The 2018 D.I.C.E. Summit And D.I.C.E. Awards Come To Las Vegas In February

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences’ 2018 D.I.C.E. Summit (#DICE18) and D.I.C.E. Awards (#DICEAwards) will take place February 20-22, 2018 in Las Vegas. Leading video game executives and creators will gather to participate in the premier industry networking event and listen to key speakers address the conference theme – Made Better – tackling some of the industry’s biggest ideas and trends.

INDUSTRY SPEAKERS & THEME

Main stage presentations of all kinds —solo presentations, fireside chats or panels are available for the entire attendee base.  With the conference theme Made Better, speakers this year will examine the full spectrum of what drives the creative development process within the interactive entertainment community.  What are the measures of success, and how do we design towards them?  How do we evolve and balance innovation risk?  How do we inspire individuals and teams to drive change?  D.I.C.E. speakers will share personal insights and experiences on how they foster creativity and prosperity within the video game industry today and beyond.

WORKSHOPS

Workshops are smaller, breakout sessions geared towards a greater level of audience interaction and sharing. Panels and discussions engage with an audience of approximately 50 people and emphasizes joint exploration of ideas and concepts relevant to the industry and workplace.

ROUNDTABLES

Roundtables compose of intimate idea sharing with groups of approximately 10 to a table. A roundtable leader will present a compelling topic which will be explored from the varied perspectives of table participants. This is an excellent networking opportunity paired with premier idea sharing. There will be three different roundtable rooms, each focused on a specific theme: Business Leadership, Creative Development and Media Topics.

NETWORKING & EVENTS

Unmatched networking opportunities are a hallmark of the D.I.C.E. Summit experience. This year’s networking events include Topgolf Las Vegas, Magic: The Gathering, go-karting, a golf tournament and a poker tournament on the first day, networking parties, lunches and happy hours.

2018 D.I.C.E. AWARDS

On the final day, the conference will culminate with the 21st D.I.C.E. Awards co-hosted by Greg Miller and Jessica Chobot, honoring the best video games from 2017. The D.I.C.E. Awards serve to recognize excellence among peers currently working in games.

Don’t miss out on the 2018 D.I.C.E. Summit and Awards! AListDaily members receive a 20% discount to the conference and event.  Please reach out to mguice@alistdaily.com to get your code for registration.

Casual Connect USA Coming To California’s Disneyland Hotel This January

There’s roughly a month and a half left before Casual Connect USA 2018 comes stateside – this time taking up residency at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California. The game development conference, taking place January 16-18, is expected to host over 200 speakers, 2,000 professionals, 100 exhibitors and sponsors, and 60 Indie Prize Showcase teams.

SPEAKERS & TOPICS

The conference is looking to be its most jam-packed and informative yet – with 15 tracks of workshops, lectures, roundtables, panels, and 1-on-1 mentoring spread across six session halls and three days. Licensing is set to be a major topic, taking advantage of the fact that California is ripe with Hollywood intellectual property and big-name brands. Other topics include game design, business development, studio growth, markets and industries, leadership and management, esports, casino gaming, kids games, monetization, and emerging technologies.

There will also be special tracks put on in conjunction with Casual Connect USA 2018 partners. LiveOps Connect with PlayFab will bring together some of the top liveops practitioners in the industry to share their stories and hard-won knowledge. United in Diversity with Contagious Creativity will explore topics in diversity, leadership, and professional growth in the video game and digital media industries.

Featured speakers include experts and executives from Disney Consumer Products & Interactive Media, Netmarble US, Insomniac Games, Xbox, HitPoint Studios, Jam City, Atari S.A., Mattel, Product Madness, Blizzard Entertainment, Twitch, DoubleDown Interactive, Skydance Interactive, Zynga and more.

INDIE PRIZE & EXHIBITORS

If it’s the latest in innovation or new partnerships you’re looking for, Casual Connect USA 2018’s exhibition area has you covered. Sixty Indie Prize teams, cultivated from hundreds of entries, will showcase the latest in independent game design and innovation on the showroom floor and compete for great prizes and Indie Prize’s iconic crystal trophies at the 21st Indie Prize Awards on January 18. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of exhibitors who can help budding and established game developers alike take their games and businesses to the next level – as well as exhibitors looking to recruit new talent into their own ranks.

