Gamesbeat Summit 2019

22 May 19
VentureBeat
Mortal Kombat 11 is breaking more than just bones. According to market researcher SuperData, the console versions of the bloody fighting game, along with perennial hit Fortnite, pushed digital game sales to $8.86 billion in April. That’s a 7% increase from April 2018, when God of War was one of the best-selling games. (While the year-old report originally claimed that digital games earned $9 billion that month, a representative from SuperData said that the company regularly reevaluates their data “based on new information and new methodologies.” The updated forecast for April 2018 is $8.29 billion.) The new report takes into account digital sales across console, PC, and mobile games. SuperData noted that console games grew the most last month, increasing 17%. League of Legends and Nexon’s Dungeon Fighters Online led the most in spending on PC, but the platform was down 4% overall. Tencent’s Honor of Kings (known as Arena of Valor outside of China), meanwhile, led the mobile category. During the 2019 GamesBeat Summit in April, publisher Warner Bros. Interactive revealed that Mortal Kombat 11 was the franchise’s most successful launch ever. And that was only 24 hours after the game came out. SuperData’s results back up this claim, with the company reporting that Mortal Kombat 11 was the best digital launch in the franchise’s history, selling 1.8 million digital copies (a huge increase compared to the 400,000 copies Mortal Kombat X sold in 2015). Industry-tracking firm The NPD Group also confirmed that Mortal Kombat 11 was the best-selling game in April. From Software’s difficult but beloved action game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which released in March, also had a strong performance: It was No. 8 on PC and No. 3 on console. The report also revealed that battle royale shooter Apex Legends, which is digital-only, fell out of the top-ranking spots. Respawn’s free-to-play game earned $24 million in April, declining for the second month in a row.
20 May 19
KrySoft Daily

Our recent GamesBeat Summit 2019 event featured seven speakers in a lightning round session, where each spoke for five minutes.Read More

19 May 19
VentureBeat
The Entertainment Software Association, the game industry’s lobbying group and the creator of the big E3 trade show, named Stanley Pierre-Louis as its new president and CEO. We talked with Pierre-Louis about how he stepped into the roll last fall after the departure of longtime CEO Mike Gallagher. It’s a big job, as the ESA represents the game companies that generate $43.4 billion in annual video game sales in the U.S. Pierre-Louis has to make sure that the ESA does a good job with the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), coming up in early June. That means making sure the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center is full of exhibits, game industry people, and fans. Pierre-Louis will now serve as the chief spokesman for the industry, which serves more than 164 million adults who play video games in the U.S. That means he has to deal with criticism of the industry in the wake of shootings such as Christchurch, and he has to help fend off the classification of video game addiction as a medical condition by the World Health Organization (WHO). Pierre-Louis spoke at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2019 event in April in a fireside chat with Keisha Howard on screen time and video game addiction. I’ve embedded that video in the post. And I’ve also included the edited transcript of my interview with Pierre-Louis, who was previously general counsel for the ESA. Pierre-Louis is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Clark University. He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, where he also served on The University of Chicago Law Review’s Board of Editors. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview. with Stanley Pierre-Louis, Acting President & CEO of Entertainment Software Association and moderated by Keisha Howard, Founder of Sugar Gamers – Details – Boss Stage GamesBeat: You’ve been doing the job for a while now. Stanley Pierre-Louis: It’s an exciting time to be in this role in particular. GamesBeat: And it’s just in time for E3. Pierre-Louis: It really is. E3 is so important to our industry. This year is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in years. It’s an opportunity for our industry to tell the world what’s new, but also to reflect what we’re learning from our audiences. GamesBeat: How does the show look right now? Is it in good shape? I know you’re Sony-less this time. Pierre-Louis: It is shaping up to be one of the most exciting shows in recent memory. A lot of announcements to be made, but also some reveals that are already occurring. There’s a buzz around this year. Using the momentum from last year and some of the announcements you’ve seen over the course of the year, it’s going to culminate in a magical week for our industry. GamesBeat: What are some of your priorities? Have you figured out what you want to accomplish as CEO? Pierre-Louis: I view our role at ESA as being the voice and advocate for the video game industry. What that means is expanding and protecting the dynamic marketplace for video games to thrive. My goal is to do everything we can to ensure that those opportunities exist. ESA focuses on the public policy aspects of that advocacy, and so our role is to ensure that policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels understand what we bring to the table. Our industry is the benchmark for job creation, innovation, freedom of expression, audience engagement, and consumer protection. When we tell our story to policymakers and to our audiences more broadly, they’re excited and proud of what we do. It’s not a story that gets told a lot, so we’re going to focus on making sure we’re telling that story to all of our audiences, and especially policymakers. ESA acting CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis. GamesBeat: Are you approaching some of these by taking them head-on? That seems to be how you’ve approached the game addiction issue. Pierre-Louis: We view all the issues of the day as opportunities to create allies and have people understand what we’re doing. Let’s take screen time. Screen time has been a discussion point for some time among policymakers. We have a great story to tell, because there are two aspects to what we do to inform and enable consumers to manage screen time. One is through ratings. We’ve been self-regulated for 25 years through the ESRB. That provides consumers, and especially parents, with information about games, discussion values, and other resources. We also have devices with tools to help manage time spent, money spent, internet access, you name it. Being able to share that with policymakers gives them a lot of confidence that we take our responsibilities seriously. