In this week’s TPoI, No Matter Studios modifies game title to avoid legal battle, Blizzard reveals revenue data for Overwatch, and E3 announces a new series of panels for this year’s convention.
No Matter Studios Avoids Dispute With Bethesda & Zenimax
Indie developer No Matter Studios was recently forced to change its upcoming game title Prey for the Gods to Praey for the Gods after Bethesda and parent company Zenimax filed a trademark complaint for using the word “Prey”, as it’s the same spelling they’ve used for their latest title. IGN reveals that No Matter Studios seriously considered fighting it but decided against it as they’ve already spent a tremendous amount of time and effort raising funds via Kickstarter. According to Heavy, Bethesda’s legal team also clashed with Minecraft developer Mojang in 2011, which was eventually settled out of court. Hardcore Gamer predicts that readers are more likely to lean towards No Matter Studios than Bethesda and Zenimax, and is hopeful that this won’t end up hurting development in the long run.
Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch Earns $1 Billion to Date
Debuting in May of last year, Activision Blizzard announced that multiplayer and FPS Overwatch has already made more than $1 billion according to to their fiscal Q1 2017 financial statement. VentureBeat disclosed that this is the company’s fastest-growing franchise ever. GameRant surmises that part of its success stems from keeping fans engaged with ongoing limited-timed events, modes and skins. May 24 is Overwatch’s launch anniversary, and VG24/7 reports that Blizzard President Michael Morhaime may have a celebratory event or surprise in store for fans that day.
E3 Introduces New Panel and Series, “E3 Coliseum”
For the first time ever, E3 will be officially open to the public and that’s not all. GameSpot revealed that Journalist and Video Game awards host Geoff Keighley announced E3 Coliseum, a two-day series of talks and panels from gaming companies occurring on June 13-14. This new series is intended to take attendees behind the scenes of the gaming experience and VG24/7 disclosed that Bethesda Softworks, Microsoft, Gearbox Publishing, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Ubisoft are just a few of the publishers that will make an appearance at the panels. CinemaBlend hopes Gearbox Publishing has Borderlands 3 in the works, and predicts this year’s E3 to have one of the highest turnouts. For those unable to attend, Polygon reports that a live stream will be available to view on Twitch and other platforms.
In this week’s TPoI, we bring you the latest updates on Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service, Twitch’s new subscription service, and the possibility of a Mini SNES Classic Edition from Nintendo.
Xbox Game Pass Coming Later This Spring
Microsoft is preparing to launch Xbox Game Pass, a subscription gaming service similar to Netflix that gives users access to over 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles for $9.99 a month. Gamespot notes that the service’s alpha test is coming to an end on April 28, signaling an impending launch, and CinemaBlend predicts that it could come as soon as E3. Michael Pachter is confident that Microsoft won’t be able to replicate Netflix’s success, due to the lack of newly released titles being offered on the Game Pass.
Twitch Expands Subscription Service Options
Twitch has announced new $24.99 and $9.99 level subscriptions options, allowing fans to support their favorite streamers in bigger ways. TechCrunch reports that higher payment level subscribers will count more toward a channel’s overall subscriber number than non-paying viewers. EsportsPro believes this could significantly increase partnered streamers’ revenues, with a potential for streaming to turn into a full-time job for more users of the platform. Per Eurogamer, Twitch plans to release the beta version “very soon.”
Nintendo to Release a Mini SNES Classic Edition?
With the global discontinuation of the NES Classic Edition, there is speculation that Nintendo has plans to launch a Mini SNES Classic Edition, according to a report from Eurogamer. Nintendo has neither confirmed nor denied the rumor, but Fortune surmises that this may have been why production of the NES Classic was stopped. If the SNES is to be released, GameSpot expects it to launch sometime around December, a perfect gift for the holidays. Polygon suggests that Nintendo implements a pre-order program to prevent the type of shortage issues that were present at the NES Classic launch, with Forbes going so far as to advise Nintendo to triple the amount of SNES available.
Here’s the scoop in this week’s TPoI: Nintendo soars in the US with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sales on the Switch, Microsoft introduces a new refund program for Xbox One and PC games, and Germany instructs Twitch streamers and YouTubers to purchase a broadcasting license. With spring in the air, we give you full permission to indulge in chocolate covered sweets!
