TriplePoints of Interest – Week of July 20

This week, we learned that the eSports world ruled players CAN gain an unfair advantage competing in video games by using drugs prescribed for ADHD. We also learned a new way developers are making their games as an outlet for creativity for their fans. Games can and do make you an artist!

eSports pros draw First Blood for drug tests

Electronic Sports League (ESL), the world’s largest eSports organization, announced they will implement new policies in the wake of an Adderall abuse scandal that broke out at IEM Katowice’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament. VICE Motherboard reports that ESL will soon require drug abuse policing, education, and prevention among participants, but will not punish teams who have since been accused of drug use at previous events.

The Art of Video Games…and Gaming

Outpost Games CEO, Sachin Pansuria, told GamesIndustry International that their business model will treat gamers not as consumers, but as performers and creators of content. They seek to create games that play on a gamer’s skill and creativity, making the game a creative outlet, and not just roll out DLC in hopes to keep players interested. Others in the industry share Outpost’s sentiments as they just secured $6.2 million in funding from Benchmark!

Gamescom survival guide!

Heading to Europe’s largest video game show next month? Amsterdam’s tinyBuild Games, veterans of Gamescom, provided a list of tactics on Gamasutra for how to make your booth showing the best yet! Tips include how to structure your booth so it’s welcoming to attendees and how to reward attendees for stopping by!

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TriplePoints of Interest – Week of July 6

What is everyone spending their summer 2015 playing? I just need a reminder that it is summer since it’s gray and chilly here in San Francisco. For those of you mobile folks, who has tried to stream your gameplay? I really wonder how many people would tune in to watch birds get flappy or angry. I know I would!

The rise of streaming mobile games

Sony announced a partnership with Twitch to stream mobile games from Xperia devices. The Xperia exclusivity is due to the fact that the streaming app is developed by Sony and not Twitch, according to SiliconAngle. Writer, Eric David, asks whether there is an audience yet for mobile game streaming, seeing that PC still dominates Twitch. Twitch, on the other hand, believes that creating as many avenues as possible to stream games on a wide array of devices is necessary to serve the community properly.

Your weekly VR report from Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida

GamesIndustry International caught up with Sony Computer Entertainment president, Shuhei Yoshida, to hear his take on the state of the VR industry. He discusses Sony’s focus on VR content at E3 versus GDC’s focus on the hardware itself, emphasizing the need for swift turnaround in profits for developers creating games for the headsets. He also explains why virtually no headset maker has discussed price points yet despite most release dates being set for as early as Q1 2016.

Bet to make eSports bigger!

There is already no question that eSports is a global phenomenon. Will the age-old pastime of betting on traditional sports establish itself in the video game space as fast as competitive gaming did? VICE believes it will based on companies like Unikrn receiving large sums from investors and its ability to bridge the gap between hardcore and casual viewers of eSports.

The Early (Access) Bird gets the worm…or does it?!

DayZ’s creator, Dean Hall, presented his insights on the pros and cons of using Early Access as part of a game launch’s strategy. According to Gamasutra, Mr. Hall believes that Early Access allows developers a chance to receive authentic user feedback, but can also set wrong expectations for the game at launch. He used Kerbal Space Program as an example of a game that benefited from Early Access as it allowed the game to improve into the experience it needed to be, while delaying and launching the game as a fully finished product might not have given the game room to grow.

Photo from Digital Trends

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of May 25

Clearly, the big news of this week came out of Google I/O, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fun (indie) game sales happening that might catch your attention. Ladies and gentlemen, here is this week’s TriplePoints of Interest!

What intelligence does Android M have for us? (Cue spy music)

Google I/O shook up Silicon Valley this week! The Verge presented a roundup of the top news emerging from the conference. The first was “Android M,” successor of Lollipop, that will streamline apps more including faster map uploads in areas of low connectivity as well as Chrome integration into all apps. More details were given on Android Wear smartwatches and Android Pay. The keynote also touched on VR, including a new iPhone-compatible Google Cardboard.

Fun weekend activity: the Humble Nindie Bundle

Nintendo announced its first Humble Bundle, the “Humble Nindie Bundle” aimed at highlighting indies from the eShop. According to Polygon, this is the first in a series of initiatives from Nintendo to support indie games. Included in the bundle are games like Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship edition and Woah Dave!

