Sony Sets Video Game World Records During Marathon Webcast
In the highly competitive world of video games, a new game launch is a very important event in the success of both the game and the platform it’s made for. Topping the gaming sales charts is as big a deal to a game designer today as reaching the record charts has traditionally been to musicians. With this as its goal, Sony courageously chose to create a dynamic live streaming video event as a cornerstone of an integrated campaign to launch its first major game release of 2011 for its PlayStation platform.
To accomplish this, Sony turned to the creative team at Deutsch, Inc. in Los Angeles to put it all together. The integrated campaign, designed to promote the launch of Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet 2, centered on a multistream live webcast of three elite gamers attempting to break a number of Guinness World Records for video game playing. But just pointing a camera at three people playing a video game was obviously not enough. Instead, three streams featuring different perspectives of the event were created: one on the gamers, one taking a feed directly out of the PlayStation console, and a third one featuring a live host and a number of gaming celebrities and special guest interviews. Before it was over, these streams would run nonstop for more than 52 hours straight from Sony’s PlayStation Lounge in New York City.
Obviously, a campaign with this many moving parts requires a number of key technical players to pull it off. Starting at the head end managing the content production, editing, and event direction was the Los Angeles-based production company VIMBY (Video In My BackYard). VIMBY’s team not only handled the live cameras and direction of the webcast content but also recorded and edited content happening outside of the live feeds, including humorous shots of the game’s hero Sackboy around Manhattan, for special vignettes featured on the webcast site for on-demand viewing during the event’s 3 days.
From VIMBY’s cameras, the content feeds were handed off to Shively Webcast Solutions, which employed three NewTek TriCasters, three laptop capture stations, and four laptop encoders running nonstop for the entire 52 hours of the webcast. The encoders delivered three streams to the webcast event site hosted by IGN Entertainment, where viewers were given the option to switch between the three different content streams, interact with the gamers via the event’s Twitter feed, or watch one of the on-demand vignettes produced by VIMBY. A fourth video stream of the gamers’ camera feed was streamed to a video player embedded in an advertising banner campaign developed and executed by PointRoll on a variety of websites. In addition to the web streams, Shively Webcast Solutions also provided the three content feeds to Sony’s in-store television network on three large LCD screens displayed for customers as they entered the store. In all, more than a half-mile of audio and video cabling was used throughout the store specifically for this event. At the critical distribution and user- experience step in the process was Influxis, a company based in Valencia, Calif., that specializes in video hosting and delivery as well as custom player design and development. As the content delivery network, Influxis had to ensure that the streams were available 24/7 to viewers regardless of peaks in traffic. It also had to provide constant and up-to-date reporting of metrics related to the viewership. It was responsible for providing the player development that allowed for integration with the event website on IGN as well. This included a live counter to track the number of simultaneous viewers to the streams that rapidly fluctuated throughout the day and night like a digital tachometer. This feature underscored the fact that the content was live, but more importantly, it ended up playing a key role in affecting the content in a positive way. We’ll get to that soon.
In the Streaming Media West opening day keynote, PlayStation offered tips on becoming a media company.