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has applauded our industry as the best among the media sectors in terms of self-regulation. GamesBeat: What are some other big issues for you right now? Pierre-Louis: Obviously E3, which we talked about. We talked about screen time. This summer there will be a workshop hosted by the FTC on loot boxes. We’re looking again to share with those policymakers and regulators information about what we do to provide parents with the tools they need to manage screen time, to manage spending, and to manage overall usage. We believe that video gaming is and always has been part of a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. Video gaming is something that enhances the way we work, play, and live. The Just Dance dancers at Ubisoft’s E3 2018 press event. GamesBeat: How do you look at the big platforms coming in, things like Google with Stadia, to be bigger participants in games? Pierre-Louis: From our perspective, increasing the opportunity for video games to reach consumers is a good thing. We’re excited about developments that enhance the ability for consumers to reach more games. We’ll have to learn more about how these platforms are developing, but we view any opportunity to expand gameplay as positive. GamesBeat: What’s helped you get ready for this job? Pierre-Louis: What fuels me here, it’s a few things. One is the energy and the dynamism of our industry. We have exciting products to talk about, exciting experiences, exciting devices that get created. We’re telling great stories. Looking at our recent essential facts, some of the information we’ve shared about the video game population is amazing. 164 million American adults are playing video games. That just goes to — more people are playing, more people are playing together, and more people are playing for more reasons. More people are playing together. 63 percent of video gamers play together in some way, shape, or form. If you extrapolate that to the worldwide number of gamers, which is 2.6 billion, that’s a lot of interconnected people. We’re doing that as an industry. And more people are playing for different reasons. Some people are playing for fun. But 78 percent of people play for relaxation and stress relief. 79 percent of people play for mental stimulation. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry because we’re reaching people in different ways. The other thing I would say is we have a fantastic team at ESA. Everyone loves what they do, and they love doing it for this industry. It’s exciting to work with a group that’s so inspired by what our industry does, because they enjoy video games and they enjoy the advocacy we do for our industry. GamesBeat: I’ve seen some stories other publications have done about the work environment at ESA. I wondered if you’d address that as well. Pierre-Louis: We have an exciting, dynamic work force here at ESA, dedicated and cohesive. We have great esprit de corps as a group. We’re excited about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Microsoft at E3 2018 GamesBeat: How do you, as a leader, help set the right way to work or the right tone for the workplace? Pierre-Louis: The first thing you do is ensure that everyone knows they have a voice in our direction. We work together, collaboratively. You want input. I’ve certainly been taking input over the last seven and a half months as the acting CEO. Second is to have an open door, to ensure that people feel like they can voice those concerns, but also to bring in ideas. That’s the biggest piece, unleashing the ideas that people have. Saying, “Let’s try that” and seeing what works. We collaborate well with our members. We collaborate well internally. All those goes to helping our industry move forward. GamesBeat: How do you make your board happy? Pierre-Louis: Staying focused and on-mission. They understand that our chief role is being the voice and advocate for our industry, particularly with policymakers. That means staying focused on the issues that provide opportunities to tell our story. E3 clearly is an opportunity to tell the industry’s story from the industry’s perspective, but so are some of these other opportunities coming down the pike, like with the FTC workshop. I think our board is very focused on ensuring that we’re providing a landscape for them that expands and protects their opportunity to thrive in the marketplace. GamesBeat: One thing that was different when Mike started, and now when you’ve taken over, is where social media is. I thought it was interesting that when Reggie retired, he opened up a Twitter account. I wonder if ESA’s engagement with social media evolve or be different in your tenure. Pierre-Louis: We’re always looking for ways to reach new audiences and different audiences. We’re going to use whatever leverage we can to get the word out about how great our industry is. ESA GamesBeat: Are you going to tweet about 30 times a day? Pierre-Louis: [laughs] I’m going to stay focused on the work we have and make sure we get our message out in the most effective way possible. GamesBeat: Do you have any favorite games at the moment, anything you’re playing? Pierre-Louis: I’m playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with my 12-year-old. Not well. [laughs] That’s what I’ve been playing most recently. GamesBeat: On your data, and I think the Newzoo folks called out an interesting figure, they said that 46 percent