Nintendo Surpasses Own Record With Switch and Breath of the Wild Sales
New data released by Nintendo and NPD reveals that the Switch is now the fastest-selling console in Nintendo history, with Breath of the Wild attributing to its success. IGN reports that in North America, Nintendo sold 906,000 Switch units while Breath of the Wild sold 925,000 copies. WCCFTech explains that this means the title has an attach rate of 100%, possibly due to consumers unable to obtain a console along with the game. TheVerge adds that Nintendo is working hard to ensure that everyone who hasn’t purchased a Switch will be able to do so in the near future. While the numbers are impressive, Business Insider is curious to see how the upcoming launch of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2 will affect Switch sales. CNN believes the Switch needs more data before concluding that it’s a hit. Polygon disclosed that Nintendo will unveil worldwide Switch sales on April 27, so a final verdict won’t be made until then!
Microsoft Store Revamped in Response to User Feedback
Nothing’s worse than spending money on an app or game online and not knowing what to do with it once you’re done playing. Due to overwhelming response from gamers, Gamespot revealed that Microsoft sent a message to those enrolled in the Xbox Insider program, stating “In support of offering gamers the freedom of choice, we’re making changes to the Microsoft Store purchase experience by offering customers a simple way to instantly return digital products like games and apps through account.microsoft.com.” According to ArsTechnica, only Alpha members currently have access, but the feature should be available to the public soon. Metro reports that Microsoft will monitor activity and block users that attempt to abuse the program. BGR finds it to be almost identical to Steam’s refund system, but commends Microsoft’s decision and encourages other companies to take the same steps. Waypoint foresees that this may entice users to choose Xbox titles over PlayStation, but expects Sony to release their own refund system to keep up with its competition.
Broadcasting License Required for Twitch Streamers and YouTubers in Germany
German broadcast authority Landesmedienanstalt has deemed live-streaming as “radio broadcast”, enforcing YouTubers and Twitch streamers to provide a broadcasting license from now on. VG24/7 reports that YouTuber PietSmiet was informed he’ll need to apply for a license by April 30 if he were to continue making videos. Depending on the number of viewers, a license may cost between 1,000 to 10,000 euros, and SegmentNext believes streamers may have to turn to alternative websites or launch a Kickstarter to receive donations from fans. PCGamesN warns that those who fail to comply to the ruling will have their channel classified as a pirate station and subject to fines. Thankfully, Gamezone states that Germany is aware that this ruling is outdated and may be overruled in the future, but streamers are not exempt until further notice.
For this week’s TPoI, we dive into YouTube’s latest partner program update, PETA’s dispute with Nintendo, Atlus’ debatable decision to enact a strict streaming ban, and the launch of Twitch’s very own gaming store.
YouTube Enacts Stricter Creator Monetisation
In an effort to catch suspicious channels, YouTube has changed its partner program by enacting stricter guidelines for channel monetization. The Verge reports that going forward, YouTube won’t allow monetization until a creator has reached 10,000 lifetime views on their channel. MCV speculates that the true reasoning behind the move is to lessen the chances of brands finding themselves aligned with hate speech or racist content, an issue that YouTube has been battling. Aspiring creators will undoubtedly have a harder time earning money with this new policy in place, but ArsTechnica advises that using GoogleAdSense is an option to obtain ad revenue without relying on the total view count. Furthermore, Fortune revealed that YouTube plans to add a new review process for the partner program that will monitor a video publisher’s activity to ensure the creator is adhering to the rules and regulations.
PETA Shames Nintendo For 1-2 Switch Milking Game
Milk, one of 28 mini games on Nintendo’s multiplayer party game 1-2 Switch has been deemed unrealistic according to PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk. The milking simulator portrays no cows on-screen and the farmers appear to be happy-go-lucky during the entire process. Polygon reports that Newkirk personally wrote a letter to Nintendo to address her concerns stating, “We have more than 35 years of experience investigating dairy farms where cows are exploited for their milk, and it is NEVER that pleasant for these animals. Can we have some realism here, please?” Uproxx adds that Newkirk suggests either Nintendo depicts the cruel reality of animal abuse or consider simulating a game where no animals suffer. Nintendo has yet to respond but we anticipate a thought-out and respectful rebuttal.
