Gifted. Influential. Ever-present but still quiet (and relatively unknown in the non-geek world), his work will be sorely missed but his legacy lives on – in ways that even he couldn’t possibly imagine. Read this amazing write up and learn something about the future-gazers of yesterday. .
The Curator’s Code
I don’t know why, but this article speaks to me. Perhaps it’s the multiple different sources that I pull on to put this kind of post together; perhaps it’s the amount of effort that goes into linking an article thoroughly and correctly; or perhaps it’s just nice to know that news-breakers (or should it be news-connectors) are getting the citations they deserve. Especially when you see it happen right in front of you. .
Seems late writing this one up (as it occurred on a Saturday and the cut-off date for this lot is Friday), however it was still one of the best things I’ve been to this year. Big up to Robbie for sorting me a ticket (I still owe you Â£60 chap) and you may as well check out his post on it too. Mine will follow at some point (when the workload slows up anyway). .
Marek Pawloski asked me what I thought about Marvel comics using augmented reality, so I told him; Ewan Macloed asked me what I thought of Homeless Hotspots, I told him too; and if someone asked me what book I want on my kindle next, I’d say this one.
While in-game advertising is nothing new, in-game product placement is. However brazen, it does – in a weird way – kind of work. I spotted it, admittedly, as my marketing/advertising eyes and brains are trained to spot this stuff a mile away. However, it wasn’t exactly in your face per se, in fact it was quite subtle.
Best of all, if Lara Croft was a real person then I bet she probably would be an iPhone4 user (and would no doubt be rocking the Beats by Dre also).
So it kind of works. Ish.
The question I have is whether or not this placement is purely for payment/sponsorship purposes or will the game developers (completely blind-side us all and) make the handset itself integral to the progression of the game?
My money is obviously on the former. As I’ve already made clear, game development is costly and any kind of media partnership like this has to be sold in pretty quickly so as to capitalise on the opportunity to its full potential.
As a side thought, Apple ‘famously’ don’t pay for product placement*, but I wonder if Dre did? And if so, how much does eight seconds in a close-to-a-million views YouTube video cost?
Be certain of one thing, ever since Modern Warfare 2 had an ‘opening week’ bigger than Harry Potter, hunting season has been declared on this marketplace.
Watch closely, it’s coming.
*I can’t remember where I read it, but the word is ‘payment’ refers to an actual exchange of money. No mention at all of equipping every man, woman and child in the office with brand new iPods/iPhones/iPads/MacBook Pros etc…
To put this into context, Neville and I have talked about a multitude of things in our time, including but not exclusive to; a love of technology, social media, all things mobile and – on occasion – a shared love of really good whisky. Not this day however, this day we touched upon gaming. Particularly: Duke Nukem Forever (DNF).
The first 30 minutes of the game consist of moments where people idolize youâ€”oh, and you can turn the lights on and off. You walk through a museum where relics from the first game are stored, which gives you a hint at how this title was put together. While Gearbox obviously remembered all the neat little details that made Duke such a classic, they didn’t remember to put those details in a good game. The game is hollow.
Another thing to make clear at this point is that I am not a Duke Nukem player. However, I am aware of the series in general and, even if you have only a modicum of knowledge around the DN series, you know that this game has been at least 15yrs in the making and one point was consigned to the deadpool of games that were rumoured to exist but never actually get made – aka ‘vaporware‘.
So at long last – after 15yrs of waiting – the game arrives and it is ‘an overwhelming disappointment’.
“They’ve ruined it” said Neville. “It’s terrible. It’s like the developers [on purpose or not] have never left the 90s”
When such a monumental mistake is made with this kind of global brand property, the question has to be asked: what kind of effect has this had on the long term validity of the franchise?
Will there be another Duke Nukem game? Perhaps not. In the same way that in the film industry, trilogy opener The Golden Compass didn’t exactly set the box office alight (and subsequently never got finished), will Duke Nukem suffer also?
More and more we’re seeing money being thrown atinvested in gaming and – when systems are so far advanced and development costs are so high – a decent ROI is required to keep things moving. The question I posed to Neville, a fellow social media industry pundit and veteran, was:
How long will it be until the kind of reputation management processes we preach about make their way into this industry?
Devs on Twitter defending their work? Programmers blogging up in arms about the stress they’re placed under to deliver? What of the fans?
