Presents, turkey and Call of Duty—the holidays are a time for family, comfort food and giving thanks, but they also play host to some of the biggest video game releases of the year. Nielsen Game Rank surveyed nearly 6,000 active gamers ages seven to 54 to find out which upcoming titles have them the most excited. Nielsen then used the data to list the top 14 most-anticipated video games of the holiday season, based on titles that ranked 75 percent or above from respondents. For this analysis, the survey included all titles releasing October 1-December 31, 2017.
New installments to beloved franchises are garnering the most excitement.
Activision’s Call of Duty: WWII tops the holiday wish list for games releasing across different platforms with a rate of 99 percent—“extremely high anticipation.” After a romp through the battlefields of World War II, gamers are eagerly awaiting a trip to ancient Egypt, a la Assassin’s Creed: Origins. The franchise took a year off from releasing a main storyline in the action/adventure franchise, which seems to have gotten Ubisoft fans ready for more sneaky, stabby fun with an anticipation rate of 95 percent.
Not far behind for multi-platform releases are Star Wars: Battlefront II and WWE 2K18 with anticipation rates of 90 and 80 percent, respectively.
Nintendo is hoping for another record-breaking holiday release for the 3DS with Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon. According to Nielsen’s findings, players who want to “catch them all” are slightly more excited about the Ultra Moon version, at 99 percent anticipation versus Ultra Sun at 97 percent.
Racing To Buy
Xbox One and PlayStation 4 both have their own racing game exclusives, and both are tied for most-anticipated video games on their respective platforms. At 85 percent each, Forza Motorsport 7 on Xbox One and Gran Turismo Sport on PS4 currently have the same levels of overall anticipation from their respective fans.
Gamers raced out to snag up their copies of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild earlier this year, so Nintendo will count on Super Mario Odyssey to keep the Switch momentum going into the holiday season. With an anticipation rate of 96 percent, the game seems ready to toss its hat into the ring—or onto a T-Rex, as the case may be.
Updated versions of old favorites are using nostalgia to influence how gamers feel about new releases, especially on PC. This is especially the case for Microsoft’s Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, the classic strategy game with a 92 percent anticipation rate.
Titles getting the VR treatment are also turning PC gamer heads, such as Bethesda’s Fallout 4 VR (79 percent anticipation) and Rock Star’s L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files at 75 percent.
Nintendo 3DS is getting a healthy dose of nostalgia as well, with a compilation of fan-favorite mini-games from Mario Party. Mario Party: The Top 100 is anticipated at 93 percent by fans, and a remake of Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, which allows players to experience the game from the perspective of enemy characters is anticipated at 96 percent.
Space age technology isn’t just for gadgets and games—it’s changing the way consumers perform everyday tasks like grocery shopping.
Retailers, credit card processors and manufacturers are answering consumers’ call for work-life balance by using technology to raise the bar for convenience.
In many cases, consumers don’t need to leave the house at all. Thanks to e-commerce, anyone with a computer or mobile phone can order groceries 24/7. A 2015 study by Nielsen found that a quarter of online respondents ordered grocery products online, and 55 percent were willing to do their grocery shopping online in the future.
Remembering when to order can be easy, too, with the help of IoT. Some connected refrigerators allow consumers to share grocery lists, set reminders for expired foods and even order directly from the built-in interface.
Ordering through Amazon Echo eliminates the interface altogether. The retail giant, in particular, is investing in convenience by allowing consumers to order products at the touch of a button or the sound of their voice. Amazon Dash Wands and buttons can be placed anywhere in the home and pressed to automatically re-order anything from toilet paper to milk.
Since acquiring Whole Foods in August, Amazon has been cutting prices and offering same-day delivery in some areas. In a letter to investors Wednesday, financial services firm Credit Suisse raised its price target for Amazon to the second highest on Wall Street.
“The product development perspective is that while most of the headlines around the Whole Foods acquisition have been about price cuts, we believe the real path for Amazon to create lasting shareholder value is through fulfillment and delivery via Prime Now,” wrote Credit Suisse analyst Stephen Ju. “Hence, while price cuts capture the headlines, we submit that Amazon will wage war with its competitors with service instead.”
Grocery Shopping To Go
For those who do venture outdoors, retailers are working to make the process as convenient as possible.
Amazon Go is an experimental store in Seattle that allows customers to walk in and out without ever having to stand in a check-out line. Using the Amazon Go app, the store recognizes when a customer has arrived and tracks the items they take. When the customer finishes their grocery shopping and leaves, those items are then charged to their accounts.
Cashless payments offer another way to speed up the check-out process, turning a user’s smartphone into a wallet. PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that by 2019, there will be over a billion global mobile proximity payment users and that 85 percent of transactions will be near field communication (NFC)-based.
Before the consumer makes it to the check-out line—or bypasses it altogether—retailers want to encourage discovery and impulse buys.
