The hidden dangers of “life gaming”

I recently spoke to a class at USC, and in the Q&A afterward was asked a very interesting question: “Do you think everything will be a game?” It’s a question I’ve been pondering for a while, but actually being asked by someone forced me into an answer. Before sharing why I don’t think everything will be a game, let me point out a video from DICE2010 that makes a strong case for “Life Gaming.” The 30-minute clip is well worth watching and makes a number of great points.

Foursquare motivated people to check in at their locations by making it into a game, while the founder’s game-less predecessor (Dodgeball) failed. “FarmVille” is the fastest growing media property to 50 million users, reaching that benchmark four and a half months since it’s release. Virtual goods ( buying “nothing”) was a billion dollar industry in 2009. Despite these points and the ones brought up in the video, there’s a serious danger to the prospect of life as a game.

The issue at hand is one of motivation. Gamers don’t wake up with a strong desire to tap a button several hundred times — it’s the framework around those button-presses that gets people engaged. The problem with “life as a game” is that we are motivated to do many things in life simply for their own sake. Making a game out of those actions endangers our very willingness to do them.  Read full article on Mediapost.

App vs. WebApp: A philosophical difference

App vs WebApp (Chrome/iTunes)Last week two items of note occurred. Apple released the iPad, and Google announced they would be building Flash into Chrome and Chrome OS. These two announcements highlight a growing difference between Apple and Google’s strategies for the future of computing. Both agree it’s mobile, but they have strong differing opinions on the issue of App vs WebApp.

Apple has had an interesting evolution. When the iPhone OS was first released, Apple staunchly positioned it as web apps only, with no native applications allowed. Eventually, after a small community of hackers got apps to work on the phones and even created a single app to find, download, and update their apps, Apple caved in. We then got a SDK for native applications, and finally arrived in the age of “There’s an App for that.” The iPad as a device is the epitome of this mentality. The iPad is about taking experiences that live elsewhere, whether Netflix or the New York Times, and creating an even better, completely customized experience for a single device. It’s all about the apps. Continue reading “App vs. WebApp: A philosophical difference”

iPad, IAD, and Me

iPad, IAD, and Me (EA/Apple) The iPad is here — and with it, apps. And games. And ads. The iPad arrived on April 3. Rumor is, on April 7 Apple will reveal what it’s done with Quattro and showcase the future of the ad platform for its mobile operating system. This announcement could, in a very real way, mobilize (pun intended) casual gaming ad opportunities.

Did you know there are more iPhones and iPod Touches out there than Wiis? Or that Apple is eating away at the handheld gaming market revenues, despite the games on its platform being a fraction of the price that others charge?

A solid advertising platform from Apple will represent a unified offering for iPhone OS games. Based on where Apple’s interest lies for its iPhone platform, the ad platform should be very publisher-friendly, and potentially able to generate revenue for publishers better than current ad networks. If that’s the case, many publishers will flock to the common standard for their apps (or not). Continue reading “iPad, IAD, and Me”

EA selects single player for in-game ads

EA selects single player for in-game ad formats (EA)The news that EA is dropping third parties from selling into the company’s dynamic in-game ad inventory is a pretty interesting development. At first blush, it looks like a move to increase margins and control pricing of the inventory. The more I think about the announcement, though, the more I hope the rabbit hole goes deeper.

When publishers of any sort integrate a third-party ad-serving solution, it essentially puts the sales teams and the creative teams at odds. Sales teams want to dream up incredible, never-done-before done campaigns with brands. A third-party solution acts as a bottleneck, shattering many of those dreams. Creatives look at those third-party solutions as invading their space, and find viewing the ads as a necessary evil.

When the ad-serving technology sits with product teams that work in parallel with the core product teams, this changes in a significant way. Suddenly the core product makes concessions to organically integrate with the ad products coming down the pipe, and then the sales teams are able to dream a bit bigger, doing some very neat stuff. I really hope this intention played a part in EA’s decision, in addition to the desire to control pricing and maximize profits. Read full article on Mediapost.

8 mobile marketing questions answered

Smartphones eliminate "mobile" vs "online" divide (iStock) From Ad Age’s Digital Marketing Guide to Mobile

I haven’t been doing any mobile marketing so far. How hard will it be to catch up?

The mobile landscape is at a tipping point right now, switching from a very old approach to an edgy new one. The difference between newer smartphones vs. feature (or non-smart) phones, or even older smartphones, is dramatic. Consumer behavior is transitioning from mostly using the phone for voice and text communication to using it as a secondary or even primary computing device. For this subset of wireless subscribers, their pocket-size computer is used for browsing the web, watching videos, reading e-mails, listening to personalized radio stations, downloading eBooks — heck, even filing taxes.

Just as the behaviors on the devices are vastly different, the marketing tactics and strategies are night and day between feature phones and newer smartphones. Where promotions and light engagement were the status quo for older phones, the cutting edge is all about features and utility. In most cases, these consumers care most about how useful it will be to engage, rather than just how entertaining. Continue reading “8 mobile marketing questions answered”

Motion-based marketing moves forward

Moving forward with motion-based marketing (iStock)Humanity has come to an intriguing crossroads. Our technology is evolving faster than ever, and yet the human experience hasn’t changed much since the golden age of Rome. We stand on the verge of a collision between these two worlds as our technology becomes increasingly integrated with the innate methods humans use to interact with the world. It’s a trend of “engaging the primal.”

