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Free Online Sports Games: The Future?

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran an interesting feature on the rising popularity of free online sports games.  In tough economic times, free browser-based sports games are catching on with consumers looking to save money.  Games such as MLB Dugout Heroes, a free online baseball game produced by OnNet Inc. (with the MLB license), have found success with those looking to jump into a quick and fun gaming experience on their PCs.  

 

The future, Conan?

The future, Conan?

 

There are certainly lower entry barriers to playing sports games online on your PC as opposed to home consoles.  For example, one does not need to invest in an expensive console setup to enjoy playing an interactive sports game.  However, as a lifelong console sports gamer, I am not ready to trade in my controller for a mouse and PC.  The experiences in such games, despite being affordable and easily accesible,  are nowhere near as deep as they are on established console sports games.

Nevertheless, the article is a great read on a new phenomenon occurring in the sports gaming world.  This is a definite read.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124278562887337713.html

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Filed under business, sports, technology, video games

The Sound of Sports Fans: In-Game Soundtracks and Beyond

When most people review sports games, much of the focus seems to be on controls, graphics, value, sound, etc. (and rightfully so).  There is one aspect – which can be included under “sound”- that deserves more attention than it gets:  in-game soundtracks.

Sure, the soundtrack to any game is important.  In sports games, the in-game soundtrack plays an especially pivotal role in creating that ideal fan “environment” that us armchair quarterbacks desire.  For the most part, today’s sport games do a fantastic job in aligning certain genres of music with different sport franchises. Madden typically features “hip-hop” and “alternative rock” artists.  Fifa has a more eclectic, techno-fueled collection of artists.  The NBA Live and 2K series each respectively  feature a more urban collection of artists from the rap genre.  All of these games match the in-game soundtrack with the energy of the sport, which in-turn helps enhance the fan experience of and interaction with the game itself

EA Trax really got the ball rolling in 2001, when EA recognized the potential in featuring up-and-coming artists in games.  By being featured in such games, music artists have the opportunity to get exposure in a medium outside of traditional music promotional vehicles (radio, concert circuits, television).  While radio and television might be crowded with competition, artists featured in the EA Trax program and other in-game soundtracks can reach millions of listeners and further extend their own brands by aligning with those in the sports video game industry.  Cross-promotion FTW!

Today, consumers also have the opportunity to include their own music selections through custom in-game soundtracks. While I am extremely excited to have the entire Boston Red Sox lineup come up to bat to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” in MLB 09: The Show, I still prefer having the publisher of a game provide a collection of artists for me to listen to while playing.  I guess as a marketing guy, I enjoy seeing what artists are chosen to help represent each franchise’s brand.  As a music fan, I am also interested in being exposed to artists I might not be otherwise.

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So to wrap things up, here is a list of my top 3 in-game soundtracks  in sports video games:

3. Madden 2004

Notable standouts:  Bubba Sparxxx -“Back in the Mud”, Outkast – “Church”, Yellowcard – “Way Away”

Okay, so I’m no music critic.  And Bubba Sparxxx is not one of my favorite artists.  But this song just worked on what was an excellent overall mix of hip-hop, alternative, and do i dare say, “emo”artists.  Yea, I love me some hip-hop, but I am also sensitive.

2. NBA 2K9

Notable Standouts:  The Cool Kids – “2K Pennies”, Beastie Boys – “Root Down”, N.E.R.D. – “Spaz”

Yeah it’s very contemporary and perhaps I should have gone “old school” and cite the awesome NBA JAM TE midi-inspired soundtrack.  2K9 features a collection of artists new and old here, a soundtrack I now use when warming up for my own pick-up basketball games.  And you got to love The Cool Kids title track.

1.  SSX 3

Notable Standouts: Thrice – “Stare at The Sun”, N.E.R.D. – “Rock Star (Nevins Club Blaster Edit)”, Fatboy Slim – “Don’t Let The Man Get You Down”

What???  As a huge Fifa fan, you might wonder how I could put together a top 3 without including any Fifa soundtrack.  The fact is, I have never enjoyed listening to a licensed song in a game as much as I have since playing SSX3 a few years back.  Shredding down a hill listening to Thrice’s “Stare at the Sun” made me actually feel like I was an awesome snowboarder.  I’m not.  But thanks to EA Big (R.I.P), I was able to pretend!

Honorable Mentions:  Every Fifa Soundtrack.  Honestly, overall Fifa is probably the most consistent in putting together a great range of artists to match the sport of soccer (or “football” as us footies like to call it).  Even before EA Trax was started up, I loved opening the ’98 World Cup Edition to Blur’s “Song 2”.  Wooooo-hoooo!

That’s all for now folks.  As always, if you’ve enjoyed this article, spread the word.

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Filed under marketing, sports, video games

In-Game Advertising in Sports Video Games… Why It Works.

