About a year ago, I took a look at how Africa accesses Facebook on mobile as part of a project for a course run by the ODMA (the Ogilvy Digital Marketing Academy). I sourced all of the data from Facebook’s ad planning tool and broke the data down into:
- Total Facebook users by country
- Total mobile Facebook users by country
- Total mobile users accessing Facebook on Feature phones, on Android, on iOS, on BlackBerry and on Windows Phone.
Facebook recently announced that there are over 100 million people in Africa using Facebook, half of all Africans connected to the internet. And since it’s been a year since my original post, I decided it was time to relook how Africa accesses Facebook on mobile in 2014.
Last year, I mainly looked at the five countries with the largest number of Facebook users. This year, I looked at how many people were using each mobile platform to access Facebook across the continent. Here are the results:
- 40,817, 600 African access Facebook on Android devices
- This accounts for roughly 45% of mobile Facebook users in Africa
- The number of Africans using Android devices to access Facebook has increased 244% in the past year
- 35,533,600 Africans access Facebook on Feature Phones
- This accounts for roughly 39% of mobile Facebook users in Africa
- The number of Africans using Android devices to access Facebook has increased by 19%
- 6,209,240 Africans access Facebook on iOS devices
- This accounts for roughly 7% of mobile Facebook users in Africa
- The number of Africans using iOS devices to access Facebook has increased by 58%
- 5,778,880 Africans access Facebook on BlackBerry devices
- This accounts for roughly 6% of mobile Facebook users in Africa
- The number of Africans using Blackberry devices to access Facebook has increased by 3%
- 1,649,440 Africans access Facebook on Windows Phone devices
- This accounts for roughly 2% of mobile Facebook users in Africa
- The number of Africans using Windows Phone devices to access Facebook has increased by 146%
Some General Observations from the Data:
- Compared to last year, more Africans are using Android devices (although this may include tablets) to access Facebook than Feature Phones. Bear in mind that this doesn’t mean that there are more Android devices than feature phones in Africa.
- All the use of all mobile platforms to access Facebook grew over the past year
- Android enjoyed triple digit growth in the majority of African countries in the study – this growth may increase in coming years as Google launches Android One in Africa
- The number of Facebook users in Africa grew by 26% in the past year with 92% of users accessing the service on mobile devices
A Note on the Data:
All of the data used in this post was sourced directly from Facebook’s Advertising Tool. To the best of my knowledge, all of the above data is as accurate as possible at the time of originally publishing this post. If there is an error in the data, it may be my fault (please let me know if you find something wrong). If I was not at fault, then Facebook was drunk. You can find a full PDF of the data here. If you would like it in an editable spreadsheet, please let me know and I will gladly supply it.
I have tried my best to not be misleading with the data in this post. You are free to reuse any of the figures in this article but please do so in context – this is important to make both you and myself seem less stupid.
It seems like every other day that someone announces another Snapchat clone. Facebook had Poke, then Slingshot. Both failed. Path redesigned their chat app to be more ephemeral in nature. Instagram launched Instagram Direct for private sharing and is even testing a new private photo sharing app called Bolt.
Why is everyone trying to be Snapchat and why is Snapchat still ahead of the game. I’d like to argue that Snapchat has a secret sauce. Here’s why:
1. Snaps are Super Expressive
You can share photos and videos with lots of apps, so what makes Snapchat so special? The answer is that a snap is not just a photo. By allowing users to add text, apply filters and draw on their photos and videos, Snapchat offers their users a way to be both highly creative and super expressive. Now when you combine this with the ephemeral nature of Snapchat, you create a way for users to share moments, big or small, in a way that is more natural than most other social networks.
Now if you compare Snapchat to some of it’s “competitors”, you’ll see that they haven’t perfected this perfect balance of expressiveness and ephemerality. Poke was just a pure clone of Snapchat with none of the coolness factor. Slingshot arguably comes close but requires an awkward sling to unlock mechanic. Bolt emphasises speed over creativity. Most other ephemeral apps are using the feature as a gimmick. And Instagram Direct just doesn’t allow users to be expressive enough. You can only do so much with Instagram’s selection of filters which is why people have started editing their photos in 3rd party apps like VSCO CAM.
