxNext Games, as the two discussed the how the close relationship with other branches of the media company could redefine how we think about entertainment in the future.
Whether you’re talking about Fox’s film, television or gaming side, “the appetite is there from all of the creators to figure out how to reach fans and audiences in ways that they are being entertained today,” said Loeb. “If fans want an experience that exists on a different screen or collaborates across multiple screens, then everyone here is excited about figuring that out.”
What led FoxNext Games to acquire Aftershock Studios?
Loeb: FoxNext is a next generation storytelling company, formed in January this year as part of Fox. Its mission is to bring the best possible storytelling to different media. It has location-based entertainment, a VR studio, and a games group. That games group, under my co-president Rick Phillips, has been primarily focused on licensed games with partners to make incredible games like The Simpsons: Tapped Out and Family Guy: Quest for Stuff. The company recently wanted to expand into first-party game development—working directly with creators to make the amazing worlds that are part of the Fox family. Aftershock was a company that was formed when Kabam was acquired by Netmarble. It comprised of a bunch of great teams that have been working together for years—industry veterans who have made some the world’s greatest video games for over a decade. Similarly, we have a team in San Francisco that has been working together for a long time, making beloved games. So, these are the kinds of people we’ve brought together—great video game creators that fit in the FoxNext vision.
Is FoxNext focused exclusively on mobile games?
Loeb: FoxNext as a group has a portfolio that is mostly mobile games when you look at the licensing and development, but there are also PC and console games. Aftershock is currently working exclusively on free-to-play mobile games, but never say never about other platforms.
Rahimi: One of the things that I really like about this group is that we’ve been successful on just about every platform—console, PC, web, mobile. We view mobile as a great platform because you can reach tens of hundreds of millions of people with the right type of gameplay, IP and social mechanics. It’s the best place for us to be today, but we have confidence in being able to branch out to lots of different platforms.
What are the benefits of having in-house studios compared to licensing IPs?
Rahimi: There are both creative and business advantages. If you’re a studio and you’re giving up a certain percentage of your revenue for licensing, then that makes it more difficult to do things like user acquisition. Being one team and keeping an entire chunk of money for pouring back into more effective marketing is awesome. From a creator’s perspective, there’s an enormous wealth of creative talent at Fox. So, to be within the same walls and have access to the luminaries that exist here creates amazing opportunities for collaborations. I think the next generation of entertainment is going to come from people who are not just game developers or storytellers, but people who combine the two in fascinating ways.
Loeb: This is what Amir and I and our teams are most passionate about—joining a company of game developers where we are able to partner with people who have mastered the storytelling craft across other media. They’re looking to us in the game space to figure out how we’re going to partner together as we create games that live within the worlds that they’ve created. Amir and his team are working very closely with Lightstorm on Avatar. To partner with them, learn about their world, and work that closely is an incredible gift. It cuts straight through all kinds of communications issues because we’re there together. It’s almost impossible to overstate the advantage of that direct collaboration.
After licensing IP for some very successful games, does FoxNext essentially have a head start in the mobile gaming space, as opposed to having to establish the brand from scratch?
Loeb: I believe that whether people have heard of FoxNext Games or not, they’ve certainly heard the name 20th Century Fox and Fox Television. These are known entities that have brought some of the world’s favorite entertainment for 100 years. So, it definitely has a leg up, especially if we say we’ve partnered directly with the creators their favorite show or movie. We’re partnering directly with the creators to make a game that really lives as part of that world. There are very few companies that can—or are even trying to—give you that.
With that relationship in mind, is FoxNext focused on creating games based on existing IP or are there plans to create all original games?
Rahimi: I think we’ll strike a healthy balance of both. One of the exciting things about joining Fox is working on IPs that make for very compelling video games, but our approach is not to think about it as a license or as something that will give us a leg up in any way. We look at the IPs and choose them based on what we love the most and think will most naturally translate into a compelling mobile game experience.