of hardcore gamers are women. Pierre-Louis: And that aligns exactly with our data. Our data matches with theirs. It was taken separately, but they came up with a similar figure to ours. Our numbers say 46 percent of gamers are women, average age 34. GamesBeat: That seemed surprising, given where the industry has come from. Pierre-Louis: Certainly the introduction and the expansion of mobile games and casual games has had a very positive effect on expanding the demographic of games, particularly with women. GamesBeat: “Hardcore” isn’t who you’d expect it to be. Pierre-Louis: It’s a more male demographic, but if we look at the overall pictures, yeah, it’s 46-54. GamesBeat: How do you look at the health of the big companies in the game business right now? Does it look like they’re as strong as they’ve been, or do you think they have challenges to deal with? Pierre-Louis: When we issued our last report on where we are as an industry, we were at $36 billion. The most recent release we had this year was $43.4 billion. We are still an industry that is growing and expanding and creating new fans and new experiences for all of our audiences. Our industry has not been afraid to challenge the current orthodoxy, and sometimes even disrupt its own success to get ready for the next challenge. It’s exciting to know that our industry wants to stay ahead of all the trends to ensure that tomorrow’s audience is being thought of today. GamesBeat: Where do you think the most interesting areas for innovation are right now? Pierre-Louis: They’re really everywhere. Innovation is one of our calling cards as an industry. We’re not only market leaders in creating innovation, but we expand the use of PCs on a yearly basis as we try to enhance what gameplay feels and looks like. Same with consoles. You’re also seeing a lot of work put into VR/AR/MR. There’s a lot of innovation going on there as well, with companies like Magic Leap and Microsoft with their HoloLens. You’re seeing innovation on every device, and even on the devices we’re used to. I see it going everywhere, because gamers are everywhere. Tactical Haptics controllers let you dual wield guns in VR. GamesBeat: What do you think of the publicity around labor unions and crunch time lately? Pierre-Louis: Our member companies strive to have the most productive and healthy workplaces, because that’s where you get the quality games that we produce and the quality devices we manufacture. I think that the current conversations around unionization are really within the purview of companies and their employees. But what I do know is that they are working diligently to create an atmosphere where the next generation of games will be better than the one we have today. GamesBeat: How do you feel about how well the industry is doing at creating jobs in the U.S., and in specific regions in particular? Pierre-Louis: I mentioned before that we’re really the benchmark, the standard-bearer in job creation, innovation, and creative expression. Job creation is significant because there are something around 220,000 people who work in some way in the video game industry. We’re looking for even more workers, because making these games requires high-level skill sets. We want to grow more American workers, but we also need to bring in talent from overseas as well to sustain the immense needs for our members to create games at a high level. GamesBeat: Are there worries on that front around immigration policy? Pierre-Louis: We, like many other industries, rely on talent in the tech field. We want to grow American talent and recruit from around us as much as we can. We also recognize that we need overseas talent to supplement our innovations. The ESA’s report on game jobs and companies in the U.S. GamesBeat: Are there things that the U.S. can be more competitive in creating jobs relative to other countries, particularly someplace like China? Pierre-Louis: We’re a global industry, and therefore expanding H1Bs, for example, would provide us with more opportunities to fill those jobs that on average pay $97,000 a year. We’re also watching with great interest at what’s going on with the current tariff wars. For us, it’s fair to say that the video game industry boasts a trade surplus for the American economy. Tariffs hurt the economy, hurt industry, and hurt consumers. Our focus is on trying to expand our economic imprint within the United States and globally. GamesBeat: Are there particular ways you think you can be effective at interacting with the current administration. Pierre-Louis: We work with policymakers at every level of government and in every political party to ensure that the video game industry has an opportunity to expand the marketplace for its audiences, and to reach its audiences.
18 May 19
VentureBeat
Celia Hodent is a veteran game experience consultant with a doctorate. She has studied the subject of unconscious bias. She talked about the issue in a fireside chat with Andrea Rene, cofounder of Whats Good Games and the co-emcee at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2019 event in April. I’ve embedded a video of their discussion in this post. And if you want more expertise on this subject, you’re in luck. Hodent is holding a five-hour master class session on Unconscious Bias on June 6 in Culver City, California. In that class, Hodent will explore the limitations of the human mind, and how people can “identify unconscious biases in the workplace, account for them, and redesign the company processes and general culture to create a more inclusive environment.” The problem is that humans do not think rationally. “We believe that we have an accurate perception, an accurate memory, or that we can multitask efficiently,” Hodent said. “We believe that we are in full control of our decisions according to our values, that we have free will, that we can understand others, that we are logical beings. Sadly, this is all a lie.” Her workshop will explore some of the most common cognitive and social unconscious biases that trick us into making bad decisions in everyday life and prevent us from building a more inclusive environment, even if we understand the importance of diversity.
