War Dragons launches on Android with new ad from Beavis and Butt-head animator

War Dragons.

Your mobile game ad doesn’t always need to rely on a celebrity.

War Dragons announced today that it has launched for Android, one year after the mobile strategy game released for iOS. Developer Pocket Gems is also launching a new ad for the game from animator J.J. Sedelmaier, who has worked on mainstream successes Beavis and Butt-head and the Saturday TV Funhouse segments of Saturday Night Live. War Dragons is the No. 328 ranked game on the iOS app store, via App Annie. The mobile industry was worth $34.8 billion last year, according to market research firm Newzoo.

We’ve seen with Mobile Strike/Arnold Schwarzenegger and Game of War/Kate Upton that having a successful ad campaign can boost sales of a game. However, instead of using a celebrity, Pocket Gems is hoping to gain interest by using an animator with a proven track record, even if he isn’t a household name. You can watch the commercial below.

“War Dragons’ first year was all about refining the game to make it as kick-ass as possible,” said Harlan Crystal, Pocket Gems’ founder and product lead on War Dragons, in a press release sent to GamesBeat. “We’ve drastically improved everything from the art to the multiplayer components, and it really shows. As we enter our next phase of growth, we wanted something different for our first big TV spot and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”

The strategy space in mobile is incredibly competitive, with games like Clash of Clans and Mobile Strike dominating the field. Still, Pocket Gems notes that War Dragons has been climbing up the iOS ranks since it launched last April. Pocket Gems boasts that all of its games combined, which includes Night at the Museum: Hidden Treasures and Runaway Life, have been downloaded over 200 million times.

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Supercell’s Clash Royale on pace for $1B year after $110M debut last month

Clash Royale is doing OK.

Supercell knows how to make money.

The mobile publisher earned $80 million from it’s newly released head-to-head strategy battler Clash Royale last month, according to industry-tracking firm NewZoo. That figure does not include the 30 percent that Supercell gave to Apple and Google, which would put the game’s total monthly revenues closer to $110 million. Clash Royale is an online multiplayer game where two people send out units from their deck to attack each other’s defensive towers. It is fast-paced with a strong layer of tactics, and it is already on pace to bring in more than $1 billion annually — although that isn’t guaranteed. That’s something that only a handful of mobile apps have ever done. Gaming on smartphones and tablets already generates $34.8 billion in spending every year, but Clash Royale could bump that number up a few notches.

Supercell isn’t new to this level of success. The company has previously made more than $1 billion annually from its Clash of Clans, which has finished beyond or near that mark since 2013. What’s extra impressive in this case, however, is that Clash Royale’s revenues are not coming at a significant detriment to Clash of Clans.

“[Supercell’s] flagship title saw only a slight single-digit decline in March,” reads a Newzoo report.

The better news for Supercell is that the $110 million doesn’t include Android revenues from China. Clash Royale only just made its debut in that key market this month after Kunlun, Supercell’s Chinese publishing partner, released it on a variety of mobile stores in that country (Google Play does not work in China).

At this point, more than half of the game’s iOS revenue is coming from just the U.S. and China. When you look at the spending by major territory, North America and Asia Pacific represent 64 percent of all iOS Clash Royale spending, so you can see the importance of getting the game out on Android in a country where Google’s operating system has a much larger install base.

Newzoo points out that Clash Royale has rocketed to such quick success because of its strong core gameplay elements combined with some serious pressure to spend real money to keep up with your friends. The game is arguably one of the best games to ever top the grossing chart on iOS or Android, and it stinks to lose a match because your opponent has a card you do not or has upgraded a character to a higher level. I know that convinced me to fork over $10.

But Clash Royale is also a treadmill. I didn’t feel any different about the game after spending that money. I immediately thought that I needed to spend more money to keep moving forward, and some people obviously end up doing that over and over.

These money-making techniques have pushed Clash Royale to the top of the grossing charts in the most important mobile markets including the United States, Canada, Germany, and Brazil.