Beacons are wireless devices that track and respond to apps or items within their vicinity, such as a person’s smartphone. Many retailers such as Walmart, Target and Home Depot use beacons to recognize when a customer enters the store and push special offers on their smartphone.
Retailers have clear incentives to adopt new technologies. After all—if it’s easier to shop, it’s easier to spend.
Streamlabs recently held its inaugural Expanding the Stream conference in San Francisco to focus on the emerging business opportunities in the livestreaming ecosystem. Founded in 2011, Streamlabs connects streamers with gamers through a suite of tools available on mobile and desktop that enables monetization and the company’s technology operates across all streaming services.
Ali Moiz, CEO of Streamlabs, told AListDaily that the streaming industry today reaches over 600 million monthly active users, which is up 230 percent from 2016. A deeper dive into that bucket finds that 86 percent of this traffic comes from streamers, not esports.
While streaming numbers are increasing (over 2 million people stream on a monthly basis globally outside of China), Moiz pointed out that the industry is already very healthy with over $3 billion in revenue expected this year.
“I think that’s going to double in the next two to three years, so we’re going to be looking at $6 or $7 billion as we see a lot of growth outside of gaming,” Moiz said. “People are going to discover that livestreaming is a really great way to grow an audience and build a fan following, particularly on YouTube, Twitter, Periscope, Facebook and Instagram.”
Streamlabs has found that its long-time viewers who signed up over 24 months ago spent an average of $81.10 in Q1 2017, which is more than the $22.92 average spend of new users who signed up within the first three months. That’s a per user increase of 4X, which he said points to an audience that will spend more money over time.
Streamlabs has paid out $200 million to content creators to date, and this year the company will pay out $105 million. Most of this revenue comes from microtransactions in the form of tips, but there are opportunities for brands within this streaming ecosystem.
Esports is a good example of how brands can be integrated into this global video audience.
“We have a lot of esports players that stream using Streamlabs during training on their personal Twitch or YouTube channel when they’re not playing in a tournament,” Moiz said. “We don’t have a product for teams or tournaments right now, but a lot of individual players from Cloud9, Immortals and Team SoloMid use Streamlabs.”
Moiz said esports is on the company’s list of priorities, but it’s a bit further down the line.
“I absolutely think that the hundreds of independent grassroots esports tournaments around games like Dota 2 and CS:GO need new sources of revenue and monetization, and right now the only sources have been sponsorships,” Moiz explained. “Our microtransaction model that works really well for streamers can be applied to tournaments and esports and create a whole new revenue stream for them.”
In the near-term, the company’s new software launch—which is free and works on top of the popular open broadcasters software streaming client—opens up new opportunities for brands and sponsors. The original platform wasn’t designed for consumers, so there was a lot of work required just to stream. Now that the process has been simplified, Moiz expects more desktop streamers to enter the space.
“By adding interactive features through virtual items that show up on screen like Snapchat-style face filters that are triggered by viewers, there should be even more engagement with the audience,” Moiz explained. “Streamers will be able to add things like stickers or even more data rich overlays like you see on ESPN, but offer an interactive element for the viewers.”
Moiz sees two things evolving, which will help the livestreaming business grow. On the one hand, esports is evolving into the traditional sports model with Activision-Blizzard’s city-based Overwatch League and Riot Games’ League of Legends, while traditional sports are solidifying esports endeavors like the NBA 2K ELeague and the NFL’s Madden Club Series.
“Similarly, livestreamers are also going to become a major category that displaces television. Things that will be more interactive are pre and post show coverage, which is already happening with popular shows,” Moiz said. “You can attract more people because this format is more interactive and more fun to watch. You can ask a question easily and see your name on the stream. Streamers are to the future of television as esports leagues are the future of professional sports.”
Moiz admits that television shows aren’t going to disappear, but rather the millennial and Gen Z audiences are allocating more time to online content. Livestreaming is becoming a larger part of that entertainment/free time bucket, and both esports and smart Hollywood companies and brands are already taking advantage of this shift, which will continue to evolve the ecosystem moving forward.
Oculus Connect 4 (OC4) unveiled new hardware, software and development features—all with the message that if VR is to be accepted by the masses, it has to be a social experience.
Building A VR Community
Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Venues—an app that allows users to hang out at concerts and other events. Venues will be a direct competitor to the Microsoft-owned AltSpaceVR, and what it lacks in an established community, it could make up for with Facebook connectivity and livestreaming. For example, two friends can host a Facebook Live session from a red carpet movie premiere.
Oculus is taking a cue from the gaming community with friend notifications that tell users when someone is using VR, allowing them to tune in. Users can also stream their VR gameplay over Facebook Live and see real-time comments as they play inside the headset.
Zuckerberg also wants to change public perception about what VR can be used for, calling 2018 “The year of infinite possibilities.”