Another, arguably more popular, FPS franchise Modern Warfarecame under fire recently for their plans around Call of Duty Elite that will require players to stump up an extra monthly fee for access to certain features. Pleased with this trend, the fans are not.
My point is: Reputation Management isn’t just about big FMCG brands, car manufacturers and retail. Other industries need to be involved too as, when the proverbial hits the fan, the processes need to be in place to handle it.
And, while Duke Nukem won’t exactly be taken off shelves and redesigned from the bottom up, perhaps the publishers will think twice in future before ruining such a beloved franchise ever again.
As the old adage goes:
It takes years to build a good reputation, and only seconds to destroy it.
I don’t know what it is about this image that is so striking (or in fact what it actually says about my brain’s stimulus/response mechanism), but for some reason it makes me want to find out more. Of Brink, at the time, I knew nothing. Further exploration has uncovered that it’s a new first-person-shooter (FPS) and that actually, apparently, it’s not very good. Translated: I asked a fellow gamer and he said – “Well, it’s alright.”
The image above has stayed with me. If there was a demo, I’d download it -Â as a hook, it got me.
However what has yet to happen to my nascent advocacy is any kind of pick up.
Advertising like this is crying out for integration. And by that I’m not just talking about having print, TV and outdoor all matching, I mean having a demo available, having monitoring tools in place picking to pick up any mention online, some kind of a social presence/activation/engagement strategy – something, anything that is there ready to spot that I have an interest.
As it stands, my gaming schedule(!) currently consists of re-visiting Modern Warfare 2, playing to the end of Red Dead Redemption and slowly getting drawn into the world of L.A. Noire. Room for another game in my life, there is not.
But Brink really does have me thinking; both about the advertising campaign around it and of course, the game itself.
Incidentally, sometimes it works the other way around – this piece of engagement for Bulletstorm for instance fell on deaf ears. I had no idea who or what Bulletstorm was or is and found myself googling it to try and find out more. Frustrating really; I loved the asset, but the whole thing lacked any kind of personalisation. It did actually drive me to download the demo mind, but still – it left me feeling somewhat empty.
I’m going to make a few assumptions (and do please, correct me if I’m wrong); if you’re a Zune user – aka ‘a Zuner’ – you’re probably American and you may’ve even bought, and perhaps even still use, the original Zune machine handheld thing that was never launched over here in the UK.
However, you may also be a Windows Phone (WP) user and/or an Xbox owner. All of these things I expect to influence your response to this following, secondary question:
Is it actually any good?
Now please. Before you move forward with your answer (either in the comments field below or in fact perhaps, with your own blogged repost) please take into account that your opinion may bias towards the positive as you’ve made such a chunky investment (especially you original Zune hardware owners). So please, give full and valid responses – warts an’ all, if you will.
Why am I asking this question? Well, I am an Xbox Live Gold subscriber, soon-to-be Windows-Phoner and avid Spotify fan. The latter of the three costs Â£9.99pcm and allows me all sorts of awesome music-based fantasticness. Treats such as:
Access to an almost infinite amount of music
Downloadable content that I can play offline, both on my desktop and on my mobile
Sharable cross-platform playlists of awesomeness (that can be locked down or collaborative)
Thanks to the marvelous integration on both Spotify and Xbox Live, I can stream my most listened to tracks through my Xbox using the Last.fm application available through Live Gold
Understand that your answers will help inform my decision on whether or not to drop Spotify for Zune (when WP finally launches on Nokia’s devices). As it stands, I’m reliably informed that Spotify is coming to WP with the next software update (aka ‘Mango), but because I like things to just work – I’m tempted to move for the full Zune offering.
Friends, Zuners, fellow tech-heads and audiophiles – it’s over to you.
Sometime ago now, some friends of mine asked if it was OK to film a short interview piece discussing the future of the shopping experience – aka – the purchasing journey.
I don’t know what happened to the footage (if I find out I’ll see if I can upload it later), but what I do know is that the thoughts from that day still rattle around my head like it was only yesterday:
In today’s super-connected society, how can any one activity (be that marketing, advertising or PR) truly claim to be the sole driver behind product sales?
Let’s take a look. Using the analysis of one of my own purchasing journeys; Split/Second, a new racing game for the Xbox360.
