Litesprite uses mobile games to treat chronic stress problems

Swatee Surve of Lifesprite

For the past two years, Litesprite has been building games and a platform to help people deal with mental health problems such as too much stress. A lot of games profess to do that, but Lifesprite’s founder Swatee Surve is seeking full approval as a government and doctor-approved medical treatment.

Running on a smartphone, Litesprite’s Sinasprite game monitors the behavior and health of players by combining input from biosensors, wearables, and mobile devices. It captures the patient data and provides it to clinicians so they can see what strategies are working and when, Surve said in an interview with GamesBeat. The game could become very useful, considering 40 million Americans suffer from too much stress, anxiety, or depression.

The idea of using games for health has a lot of company. Jane McGonigal, a famous game designer and speaker, has a new book called Superbetter that chronicles her efforts to improve the lives of people by challenging them with games.


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The first game, Sinasprite, uses a Fox character named Socks to go on journeys through an animated world that are relaxing or soothing. You can create paintings using a touchscreen brush and do other things that help keep Socks balanced and healthy in a quest to become a zen master. Lifesprite’s patent-pending platform aims to help people deal with stress relief and suicide prevention. The game and its platform are certified as a “class II medical device.”

“We see this being prescribed some day,” said Surve, founder and chief executive of Litesprite. “We think that’s pretty cool. We are getting really good results so far.”

The company has received angel funding as well as grants from South by Southwest, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Singularity University, and the Livestrong Foundation. It also has had in-kind support from the U.S. Army. The company ran a public beta and active pilot with the U.S. Army. Litesprite also participated in the Washington Interactive Network’s gaming accelerator, dubbed Reactor, in Seattle. The game’s results show strong engagement and improvements in anxiety symptoms, depression symptoms, and coping skills, Surve said.

“We’re looking for funding to broaden operations and increase the features,” Surve said.

The company has eight employees. It has paying customers in the military and in private health clinics, including a clinic in Arizona. The company is targeting insurance firms, clinics, and employers.

“Sometimes Call of Duty is what you really want,” said Surve. “It depends on the situation. Other times, it’s zoning out and meditating. Now players can clinicians can see what works for them. Maybe you can figure out strategies like how you need to go for a walk right now. We can predict with enough data that you should go for another walk.”

Over time, the information could become a lot more useful. Medical providers and insurance companies can look at the aggregate, anonymized data and try to diagnose the conditions for suicide risk, which could prompt more intervention.

In the meantime, health clinics can efficiently monitor patients in-between visits, customize treatment strategies, and communicate directly with individuals through the Litesprite app.

People can add user-generated content to the game. Clinicians can provide positive feedback and incentivize patients to do better. The clinicians can develop predictive models and send alerts to patients, and measure health outcomes, patient engagement, adherence to the treatment, and overall health. Sinasprite targets adults ages 25 to 50.

“We’re trying to stay true to what gaming is about through an emphasis on character,” Surve said. “Everybody loves Socks.”


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Industy pundit Michael Pachter confirmed as GamesBeat speaker

Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities was recently confirmed as both a speaker and moderator for GamesBeat 2015.

In addition to his duties as a moderator at GamesBeat 2015, research analyst and managing director at Wedbush Securities Michael Pachter has recently been confirmed as a speaker for our upcoming conference. Pachter will open the conference, which is being held at the Grand Hyatt Union Square on October 12 and October 13 in San Francisco, with a brief talk about industry trends. Registration for GamesBeat 2015 is open now.

Michael Pachter, speaking at GamesBeat 2014.

Above: Michael Pachter, speaking at GamesBeat 2014.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

Pachter is no stranger to GamesBeat, having hosted last year’s event as an emcee and stepping up to fill a last-minute speaker role on the state of the video game business. He is one of the most quoted figures when it comes to the finance of video games, with numerous mentions in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal, among many others. Pachter is also the head of Wedbush’s Private Shares division, a branch that focuses on companies that have not yet gone public. Between 2010 and 2014, he also hosted the Q&A series “Pach Attack” on Gametrailers.com.

