Nintendo Reorganizes, Names New President

Despite the fact that Nintendo has returned to profitability, things have been a bit rough for the company lately. Satoru Iwata, who had been serving as the company’s president since 2002, passed away unexpectedly back in July, with game producer Shigeru Miyamoto and Wii architect Genyo Takeda filling in ever since.

Today, Nintendo announced Iwata’s successor as company president, Tatsumi Kimishima. Kimishima previously served with Nintendo’s human resources division, as well as a managing director. It’s part of an overall corporate restructuring which will “strengthen and enhance the management structure of the company,” according to a press release posted earlier today.

Kimishima has plenty of experience with the role, originally serving as president of Nintendo of America from 2002-2006 before Reggie Fils-Aime filled the role. He also worked as the CFO for the Pokémon Company, and had a presence in various Nintendo Direct broadcasts over the years. Whether he will have a presence in future videos like Iwata had with his many appearances is not yet known.

Miyamoto and Takeda will continue to play strong roles in the company, with their new roles of “Creative Fellow” and “Technology Fellow” noted in the press release. Even though the names sound casual, Nintendo indicated that a “fellow” is “an individual selected from among the Representative Directors who has advanced knowledge and extensive experience, and holds the role of providing advice and guidance regarding organizational operations in a specialized area.”

These changes are crucial ones for the company, as Nintendo attempts to both enter the mobile market (in its partnership with DeNA) and introduce its new NX hardware next year, which is likely to get its worldwide debut at the next Electronic Entertainment Expo event in Los Angeles.

In the meantime, Nintendo is preparing for a strong line-of up games that will include a number of franchise favorites in new adventures, including the user-friendly Super Mario Maker that just released last week, along with the forthcoming StarFox Zero for Wii U, The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes for Nintendo 3DS, and fan favorite Xenoblade Chronicles X for Wii U, all set to arrive in time for the bustling holiday season.

Kimishima’s appointment, in the eyes of many analysts, seems to reflect a desire to move forward along the company’s current path with an experienced hand at the tiller. This is not someone likely to take bold new directions, but rather someone that can ably execute the strategy the company’s executives have collectively put together over the last year or two. The next year should be very interesting for Nintendo as its major new initiatives begin to appear, and we see how they are received in the marketplace.

Image source: Tech News Today

Rooster Teeth Leaps To Mobile

The content creators at Rooster Teeth have been around for years, putting together memorable science fiction/comedy programming that includes the likes of Red vs. Blue (which utilizes footage from the Halo games for humorous results), Achievement Hunter and more. Now, following its acquisition by multichannel network Fullscreen back in 2014, it’s making more of a push onto the mobile scene.

Variety reports that the studio has launched a pair of video apps for both iOS and Android devices. With these apps, the company hopes to increase subscriptions to its premium service, which goes for $4.99 a month or $15.99 through a six-month package.

The apps will provide the usual Rooster Teeth content as we’ve come to expect, along with exclusive programming that isn’t available anywhere else. This includes Let’s Play Live: The Documentary, which made its premiere today, covering the launch of its first online-gaming event with the Achievement Hunter team, as well as a new weekly talk show called Rooster Teeth Entertainment System, hosted by Colton Dunn, set to premiere on September 27th.

“The apps are about expanding the subscription service nowadays, people call it ‘SVOD’,” Matt Hullum, CEO of Rooster Teeth, explained. “We’re going to be putting some excellent, premium content on there.”

The team will stay true to its humble roots, however, referring to consumers as “sponsors” instead of subscribers and providing plenty of exclusive goodies for them to take in, as well as the shows they’ve come to know and love.

This comes on the heels of the company’s announcement to launch a feature-length movie, titled Lazer Team. Set to premiere at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s Fantastic Fest in Austin later this month, the film will also be available through the app following its release.

While Rooster Teeth didn’t provide an exact count of subscribers thus far, it did indicate that it has more than 19 million subscribers with more than five billion views overall. This includes three million unique monthly visitors and 1.8 million registered members on its website,

We’ll have a follow-up interview with the team shortly. In the meantime, the trailer for Let’s Play Live is below.

Native Videos Taking Over Twitter

Facebook has already come a long way when it comes to native videos on its website, drawing a huge audience as a result. Now, according to a report from social analytics provider Socialbakers, it’s Twitter’s turn.

Initially reported by Adweek‘s Social Times page, the report states that, based on analytics from the 500 largest brand profiles on Twitter for the first half of the year, two facts have clearly emerged:

  • Native videos are about to surpass videos shared from YouTube.
  • Brands are posting slightly more videos from Periscope than from Vine.