17 May 19
VentureBeat
Nolan Bushnell is often called the father of the video game industry, but he’s also the father of eight children, and we recently got to see him interact with four of his kids in a conversation about what it was like to grow up Bushnell, with gaming in your blood. This remarkable conversation took place at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2019 event, which we held in April in downtown Los Angeles at Two Bit Circus, a “micro-amusement park” that is like an arcade meets Ready Player One. That place was special because it was created by Brent Bushnell, one of Nolan’s sons. Bushnell is 76 years old, but he is as witty as ever when it comes to describing his learnings as a creative showman. You can see the conversations we had on stage in the videos embedded in this post, as well as a video interview I did with Nolan, in a conversation recorded by my own daughter, Danielle Takahashi. What this family’s legacy tells us is that the first generation of video game creators is passing on their experience to the second generation, much like parents have passed on their appreciation for Star Wars or Disney. And like those parents and kids, the Bushnell family has slowly come to realize that their dad passed on something special to them. Tyler Bushnell said on our panel that he started figuring out that his dad was someone important in the video game business because the kids could always find some kind of older console tucked away in a closet and pull it out and play it. That made Tyler curious about games and inspired him to go into the business. He is now the cofounder of Polycade, which is bringing arcade machines back to bars. But Brent Bushnell didn’t want to go into games at first. He went into web hosting, auto salvage systems, and art. “I really didn’t want to [do games]. It wasn’t until I met my cofounder Eric [Gradman] and the art we made turned into games that I realized it,” said Brent Bushnell. “I know so much about this. Why am I not in games? It was a 20-year cycle for me.” Jason Robar (left) and Brent Bushnell talk at GamesBeat Summit 2019. Wyatt Bushnell turned to game design when he figured out that he needed to learn something that could earn him money. He steered into social games because his father told him never to compete in a “red ocean,” where there is too much competition. Alissa Bushnell went into public relations, and she wanted to hone the storytelling of game creators so that they could succeed with his business ventures. “The story I remember so well [from Nolan] was the rocket ship and the lifeboat,” Brent Bushnell said. “He said, ‘Listen. You have to have the lifeboat, the thing that is going to make you money, the thing you can rely on. But always put some time into the rocket ship. The rocket ship is what you want to do, the thing that is your life’s work. But you can’t have the rocket ship without the lifeboat. That stuck with me for a really long time.” Alissa Bushnell said, “We learned how to play games from this guy (pointing at Nolan). We learned how to play business from this guy.” Like learning how to cheat, Wyatt interjected. “I feel like learning how to cheat and not get caught is really an important life skill,” Nolan Bushnell replied. Tyler said, “We learned early on that dad couldn’t be the banker in Monopoly.” Alissa Bushnell said that the kids all learned how to solder when they were young. He encouraged them to be makers and to think out of the box. (Left to right) Wyatt Bushnell, Alissa Bushnell, and Nolan Bushnell. They also learned that while their father is a great big thinker, he isn’t as good at staying engaged in day-to-day tasks, particularly if it becomes boring, Wyatt Bushnell said. Nolan Bushnell agreed. Jason Robar, cofounder of Author Digital and moderator of the family talk, asked Nolan Bushnell when his kids started teaching him about things. “Incessantly,” Nolan Bushnell said. “You realize very quickly that they know so much more than you do, like everything about being a teenager. They constantly recalibrate you.” “We were all the beta testers,” Alissa Bushnell said. They were also competitive when they were growing up, and they also all worked for their father at various times in their lives. They learned how to take risks. They also joked around a lot and had a good appreciation for humor. “If you can survive in our environment, you have a really thick skin,” Nolan Bushnell said. (Left to right): Brent Bushnell, Wyatt Bushnell, Alissa Bushnell, and Nolan Bushnell. As for location-based entertainment, Nolan Bushnell started out as a “carnie,” or carnival worker. He put his first video game, Pong, in a bar. For Brent Bushnell, the circle became complete when he and Gradman founded Two Bit Circus, which at first was like a modern traveling carnival. They had a lot of experience working on a restaurant with games, dubbed Uwink. That business didn’t succeed. “When your dad was the boss, you had to double prove yourself,” said Tyler Bushnell, whose first job was at Uwink. “The last thing you want is for everyone to think you got the job because of your dad.” “It’s called the nepotism curse,” Nolan Bushnell said. Nolan Bushnell admitted to being something of an anarchist as a parent. He said that if grow up always obeying the rules, you never learn when it’s OK to break them. They