Gaming has many kingdoms: mobile, console, PC online, geographic, and more. In each of these powerful realms, companies are fighting to grow fast, to come out on top, and to cross boundaries to rule more than one empire. Playing the competitive game, making alliances, prepping for new platforms like augmented and virtual reality, and surviving the incredibly fast change in gaming right now is more difficult than ever. It’s more complex than the fantasy world of Westeros in HBO’s Game of Thrones … and it’s happening right in front of us all. At GamesBeat 2015, we’ll dissect how these kings and queens are battling for gaming supremacy and growth. We’ll find out who’s leading and how they are winning.


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Gaming is in its golden age, and big and small players alike are maneuvering like kings and queens in A Game of Thrones. Register now for our GamesBeat 2015 event, Oct. 12-Oct.13, where we’ll explore strategies in the new world of gaming.

We’re screening our speakers for bold ideas, transparency, global strategies, creativity, and diversity. Our speakers show that gaming has become a global and diverse business with many intricacies and strategies. This year, we’ll have as many as 80 speakers and many well-known moderators over the course of two days.

Our previously announced speakers include:

Graeme Devine, the chief creative officer and vice president of games at Magic Leap. Devine has had a storied career in games over decades. At Magic Leap in Florida, he is helping to launch new games that work with the company’s augmented-reality glasses, which can overlay virtual animations on top of what you see in the real world. Luminaries such as Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, say that Magic Leap is doing things that they didn’t think were possible. Devine describes Magic Leap’s technology, Cinematic Reality, as a “rocket ship for the mind.”

Devine has worked on, programmed, and designed games such as The 7th Guest, 11th Hour, Quake 3, Doom 3, Age of Empires 3, various ports of Pole Position, Ballblazer, and many many others. He also worked at Apple during the rise of the iPhone as one of the company’s iPhone gaming technologists. He is head of GRL Games and has worked at places such as Delicious Monster Software, Microsoft, Ensemble Studios, id Software, Trilobyte, Virgin Games, and Mastertronic.

Owen Mahoney, the CEO of Nexon. Mahoney became the head of Nexon in March 2014. He joined Nexon in 2010 and served as chief financial officer and chief administrative officer until 2014, responsible for managing the company’s finances, global operations, investments and strategic alliances. Under his leadership, Nexon successfully completed its $1.2 billion initial public offering on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and formed strategic partnerships with high-profile developers and publishers around the world. Previously, Mahoney was senior vice president of corporate development at Electronic Arts from 2000 to 2009, where he was responsible for worldwide mergers and acquisitions and business development, and led all acquisitions and equity investments. Prior to that, Mahoney held executive positions at online and software companies in the U.S. and Asia, including PointCast, Claris Japan, and Radius.

At Nexon, Mahoney has overseen an expansion to the West and a move into mobile games. Mahoney has signed up famous Western developers such as Brian Reynolds, Tim Train, Cliff Bleszinski, John Schappert, and Mike Borras.

Mahoney will be interviewed on stage at GamesBeat 2015 in a fireside chat by Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors, which provides merger, acquisition, strategy, and investment advice for operating companies, investment funds, private equity firms, and venture capital firms.

Phil Sanderson, managing director at IDG Ventures. Sanderson is a lifelong gamer, and he has been involved in game finance for 20 years. He focuses on investments in gaming, music technology, ecommerce, search, and adtech. Phil started his investment career at Goldman Sachs and Robertson Stephens. His team has invested in game companies such as Funzio and Telltale Games.

Sunny Dhillon, partner at Signia Venture Partners. Dhillon is a game investor who joined the Signia team in 2012 after launching his own location-based mobile startup named Barstool and investing in early-stage technology companies for New World Ventures in LA and Chicago. He was previously an M&A analyst in technology investment banking at Rothschild in London. He serves on the board of Kihon Games and as a board observer with Signia’s investments in Super Evil Megacorp, Phoenix Labs, and Artillery. His focus these days includes investments in virtual reality startups.

Jason Rubin, head of Worldwide Studios at Oculus VR division of Facebook. Rubin has made some legendary games in his two decades in video games. His credits include the Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter series, and his games have sold more than 35 million copies and have generated more than $1 billion in revenue.