Loeb: Right now, we’re working on a slate of games, and one of them includes one of the biggest properties in the world. However, I think everyone at FoxNext shares a vision of how worlds and intellectual properties are going to be defined across many different screens and media simultaneously. So, having people who are great storytellers, whose preferred canvas is video games, partnering with people who prefer movie screens to figure out how to make worlds together from the get go—existing on both the movie screen and on the game—that’s where the opportunity lies.
Rahimi: We’re excited about Avatar, not just because it’s the top-grossing film of all time, but because James Cameron has created a world that is so expansive and perfect for the type of game we want to build made it a natural marriage. Moving forward, there will be opportunities to team up with people from Fox and build something from scratch. One of the most thrilling highlights of my career was working on a game called Boom Blox (2008) with Steven Spielberg where we did exactly that. He had an idea that he wanted to express, talked to us about it, and we collaborated for a year-and-a-half to bring it to life.
The next Avatar movie isn’t expected to release until 2020. Will it be difficult to keep a mobile game at the top of mind for that long, or does it make planning cross-marketing opportunities easier?
Rahimi: Honestly, the world is so rich and perfect that I don’t sit and worry about when the movie is going to come out and what sorts of cross-marketing opportunities there are. We should definitely think about that at some level, but we’re just focused on creating the most authentic and incredible experience we can. When we talk to our partners at Lightstorm, we see enormous interest in the things that they’re doing today like the Cirque Du Soleil show and the Avatar Experience at Disney World. It might not seem top of mind on a day-to-day basis, but there is a huge amount of interest out there that’s hungry for new experiences. So, whether the game launches well ahead of or right along with the movie, we know that the audience will be there when we do.
What do you hope will be the defining characteristic of the FoxNext Games brand in the crowded mobile space?
Loeb: There’s one answer that towers over all the others, which is really high quality. We will require the highest standards of ourselves to make sure our players are experiencing the worlds and stories of the games in ways that are unique, exciting and thrilling to surprise and delight. The reason we joined this company is because it has defined itself as creator first, quality first, and one that took a chance on The Simpsons. It’s a company that has made sure that whenever it releases something, it is of an uncompromising quality level. That’s where we start, and that’s the expectation that we place upon ourselves.
Moving forward, what will be the relationship between television, movies and video games?
Loeb: What we’re seeing emerge across the media landscape is that you have franchises—although we prefer to think of them as universes worthy of devotion—where something like Avatar lives as an incredible event of a movie. But when you hear James Cameron and other people from Lightstorm talk, it also lives in many other forms. We’re seeing this in all of the great creative minds now. A movie might also have an expression on television, giving it regular touchpoints through those episodes every week. Then you also have games, which is the part we’re obsessed with. With games, you can engage with the most devoted fans, who can play every single day. It becomes an intimate part of their world. Through their smartphones, they have that universe in their pockets along with other players that they can interact with and talk to every day. They all live in that world together, and ultimately, it all ends up being interconnected. You see characters that might show up first in a game and then on a TV series before possibly being in a movie. You could have storylines that cross all of these [media]. When people love a storytelling universe like Game of Thrones, Star Wars or Avatar, you can’t have too many ways to be a part of that world, and having all these different mediums is very powerful.
This week in game promotions, Pyre takes to Reddit, Nintendo puts users in its key art and Shigeru Miyamoto makes his directorial debut.
From Supergiant Games, the creators of Bastion comes Pyre, a party-based RPG for PlayStation 4 and Steam. The game runs in native 4K with compatible displays on both Steam and PS4 Pro.
Supergiant is a small but scrappy team of just 12 people. Thanks to the success of Bastion and Transistor, the indie studio has a loyal following and pre-orders for Pyre have rocketed up Steam’s Top 10 list.
The team took to Reddit for an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session that allowed fans to interact directly with the game’s creators. A Pyre community was also created on the social network Discord in preparation for the game’s release.