took the collective learnings from Uwink and Chuck E. Cheese, and then they built the 40,000-square-feet version of Two Bit Circus in downtown Los Angeles. The business opened in September 2018. The place is a modern take on location-based entertainment, with things like Killer Queen arcade machines and a robot bartender. That place is an experiment on the kind of fun that you can create when you put a lot of people together in a social gaming mecca. Nolan Bushnell said the idea for Two Bit Circus circulated in the family for a long time, long after the creation of the Chuck E. Cheese location-based entertainment chain. Brent Bushnell said it was inspired by the problems of having too much screen time and not enough face-to-face contact. “We’ve always talked about how there needed to be something more,” said Nolan Bushnell, in an interview with me. “There is a whole class of games that are not available. So you have to build them yourself. They can be really simple, but very powerful.” Two Bit Circus is still a work in progress. But Nolan Bushnell said he is so proud of what his son — and his family — have accomplished. Brent Bushnell said he sees Two Bit Circus as a platform, one that can change out the games over time as better ones become available. Two Bit Circus “We like to say it’s half done,” Nolan Bushnell said. “What we are seeing is a real thirst for group games, where you get together and collaborate physically. When we talk about our design cycle going forward, it should be a lot more collaborative. More fun for people to get together and compete with strangers. Bring people together in a new way.” I’m so glad we were able to curate our event with so many Bushnells in attendance on appropriately jovial panels. They taught us all a lot, and I would encourage you to check out the entertaining videos.
16 May 19
VentureBeat
Boom indeed! Nexon and Final Strike Games are revealing Rocket Arena, a first-person multiplayer shooter game where nobody dies. The game, which enters its closed beta test on the PC on May 23, is an accessible title where you can get into it easily, and you don’t have to worry about getting killed. I played it at a preview event in Los Angeles this week, and it was a lot of family-friendly fun. It is a bit of an odd title for Nexon, but it is a creative, original game, and that’s consistent with the philosophy of Owen Mahoney, CEO of Nexon, who spoke at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2019 event. Rocket launchers are often known as “noob tubes,” or weapons used by new players because it doesn’t take a lot of accuracy to damage another player. In this game, you get a nice big reticle that shows up on other players as you target them. If you hit them, you see the reticle turn red. And if you hit them enough times, they fly up into the air and can’t join the action. Eventually, the player floats back down to the battle arena. The arenas are quite small and tight, but they have vertical areas where the more experienced players can gather and shoot down on the noobs. Different modes included occupying a piece of ground or knocking out the most players. The cartoon graphics were cute. The beta will occur from May 23 to May 29 via the Nexon Launcher and Steam. Players can sign up for a chance to blast off this exclusive round of beta testing here. Rocket Arena brings a unique 3-on-3 cross-platform experience to the first-person shooter genre and features a roster of vibrant characters competing in quick 5-minute matches in the Rocket Championship Tour. Set in the curious World of Crater, Rocket Arena introduces special gameplay mechanics distinct from standard shooters. It revels in a host of colorful weapons and abilities that utilize fanciful rockets in imaginative forms. In Rocket Arena, players are equipped with a blast meter that increases as they are blasted by rockets. As the meter reaches its critical point, players become susceptible to being knocked out of the map, sort of like in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. But you quickly return to the stage to stay in the action. With dedicated matchmaking functionality, servers account for skill level and latency when pairing players together. Rocket Arena will be available for cross-platform play on PC and Xbox One at launch, with PlayStation 4 currently in development. “We developed Rocket Arena with high-quality gameplay mechanics, superb controls, and the network code required of an online FPS. Rocket Arena is an intricate shooter at its core, complete with a marvelous world, colorful characters, and ridiculous rockets,” said Kevin Franklin, CEO of Final Strike Games, in a statement. “Nexon shared our vision for Rocket Arena and provided the resources and expertise to realize our goal. The result is a game that our team is exceptionally proud of, and look forward to playing every day.” The closed beta period features a selection of six maps, four game modes, and six characters. Players participating in the beta will also be able to earn cosmetic rewards to use in the release version of Rocket Arena. Final Strike Games is a video game development studio focused on building competitive multiplayer games for PC and Console. Founded in 2016, Final Strike Games is a team of 45 industry veterans and headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.