“It’s not about escaping reality.” Zuckerberg said. “It’s about making it better,”
Pre-recorded videos illustrated how workflows are managed, how friends can hang out and how connecting Oculus Medium with Facebook Spaces can bring user creations into social media feeds and VR sessions.
Using the apps Oculus Medium and Quill, users can not only create art but step inside it through VR.
Social tie-ins are pretty neat, but they may not solve the adoption problem plaguing virtual reality. It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario: social may attract more users, but without an established community, interest may soon fade.
“As long as players can choose how social they want to be, social tie-ins certainly can’t hurt,” Stephanie Llamas, vice president of research and strategy at SuperData told AListDaily. “But right now it can be difficult for players to use them, since the install base is still lacking. I wouldn’t say VR needs it now, but as the user base grows, it would benefit in the same ways other platforms like mobile gaming have.”
Putting Oculus To Work
Oculus launched a new bundle called Oculus for Business that introduces the technology to consumers in a setting outside of their living rooms. The bundle includes a Rift headset, Oculus Touch controllers, three sensors and three facial interfaces (removable inserts so employees share ideas instead of germs).
“Businesses of all types can use Rift to boost productivity, accelerate trainings and present the otherwise impossible to their employees and customers across industries like tourism, education, medical, construction, manufacturing, automotive and retail.” Oculus wrote on its official blog.
Customers can build their own Audi vehicles at the dealership, share files at work through Cisco Spark VR or receive employee training.
Finding The “Sweet Spot”
A major hurdle for many first-time VR users is the price point. While low-cost headsets are available, mobile VR lacks the processing power and interactivity of VR powered by a desktop computer. According to SuperData, the cheapest option—Google Cardboard—is predicted to ship the most units compared to all other VR devices this year, at over 59 million.
To find the “sweet spot” between price and power, Zuckerberg announced the Oculus Go—a $199 self-contained headset that does not require a mobile phone or PC to operate. The device is wireless and has built in speakers, with the idea that Oculus Go can be easily set-up or shared with others.
The lower price point and ease of use may encourage first-time or casual users to finally try VR.
SuperData predicts that VR revenue will exceed $2.2 billion in 2017 and $28.5 billion by 2020.
Turtle Rock Studios made a name for itself with cooperative first-person shooter (FPS) games such as the Left 4 Dead series, where four players survive against zombie hordes, and 2015’s Evolve, where players hunt giant player-controlled monsters on alien worlds. But recently, the studio has been working with Oculus to establish itself in the VR space, starting with Face Your Fears, which features a series of VR frights. On Wednesday, the studio took a step further with the launch of The Well for the Samsung Gear VR, which coincides with Oculus Connect 4.
The Well is a classic role-playing game (RPG) with a unique art style that makes players feel like they’re stepping into a pop-up storybook, which is a big departure from the studio’s previous games. Players can choose between four hero classes, so players may want to go through the four-to-six-hour experience multiple times.
“Coming from Left 4 Dead and Evolved, we were known for realistic first-person shooter art styles,” said Chloe Skew, producer at Turtle Rock Studios, speaking with AListDaily. “With The Well, we have a dark and twisted fantasy storybook look to it. We have turn-based combat, a lot of exploration and different hybrid creatures to encounter and fight.”
Skew was joined by Steve Goldstein, president and general manager at Turtle Rock Studios, and the studio’s co-founder Chris Ashton, who talked about how the company has taken a strong interest in the Gear VR platform. With The Well, players can use either a Gear VR hand controller or a gamepad to interact with the world, and the game automatically saves once the headset is taken off for a smooth return to it later on.
“We targeted that platform for a number of different reasons, but one of the biggest is that it’s the largest player base on VR right now,” Ashton explained. “We’ve had pretty good success with our previous title, Face Your Fears, which is one of the most popular titles on Gear VR. But that’s a horror experience—you’re not actually playing a game—you’re looking around and triggering three-minute scary experiences. Our intent as a studio was to get into VR and take it step-by-step, continuing to do bigger things rather than jumping all in and doing a huge AAA VR title.”
Skew added that one of the benefits of working with VR is that there is a lot of experimentation going on in the space, which frees the studio to branch out to new genres such as RPGs.
With The Well, Turtle Rock purposefully aimed for a shorter experience, combining the best aspects of the VR and mobile platforms. The studio wanted players to have full and satisfying experiences through one- or two-hour gameplay sessions.
“I think that with the Samsung Gear player base, there are a lot of people exploring VR, which is something that sets it apart from PlayStation VR or the HTC Vive, which both have pretty high costs,” said Skew. “We wanted to make something that was approachable, even by people who don’t identify as gamers, and give them that accessible experience that might get them interested in games.”