Pyre‘s two-disc soundtrack, composed by Darren Korb will be available for purchase and streaming July 25.
In Miitopia, Nintendo’s lovable Mii avatars star in their own RPG adventure based on the players themselves. To help illustrate how fun it would be to star in their own game, users who log into their Mii accounts through the official Miitopia website can add their avatars to the key art. On the other hand, if any of the pre-made characters on the website seem more fun, players can scan a QR Code to add them to their game.
Of course, marketing for Miitopia is all about the Mii characters. Players can use QR Code patterns to import existing Mii or TomodachiLife characters or in addition to the game’s own Mii Maker application to create their own. In this way, Miitopia becomes the Mad Libs of video games—allowing users to cast anyone from their best friend to worst enemy in the story’s key roles.
The game is also compatible with 25 different amiibo figures that will unlock special content such as costumes and mini games.
In Miitopia, it’s up to players and their friends to stop the Dark Lord, who has stolen everyone’s faces. The entire first chapter is available as a free demo, along with a second demo that allows users to insert their own Mii characters into a game trailer.
Pikmin are tiny, curious plant-like creatures that get into all sorts of trouble and adventures. Armed with their own unique abilities, these little guys don’t mind being thrown at things to help their friend, Captain Olimar on his expedition. Hey! Pikmin was created by Shigeru Miyamoto, who is most famous for creating Mario of the Super Mario Bros.
In his directorial debut, Miyamoto created three Pikmin short movies that can be purchased and viewed in the Nintendo Store. Those who purchase all three for the Nintendo 3DS will be able to view them in 3D, along with animated storyboards created by Miyamoto himself.
“I hope that you will take a peek at a day in the life of Pikmin and see what they’re up to when they have jumped out of the game,” Miyamoto wrote on the official website.
Hey! Pikmin gets its very own Pikmin amiibo that, along with the Olimar amiibo will unlock secret locations within the game. Nintendo is offering 40 Gold Points to those who buy the digital version of Hey! Pikmin on Nintendo.com or Nintendo eShop on a Nintendo 3DS family system.
This week in marketing statistics, online video views are up, US homes get “smart” and Tekken 7 kicks the competition.
Video On The Go
Mobile devices will lift online video viewing by 20 percent this year, Zenith predicts. By 2019, Zenith predicts that 72 percent of all online viewing will occur on mobile devices.
So how long should marketers edit their online videos? At least 15 minutes, according to video marketing automation platform TwentyThree. The company studied over 1.5 million videos to better inform marketing and content creation teams about preconceived video myths and found that while 80 percent of videos are under five minutes, they drive less than a third of overall video engagement. Mid-form and long-form videos, which are at least 15 minutes long, drive over half of all video engagement despite encompassing just eight percent of all video in the study.
TV Isn’t Dead
Online advertising has already overtaken TV advertising in size, according to the Price Waterhouse’s (PwC) annual Entertainment & Media Outlook report. PwC says that the online advertising market outpaced TV in 2016 by roughly $15 billion, and it will be a $116 billion market by the end of 2021.
Marketers aren’t giving up on TV just yet, according to research firm Media Dynamics. This year’s Upfronts set a new record with orders for $19.7 billion worth of prime-time commercial spots on cable and broadcast TV networks, an increase of 5.9 percent over last year.
Fifty-seven percent of surveyed consumers across generational groups say social media influences their shopping decisions, according to a Yes Lifecycle Marketing report titles “A Marketer’s Guide to Reaching the Generations.” Of all the social media platforms, Facebook is a strong influence with 44 percent of consumers across the Gen Z, millennial, Gen X and baby boomer age brackets.
Gen Z is now the single largest audience segment at 26 percent, according to Nielsen’s new Total Audience report. Millennials and Gen-Z now comprise 48 percent of the total media audience.