Atlus Threatens Gaming Community With Harsh Consequences
The long awaited Japanese RPG series Persona finally launched its fifth entry to the series Persona 5 outside of Japan on April 4. The day after its release, a report from Kotaku revealed that developer Atlus threatened to issue channel strikes and content ID claims on any streamer or YouTuber that showed footage beyond 7/7, a date in the calendar of the game. The purpose of the ban is to prevent spoilers for those who haven’t obtained or played the game, but Forbes argues that users could easily search for a playthrough of the game considering it’s been released in Japan for a whole year. Atlus’ concerns are valid, but ArsTechnica adds that in this day and age, gaming companies should view gameplay videos as a way to boost exposure not hinder it. In recent news, Polygon reports that several streamers and YouTubers are showing content past the 7/7 mark and are well aware of the potential repercussions to follow.
Shop and Stream: The Future of Twitch
Amazon-owned Twitch has released a purchasing system for streamers and audience viewers. The Escapist disclosed that users will now be allowed to buy a game while watching a stream, with over 50 different titles released so far. Games can be downloaded and played through the Twitch launcher or on a publisher’s service, such as Uplay. Not only that, streamers will get a cut of the sales as well, with partnered streamers earning up to 5% of the sales that originate from their channel, according to The Verge. This is a smart move on Twitch’s part, as it offers revenue for both the company and streamers. Although Engadget believes this is a smart move, it worries that content creators may abuse the system and only stream games purely for financial gain. PCWorld agrees, but also argues that it’s a great way to showcase a game and see a streamer’s honest reaction and feedback.
In the last week of March, we’ve been paying attention to stories about Nintendo Switch scam, YouTube’s continued tweaking of their advertising rules and features, and the return of Club Penguin! On to April!
In this week’s TPoI we cover the uproar over YouTube’s restriction mode, updates on Nintendo Switch sales and Joy-Con controller issues, the controversy surrounding Ubisoft’s title For Honor, and how influencer JonTron’s personal views on race and immigration are damaging his career.
With the madness of GDC dying down, we here at TriplePoint thought we could sigh in relief. Little did we know…This week’s TPoI features PSVR’s success, Twitch announcing that it will sell games directly, and of course, the launch of the Nintendo Switch! What a week!
How Impressive Are Sony’s ‘Surprise’ PlayStation VR Sales, Really?
In the four short months that PlayStation VR has been available, it has already sold over 915,000 units – beating even Sony’s own projections. The New York Times reports that even the head of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Andrew House, had doubts regarding the PSVR and advised a slow approach towards production. Despite this, the PSVR managed to outsell both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive which moved a total of 663,000 units combined. TechCrunch provides insight into PSVR’s strong market performance, pointing out that the PSVR is cheaper than its competitors and an accessory to the already successful PlayStation 4 with over 50 million units sold. In addition, Forbes highlights that the PSVR’s purchase rate is less than 2% when considered alongside the total number of PS4s sold. Beneath all these numbers, however, is the fact that PSVR’s success is a boon to the VR industry and will help it develop faster. In an interview with UploadVR, HTC Vive China expressed this exact sentiment while congratulating their competitor on its success.
Twitch partnering with game devs, studios to sell games on site
Love to donate to your favorite streamer on Twitch? Now you might be able to get a game with that money! According to Polygon, Twitch is edging into the online marketplace for video games, but with a twist. Instead of a simple click-and-buy market, Twitch will allow its users to purchase video games right from their favorite streamer’s page. To sweeten the deal, Twitch will contribute 5% of the sale to the streamer and give the purchaser a digital Twitch Crate, which will contain a randomized item such as a chat badge or game-specific emoji that you can use on the platform. The Verge reports that Twitch’s move into the marketplace will help streamline the purchase process as many gamers watch streams before making the decision to buy or pass up a game. By allowing its users to purchase from the site and contributing a portion of the sale to the streamer, Twitch hopes to be one step closer to being the ultimate hub for gaming on the web.