Turtle Rock made its reputation through cooperative games, but The Well does not have multiplayer capabilities. Instead, players can choose from eight different companions to join them on adventures, but they can only bring two at a time.
“With VR, we’re exploring different avenues,” said Ashton. “We also have the challenge of trying to do multiplayer on the Gear VR platform. We wanted to tell a story and build an interesting world that’s designed for you to jump in without having to wait on others to join. Although we love multiplayer, especially co-op, that wasn’t part of the design goal for The Well.”
Goldstein reiterated how VR gave the studio a chance to expand beyond cooperative first-person shooters. He said, “With The Well, we have an opportunity to create an amazing RPG, and our upcoming games will also be in different genres.”
Skew said that multiplayer might be a consideration when the studio is developing VR games in the future. Turtle Rock will remain focused on developing for the Gear VR, but the success of Face Your Fear led the studio to port the game to the Oculus Rift. So, the same might happen for The Well if players take to it.
Face Your Fears debuted last year at Oculus Connect 3, the same way The Well is being shown at Oculus Connect 4. Goldstein said that Oculus has been a valuable partner when promoting Face Your Fears on social media and giving it featured placement on the Oculus Store. He then compared the promotion of VR games to traditional console and PC titles.
“VR, especially Gear, is a new platform that is—in many ways—untested when it comes to marketing,” he said. “All of it is an experiment, and you can’t use the same playbook that you do with a AAA title. With AAA, you’re talking about tens of millions of dollars being spent over the course of at least a year to build brand awareness. Whereas, one of the most successful things that happened with Face Your Fears was that it grew organically due to people posting videos of them reacting to the experience on YouTube. When it came to The Well, we decided to announce it, get a trailer up and get people excited about it, then release the game a week later to see what happens.”
Goldstein also said discovery for VR games has a lot to do with store placement, likening the market to mobile app stores.
“But I also think that the nature of VR—although a lot of people think it’s isolating—is a very communal experience, especially with Gear,” said Goldstein. “You can play an experience around other people, and those people get to see your reactions. Reactions in VR are a lot more visceral than when you’re playing a [traditional] game. There’s expression and excitement going on with gasps and occasionally screams. So, people around them see that it’s very exciting and will want to try that out. We found that word-of-mouth on VR is even more powerful than what we’ve seen with traditional games.”
“The portability of Gear is very advantageous,” Ashton added. “While we love the AAA experiences of the Rift and Vive, it’s not something that I can easily take to show my sister. Gear makes it easy to share stuff with other people.”
Turtle Rock continues to support Face Your Fears by regularly adding new content. Every time new content comes out, that user base gets excited for the game again.
“Because it’s so early, it’s going to be challenging to keep people going long-term,” Goldstein explained. “But the best way to do that is to let them know that new experiences are available and encourage them to spread the word by talking and posting about them, showing how they engage. That type of content is fun for other people to watch.”
That being said, there is no plan to create ongoing content for The Well.
“Face Your Fears is comprised of bite-sized, lightly interactive experiences,” said Skew. “The Well was created as a four-to-six-hour game with some replayability. So, they’re very different approaches. We didn’t build The Well with a plan of ongoing content.”
Goldstein said, “The Well is much more akin to a traditional RPG. It’s a robust and exciting universe that can be revisited. Like other RPGs, if it performs well, then there might be a possibility for a sequel.”
The studio has been engaging with its fan base through social media and on forums dedicated to VR. Goldstein said that much of its community is aware that the studio is entering the VR space and they’re excited about how it’s taking on a new platform and genre.
“The exciting thing about VR and the opportunities we’re being given is that we’re not necessarily placed into one particular genre,” said Goldstein. “When it comes to the reputation we built from Left 4 Dead and Evolve, if we were to make a AAA game, publishers would expect it to be an FPS—most likely a co-op multiplayer FPS. With VR, we want to establish ourselves as a creator of premier quality entertainment for the VR space, whether it’s an RPG, single-player or multiplayer, we want to establish ourselves as a great purveyor of VR content.”
Although Goldstein didn’t refer to the Oculus Go, which was announced on Wednesday at Oculus Connect 4, he spoke about how new VR hardware would have to become more accessible.
“More accessible is going to mean untethered and portable,” said Goldstein. “So, I think that you’re going to see a mass market adoption of VR hardware when users are able to throw it on, turn it on and just have it work in the same way as a console. Actually, I argue that we can do better than consoles. Working to be as accessible as it is to own and operate a cell phone is the direction VR needs to go, and I think it will get to that point in the near future.”
The emphasis on accessibility is why Turtle Rock is focusing on Gear VR development.
“We want to be where the mass market is going to be in the VR space,” said Goldstein.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and brands are giving back to the community through education, discussion and the sale of promotional items that benefit charity.
There is no shortage of pink-colored goods to buy and fundraisers to support. Here are just a few ways brands are taking a stand against the disease that affects about one-in-eight women in the US.