NETWORKING & FUN

Alongside the conference itself, Casual Connect USA 2018 will also host three major networking parties. The fun will kick off with the Badge Pickup Party at the Disneyland ® Hotel on January 15, the day before the conference begins. On January 16 attendees can get their game on at the ESPN Zone and on January 17 attendees can enjoy a fiesta-style celebration at Tortilla Jo’s. All the parties are located very close to the conference venue and partnered hotel – making it easy to come to and from everything and make it to the conference the next day well-rested. In addition to its networking parties, Casual Connect USA 2018 also includes exclusive and unlimited access to its Pitch & Match meeting system which attendees can use to search for and connect with each other based on their needs and interests.

ADDED EXTRAS

All in all, Casual Connect USA 2018 is shaping up to be an event filled with educational insights, networking, new friendships, and much more. In addition to enjoying all these things, Casual Connect USA 2018 attendees will also get access to substantial discounts on the Disneyland ® Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier® Hotel – as well as discounts on Disneyland ® Resort Theme Park tickets. Those interested in learning more about the event should head over to the official Casual Connect USA 2018 website at http://usa.casualconnect.org/.

 

EA Commissioner Explains Rise of FIFA Esports

This weekend, the best FIFA 17 players from around the globe are in Berlin competing for a piece of the $400,000 cash prize, including $160,000 first place purse. Over six million players competed in the FIFA FUT Champions Weekend League since the launch of FIFA 17, to secure one of the 192 live qualifications for the Season 1 and Season 2 Regional Finals. After six regional events, the top 32 players flew to Germany to crown a champion in the inaugural FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series. Overall, $1.3 million will have been awarded through this series by this weekend.

The competition has been broadcast on YouTubeTwitch and Facebook, but the Finals will be broadcast across top sports networks around the world including ESPN, BT Sport, Movistar, MTG, and SPORT1, bringing competitive FIFA to more than 70 countries and millions of living rooms around the world. In the U.S., ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will air the competition live on May 20 at 11 am EST. ESPN2 will air an exclusive pregame show at 10:30 am EST.

Brent Koning, FIFA Competitive Gaming Commissioner, told AListDaily that this new competition is the evolution of EA Sports’ FIFA franchise as an esport.

“Competitive FIFA has existed years before the FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series was created, but it was very fragmented with concurrent tournaments, multiple winners, rule differences between tournaments,” Koning explained. “With the EA Competitive Gaming Division, along with the valuable support of FIFA, we’ve been able to consolidate tournaments, optimize the organizational structure and cultivate rapid growth. Competitive FIFA today is now mainstream entertainment – we’re talking millions of competitors, millions of spectators, mainstream sports broadcasts and more. It is amazing.”

Koning added that the ultimate goal for this competition was to move competitive FIFA into the mainstream across the globe. The FIFA Ultimate Team Championship will be watchable on mainstream sports broadcasts in roughly 70 percent of the FIFA player base’s home markets.

“We’re attracting not only millions of players, but millions of spectators as well,” Koning said. “To make competitive FIFA mainstream, you must capture a large, casual fan base who are already familiar with the sport of soccer’s rule sets. The best way to do this is to bring competitive FIFA to top-tier sports television – ESPN, BT Sport and more. We’re accomplishing this with the FIFA Ultimate Team Championship.”

More than six million players have competed in FUT Champions and thousands have played in the live events to get down to the top 32 video gamers. Konig said this inaugural series has taught him that community is king.

“They have been very supportive of competitive FIFA, and we are always looking for better ways to integrate content, showcase players, and make competitive FIFA more fun to watch and play,” Koning said.

Koning said the upcoming season of competitive FIFA will add brands and sponsors to the competition.

“With the goal of making stars of all of our players, we know we need to give them opportunities to compete, and that happens when you bring endemic and non-endemic brands into the fold,” Koning said. “Our goal is to make sure that we maintain a high level of competition, production quality, and create enough opportunity to support aspiring pros, our current pros, and drive the eco-system forward into the future.”

