Is Youtube Heroes secretly a villain in disguise?

Youtube recently published a video on 20th September announcing a new community program to reward youtubers for helping report negative comments, add captions & subtitles and engage with the conversation. By doing so, they will earn points which you grant them different rewards. The higher you progress, the better the rewards. Sounds good so far right? I mean, we are encouraged to help clean up youtube content and get rewarded for it?

Well, that’s not how the internet have reacted. Since the video was published 2 days ago, it has aggregated over 177k dislikes, which puts it within the 200 most disliked Youtube videos of all time. The last time I remember a Youtube video which generated so much hate was one of the latest Call of Duty game trailers.

It’s also currently the 1st and 2nd most talked about topic in /R/videos in Reddit and I should foresee it shared on social media fairly soon.

Let’s dig down further into why there’s so much hate for Youtube Heroes? To do this, we need to further understand what they are offering to the community. They’re encouraging youtube users to perform 3 main tasks: flagging inappropriate content, adding captions & subtitles to videos and share their knowledge with other users in the Youtube Help forum. They stated that contributors to the Youtube Heroes will have access to certain rewards via a tier system. Currently, they have announced 5 levels with different rewards. To progress to the next level, you are required to earn a set number of points by completing the 3 tasks. Some of the rewards are being invited to exclusive workshops, taking part in HERO hangouts, sneak preview product launches, contact Youtube staff directly, test products before release and apply for Heroes summit. These rewards aren’t the best sounding and that seems to be the reason that has caused the sheer many number of dislikes.

Or perhaps many have disliked this video in pure spite, after they recent changes which have affected the way Youtuber’s content is moderated for use of excessive violence or inappropriate content and effectively wouldn’t be monetised. This problem, has been brought up by many popular Youtubers such as Phillip De Franko and Pewdiepie, mainly due to the supposedly lack of communication from Youtube, before they announced the changes.

Although Youtube are hoping this new rewards system will help clean up their site and make it better for the user, I foresee certain channels that users don’t like and just report all their videos, even if they are not offensive. However, Youtube have stated in the Youtube Hero Program rules that Heroes must accurately report videos in order to receive points.

“Each YouTube Hero who is in compliance with these Rules will be able to earn points for every qualifying contribution to YouTube (such as accurately flagging inappropriate videos),  that is verifiable and organic, and not gamed, improperly received or otherwise in violation of these Rules, including the YouTube Community Guidelines (each a “Qualifying Contribution”).  We will determine each qualifying Contribution.

and

“Any abuse of the point system, the Program, or other violative behavior, may reduce the points accrued in your program account and/or restrict or prohibit any aspect of your participation in the Program.”

The Youtube Heroes program is still in beta, so it might be expected that they alter the rewards or the way the system works after viewing the initial responses.

Popular Youtuber OfficialNerdCubed has recently posted a video about how he thinks they can improve this system.

 

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My thoughts playing Paladins [Open Beta]

Similar gameplay. Different battleground.

After watching one of the trailers for Paladins, you might think it is just  another copycat title. Although some of Paladin’s characters and gameplay looks like a different version of Overwatch, it introduces a few different elements in hope to stand out a bit differently.

Paladins is created by the developers HI-REZ Studios who brought you SMITE. It is a 5 v 5 team brawl in which you compete in 2 modes; Capture point and Escort. These modes don’t really help Paladins to stand out from the crowd and it would have been nice for them to at least come up with a different gameplay objective.

In terms of gameplay modes, you have the basic options of Casual, Competitive, Training & Custom. Competitive is locked until you meet its’ requirements of mastering 12 champions to level 5. During this open beta, I spent most of my time in Casual, trying to get better acquainted with the controls and gameplay. If you’ve played other titles like SMITE, Overwatch or Team Fortress 2 then you will find it quite easy to get use to the gameplay.

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In the open beta, you can choose to play 16 different champions, 7 which are unlocked first and the rest requiring you to purchase with in game currency or real money. Some character designs are fairly creative, however others seem to be a direct copy from Overwatch characters, such as Barik and Torbjorn.

You can customise each character with different colours for their weapons, head & some will have legendary costumes. After selecting your champion, you’re given another short round where you can customise your character. I think that they could just shorten this and merge the two together so you get into the games faster.

