RE: The Death of Advertising

What do companies do when their primary revenue stream, advertising, is interrupted by users’ desire to use adblocking software?
Are we unintentionally bringing about the end of a free internet and if we are, what other revenue streams are likely to replace traditional ads?

These were the questions I had sitting in a post at the top of my drafts for the last four days after watching a lecture by Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing and founder of L2

Last week’s Redcode Media podcast featured Joe Marchese, who became Fox Network Group’s (FMG) President of Advanced Advertising Products after FMG purchased his “engagement advertising” company in 2014. Known for making provocative statements about the future of the industry, Marchese was invited onto the podcast to provide further insight on his unusual views regarding the use of adblocking software and the disruption it creates in his industry.

Marchese surprised the host of the podcast, Peter Kafka, by repeatedly playing devil’s advocate and arguing for both sides. As president of FMG, the umbrella that houses 20th Century Fox, he’s cognizant of the fact that their business model does not live or die by the consumption of advertisements. The majority of their profit is through the production and airing of television shows and movies, unlike Google and Facebook where more than 90% of their revenue comes from ads. He can tell when consumers are using ad block software and decide whether or not he wants to give them access to the content but if Google or Facebook asked people whether or not they wanted to view ads, they would see an immediate decline in their profits. Some content providers make it so that an ad has to be watched at least partially before the show begins, while others allow it to be skipped entirely. While the most controlling companies believe that if they’re not gaining revenue from the consumer, the consumer should have no access to the content they came to see – telling them unless Adblock is disabled they will be unable to see the content. FMG can and has done that in the past, with episodes of Family Guy being unable to watch unless you whitelisted them in your Adblock settings.

Maybe Marchese’s view is this way because the eradication of ads would not heavily affect his company’s income, but Marchese feels that consumers should be given the decision. Pay for the content with their time by being forced to watch the advertisement or, come to an agreement on how else to pay for their entertainment. He believes for the future of advertising to work producers and consumers are going to have to work together to figure it out. Some companies are already turning to subscriptions. Hulu is trying something new by offering an ad-free experience alongside their regularly priced subscription plan. For $12 viewers can choose whether or not they want to see ads on their shows. That leaves it up to the customer to decide whether an ad free experience is worth $4 extra to them or not. (And at the time of this posting, the majority of viewers have decided that on Hulu an ad free experience is not worth their $4 and have stuck with the standard $8 plan.) In this case, viewers would rather pay with their time than their money.

This is only my first semester as a public relations / marketing student, so I will not even begin to make predictions, but I think Marchese is correct when he says that advertising has to become a compromise. People will avoid websites entirely if they can find their content ad-free somewhere else and companies will have to decide how important those viewers are to them. The question is, what are some of the alternatives? Should we resort to the old tried and true method of quiet product placement? An Apple computer in the corner of an office sitcom? Staffers on Scandal using Windows Surface Tablets as they walk through the halls instead of brandless tablets or laptops? Maybe Coke will have their products placed in your favorite VR game or layered over your coffee table in AR.

What are some of the options you think are available and how readily do you think companies will adjust to this changing field? Which companies will fall behind and which one will realize that consumers are no longer paying attention and decide to pivot to a new marketing device?

A lot of pontificating but I will do a rewrite once I learn more about this transforming / “transformative”  industry. 

tldr; Fox Network Group’s new president of advertising believes companies and content producers will have to work with customers and consumers to decide how, if not through advertising, the content they ingest will be paid for. 

The Silent Assassination of Scalebound

I know I’m a little behind, but I was awaiting director Hideki Kamiya’s response before posting anything. 

I wanted to know the community’s opinion on Microsoft reaching out to a few game news sites with a blanket statement reporting that Scalebound, one of their most prominent Xbox exclusives, and one of the few IPs (intellectual properties) Xbox has created in the last few years was being canceled. But they were continuing work on Halo Wars 2 and Crackdown, with an added link to the rest of their 2017 line up. I understand corporate deals, and I understand them refusing to respond to a reporter’s question on who owns the IP. But with thousands of people expecting this game, some even expecting it to be one of the few games they’d buy on the console, I think Microsoft owed it’s customers an explanation.