Influencer marketing may be one reason social media is so . . . well, influential with consumers, but they’re not willing to believe everything they see. According to Izea’s State of the Creator Economy report, 32 percent of consumers can tell if the influencer or source of the sponsored post has actually tried or used the product based on the content itself. In addition, 28 percent of consumers judge an influencer marketing post based on its relevance to the influencer’s brand and previous product endorsements.
Regardless of their reasons for shopping, consumers are doing less of it offline, according to the US Commerce Department. Retail sales unexpectedly dropped for a second month in June, Commerce Department data showed. In addition, purchases dropped 0.2 percent despite a forecast of 0.1 percent gain.
Despite shopping more online, technology can be a strong enabler of emotional connection when leveraged appropriately, according to Forrester Research. Live-person sales and self-service kiosks both elicited a 60 percent positive interaction, Forrester found. The report examines digital experiences ranging from automated self-checkouts to onsite messengers and video chats.
Consumer enthusiasm for technology is driving the US consumer technology industry to an estimated 3.2 percent revenue growth in 2017, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Both emerging technology and mature categories are exceeding expectations, CTA found, earning $321 billion in retail revenues ($251 billion wholesale).
By 2021, 55 percent of all homes in North America are expected to be smart homes, according to a new forecast study by Berg Insight. The company found that in North America, more than 31 million smart home systems were in use last year. Of those systems, 26 million were individual solutions for a single function and five million were whole-home systems.
Gamers should love this one—the global heads up display (HUD) market size is expected to reach $13.5 billion by 2025, according to a new report by Grand View Research. While video game enthusiasts are used to such displays on-screen, adding HUDs to real-life objects (especially vehicles) is on the rise. Demand for HUD systems demand will reach 34.87 million units by the year 2025, Grand View Research predicts.
Video game software and hardware combined could reach $200 billion by 2021, according to Digi-Capital’s new “Games Report and Database Q3 2017.” That’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9 percent for the next five years.
In the meantime, total video game spending in June (including hardware, software and accessories) increased seven percent versus a year ago to $765 million, NPD reported. Accessories like controllers and game cards were the only category to see a decline in spending last month.
Hardware spending grew 27 percent over June 2016, to $231 million in June, with the PlayStation 4 as the best-selling hardware platform. Thanks to the Nintendo Switch, hardware spending has grown 19 percent year to date to $1.4 billion.
Portable products spending for the likes of PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS continue to decline, however. Year-to-date spending on portable hardware has fallen 40 percent.
NPD’s Top-Selling 10 Games For June 2017 (Across All Platforms):
Grand Theft Auto V
Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Mario Kart 8
Horizon Zero Dawn
* does not include digital downloads other than full downloads on Steam
Esports have been growing by leaps and bounds, and the industry is expected to bring in $1.1 billion in revenue by 2019, according to Newzoo. But there is one segment of the gaming population that has been slow to rise with it—women. Although women make up almost half of the video gaming audience, that isn’t reflected in the esports space, where most—if not all—of the top teams are comprised completely of men.
The good news is that companies like Intel are working with ESL to turn that around. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers, which owns Team Dignitas, is connecting its women’s team with brand sponsors, particularly those that wouldn’t fit with a male team. Now ASA Entertainment, the company that manages the Paul Mitchell Neon Supergirl Pro (an event that promotes women in male-dominated areas of sports, media, entertainment and education), is looking to empower female gamers by launching an esports tournament to coincide with the event.
The Supergirl Gamer Pro is a female-dedicated multi-title esports tournament that will take place from July 28-to-30 at the Oceanside Pier in Oceanside, California. This marks the first time esports will be featured at the Supergirl Pro, which is also celebrating its tenth anniversary. The top teams will go head-to-head for a cash and sponsored product prizes in League of Legends and Hearthstone live on stage with the final three rounds of the tournament livestreamed on Twitch. ASA Entertainment is relying heavily on a grassroots campaign, using social media and esports influencers to get the word out about the tournament.