Also, Instagram is just not a private social network. Like Twitter, you want as many people to see, like and comment on your photos while getting as many followers as possible. Instagram is one of the fasted growing and most exciting social networks at the moment. Why they want to be Snapchat instead of Instagram is something I just don’t get.
2. Snapchat has made smarter product decisions
You don’t often hear Snapchat announce new features but when they do, they are often well thought out, make the product better and receive overwhelmingly positive feedback. Some examples of such features include Snapchat Stories, Our Stories and Snapchat Chat. Snapchat Chat is particularly great and does an excellent job at keeping users in the app for longer.
If we look at (or pick on) Instagram, they’ve made a number of product announcements this year. Adding advanced photo editing features and redesigning the app to be more usable in emerging markets were great moves. Launching Instagram Direct, using Facebook Places instead of Foursquare for location data and even launching Bolt seem more misguided.
3. Snapchat is finding cool ways to monetise
Every social network faces the challenge of increasing the number of its users while making as much money as possible. This often involves making the service attractive to brands and by selling users to advertisers. Services have to get this just right because users don’t want to be spammed.
Snapchat is reportedly looking at alternative ways to monetise so that they don’t alienate their audience of “cool kids who use Snapchat”. Snapchat is doing their best to make the service more brand friendly while avoiding monetising through ads (because ads are lame). Some of their ideas include sponsored events (like EDC), sponsored geofilters and even a mobile payments service. If they can get this right, then Snapchat has an even brighter future than initially anticipated.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time using using Plex to organise and consume my TV Shows and Movies. Plex isn’t new, in fact it’s been around for ages. But if you are looking for a better way to consume your media, Plex could just be for you.
Here is a quick guide to getting the most out of Plex:
What is Plex?
Plex basically consists of two parts. The Plex Media Server is an application that organises your media library and matches artwork, descriptions and other metadata for all of your files. This is particularly great for TV shows. The other part of Plex is the Plex Client which is available for including Mac, PC, Chromecast, selected Smart TVs and set top boxes as well as all your iOS and Android devices.
Pro Tip: Plex also syncs your media across devices. So if you are halfway through a movie you watched on you laptop, it’ll pick up where you left off when you start watching again on your tablet.
Watch Your Media on Your TV
While it’s great to watch your media on your laptop or computer, it’s even better to watch it on your TV. You can get your media on your TV by connecting your computer or laptop to your HD TV through an HDMI cable. Alternatively, you can wirelessly stream your media to your TV through a Chromecast, supported set top boxes or through Plex apps developed for selected Smart TVs. You can even get Plex running on a Raspberry Pi, which is super impressive.
Stream to Your Mobile Device with the Plex App
You can also stream all of your media to your tablet or smartphone through the Plex app for iOS and Android via your local wi-fi network. This is one of the reasons I have fallen in love with Plex as I spend most evenings lying in bed with the electric blanket switched on, watching episode after episode of The Sopranos. Occasionally, chips are even eaten.
Another feature of the Plex mobile app is that you can use your tablet or smartphone as a remote to control Plex. That is great if you using Plex to consume your media on your TV. People who still watch TV on TV might not think that having a remote control is a big deal, but for cord-cutters, it’s awesome.
Pro Tip: If you are on Android, I would recommend using the Plex Remote app.
Access Your Media Remotely
With Plex, you can access your media remotely (i.e. outside your local Wi-Fi network). This is one of the more advanced features of Plex and requires you to forward a port on your Wi-Fi router (here’s how). To be honest, I’ve never had to make use of this feature so I’ve never set it up but it’s nice that you can do this if you ever need to.
Share Your Media Library with Family and Friends
If you sign up for a MyPlex account (it’s free) you can also share your media libraries with family and friends. This is another great feature but speed and playback quality may be affected by the speed of your internet. Once again, another great feature if you ever need it.
While you may have to pay a few dollars for Plex’s mobile apps, the majority of the Plex experience is 100% free. But Plex offers you even more if you sign up for a Plex Pass subscription. Some premium features include syncing files to your mobile devices for offline viewing and cloud syncing so you can stream your media from Dropbox when your home library is unavailable.
Plex is a great product for those that love their media. Hopefully after reading this post, you have everything you need to get the most out of Plex. You can find out more about Plex on their website and download the Plex mobile apps for either iOS or Android.