If a bridge was burned and something didn’t work out, they could have diplomatically said they had different views on the direction of the game. But with ~2 and a half years of hype built up around a project, I feel the people deserved an answer rather than having to turn to the director of the game and the CEO of the company. Both who regretted the cancellation, only adding to the assumption that whatever happened was Microsoft’s decision.

If you decide to divorce your wife, she shouldn’t have to be the one to explain to your children why she’s leaving. 

How YouTube Content Creators Can Help Save Your Ad Budget

Although CES 2017 was open to news organizations two and a half days ago, their public floor opened today January 5th. With a lot of interesting things on the horizon, one thing, in particular, stood out to me, and it was the sudden implementation of YouTubers as disseminators of information.

Along with various other YouTubers Marques Brownlee (MKBHD), one of the site’s most prominent tech bloggers, has taken to documenting and reviewing his new Tesla. Sharing not only general information, which can easily be shared through advertisements or marketing campaigns, these YouTubers also become an avenue for consumer to consumer opinion sharing. There is no pressure to buy because you’re not being sold anything. There’s no transaction, just a casual sharing of views.

Somewhere along the line Mercedes’s marketing team took notice and decided to put their new self-driving car into Marques’ hands. Now, a lot of people might not find this enlightening – it is far from a revolutionary idea – but the fact that Mercedes came down from their ivory tower to talk to us “little people” is a stark change from the norm. Most companies spend millions on promotions and advertising only to reach a fraction of their target audience. But by using a prominent YouTuber, whose niche is tech, Mercedes is marketing to a pre-made audience whose demographic and interests they already know. It provides an opportunity for consumer opinion to be heard, without a dime on advertising being spent. It cost them absolutely nothing to bring him into a parking lot and give him a few hours with their prototype, and they’ve instantly reached a consumer base that they may have missed if advertising on TV.

As David Scott reminded us in The New Rules of Marketing and PR, a lot of buyers search a car company’s website looking for useful information on a car they’re considering, but the manufacturer assumes they’re already ready to buy, providing none of the information the shopper is looking for. They advertise TO them, instead of sharing pertinent information about their product offerings. By giving YouTubers early access to the product, they’ve provided consumers with another avenue to receive information, one that allows education about a product in a way that the company’s website couldn’t provide.

Using YouTube and the platform’s most prominent and up and coming content creators is an insightful choice on Mercedes’s part, and I hope many other companies take note – or risk falling behind.

– You (companies) need to start getting your products into the hands of top YouTubers that vblog about / voice interest in your industry.
– You get free targeted advertising rather than having to spend money blanketing a general demographic.
– Presenting you with an opportunity to target people, at no cost, who are passionate about your industry and expressing information to potential customers that an advertisement could never communicate. 

Escape from Tarkov 2016 Developer Report

The unedited transcript from Battlestate Game’s Escape from Tarkov video, Developer’s 2016 Report

“The Escape from Tarkov team has come a long way since the reveal, setting the bar for the hardcore shooters to a whole new level. Developing ideas, working on the project every day right here in St. Petersburg, we are bringing the project release closer with every new version, maintaining a high level of quality and realism.

Hello everyone, my name is Nikita Buyanov and I head the independent Battlestate Games studio that is developing a PC exclusive first-person hardcore multiplayer battle simulator Escape from Tarkov. EFT is unique in many ways, a project that, although hardcore, will be intuitively understandable for players, while remaining as uncompromisingly realistic and captivating as it was planned out.

The Escape from Tarkov tells a story of a private military company operator caught in the maelstrom of events in a fictional Russian town of Tarkov – Events, that would eventually lead to a global collapse. Trapped in the center of the city out of contact with the command, the players will have to escape from Tarkov to survive. Or escape from their past by staying in the city with a new world order. Consistently heading towards the exit, the player discovers that it’s not as simple as it seemed, and there are plenty of unknown parties pursuing their own goals.