AListDaily spoke with ASA Entertainment CEO Rick Bratman, who said the main goal of the Supergirl Gamer Pro tournament was to show that women are excellent players and deserve the same opportunities that men receive. He added that the tournament would both entertain audiences and inspire them to help change the way the industry treats and perceives women as more enter into professional gaming.
What inspired the inclusion of the Supergirl Gamer Pro esports tournament?
The Supergirl Pro has provided opportunities for women in traditionally male-dominated areas of sports, entertainment, media and education for the past 11 years. Esports is the perfect example of an industry where women are unnecessarily treated like second-class citizens despite a huge percentage of the gender that considers themselves avid gamers. By most accounts, 46 percent of all gamers are women, yet females receive less than one percent of all tournament spots in esports. After seeing this ridiculous disparity and witnessing the tremendous toxicity towards women in gaming, we decided to launch the Supergirl Gamer Pro to provide a platform for female gamers and to help inspire women to take a larger role within esports. Our mission is to encourage the empowerment and participation of more women in competitive gaming and to help facilitate a future where women and men have equal opportunities within esports.
How do esports and the Paul Mitchell Neon Supergirl Pro brand go together?
Esports was a perfect fit given Supergirl Pro’s mission to empower women and to identify genres of culture where women are simply not treated as equals. It’s incredibly important to develop this platform for women to feel safe when competing in esports, and we want to use the power of the Supergirl Pro brand to help foster a strong, positive and healthy environment for women gamers.
Why do you believe there should be a stronger women’s presence in esports?
From an outsider’s perspective, I can’t comprehend why women and men don’t receive equal opportunity already within esports. Women are generally smarter than most guys I know [laughs], and there is certainly no issue with thumb dexterity. Simply put, if women represent 46 percent of all gamers, then women should receive 46 percent of the tournament opportunities and 46 percent of the sponsorship dollars.
What are some of the main sponsors for the Supergirl Gamer Pro tournament and how will they be represented?
Twitch and Blizzard were the first companies to recognize the importance of this initiative and they jumped on board immediately. Twitch has been incredible in its support financially, spiritually and socially. They will be livestreaming 20 hours of tournament play from the event and have helped connect us to a number of influential members of the gaming community. Corsair has also been a great partner and will be supplying the hardware and peripherals for the event. There are a number of additional brands that love the project and will be supporting at smaller levels in 2017, but want to be a much larger part of the event as it grows in 2018 and beyond.
Why were Hearthstone and League of Legends chosen as the featured games?
We wanted both a five-versus-five and a one-versus-one game for the first iteration of the Supergirl Gamer Pro. Given the family-friendly environment of the event’s festival, we also wanted games that were both PG-13 and recognizable. Hearthstone was selected as the one-versus-one game in consultation with Blizzard and LoL was a no-brainer for the team game, given the criteria.
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Video games bring entertainment to all, from grandpa playing video poker on his phone to a teenager on her Xbox. Sixty-seven percent of US households own a device that is used to play video games, according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). While each generation has their own way of doing things, how they play video games is not as different as you might think.
Gen Z Teenagers (Age 13-17)
Generation Z represents 14 percent of mobile gamers, according to a recent report by Tapjoy, and 27 percent of all gamers, according to the (ESA). This digital native generation has never experienced the world without video games—a fact that that teenagers take full advantage of.
Pew Research found that 81 percent of teens age 13-17 either have or have access to a game console such as PlayStation, Xbox or Wii. Of those, 91 percent of teen boys own game consoles and 70 percent of teen girls say they have or have access to a console.
A study by YouGov found that video games were on the top of the “coolness scale” for teenagers, especially boys. So, what games do teens think are “lit?”
According to YouGov, the most popular video games with Gen Z are (in no particular order):
The Legend of Zelda
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Grand Theft Auto
Millennials (Age 18-34)
According to Tapjoy, this segment represents 21 percent of mobile gamers and the largest segment (29 percent) of all gamers, per the ESA.