Higher security needed for truck full of games

Europe’s largest video game retailer, GAME UK, announced to consumers that pre-ordered Splatoon that its entire shipment of the game’s special edition, which includes the Squid Inkling amiibo, was stolen. According to IGN, no further details on the circumstances were provided other than that consumers will instead receive the game’s standard edition at a discounted price along with an Inkling Boy or Inkling Girl amiibo to make up for the losses.

This news is reminiscent of a similar incident where a truck containing 6,000 copies of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was hijacked in France in 2011.

More insight on how to improve the reputation of F2P

GamesIndustry International reported from the fourth annual Digital Dragons Conference in Kraków, Poland where a well-attended talk was given about the future of free-to-play and how to fight its bad reputation. Video game development veterans discussed the challenges the business model faces including stigma from the press, how PR must combat it, and how game designers can do better to model game mechanics to make the wait time between content availability more enjoyable. They concluded that F2P is overall a flexible system and can be tactfully tailored to suit each game and each audience.

Photo from Tech News Daily

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of May 18

A lot of fun news coming from Nintendo this week. The Nintendo World Championships are back this year and it looks like Bowser finally beat Mario to the top. Sort of! Here are our favorite news pieces from this week!

Nintendo World Championships is back from 1990!

Nintendo unveiled new details surrounding the Nintendo World Championships, a competitive event the company is reviving after 25 years. According to Polygon, the qualifying rounds kick off May 30 at Best Buy stores in 8 different cities from New York City to San Francisco. The first 750 customers who sign up must battle it out on Ultimate NES Remix for a spot in the big event!

eSports: the new frontier of advertising?

Game revenues will be taking on TV broadcast revenues, says research firm, SuperData. According to VentureBeat, video games are slated to push past broadcast TV into the #2 spot in entertainment market share thanks to the eSports phenomenon. Cable TV currently holds the top spot. SuperData states that this data shows eSports as a more lucrative platform for advertisers.

This conclusion is backed by EEDAR who, according to GamesIndustry International, stated that eSports viewers spend twice as much on PC peripherals and 30% more on their game systems than their non-eSports-watching counterparts.

The Mass Effect takes of Virtual Reality?

The importance of augmented reality in video games was amplified this week when it was announced by Polygon that Casey Hudson, former lead on the Mass Effect series, had moved to Microsoft to work on the HoloLens. Mr. Hudson is now the creative director at Microsoft Studios, leading the production of what he calls “mixed reality and holographic computing.”

Nintendo hires Bowser. And is dead serious about it.

Nintendo announced they hired a new Vice President of Sales, cleverly titling their press release, “Nintendo Hires Bowser,” according to The Guardian. Mr. Doug Bowser thanked fans for the news’ warm reception with a brilliant tweet.

Photo from The Punk Effect

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of April 20

It’s time for the top news in tech and games from the penultimate week of April 2015. Big this week is research from analyst firm, Newzoo, who predicts a very fruitful year revenue-wise for the games industry in 2015. On that note, what games will you be picking up this weekend?

Make it rain, games industry!

Analyst firm, Newzoo, reports that the global games market will reach $91.5 billion this year, thanks to a projected 23% growth in Chinese game revenues, according to VentureBeat. They also predict China and the US will be competing for the #1 spot for the most game revenue generated this year.

Is your website mobile-friendly yet?

Google made a major algorithm change last Tuesday, April 21 bumping up search results for websites that are mobile-friendly. According to Fortune, this approach is likely to push websites who haven’t jumped on the mobile bandwagon to do so right away lest disappear off the first page of search results. This comes as the result of Google’s latest research, which shows 60% of search engine traffic comes from mobile.

Selling mods on Steam to be the new normal?

Valve rolled out a new feature on Steam for their vibrant modding community: the ability to list your fan-created mods on third-party games for free or for money. According to GameSpot, this is an extension of an existing policy where modders could sell their fan-made items on Valve games like Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2 via Steam Workshop. Starting this week, mods for Skyrim began appearing on the store with more supported titles to be announced in the coming weeks.

This new program has not been without its share of backlash. According to GameSpot, well-known modders have spoken out against the commercialization of the hobby. A mod was also just removed from the store due to a dispute over whether the entirety of the mod’s content was created by the seller.