Starting last year with the first cinematic trailer and first combat prototypes, we have now come to a full-fledged alpha version ready to become beta. Many parts of the game were undergoing constant changes, from network engine and physics to some key gameplay aspects and graphics. Regular adjustments to the development course have become a necessity in order to maintain the cornerstone concept of the game – maximum immersion multiplayer shooter. EFT is not about survival, although such elements of gameplay are more than abundant. EFT is a game about combat situations in dangerous conditions, where degree of the player involvement and knowledge play a very important role. Expertise in operation and modification of weapons, orienteering skills, tactical training, control over speed and body position, team work under different weather conditions and time of day, aptitude in non-standard combat environment and many more. All these skills and knowledge, all these unpredictable variables are involved in the creation of the EFT unique combat situations. All these variables we hone to perfection. In this video report we will tell you about what we’ve been working on this year and reveal and explain our plans for the future.

Thorough and detailed approach to weapons in EFT is unprecedented and has no rivals among other projects. Weapons are what we love – and what we are proud of, so we strive to do them as realistically as possible. Constantly analyzing and discussing various aspects of weapon handling, we came to the conclusion that adding an advanced action, in addition to the overall realism and credibility of what is happening on the screen, can also give a slight tactical edge. Thus, when using various tactical lights, we decided to make a visual display of their mode switching. In our use of sights and scopes we rely on the actual experience of their application, and from the start we were particularly fascinated with the operation of auxiliary and combined sights.In reflex sights, we do not ignore the option to switch the reticle type (Provided that this function is really present in specific models). At this stage, we implemented the ability to fold and unfold stocks,which will, in the future, affect the occupied storage space in the inventory.Folded stock changes weapon characteristics and grip. We even took care to shift the weapon center of mass. All of this affects the recoil dynamics when shooting. Our weapons are subject to wear. Weapon failure, as well as poor ammo quality, can lead to a number of consequences. Various problems like jams, stovepipes and misfires. Now we are implementing a serious bolt jamming for critically low weapon condition.The process of eliminating this problem takes a lot of time and can have a crucial influence the outcome of the battle.

Weapons in EFT work with numerous applied parameters and characteristics, some of which are hidden from the player. Absolutely all of the parameters are balanced in a realistic way, every body kit on a weapon influences it in some way. Stocks noticeably modify the recoil and weapon control factors when firing, and, as we mentioned earlier, change the weapon’s center of mass position and grip hold. We feature a lot of different stocks from different manufacturers. An equally important characteristic of weapon is ergonomics. Each kit can make changes to this parameter, changing weapon control ability on grip and the aim-to-sights speed.

Let’s not forget that weapons also have real dimensions, which may interfere with their handling in confined spaces. By using reduced barrels, folding or removing the stock, you can create a compact modification for the confined spaces combat. This is just one example – with our comprehensive modification system you can do whatever you like within boundaries of the real weapon modding.

The more we work with weapons in the game, the more we get used to it, upgrading the Mastering characteristic.The higher is the level of weapon mastery, the more professionally our character handles it – Principles and speed of reload change, player assesses the number of cartridges in the magazine more accurately. Furthermore – we will add the ability of tactical reloading while aiming at the maximum level of mastering. The more we work with the weapon, the more it wears down, appending penalties to the weapon characteristics.

At this stage, we have started working on a couple of additional tricks – Visual weapon wear and functional binding of the overheating factor. There will be many, many weapons in the EFT. We already introduce a whole series of weapons made with encyclopedic detail, after searching through a bunch of sources in quest for reliable information. Thus, everything that happens in the game is essentially an alternate reality of our time, and all weapons are absolutely realistic. No fiction.

The game has an internal economics and the plot, and that also affects the choice and availability of particular system. We often try to take on the rare special designs that were either never present in the other games or been done incorrectly, unlifelike. For example, the Kedr-B SMG is a very rare modification with special muzzle device, just like PB. In the game we can examine everything in detail, get all the information and sensations that can be compared with real feelings. In the process of implementing everything related to weapons, we often turn to manufacturers and just people with combat experience.

Frequent visits to the shooting range are also equally important for all categories of the company’s specialists – A developer should know what he is doing.We are also shooting the videos and pictures as a reference, and often get back to them in the course of development. For example, we relied on the physical model of the exhaust gases dissipation in the muzzle devices when building the system of shot effects and muzzle flashes. Every flash hider, muzzle brake or silencer has a unique pattern of smoke and fire spreading. That means that the use of muzzle devices is completely justified. Somebody may want to cut recoil, while somebody else might prefer to reduce exposure while shooting.