A Pew Research study found that 67 percent of respondents age 18-29 play video games, but only 22 percent of them say the term “gamer” describes them well. Men in this age group are more than three times as likely as their female counterparts to identify as gamers (33 percent versus nine percent).
Millennials play the most on mobile and tablets, according to a recent study by PayPal and SuperData, followed by PlayStation 4. The study also found that millennials prefer to play games in the action, shooter and strategy categories above all others.
Gen X (Age 35-54)
According to the ESA, the average gamer is 35 years old. This generation remembers when playing video games cost a quarter and home game consoles had wood paneling. Gen X represents 18 percent of all gamers (ESA) and 19 percent of mobile gamers, according to Tapjoy.
After mobile and tablets, consumers age 35 and over prefer to play on a PC, PayPal and SuperData found. This demographic’s favorite genres include action, puzzle and casino.
A study by Pew Research found that while playing video games is especially popular among young adults, a substantial number of older adults play video games as well. More than half (58 percent) of those ages 30-49 play video games, Pew found. Among this age group, men are twice as likely to identify as gamers than their female counterparts (15 percent versus seven percent).
Despite this feat, just four percent of Americans over the age of 50 feel that the term “gamer” describes them well, Pew Research found. Labels aside, 40 percent of those ages 50-64 and 25 percent of those 65 or older play games.
While each generation has its own way of enjoying game sessions, two things remain the same: every age group plays mostly on mobile, and video games are for everyone.
Editor’s note: Robin Boytos is the director of analytics for Ayzenberg Insights. AListDaily is the editorial and publishing arm of the Ayzenberg Group, the parent company of Ayzenberg Insights. For more on Ayzenberg Insights, visit ayzenberg.com/insights.
Top 25 US Twitter Trends For June 2017
Summer is in full swing. With fall shows wrapping their season finales, this month we saw a shift in the US from TV shows to trending tweets during live sporting events.
Draymond and Uncle Drew were referenced during NBA final matches, Mr. Met was a reference to a Yasiel Puig spectacle, UFC 212 trended during an exciting upset of Jose Aldo on UFC fight night and USMNT trended during the US vs. Mexico World Cup qualifying event.
Last month’s emergence of political and socioeconomic undertones trending in the top 10 continued this month—Bill Maher’s racial slur on national television, Eric Trump’s investigation for ties with Russia, political tension in Qatar, a scuffle between CA House representative and the media, and #MakeMeCringeIn3Words quickly went in a political direction with references of Trump. Perhaps we are less distracted with our TV shows or maybe this is an indication of the political restlessness surfacing in America.
The hashtags of most interest to marketers in the US this month were #NationalBestFriendDay, #NationalDonutDay and #WWDC2017.
#NationalBestFriendDay captured the mindshare of the Twitter community with many posting endearing pictures of their best friends. Nintendo was able to jump in on the trend with a witty poll asking fans to choose their best friend from the Nintendo game, Animal Crossing. This Tweet received 34,000 votes and over 3,000 likes, retweets and comments.
#NationalBestFriendDay was also a natural topic for sports teams like the Chicago White Sox, Indianapolis Colts, and Oakland Raiders—who all participated in the trending topic.
#NationalDonutDay happens annually on the first Friday of June. Donut shops such as Dunkin Donuts received the most publicity, but some non-foody brands were able to benefit from the trending topic. Waze cleverly encouraged fans to #WazetoDunkin with their participating post.
Apple made headlines with their trending hashtag #WWDC2017 during their Worldwide Developers Conference where they announced new products and programs. Surprise announcements at branded or general consumer events tend to make headlines for big brands and can even trend nationally on Twitter if the timing is right.
Top 25 Global Twitter Trends For June 2017
This month, Twitter fans were tuned in to live sporting events across the globe. From NBA finals to cricket matches to World Cup qualifying futbol matches—#NBAFinals, #INDvPAK, Arda Turan, #استراليا_السعوديه, Corinthians and #ENGvAUS fell into this category. As World Cup gets into full swing, we’ll likely be seeing more of these trends.