In getting a new game discovered, there is only Beast Mode

Cliff Harris, developer from Positech Games, maker of Gratuitous Space Battles, spoke to GamesIndustry International about the changing landscape of game discoverability and how the ease for developers to release a game on Steam has made it ever the more difficult for a game to succeed. He states that with each game launch, a year and a half’s income is based on a “roulette” with advertising costs rising and fewer gamers wanting to pay for a game before it becomes 50% off.

Minecraft is to YouTube what Game of Thrones is to HBO

In other research from Newzoo, the top 10 most viewed game content on YouTube for the month of March 2015 was revealed, with Minecraft taking the top spot with over 3.9 billion views, according to Game Informer. Grand Theft Auto and Five Nights at Freddy’s followed in 2nd and 3rd place. Other notable games included League of Legends at #7 and Mario games at #8.

Better question: what games will you be WATCHING people play this weekend?
Photo from My Nintendo News

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of April 13

Welcome back to our snippet of the top news in tech and games this week! The burning question this week is, of course, who has pre-ordered an Apple Watch? Sound off in the comments!

Will the Apple Watch disrupt both the tech AND fashion world?

The Apple Watch craze is in full force clocking in at over 1 million pre-orders, according to USA Today. The Verge has already identified 3rd party accessory manufacturers creating battery life solutions for the watch without any evidence of whether or not the Apple Watch’s battery life is too short. Analysts are already examining the Apple Watch’s potential to disrupt the fashion world, according to Business Insider, warning well-known watchmakers like Fossil and Movado of the threat they may pose.

Old Spice made a game, and not the usual kind you’re thinking of

Twitch Plays Pokémon has inspired Old Spice’s latest marketing campaign, Twitch Plays Old Spice. According to Daily Dot, from April 16-18, viewers will be asked to write in the chat what they want the wilderness-stranded live-action (human) character to do and apparently, anything goes (someone just suggested “sucker punching” a bear, causing a Game Over)! It will be interesting to see how this campaign unfolds and if Twitch users will be as friendly as they were to Red in Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue. This is one of many Twitch Plays Pokémon-inspired campaigns in the last year including the now-defunct Rev3Games stream, Twitch Plays Adam Sessler.

Guitar Hero is back for its 10th anniversary. Who is feeling old already?

After a years-long hiatus, Guitar Hero is back for its 10-year anniversary reissue. Engadget reports the reboot aims to make guitar playing more realistic by adding two rows of buttons at the top of the guitar and a live-action crowd that will react to the performance based on the player’s score. The game will also sport a first-person view accompanied by a live-action band on stage who will also turn and address the player, giving a feel of a real performance versus the 3rd person animated view of previous versions.

Let’s Get Digital

The ESA has revealed that retail game sales in the US are declining and digital game sales have risen 23% since 2010. According to GamesIndustry International, PC still rules the market with 62% of digital sales followed by consoles, smartphones, other wireless devices, and dedicated handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS. They also report that over 155 million Americans play games with 80% of households owning a device to play games.

It was a sad week for the Australian games industry

Australia’s last major AAA studio, 2K Australia, developer of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, has closed its doors and terminated all of its employees. Kotaku Australia reports that an attempt to move the Canberra-based studio to Melbourne in order to attract new talent led many high-level members to leave the company, which, Kotaku speculates, may have been a factor in the closure.

Asia has the key to the next level

Warner Bros. Interactive’s Senior Vice President of Digital Games, Greg Ballard, told GamesIndustry International about the importance of Asia and every company’s need to enter that space in order to stay competitive. He cites major Asian companies like Tencent and Nexon running major operations in the US and credits Riot Games’ success, in part, to Tencent helping League of Legends become successful in Asia. App Annie’s report showing China overtaking the US in iOS app downloads backs Mr. Ballard’s claims.

Digital games go anti-social?

Research firm, Superdata, revealed US digital game sales rose 2% to $1.01 billion in March, but social games fell 10%. GamesIndustry International reports that the firm is seeing overall interest in social games waning with more focus being put on tablets and smartphones. Superdata also advised developers to focus on building a stronger presence in Japan, where mobile revenue per paying user is three times higher than in China.

That’s all for this week! Now what will you all be playing this weekend?

Banner photo from Mashable


TriplePoints of Interest – Week of April 6

Welcome to a new weekly feature here on the TriplePoint blog: TriplePoints of Interest, where we recap the biggest news from around the games and tech industry, plus subjects we just can’t stop talking about around the office!