I love Sex Criminals. And by Sex Criminals, I mean the critically acclaimed comic book series by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. And not the…you know…other type of sex criminals…
Sex Criminals tells the story of Suzie, a young woman who discovers that she can freeze time when she orgasms. It’s not until she meets and bumps uglies with Jon that she discovers that she isn’t the only one with this ability. Together, Suzie and Jon set out on a mission to save their local library by pulling off a series of bank robberies.
As you’d imagine, there is a fair bit of sex in Sex Criminals. But it’s how the series handles the topic that makes Sex Criminals really shine. The early issues of the series balances the bank robbing with the story of how Suzie and Jon first learn about the often taboo subject of sex and deal with the discovery of their time-freezing superpowers.
In Sex Criminals, Suzie and Jon’s discovery of sex is the equivalent of the “origin story” found in most traditional comics. In a way, this makes the characters in Sex Criminals more relatable than those found in traditional comics. Very few of us come from an alien planet that exploded or are billionaire orphans that have dedicated our lives to fighting crime. But most of us have had to go through the awkward process of learning about sex while growing up. It’s a journey that is both unique and universal.
Sex can be many different things to different people. In fact it can be many different things to the same person. It can be naughty, awkward, fun, funny, crude, amazing, embarrassing or emotional. Sex Criminals captures this perfectly with moments that range from incredibly honest to laugh out loud funny.
The worst thing about Sex Criminals is that it’s over too quickly (insert joke here). You spend the whole month waiting for the next issue and before you know it, it’s finished. But perhaps the only good thing about having reached the end of an issue of Sex Criminals is getting to the letters page.
I’ve been reading comics since I could read and I’ve never once read the letters printed at the end of each issue sent in by fans. But Sex Criminals has built a large community of loyal fans who write not only to sing the series’ praises, but also share their own experiences, and to ask questions – both of which are often hilarious. In some cases, there are 6 or 7 pages of fan letters, all with responses from Fraction and Zdarsky. The pair also take it one step further by offering a number of “SEX TIPS” in the letters section such as:
SEX TIP: Role playing can help spice up your sex life. Pretend to be someone who’s good at sex.
SEX TIP: 1. Stick it in. 2. Wiggle it around. 3. NAILED IT
SEX TIP: Sex is a wonderful and natural way to discover if your partner is a lousy lay or not.
SEX TIP: You need to change your safeword every three weeks for security reasons, and it must have numbers in it.
SEX TIP: Have sex while standing up (for the rights of gays and lesbians to marry their partners).
All in all, Sex Criminals is one of the best and most interesting comic books that you can read at the moment. Through the combination of great writing and artwork, the series is able to tackle the topic of sex in way that is both humorous and human. If you like comic books you should read Sex Criminals. If you’ve never read a comic book, you should read Sex Criminals. Just have a cigarette ready for when you finish.
Sex Criminals is available at all good and bad comic shops. For instant gratification, you can also get Sex Criminals on comiXology
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world”
A while back, I can across Susan Cain’s fantastic TED talk The Power of Introverts and went on to read her equally fantastic book Quiet. I found it fascinating as there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be an introvert. Introverts aren’t necessary quiet or shy but just prefer less stimulating environments and need time to occasionally recharge.
Introverts aren’t better or worse than extroverts, although they are better and worse at certain things. They have different temperaments and different needs. It can be a bit tricky being an introvert, especially in a world with a bias towards extroverts. So this got me thinking, how can introverts succeed in the noisy and often shouty world of social media? Here are some tips:
1. Understand that Social Media is not an accurate reflection of reality
This is super important. Social networks often give the illusion that we are more connected but studies have shown that social networks can often make ourselves feel more isolated and alone. And this was way before Facebook’s infamous mood experiment. You can watch Sherry Turkle’s excellent TED talk, but just remember: there are a lot of amazing things about social media but it is not the be all and end all. Rather focus of having fantastic relationships with people (both online and offline) than “winning” at social media.
2. Quality Over Quantity
This is a mantra that should drive every decision you make about how you engage with people on social media. There is already so much noise on social channels and if all you are going to do is add to the noise, you are wasting your time.
Be quite thoughtful about who you follow, when to engage and what you say. If your posts are of a high quality, they will have value and that’s never a bad thing. How much is too much and how much time should you spend on social? These are individual questions that you should answer upfront. Set yourself a quota to make sure that you aren’t stuck watching your Twitter feed 24 hours a day.