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GoPro unveils third-party partner program with 100 developers

GoPro CEO Nick Woodman

Action camera maker GoPro has launched a third-party app program with more than 100 supporting developers.

The move is part of GoPro’s efforts to expand enthusiasm for its cameras and its community of avid users. Nick Woodman, founder and chief executive of GoPro, said in a speech in San Francisco that the program has been quietly been set up over the past year.

The GoPro Developer Program will offer a seamless user experience between third-party products and GoPro products.

“This is our chance to celebrate and support third-party developers who are leveraging GoPro,” Woodman said.

It is scaling GoPro’s ecosystem in a very important way, he said.

“Over the last few years we’ve been excited by the creativity and enthusiasm other brands have demonstrated when integrating GoPro into their own solutions,” said Woodman. “The GoPro Developer Program is a way for us to celebrate the innovative work of our developer community and, more importantly, help enable what comes next. We’re grateful to benefit from the collective genius of the participating developers, and we’re excited to now officially support their efforts with our developer toolkits.”

Fisher-Price has built baby-proof camera mounts for GoPro devices.

Above: Fisher-Price has built baby-proof camera mounts for GoPro devices.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi/GoPro

Since the launch of GoPro Hero in 2009, the company has thought of it as a “capture module,” Woodman said. “If you can think it, you can capture it with a GoPro.”

The GoPro Developer Program toolkits enable developers to create seamless user experiences in a few ways: It lets developers create mobile apps that connect with GoPro cameras, allowing them to control cameras, preview live video, and manage media. It also enables developers to create devices that connect either physically to a GoPro camera via the HeroBus, or wirelessly via Bluetooth technology or Wi-Fi. And it lets them create new mounts and housings for GoPro devices.

Adam Silver, head of the developer program, said people already use their GoPros with many other products. The dev program will provide toolkits to enable those products to connect to GoPro more easily.

“We provide these toolkits to these companies so they can integrate their products to our products,” he said.

At the launch event, 34 of the participating companies showed their products. They included the BMW M-Laptimer App, which tracks data and analyzes it for enthusiast drivers. It records car telemetry data, speed, location, and video from GoPro cameras to provide feedback.

BMW has integrated GoPro into its cars.

Above: BMW has integrated GoPro into its cars.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi/GoPro

Fisher-Price, the maker of toys for young kids, also showed a child-friendly camera housing and mounts for a suite of new products, including Fisher-Price Jumperoo, Walker, and Gym products. Parents can easily access and use the devices, but it’s secure enough so babies can’t mess with the camera.

Telefonica showed its Xtreamr mobile app, which enables live sharing of multidimensional video experiences, as they happen.

Periscope has already integrated GoPro’s toolkit into its livestreaming app for mobile devices.

And Timecode Systems showed the SyncBac Pro, which synchronizes GoPro cameras for seamless integration into professional television and film workflows.

“We have been able to achieve so much with the SyncBac Pro due to the amazing sharing of technology offered through the GoPro Developer Program,” said Paul Scurrell, CEO of Timecode Systems. “To me, this is exactly what best-of-breed technology companies should be doing — taking the best of their own offerings and combining them to drive innovation and elegant solutions.”

The GoPro Developer Program is launching with a companion program called Works with GoPro, a product verification and brand association program for companies who make products that, uh, work with GoPro products.

GoPro developer program

Above: GoPro developer program.

Image Credit: GoPro


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Microsoft sues U.S. government over law banning tech firms from telling customers about search warrants

A Microsoft logo is seen on an office building in New York

(By Sarah McBride, Reuters) — Microsoft Corp has sued the U.S. government for the right to tell its customers when a federal agency is looking at their emails, the latest in a series of clashes over privacy between the technology industry and Washington.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in federal court in the Western District of Washington, argues that the government is violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing Microsoft from notifying thousands of customers about government requests for their emails and other documents.