Nintendo Switch Sells Out All Over The World
Finally! It’s the day that everyone has been waiting for – Nintendo Switch launch day! All the anticipation ends today as every major retailer has stocked their shelves with the new portable gaming system from Nintendo. Or does it? Chances are, if you don’t already have a Nintendo Switch in your hands, you’re going to have to wait a little bit longer. Forbes is reporting that the Nintendo Switch is sold out around the world and to expect a trickle of inventory as Switches will continue to fly off the shelves in the upcoming months. According to USA Today, some gamers lined up for more than 12 hours in order to get their hands on the highly coveted device. It’s no surprise as the Nintendo Switch launches with Breath of the Wild, which received a perfect 10 rating from GameSpot. So if you don’t have the Switch yet, keep your fingers crossed and your eyes peeled for restocks from retailers, and if you did manage to get your hands on one, happy gaming!
This week’s TPoI features the first reactions to Nintendo Switch, big shakeups over at Disney and Maker, Nvidia’s transformation into a gaming platform, and the response to the death of Twitch streamer Brian Vigneault.
Nintendo Switch: Here’s What the Critics Are Saying
This week, intial reactions and reviews started to surface from lucky journalists that were able to review Switch, prior to its official launch next week. Overall press reaction has been positive despite these early versions of Switch lacking the crucial “Day One” update that will go live on launch. The update will allow network connectivity, social media integration, and some minor bug fixes. Business Insider reports that the Nintendo Switch is a fast and efficient system that smoothly combines portable and console gaming with the caveat that some games, when played on a TV, have “issues with consistent framerate.” Similarly, Polygon also reports that the fit and feel of the Switch as a finished product is fantastic, but there are some issues with the Joy-Con controllers losing connectivity while the handheld is docked. The trouble surrounding the Joy-Con controller doesn’t end there as Ars Technica also writes that the controllers are, “a little hard to get a solid grasp on.” With the launch less than a week away, the Switch is shaping up to be a great product for those who like to game at home and on the go.
Disney cuts about 80 jobs in digital media unit that includes Maker Studios
LA Times reported that the Walt Disney Company has laid off about 80 employees in its digital media unit, which includes Maker Studios, the digital media company representing YouTube successes such as “Epic Rap Battles of History” and PewDiePie. Earlier this month, Maker severed ties with PewDiePie in response to a story from The Wall Street Journal that alleged anti-Semitic references the creator was including in videos. The PewDiePie scandal, and the recent cutbacks at Maker, have reportedly caused the company to further cull their roster of YouTube creators. Polygon reported that Maker will now only sponsor 300 content creators; the company currently supports more than 60,000. According to Develop, Maker will now look for two qualities in affiliated creators – 1) that the creators have their own established audience and large following, and 2) that the creator material is family friendly and in alignment with Disney’s corporate culture.
In The Wake of Marathon Streamer’s Death, Twitch Community Discusses Healthy Streaming Practices
In what was both a tragic and eye-opening week for Twitch users, Brian “PoShYbRiD” Vigneault passed away last Sunday after attempting a 24 hour charity stream for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Vigneault has done multiple charity streams in the past, raising over $10,000 to date for various organizations by playing, World of Tanks. According to IGN, World of Tanks issued a statement of condolence and to pay their respects to Vigneault’s family. Polygon has reached out to Twitch for comment, but as of yet the company has not made an official statement. In addition, Kotaku reports that Vigneault’s death should help raise awareness towards the unseen pressure on streamers to grow their fan base at the cost of their own health. The outlet also called for Twitch to “choose to take a firmer stance against unhealthy streaming practices.” According to IGN and Kotaku, Twitch has yet to make official comment. His fans have set up a GoFundMe page and turned his Twitch channel into a memorial.
NVIDIA GeForce Has Moved From Graphics Card To Gaming Platform
NVIDIA has set the gaming world astir with hints at a potential announcement of the long awaited GTX 1080 Ti at GDC next week in San Francisco. The company is coming out with all guns blazing, choosing to unveil the previously delayed graphics card on the same day that competitor AMD streams its Capsaicin event to announce its next-generation Vega graphics cards. Although details regarding the announcement and the card itself are still uncertain, Digital Trends implies that both NVIDIA and AMD are racing to make virtual reality the mainstream form of gaming. In addition, according to Forbes, NVIDIA is aggressively competing with mobile, console, and handheld gaming platforms through its GeForce line, which is responsible for the company’s high level of growth and success. Look for the drama between NVIDIA and AMD to unfold in a few days at GDC.