When you get into the game, you’re presented with your loadout, a set of 5 cards that alters your characters stats. You can asquire new cards by unlocking loot chests or purchasing cards from the store and can create a few different loadouts for each champion. Before the game starts, you can also purchase items to boost your characters even more from the card shop. These are individual cards which impact your defense, utility, healing & attack attributes. You can choose up to 1 different skill card from each tree and can hold up to 4 during a game. During the beta, I wasn’t able to sell back my cards and purchase a different one, so it seems that the ones you choose you have to play with for the entirety of that match, which adds a degree of careful planning to figure out which cards you should get. To earn these cards, you need to spend credits, which you get by killing enemy champions and completing the match objectives. You can then choose to purchase new cards or spend it to level your current purchased cards.

Once the game starts, every champion receives a horse mount that you can ride into battle. These mounts seem to serve as a quick way for you to get back into the game, which seems fitting as these maps are not that large, so it keeps the gameplay at a constant pace. Currently there are only 3 different types of mounts you can choose from, although it would be nice to see unique mounts for each champion in the final game.

The 16 Champions fill the criteria of Front line, Support, Damage & Flank. I tried out 1 champion from each criteria and they each felt unique and simple to master. You will definitely notice some characters, although presented differently, have moves similar to the characters from Overwatch. However, I think they do enough with the other characters so it feels like a different game. The style of some characters seem to take inspiration from other types of games, as well as other pop culture references. One example being a raccoon and tree champion which seem similar to Rocket Raccoon and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.

With titles such as Overwatch, they’ve built up a backstory and lore of characters and how they interconnect with eachother. Even with Team Fortress, we were introduced to the characters back story through comedic short videos. Players enjoy reading the lore as much as playing the game, as it makes the game world that the developers are trying to create seem more alive. So far with Paladins, there’s not much indication of a lore or backstory connecting the different champions but hopefully they are working on this.

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Being a free to play title, it feels like a solid game and is a fun alternative for gamers that don’t want to pay $60 for a multiplayer game, however with the in game currency elements they might unknowingly spend more than that. Hi-Rez studios have been developing Paladins since before 2015 and is currently in Open beta state.

If you feel like trying out Paladins, you can currently download it in STEAM or game client from their website.

 

 

Happy gaming.

 

 

 

 

 

Replaying Ubisoft’s: The Crew

As part of Ubisoft’s 30th anniversary, since June, Ubisoft have released a game every month that you can download and own for free. We’ve had classic titles such as Prince of Persia, Rayman & Splinter Cell. The only requirement is that gamers must download Uplay client in order to play their games.

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Will we see a time in the future, where we can consolidate all  our gaming clients into one easily accessible manager?

 

This month, Ubisoft have announced The Crew as the free title as part of their 30th anniversary.  The question is whether The Crew is any better even as a free title.

The Crew is Ubisoft’s attempt at an open world racing game with online elements weaved in to its’ single game. I won’t delve too much about the main story, as it is a fairly simple story about being framed for your brother’s murder, getting released early in order to work with the officials to bring down the top member of the racing underworld and get your revenge for your brother’s killer.

You are given a small selection of cars that you can own and customise, however you will encounter racing events where you get to operate a different vehicle. Each of these events, span from simple A to B races, takedowns, escaping cops, time-trials & various mini games. You find these events by travelling across a scaled down region of North America. The map size is definitely one of The Crew’s highlights and you can get simple pleasures by taking a virtual road trip from the west coast all the way to Miami. The problem is, The Crew only has a limited number of vehicles that you can own in its’ freedrive mode, so after a while, you have driven the same car across the map. The Crew: Wild Run, which is an expansion pack is not included in the free version of the game, but offers additional content & vehicles to drive. Ubisoft’s reason is probably to hope that releasing the base game for free will encourage more people to try out the game and maybe some of them will like it enough to purchase the extra content.

Is The Crew still fun to play?