The government’s actions contravene the Fourth Amendment, which establishes the right for people and businesses to know if the government searches or seizes their property, the suit argues, and the First Amendment right to free speech.

Microsoft’s suit focuses on the storage of data on remote servers, rather than locally on people’s computers, which Microsoft says has provided a new opening for the government to access electronic data.

Using the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the government is increasingly directing investigations at the parties that store data in the so-called cloud, Microsoft says. The 30-year-old law has long drawn scrutiny from technology companies and privacy advocates who say it was written before the rise of the commercial Internet and is therefore outdated.

“People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud,” Microsoft says in the lawsuit, a copy of which was seen by Reuters. It adds that the government “has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations.”

The lawsuit represents the newest front in the battle between technology companies and the U.S. government over how much private businesses should assist government surveillance.

By filing the suit, Microsoft is taking a more prominent role in that battle, dominated by Apple Inc in recent months due to the government’s efforts to get the company to write software to unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters in a December massacre in San Bernardino, California. Apple, backed by big technology companies including Microsoft, had complained that cooperating would turn businesses into arms of the state.

In its complaint, Microsoft says over the past 18 months it has received 5,624 legal orders under the ECPA, of which 2,576 prevented Microsoft from disclosing that the government is seeking customer data through warrants, subpoenas and other requests. Most of the ECPA requests apply to individuals, not companies, and provide no fixed end date to the secrecy provision, Microsoft said.

Microsoft and other companies won the right two years ago to disclose the number of government demands for data they receive. This case goes farther, requesting that it be allowed to notify individual businesses and people that the government is seeking information about them.

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Millions being wasted as the mobile marketing gap remains dangerously wide (event)


You know that the customer is completely mobile now, but apparently you don’t take marketing to them seriously. In fact, you’re wasting your money.

That’s a fair takeaway from early responses to our holistic mobile marketing study, the results of which we’ll discuss in depth at next month’s VB Roadshow.

Here’s the problem.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents in our survey control a budget of over $1 million, with almost nine percent in charge of over $10 million in marketing investments. That’s a serious amount of money being spent on marketing. How much of this is being dedicated to mobile?

More than half of those respondents are putting 26 percent or more of that entire budget toward mobile marketing. In fact, close to 30 percent are dedicating over half their marketing budget to mobile.

That’s a serious amount of money. You would expect those mobile marketing dollars to be aligned with marketing campaigns being run elsewhere in the business, right?

Join us at the VB Roadshow in San Francisco to hear how
Pinterest, Zillow, and Glassdoor are making mobile marketing work
May 19, The Village (all proceeds to charity – free report for all attendees)


The data tells us clearly that this is not the case. Respondents are reporting, en masse, that mobile marketing is tacked on at the end of their marketing campaigns, that it is completely siloed, and that they lack the in-house talent to leverage the world’s fastest growing marketing channel.

“We see this all the time, even in the largest companies,” Sigal Bareket, cofounder and U.S. general manager at Taptica told me. “Different marketing teams deal with developing content for email marketing and the company website, but the mobile marketing team never receive the creative elements designed and used in those campaigns. Mobile is a siloed activity, and it is tacked on to the end without planning.”

You can’t afford to go on like this, which is why we’re talking about these issues at the VB Roadshow, coming to San Francisco on May 19.

The TL;DR version is this:

  • We’re doing real, data-driven, significant research at VB Insight
  • We’re coming to tell you what we learned
  • We’ve invited mobile project leads and executives from Pinterest, Zillow, and Glassdoor to share their successes, their mistakes, and how to get it right
  • We’ll hit these topics in depth: How mobile marketing and product development can keep you alive, what holistic mobile marketing is, and how it will change the future.

Before we talk, we’ll eat and drink. And after we talk, we’ll also eat and drink. The small attendance fee you’ll pay to attend will be given to charity. And you’ll get a free copy of our report on holistic mobile marketing, which not only includes the final results of the survey but also includes everything you need to know about bringing your mobile marketing together.