While the majority of esports games appeal to a global audience, FIFA crosses over with mainstream soccer (or football) fans worldwide. It’s easy to follow, and translates well to television broadcasts.

The extensive history of FIFA esports, coupled with the learnings of the EA Competitive Gaming Division with other titles, has helped in building out this new competitive series.

“Sharing best practices is important for any new team, be it at a large company like EA or a startup,” Koning explained. “I work with the central teams and other Commissioners at EA (for Madden and Battlefield) to make sure we are learning from each other, sharing successes and locating areas for improvement. We are lucky at EA to have a dedicated central team focused on implementing best practices across teams who speak to each other regularly. I don’t think you have the opportunity for collaboration as easily accessible in most companies.”

EA also has a longstanding relationship with FIFA. Koning said that organization sees the importance of esports and competitive gaming in soccer culture and it allows EA to work together with FIFA towards the common goal of spreading the love of soccer and competition worldwide.

Established soccer clubs like Manchester City, West Ham United and VFL Wolfsburg have invested in FIFA esports players, while Valencia launched a Rocket League team and Schalke bought a League of Legends roster.

“The level of integration varies by club, but is undoubtedly a way for them to engage with a younger, digitally-native demographic in a clean and low barrier of entry way,” Koning said. “At the end of the day, you put a ball in a net. That is universal.”

‘The Martian VR Experience’ Is One Big Leap For Twentieth Century Fox

After multiple delays, Fox Innovation Lab launched The Martian VR Experience for PlayStation VR and HTC Vive on November 15. The $20 experience was created by RSA Films and The Virtual Reality Company, executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Robert Stromberg. The interactive experience was built using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 technology and marks the first public release from the Fox Innovation Lab.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Fox Innovation Lab president, Mike Dunn, told [a]listdaily that The Martian VR Experience blurs the line between games and movies. “Games are bringing more emotion to gameplay and we’re bringing some interactivity to our film VR experiences,” Dunn said.

Following the plot of Scott’s Oscar-nominated film, users can interact with the surface of Mars, steer at zero gravity through space, drive a rover across the red planet and play basketball with potatoes in a variety of mini-games as a virtual Mark Watney. The experience uses footage from the film starring Matt Damon to connect these interactive elements.

Dunn said the Fox Innovation Lab first explored virtual reality with a Wild 360-degree experience from Felix and Paul Studios featuring Reese Witherspoon. “We did a test shoot on Wild and proved to our studio and creative execs that VR can be a narrative emotional experience,” Dunn said. “The Martian matched the target early adopter VR audience and we felt we could take them to Mars in a new way.”

Robert Stromberg, co-founder and chief creative officer of The Virtual Reality Company, explained to [a]listdaily that multiple companies were involved in the development of this experience. “It’s still a new frontier of where everybody is jostling for all of these answers on how to make VR work,” he said. “We worked with the Q Department for sound and The Third Floor for the game controls. You have to have the right companies and specialties in a specific order, just as you would put together production on a film.”

Stromberg said additional mini-games were added to the experience after the positive reception they received. Dunn also added that the team targeted a 25-30 minute experience that is broken up into interactive segments, which can be replayed. “We weren’t sure if consumers would be comfortable in headsets more than 25-30 minutes at that time,” Dunn said.

The goal was always to create a VR experience that could be sold directly to consumers. “Some of the other studios are focused on the marketing angle of VR, but we wanted to create a commercial experience and help to shape the marketplace,” Dunn said.

The Martian VR Experience, which debuted at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), was accepted into the prestigious New Frontier Program at Sundance and is the recipient of the Cannes Silver Lion in Digital Craft as well as the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) Next VR Award. The VR experience missed the theatrical window as well as two home entertainment windows, in part, because the hardware wasn’t ready. Now that PS VR has launched, The Martian VR Experience is available across two platforms.

The Fox Innovation Lab did release a non-interactive teaser of The Martian VR Experience on Samsung Gear VR, which became one of the most-watched VR experiences on that platform.

“For future products, we’d like to have a mobile experience that could be played untethered,” Dunn said. “We’re very bullish on the expansion of mobile VR.”