He cofounded the Naughty Dog game studio, and in 2001, he sold it to Sony Computer Entertainment America. He left in 2004, creating the startup Morgan Rose to pursue various entertainment ventures. He also started online mashup tool startup Flektor in 2006 and sold it to Fox Interactive Media. He joined THQ as president in May 2012.

Shintaro Asako, the CEO of DeNA West. Asako runs the Western business of DeNA, a global developer and publisher of mobile games. He leads the company’s operations and corporate strategy in North America, Europe, and the rest of the West. Headquartered in Tokyo, DeNA has offices and studios in 12 cities across eight countries with over 2,000 employees and has delivered nearly a dozen titles that hit the top-30 grossing charts on the U.S. App Store and U.S. Google Play. In addition to launching hits such as Blood Brothers and Rage of Bahamut, DeNA currently develops and publishes mobile games for popular entertainment franchises such as Star Wars, Marvel, Transformers, and Final Fantasy. DeNA reported revenue of $1.8 billion dollars and operating profit of $524 million dollars in the fiscal year ending March 2014. It recently announced that it will help make mobile games based on Nintendo franchises.

Asako joined DeNA West in 2011, serving as chief financial officer before moving to the role of CEO in 2013. Previously, Asako was CFO at MediciNova, Inc., from 2005 to 2011. Prior to MediciNova, Asako worked at KPMG and Arthur Anderson. Michael Metzger of Mesa Global will interview him onstage.

Michael Pachter at GamesBeat 2014.

Above: Michael Pachter at GamesBeat 2014.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

Matt Wolf, global head of gaming at Coca-Cola. He is responsible for the company’s gaming strategy, partnerships, and initiatives across all brands. In this role, Wolf identifies opportunities to authentically integrate the company’s brands into gaming culture, sharing value to the gaming community while driving brand loyalty and building company business.

He has over two decades of video game industry experience to lead the company into all forms of gaming including esports, mobile, social, and console. As a video game industry veteran, entrepreneur, and Primetime Emmy Award winner, he has helped shape the way consumers play by contributing through key roles in creative development, marketing, and business/content strategy.

Chris Fralic, partner at First Round Capital. Fralic is an investor in tech and game companies. He joined First Round Capital in 2006 and is based in its New York office. He has focused on a number of First Round’s investments in gaming, including Roblox and Mobcrush. Chris has over 25 years of technology industry experience, including significant Internet sales and business development roles since 1996. Most recently, he was VP of business development for Delicious and spent six years at eBay in sales and business development. He’ll be speaking on a panel on investing in games.

Niccolo De Masi, CEO of Glu Mobile. De Masi has been in the spotlight ever since the meteoric success of the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood mobile game. His company is also working on games based on celebrities Britney Spears and Katy Perry. Is this the path to mobile dominance?

Brianna Wu, head of development at Giant Spacekat. Her team created the mobile game Revolution 60 last year, but Wu gained more notoriety as a vocal opponent of Gamergate, the gamer-rage movement that targets women such as Wu with a lot of Internet hatred (including attacking a number of game developers while claiming it was about “ethics in journalism”). She has since become a major figure in the feminist movement to make gaming more accepting of women and female game characters.

Emily Greer, head of Kongregate. Greer cofounded Kongregate with her brother, Jim, as an online site for indie games. They sold the business to game retail giant GameStop, and Greer is now taking Kongregate into mobile.

Rajesh Rao, CEO of GameTantra and Dhruva InteractiveRao founded Dhruva Interactive as India’s first major game company in 1997. He developed the business over the years with work-for-hire on titles such as Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport. More recently, he started the GameTantra incubator for Indian game companies.

Jessica Rovello, CEO of Arkadium. Rovello cofounded Arkadium as a casual-game company back in 2001. It bootstrapped the business into a major online casual-game maker and expanded into Windows mobile. But the Russia-Ukraine crisis caught the studio in Crimea by surprise. Arkadium had to shut down the office and relocate it, and Rovello and her husband, Kenny Rosenblatt, swapped the top job earlier this year, making Rovello one of the few top executives in gaming who’s a woman. And she was responsible for salvaging the company’s fortunes in Eastern Europe.