We’d also like to single out the job we’ve done on munitions. Right now there are already many different types of cartridges. The type of cartridge affects muzzle velocity, ammunition quality affects the chance of misfiring and jamming. The bullets have ricochet and piercing abilities. We intendedly implemented the segmentation of bullets after breaking through, to recreate the destruction of bullets after passing one obstacle or another. Now we have almost finished adding the tracer bullets, which, yet again, are implemented in a realistic way, based on the physics of the process. This type of munition will clearly showcase how the ballistics in Escape from Tarkov works. In addition to firearms, we are also busy with melee weapons.

At the moment, the game features several basic knives and a notorious Tomahawk, which will be, in the future, supplemented with a special ability to break open the doors. We are constantly adding new ways to interact both with inventory items and objects in the locations. The need to light up the dark rooms with no flashlight installed on the weapon led to introduction of ability to take the torchlight separately with hands, and use them in combination with a weapon in a free hand.

To achieve the deeper gameplay immersion we add the unique animations of using medicine like first aid kits, bandages, etc. Based on this principle, we will be able to realize the visual application of an item, which will be accompanied by animations.

For instance, lockpicking the doors with MultiTool is almost done. Generally, MultiTool is a very important item in the player’s inventory. It can be used to perform the in-depth modification of weapons and pick some of the closed doorslocks. The tool itself will also have a durability limit. Right now the doors can either be opened with keys or kicked down.In the future we’ll be able to, in addition to multitool picking, hack them with axe, throw grenades inside and perform the tactical breach. It is also worth to note the future functionality of the doors with combination lock. For such doors you’ll need the special key cards and access codes. And behind these doors we’ll hide the Terragroup stockpiles no one had managed to get hold of yet. We can now break the bulbs and use NVDs to arrange cleanup operations in the dark. In the future, when we implement the power system, we will be able to switch off the light or even cut off entire buildings or areas by hitting the switch in the substation.

We are also planning such features as mining, increased number of physical and interactive object types on locations, dragging of heavy objects and bodies. Additional character control in the game is ensured by the possibility of a smooth change in speed and stance. For your convenience, we have introduced a zone of visual display of the current stance and speed of the character. There you can also easily spot the speed penalties from various causes, such as heavy armor or injuries. After adding leaning and backstep, which are certainly useful for fighting indoors, we started researching the possibility of adding blind shooting. This will be possible thanks to a procedural animation system, which takes into account the dimensions of weapons and does not require the creation of special markers and objects, unlike other games.

Another useful innovation will be the sign system, designed to issue commands and simply for silent communication in raids. The character control system is being constantly improved as new features are introduced to the game.

Over the last year, the AI, as well as the part related to the details of the NPC, has undergone a lot of changes and innovations. The bots have become smarter, every new patch gave them new capabilities and skills. Now the main PvE characters in the game are Scavs, the local bandits who come at the sound of any noise, looking for something to loot. They are unscrupulous and ruthless marauders, surviving and plundering in Tarkov. In the raids, they come at the most unexpected moments, capable of lengthy tracking of players and working in groups.

Playing as Scav is going to be an important feature for future versions of EFT. The players will be able to fulfil themselves as the raiding marauders, not being attached to the main character, spawning on location in the most unexpected places and situations. Upon surviving in the raid, the player will be able to save everything collected as Scav for the main character. The characters in EFT in general are also being constantly upgraded, augmented with new clothing elements and facial traits for the planned appearance customization. There are lots of RPG elements in EFT, and their number keeps growing. Handling of the classic slot inventory, equipment and unloading systems, working with containers and stash, repairing weapons and equipment – We have always treated inventory management with utmost attention while implementing it.

Game character itself has physical attributes, such as health, energy, hydration, stamina, level of biological and radiation poisoning, body temperature and blood pressure. These attributes will be directly affected by skills, consumed food, ambient temperature, etc. The damage system is broken down into different parts of the body, each with its own volume of health. We can break a bone, get varying degrees of bleeding, contusion, pain syndrome. The character may become physically exhausted, die from dehydration and starvation. In the future, we plan to introduce the stress factor that will take into account the mental state of the character.