This Valentine’s month brings us nothing but love… for Nintendo! (okay, and maybe a bit of controversy)
This week’s TPoI include: Nintendo’s potential VR plans, a Switch Super Bowl commercial, a big fat lawsuit for Oculus, and Nintendo’s Fire Emblem is a gacha!
Nintendo’s Fire Emblem introduces controversial Japanese concept of “gacha”
Nintendo’s first free mobile game, Fire Emblem, is making waves this week as players are lured into purchasing special in-game items in a gambling-like fashion, employing a tactic the company has previously avoided – “gacha”. Bloomberg notes that after Super Mario Run launched on iOS priced at a premium $10 and without in-app monetization, the gacha mechanics in Fire Emblem are problematic, saying, “the Japanese powerhouse is taking a different approach that is potentially more lucrative — and much more controversial.” More information can be found on Inverse.
Nintendo plans to add VR to Switch
Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima reportedly discussed potential virtual reality plans for Switch in a conversation relayed by Kantan Games, a Tokyo-based consultancy firm. The company has previously shied away from sharing any VR plans, citing concerns around common VR issues and side effects like nausea or headaches. However, patents emerged in December regarding the design of a VR accessory to be used with Switch. Little is known about the service, but GamesIndustry reported that it will be a monthly and/or yearly service priced between $17.70 and $26.50 and including with a free NES or SNES game every month.
Nintendo Switch-ing it up with first Super Bowl ad
Nintendo’s first-ever Super Bowl ad will feature the Switch, and at $5 million per 30 seconds of airtime, the company is showing how serious they are about the new console. Excitement about the Switch and its fourth quarter slot has been voiced by outlets like The Verge, Polygon, and Engadget. Nintendo’s YouTube channel provides an extended commercial that has broad appeal -speaking to hardcore gamers, families, and everyone in between, mimicking TPCi’s approach last year in revealing a longer commercial before the actual Super Bowl ad aired. The two minute ad features many Switch game previews, as well as hints at the availability of household names like Super Mario, Street Fighter, and Mario Kart. The extended cut can be found here.
ZeniMax lawsuit seeks injunction to temporarily halt sale of Oculus headsets
The years-long lawsuit of Maryland-based game developer ZeniMax and VR leader Oculus has come to a close – with ZeniMax being awarded $500 million on February 2nd, for Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey’s violation of an NDA. After the “win”, ZeniMax reportedly told Polygon that the company was deciding whether or not to file an injunction – which would temporarily stop the sale of Oculus Rift headsets.
In the first TriplePoints of Interest of 2017, the big stories this week center around an Overwatch milestone, Switch prediction, and a new tabletop-focused version of PAX.
It’s 2017. Welcome to the future!
Overwatch Hits 25 million Player Milestone
Overwatch, Blizzard’s competitive team-based shooter that debuted in May 2016, now has more than 25 million players – up an additional 5 million from the 20 million milestone which the company celebrated in October. Thanks to the game’s constant updates, achievements, and new content, Polygon noted that the game has already become a classic.
Analyst Prediction: Nintendo Switch Will Sell 40 Million Units Through 2020
Research firm DFC Intelligence has predicted that the Nintendo Switch will sell 40 million units through 2020. If this forecast is to be true, Nintendo Switch sales in the first four years of the product’s life would account for 40% of Wii U’s lifetime sales (which is a somewhat conservative estimate according to Forbes). Forbes contributor Paul Tassi, is skeptical regarding DFC’s estimated sales, stating that its too early to know whether or not the Switch will be as successful as the Wii U or Nintendo 3DS, noting that the product is positioned as a secondary console and is competing against other Nintendo products as well.
PAX Unplugged Announced, Focused on Tabletop Games
AX Unplugged, a new annual event focusing on tabletop games, was announced today at PAX South. The convention is set to debut November 17-19 of this year in Philadelphia. Organizers say the convention will highlight “board, card, and other tabletop games” and the event as a whole will include game reveals, tournaments, panels and special events. IGN says tabletop games will still appear at other PAX events, but Unplugged will focus on stepping away from digital gaming.
Tis the season for gift guides. You can’t click a link in a google search without tripping over a “10 best tech gifts” story. One category of guide is always missing though: what to get for content creators.