Ian Sherr, executive editor of Cnet. Sherr has covered games and tech news at places such as Cnet and the Wall Street Journal. We’ll have him ask astute questions of our speakers as a moderator. He previously moderated sessions with Kabam’s Kent Wakeford and the Entertainment Software Association’s Mike Gallagher.

Mike Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA. The game industry’s trade association is back at GamesBeat’s big event as well. Gallagher is the spokesman for the game industry, and he always has something to say about its direction and growth.

Kate Edwards, executive director at the International Game Developers Association. Edwards represents the game developers of the world, and she has emerged as a voice for diversity, creativity, and fairness in what has been a wild and raucous business.

Our GamesBeat 2015 advisory board includes:

  • Ophir Lupu, head of video games at United Talent Agency
  • Jay Eum, managing director at TransLink Capital
  • Phil Sanderson, managing director at IDG Ventures
  • Sunny Dhillon, partner at Signia Venture Partners
  • Reinout te Brake, CEO of GetSocial
  • Mike Vorhaus of Magid Advisors
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Eventbrite debuts new app that syncs event data right into Salesforce

Eventbrite sign

Eventbrite today launched a new way for businesses to connect their Salesforce instance right into the ticketing platform. Called EventbriteSync, it allows data to be transferred almost seamlessly between the two platforms.

Previously in beta, this app is now available free worldwide through Salesforce’s AppExchange. Once enabled, users will log into Eventbrite using OAuth2 authentication and then link their accounts with Salesforce. Instantly a 1:1 relationship will be created. What’s left is the configuration and mapping of data.

5 - EventbriteSync_Config

EventbriteSync offers what Eventbrite’s head of partnerships and platform Dylan Serota describes as “bi-directional sync.” Event data created through the ticketing platform is synced to Salesforce and contact lists and promo codes can be transferred back to Eventbrite to be associated with marketing campaigns.

Although Serota touts the syncing capability, it’s not entirely seamless (we did say “almost”). We inquired whether the following scenario would be possible: You connect Salesforce with Eventbrite —  within the ticketing platform can you then select specific contact lists, individuals, etc., all without having to jump between the two platforms? Serota said that, unfortunately, that would not be possible at this time, so users should probably expect to do some additional work to get the configuration just right.

7 - EventbriteSync_Order_Mapping

EventbriteSync is aimed at helping businesses that put on events as a component to their mission. Eventbrite is seeing an increasing number of such businesses and these users are probably leveraging customer relationship management tools like Salesforce to manage their conferences, endurance races, festivals, and other annual shows.

“Companies are looking to transform the way they connect with customers, partners and employees to thrive in today’s connected world,” said Salesforce’s senior vice president for global AppExchange and partner programs, Ron Huddleston. “By leveraging the power of the Salesforce1 Platform, EventbriteSync provides customers with the proven social, mobile and connected cloud technologies to accelerate business success.”


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Eventbrite said that for over one and a half years, it’s received a “flood of requests” for integrations with Salesforce. Until now, there have been third-party connectors that have tried to fill this need but it was more of a “MacGuyver’ed” approach anc certainly wasn’t a native integration. And while there are many ways to configure Eventbrite, such third-party connectors fall short of an ideal solution.

Although Eventbrite counts more than 130 integrations with its platform, the addition of Salesforce is particularly noticeable, as it’s reaching a higher tier of enterprise companies. Existing CRM tie-ins include the cloud-based nonprofit software platform Kindful, Pardot, Eloqua, Microsoft Dynamics, Survemetrics, and others. While there are certainly CRMs on the list, tapping into what is arguably the largest solution in the marketplace today is a pretty big deal.

EventbriteSync is available to all Salesforce and Eventbrite customers now and includes support for French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

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Hyperloop Is Raising $80M, Names Ex-Cisco Pres Rob Lloyd As CEO And Emily White As Advisor

Some big moves ahead for Hyperloop , the LA-based futuristic tubular transportation startup backed by Elon Musk, with high ambitions to rethink high-speed transportation services to "work anywhere and live anywhere and be anywhere". The company has appointed a new CEO - Rob Lloyd, who had been president at Cisco - and also added another familiar name to its list of advisors.