Estée Lauder: The Campaign
Twenty-five years ago, entrepreneur and cosmetics mogul Estée Lauder co-created the iconic pink ribbon, along with her company’s breast cancer campaign and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).
This year, the company has revealed a new design and message for Breast Cancer Awareness Month—a worn, tattered pink ribbon. The image is meant to represent “25 years of hard work, dedication and impact trying to cure this disease.”
Donning a ribbon isn’t enough for the brand, which has removed the word “awareness” from its annual campaign language. In a statement, the company said that breast cancer now has the global spotlight it deserves, so the campaign will now focus on ending the disease once and for all.
“I am continuously humbled and energized by the passion and care exhibited by our employees and the tireless dedication of our partners—whose work is getting us closer to a global cure each and every day,” William P. Lauder, son of Estée and executive chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., said in a statement. “As a company, our commitment has not and will not waver.”
Gap: The Power Of She
Gap has teamed up with the women of Recovery on Water—ROW for short—to design and promote the limited-edition sports bra “The Power of She.”
ROW is a Chicago-based rowing team that provides support and comradery to breast cancer survivors. The group gave input into the design of the “Empower Bra,” created for women recovering from mastectomies. Members of ROW are prominently featured in a national ad campaign for the athletic wear, and proceeds from sales of the pink “Power of She” bra will benefit ROW.
“Stories like the women of ROW inspired us to co-create the Empower Bra with breast cancer survivors,” Athleta’s website reads. “Each sister is a survivor and so much more, using the sport of rowing to be her strongest self, both physically and emotionally.”
WWE: Unleash Your Warrior
Returning for its fifth year, WWE’s “Unleash Your Warrior” campaign is a partnership between the popular entertainment company and cancer research and support charity Susan G. Komen. In addition to co-branded ring skirts, digital signage and turning the middle ring rope pink, WWE Superstars sport “Unleash Your Warrior” apparel during the global campaign. To date, the partnership has raised over $2 million for breast cancer research, according to the charity.
“This support is essential to improve the treatment and quality of life for the true warriors with this devastating disease, and we remain committed to standing side by side with Komen in the fight to end breast cancer,” Stephanie McMahon, WWE’s chief brand officer, said in a statement.
During WWE’s flagship TV programs Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live, breast cancer survivors are brought into the ring to be honored as heroes. All proceeds of the “Unleash Your Warrior” co-branded apparel benefits Komen.
When you listen to some of will.i.am’s electro-pop hits from the past 15 years, his body of futuristic work as the founding frontman for The Black Eyed Peas sounds to be well before its time.
As it turns out, the musician and beatsmith was always about the future, even as an artist.
Since last putting out a solo album in 2013 and one with BEP in 2010, will.i.am has refocused his energy, vision and career as the founder and CEO of i.am+, a consumer brand that combines fashion and technology to create wearable products.
“I try to dream up new ways to interact with things,” will.i.am told the audience at the Fashion Tech Forum in Los Angeles.
Whether it’s wearing the hat of a tech entrepreneur and investing in start-ups like Mira and Emoticast, acquiring smart home platform Wink and machine learning company Sensiya, debuting the device-agnostic virtual assistant AneedA, launching smartwatches or simply making gaudy $315 phone cases, will.i.am’s sole focus is innovating the future.
“We live in unusual and unlikely times, and more importantly, a point in time where the fabric of culture is moldable,” will.i.am said. “We live in this Play-Doh state—the way we live today is not the way it’s going to be in 2030. It could be that way if we don’t invent, innovate and dream up new things.”
will.i.am, born William James Adams, went on to talk about a variety of topics around fashion and technology, and how brand executives need to innovate their businesses—or face extinction.
Below are the highlights, as told by will.i.am himself.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Oh my gosh, what are we going to do?’ But what are they talking about? In 2006, everyone was talking about dial-up phones and old internet and no one saw iOS coming—no one saw that. They couldn’t see how their world was going to be disrupted. Not even hotels could see Airbnb—they changed lodging. Uber changed travel. Apple Music and Spotify changed how we all share music. Start thinking. The storm is a-comin’—just don’t make an umbrella.”
On what executives from the fashion industry can learn from the mobile phone revolution:
“The future of fashion is going to be a tech company unless fashion gets up to speed right now. To design stuff that people are asking for, you’re just going to be making the same stuff over and over again—and then you make a jump and you leap. A good example is with phones in 2006. You had PDAs, and that wasn’t the future. You had the phone in your house, and that didn’t really change except for it went from rotary to a dial. Then the iPhone came and changed it all. Apple was not even phone makers, but they took the breakfast, lunch and dinner and the house of all the phone makers because they created a platform that changed everyone’s concept of what a phone is. You could never see a phone the same after the iPhone. The same should happen to fashion, or else you will be Nokia and Motorola. The unlikely candidate that never makes apparel—a jacket, a bag, a hat, glasses—that will be the new norm. That is the urgency. If you don’t see that coming, then you’re an opossum. When the bright lights come, opossums just stand and get hit.”