More accurately, this guide is for the friend/parent/significant other of a content creator. One of the great things about streaming is the low barrier to entry; people can start with a pretty low-budget setup. What makes it even better is the amount of impact each new piece of hardware can make on your content.
Let’s start off with an area in which a creator can easily improve: audio. Microphones, to be exact. Starting off with your gaming headset’s built-in mic is fine, but people will notice the extra buzz or your breathing. A streamer can spend hours on third-party programs to try to smooth out the audio. Eventually, though, it is time for an upgrade.
My first suggestion is a personal one, as it is the mic I use, the CAD U1. It is a very cheap upgrade option, usually going for $20 – $25. Additionally, I bought and suggest this mic because unlike most microphone suggestions, it is not a condensor mic but is a dynamic mic. This immediately cuts down on environmental noise and, with the $3 foam cover, cuts way down on breathing noises.
If you want to really give them a treat (or treat yourself!) I highly suggest considering the Rode NT-USB. It is 6x as expensive as the CAD and returns to the condenser style of microphone, but provides a lot more options. Additionally, it has a clarity and fullness of sound that other mics just cannot touch. You will need a couple of additional accessories to make full use of the NT-USB but your stream will thank you.
Next up are webcams. You may be using your laptop’s built-in camera or something you dug out of a drawer from the good old days from before the dot-com bust! This is fine to get started, but now it’s time to get rid of that pixelated mess and step up your game.
The first camera almost needs no description. The Logitech C920has become the streaming camera of choice (and for good reason). It will give you a (nearly) flawless 720p or 1080p signal. It may not be one of the fancy new 60fps cameras that have entered the market (such as Logitech’s own C922x) but you won’t be disappointed. Best of all,with new cameras releasing, the price on this slightly older one is dropping and can usually be found for around $60.
Next is if you are really ready to step up your game: the Razer Stargazer which will run you around $150. The first camera to offer Intel Realsense, which uses multiple cameras to perform depth sensing and remove the background of the video even without a greenscreen! On top of that, it does 60fps at 720p. If you don’t have use for either of those features the last camera will cover your needs, but if you stream in a cramped space or do some crazy movements on Twitch’s new IRL category, this is the camera for you.
Lights are an important component, but one of the hardest to find a good brand. A majority of them are of the same quality and will last you a number of years if you treat them right. The best thing is to find a decent deal on a two softbox combo. A quick search on Amazon brought up a pair that are cheaper than the recommended Cowboy Studios from Fancierstudio. Whichever you go with, good lighting is a must. Be prepared to spend around $100.
Lastly, we’re going to get into a couple of miscellaneous and premium add-on items once you have everything else decently setup.
Virtual Reality is starting to really take off but has a rather high barrier to entry. There are options from Oculus and HTC/Valve but both will run you around $800. A slightly cheaper option if you already own a Playstation 4 is the PSVR. No matter which one you gift (or buy for yourself), it will add a whole new dimension to the content produced.
If the content creator is starting to explore the idea of a two-computer setup, you can help them by giving them a capture card. There are a lot of options out there but the most popular among streamers is the Elgato HD60s. They will have to have a fairly modern computer because this card uses USB-C, but it will be well worth it. Real time 1080p 60fps recording with no impact on the gaming PC — truly the next level of recording for just $170.
Finally, if you’ve looked through this list and wondered where the reasonably priced gift idea was, giving a Steam Gift Card of any amount is a great way to support your favorite content creator. One of their largest expenses, year after year, are the games they have to purchase in order to continue to produce up-to-date content. Giving them Steam credit means they will have the funds they need the next time a game launches.
These are all great options but they certainly don’t cover the full spectrum of possible gifts. Content creators are constantly upgrading, whether it is various internal computer components, trying out new web services, or even switching out their chairs in hopes that it will improve their content and allow them to keep making a great show. No matter what you get your favorite content creator (yes, even that ugly sweater), hopefully they are thankful that you thought of them this holiday season.
New Chinese law mandates loot box odds must be published by gaming studios, esports is coming to the White House, and GamesIndustry.biz posted an annual shortlist of influential individuals and teams in the video game industry — all in this week’s edition of TriplePoints of Interest!
Welcome back to our roundup of the top news in tech and games! This week Facebook launches an in-app game library, more than 4,200 games have been released on Steam this year, and The Game Awards 2016 winners were announced!