3. Pick Your Platforms and Control Your Feeds
There are no shortage of social networks but you also don’t have to be everywhere all the time. It all depends on your individual social media needs. You may find that you need to use Twitter and LinkedIn for work, Facebook for friends and family and Instagram just because you love taking pics on your phone. You may just need Instagram. Pick the platforms that add value and give them the necessary attention. Ignore the rest.
The other thing you can do is control your feeds. If your feeds become too noisy, you can use lists on most social networks to curate specific feeds for work or family. You can still build a large network with lots of connections but this may help you find and engage in specific conversations a bit more easily.
4. Listen. Then Talk.
Just like in the real world, this is often the secret to deeper and more meaningful conversations. Sometimes you don’t need to worry about sharing something amazing. You just need to talk to people about the amazing things other people have shared.
Here is something I’ve noticed on Twitter. If you click on a tweet, you can see the number of favorites, retweets and replies. About 90% of tweets get zero engagement, even when people have thousands of followers. Spend a bit of time clicking on tweets and starting conversation with interesting people.
5. Broadcast Through Buffer
If you do want to broadcast but don’t have the time or energy, a simple life hack is to use a service like Buffer. Buffer allows you to schedule your social media updates, either through their algorithm or by manually setting a time. You can plan these updates when you have time and then forget about them. As an added benefit, buffer has very simple but effective analytics that shows the number of clicks and potential reach of your updates.
6. Use Messages or Groups
It’s also important to remember that social networking is not just about tweets and Facebook updates.There is a massive rise in private social sharing through private groups and chat apps. Don’t underestimate the value of sharing 1:1 or 1:few. Sharing the right thing with the right people can be very powerful, as can developing deeper individual relationships within your network.
7. Get Deep
Introverts might actually thrive better in digital spaces than in the real world as many of them express themselves better in writing than verbally. Many of them have also been accused of being “too thoughtful”. Well you filthy, little introvert; it is your lucky day as there are certain digital channels that will allow you get showcase your thinking and shine. If there is something big on your mind, you can make a habit of creating meaty blog posts epic SlideShare presentations. This can help you position yourself without “shouting”.
Just like in real life, if you are an introvert, you will need to retreat and recharge. Don’t feel bad about unplugging, spending time offline and recharging the batteries. Ironically, it’s usually during this time that you will come across the most interesting things, ideas and moments worth sharing.
I was thinking about how businesses could better use data, and I wanted to do a quick case study with some real data… even if it’s only a little bit of real data. This post will look at how a company like Ster-Kinekor could benefit from investing in a smarter CRM system but hopefully it will have insights that can be used by other businesses.
Using the data that is publically available through Ster-Kinekor’s online booking system, I looked at ticket sales for a show across 10 cinemas at The Zone in Rosebank, all screened between 19:30 and 22:15 on Wednesday the 2nd of July 2014. For simplicity’s sake, I pegged the cost of each ticket at R62 and compared the number of tickets sold vs not sold based on the number of total seats in each cinema.*
- In total there were a total of 1,707 seats available to potential movie goers
- During the evening, only 216 seats (12.6%) were sold
- The other 1,491 (87.3%) of seats were vacant
- Sold tickets generated an estimated R13,392 in revenue
- The value of unsold tickets had an estimated value of R92,442
- This excludes popcorn, Coke and Astros
Now this isn’t enough data to jump to any conclusions, but you would imagine that The Zone would be one of the busier Ster-Kinekor cinemas. And while this is taken during the week, I’d assume that the real opportunity would be to look for ways to increase attendance during the least busy times, especially during the day….
At first I thought the solution might be for Ster-Kinekor to implement a loyalty programme:
See 10 movies, get the 10th one free. But while surfing on their website, I was shocked to find that they already have this in the form of the SK Club. The only thing is that 11th free movie at The Zone has already cost you between R310 – R620 depending on whether you watch your movies on a Tuesday or not.
But what if Ster-Kinekor had a better, smarter CRM programme and invested more in data-based marketing?
To me, there is a big difference between a loyalty programme and a CRM programme. While a loyalty programme can reward a customer, a CRM programme can go one step further by creating a unique and personalised experience for that customer. The way that this can be achieved is through data.