On how the fashion industry needs to understand and cater to today’s consumer:
“I love fashion. But as an industry, it’s kind of blind to what’s actually happening in the world right now. The world of fashion does not realize how their jobs are not going to be around 10-to-20 years from now. It’s not going to be you guys because of how slow you’re moving to innovate. Car manufacturers are, because they realize that millennials don’t care about having a vehicle the way I did when I was 18. When I was 18, I dreamt, ‘Oh I can’t wait to get a car.’ It’s different now. They want an Uber account—they don’t want to have a car. It happened to the music industry. People wanted to have an awesome collection. People don’t have 2000-piece record collections anymore, they just have Spotify and Apple Music. They don’t have to have physical products. Fashion will have the same fate as the music industry and the car industry if they don’t realize the urgency to innovate.”
On the potential effect Google and Apple can have on the fashion industry:
“We wear fashion not because it’s the most comfortable. That’s going to change tomorrow—and it’s going to serve other purposes than just looking good. What company is it going to be? What industry? The tech industry? Or the fashion industry? . . . Start thinking about what the product does. Let’s start with bags. Make a bag do more than just carry shit. When it comes to extreme weather, fashion does nothing for you when it’s really, really hot. There’s not one garment you can give me, or shoes, when it’s hot as fuck. There’s nothing you can do. A girl can’t wear an even smaller G-string, or put on a smaller bra when it’s hot. I don’t care what kind of Speedos you got my homie—when it’s hot, it’s fucking hot. You provide nothing when it’s really, really hot. Nothing at all. Why? Because it’s 19-freaking-10? Because it’s 1710? Because all you do is sew this lapel to that lapel. You better start thinking of how to bring new things to people, or the ‘G’ is not gonna be for Gucci, that’s just gonna be Google. Real shit. You mean to tell me if I had the same jacket that Balenciaga made, or Apple made—what jacket am I going to have? I’m going with that Apple jacket because it’s going to do more than the Balenciaga jacket does. You know it’s true. You know when that day comes, when the giants come and give you a product—look what they did to the watch. You don’t think the jacket is coming next? The bag is not coming next? Get the fuck out of here if you think that they ain’t coming for you. [The Apple jacket is] still going to be beautiful, though. It’s still going to look awesome. It’s just not going to be made by the same crew that’s doing it now. How hard is it for Google to hire awesome shoe designers that are 15 years old today and doing awesome stuff that’s using their tech? This urgency, this weather report from me to y’all is ‘let’s get busy.’ That’s it. Let’s start innovating. It’s a different world and we need to start thinking about different people to collaborate with.”
On building successful teams:
“The biggest surprise is when you see a future, a plausible, awesome future . . . We see this version of reality that in our head is already there. The friction is stopping and starting to execute that reality slower than you actually see it. Because it’s so awesome; it creates angst, because you want it already . . . The secret sauce is to try and expand. If you have two people doing design, don’t add a third, fourth and fifth. Go over to a different discipline and bring someone in that’s a computer scientist. Get someone that understands data. You need data crunchers and data scientists. Create a different type of world, an assembly of minds. You have to be flexible in the future no matter what type of business you are in—and it starts with the people you have in your crew—your assembly.”
On accepting failure, and embracing the future:
“When I was 18, I met someone who said, ‘you should pray to your future self, and pray to your past self.’ I am here today because at one point of time in my life I prayed that I can learn from my failures. I’m in contact with my future self as much as I am in contact with my past self. Too many people are afraid to fail. You cannot be afraid to fail. Failure is school. The only way to learn is to taste the ground. The only way to learn is to fail, and you cannot be afraid of that. I saw myself a certain way coming out of the projects—on welfare. I designed myself to have success in music. Now, I’m in the tech world where we raise lots of money. And now, at 42 years old, I’m designing myself to be just as dynamic in culture but in a different way than when I’m 62. So yeah, I’m from the future because I talk to that motherfucker every day.”
Long before there were smartphones and apps to entertain kids, there was the Tamagotchi, a digital LCD pet housed inside a colorful keychain. Players took to them in droves, nurturing and raising a multitude of characters before the craze died out in the US by the turn of the century.
But ’90s nostalgia is here in full force, and Bandai America is taking advantage of it by bringing the classic toy back to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
“Tamagotchi launched in the US in May of 1997,” Tara Badie, director of brand management and marketing at Bandai America, told AListDaily with all six of the original Tamagotchi styles on display. “We thought it was a good time to bring it back because it’s the 20th anniversary but also because ’90s nostalgia is a huge hit right now with TV shows, products and things like that.”