Interface technology is an interesting field right now. It takes a long time to move forward, but when it does, the world moves along with it. For a time, we interacted with technology and computers through punch cards that indicated what we wanted done. Eventually, we re-purposed the legacy interface of a typewriter to arrive at the keyboard, expanding the accessibility of computers to most households. Then in 1963, the mouse was invented and with it computers eventually became centered around graphical interactions, no longer requiring arcane command line input.  Today the hot new interface technology revolves around kinetics. Multi-touch screens, image and gesture recognition, internal gyroscopes — as these technologies advance, devices like the Wii and the iPhone are quickly moving from outliers to standards.
Continue reading “Motion-based marketing moves forward”

Apple-Google catfight is good for consumers

Why the Apple-Google catfight is good (iStock)Things are getting downright ugly. Apple and Google, once the best of friends, seem to have devolved into the bitterest of enemies. The tactics have become dirty. The blows are getting dangerously close to the belt. And I couldn’t be happier.

Unlike real wars, when corporations battle it’s often the common person that prospers. We’re seeing honest-to-goodness tooth-and-nail competition take place, and it’s the consumer and marketers that will come out on top regardless of which behemoth wins the fight.

The blows toward the end of 2009 were focused mostly on mobile. Google Voice was blocked from the App Store, and the FCC started poking into the matter – specifically Apple’s Control of the app economy. In short order, Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple’s board. Then the Motorola Droid came, and the marketing that placed Android’s features directly in competition with Apple’s iPhone OS. Apple then acquired Lala, a streaming music service, near immediately after Google started using the streams in their search results. Following this, Google announced they were moving acquire AdMob (still pending FTC approval), an advertising network that served ads into iPhone apps and a company Apple had been trying to acquire prior to Google outbidding them. In turn, Apple bought up ad network Quattro Wireless. As 2009 came to a close, rumors of both an Apple tablet device and a Google built phone competed for headlines. Continue reading “Apple-Google catfight is good for consumers”

iPad: Game changer or iPod Touch for Boomers?

iPad (Courtesy of Apple)The IPG Media Lab team weighs in on Apple’s release of the much anticipated iPad device.

Is the iPad a game changer?

Scott Susskind, IPG Lab CTO: I don’t know if I would consider it a “game changer.”  However, I do think it raises the bar.  We saw several tablet devices this year at CES that leveraged the Google Android platform that have some similarities to the iPad.  However, the iPad will quickly leapfrog the competition due to the maturity of the iPhone OS and breadth of the existing application ecosystem. The heavy lifting was already done. It allowed Apple to focus their efforts on smoothing out the user experience for this form-factor as well as developing special ports of business apps that make it an attractive device for the workplace.

That said, I think it will be a short-lived lead.  As the Android App ecosystem matures, the marketplace will swell with a variety of Android-based devices Devices that will either compete directly with the iPad, or fill smaller, niche markets that would be too costly for Apple to support through multiple hardware versions.  And since the content (and app) distribution model will likely be based on an open ecosystem, I would wager that the lion’s share of the market will be non-Apple inside of a few years. Continue reading “iPad: Game changer or iPod Touch for Boomers?”

Will net neutrality kill cloud gaming?

Will net neutrality kill cloud gaming? (Microsoft Xbox)Column originally featured on MediaPost

The title of this post is “Will net neutrality kill cloud gaming?” — and no, that’s not the wrong way around. While a handful of game developers just advised the FCC on the importance of net neutrality for the future of online gaming, and to an extent correctly so, there are cause-and-effects in play that also pose significant threats.

Let’s get some definitions out of the way. First off, for the purposes of this post, “cloud gaming” refers to games that are rendered in the cloud (i.e. on servers). In essence, this is the promise of services like OnLive, a gaming offering that portends high-quality gaming on the simplest of devices by centralizing the heavy lifting in the cloud. It’s not there yet, but the intent has many gamers’ hopes up for a day in the future when they can leave the hardware arms race behind. Read more.

Get rid of the “TV” from “3D TV”

Get rid of the "TV" in "3DTV" (iStock)Walking around CES, one thing was very clear: The consumer electronics industry is betting big on 3D. Many approach the promise of 3D with a very bullish perspective, but I tend toward a bearish outlook.

3D has a number of obstacles in reaching consumers. For one, consumers are still confused about the HDTV transition, and just as the majority of the market is wrapping their head around the terms and technology, the industry is pushing for exponential layers of complexity. Refresh rates? 3D channels? Glasses? And that last one is perhaps the biggest hurdle.

As I went from booth to booth, I kept looking at the displays of the 3D TVs and asked myself the same question “why the heck do I need those glasses?” (I know the technical answer – but it was more an emotional response to the idea presented). Finally, at the fifth booth highlighting the solution, I started to think “if they convince me to wear those glasses, isn’t the real question ‘why the heck do I need the TV?’” Continue reading “Get rid of the “TV” from “3D TV””