The Fox Innovation Lab was established to drive the advancement of groundbreaking technology and new consumer experiences across all platforms and distribution models. The Lab works closely with production, marketing and distribution across all Twentieth Century Fox divisions as well as key external partners to advance next generation technologies including 4K Ultra HD with high dynamic range, mobile content experiences, and virtual, augmented and mixed reality, all featuring immersive audio.

The Fox Innovation Lab also serves as a research hub, demonstrating and testing technologies with consumers throughout the development process to obtain qualitative data and hands-on feedback in order to bring innovative and premium products to market. Dunn said that all current VR, AR and mixed reality platforms, as well as some future platforms, are tested inside the lab.

“The idea behind the lab is to get out in front of media on the horizon and actually partake in those media,” Dunn said. “We started very early with VR, and we hope that we’ll be out in front of that media in terms of knowledge and production capabilities, and also introduce established and upcoming filmmakers in that media.”

Dunn believes the key filmmakers participating in VR today are going to try to push the emotional boundaries of storytelling. “At first, entering VR as more like a video game, but talking with Stromberg and Felix and Paul, they’re going to bring emotion to this medium. It’s an art form, nevertheless, and these guys have game.”

Additionally, the lab is working with filmmakers across North America, Europe and China. “There are a lot of filmmakers very interested in this medium,” Dunn said.

Zeality Founder Discusses Opportunities For Brands Through 360-Degree Content

Zeality is a new social engagement and delivery platform for 360-degree video content. The company is already working with brands such as the San Francisco 49ers, Visa, RYOT News, and Reebok to leverage this new medium. Zeality is also open to content creators and producers interested in telling 360-degree stories and monetizing their content. The platform is currently available for iOS and Android virtual reality devices, including Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR.

The company has been formed with a team of veterans from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the ad business. And its advisory board is filled with executives from these three industries, as well. Zeality co-founder and CEO Dipak M. Patel explains how his company can help brands navigate the new 360-degree waters in this exclusive interview.

What separates Zeality from Wistia 360, Facebook 360, YouTube 360, and other platforms?

We see content and media becoming increasingly instrumental in the way we teach, entertain and discover. As a result, user experiences need to evolve, with relevant content being presented in a more intelligent way. Over time, we’re looking to differentiate how a user experiences 360 content, not just deliver it to them. We have a lot coming down the road, however what’s available now is the ability for creators to gate access to their content with customized access levels. For example, for episodic content, let’s say a user can’t access Episode 2 unless they watch Episode 1, and they can’t watch Episode 3 unless they recommend four friends. We can, and will, work with partners to customize how their fans and audiences activate content.

How are you working with early clients like Visa, the San Francisco 49ers, RYOT News, and Reebok with 360-degree video content?

Beyond simply hosting and delivering content, we’re playing an active role in programming our experience and marketing partner content to specific communities. Our goal is to work with our partners to develop marketing campaigns for their content to drive activation, as we want to help create awareness for campaigns versus just being a big bucket in the sky. For example, we have worked with Visa, RYOT, and the San Francisco 49ers to develop social campaigns to drive their fans and audiences to their respective channels on Zeality.

What kind of engagement do you see for 360-degree content versus traditional video?

Zeality only carries 360-degree content, but in comparing 360-degree versus traditional video, we’ve observed both amazement and frustration when users consume 360-degree content. The amazement comes from the fact that it’s new and cool, and then users start genuinely wondering how it’s done. It quickly becomes frustrating because consumers have been trained to be “directed,” versus going on self-guided tours of videos. We see this new type of content disrupting the art of storytelling and the mode of consuming. Both need to learn from each other, and it’s going to take time for 360-degree video to become interesting enough to hold the attention of consumers versus traditional video.

Will your platform support PC and PlayStation VR headsets beyond the Android and iOS mobile VR?

We’re big fans of 360-degree video, VR, and AR. And yes, our roadmap will eventually support a variety of HMDs (head-mounted displays). We feel there’s a lot of work still left to do in creating awareness for 360-degree experiences and how to create them, so one of our directives is to increase education and discovery, and also help build a strong community of content creators.

