Yesterday Edinburgh Interactive closed, with a Dragons Den type affair; the idea concerning a pitch of a game or interactive experience to a panel of Ian Livingstone (Life President Eidos), Rob Woodward (CEO Scottish TV), Bill Liao (Co-founder coderdojo.com), Mark Phillips (Harbottle & Lewis) and chaired by Sean Dromgoole (GameVision/Some Research).
The event was done with a degree of fun and entertainment, the dragons were more gentle, but the ideas and concepts were real and the virtual money got real for one of the contenders.
It was good to see two of the three were Scottish based, supporting Scottish industry and it looks like the event will happen again next year. Giving others the opportunity to pitch and have real feedback and questions from industry regulars.
By its nature its hard to report on this type of event but it was well received, enjoyed and it’s certainly one to watch next year: For any developers, to get feedback on products they are developing.
So on to today, and after David Yarnton got us up to speed, it was time to talk about the living dead.
Blood of the Zombies
Ian Livingstone (@ian_livingstone) is an industry veteran but, let that not fool you, he is as vibrant and active as Brian Wong in his own way. Possibly not as energetic but with a wealth of wisdom of the industry.
Speaking on the 30th anniversary of the release of Fighting Fantasy Ian talked about the roots of roleplaying, Dungeons and Dragons, and how that influenced Steve Jackson and himself to open their own store: Games Workshop.
Building real value meant building their own Intellectual Property and the three year deal to distribute D&D ended with Gary Gygax suggesting TSR and Games Workshop merging and Steve and Ian went their own way, creating Warhammer. Through the company they ran Gamesday and Penguin Books, who attended, saw the opportunity and, after discussion, the idea of Fighting Fantasy was created. Even though the deal took almost a year to strike, and they almost started writing a similar Lord of the Rings concept for Allen and Unwin (which was rejected) the book The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, published by Puffin, was created.
Looking at the habit itself and the ability for people to “cheat”, bookmarking paragraphs with fingers, to ensure that they could change their decision Ian talked about the media. They also ensured that the books were never discriminatory with the hero always being “you” and never “he or “she” to ensure all could be engendered to it.
With many feeling that the books may be educationally lacking and evangelists suggesting that it was the work of the devil. That someone suggested that their son had levitated after reading the books and John Craven asking Ian, when he was going to write a proper book, and their responsibility for starting a relationship. In the main this negative press, suggesting children should not play them, was that secret sauce that made the books sell so well. With early videogame adaptations and Deathtrap Dungeon, being a direct link to Eidos, and starting his engagement with that company.
Which brings us to today, this isn’t a talk about Eidos, it’s about Fighting Fantasy and his new book Blood of the Zombie. The book incorporates a new combat system and also has two “twitter” zombies and numerous videogame Easter eggs. Ian aware that the book needed to move with the times and seize the attention of today’s youth as well as harking back to the days of old, to be appreciated by all.
To add, the book is being developed on interactive media, developed by Tin Man Games, to ensure that it moves with the times and covers the greatest audience. Ian finishing by telling us, you need to kill all the zombies to win.
By Phil Harris (@PhilipGHarris)
The Digital Gaming Consumer – A Day in the Life
Google have identified the gaming product lifecycle and how users are interacting with their platforms across search, YouTube and Mobile from pre launch through to DLC. This session will take you on a ‘day in the life’ journey from a digital consumers perspective offering valuable and insight and examples along the way.
There’s a lot of change in the industry; Modern Warfare 3 achieves record sales, with growth of peripheral device sales like Kinect. FarmVille, Angry Birds and LOVEFiLM are shown as examples of shifts in business models, changing how consumers access media.
Smart phones and improving wireless communications are seeing a boom in mobile. Every day 300 million minutes of games are played (approximately 570 years worth). 65% of users known on Xbox Live are using apps like LOVEFiLM and Netflix as well as gaming.
Google has identified four key gaming audiences: Super social (friends first), connected heavy gamers, work hard/play hard and family first. Some gamer stats: 72% of gamers used YouTube in the last month, 96% used Google search and 80% own a smartphone or tablet.
The super socials are generally in their 20’s, with heavy gamers 15-35 range, whereas work hard/play hard is a huge and growing category. Lastly, the like of the Wii has been key to growth of the Family First category.
Google’s plans to reach more gamers start with looking at statistics: Google search is seen as hiving 93% reach, Google Dislpay Network with 96% and YouTube at 80%. Reach across the day for users has been mapped to tablets, mobile, desktop and television. Notably, theirs a correlation between Tv and tablets, users often interacting with these at the same time.
“Online research matters to gamers” states the next slide. Users want to know as much as possible about games prior to purchase, with 90% turning to internet searching as part of that research.
According to a study at Ipsoft, 60% of core gamers own smartphones. Key research tools their are web search and video. With the path to purchase lengthening, more stages are involved in pre-purchase research; trailers, images, screenshots, etc. With more than a dozen stages like this, continuing past game launches, they start to include searches for DLC as well as the game title.
A Mintel study showed that certain online activities influence purchases. The two key take-aways being 95% actual gameplay footage is most important and 94% need compelling trailers as well.
A day in the life of games consumers, the audience is asked to pass their unlocked phone to the person on their left; “doesn’t that feel weird?” 44% sleep within arm’s reach of their phones. 91% of gamers are online regularly, 72% have used YouTube in the past month. 53% percent of users are “dual-screening”, i.e. Using a smartphone/tablet and TV at the same time. 15% of usage on the smaller device relates to what’s on TV.
9 in 10 intend to spend £50+ on games, whereas half purchase DLC and would consult the internet first before buying. Apparently, gamers are far more receptive to online advertising than other demographics.
65% of people use their smartphones to kill time on a commute, with 52% of app activations being games. Cue a video about in-app advertising on mobile devices, going into detail about how to make use of devices capabilities, mostly centring around touch and interactivity.
81% use the internet at work. YouTube gets 4 billion views each day, with 600 million on mobile, second only to desktop. There are also 800 million unique visitors each month. Making it the key platform to reach connected gamers, beating even Facebook.
Mastheads as the most valuable piece of digital real estate are discussed, with us currently seeing video, but they’re also increasingly creative. SpiderMan is shown as an example, with a web-shoot game connected across devices through QR codes.
63% of TV ads are ignored, with 47% of online video ads being abandoned. Since advertisers pay for both watched and unwatched ads, Google tried to think up a solution: True View. Advertisers on YouTube only pay for ads users watch, since the skip button means the ad wasn’t watched, the advertiser doesn’t pay for that user’s content. Another benefit being users are more engaged if they do watch an ad.
The “push” element of YouTube can be very effective in generating positive word of mouth for a game trailer. An example given is how Modern Warfare 3 had an online launch party of sorts through YouTube.
Google believes G+ allows users to make the web work harder for them. It can aggregate a developer’s followers across platforms. Muppets are shown as an example, where users could interact directly with characters from the new movie.
Google’s projects like Google Play are furthering their goals to reach more gamers, tying in more effectively to social platforms.
Another video, this time about where we could be going. Yet, there are technical issues and it cannot be played. So questions are taken. First, Machinima as an imporant Google partner. Second, “How much to these campaigns cost usually?” That depends on whether it’s an auction-based product, like search, or a reservation-based product. Search being better on a limited budget.
The key challenge for Google+ being to differentiate from other social media. Their approach is to make it easier for people to find things that align to their passions.
By Michael Black (@firm3d)