Fixing the image of free-to-play

The image of free-to-play games has been a hot topic as of late. Steve Peterson of GamesIndustry International describes why free-to-play games have built a bad reputation and how it can be fixed. He first cites how quickly widespread the business model has become as reason for the extreme divide on opinions from within the games industry.

He then suggests that in-game merchandise must improve on the game, not be required to play the game, and that players shouldn’t have to feel they must make microtransactions to remove “annoyances” in the game or get to the fun. Developers and marketers also must be clear about the ways to spend money in the game. If a developer does not feel it is beneficial to “celebrate” the microtransactions, then the microtransactions are probably not ones that should be built in in the first place and will likely anger players.

The YouTubers versus Nintendo: the saga continues

Nintendo’s controversial YouTube policies have caused another YouTuber to cease reviewing Nintendo games. Joe Vargas of the Angry Joe Show stated in a video, according to Polygon, that he will no longer make videos relating to Nintendo games after his Mario Party 10 video was flagged for copyrighted material, keeping him from making ad revenue. Mr. Vargas has also been a staunch opponent of Nintendo’s Creators Program.

Heroes of the Storm collegiate league needs a GPA boost

The rise of collegiate competitive gaming, while growing exponentially, has not been without its share of snags. Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm collegiate tournament, “Heroes of the Dorm,” has been marred with no-shows and website bugs, leading to a host of scheduling difficulties, according to Daily Dot. The $450,000 prize pool, and involvement of Blizzard and TeSPA (high-profile collegiate eSports organization) meant very high expectations for the tournament from fans and participants alike, begging the question of the effectiveness of allowing over 800 teams to participate.

Ads and Kids, like water and electricity, do not go together

Consumer advocacy groups are asking the FTC to investigate Google’s YouTube Kids app due to concerns that it aims advertising at young children on smartphone and tablets, according to San Jose Mercury News. The concerns cite laws on broadcast TV that prohibit TV stations from placing products around kids’ programming due to children having not developed cognitive skills to resist advertising.

An old dog returns to the doghouse: Mark Pincus is back!

Zynga announced that Don Mattrick, their CEO of less than 2 years, is leaving and will be replaced with former CEO, Mark Pincus. GamesIndustry International believes that the company’s great losses under his leadership caused the change, but credited Zynga’s sharp rise in mobile profits–from 27% to 60% of the company’s worth–over the last 2 years to Mr. Mattrick’s work.

Check back again next week for more of the top news from games and tech!
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Join TriplePoint for PR Workshops at Parisoma This Summer!

TriplePoint is teaching a series of workshops on the basics of PR this summer in San Francisco. Intended for entrepreneurs and useful for anyone who wants to understand how PR works, the classes are offered in partnership with Parisoma. An incubator and coworking space, Parisoma has a great education and mentorship program that we’re proud to be part of! Continue reading Join TriplePoint for PR Workshops at Parisoma This Summer!

How to Leverage Content Marketing for PR

Developing a consistent and useful content campaign is time-consuming, but it’s a non-negotiable for today’s marketers that want to amp up search results and engage potential customers with thoughtful blogs, webinars and whitepapers.

To make the most of this hard work, marketers can “double-dip” by leveraging the content development process for another element of the marketing mix: PR.  Continue reading How to Leverage Content Marketing for PR

Should YouTubers Be Considered Journalists?

Much in the same way that bloggers rose a decade ago to disrupt the media landscape by giving readers immediate access to information over their print brethren, YouTubers have arrived in a similar fashion to give a new, younger audience a fresh perspective on the games they love. Though YouTubers have been around for the better part of a decade, it is only in the last year that this surge of user-generated content has come to the attention of game publishers and developers as they scramble to understand how to work with these personalities. Like the bloggers of yesteryear, this influx of influential talent has led PR professionals and their marketing colleagues to learn more about this next generation of game changers but which camp are YouTubers in? Should they be approached like editors? Do they have the same ethical guidelines as journalists? Are they supposed to behave like reporters in the first place?