The skill system at this stage is being actively adjusted and balanced. The game will feature types of skills – mental, physical, combat and practical. Every skill upgrade will be based on repetition of particular actions. Each new level of skill gives a certain positive effect. Top level skills give an elite perk. Additionally, the player improves the character’s rank by earning experience points in raids. The player receives the experience for opening new locations and secret places, breaking the doors, by completing quests and gaining important information, neutralizing enemy, repairing weapons and equipment, using medicines. With each new level-rank of the character the game will unlock new opportunities, such as access to new locations, new range of goods at traders, their new services and jobs.

The traders themselves are tied to certain locations and have their own biography, set of offered services and trading principles. By the end of this is already in the alpha version. The trading system will be improved further with the addition of the flea market – A free trade zone among the players – and auctions. Every trader will have its own set of jobs closely related to the game story. In addition, traders will offer a set of services – Currency exchange, insurance of equipment and weapons, manufacturing and other. Just a few clicks are enough to go into the raid – Choose your character, choose your location and if you wish, gather a group for a joint venture.

Right now the game has one mode, consecutive clearing of the story locations – Raids.In the future, we will add the Arena and the Free Roam mode. Players will be able to chat, coordinate joint raids, share the gained information and just blab on any topic. We also plan to create a large-scale clan system. Storyline locations-raids are different zones of city of Tarkov and its suburbs.Industrial premises, transport interchanges, commuter districts, large patches of woods, cottage community, lighthouse and, of course, downtown city.

Everywhere, the player will have to find a way to escape from the isolated spots, consistently approaching the getaway zone. The variety of locations force the player to resort to different tactics, and a large number of objects for exploration will maintain interest in returning to this location again and again. Dynamic weather and daylight time changes have already been mentioned earlier. The server time in game runs at x the normal speed so that players could have a chance to notice the changes. Also, in the weather system you can adjust the amount of clouds, density and height of the fog, wind direction and speed, the force of rain and chance of thunder and lightnings in a thunder-storm. The weather system is being adjusted and improved all the time. We have added procedural soaking, puddles on the ground, raindrops on weapons. The weather and daylight time effects can look differently when using shades and tactical glasses, which have their own pros and cons.

Altogether, we plan to have raid locations + A few hidden extras, one Free Roam location and two locations for Arena mode. Each raid location is unique and, often, it will be necessary to return to them for performing certain tasks. Some places require teamwork, some can be ventured alone. In the latest raids, the players will encounter advanced Scavs and even rogue PMCS that have chosen the path of banditism. The location production process is now one of the main priorities for the team of modelers and level designers.

Right now we are working on the most ambitious location of them all – The Tarkov city downtown. The streets of Tarkov and buildings in them were literally designed from scratch. A lot of buildings will be made available for indoor exploration. Just imagining a -storeyed hotel complex and a -storeyed business center is enough to be impressed.

There is lot to do in the new year. The launch of the closed beta is right around the corner. Let’s not forget about such mission-critical development stages as optimization, bugfixes and deployment of the state-of-art anti-cheat protection that incorporates all the innovative offender detection algorithms. At the same time, the game community has lost no time growing and developing by several times compared to the beginning of the year.

On Escape From Tarkov Forum, we started a multilanguage section that brings together members from all over the world the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and many other countries. In addition, we have launched the Escape From Tarkov emissaries program. Emissary is a community member endowed with special rights, who communicates with the developers directly. Emissaries hold a variety of contests, rewarding those they considered worthy with access to the game. Hundreds of thousands of players from all over the world are united by one game. Student from Ethiopia, guy from the Russian heartland or sergeant of the United States Marine Corps – Unified by one idea, one community, one battlefield, the name of which is Escape From Tarkov!

On behalf of the developer’s team we wish you the best of luck and a Happy New Year.



Escape From Tarkov

Battlestate’s Escape from Tarkov, is a (self-described) ‘hyper-realistic’ open-world survival game the likes of H1Z1, The Forest and Day Z. It’s currently still in Alpha, and I have yet to get my hands on it, but it’s the only Survival game I’ve had any personal interest in so I will keep you guys updated on its growth.
They’ve just released a Yearly Report, but it’s in Russian, so expect a post about it as soon as a version is posted in English.
Edit: As of three days following the initial posting, there has been no English dub, so I’ve downloaded the transcript and made it into a paper/speech, here.