16 May 19
VentureBeat
Lionsgate and Epic Games have collaborated on another John Wick in-game event in time for the launch of the latest Keanu Reeves film. The premiere for the third film in the series, John Wick: Chapter 3, is set for May 17. The event includes a Wick’s Bounty LTM (Limited Time Mode) and free John Wick Challenges so players can earn free rewards, including Gold Coin Back Bling, the One Shot Glider, and the Boogeyman Wrap. Additionally, players can jump into the in-game shop to purchase the John Wick Set, which includes the John Wick Outfit along with the Simple Sledge Pickaxe. Eliminating a player awards one gold coin for every elimination they have, plus however many bounty points the target had. The top three coin leaders are displayed on a HUD scoreboard (Bounty Leaders). As players cross certain point thresholds, they become more and more visible to the players around them. Coin leaders can be seen by everyone on map/compass when they are moving or shooting. Coin leaders will have a gold/silver/bronze glow around them. Once a player crosses the last point threshold, they will remain on the map and have the alt Wick skin for the rest of the match, even if they lose the point lead. The first to 1,000 tokens wins the match. Peter Levin of Lionsgate and former MLG executive Mike Sepso spoke at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2019 event. Here’s a video of their talk.  
14 May 19
VentureBeat
Adjust, a mobile measurement and fraud prevention company, said that Indonesia, Brazil, and South Korea are the fastest-growing countries when it comes to app market growth. This comes from its annual Global App Trends report, providing a snapshot into the global mobile app economy. Adjust’s report is based on anonymized data collected over 2018 and across the top 1,000 best-performing apps on the platform. The data set spans over 7 billion installs and 120 billion sessions. The report marks the debut of Adjust’s new Growth Index, bringing unique context to install numbers and shedding light on the real growth rate for apps across verticals and countries. App growth trends Adjust identified the fast-growing verticals. To calculate growth, Adjust used the total number of installs per month and divided them by monthly active users (known as MAU) for each country or vertical in its data set. This showed the rate of growth that apps receive from installs against their monthly active user base. The findings showed that: Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, was the fastest-growing country for app marketers, followed by Brazil, Korea, Malaysia, and Turkey. In terms of verticals, Mid-core games experienced the biggest increase in traffic in 2018. Ride-share, ride-hail, and taxi apps, along with Sports games, also experienced huge increases in traffic in 2018. Video and streaming came in fourth place, followed closely by Dating apps in fifth position. Do these fast-growing verticals retain users? The data also shed light on retention rates and session data — which helps distinguish if the strongest growing app categories are also the biggest crowd-pleasers. The report showed that overall, from Day 0 (date of install) to Day 1, apps lose on average, 69% of all their users. From Day 1 to Day 7, overall average retention decreases to 21%. On average, an app loses 79% of users in the first week of install. However, News (31%) and Comics (28%) apps have the highest retention rates by Day 7 of install, each having around 2.2 sessions per day on average. The trend continues with some gaming apps, which tend to have some of the highest churn rates between Day 1 and Day 7. For instance, Sports lose 18%, and Mid-core Games lose 14% of users. On average, Gaming apps lose 10% of their initial user base between Day 1 and Day 7. Ad fraud still a thorn in the side of all verticals Adjust identified the types of fraud. The report also showed that fraud remains a serious issue for mobile marketers — with ecommerce, dating, and banking apps the hardest hit. Data from the report showed that Adjust rejected close to 300 million (269,036,991) fraudulent installs in 2018. Adjust said Click Injection (a popular type of ad fraud) accounted for almost half of these rejected installs with 48%, followed by Click Spam (26%), SDK Spoofing (17%), and Fake Installs (9%). Dating, Banking, and Shopping apps topped the list for the verticals most affected by ad fraud. “Ad fraud continues to be a black mark on the mobile industry the world over. While dating, banking, and shopping apps are most affected, that’s not entirely surprising,” said Paul Müller, chief technology officer at Adjust, in a statement. “These apps have among some of the highest CPAs (Cost per Actions). It’s worth bearing in mind that fraudsters don’t discriminate by vertical, they just simply follow where the money is — and the larger the cost, the bigger the motivation for fraudsters to go after the app.” As a bonus, I have embedded a video of Adjust’s session at GamesBeat Summit 2019. Katie Hutcherson Madding, global product director at Adjust; Yaron Oliker, CEO of Unbotify; and moderator Steve Peterson, CEO of StoryPhorce Entertainment, spoke about distinguishing between bots and humans in app usage.