In the last month, this notion that YouTubers should adhere to similar ethical standards as editors—i.e. not accepting money for content—has been argued both for and against by many in the industry. Lumping all YouTubers into one batch, though, is a step in the wrong direction toward understanding this novel segment. With journalism, all reporters are held to a universal standard, but this is not the case with YouTubers as there are couple different types of personalities to contend with. Instead, when evaluating a YouTuber, it should be done on a case-by-case basis as each one has their own set of rules; some aim toward being pure entertainers, much like a daytime TV talk show host, while others portray themselves as unbiased and critical, much like journalists, in their assessments of games and yet they still do what they do for entertainment purposes.

On the pure entertainment side of the spectrum, look at popular personality PewDiePie. He doesn’t present himself to be a critical voice in the games industry; his videos are mostly comprised of himself and friends enjoying themselves while playing an assortment of games. By no means is PewDiePie proposing that you should buy X game or stay away from Y genre, he just wants to entertain—and he does, to the tune of two million views per video on average.

Is it unethical for an entertainer to accept a branded deal for content creation specifically? If the entertainer posits themselves as just that—an entertainer, much the same way as, let’s say, a comedian does—then it is this author’s opinion that it shouldn’t be an issue who sponsors the entertainer so long as it is clearly disclosed to the viewer the same way it has been done in television for decades.

On the other side of the coin, you have personalities like Total Biscuit who certainly come with their fair share of opinion and whose audience is craving this sort of critical feedback to base their purchasing decisions on.

Could one who proposes themselves as a critical voice in the YouTube community accept promotion for content creation? While accepting payment to create a positive sounding video could be considered a conflict of interest much the same way an editor would never accept money for a positive review, a YouTuber of this variety may still accept branded deals in the guise of voice acting, using sponsored products, and other promotional considerations outside of specifically creating positive videos about games they wouldn’t otherwise play. Branded deals for a critical YouTuber could be viewed the same as an outlet taking ad money from a publisher to keep their site running. While editors can argue that they themselves do not sell ads and that there is a clear separation between editorial and sales, this distinction isn’t transparent when it comes to YouTubers. Again though, any sort of paid promotion should be clearly disclosed to viewers and readers so the audience is aware of the situation.

Simply put, YouTubers are indeed a different beast and should be held to the ethical standards of disclosure, especially when there is money changing hands. Furthermore, these actions should be made clear by both parties involved. This is where the similarities between journalistic ethics and YouTubers end, though. No matter how critical a YouTuber may be, they are still in the business of entertainment and though some critical YouTubers will not accept money for content creation—and personally I feel this is a great thing if one is positing themselves as a serious critic—a YouTuber may still opt to take branded deals, something a journalist simply cannot do.

It is necessary for an audience to determine the validity of a YouTuber’s content and for a PR pro to keep these things in mind when researching who to reach out to regarding a game or product. If a personality has a reputation for not properly disclosing when they take payment for content creation then they’re not a good target for your game as people will question the integrity of the YouTuber’s words in their videos, much the same way a journalist would be questioned if they were caught taking money to write positive articles. Clear disclosure is the ultimate ethic that all of us in the business of brand awareness, whether it be paid or not, should abide by.

5 Takeaways from The Battle for the Marketing Cloud Event

On Tuesday we helped our friends at DoubleDutch put on a panel discussing what’s next in marketing technology and how startups can capitalize on the skyrocketing CMO tech budget. The event was called “The Battle for the Marketing Cloud,” and it was a hit! CEOs from DoubleDutch (social events platform), KISSmetrics (data analytics), Traackr (influencer marketing) and (marketing automation) spoke to a packed house of startup founders with insightful moderator Mike Maples, one of the valley’s top notch VC’s and managing partner at FLOODGATE.

Reflecting on the discussion, I’d like to share my top takeaways from the event:

1) The “shift” in budget from the CIO to the CMO is not really a shift.

Since Gartner predicted that the CMO’s tech budget will eclipse the CIO’s by 2017, there has been a lot of hullabaloo about these two positions competing for cash. In reality, that’s not the case. CIO’s aren’t losing money for tech to their colleagues in marketing; CMOs are just rapidly gaining budget because new digital tools are making it easier for them to prove ROI on their spends. A classic marketing problem used to be, “I know half of my advertising budget is working, I just don’t know which half.” Trackable, data-driven tools are increasing transparency into what channels and messages work. Hence, the boom in enterprise marketing-focused startups. (Credit: Mike Maples, @m2jr).

2) Cloud software is democratizing the marketing vendor space.