The first part, the very beginning, was when I saw a tweet from a trusted friend saying “This looks awesome!” with a link to a game trailer. It was so long ago now that I forget who it was, it might’ve been Kev or Joe but I’m not sure. Anyway, like I said, that tweet led me to YouTube, where I watched the trailer. Then I watched it again. In HD.
It was a Saturday morning, the girlfriend and I were getting ready to go out and I stopped her to watch it with me. It was that good. Excitement. I am a fan of Burnout, a similar arcade-style racer. I’ve finished both Burnout 1 & 2 for the Gamecube and I’m very close to finishing Burnout: Paradise City on the 360. Split/Second is very similar (but in the same breath very different), so this game spoke to me.
Next, came the research phase. When was it out? What could I do to find out more? My Firefox history tells me that it was May 1st when I saw the video above. At that point, I was in game-buying mode. I tweeted:
A few things came back, but nothing that really grabbed me. I waited. A week later I saw this tweet from Nik Butler:
Nik played it. He liked it. I went to bed thinking about it and, the following morning, I wake up and download the demo. It’s one car, one track, one race. But I like it.
A few days after thatit’s holiday time. Dubai. Beautiful, relaxing, sunny Dubai. I buy Edge; the thinking man’s games mag. What’s inside? A review of you guessed it, Split/Second.
Ultimately, much like a summer movie blockbuster, Split Second offers thrills galore, but thereâ€™s a hint of glossy superficiality to it, too. Large-scale explosions distract from a lack of tactical depth for a while, but the gameâ€™s lifespan would have been improved, particularly as far as multiplayer is concerned, with a more comprehensively involving strategic element. Yet there are few games in the genre that create quite so many sharp intakes of breath and instances of unintentionally barked profanity as this one, and sometimes thatâ€™s what racing gaming is all about.
That quote there, that last sentence even, was what finally clinched it for me. The journey was long but on May 31st, a full month from my first encounter, I bought the game.
It started with a tweet, then a trailer, then trusted referrals, a demo of the game and finally an official games review (in print no less).
The purchasing journey can be long and winding with many different touch-points. I hear conversations about acquisitions, downloads and click-throughs and I despair. The modern day ROI model cannot be put down to just one thing. There are many routes to my wallet and none of them are exclusive. They live and breathe around each other and, it’s only through that understanding will we ever really make an impact.
Points of interest:
Modern technology helped my map the data; Firefox history with viewing the trailer, my Xbox Live account with my demo downloads and of course Twitter, time-stamping my progress. This stuff can be mapped, it’s just knowing where to look.
Also, massive thanks to the cool cats at Edge who, after I managed to lose the copy of their magazine that I wanted to quote from (see above,) kindly emailed me a PDF of the original article I needed. Rockstars.
I think the reason I prefer Canabalt over the bigger budget games is not the retro feel (although that plays a part), but rather the lack of story that you mention above.
Most big budget games have large story arcs to take you from one piece of game play to the next and on the whole I find them disappointing. Even when the voice talent is top notch, the dialogue tends to be turgid. As the graphic engines moved forward I found myself becoming that horror of horrors – a casual gamer.
One slight disagreement. I think in Canabalt there is more than a hint at the reason why you’re running. In the background loom the silhouettes of what appear to be tripod like machines laying waste to your city. Man-made? Alien? No idea.
I love that you probably know as much about what’s going on as your hero. Things are falling apart – run like hell. We don’t find out he’s some super soldier or why exactly he’s so adapt at leaping or what he risks to lose if he doesn’t escape. I love that. Allows you to project what you like on the little guy rather than try and ignore the rubbish some hack has written for you.
But with a little branding in place this could be easily ported as a BOND or BOURNE tie in. They won’t do that though. They’ll spend a lot of money on an iPhone app that concentrates on selling the franchise and results in muddy game play. Like most of the movie-tie-in apps available so far.
Those middle three paragraphs are what do it for me.
With just a few short sentences you get such an insight into a) the idealism behind the game in question and b) the machinations that exist between the ears of Mike Atherton…Â And that, my friends, is what makes him such a good writer.
From a single, and yet dare I say it, casual gamer-aimed, 2D platformer, @sizemore (as he is more commonly known) has already established in your mind some ideas as to why this man is running for his life…