13 May 19
VentureBeat
The Entertainment Software Association, the game industry’s lobbying group and the creator of the big E3 trade show, has named Stanley Pierre-Louis as its new president and CEO. Pierre-Louis stepped up last fall as the acting CEO after the departure of longtime CEO Mike Gallagher. Now he has been named as the permanent CEO of the body, which represents the $43.4 billion U.S. video game industry. The ESA made the announcement at a time when more than 164 million adults in the United States play video games, and three-quarters of all Americans have at least one video game player in their household. Pierre-Louis spoke at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2019 event in April in a fireside chat with Keisha Howard on screen time and video game addiction. The ESA said it sought an executive with deep experience in entertainment, law, and policy to lead the industry into its next chapter. Pierre-Louis joined the ESA as its General Counsel in May 2015. Pierre-Louis is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Clark University. He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, where he also served on The University of Chicago Law Review’s Board of Editors. Following law school, he clerked for Judge David A. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Pierre-Louis served previously on several boards, including on the University of Chicago’s Alumni Board of Governors, the law school’s Visiting Committee, the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, and Lincoln Center Education, the educational arm of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Keisha Howard (left) of Sugar Gamers interviews Stanley Pierre Louis of the ESA at GamesBeat Summit 2019. “Stan’s strategic vision, years of entertainment industry experience, and policy expertise make him the ideal choice to lead our industry through this period of growth and opportunity,” said Robert Altman, chairman of the ESA board, and Chairman and CEO of ZeniMax Media, parent company of game publisher, Bethesda Softworks, in a statement. “The Board and the industry look forward to his leadership of the ESA.” Prior to the ESA, Pierre-Louis served as Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property (IP) at Viacom Inc., where he was responsible for managing major IP litigation, developing strategies for protecting digital content and leading other IP-related legal initiatives for brands including Nickelodeon, MTV, Paramount Pictures, and more than 130 other networks worldwide. He previously served as co-chair of the Entertainment and Media Law Group at Kaye Scholer LLP in New York City as well as Senior Vice President for Legal Affairs at the Recording Industry Association of America in Washington, DC. “I look forward to leading the ESA and advocating for the industry with a strong voice and clear vision,” said Pierre-Louis, in a statement. “The future of our industry is bright and limitless. Video games are a part of the fabric of American culture and a cornerstone of entertainment.” The ESA said the U.S. video game industry is one of the nation’s fastest-growing economic sectors and provides more than 220,000 jobs in all 50 states, and more than 520 colleges and universities in 46 states offer programs or degrees related to video games.
12 May 19
VentureBeat
I’ve been fascinated with Microsoft’s journey to make, ship, and market the Xbox Adaptive Controller, an accessory for the game console for those with limited mobility to play games. And so I was thrilled to be able to include a talk on the controller at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2019 event. Over the past few years, the company rallied around an idea to make gaming more accessible to a wider audience. The proposal for the controller floated up to Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, and he greenlit it. Microsoft announced it in the spring of 2018, wrapped it in accessible packaging, launched it last fall, and promoted it with a touching commercial that aired during the Super Bowl with the message, “When we all play, everybody wins.” Gabi Michel, senior hardware program manager with Microsoft Devices, carried on this narrative in a fireside chat at our GamesBeat Summit 2019, in a session moderated by Keisha Howard, founder of Sugar Gamers. Michel led the hardware development with the aim of being inclusive, learning from diversity. The product started with a hackathon. The ideas flowed. The team reached out to community-focused nonprofits such as Able Gamers, Warfighter Engaged, Special Effect, and others. “We didn’t try to give them solutions right away,” Michel said. “We just listened.” Then Microsoft teamed up with those charities to find gamers with limited mobility. But Michel said that the team struggled to design something that could be broadly useful. Most of its past products were targeted at a single use case. The team couldn’t focus on just one, and so it pivoted away from the concepts that it had in the original hackathon. And for the first time, after all the press about the Xbox Adaptive Controller, Michel told her own story about working on the project. “I want to do the gaming community justice,” she said. “As a gamer, I want to build something great for gamers.”