Cloud software is making it easier for startups to quickly deploy solutions, and therefore, it’s very easy for in-house marketers to try many different tools and evaluate them. While this helps create an even playing field to edge out software incumbents like SAP and Oracle, it also means that your solution could be booted as quickly as it was installed. The bottom line: you can get in relatively simply, but your product must be rock solid to keep its place in a CMO’s tech mix. (Credit: Lawrence Coburn, @lawrencecoburn)

3) Complex marketing sales require buy-in from the CIO.

Even though the cloud makes it easier to sell to the CMO, marketing software sales that span a large enterprise usually require buy-in from the IT department as well. In the case of data analytics platform KISSmetrics, penetrating an organization usually starts with a lower level developer or marketing manager. Then, as the product gains advocates, the KISSmetrics sales team can move up the food chain, eventually working with both the CIO and the CMO to develop the most productive, long-term customer relationships. (Credit: Hiten Shah, @hnshah)

4) Integrating point-based marketing solutions is the next big opportunity.

Because the cloud has created a boom in point-based solutions that focus on solving one marketing problem elegantly, marketers are usually dealing with a number of tools that don’t talk to each other. The next wave of truly “disruptive” solutions will integrate data from all tools – social, automation, email, events and more – into one easy-to-understand platform. This new solution would empower marketers to understand how their channels work together with powerful data visualization. (Credit: Pierre-Loic Assayag, @pierreloic and Sam Weber, @SamWeber).

5) The best companies don’t compete.

Mike Maples had so many insights about what makes a startup remarkable, it was hard to choose just one to highlight. However, my top takeaway from Mike is that the best companies don’t compete at all. They are not trying to be the best in their category; they create categories. In this position, a company should develop a provocative point of view that repels those “villains” who you would rather not have as customers and attracts others that share your spirit. For example, Salesforce ran with the “no software” perspective that drove away slow-moving traditional sales departments and excited those looking for a less clunky CRM service.

In Mike’s opinion, capitalism isn’t about competition, it’s quite literally about gaining capital, and those who are the only force in their particular market segment usually win this battle. (Credit: Mike Maples, @m2jr)

A big thank you to DoubleDutch for sponsoring the event and to Mike Maples, Lawrence Coburn, Hiten Shah, Pierre-Loic Assayag and Sam Weber for participating. You can continue the discussion by downloading the DoubleDutch event app here or tweeting me @DianaHSmith.

The Six Principles of Influence, and How to Use Them: Part 2

Two weeks ago we debuted part one of our Six Principles of Influence, and How to Use Them, and today’s post will focus on the remaining three principles: Reciprocity, Commitment/Consistency, and Liking/Rapport.

4. Reciprocity

Reciprocity, or the Law of Reciprocity as it is known, states that people want to give back to others who have given to them. Like consensus, this dates back to hunter-gatherer times, where the hunters would go out to get food while the other tribe members stayed and watched over the village and tended to other needs. Reciprocity developed here because the village knew that they would be getting meat and food when the hunters returned, which they needed to survive. On the flip side, the hunter who brought the food needed to know that if they returned frail or hurt there would someone in the village to take care of them and nurse them back to health.

Reciprocity started out mainly as a symbiotic relationship and has stayed ingrained in our consciousness and subconsciousness ever since. Reciprocity can be seen at play with holiday cards, a tradition that many people take part in each year. If the Smith family sends you a card, you will feel indebted to them and want to send them a card back, even if you don’t like the Smith Family! With the law of reciprocity in play, we often find ourselves in situations like this with gifts, favors, and help, because people want to give back to those who have given to them. They are compelled to give back in order to remove the feeling of indebtedness they have from the original action or deed. Continue reading The Six Principles of Influence, and How to Use Them: Part 2

The Six Principles of Influence, and How to Use Them: Part 1

Back in the end of June, I had the opportunity to attend a massive marketing event in Atlanta. Titled “Conversion and Compliance 3.0,” the event was held over two days, bringing in a range of speakers who covered a number of different marketing and communication topics.

One such speaker was Dr. Robert Cialdini, who is internationally known for his best-selling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In it, Cialdini breaks down what he describes as the six core principles of influence. They include Scarcity, Authority, Consensus, Reciprocity, Commitment/Consistency and Liking/Social Proof.

All of these principles are incredibly powerful and can be utilized in many different daily environments. This post delves into the first three, giving an in-depth look at what each principle is and how they can be used.