Every business generates data. The only thing usually missing is having the people with the right skill set to make sense of the data and identify the opportunities. When you get this right, data can be a huge competitive advantage.
The beauty about this Ster-Kinekor case study is that you can extrapolate any effort put into a CRM programme into a tangible business value. In many ways, the cinema chain’s business model is very similar to the hotel industry, another industry that has embraced the concept of CRM. Hotels sell rooms, Ster-Kinekor sells seats (and popcorn and Coke). The more people sitting in seats (and eating popcorn and drinking Coke), the bigger their bottom line.
The success of a great CRM programme (and the data people behind it) would depend on being able to find out how much money Ster-Kinekor could lose on tickets to increase the overall current profits from popcorn and Coke sales or vice versa….Theoretically speaking, Ster-Kinekor could probably afford to lose some money on both tickets and snacks, but only if they could increase the overall number of bums in seats.
Now between their loyalty cards and mobile apps, Ster-Kinekor probably has a comprehensive database with enough information about their customers to build the foundation of a smarter CRM programme. Here are some ways that they could make this happen:
Not all customers are created equal. The buy 10 get 1 free mechanic is great, but if you are a true movie fan, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could unlock a tiered discount based on your patronage? As it stands, if you have a Discovery movie card, you actually pay more to watch a movie the second time than the first. In reality, it should be the other way round to increase repeat viewings and fill up cinemas…
In fact, if you think about it, even movie shows at different times of the day should be priced differently based on fluctuating demand….The only way to do this is to get a clearer understanding of each individual customer based on their long-term movie watching habits.
Social reviews aren’t just another way to increase visibility on social. Companies like Amazon and Netflix have used customer reviews and ratings to get a better understanding of customers, increase the amount of content viewed and increase sales.
By getting a better understanding of your individual customer’s favourite movie genres and actors, it would be possible to segment a database and geo-target them with time-based discount offers to increase attendance across various cinemas during week nights.
More Special Events
Ster-Kinekor already does premieres for the latest blockbuster movies, but I think this could be taken further by identifying and creating once off events targeted at specific movie fans. Imagine if Ster-Kinekor celebrated the birthdays of filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock with a weekend movie festival, or screened the original Planet of the Apes before the release of Dawn of the Apes. Halloween Horror festivals, Star Wars Marathons, 100 Movies to See Before You Die…all of these events could be promoted, amplified and tracked through digital means.
There are plenty ways that businesses can use data to create value. It requires investment, in both people and systems but if done correctly it can create a better experience for customers and more more money for a business. Now after that lengthy post, I think I really feel like going off to sit in a dark room and drink some Slush Puppy.
*The very small bit of data used for this post can be found here. If there are errors or oversights, please let me know and I will do my best to update it.
The UP24 is the latest fitness tracker from Jawbone and aims to help you “act in the moment and live better”. But can a fitness tracker really make you healthier and happier? I decided to give one a try and find out.
Design and Hardware:
The UP24 has a stylish yet understated design. In fact, most people would probably mistake it for for a bangle or a bracelet instead of a hi-tech fitness tracker. The device is made from a soft rubber which is both comfortable and lightweight, which is good since you need to wear it almost 24/7.
Unlike other fitness trackers like the Nike FuelBand, the UP24 doesn’t have any sort of screen on the device itself. This means that you’ll need to check your phone in order to see any of your fitness data. I actually didn’t miss having a screen on my wrist as it made the UP24 lighter and less obtrusive. I also really liked using the excellent UP app which syncs wirelessly with your band throughout the day.
It should be noted that the arms of the UP24 don’t fasten, clip or lock into place. Instead, the arms of the band kind of just wrap around and hug your wrist. Initially I thought this would cause the band to keep slipping up and down my wrist but thankfully this wasn’t the case. Just make sure you get the right size band for your wrist if you decide to buy one for maximum comfort.
The UP24’s battery life is really impressive. The device only needs to be charged about once a week which is fantastic. When you do charge the device, you’ll need to plug it into a mini headphone jack / USB adaptor. Both the adapter and the headphone jack cover on the device are quite small so you just need to be extra careful not to lose them as I imagine they will both be quite difficult to replace.