I’ll add the English annotation tomorrow, pretending to take a day off for Christmas 😉

Star Tourist

I have a visceral, voyeuristic love for Star Citizen. I was never a fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, or any other “thrilling” space conglomerates. But when I saw Star Citizen, I immediately understood what a space opera was supposed to be. I have yet to walk on a single planet, push a thruster or fly through the vacuum of space at the speed of light, but Star Citizen has a seat at the table with some of my favorite games.

It might have to be a gross fascination with a game that’s raised $30+ million before leaving alpha, or the fact that people pay thousands of dollars for in-game space ships, but a game that has raised that amount of money before even hinting at a release YEAR deserves my attention.

This week they announced Star Marine, their first implementation of first person shooting in the game, and I have a feeling this is only the beginning.

First time with a gun in your hands, what do you think of Star Citizen’s new Star Marine? Do you think the players are bullet sponges (time to kill is too long)?

This is update 2.6; still in alpha. There probably won’t be continuous coverage on the contents of this game until I decide to purchase a game pack, although I may occasionally comment on their marketing strategies. 

Paragon Welcomes Monolith

Our entire world changed on December 6th. The Overlords decided to slash and burn to start a new and used Travel Mode as their excuse. “It was impossible to balance around,” was their mantra. I had and still have no idea what they meant, but if the amazing game they’ve created up until now is any indication – they must know what they’re doing. They’ve elaborated numerous times, but I was so appalled by the fact that they were removing what I thought was an essential feature, that I noticed their mouths moving, but heard no sound. 

I’d spent almost 150 hours traversing Legacy, and to change all of that for a new map – I had to admit, was terrifying. People were arguing the point weeks before it’s arrival, dipping their torches in kerosene before they even knew who they were planning to hang – or what they were hanging them for. But what made people the most apprehensive is the complete rebalancing of the Hero roster. Not one was left unchanged, the card system revamped over 100 of the ~270 cards, and physical and magical abilities no longer had a distinction when building your deck. Epic’s move to Monolith was almost the birth of an entirely new game. And seconds after it dropped I found myself logging onto Twitch instead of turning on my PlayStation, so I could see what the pro’s and the community were saying before I took my first bite.

Aside from the asymmetrical map and Twin Blast’s rework, the game appeared the same. The travel mode animations were disregarded as easily as travel mode was, but almost everything seemed a carbon copy… it was the change in movement and feeling in gameplay that was different. Affinities and abilities might have changed when building your deck, but none of those changes were noticeable on the battlefield. What one did notice after landing softly from the brand new jump pads was that although travel mode was gone characters naturally moved at a quicker pace. Their movement speed would never reach what it was when in travel mode, but the speed at which the heroes moved made it easy to get in and out of battle, penalizing you less for trying to run from a fight you never should have started. Actions were quicker, team fights ended almost as soon as they begun, and the new lane configuration made it so that whenever a fight did happen, it usually took place in mid lane, giving you or the enemy multiple ways to escape a fight.

Knowing the way of the internet more than I know the ways of the world, I expected comments to trend towards the negative, but I didn’t expect Monolith to turn seemingly cordial people into trolls. They complained about every aspect; from movement speed and character nerfs / buffs, to the fact that they no longer could gank as easily due to the smoke walls. They probably would’ve complained about the incomplete texturing if they’d seen it.

I went into this expecting the best but being fully anesthetized for the worst, and I was pleasantly surprised. Twin Blast, someone I always wanted as my main was finally deemed worthy of a chance at being picked on the Character Select screen, and even while still in beta Epic Games managed to create an entirely new map, balance their characters, and be open and honest about the coming changes to their current build. This write up isn’t what I expected it to be. I anticipated writing my first “hard-hitting” piece of journalism, but it became just a letter, letting the team of amazing developers over at Epic HQ know the changes they made were good for the long-term health of the game. And although they may lose a few players along the way, they will make them back in droves if they manage to end the creation of this game as well as they started it.

What do you guys think of Monolith? Do the changes that were made to your mains make the game more or less enjoyable for you? And what changes do you think they should implement in the future (both the map and gameplay)?

– Epic Games has replaced Paragon’s only map with a smaller one.
– They have removed travel mode, revamped every hero and changed over 100 cards.
– Although I’m enjoying it, whether or not the change is for the better depends on who you talk to.