Well, yes and no. As a free game, the base version is still worth a playthrough for gamers who decided not to buy it or never heard about it previously. It offers a few moments of highlights such as the ability to drive across North America, a cool photo mode feature and variety of events to try out. It also uses a few nice animations such as watching your car explode into a million pieces when you’re upgrading, is pretty to look at and a nice bit of detail included by the developers. However, if you’re hoping for a thrilling story and huge roster of cars to own, then this isn’t the game for you. The online element also doesn’t really add much to the game, apart from the occasional meetups which inevitably end with you or the other person crashing in each other; on purpose.

They’ve announced a new expansion called The Crew: Calling All Units to fix some complaints people have had about the police AI, increasing the level cap and introduced a new selection of vehicles to drive. This expansion seems to be their attempt in recreating the Police vs Racers gameplay, that most people have experienced in NFS: Hot Pursuit and is expected to be released in November 2016. With Forza Horizon, another open world mmo racing game, to be released shortly, I think fewer people will come back to The Crew, even with another expansion coming soon.

 

Happy gaming.

 

Analysing examples of PPC

Today is 14th September 2016 and I’m writing this blog in what feels like the hottest day of the year in UK. Luckily it is now late night and the cool breeze from my window will occasionally cool me down.

Anyway, today I felt like adding some content related to marketing, as my previous posts have been about video games.

I’m going to try my hand at giving my own analysis on a few different examples of PPC adverts displayed in Google by searching for random keywords that people might search. All of this may not be 100% correct, however I feel that my previous 3 years of experience working in digital marketing will somewhat aid in my analysis. Here goes.

  • The first PPC ad I’ve chosen to give a quick analysis is from searching “Groceries”, which at the time I searched came up with 2 results. The first being Tesco’s, followed by Asda. In hindsight, most people would probably search a combination of “groceries” plus “online” or “shopping”. Firstly, which PPC ad stands out more? I’d have to say that Asda’s use of rating system catches my eye, mainly because it is a different colour. However, given a second read through, Tesco has the stronger CTA with the “1 month free delivery trial”, whereas Asda only displays their website name. In my search I typed “Groceries”, which you can see is highlighted in Tesco’s ad within the url, however for Asda’s url, it shows me the delivery url which is not too relevant for me at this point. I would have to read the description below to actually spot the relevant keyword.  Both ads use sitelinks, as well as nearest stores based on my location plus opening hours, which is quality information for consumers to know. Overall, Tesco’s PPC ad seems more effective to me with a clear CTA & more relevant content. ppc-ad1
  • The next PPC ad comparison is for searching the word “Hotels London”, which I feel would be searched fairly often, hence the number of results & popularity in Google trends. We have 3 different competitors that offer online services to book hotels in London: Booking.com, Trivago & Expedia. I notice first that all three of these are third party sites and not actual hotels. This could mean that hotels aren’t buying their own PPC ads and instead relying on popularity of these sites to drive traffic. Using a ratings system, is a nice way to show people the quality of the site, especially for when people are searching for hotels. Therefore, I feel it’s a bit strange that Trivago are not using this. Next to the description, which is best to keep short and clear, so potential customers can quickly understand if that content is relevant. All three use fairly short sentences in their description, with Expedia’s description slightly longer than the rest. Always being at the top, doesn’t mean they are the best site. It could mean they spent more to acquire that position, however sometimes even 2nd or 3rd could generate greater results. I feel that Trivago does this better, if their customer is wanting to keep costs down. Their ad clearly focuses on the price point with mentions of the price in the CTA & description. In my personal experience, I’ve always used booking.com, as I find their website efficient & simple to navigate. However, if I were to be a new consumer with not much knowledge about each of the site, I would probably click on either Trivago or Expedia. This being the focus on pricing & clear cta used by Expedia.ppc-ad-hotels
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Google trends for “Hotels London” popularity in UK

  • The last PPC ad comparison is for when searching the term “Cheap holidays”. This search brings up the most number of ads thus far with 4 different websites. Again, Expedia appear since they offer holiday services as well as hotels. Only the top ad uses the rating system, which I feel the others could include as well, for an indiciator of the customer feedback of their site. All have pretty strong CTA with relevancy to cheap holidays, however I feel that loveholidays.com and Expedia’s call to action uses their copy more effectively. They both don’t repeat the website in their CTA and have strong actions on saving money. With the description, onthebeach.co.uk uses for too many words and it would be nice to see them try a shorter description. It’s good to know all that they fly to a lot of different destinations, however they could maybe try phrasing it better to shorten the length. I’m not sure what loveholidays.com means when they use the term ATOL/ABTA and for some holiday buyers they might not be looking for this term also. “0% monthly payments” sounds more like a bank or insurance ad, than a holiday ad. I would maybe try a different set of copy with more terms that customers would tend to search for. I feel that if the 2nd ad is the most effective as they have a strong CTA, however I feel they should tweak their description to include more common terms like “low prices” or “0% cancellation fees” and could see a better response.