The UP App:
The UP app is incredibly well designed and makes it easy to access and keep track of all your fitness data. The UP app primarily focuses on three main areas:
- Measuring how much you move
- Measuring how much and how well you sleep
- And measuring what you eat
In addition to measuring the above, the app also prompts you with recommendations based on your data, offer tips and make recommendations to help you reach your health goals. It’s like having a friendly little gym buddy that is always looking out for you.
The app is very functional, allowing you to easily log exercise sessions and meals and does a great job of visualising your data. If you use other fitness apps like Runkeeper, My Fitness Pal or even, IFTTT, you can even connect them to the UP app to take your training further.
The app also has a social component called ‘My Team’ which allows you to to see the activity of friends who are also using Jawbone devices in your UP news feed. It’s great to see friends activity and be able to encourage each other but a small part of me does feel a bit creepy knowing when my friends are sleeping. Or is it just me?
Speaking of sleep, it’s one area where UP24 stands out. It does a really good job of tracking your sleeping patterns and explaining how they affect your health and overall mood. The app even allows you to set a smart alarm that wakes you up in the morning while you are in a specific part of your sleep cycle so you feel more refreshed and energised.
If you are looking for a fitness band that does more than just count your steps, you should seriously consider the UP24. It has a sleek, comfortable design, excellent battery life and wirelessly syncs all your fitness data with your phone. It makes it easy to track your fitness, your food intake, your sleeping patterns and your overall mood. If you are looking for that extra bit of motivation, the UP24 could just be for you.
- Stylish design
- Excellent battery life
- Awesome app
- Great sleep tracking
- Social integration for friends
- Some might want a screen on their wrist
- Some might prefer a clasp or some way to tighten the band depending on their wrist size
8 out of 10
The UP app is available for Android and iOS. You can find out more information about the app and check device compatibility by clicking below. UP24 devices are compatible with devices running Android 4.3 and later as well as the iPhone 4S, 3rd generation iPads, iPad Minis and 5th generation iPods and newer.
The world of social media and tech is constantly changing and evolving. There always seems to be a brand new trend that could potentially disrupt everything. But there is also a lot of bullshit and buzzwords out there and not every trend will be the “next big thing” that takes off the way an industry of social media experts predicted. So how can you get better at predicting which trends will catch on and which trends will fail?
To answer this question, it’s worth looking back at the check-in; the once “next big trend” in social media and tech. Cast your mind back a few years back when “location” first became a buzzword. Google was dominating local search and trying to make Google Maps more social with products like Latitude. Foursquare was battling Gowalla to become the number 1 check-in app…and then there was a little app called Burbn.
Like Gowalla and Foursquare, Burbn was just another check-in app. All of these apps were all built on the assumption that people care about where their friends are at a given moment in time. But as time would go onto show, most people don’t care about where their friends are. Unless it’s somewhere cool but we’ll get to that…
With so much competition in the check-in space, Burbn would famously pivot into a little photo sharing app called Instagram, amass over 200 million users, popularise the selfie and get acquired by Facebook for $1billion.
Gowalla would also get acquired by Facebook but that was more an aqui-hire for Facebook to get more engineers. And Foursquare would become the best local search company in the world, but would never become a viable, mainstream social network. And the check-in? The check-in would ultimately become a feature that the majority of social media users seldom use.
Foursquare, Gowalla and Instagram – all three companies started at the same point but only one achieved massive success. Why?
My theory is that all three companies got the initial insight right but only one got the “expression” of that insight right. People do want to tell their friends that they are somewhere awesome. But instead of being a pin on a map, people want to show themselves being awesome, at awesome places, doing awesome things.
The mobile photo was the next big trend, not the check-in. For users, “location” wasn’t about metadata, it was part of the experience that they wanted to share, visually.
While this may seem like just another bit of “ancient” social media history, I believe it gives us everything we need to build a framework to predict whether something will be the next big trend in social media or tech.
It doesn’t matter if it is wearable tech or ephemeral messaging, whether a trend will succeed or not will depend on how it answers the following questions:
- Will this thing catch on with normal people? Will it catch on with enough people? Or will it catch on within a specific niche of people? A yes to anything at this stage is a minimum requirement.
- Is this thing worth worth the effort? Does it create enough value or sufficiently improve an experience? The bigger the yes at this stage, the more potential there is for the idea to succeed.