12 May 19
VentureBeat
65% of Americans play video games. So what better way to educate people about an issue like climate change than a video game. That was the thinking behind two recent games — Eco and Jupiter & Mars — that hit the market recently. We had the good fortune of having the leaders of the studios that made those games speak at our GamesBeat Summit 2019 event last month. Their talks illustrate the differences in approaches that they took in making games to raise awareness about climate change. Sam Kennedy, CEO of the environmentally-focused game developer Tigertron, spoke at the close of our conference with Amy Jo Kim, founder of Game Thinking and co-creator of games like The Sims. “A lot of us in the game industry — probably some of you — work for a while. Then we want to do something with meaning, something that impacts the world, and is more than just entertainment,” said Kim, while introducing Kennedy. “Sam went all in on that.” Kennedy said, “As a studio, we wanted to do games that could ideally inspire people about the Earth and the environment. The topic that was front and center in our minds was climate change. We are seeing the effects today but if you project out in the years to come, it is really frightening.” Jupiter & Mars debuted on Earth Day 2019, April 22, on the PlayStation 4 and PSVR. Proceeds of the game will help charities. And John Krajewski, CEO of Strange Loop Games, spoke with Eric Gradman, chief technology officer and mad man at Two Bit Circus, about the creation of Eco. I really like how these sessions, which were inspired by game developer Dave Taylor, turned out. Aspyr enabled Kennedy to fly out from New York and give the talk. John Krajewski (left), CEO of Strange Loop Games, and Eric Gradman, CTO and mad man at Two Bit Circus. Krajewski’s team at Strange Loop Games created Eco, a multiplayer simulation game that requires players to work together to create a society that can shoot down a meteor from destroying a planet. Our PC gaming editor Jeff Grubb got obsessed with the educational game in the past year. Strange Loop Games worked with a couple of universities and had a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The company also raised money via Kickstarter. The game debuted on Windows, Mac, and Linux in early 2018. The results are fascinating. Check out the full talk below.
10 May 19
GeekandGear.com

One of my favorite business books is Built to Last: Successful habits of visionary companies, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. Starting the 1990s, they studied thousands of companies to figure out what made some exceptional. They focused on 18 companies that had lasted for generations, including HP and Disney, and explained what made them […]

09 May 19
VentureBeat
Mobile game publisher Scopely has acquired Digit Game Studios, the developer that made the mobile online strategy game Star Trek Fleet Command. That’s consistent with the “eat or be eaten” trend of mobile gaming, and it follows a pattern where a publisher will acquire an outside developer for a highly successful game. The purchase price was not disclosed. But Scopely is on a $400 million revenue run rate thanks to big hits like this Star Trek game, which has surpassed $50 million in revenue in a few months. Dublin-based Digit Game Studios helped make the massively multiplayer online strategy game, which launched in November 2018. Digit has been a partner of Scopely‘s since 2015. Scopely also had its own internal team working on Star Trek. The Los Angeles-based Scopely said the title is on track to surpass $100 million in revenue within a relatively short time after launch, though there is no exact time for hitting that target. It also said recently it is expanding its headquarters in Culver City, California. Scopely senior vice president Jory Pearsall spoke about the company’s strategy of working with external developers at our GamesBeat Summit 2019 event last month. I’ve embedded the video of that talk. “Late last year, we expanded into the strategy genre with Star Trek Fleet Command, which has proven to be a hugely successful entry into the challenging-to-tackle MMO/strategy sector. The trusted partnership we have built the last few years with our collaborator DIGIT also laid the foundation for even more opportunities in the strategy space,” said Tim O’Brien, chief revenue officer at Scopely, in a statement. “Game, tech and publishing expertise across both teams resulted in a dynamic experience players are engaging with for hours every day. It’s exciting to see the game garnering awards and popularity, showcasing that our deep collaboration has been a great mix for Fleet Command. We look forward to further scaling the Scopely business with Digit, who will be a fantastic addition to our growing global team.” Digit founder and CEO Richard Barnwell will continue to manage the operations of the 70-person studio in Dublin. Prior to Digit, Barnwell served as CEO of Jolt Online Gaming, part of the GameStop network, and held various senior positions at Jagex, the UK’s largest independent games developer and publisher. Tim O’Brien, chief revenue officer at Scopely “We partnered with Scopely in 2015 to enable us to grow our team and focus on building world-class strategy games,” said Barnwell, in a statement. “The success we’ve seen with Star Trek Fleet Command has been absolutely amazing and formalizing our relationship will allow us to scale the game even more. We can’t wait to see what else we can accomplish together.” Founded in 2011, Scopely expanded its operations to Barcelona in late 2017, an office which now has more than 75 employees. Scopely also recently announced it will more than double the footprint of its Los Angeles headquarters by 2020. In addition to Digit Game Studios, Scopely works with multiple studio partners to co-create its diverse product portfolio and operate franchises together. Scopely currently has studio partners in eight countries, across four continents, totaling a team of more than 800 working on Scopely products. Scopely Scopely is riding the momentum of several product launches, including: Star Trek Fleet Command, along with existing portfolio successes, such as Yahtzee With Buddies, which saw its biggest year yet in 2018 with two-times revenue growth. Scopely made its first investment in Digit Game Studios in 2015 to collaborate in the strategy space. In 2018, Scopely announced a $160 million funding round aimed for acquisitions and strategic investment initiatives. Digit Game Studios was founded in 2012 by Barnwell, David McGovern, and Fergus Duggan.