Most people are still viewing 360-degree content on tablets and 2D devices. How do you see that evolving over time?

When my 7-year-old daughter was 2, she would walk up to our television and try to swipe as if it were an iPad. Now my 2-year-old son holds my phone and moves it around as if every video is a window to another place. Without a doubt, I do see this evolving over time. I think adoption will occur over generations and be influenced by technology innovation. This is why we’re so focused on the art of storytelling and engagement in this new medium.

What are the opportunities in 360-degree video today?

We think there is a tremendous opportunity for 360-degree video today. Education, entertainment, sports media, travel, social impact, and news to start, but more categories will most certainly appear. These are all opportunities to explore the medium as an art form and build a deeper relationship between the stories and communities. And of course, some folks will focus on videos of cats, or the current version of them.

What are the challenges, especially with editing this content?

There are two new elements to the workflow: data management/syncing and stitching. This adds a tremendous burden on quick turnaround projects not only from a time and cost perspective, but also a go-to-market perspective. Luckily, there are a handful of companies—Nokia, Orah, and Sphericam are a few great examples—that are solving these issues by consolidating features in new cameras. I believe that over time, possibly as early as the next few months, these tools will get better.

How is your company bridging the gap between Silicon Valley and Hollywood?

I believe that we’re experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime disruption, and we have an opportunity to create a whole new type of company. Many would agree that over the years, Silicon Valley and Hollywood have been at odds with each other, essentially because one values technology and innovation while the other values content and creativity. Furthermore, the fundamental investment vehicles and ecosystems that support both are completely different. For example, Silicon Valley invests in stock and increasing the value of that stock. Hollywood invests in rights and distribution, and creates companies to capture revenue from licensing and other means. For Zeality, we want to bring these forces together to create the ultimate collaboration between creative/content and tech/innovation in terms of culture, product development and go-to-market.

How will the new wave of both professional and consumer 360 cameras impact this ecosystem?

The new wave of professional and consumer 360-degree cameras are going to have an incredible impact on the ecosystem, but ultimately, the medium requires the storytellers to start from the ground up. They’re not filming in a frame and they have to re-imagine the role of the protagonist in these stories. From a professional storytelling perspective, I’m a big fan of what Sphericam, Orah, and Nokia are doing. For the more user-generated stuff, I think you’re going to see a larger variety of options out there, but regardless of what sort of equipment they use, it will be great to see what sort of content is created when the creator is unencumbered by existing film-making norms. Whatever happens, it’s great to have all these options available to aspiring and professional content creators.

 

GameStop CEO Discusses Nintendo NX, New Consoles And VR

GameStop is undergoing a retail transition as it expands its ThinkGeek footprint, doubles down on independent game publishing through GameTrust, and continues to develop original mobile and social games through Kongregate. But the retailer remains focused on its core business of selling new and used games, as is evident with its new TV and online push for pre-owned games through its “Goat” campaign.

At the recent GameStop Investors Day in Dallas, we sat down with GameStop CEO Paul Raines to talk about new game consoles, Nintendo’s mobile play, and how important retail is for virtual reality platforms in this exclusive interview.

What role do you see new consoles from Sony and Microsoft playing for GameStop?

We expect to be pretty dominant on new consoles, and the reason we’re dominant is because we have the PowerUp Rewards program with 46 million members around the world. We have those people on file, and we know how much trade credit they have at home that they bought from us. So it’s easy to market to them and say, “Hey Mr. Gaudiosi, you’ve got $48. Why don’t you bring that in and trade it against the new Xbox or PlayStation?” So we anticipate that we’ll see some new consoles in the next few years. We don’t like to talk about that because our partners get upset if we jump ahead, so we’ll let them disclose that. Consoles are good for us any way you slice it.

Are you seeing excitement through PowerUp Rewards members around the Nintendo NX?

There is some excitement around NX. Lately here, we’ve been hearing a lot more buzz than we have in the past. Nintendo is interesting in that they really are able to keep things as quiet as they can for a while. And then they just lost their leader, so they’ve gone through a mourning period and so forth. NX sounds exciting. We’re looking forward to it. They’re very innovative in everything that they do. I hope that they come out with something exciting and innovative. I think we’ll be dominant distributor of that platform.