A few spots are still available. Now would be an excellent time to grab one of them.

The Details

Who should attend?

High-level mobile marketers, growth executives, and product managers. (This event is brought to you by our friends at Taptica, who had no influence over the study or its findings. Proceeds from the evening benefit Sleep Train Foster Kids).

Register now.

P.S. The holistic mobile marketing study is still active. Haven’t added your opinion yet? Go ahead.

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Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code for Windows, OS X and Linux hits 1.0

2016-04-14_0833 Visual Studio Code (VS Code), Microsoft’s cross-platform text editor for developers, hit version 1.0 today after about a year in beta. The company says more than 500,000 developers now actively use the application each month. The launch of VS Code came as quite a surprise when the company first announced it at its Build developer conference last year. Microsoft, after all, had never… Read More

Ladies, your attention please: Study shows you use your phone behind the wheel more than ever


Despite warnings and safety campaigns, an increasing number of women are putting their lives at risk, thanks to that most prevalent of devices: the smartphone.

That’s one conclusion from new research released today by Influence Central, and while some of the findings underline things we already knew, the study points to some worrying trends.

The survey — which took in responses from 500 women via an online, in-depth questionnaire — is an update of Influence Central’s 2012 report. Comparing the two illustrates some interesting, but not surprising, trends.

Telephone landlines — for example — are a dying breed: 54 percent of homes surveyed don’t have them today, compared to 35 percent in 2012. And 48 percent of women said that their phone was their top item in 2016, compared to 26 percent who said their most important item was their purse. In 2012, those categories were 43 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

But the real eye-opener is in the use of smartphones while driving.

Survey respondents increasingly admit to using their phones to talk and text while driving. In fact, 57 percent say they always, often, or sometimes talk on the phone while driving, up from 53 percent in 2012. Among those who talk and drive, nearly as many (48 percent) talk directly on the phone versus using the safer, Bluetooth/hands-free option (52 percent).

And while campaigns such as “It Can Wait” have raised awareness — gathering over eight million pledges from those willing to support the cause — the number of people who say they never text while they drive decreased over four years from 64 percent to 56 percent. Those who say they do so always, often, or sometimes increased from 14 percent to 17 percent.

NHTSA data estimates that 424,000 Americans were injured in distraction-affected crashes in 2013, and the problem isn’t confined to text messaging. Recently, Snapchat use while driving has become such an issue that many have taken to creating their own “Don’t snap and drive” stories in an attempt to educate others.

“We’ve become a generation tethered to our smartphones,” Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO at Influence Central, told me. “The ability of these devices to help us multi-task — doing everything from getting text messages from our kids to checking in on social media — makes it tough to put them down, even when we know we should.”

The paradox is this: The smartphone is now an important driving aid.

“Thirty-three percent of women consumers often use their phone as a GPS device to help navigate, so we frequently have them front and center each time we pull out of our driveway,” DeBroff said.

The report continues to highlight how important smartphones have become in our lives.

The average family now owns 2.6 smartphones, and when it comes to capturing the “Kodak moments” of our lives, phones have overtaken traditional cameras in the last four years.

Comparing the 2012 report to today’s survey reveals a direct reversal of fortunes for the humble camera. In 2012, 63 percent of respondents said they use a camera as their primary device for taking photos, and 37 percent said they rely on their phone. Now, 70 percent of women say they use their phone most for photos, with only 30 percent using a camera.

Influence Central suggests that the increase is due to an improvement in smartphone capabilities over the last four years, but could the shift also be driven by image-centric sharing apps?

“The fact that we saw a dramatic reversal in what women consumers use most often to take photos points to consumer confidence in the photo capabilities of the device itself,” DeBroff said. “At the same time, the rise of visual imagery on social media platforms — such as Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and increasingly, Snapchat — and the ease in which these devices allow us to share images with family and friends via visually oriented social sites has helped fuel consumers’ reliance on smartphones.”