1. Scarcity

Scarcity is based around the idea that we want more of something the less there is of it. Scarcity can apply to physical items, such as a popular menu item that is being discontinued, or an offer that is only available for a limited time. Think back to every infomercial you have ever seen on TV, “order in the next 20 minutes and receive double the offer for no extra cost!” This is scarcity in action: if you don’t act soon you’ll be stuck with only one of the thing that you don’t really need, and thus your life will be worse.

Applying Scarcity to your life can be done best in relation to time. Your time is finite, and thus incredibly valuable. However, if you are always giving it out to people, they will not respect it and you will be worse off for it. If your time is scarce, people will value the interactions they have with you even more because they will subconsciously know that those interactions are not something they have whenever they please. A few months back, Apple CEO Tim Cook took part in a charity auction for a coffee meeting with him. The initial offering valued his time at $50,000, but the auction ended up closing for $610,000. How could one person’s time ever be worth that much? Scarcity.

2. Authority

Authority is important for people because authority builds credibility and trust. If you’ve ever had someone break into your car or steal something from your home, you call the police because they are the “authorities,” someone who you can trust to help with your problem and help you obtain a desired solution, whether that is getting the stolen goods back or finding the perpetrators.

Authority extends far beyond law enforcement, and can be seen in many different business settings. Think of Best Buy, who has brilliantly branded their computer tech and service department as the “Geek Squad.” When everyday people don’t know what is wrong with their computers, they go to the Geek Squad because they have a link to geeks being an authority in fixing all things technical.

You may be an authority figure in a given field; however you must tread carefully when peddling your wares. Telling others you run the hottest new startup in Silicon Valley will not showcase you as an authority figure, but instead will make others look at you with disdain as someone who is pompous and egotistical. What is better is to have others validate your authority for you. If I tell someone that my friend John is an incredibly smart guy who runs Silicon Valley’s hottest startup, this will seem much for credible to the listener. Whether or not this is true doesn’t necessarily matter; subconsciously, my building up John’s company is perceived as true, because it is coming from a second party who the person knows and who seems to have no reason to lie.

With Authority comes great power, so it is important to not abuse the power given to you by authority.

3. Consensus

Consensus refers to the idea that people look to others around them, who are like them, to see what they should be doing in a given situation. This is ingrained biologically from our hunter-gatherer times, where if one member of a given community didn’t follow the pack and acted differently from others (whether in hunting, traveling, or mating) they were not as likely to survive. In a behavioral sense, consensus makes it easier to fit into an unfamiliar situation. If you’ve never been to an opera, you’re going to look at other members of the audience for cues when to clap, when to stand, and when to stay quiet, because it is easier for you to follow the crowd rather than test out new behaviors on your own.

A big part of consensus also revolves around relating to others: if we have like behavior or find something in common with another person we are more open and receptive to them and are more likely to find them friendly.

Where this applies in an influence sense is that consensus can be used to elicit specific behaviors from those you interact with. As a Doctor, you could use consensus to help guide people towards particular procedures that are beneficial but which the patients may be hesitant about: “Most patients who are like you with X ailment choose to go through with this procedure, and most of them have a quick and easy recovery.” In this case, the patient is more likely to be convinced to have the surgery because others like them have done it before. This is consensus in action.

Ready for more? Check out The Six Principle of Influence, and How to Use Them: Part 2.

8 PR Tips for Kickstarter Projects

Over the past year, we’ve been hearing from developers who want PR support not for the launch of their game, but for their Kickstarter projects. Promoting a Kickstarter project bears some similarity to a traditional product PR campaign; however, there are some major differences that will influence the way you approach a PR effort. Like any game, product, or service, it must be of high quality and there must be a demand for it in order for PR to be effective. If you’ve got that covered, then the next step is getting the word out in the right way; here are some tips and best practices we’ve learned through experience and observation.

1) Ask Not for Money

A common complaint we’ve heard from members of the press is that writing about Kickstarter projects puts them in an awkward position, or worse, a conflict of interests. The reporter’s job is to inform their readers, not to help a struggling artist raise money. If one goal accomplishes the other, so be it, but in your outreach to press, you must avoid asking for help or assistance in reaching your fundraising goal. Your objective should be to show and tell about the amazing game you’re developing, not to put the pressure you feel to reach a fundraising goal on other people.