Political events, particularly the boycotting of Qatar and Chilean politics also made headlines—Qatar, #الشعب_الخليجي_يرفض_مقاطعه_قطر, #AquiEstaChile and La Vega fell into this category.
Global Hashtag Spotlight
Global hashtag spotlight this month is #DiaMundialdelMedioAmbiente—World Environment Day in Latin America. Police stations, cycling communities, environmental groups and public natural parks participated in this trend. Although most brands did not engage—many individuals tweeted and shared pictures doing their part for the environment.
Cartoon Network is conducting an unusual experiment with the launch of the OK K.O. television show, which is perfectly in line with a franchise that has been charting its own (sometimes strange) path since its beginning. The animated superhero comedy show, created by Ian Jones-Quartey (Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Secret Mountain Fort Awesome), made its debut as a short pilot called OK K.O.!:Lakewood Plaza Turbo in 2013, which was subsequently made into a web series. In early 2016, Cartoon Network hosted its first major industry game jam, and attendees (comprised of about 200 artists) were invited to “hack” the show and create a video game experience.
The Lakewood Plaza episodes are still available to watch online and through the Cartoon Network app, and it will officially air on the cable channel as a new television show called OK K.O.: Let’s Be Heroes on August 1. Furthermore, the show will be supported by the video game, OK K.O.: Let’s Play Heroes, which is expected to release in the fall for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Although Cartoon Network has a host of mobile games based on its shows, Let’s Play Heroes is one of the first games published by the media company for consoles.
The adventure game lets players take the role of the titular character K.O. as he seeks to become the world’s greatest hero. The futuristic world of 201X looks a lot like our current one, except it’s populated by video game and manga-inspired characters that, in addition to being superheroes, have everyday jobs like running a local bodega. What makes Let’s Play Heroes especially unique is that it is being developed by Capy Games in coordination with a television show that hasn’t aired yet, and therefore technically doesn’t have a fan base.
Dan Vader, lead writer and designer at Capy Games, talked to AListDaily about how the idea for the game came together and how its fans will grow alongside the show. He was joined by Jeff Riggall, director for game production at Cartoon Network.
“The game is being created in parallel with the show,” said Vader, explaining the relationship between the show and the game. “We’ve been looped into the development process with the creators because the show itself has a lot of video game tropes embedded into its DNA. So, they wanted to make a game with the show from very early on and have them both be parts of a piece.
“As we’ve been building the game, we’ve been taking feedback from the show team and putting them into the game. We’ve been reading the scripts for all the episodes [and seeing] all the animatics—pulling cool things from the world as we saw them to put them into the game to provide an experience where if you’re a fan of the show, coming to the game gives you more things that you love.”
How does one create a game for a show that hasn’t aired yet? “That’s one of the interesting challenges, because when you’re building a game off of a show or comic book, there’s a fan base that already exists,” said Vader. “So, you know what those fans like about the show and what characters they like best. You kind of have a blueprint for what kind of game you’re supposed to make, which is cool but not that interesting to us. In this case, the show isn’t out and there isn’t a fan base yet, so we have—in essence—become the first fans of the show. So, the things that we like about the show and the characters we respond to are pulled out and put front and center of the game. We think that what we like about the show are going to be the same things that the audience will.”
Although Capy Games hopes that the show’s audience will like the same things it does, the developer will be keeping a close watch for trends as episodes air in August.
“I think it will be interesting to see what things the audience gravitates towards and who their favorite characters are,” said Vader. “We’ll definitely be paying attention to that and the premiere of the show to see what people are talking about on Twitter so we can juice those things up in the game. We’re not building the game as outsiders—we’re building it as fans—so we pick the things that we think are cool, and I think that will line up with what audiences will think is cool.”