As you can see from the first chart above, YouTube videos have had a strong lead when it comes to videos posted by the top 500 brands out there. However, there’s a strong indication that Twitter has seen a rise, going from around 500 at the start of the year to 1,200 — and closing in on YouTube’s figures. Meanwhile, Vine and Periscope videos seem to be going neck-and-neck, following what appeared to be a large gap between the two at the beginning of the year. Both now sit around the 300 mark.

This second chart has a story to tell as well. Based on interactions on videos posted to Twitter by the top 500 brands over the six month period, there’s been very little difference, although native videos on Twitter seem to have a strong hold. Across the six months, the popularity of these videos have shown, going anywhere between 62 percent and just over 70 percent. Meanwhile, YouTube video interactions have only been in the ten to 20 percent range, while Vine videos have grown to about the same level as they started out at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, Periscope video interactions are growing slowly but surely, with July 2015 showing about a four percent mark — higher than at the start of the year.

While it’s unknown if  Twitter’s native video division could be as popular as Facebook’s, these numbers are bound to be music to a few marketers’ ears.

Uber Takes Cues From Airlines, Gets Into Content

When consumers travel on airlines, they usually have the convenience of reading an in-flight magazine to pass the time. Now, it appears that Uber is following suit.

A report from TechCrunch indicates that the popular catch a ride company has launched a new in-car magazine that launched in New York this week. Titled Arriving Now, the publication enables riders to have something to read as they travel to their destination.

This blog post details just what consumers can expect from the magazine, including the quick summary below:

In celebration of Fashion Week (which kicks off today in NYC), Arriving Now’s first edition is packed with pro tips, hotspots, and exclusive details about upcoming promotions. You may also recognize cover girl Olivia Palermo, one of NYC s more influential fashionistas, who dishes on her favorite shops, trends, and love of New York inside Arriving Now.

While it may seem odd for a car-based company to launch its own magazine, it does make sense, considering that Uber has a large user base that relies on the call-for-a-ride service on a daily basis. And it could improve upon its brand experience with a number of other services, as suggested by TechCrunch.

Always-on touch screens could probably be coming soon enough to a car near you, allowing users more ways to interact with Uber s continually growing on-demadn services that don t necessarily involve getting people from place-to-place, it reads. This includes making suggestions near your destination, such as where to grab a bite to eat or other information regarding the area.

Uber hasn t stated when the magazine will expand to new markets, or when (or even if) the touch-screen technology is on par to arrive soon. But one thing s for sure in one form or another, it ll keep trying to make its ride smoother for consumers.

Instagram Users Are 3x More Likely To Use Snapchat

We already know how wildly popular Snapchat is, with millions of users partaking in temporary messages through their mobile devices. However, it may not be the only player in the game when it comes to quick sharing.

AdWeek recently reported that, based on findings by GlobalWebIndex, Instagram Direct could have the potential to take market share from Snapchat, despite the fact that Snapchat has been around since December 2013.

“It’s only a recent upgrade that has brought the service’s in-app chat feature into the spotlight,” Said GWI.

“Instagram’s active users are already keen on instant messaging apps. More than one-half are actively using Facebook Messenger, and 47 percent are WhatsApp users. What’s more, over two-thirds are using at least one of the two Facebook-owned apps. However, poaching users from these platforms is unlikely to be the reasoning behind Instagram Direct.

“Instead, we should be looking at what is arguably Direct’s most obvious competition — Snapchat. Instagrammers are more than three times as likely as the average to be using Evan Spiegel’s chat app, and hence, Instagram Direct could give these users a reason to stay in the platform.”

The infographic above also shows the potential of messaging apps amongst Instagram users, including Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp with a majority of the percentage, followed by Snapchat in a distant fourth place with 19 percent.

It’s a little too soon to tell at this point if Instagram really does pose a serious threat, especially considering how popular Snapchat has become over the past year, with its various partners and millions of users. That said, there’s always room for new competition. Case in point — Meerkat was trying to dominate the mobile streaming scene, only to have Twitter’s Periscope come in and steal its thunder.

We’ll just have to see how much Instagram Direct builds from here.

Soft Launching A Mobile Game Increases Retention 5-10% On Day One

Most mobile games these days have similar behavior when it comes to launch — they get attention the first few weeks, only to see it drift off as new applications arise. However, according to deltaDNA’s Dr. Isaac Roseboom, there may be a strategy that can keep retention on the rise.

Pocket Gamer recently posted an article featuring Roseboom’s thoughts on the matter, where the article states, “the most important part of the process is how and when you introduce your game to its potential audience. Of course, this can be done in many ways; from internal concept testing to friends and family, closed alphas and betas, etc.”

The article also indicates that soft launch is critical for a game’s success. “What used to be a quick ‘month in Canada’ to bug check has now in some cases become a year long iterative process in half a dozen countries, including in Asia and the Middle East, to carve out the game that players actually want from the designer’s initial concept.”