We even keep the smartphone with us at night, apparently. Fifty-three percent of respondents always use their phone as the alarm that wakes them up in the morning.

“It points to our profound reliance on and connection with our smartphones, which do so much for us throughout the day that it proves difficult to disconnect when night comes,” DeBroff said. “With a smartphone at the bedside, we can get text messages from our older kids who are out and about, field incoming calls, since it’s become the home phone now that 54 percent of households don’t have landlines, and do one last check of email, our social media platforms, weather, news, and more. Not to mention we can get updates on everything all over again as soon as we wake up, without having to go in search of our phone.”

So while the smartphone is an incredible device — one that can aid almost every aspect of our lives and one that this report shows has increased in importance — it is also modifying behavior in ways that could cause us, and others, to pay the ultimate price.

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Outlyer Technologies’ Advrtas brings ads to virtual reality

Advrtas shows you ads in VR.

Virtual reality is the next frontier for … advertising. Outlyer Technologies is announcing its Advrtas platform today, which enables the creation of interactive ads in virtual reality.

The ad technology enables the development and distribution of fully interactive 360-degree advertising. Since VR is expected to be a huge new gaming, media, and entertainment platform, the $77 billion digital ad industry is itching to come up with ways to create ads for the medium.


Brands, publishers, and agencies can use Advrtas to build “immersive, rich and fully interactive ad experiences using video, graphics, photo-real images” as computer animation, the company said.

Built from the ground up, Advrtas is more than a video player. With its patent-pending Panamorphic technology, allowing brands to serve 360-degree and virtual reality ad content across any Internet Advertising Bureau-compliant rich media ad space.

Advrtas breaks the boundaries of the traditional ad frame, can be navigated using motion, and provides significantly more ad real-estate for the same buy thanks to the 360 design.

Advrtas brings ads to virtual reality.

Above: Advrtas brings ads to virtual reality.

Image Credit: Outlyer Technologies

Advrtas ads are designed to work across smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops, engaging audiences wherever they are. From their smartphones, viewers can control their ad experience by the simple movement of their phone to navigate through any visual scene, and can click into different products or scenarios, all the way to points of sale.

Advrtas also offers a VR mode with the click of a button, viewable on both Android and iOS phones using any cardboard or comparable VR headset.

The possibilities are huge. You can scroll through a sample ad to view the entire Las Vegas Strip, and then click on ads that take you into hotel lobbies, guest rooms, and restaurants. You can look around, book rooms, or make reservations from within the ad.

Car shoppers can also move around outside and inside a car. Grocery shoppers can view an entire store, cruise down the aisles, and check out ingredient lists. Then they can order products for delivery.

A swimsuit brand could create an underwater virtual retail shop, where users swim through coral reefs alongside sea life.

“As a company that has been living in the virtual reality content and technology space for several years, it occurred to us – why can’t we bring this level of interactivity to the existing digital infrastructure, where people are today,” said Robert Bruza, founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based Outlyer Technologies, in a statement. “We’ve created a technology that, among other things, leverages WebGL, HTML5, and mobile sensors enabling us to bring an immersive and fully interactive experience that brands and consumers have never seen before to any ad space.”

Outlyer has 10 employees and was founded in 2014.







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Piano’s new Composer makes it easy for publishers to create a targeted paywall experience

piano composer Piano is announcing a new tool that could give publishers more freedom to experiment with paywalls and other business models. The company was created last year from the merger of Tinypass and Piano Media. While the combined organization continues to offer a paywall system for publishers, CEO Trevor Kaufman has said that the issue is no longer a black-and-white — publishers should… Read More

Loook studio will make mixed reality apps for Microsoft HoloLens

Loook will make augmented and mixed reality apps like this one.

Inspired by Microsoft’s HoloLens holographic glasses, the founders of Loook are announcing today that they are creating “mixed reality” apps that blend holographic animations and the real world.