- Is this trend based on a compelling-enough insight about human behaviour? Is the execution or expression of that insight right or is there a better way to do the same thing? If there is a better way, try find it…
Just because something is technically feasible, doesn’t mean it is a good idea or will catch on with the masses. Today, ideas can come from anywhere, not just programmers or tech people. A few weeks ago at the SnapScan launch, Standard Bank spoke about a new trend where companies are breaking down the silos between R+D and the rest of the business, working with behavioural psychologists and crowdsouricng ideas to get fresh perspectives. But if you are looking for the next big thing, I think the above questions are a good place to start.
E3 is the biggest showcase for video games and this year, we finally got to see the first wave of post-launch, next gen games for the PS4, XBox One and Wii U. The general consensus was that the PS4 won E3 with a superior line up of games but the truth is, there are more than enough amazing games coming soon, regardless of which console you own.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 picks from E3 2014, ranked by their potential for being awesome:
1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
How do you explain a Metal Gear game in a paragraph? There is an overly complicated and intricate story running through the Metal Gear series…but if you know nothing about MGS, don’t worry just yet. MGS 5 promises large open world environments, tactical stealth action with amazing controls and top notch game design. The game is absolutely gorgeous with everything being modeled using in-game graphics. You play as Snake and the game follows your transformation from a reluctant hero into a reluctant villain as you embark on an epic quest for revenge. As games go, it is incredibly dark, angry and beautiful. Go now and play all the other games in the Metal Gear series because this is a game you will not want to miss!
2. Batman: Arkham Knight
The first two Arkham games were just incredible and now the original developers behind those games are back to deliver a truly next gen Batman experience. As Batman, you get to explore a Gotham City that is 5 times as large as previous games and…you get to do it in the Batmobile! As usual, we can expect a massive open world and incredibly tight controls that will make you feel that you are the Dark Knight – whether you are taking on a group of thugs with your bare hands or driving your tank through the crime-ridden streets. And what could be more fun than that?
3. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
There’s a reason that Sony closed their keynote at E3 by unveiling Uncharted 4. This is the franchise that Sony uses to showcase what the Playstation is capable of. Combining non-stop action with cinematic storytelling, there are few games that are as well polished as an Uncharted game. All you have to do is look at the Nathan Drake character model in the trailer below and you will be stunned at how incredible this game will look when it hits the PS4 next year.
4. Halo Masterchief Collection / Halo 5
The Halo franchise is one of Microsoft’s biggest draws and will be essential in helping sell more Xbox Ones. At E3, Microsoft announced that they would be bundling HD remakes of all four Halo games featuring the series’ original protagonist Master Chief. Nostalgic gamers will be pleased to know that they will be able to switch between the new HD graphics and those found in the original games on the fly. In addition to this, the game will be bundled with the over 100+ multiplayer maps from all four games. This will be a must own. And if that is not enough, Microsoft will also be launching a brand new Halo game, Halo 5, in 2015.
Destiny is a PS4 exclusive made by Bungie, the studio behind the original Halo games. Not surprisingly, it looks very similar to a Halo game, blending first person shooting and vehicle combat in space, in the future. In Destiny, you play as a guardian who must fight against The Darkness (an intergalactic evil space force, not the British rock band who believe in a thing called love). Sony has high expectations for this title but it will remain to be seen if it can match the success of the Halo series…
6. Mortal Kombat X
There was a time where Mortal Kombat games sucked for a bit but then they got good again with the release of Mortal Kombat 9. One of the reasons MK 9 was so good was that it introduced a new combat system. This system was further improved DC spinoff Injustice: Gods Amongst Us which featured different sized fighters, each with unique attributes such as speed or strength. Mortal Kombat X looks to take the fighting even further with a more fluid and dynamic fighting system, interactive environments and more blood, more gore and more violence. FIGHT!
7. Star Wars Battlefront
Not much of Star Wars Battlefront was shown off at E3. Instead, all we got was a short video of the game’s developers talking about their passion for Star Wars. The attention to detail the team is putting into the game is impressive and while it is still early days, it looks like it’s going to pay off. The short glimpse of a rebel soldier riding a speeder bike on Endor should be enough to make any Star Wars fan cheer!
8. Mario Maker
Nostalgia is a powerful thing and I’d like to think that most people who have played a video game have played the original 8-bit Mario Bros. Now, with Mario Maker, Nintendo is giving players the chance to create and share their own 8-bit Mario adventures. And it looks awesome! While Nintendo might be struggling with sales of the Wii U, this incredibly simple idea proves that the company can still bring something different and quirky to the world of video games by leveraging its iconic line up of classic games.