Conventions and the video game industry go hand-in-hand: there’s the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), Germany’s Gamescom, Comic-Cons, and more. Other than QuakeCon (and EA Play this year), it’s rare for publishers to host their own consumer-facing “mega event.” Most companies like Capcom, Ubisoft, and Nintendo share the stage and make special reveals during E3 (which is no longer open to the public) and other general gaming events.
Blizzard Entertainment is not like many companies, though as its 10th annual BlizzCon wrapped on November 4-5 celebrating all of the brand’s biggest franchises. Selling out in roughly 10 minutes, it is safe to say this annual convention is one of the most popular in the industry with no signs of slowing down!
Hosting a convention to promote your own properties and celebrate your fan base can be an extremely effective brand marketing strategy — evidenced by Blizzard. Publisher conventions can make fans feel rewarded, important,and valued. It gives attendees a chance to meet the artists and developers behind their favorite games, creating a personal connection that helps strengthen their brand affinity.
In order to understand why publishers should host conventions of their own, TriplePoint takes a look at what makes BlizzCon an impressive marketing tool, unique from other experiences, and what other companies can do to provide that same value. TriplePoint has taken all of this into account and has established five key BlizzCon 2016 brand marketing takeaways:
Surprising Announcements / Unique Information Distribution Structure
Each year, BlizzCon is home to new reveals and big surprises surrounding its IPs (World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch). Key highlights from this year’s BlizzCon included the eagerly awaited new Overwatch hero, Sombra, the Overwatch League announcement, Diablo 3’s upcoming Necromancer class, and Hearthstone’s new expansion Gadgetzan, and more. Interestingly enough this year Blizzard chose to separate its product news from esports news, with product on the first day and esports on the following day.
Blizzard’s strategy to lead its announcements with product news is because unlike product, which has more timing flexibility, esports stories need time to develop — tournaments need to be played and winners need to be determined. Having designated days for both types of stories ensures a steady flow of information for the press and consumers. Press will have enough time to cover, news will be easier to digest, and information won’t get lost — they can dominate the news cycle.
Watch the Best of the Best Play
Esports are another unique aspect of BlizzCon that is surprisingly not explored by other video game conventions.The best players from around the world gather to BlizzCon to showcase their skills and compete for huge prizes. The convention center is split into several parts where each space is devoted to specific tournaments in Blizzard’s gaming library. Having world championship tournaments during BlizzCon generates tournament results and team interview coverage, fandom, and an overall event spectacle.
Network with Industry Professionals
BlizzCon serves as a mecca, drawing in fans from all over the world and from different backgrounds. Since there is something for everyone, BlizzCon was filled with cosplayers, community managers, artists, press, developers, representatives from other games, tech companies and more. BlizzCon is a dense concentration of video game industry professionals and offers immense opportunity to connect with key industry players.
Get Up Close and Personal with Devs and Artists
One of BlizzCon’s greatest strengths is being able to generate a personal connection with fans through intimate events like Signing Areas and Q&A’s. Often times at conventions developers have little time to talk about their games, only showing cutscenes and trailers of games without being able to provide details on other aspects — not the case at BlizzCon. Not only should developers and artists interact with press, but the community itself is just as crucial. Q&A’s set time aside for the community and helps them understand where developers and artists are coming from when designing a game. Blizzard understands this and does it well.
BlizzCon had many demo stations for Blizzard’s key titles, filled with new content yet to be released to the public. This concept is not new for video game conventions, but BlizzCon has the advantage of knowing virtually all consumers will be interested in all demo stations; therefore can optimize and personalize the content for the trade show attendees (vs. a content free-for-all at an event such as PAX). BlizzCon’s demo stations allow players to take their time, experience the new changes implemented into franchises they are deeply invested in, and provide valuable feedback. Sure, companies can host events for press to test a demo, but it’s equally important for the game’s community to experience it. It brings insight from different skill levels and backgrounds as well as tests what works and doesn’t work with its most important stakeholders — the fans.
BlizzCon is a celebration of not only Blizzard’s video games but also its dedicated community they’ve cultivated for many years. Conventions can serve as an effective marketing tool, providing long-term value and building faith with your audience. In the end, players want games to succeed and to have fun. Personalized trade events such as BlizzCon are a great way to connect and celebrate with the fans.