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This is a topic I have been meaning to write about for a while. As revenue models are changing throughout all industries, in particular, the video game industry seems to be very successful at finding new ways to generate the dough. The rise of DLC and microtransactions signals that companies are aware that no longer does the opportunity for increased revenue stop when a a product goes gold and is shipped out. Similarly, with the surge in popularity of online gaming on consoles, it has become easy for a company to release new content for purchase (and even easier for consumers to download).

While I am torn in my feelings on “DLC” and “microtransactions” (from a business perspective, it is genius.. from a consumer perspective, why should I pay for something that should have been included in the original game or released for free in a patch), one form of revenue that I am not opposed to is in-game advertising. Sure, if I am playing Fallout 3, I might not want to see a blown-up “Pepsi” machine as I am trying to take down some Super Mutants in the D.C. area. But in-game advertising is effective in other genres, and in particular, in sports video games.

Do I mind seeing a replay in Madden brought to me by “Subway $5 footlongs” (mmm. Subway…I digress). Absolutely not! If I were watching an NFL game on TV, I would be expecting to see sponsors everywhere. On billboards, on the field signage, before commercial breaks.. hell, I wouldn’t be shocked if Mr. Ocho Cinco himself chomped down on a footlong after scoring a touchdown (if he ever gets into the endzone again).. the point is advertising is everywhere in professional sports. The fact that it is now included in sports video games only makes the sports video gaming experience that much more authentic.

If I am playing Fifa, I love seeing signage along the borders of the field. Similarly, seeing “NBA – Where Amazing Happens” along the benches of players in NBA 2K9 (shout out to NBA Creative Services!) is nothing short of the experience I expect from watching the game on television or attending it live. In-game advertising just works. In addition, it is a great way for sponsors to become aligned both with sports brands and video game brands. See, everybody wins!

As much as President Obama (don’t worry, I am not going to get political.. although one of my life goals is to get into a pickup game with the Presidential baller) continually tells parents to “have children put down the video games”, even he recognized the potential in in-game advertising. If you played Burnout Paradise during Obama’s campaign, you probably sped down the highway and caught a glimpse of Barack on a billboard or two.

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So, in conclusion… keep the ads coming. They are effective in many ways. And now I am going to go grab some Subway (rough economy, $5 is a great deal).

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Hello world! Andy Rosenberg here…

A few months before my graduation from NYU last May of 2008, I remember having a conversation with my Dad last February of 2008.  In short, it went something like this:

Joe Rosenberg (aka Dad):  So anything new on the job front?

Andy Rosenberg (me):  No, I am sending resumes out left and right.  I’m getting kinda nervous.

Joe Rosenberg:  Don’t worry, something will come along.  You have got a strong (and expensive)  degree in marketing and good experience through your internships.

Andy Rosenberg:  Yeah, I mean, if I don’t have something lined up by April, then I am really going to start freaking out.

Joe Rosenberg:  Look, you don’t have a family to support.  You can come back home and live with us until you find something.   The economy does not look like it’s going to be great when you graduate in May.  If you don’t have something by November, then you are going to have to figure something out.

At this point in the conversation, I laughed.  The thought of not having a job by November seemed rediculous.  I thought my Dad was joking.

I thought wrong.  In the immediate months leading up to my graduation in May of 2008, the economy pretty much tanked. My graduation, something that should have been a wonderful, momentous occasion, turned into the start of a long and tough road of “unemployment”.  (Are recent grads even allowed to call it that?)

It is now February of 2009.  I am yet to be fully-employed.  Do I fret?  Do I waive the white flag and surrender?  Do I throw in the…okay, you get the idea.  No.  I do not give up.  I start a blog!

It has not been all negative in my search for full-time employment.  In between interviewing, I have had time to re-connect with family, friends, and even learn how to fish.  Beginning in November of 2008, I was fortunate enough to start an internship (of which I currently am involved with) at a PR company that specializes in the video game industry.  This internship has been perfect for me, as it has brought to my full attention the path that has been chosen for me.  

I’ve been a gamer my whole life.  You name the console, I’ve owned it.  I’ve saved the Princess from Bowser multiple times, led many professional sports teams to numerous championships in franchise modes,  and more recently, went face to face with the R.R.O.D.  While unemployment has been hard, it has helped me realize that my true passion has been and always will be gaming, and I’d like nothing more than to put my degree in marketing and visual communications to work for a company in the video game industry.

You may be wondering why someone who wants to work in marketing (and not journalism), is creating a blog.  The fact is, while I am proud of my resume, which lists my qualifications and skill set, I hate the fact that a single piece of paper is supposed to represent everything I am to potential employers.  I’d like to think I am more dynamic than a .PDF or Word document, so I am bending the rules, and creating this site as a type of “virtual resume”.

That being said, I do plan to update this site with content related to my own personal opinions and views on the current state of gaming.  I’ve got a lot to bring the table, and whether you are a potential employer, a gaming enthusiast, or just someone in a similar position as me, I’d love for you to frequent my site and share in this experiment with me.

So, as I am used to signing off with every cover letter I send out,  “Thanks and hope to hear back from you soon”!

-Andy

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