9. Rise of the Tomb Raider
I’ll be honest. Like Mortal Kombat, there was a time when Tomb Raider games sucked. A long time. Thankfully the Tomb Raider franchise was rebooted in 2013 and the result was a fantastic game. Sure, it stole liberally from games like Uncharted, but it stole well and even improved things by adding hunting and survival elements into the mix. The Tomb Raider reboot was amazing…and for that reason alone, with a pre-rendered trailer and no hint of the game itself, the potential of a follow up is enough to be included on this list.
10. Super Smash Bros
Super Smash Bros is one of the bigger titles from Nintendo and offers players the chance to brawl in four-way fights as classic video game characters like Mario, Donkey Kong, Sonic and others. The game is easy to pick up and play, a ton of fun with friends and seemed to impress at E3. But instead of checking out the trailer, rather watch the latest epsode of of Conan O Brien’s Clueless Gamer to get a first look:
This list shows that gamers will be spending much of the next year sitting alone in the dark, playing with themselves. But with so many good games, who can blame them? What game are you most looking forward to? Leave a comment and let me know which games you would have added to the list.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is pretty ambitious. The latest installment of the X-Men franchise aims to merge the original X-Men trilogy with the excellent X-Men: First Class prequel. By taking advantage of the time traveling elements of the original Days of Future Past storyline, it’s also aims to erase the worst parts of the previous X-Men movies (namely X-Men: The Last Stand) while keeping the good parts (namely Hugh Jackman and the cast from First Class).
The good news is that Days of Future Past largely succeeds on both accounts. While it is not perfect, it is definitely one of the best X-Men movies and one of the better superhero movies released to date.
As a general rule, comic book movies have always excelled when they stick as close as possible to the source material and failed when they haven’t. Days of Future Past is no exception. It’s based on one of the most iconic X-Men stories, perfectly highlighting the themes of fear and prejudice that make the X-Men so unique.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is definitely the darkest X-Men movie so far. It’s partly set in a post-apocalyptic future where mutants have been hunted to the point of near extinction by an army of giant robotic Sentinels. In order to save themselves from destruction, the X-Men send Wolverine back to 1973 to prevent the events that will lead to the extinction of the mutant race – and to be groovy.
Days of Future Past features the largest ensemble cast to date. Due to the sheer scope of the film, the majority of the cast is relegated to smaller, supporting roles in order to focus on Wolverine and the younger versions of Xavier and Magneto. Each of these characters have a satisfying character arc, but it would have been nice to see a bit more of Ian Mckellen, Patrick Stewart and the rest of the future X-Men.
Evan Peter’s Quicksilver also deserves a special mention. While the internet freaked out because he looked like a dork in photos, he delivers some of the best moments in the film.
Days of Future Past does a good job of balancing character and action with some of the best action set pieces in any X-Men film. The action ranges from epic battles between the future X-Men and hordes of sentinels to a daring prison break in the Pentagon and an all-out assault on the White House.
I always feel ambivalent about the action scenes in an X-Men movie. The X-Men’s mutant powers have always resulted in action packed comics and this action has never been fully captured on screen. In my opinion, the X-Men deserve the scale of action seen in Man of Steel. Days of Future Past is a step in the right direction, mainly due to the sentinels who are powerful enough to pose a genuine threat to the X-Men. They will thrill any X-Men fan.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a great comic book movie. It is definitely darker than X-Men: First Class, but I’m still undecided if it is actually a better film. What Days of Future Past does do is solidify the X-Men franchise – even if it does so through some slightly wonky “time travel fixes everything” mechanics. The filmmakers have already announced that they will continue to draw upon iconic X-Men stories for future films. Next up is X-Men: Apocalypse, based on the Age of Apocalypse run from the 1990’s. If they can continue mining the best of the source material, then the future is definitely looking bright for the X-Men franchise.
- Brings together the best bits of all the X-Men movies
- Based on one of the most iconic X-Men stories
- The darkest and most ambitious X-Men movies so far
- Solidifies the X-Men franchise
- Scary Sentinels
- Some wonky time travel mechanics
8.5 out of 10