The game will include plenty of Easter Eggs for fans to discover, but didn’t neither Vader nor Riggall were ready to reveal how content would specifically cross ove. However, Riggall confirmed that “there will definitely be some connections between the show and the game to encourage viewers to watch as much as they can then come back and play the game.”
With that said, Cartoon Network is hoping that audiences will crossover between the show and game.
“It’s going to be something where, if you’re a fan of the show and loving it, you’re going to come find the game,” said Riggall. “Same thing for the game. If you love the game, you’re going to find the show. It’s going to be something that pulls the players and viewers back and forth between both of these products, so it’s something exciting for us to bring out to the market.”
Vader also said that in demoing the game, he has run into both fans of the web series and those who haven’t heard of the show before, and that experiencing either the show or game usually leads to interest in the other. The challenge will be in how the two will work to grow together.
“That’s something that we’re still trying to figure out,” said Vader. “We’re coming out a little bit after the show. So, the show will come out, people will discover it and love it the way we do. Then a little after that, the game will come out and give them more of what they love.”
“It’s super early right now, and we do have some ideas, but we don’t quite have it all figured out yet,” Riggall added. “This is going to be an excellent story that will continue to grow what you’re getting from the show. Hopefully, we’ll get to grow that experience on the game side as well, but we’ll have to see.”
Mobile gamers are seeing old friends on new devices as legacy video game brands expand onto mobile. As the largest gaming market today, mobile offers accessibility for games that might normally require expensive or out-of-date hardware. Flexible monetization options for publishers mean they can share franchise favorites with a business model that suits their needs.
Mobile gaming brought in a staggering $41 billion in revenue last year, far outpacing the second largest segment (PC) at $34 billion and the highest earners utilize a “freemium” monetization model (i.e. free with optional purchases). For legacy franchises headed to mobile, choosing a monetization model is about finding the right mix between gameplay and ad interruption.
Sega has begun transporting its massive catalog of classic games to mobile with Sega Forever, beginning with the first Sonic The Hedgehog. While nostalgic gamers may have been willing to pay a premium for their old favorites, Sega chose a business model that utilizes optional purchases.
“The model that we’re using for the monetization is twofold,” Mike Evans, chief marketing officer of Sega‘s mobile division in the West, told AlistDaily. “First of all, all of the games are free. Now, within mobile, there are lots of free things, so they need to believe they’re really free in that sense. There’s a pre-roll in front of the game, which a user can skip [with purchase]. After that, they play the game and it’s uninterrupted except for an ad if they want to save the game.”
For the series’ creator and Level-5 co-founder Akihiro Hino, embracing the mobile platform is a natural step forward.
“With Layton’s Mystery Journey on the smartphone, we’re getting that knowhow—the knowledge of how to move it onto the smartphone platform,” Hino told GameSpot. “We are actually looking into trying to bring past projects onto smartphone, [or] maybe even a new console, like Switch.”
Nintendo’s own exploration of mobile titles has resulted in tremendous financial success with Pokémon GO (a freemium model) and mixed success with Super Mario Run, which costs a flat $5.00 but is considered high-priced by many when comparing it to other mobile games. But one thing is for certain, bringing classic IPs to mobile inspires purchases in other areas.
“When we launched Pokémon GO with Niantic, there was a direct impact on Pokémon hardware and software sales increasing,” Doug Bowser, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Nintendo of America, told AlistDaily. “Mobile games actually bring new players into the franchises. They engaged in that content and wanted more of that experience, so their next purchase was more of the dedicated handheld and software side.”
For Square Enix, adapting classic IPs like Hitman, Lara Croft and Deus Ex for mobile devices was an exercise in both game design for a new platform and customer relations.
“Since we’re working with well-known gaming franchises, we need to make sure and communicate to our hardcore fans as well as the very casual App Store crowd,” Nicolas Bertrand-Verge, marketing content and community manager for Square Enix Montreal told AlistDaily. “Everyone has to find something they like in what we’re doing.”
Thank you for your continued support and readership.
-The AList Team
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