Even though the Wii U didn’t repeat the Wii’s success?

Wii U was disappointing to everybody, including them. They made some bold bets, and maybe some of them didn’t work out. But they have a lot of creativity there. They’re a very innovative group of people, so we never count out Nintendo. Even now it’s incredible how strong some of their IP is—Pokémon, for example. We could have a Pokémon weekend this weekend at GameStop and we would break sales records just because every time they put out a new game they have a very loyal fan base. Super Mario, Zelda, all those IPs have a huge, loyal fan base.

That fan base is going to potentially get bigger with their mobile reach. Do you think Nintendo mobile games will get new fans interested in other Nintendo products?

Yeah, there are a lot of people who have never played a Super Mario game on a DS. A lot of the kids today have grown up only playing small games on their phones. As you introduce that exciting Nintendo IP and those characters, they’re going to want more of that. We think that will push them into our stores to see the big games. They’ll go, “Wow, there’s actually a game I can play for months and months instead of a few days.” That will be good for us. It will be very good for Nintendo, and we’re very positive on it.

Virtual reality is hot right now with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. What role do you feel VR will play with your business moving forward?

VR is exciting from just the pure gameplay experience. It fulfills a lot of your dreams and fantasies about gameplay because you no longer have to stare at the screen. You can look anywhere. You can see who’s behind you. You can see who’s above you. So it’s exciting technology. It will require higher processing power. That’s why Oculus and HTC require these high-end PCs that are going to process and render all those graphics. Sony is able to use their PS4, so that’s good.

We’ve seen all of the VR players and a few that haven’t come out yet. We’re excited about it. The other thing is VR has applications that go beyond gaming. I’ve seen some sports applications that are unbelievable, travel applications. I even saw an augmented reality Microsoft display, which was a medical thing where you train people on how to diagnose the heart.

With HoloLens?

Yeah, HoloLens. So we’re excited about all of it. We believe Sony, specifically, will be the dominant player because they have the most titles. One thing about gaming is you have to have great technology and also great IP that people know about. I’m a guy who loves Uncharted. So if you tell me: “Come in and buy our VR headset,” I’ll want to test it first and think about it. But if you said” Come in for the Uncharted 5 game in VR,” that’s a whole different story. Sony has the IP advantage. They also have the install base advantage with the millions of PlayStations out there.

Having said all of that, Oculus is a fantastic technology, as is HTC Vive. So we’re excited about all of it. We think it’s all going to work. Some may work faster than others, and some may be more of a leading edge product, while others may be more of a mainstream product. We have to wait and see how all that plays out.

What roles do you see demos playing for these VR devices?

We’re doing a lot of work on that right now. There are a lot of ideas floating around. First of all, we have a significant part of our footprint that’s big enough for us to do VR demos in. A lot of people say, “Well, you’ve only got 1,500 square foot stores,” but that is the average. We have hundreds of stores that are well over 2,000 square feet, so we can demo in hundreds of stores in the U.S. We can also do some events around the U.S. and different markets working in tandem with Sony—as we’ve done with Nintendo in the past. We could also do traveling exhibits in cooperation with Sony, where you go to malls and demo in cooperation with GameStop.

We’re working hard on a lot of exciting ways to demo the product. I don’t think that will be a barrier to us dominating our competitors. The big boxes always want to demo everything in their store, and we like getting the hands on the product. We also think that our associates are very knowledgeable. They really are the secret weapon for us to teach people how to play, how to use the VR, how to set it up, etc.

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Marketing Jobs for January 21st From DC Entertainment, Netflix, And More

[a]listdaily is your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings.

Having trouble focusing Consider these five handy routines to declutter your train of thought.

  • DC Entertainment – Vice President, Marketing (Universal City, Calif.)
  • NBC Universal – Marketing Manager (Burbank, Calif.)
  • Netflix – Manager, Social Media (Los Gatos, Calif.)
  • Yelp – Senior Account Executive: Brand Solutions, Display and Mobile (New York, NY)

For last week’s [a]list jobs postings, click here. Have a position you’d like to place with us Email us at pr@ayzenberg.com.