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Emerging Media Workshop: Members' Questions Answered!

by User Not Found | Feb 12, 2013

By PromaxBDA Staff

On January 31, at Trailer Park in Hollywood, PromaxBDA’s latest Emerging Media Workshop informed and enlightened a packed house with speakers from Roku, Trion Worlds (and its new game/TV show “Defiance”) and Machinima. Following each presentation, members could use their mobile devices to ask questions, and many took advantage.

Below, we present the complete set of member questions from the Roku and Trion Worlds presentations and the companies’ corresponding answers. We will be posting answers from the Machinima presentation in the near future, so stay tuned!

Questions for Roku, Inc.
Answered by: Tricia Mifsud, Senior Director of Corporate Communications
Please note: While Roku’s questions are answered below by Tricia Mifsud, the Roku speaker at EMW was Steve Shannon, GM and SVP of content and services.  

How will Roku compete with the growth of smart TVs that have streaming video apps?

We believe growth in streaming usage will be centered on both streaming players and smart TVs.  We are focused on both of these areas. We have extended the Roku platform beyond the set-top box and into smart TVs and others devices through the Roku Streaming Stick – a small, wireless device that plugs into the TV. We have announced 14 partners to date. We have more partners than Google TV and Yahoo! combined.

How are you leveraging yourselves against Apple TV?
Today we split 90% of the streaming player market with Apple TV. That’s a fairly remarkable accomplishment given the size of our company versus the size and footprint of theirs.

Are you publicly traded?
No, we are privately held.

Where did the name Roku come from?
Roku means six in Japanese. Roku is our founder’s sixth company.

What does Roku offer that Xbox and PlayStation 3 do not?
Roku streaming players are very affordable, starting at $49. They are significantly less expensive than game consoles. People who want a box to stream to the TV buy streaming players over gaming consoles. We also have channels that are not available on those platforms. For example, TWC TV is only available on Roku.

In what ways do you feel having a streaming piece of hardware is more advantageous than streaming software that can be adopted by many types of hardware?
Today the Roku platform is delivered through hardware which allows for us to control many aspects of product design and the user experience.

Do you foresee Roku creating or acquiring exclusive content?
We haven’t made any announcements regarding this and I can’t speculate about the future.

Will Roku offer search engine capabilities?
If you mean a browser, probably not. We don’t see it as part of the TV viewing experience.  We have a new search feature that allows people to find entertainment available across the major channels on Roku.

When do you foresee Roku incorporating Kinect-style motion gestures and voice commands in lieu of a remote control?
People really like the remote control so I can’t imagine that going away. However, we do have a mobile app that allows people to use their smartphones and tablets as a remote control.  We are always listening to our customers and looking at new features. Having said that, we also believe that Roku should be incredibly easy to use. People like to relax when they watch TV.

Zeroing in on such a heavy TV-consuming demographic, and given the positive growth of Roku, do you see an opportunity or social value in positioning your device educationally a la iTunes university?
Our main focus is on the consumer market.

Questions for Trion Worlds
Answered by: Georgina Verdon, Global Brand Director
Note: This portion of the transcription may not be republished or reproduced without prior, written permission. 

What's the difference between multiplatform and transmedia?
Multiplatform in gaming terms means cross-video-game platforms – PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Wii, etc. Transmedia relates to brand (IP) extensions across other forms of media (NOT in the same genre as video games), for example, TV, film, comic books, e-books, etc.

What will happen if one part of “Defiance” works while the other fails (specifically, the show versus the game)?
The game has been developed with its own brand identity and storyline – if the show does not succeed the plan is to keep the game going.

How will actions in the “Defiance” video game influence the TV show? Can the game players actually change the outcome of the TV series?
Basically we can gather data, run contests, etc., in the gaming space that can affect the end of the first season and certainly that can influence the second season. As you probably know, the nature of TV series production doesn’t allow immediate impacts due to lead times, but when the roles are reversed – TV to game influences – we have the ability to trigger instant “events” in the game that mirror what is happening in real time in any particular episode. THAT is all about careful planning and roll out.

The core of this experience is story, so how do you account for participation via MMO?
The TV series has its own story arc. The video game has a separate but similar/familiar story arc that will bridge that gap between Season 1 and Season 2 of the TV series. There is a common story thread that runs between both entities, but the common “experience” is different between the two. As per the presentation, for example, YOU the gamer are the main character lead in the video game. So you’ll have hundreds of thousands of main character leads creating their own storyline in an open world environment in the game, whereas the character leads in the TV show are pre-planned.

Gamers have certain expectations and preferences that differ from a general viewer. Does this limit the thematic and narrative possibilities? Is this ultimately just a niche versus a peek at the future?
Not really, because the core narrative of “Defiance” has been created in such a way that it can be manipulated differently for each entity. The “Defiance” UNIVERSE is just an umbrella, with a core set of principles (time, place, situation) that act as a guideline. We build out the video game experience from there and as long as it fits within the lore that has been created, we can pretty much go anywhere we like.

What if people unlock all the codes in the “Defiance” world? Have you now taken that into account?
Yes! We only activate codes in batches, not all at once, so that on the “back end,” our system will only recognize officially activated codes. 

How do you keep the game play exciting for hyperactive users?
We “drip feed” content to hyperactive users, drop a little piece at a time – enough to keep them satisfied but not enough to totally scratch that itch. We have regular posters on the forums who YELL at us to release more codes. We have created a community of “Arkfall” code junkies!

Will there be an iPad game?
Not at launch, but it has been discussed for post-launch.

Launching in English, German and French... but not Spanish? A huge audience that's not being tapped
what’s the strategy behind that?
Very good question. We are launching a new IP and there is always risk in that, so I guess it was a business decision to launch with the top three languages (based on video game research) with a plan to roll out a Spanish version once it’s a success.

Do you feel that non-players of the game (the viewers) will feel alienated if they
are not playing the game?
Absolutely not. Both the TV series and the video game have been developed so that on their own, they are a complete experience. That “Defiance” experience is merely enhanced when both are consumed together. Someone who plays and watches will be rewarded further and should feel smug about being able to identify the links between the two/those light-bulb moments when the “dots are joined.”

Do you feel the recent mass shootings, the national debate on gun violence and specifically, the role violence plays in video games, will have an impact on emerging media in the future?
The video games industry has its own regulatory rating boards – the Entertainment Software Rating Board in the States – and as such, we as publishers and developers have to adhere to very strict guidelines when it comes to releasing promotional/advertising content to the public. This includes the use of age gates on any mature-rated content, trailers, etc., and clear age-appropriate markings on any packaged goods AND digital goods. The list goes on. I think moving forward that other forms of digital media WILL be impacted in a similar way, but feel the current level of control in the video game space will suffice.