The devices use the original Japanese launch styles and patterns, with the insides changed with English programming. To celebrate their return, the Tamagotchi website is going back to its original look and style, using logos and branding from the ’90s.
Similar to how Tamagotchi spread through word-of-mouth in the ’90s, Bandai is using social media to spread news of their return in the same way. The company is also working with social influencers to figure out the best way to spread the word.
“We’re just letting people know that it’s out there,” said Badie. “We think word-of-mouth will reach them, because the millennial generation is all over social media. We will be talking on it on Bandai’s social media channels as well as the Tamagotchi channels and website.”
Tamagotchi will hit store shelves on November 5, with pre-sales starting on Tuesday at key retailers including Amazon, Toys “R” Us and Target. Additionally, GameStop, Best Buy and tween clothing store Justice will be offering Tamagotchi. These stores may appeal to a generation that doesn’t remember the ’90s, but their parents may be shopping with them.
“In today’s world, it’s about getting the product into the hands of fans and letting them play. We know we have a good product, so we’re not nervous about giving them to people. At Bandai, we’re known for our good quality, and people know what the product is and its core features. So, we’re sending it out to various folks and we’ll see how they decide to promote it.”
Although the devices differ in looks, each provides owners the chance to raise the same variety of pets. All five of the original characters return, with the addition of one surprise pet that players will have to figure out how to get. Their adult forms are determined by how owners take care of them and the simple gameplay is comprised feeding the Tamagotchi, cleaning up after it poops and giving it affection to make sure it’s happy.
“These are not the ones where we use the latest technology like the newer ones that have launched in Japan over the last couple of years,” Badie explained. “This keeps it very simple and takes it back to what we all remember 20 years ago.”
Badie also discussed the appeal of a 20-year-old toy in the app era.
“There are Tamagotchi apps out there, and they’re going to be relaunching next year,” she said. “But part of what this is all about is that it may be a kid’s only pet. It’s a digital pet that you have to take care of. You might have a lot of stuff on your smartphone, but this is something that you can take with you, take care of, and feel like it’s a pet housed inside the device.”
Although Badie admits that toy companies such as Bandai face a great challenge from apps, she believes that having a physical offline device may be a great benefit.
“I think parents would like to get their kids away from screens so that they can sit down and perhaps play it with their parents,” said Badie. “I think that toys use more of your imagination, and sometimes apps don’t allow you to do that. This is like a house for your pet that you’re taking with you, so it’s not as cold as a smartphone app. You’re holding [a Tamagotchi], taking care of it and protecting it from everything that’s going on.”
As for the pre-app generation of kids who weren’t around in the ’90s, Badie believes that Tamagotchi can be something that can be passed down, possibly setting up a new sense of nostalgia down the road in another decade or two.
“Our core focus is on the millennials generation first, but the overall play pattern is core to all ages,” Badie said. “Everyone likes to take care of a pet, and this is a way to have one. We think that millennials will be very excited to have it back and they’ll share it with the younger generation. Some of them have kids or younger siblings and relatives that they can introduce to the Tamagotchi world.”
Badie also explained that the core principles of the Tamagotchi—nurturing and taking care of your pet—is what gives the brand its strength after 20 years.
“When we launched, there wasn’t the world of digital as there is today, and we were the first to launch [this kind of] brand,” said Badie. “The brand hasn’t been as consistent in the US, but they come out with new versions and styles every six months in Japan, keeping up with the height of technology and communication. This one goes back to the simpler times, which was also done in Japan and did very well because people like to have that nostalgia.”
Badie also suggested that going back to the ‘90s is just the first step in heading to the future. While there was an effort to revive the toy in the US several years ago, it didn’t take off. This time, the Tamagotchi’s return won’t be a one-off event, as Bandai plans a bigger brand strategy for the digital pet, where it incorporates more modern technology.
“We’re taking time to ensure that our next version is based off of what the American kids look for in technology because of the competition from apps. We want to make sure that we combine the best of both of our worlds while keeping to the core of what Tamagotchi is all about.”
Middle-earth: Shadow of War has officially launched for consoles and PC, continuing the adventures of Talion and the spirit of the Elf lord Celebrimbor, who possesses his body. Inspired the works of J. R. R. Tolkien (The Hobbit; The Lord of the Rings), WB Games’ Middle-earth series takes visual cues from Peter Jackson’s film adaptations but also takes creative liberties with the canon.
Talion may be the main character of the game, but the stars of WB Games’ marketing have been the Orcs. Detailed cosplayers were dispatched to E3, PAX West and New York Comic Con, where they interacted with gamers and even crashed a developer panel about Shadow of War. Live-action Orcs carried the game’s marketing from events to social media and TV.