Seattle-based Loook is the brainchild of Sébastien Motte, former head of Xbox first-party business development, and John Howard, former creative Director on Microsoft HoloLens for partnerships with NASA, Autodesk, and Trimble. Seattle-based Look will make “mixed reality” designs. Such apps are expected to be part of a $90 billion augmented reality market by 2020, according to tech adviser Digi-Capital.

Loook founders John Howard (left) and Sebastien Motte.

Above: Loook founders John Howard (left) and Sebastien Motte.

Image Credit: Loook

If you haven’t seen a demo, Microsoft has just begun shipping development kits for HoloLens, an augmented reality headset and a wireless Windows 10 device that lets you to see virtual “holograms” in the 3D space around you, as a layer on top of the real world. This differs from virtual reality, which requires a special headset with goggles. Loook is going to offer design workshops, prototypes, and application development services for enterprises that want to create “meaningful applications,” said Motte, in an interview with VentureBeat.

“By meaningful applications, we want to create empathy, connect people, and protect the planet,” Motte said. “We are talking with cleantech and green companies to see how we can help them visualize in 3D what they do.”

Loook has created a strategic partnership with developers at Asobo Studio, a Bordeaux, France-based studio that has been making HoloLens apps for the last few years. Asobo has 100 employees and it has shipped three of the pre-installed applications on the recently released HoloLens dev kit. Asobo was part of HoloLens development early on, and it has a leg up on how to create HoloLens applications, Howard said in an interview.

“This is a fantastic shift for me on how we can use all of the experience working with 3D and the mixed reality space,” said Halo, who has worked on games such Halo and the original Xbox.

Howard left his role at Microsoft as creative director on HoloLens in December, and he joined Motte in starting Loook. They’ve got clients, but they’re not describing them yet. They are creating a studio in Seattle, and they are also working with Asobo, which is investing in Loook. Loook will stir up the interest and development will be done by Asobo.

Mixed reality brings digital content into the real world, unlocking new insights and capabilities enabling clearer communication and higher confidence in decision making. At Microsoft’s recent Build conference,  Case Western University researchers showed a 3D holographic app of the human body that you could view from any angle by wearing the HoloLens glasses. Those glasses are expensive at $3,000 now, but over time, the product is expected to eventually come down in price and reach consumers.

Like fellow HoloLens app creators at Object Theory, the founders of Loook decided that it made more sense to create a startup to focus on how to put HoloLens to work.

“We want to have the flexibility to do what we need to do,” Motte said.

Howard added, “It’s a difference between focusing on the application and experience, as opposed to focusing on the platform. Microsoft is a good place to be to create the platform. But to me, the interest is in using the technology to improve people’s lives. We want to do a company based on that. This is where I think the next round massive disruption will move, as it will take us from flat 2D screens to spatial experiences, spatial storytelling, and spatial interaction.”

Motte believes that AR glasses will eventually replace 2D flat-screen TVs and other displays.

“We’ve already seen a huge amount of interest from the business space,” Howard said.

Motte spent 12 years as the head of Microsoft’s Xbox first-party business development. He previously started Mintonic, a business development and strategy consulting agency. Motte is an engineer in agriculture, and a certified Kundalini yoga teacher. He got very excited about HoloLens after hearing a description of it by project creator Alex Kipman. Howard worked on HoloLens apps with NASA, Autodesk, and Trimble.

When it comes to augmented reality, Howard and Motte are betting on Microsoft because it is so early to market compared to rivals like Magic Leap. They think AR is more interesting than virtual reality because of the big differences. VR immerses you in your own world, while AR enhances the real world. You can use it to enhance work and collaborate with other people while wearing AR glasses, Howard said.

“That’s why we are so focused on mixed reality over virtual reality,” Howard said.





Loook will create cool apps that layer animations on top of the real world.

Above: Loook will create cool apps that layer animations on top of the real world.

Image Credit: Loook

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