Roseboom stated that launch can be everything. “The most obvious and important thing to focus on during soft launch is your game’s onboarding funnel,” he said, pointing out a process where players download the game and play through a tutorial, hoping to find something for the long-term. “You need to test everything. Who’s dropping out during the download. Why Are you seeing lots of people quitting during the tutorial How about post-tutorial”

As you can see from the chart below, certain games tend to have different retention following launches, with a soft launch having better stability for retention in the long run.

The only problem is how to make the tutorial process work for the player. Some companies go too far with polish on that end, to the point that they’re stuck going through an automatic loop, instead of putting the game in the player’s hands.

According to Roseboom, the median time for a mobile game in “soft launch” is 40 days, and 68 percent of mobile game spending actually goes towards titles that last more than one month in soft launch.

Other stats from Roseboom indicate that games that spend less than one month in soft launch have a median day one retention of 27 percent, but games that spend more than one month in soft launch have a higher day one retention of 32 percent.

Games that spend more than a month in soft launch during retention by five to ten percent, which results in a boost in terms of in-game spending by 16-33 percent.

Keeping players engaged is a crucial part of the process, according to Roseboom, and making sure that monetization is properly tested. “Sometimes people can worry too much about their KPIs, especially when it comes to soft launch monetization,” he said. “In reality, there is a grace period once you’ve launched your game globally when you can tweak monetization, but this doesn’t apply to retention, as you risk turning off your most loyal fans in the early days with bad gameplay.”

“You can always monetize a fun game,” he concluded.

More info on Roseboom’s findings can be found here.

New Exhibitors, Competitions For TwitchCon

Earlier this year, we reported that Twitch was holding its first ever TwitchCon convention, which will take place later this month (September 25th and 26th) in San Francisco. Today, the popular streaming channel announced a number of new exhibitors and events for fans to enjoy over the two-day event.

First off, a number of new fighting tournaments were announced, titled Fight Night events. These include a Super Smash Bros. invitational featuring stars from both Twitch and Red Bull fighting it out for a potential $10,000 prize pool (along with bragging rights in terms of where the final tournament will be played out either northern or southern California). In addition, a Video Game Championship Wrestling tournament, which will feature a number of customized characters, will take place, along with a Founder Faceoff, in which Twitch CEO and founder Emmett Shear will take on Blizzard president and co-founder Mike Morhaime in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, amongst other surprise competitors. These should really go a long way in engaging Twitch s avid fighting game community.

Other competitions will also be held, including an event sponsored by WorldGaming in tandem with the World Series of Video Games, as well as competitions with games like Rock Band 4, H1Z1 and others. Hi-Rez Studios, Cartoon Network games and other companies will also be in attendance with their latest products, such as Jetpack Fighter and Land of Ooo.

The biggest new attendees, however, are creators of virtual reality hardware. Oculus will be on hand with a variety of titles for players to check out, and HTC will bring its Vive headset, powered by SteamVR, with a number of games from WEVR, Radial Games and other companies.

Finally, a number of new panels were introduced, including a partner spotlight featuring streaming star LetsGetLexi and San Francisco Giants player Hunter Pence; a Twitch Tech Talk hosted by Amazon Game Studios (which makes sense considering Amazon s purchase of the company last year); and a special sponsored Intel panel that discusses getting maximum performance out of Intel equipment. Other media outlets will take the stage as well, including Geek and Sundry and Nerdist.

All of this content is making TwitchCon more of a must-attend event for fans of the streaming channel, as well as its various stars and sponsors. It should no doubt be a big hit when it takes place later this month.

Nintendo and Niantic Team Up For ‘Pokémon GO’ On Mobile

The Pokémon series has been a huge phenomenon over the years, with game releases on Nintendo platforms, and a recent expansion into mobile with Pokémon Shuffle. Now, the series will be introducing a new social side with the debut of a forthcoming app for iOS and Android called Pokémon GO.

The app, a team-up between the Pokémon Company, Nintendo and Niantic, will enable fans to search for locations in the real world as they collect popular Pokémon characters. They will be able to catch, trade and battle unique characters with each new location they visit, creating a huge social aspect that literally introduces something around every corner.

Junichi Masuda, game director of the Pokémon series, is on board the project, which will utilize camera technology so that players can certainly “catch ‘em all,” as the series consistently promotes. With Niantic, creators of the location-based game Ingress at the helm, it’s likely to be a big hit when it debuts in early 2016.

“Our challenge was to develop a great game for smart phone devices that expressed the core values of Pokémon,” said Tsunekazu Ishihara, president and CEO of The Pokémon Company. “Pokémon GO is the answer to that challenge.”

Pokémon GO is a wonderful combination of Niantic’s real world gaming platform and one of the most beloved franchises in popular culture,” said John Hanke, founder and CEO of Niantic, Inc. “Our partnership with The Pokémon Company and Nintendo is an exciting step forward in real-world gaming and using technology to help players discover the world and people around them.”