WB Games teamed up with theCHIVE to produce a series of comedy vignettes about what it would be like to live with an Orc. “A Dork and His Orc Roommate” features theCHIVE gaming editor Jeff Solomon and his new roommate Thrak as they engage in activities from babysitting to getting ready for a date.
“Our approach with this program was to communicate the benefits of Shadow of War’s Nemesis System while appealing to our user base in a creative, entertaining way,” Lauren Stanat, account director at Chive Media Group told AListDaily. The Nemesis System determines friends or foes in the game depending on the player’s actions. “The broad premise is that life is better with an Orc, so we created a social-first program that connected Thrak and our gaming editor as roommates.
“In line with the ‘Not Today, Brian’ spot and [WB Games’] ‘Nothing will be forgotten’ messaging, we see Thrak aiding Jeff in very relatable, everyday situations new roommates go through. Thrak is thankful for Jeff’s friendship, and we see him paying it forward in some very funny ways across the series of vignettes.”
Marketing surrounding Shadow of War has largely focused on the slogan, “Nothing will be forgotten.” This refers to the game’s story, but also the fact that players can carry over decisions they made from the previous title.
Shadow of War builds upon the Nemesis System introduced in Shadow of Mordor, allowing players to gain followers from several races of Middle-earth and plan out complex strategies using these to complete missions. Playerscan transfer their top Nemesis and their most loyal follower from Shadow of Mordor into Shadow of War, as well as the mobile companion game.
Live-action TV spot “Not Today, Brian” illustrates the loyalty of followers gained through the Shadow of Mordor Nemesis System. Another version of Thrak the Orc shows his loyalty for a player named Brian, who saved his life on the virtual battlefield long ago.
“Eat It, Jerry” shows the flip side of the Nemesis System—friendship is forever, but so are grudges. Like “Not Today, Brian,” this comedy spot goes back over the years to show why an Orc is determined to harass a Middle-earth: Shadow of War player for the rest of his life.
The game received an added push through the help of social media influencers like Devin Graham and Critical Role. Conan O’Brien tried Shadow of War for his Clueless Gamer segment, taking the opportunity to mock actor-comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who plays an Orc named The Agonizer. The video has been viewed over 1.3 million times.
It’s that time of year to watch the leaves turn, grab a jacket and pumpkin spice all the things. Starbucks, creator of the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte, is feeling the annual love as customers flock to partake in sensory nostalgia.
“Nobody knew back then what it would grow to be,” Peter Dukes, Starbucks product manager who led the development of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, said in a statement. “It’s taken on a life of its own.”
The original Pumpkin Spice Latte—or PSL or short—returned to Starbucks locations September 1 to a social media fanfare as it “hatched” on Facebook Live. The activation parodied the Hatchimals craze of last holiday season when one of the toys opened on Facebook Live and received 1.4 million views.
We’re pretty sure Starbucks said something to the effect of, “Hold my latte,” because one post about the PSL Pumpkin Hatch earned over 933,000 views alone, not to mention the livestream, itself. To be fair, there were kittens. Kittens.
Last year, the coffee brand created a verified social media account just for the seasonal drink called “The Real PSL.” Portrayed as a latte wearing sunglasses posing in a variety of fall settings, PSL celebrated its fourteenth birthday with a cake and wished for more fall.
Just how beloved is Starbucks’ fall tradition? The official PSL Instagram account boasts over 37,000 followers and 115,000 followers on Twitter, each with tens of thousands of engagements.
While Starbucks is far from the only brand adding pumpkin spice flavoring to its products, the seasonal-favorite latte never fails to get the internet talking.
To calculate how much marketing Starbucks would’ve had to invest to receive similar marketing results, we calculated the earned media value from posts about pumpkin spice from September 1 to October 9.
“Earned media” is the value of engagements a brand receives across channels as a result of their marketing efforts. To help quantify what the value of those engagements is worth, Ayzenberg Group established the Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index (AEMVI) and assigned a quantifiable dollar amount for marketing gains a brand receives from a campaign or individual engagement that includes social media networks and similar digital properties. (Editor’s note: AListDaily is the publishing arm of Ayzenberg Group. To read the updated AEMVI report reflecting the rapid changes in social, click here.)
Since the original “pumpkinated” coffee drink returned on September 1, social media posts mentioning the official Starbucks account, combined with hashtags like #PumpkinSpiceLatte, #PSL, #PSLIsBack or #PumpkinSpice have exceeded 50,000. These calculations do not include individual posts to TheRealPSL social accounts or the PSL Pumpkin Hatch, so the EMV is actually much higher.
The drink’s popularity has prompted Starbucks to release exclusive Pumpkin Spice Latte products, including ready-to-drink bottles of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Flavored Ground Coffee and Spice Caffe Latte K-Cup Pods.
Thank you for your continued support and readership.
-The AList Team
The marketing newsletter created for you,
delivered to your inbox