The Bezos effect: Amazon Prime members now get 6 months free access to the Washington Post, then a 60% discount

Washington Post

Amazon has announced the latest benefit for its $99/year Prime subscribers: free access to the Washington Post National Digital Edition for 6 months, and a heavy discount thereafter.

This move should surprise few people, given that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos snapped up the Washington Post for $250 million back in 2013. But it’s a notable evolution for the Amazon Prime membership, which now includes a Netflix-style video catalogue, ad-free music-streaming, speedy-delivery on millions of goods, and more.

Looking beyond the 6-months free perk, a Washington Post digital subscription will only cost $4 / month thereafter, compared to the usual $10. And perhaps importantly in the competitive online news realm, it’ll only set you back $48 a year compared to the New York Times’$455.

“Offering free access to new subscribers through Prime allows us to connect with millions of members nationwide who may not have tried The Post in the past,” explained Steve Hills, president and general manager, at the Washington Post. “With this special offer, Prime members can see firsthand why more than 50 million people monthly choose The Washington Post as their source for news.”


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Mobilepocalypse: Why mobile user acquisition costs could double in the next 12 months

Bombshell lava

Worlds are colliding,

George Wallet SeinfeldOn the one side, mobile-first publishers in the casual games, social, and entertainment spaces continue to compete for engaged, profitable users. They’ve already driven the cost of new users up near $3 each, and that’s just the beginning. Engaged, signed-up users can cost $40-200. But now, on the other side, big brands are joining the mobile advertising banquet in droves, seeking new ways to connect to millions of customers.

Add it all up, and George is getting very upset indeed.

Brand-based mobile advertising grew about 10X last Christmas season, says Lisa Marino of Rockyou. But that’s going to accelerate even more this coming holiday season when we hit another inflection point, she says. That fits with what internet sage Mary Meeker pointing out a recently: a $25 billion monetization gap on mobile between the massive growth of consumer time spent on mobile devices, and the trailing growth of advertising revenue.

mobile monetization gap

That’s great news for mobile publishers who monetize via advertising; their business will grow.

But it’s tough news for mobile publishers who are looking to engage in extensive mobile user acquisition campaigns, because supply is going to be sucked up with increased demand, and prices will inevitably rise.


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Already, many of the top apps are spending between $4 and $10 to acquire new users, with spikes up to $20 and $30. Competitive analysis engine AppScotch says that the average UA cost $2.91, but it varies significantly between categories. For instance, while apps in the business category average just over $1, poker apps are $5 and strategy games are over $4. Some games, such as MMORPG games, go as high as $12.

Other apps, either not quite so well-known or savvy at UA, or simply in higher-value niches, are spending up to and above $90 for the right user, as we detail in the newly-released mobile user acquisition report from VB.

As worlds collide and brands continue to flood into mobile advertising, we’re already seeing signs of premium inventory shortage. There’s one reason the big apps from Supercell and Machine Zone are advertising on TV and other places: they have more ad dollars to spend than premium inventory to spend them on.

The competition — and mobile publishers’ desperate need for new users to drive increase revenue — has resulted in significant investment in the UA space: about $250 million in the last year.

Mobile investment heatwave

Above: Mobile investment heatwave

The implications for both mobile marketers and everyone else — mobile users — are obvious:

  • Prices are going to go up
  • Organic is going to become even more important than it is now
  • Our collective mobile experiences are going to be increasingly noisy
  • It’s going to be harder for mobile user acquisition marketers to cut through that noise

Current prices are significant already, and climbing. One thing’s for sure: dollar users are a thing of the distant past.

VB’s Mobile User Acquisition report is available for $499, or free with your martech subscription.

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Hyperloop Is Raising $80M, Names Ex-Cisco Pres Rob Lloyd As CEO And Emily White As Advisor

hyperloop Some big moves ahead for Hyperloop, the LA-based futuristic tubular transportation startup backed by Elon Musk, with high ambitions to rethink high-speed transportation services to “work anywhere and live anywhere and be anywhere”. The company has appointed a new CEO — Rob Lloyd, who had been president at Cisco — and also added another familiar name to its list of advisors. Read More