2) Early Access for Media

One of the greatest advantages any game developer has in terms of PR is being new and unannounced. Once you’re live on Kickstarter, you’re not quite as new anymore. So treat your Kickstarter launch as a proper launch and offer a select handful of press some early access to the info, assets, and/or game preview you plan to share when your Kickstarter goes live.

3) Target Wisely

Some journalists have tweeted or written about “Kickstarter fatigue” and not wanting to hear about or write about any more Kickstarters. Avoid these people. Before you contact someone, read their work to make sure they are interested in the type of game you’re making, and that they’ve shown interest in promising Kickstarter projects before.

4) Update Often

We’ve seen a direct correlation between Kickstarter project updates, and the flow of donations, so keep your community informed with lively and regular updates and your chances of success and building a fanbase will increase. You should prepare a schedule of updates before you go live so you can drip-feed them over the course of the campaign. Hasty or hollow updates can actually deter backers.

5) Tap into Nostalgia or Unmet Demand

The projects that fare the best on Kickstarter, for the most part, all have something in common. Some tap into a nostalgia we all have for a long-forgotten game franchise or defunct IP from our childhoods and the collective desire to bring it back. Some play into a sense of unmet demand for a game or product that people clearly want to have but no big company has yet devoted the resources to produce. Others instill a sense of confidence in their backers because the team behind it has an incredible pedigree and a track record of success. Most successful games on Kickstarter will tick one of these three boxes. Note that the successful “nostalgia” projects typically also offer something new and innovative, not just a revival of something old.

6) Get Ready Before Launch

You need to have a working game to show before you launch the Kickstarter. Don’t let Kickstarter be the debut of your concept — you should have a working prototype or more. John Rhee, an indie developer who recently ran a successful Kickstarter for his game Liege, wisely advised, “Your development progress should be inverse to your studio pedigree. Only established studios can expect to get funded off a concept. If you don’t have recognizable IPs under your belt, you’ll need to be well into development and have a lot to show.”

7) Time Your Project Deliberately

Think carefully about the launch, middle and end of your project. Be ready to wow people at launch, but sustain the flow of info and updates over the course of the campaign. Prepare for the “middle dip”, knowing support for projects tends to slump around the halfway mark. Know where your final 48, 24 and 8 hours will land. Like any other online business, purchases tend to increase on Sunday evenings. You’d be wise to end your campaign near standard paydays, when people have more disposable income handy. Likewise, avoid launching during major holidays, particularly shopping holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving (Black Friday).

8) Leverage Kickstarter for PR

Use Kickstarter as the powerful marketing tool it can be. Around 50% of your backers will originate from within Kickstarter, as opposed to referrals from external sites. Pay close attention to your project blurb and how it appears on Kickstarter and in search results. Also, look for opportunities to cross-promote your project with other Kickstarter projects. Many successful Kickstarters got a huge bump in backers from working with fellow projects in similar genres. You’re reaching an ideal demographic of existing backers who’ve already linked their accounts to Kickstarter and have shown interest in similar projects.

Just like the App Store, Kickstarter is a crowded marketplace full of many different products for sale. Both marketplaces share a common problem: discovery. It’s hard for users to find the content they want, and the platform owners struggle to surface the right content for the right people. Until this problem is solved, you must take it upon yourself to promote your Kickstarter and use PR to your advantage. Follow these tips and you will improve your chances of success on Kickstarter.


Lend Me Your Ears: A Guide to Selecting Podcasts

Management theorist Peter Drucker wrote many tips on how executives should obtain knowledge. Here’s one tip from his book The Effective Executive:

“The first thing to know is whether you are a reader or a listener. Far too few people even know that there are readers and listeners and that people are rarely both. Even fewer know which of the two they themselves are.”

President Kennedy was a reader, President Johnson a listener. Drucker contends the passage of administrations was fraught with problems since the aides who managed the transition — trained to convey information in written form — didn’t get through to the listening-oriented Johnson.

Consider your coworkers. It’s probably good to know which type they are. If you convey to someone multiple times “I emailed you” or “I told you,” perhaps it’s time to flip the method. You’ll likely have to conform to what works best for them.

But what works best for you in gathering knowledge? How should you choose what to read or listen to? Listeners are at a disadvantage. Continue reading Lend Me Your Ears: A Guide to Selecting Podcasts