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Taken from Google Trends – Cheap holidays is searched throughout the year

My early thoughts: The Final Station

I have just purchased The Final Station, which is a game about a lonely train engineer, waking up to realise all hell has broken loose. As the train engineer, you’re the only person engineer remaining with a working train and have been tasked with the job of transporting essential equipment to help fight the zombies.

Across my journey, I’ve encountered different strangers with their own destinations, who take refuge on your train. As part of the game, you have to manage the passengers and treat them with food or medicine, depending on their status. You won’t always be able to keep some of them alive, as you have to make the lesser of two evils. Every station that you arrive at, will require you to search for a code in order to refuel your train and move to the next station. As your search for this code, you might find useful items such as food, medicine or ammo. You use the ammo to defend yourself from the zombie-like creatures which look like walking shadows. You will encounter different types of zombies and each will require a specific strategy to dispose off, as ammo and the material to make it can be sparse. On the train, you have to look pay attention to the status of the equipment, as it overheats during your travel. this can be quickly averted by manipulating the levels.

And this is basically what you do. You move station to station, picking up stragglers, search derelict towns for useful items and try to survive the zombie apocalypse. I’m a fan of the atmosphere the game builds, the different locales you pass and the level of death and decay they’ve seen and although the gameplay elements are fairly simple, it does offer challenges and moments of panic when you have to face the zombies. The Final Station also reminds me of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, as they both share the same premise of travelling by train and killing zombies.

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VR spotlight: Become a lumberjack

Ever fancy yourself to be the next best lumberjack?

Thanks to DigitasLBI Nordics you can. They’ve created a VR game where you can safely wield a Husqvarna brand chainsaw and take part in a virtual reality logging competition. This has been created to help promote Husqvarna and also the World Logging Championships, happening this month. Yes, they can make VR games to promote anything now, but at least it’s not for something like virtual extreme cheese rolling.

Few brands have taken the challenge to create an experience with VR, which I think is due to a few reasons like cost and ROI. VR games that have been built for HTC Vive or Oculus, such as the Limberjack VR, will not be experienced by a large audience, as most home owners haven’t purchased a VR set, as it is a huge investment. However, VR makes sense where you can create a fun and interesting brand experience and can be experienced at events by the public.

For DigitasLBI, maybe they’ll help to inspire the next generation of lumberjacks or at least promote the World Logging Championships to those that own a HTC vive and can try it at home.

My thoughts on game dev support post launch

It’s always nice to see game developers who are passionate about their games and support it post launch. Downloadable content is often misused by game developers as a way to earn more money for content that could have been included with the retail purchase.

Not every game developer has gone about DLC with the consumer’s interest in mind. Wildcard’s ARK: Survival Evolved is still in early access, but that hasn’t stopped them from announcing a paid expansion pack. This hasn’t gone down well with most of the users however Wildcard have recently tried to explain their actions.

CD Projekt Red have probably been the most reputable game developers this year offering free DLC (mostly cosmetic), where other developers would charge users and creating 2 amazing expansion packs, after the release of the main game. We’ve also seen them release updates & fixes to game even several months after they released their final expansion pack. Another developer to note that has a consumer friendly post support plan is Colossal Order’s Cities: Skylines.

Nordic Games, developer of the action rpg Titan Quest, released an unexpected update to their game to mark the 10 year anniversary. As another treat, they rewarded owners of the original game with a free copy of the updated game. This has been a great piece of support from the developers, which has seen players up to 11,000 get back into the game.

Post launch support, is obviously pretty common and always to be expected, however it is the way that the game developers announce their plans which can affect their reputation in the long run. From a consumer perspective, it always seems more effective if they announce the plan for DLC or expansions after the final game has been released.