Polygon has more details about the game: “Pokémon Go will work with a Bluetooth-powered device called Pokémon Go Plus, which players can wear on their wrist or pinned to their clothing. The device, which looks like a Pokémon combined with a Google Maps marker pin, has a built-in LED light and a vibration function that will notify players that something important is happening in the game, such as a Pokémon  appearing nearby. Ishihara said that Pokémon Go players won’t be required to use the device to play the game, but that it will reduce the amount of time players spend staring at their smart devices in order to play the game.”

This shows some initiative on Nintendo’s part as its push into mobile continues, although it doesn’t count as one of its projects through its partnership with DeNA. Those games are still coming, although they’re shrouded in secrecy.

The full press announcement can be found below.

Instagram Video Ads Get Longer Option

For the past few months, Instagram has seen big success with its ad program, although there have been questions in regards to whether the company will stay true to a certain format. However, it seems to be experimenting with new things, as a report from AdWeek suggests that it’s hard at work on a prolonged video advertising, in the hopes of attracting a few new brands.

The company made the announcement earlier today, indicating that marketers would be able to take advantage of the 30-second format through campaigns. This doubles the time that previous ads were limited to, coming in at just 15 seconds (the same length of videos that users can post).

This new ad format supports landscape mode, as part of the site’s formatting update that was recently applied, and will “give ads a more cinematic feel,” according to the company.

Brand marketers have been used to a 30-second format for the longest time, between traditional television commercials and ads that appear regularly on the likes of YouTube and, in some cases, Facebook. This way, they don’t have to compromise with a smaller format, in which its message could easily be hurried, missing some of its potential. In addition, brands will also be able to target specific promotions towards specific groups on the site, similar to how they can cater to users on Facebook.

As far as how well the ads will fare on the service, time will tell, but Sean O’Neal, president of Adaptly, is confident. “We are seeing impressive results from the 15-second ads, with overall costs and performance metric being competitive with the larger, more established video platforms,” he said. “We fully expect the 30-second format will deliver similar, industry-leading results.”

So far, Instagram states that it’s a success, pointing out a couple of case studies in the process.

Gilt Groupe reported an 85 percent increase in shopping app installs following a campaign that involved downloading. In addition, Kabam, creators of Star Wars: Uprising, has attracted users with its campaign for another popular app, Marvel: Contest of Champions.

“People come to Instagram for visual inspiration, and advertising on Instagram has the power to touch, inspire and move people,” Instagram said in a blog post. “Instagram ads have proven to drive strong branding results 97 percent of measured campaigns on Instagram have generated significant lifts in ad recall.”

On top of that, the company also introduced a new premium-priced ad format called Marquee, enabling certain companies to run certain campaigns for a small amount of time. The Fox network has already jumped on board with this campaign, advertising three shows set to make their debut later this month The Grinder, Scream Queens and Grandfathered. An example of this campaign can be seen below.

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Now it’s just a matter of seeing how well the longer ad format fares with consumers, especially to those who are used to the traditional 15-second format.

Marriott Brings Virtual Reality To Guest Rooms

Marriott is no stranger to the world of virtual reality. Last year, the company introduced an immersive 4D travel experience, where consumers could be transported to various locations using Oculus Rift headsets. But now Marriott wants to bring this experience even closer to consumers, by offering headsets that can be used from the comfort of their room.

Variety reports that the hotel chain has begun testing out a program in both New York and London that allows customers the opportunity to try out virtual reality from the comfort of their suites, with a new “Vroom Service” program. Except, this time, instead of Oculus, the test is taking place using Samsung Gear VR equipment, supplied by Samsung Electronics.

When ordered, customers can use the headset for a period of 24 hours, using it to roam through three “VR Postcards” set up by Marriott, each providing an immersive 360-degree, 3D view of each location. These include paying a visit to Chile’s Andes mountains, as well as stopping by an ice cream shop in Rwanda and checking out the busy streets of Beijing.

The service “combines storytelling with technology, two things that are important to next-generation travelers,” said Matthew Carroll, vice president of global brand management for Marriott.

Marriott also confirmed that VR Postcards will also be available through the Samsung Milk VR video service, accessible through any given Samsung Gear VR headset, developed in conjunction with Facebook’s Oculus VR division. Using tech put together by Framestore’s Virtual Reality Studio, it really provides a “you are there” approach to customers who want to step into a new world but without paying hundreds of dollars in travel.

The “Vroom Service” provides a new level of hospitality to consumers, one in which presents a new side of media that can be easily adopted. And it’s the latest move by Marriott to make its consumers feel right at home, following an announcement earlier this year that enables Netflix subscribers to log in to their service through the comfort of their room, so they can binge watch their favorite programs, even while on the go.