Halo 4 missions will be available in TV-episode style bursts

343, the developers of the next Halo trilogy, are in an interesting position. There’s almost no way that they’ll be able to meet the hype and public expectations of a new Halo release, especially the first major release since the original developers at Bungie moved on. 

BUT! 

They are doing some interesting things by smashing together the idea of DLC with the short burst storytelling expects of television episodes. Set six months after the main campaign, The Spartan Ops missions are 343’s attempt to create an ongoing narrative: 

…giving gamers the chance to experience arc-based storytelling delivered in the sort of regular episodic chunks that have been most successfully executed on TV.

Phil Harrison, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business division, sees the move towards a model based on TV rather than film as an important one…

“[We’re] speaking the same language from a production methodology, a storytelling perspective. You’ll see [that] we’re basically entering the episodic television industry with Spartan Ops. There’s a linear piece of content, and an interactive piece of content, and I think that’s a pretty interesting direction.”

(via Edge)

Especially interesting as gaming has become the poster child for other media to steal from when trying to evolve. 

Framing can be evil, but it’s also useful.

Framing has an impact on the purchasing (and voting) decisions people make. Studies have shown that people consistently prefer 75% lean meat to 25% fat, that an organization making a handbag will be perceived as warmer but less competent if a dot org label is attached to it, that the consumption of wine with a North Dakota label will be less enjoyable than the same wine with a California label, and that a risky decision framed as a potential gain will be preferred over one framed as a potential loss (Tversky and Kanneman’s prospect theory, reported in their classic 1979 article).

Kind of a no-brainer, but reminds me of Frank Luntz’s book “Words that Work.” It seems a little bit evil, especially in the contexts presented in his book, but it’s smart thinking.  

(via HBR

Feeling a bit underwhelmed by brands and social media lately

I’ve been thinking this morning about how universally disappointing social media marketing has been. Even at its best, it’s been utterly deplorable. Maybe it’s because Facebook has given marketing people a lazy way to tell their boards that they are using social media without having to worry about things like “ideas” or “being social.” Hiring a community manager to schedule a parade of banal questions and silly pictures makes for the perfect illusion of a brand behaving socially. The true value of it all, which lies in doing meaningful things and helping other people to connect with each other around a brand, is largely being wasted. Facebook is continually making it worse by introducing more “efficient” ways to help people attach the word engagement to lazy ideas: 

“The ‘enhanced post targeting’ announced by Facebook will allow marketers to target posts that appear in fans’ newsfeeds by gender, relationship status, education, workplace, language and geography. Previously, companies were not able to tailor posts beyond region and language.

‘This update gives marketers the ability to boost social engagement by crafting more detailed and sophisticated content calendars that are tailored to the nuances of their brand’s audience,’ states Matt Wurst, director of digital communities at interactive agency 360i,”

(Via MediaPost)

Why raising dead tech brands from the grave is nearly impossible.

We all know that some company bought Digg for a few dollars and a ham sandwich. The new site launched already.  

Social bookmarking website Digg launched the first version of its new site on Tuesday after going back into startup mode to rebuild the site from the bottom up. V1, for version 1, was built on “fresh code” and the team says they plan to build it out quickly.

I think though that fresh code and building from the bottom up isn’t going to work.  The more I watch people try to resurrect old and crusty Web properties, the more convinced I am that it’s not just a matter of improving functionality or pivoting to offer a slightly different service, which is what tech startup people are good at doing.

When a brand name becomes a shorthand verb for its function, and its function becomes obsolete, the name becomes a shorthand reference for antiquated technology and a way to sentimentalize the pop-culture of its time. It’s why Microsoft is relaunching Hotmail as something totally new.

Silicon Valley still believes in the unique selling proposition. The problem is that eventually other companies replicate and improve on just about any technology, which then leaves the company that owns the original holding a brand problem.  

Either that or Yahoo/Google buys it and then neglects it to death. 

(Via Mashable