TIME Video Games

Nintendo Actually Just Hired Bowser to Head Sales

No word on whether the new executive will give a fiefdom to his seven children

For Nintendo lovers, Bowser is the ultimate baddie, the fire-breathing lizard king that has absconded with Princess Peach since the 1980s. For some Nintendo employees, Bowser is now their boss. And not a video game boss.

Nintendo of America announced today that it had hired Doug Bowser as VP of sales. Before joining Nintendo, Bowser worked at Electronic Arts.

It has been a bust few months for Nintendo, a one-time video game leader that had had a tough few years, marked by disappointing sales of its WiiU console. In March the company announced it was finally ready to embrace mobile games, meaning Mario and friends could be on your iPhone soon.

You can read the full press release here.

TIME Video Games

This Is the Best Game on the Apple Watch

I'm convinced Apple's newest device might actually be fun to play games on

A few weeks in, the things the Apple Watch does well are pretty obvious. It’s a great fitness and exercise tracker. It’s built-in apps work as advertised. It’s a nice-looking physical object. It tells the time.

But as a new product, running a 1.0 operating system, there’s also a lot to improve on. One of the biggest outstanding questions is whether or not people will use the Watch to do things they’re already used to doing on their phones, like reading the news and playing games.

The later in particular, seems in greater doubt. Most of the titles released so far are either relatively light-weight (and benign) extensions of their phone counter parts or uber-simple incarnations of popular games. Most of these don’t last past an initial blush of gee-whiz.

Lifeline, a newly released game by 3 Minute Games, could change that. It’s the first game I’ve loaded on my Watch that is not only fun to play, but fun to play specifically on a wearable.

MORE: These May Be the Most Absurd Apple Watch Accessories Yet

The premise is fairly is simple: A far-off radio signal connects you to Taylor, a young student who was selected to study rats in space. He sends a distress signal when he crash lands on a moon somewhere—all of this is communicated through simple text messages. From there, it’s essentially a choose-you-own adventure style narrative with the player directing Taylor to try this or that, go here or there, and so on.

Communication goes silent as Taylor follows your instructions, taking time to travel somewhere for example. This real-time aspect is what makes Lifeline a convincing simulation of actually working with someone. That, and its extreme simplicity, make Lifeline a compelling game to play on your watch.

This also works because of a strong story. Lifeline was written by Dave Justus, a co-writer on the also narratively excellent The Wolf Among Us. It can be played solely on a phone, but if you have an Apple Watch, it’s worth downloading.

TIME Innovation

Big Idea 2015: Brands Will Be More Like Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian at Rihanna's First Annual Diamond Ball in Beverly Hills, Ca. on Dec. 11, 2014.
DAVID CROTTY—AP Kim Kardashian at Rihanna's First Annual Diamond Ball in Beverly Hills, Ca. on Dec. 11, 2014.

Kevin Chou is the CEO and Co-Founder of Kabam.

Mobile games allow fans to interact with their favorite brands wherever and whenever they want

One of the big ideas for 2015 has actually been sneaking up on us the past few years. Mobile games will play an increasingly central role in a brand’s growth and development.

The mobile games market is expected to hit $25 billion in global revenues in 2014 and is projected to hit $30 billion in 2015, surpassing traditional console games as the largest game segment by revenues, according to market researcher Newzoo. Popular global brands pairing with mobile games is a large part of the equation.

Consider two phenomena that were watershed moments this year. One is Disney’s Frozen and the other is, yes, Kim Kardashian.

Whether you consider Kardashian a paragon or a punch line, her free-to-play mobile game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, is an example of a brand leveling up in terms of both reach and revenue.

Variety reports that Kim Kardashian: Hollywood:

  • Generated $43.3 million in sales from the end of June through the end of September
  • Has been downloaded more than 22.8 million times
  • Logged more than 1.2 billion sessions, and players have spent more than 5.7 billion minutes with it on iOS devices alone

To compare, during the same June through September time frame this year, first-run episodes of the television show Keeping up with the Kardashians (season 9) were watched by a total audience of 23.42 million who spent 1.04 billion minutes with the show.

More than five times as many minutes were spent with her game than with her TV program — and this season even included the big wedding to Kanye!

Maybe you can’t stand keeping up with any form of Kardashian, no matter how many dollar signs are flashed. You are a Kardashian denier who will not be convinced. Then let’s move to a brand decidedly more family friendly – Disney’s Frozen.

During a recent mobile showcase, Disney Interactive President James Pitaro highlighted the success of the Frozen Free Fall mobile game, including:

  • 70 million downloads
  • 4 million daily players
  • 147 million daily minutes
  • 31 billion minutes played

Gigaom writes that “Users have spent more minutes with the app than theater audiences with the Frozen movie in theaters.”

Kabam has seen its own successes with free-to-play games based on blockbuster entertainment properties such as The Hobbit, which generated more than $100 million in revenue in less than one year, and Fast and Furious, which has been downloaded 67 million times.

Through mobile games, fans have an entirely new way to interact with their favorite brands. And this interaction is no longer constrained by a movie’s release in theaters or a TV show’s weekly schedule. The mobile app is always with the audience and always connected. There is always an opportunity to engage.

In 2015, we’ll all be keeping up with Kim Kardashian, and we’ll be better for it.

[*Statistics derived from: The sum of the ratings for each episode times the minutes per episode.]

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Kevin Chou shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Kevin Chou and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME mobile games

Candy Crush Maker King Is Going on a Massive Hiring Spree

A mascot dressed as a character from the mobile game "Candy Crush Saga" walks the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the IPO of Mobile game maker King Digital Entertainment Plc
Brendan McDermid—Reuters A mascot dressed as a character from the mobile game "Candy Crush Saga" walks the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the IPO of Mobile game maker King Digital Entertainment Plc March 26, 2014.

On the heels of its disappointing IPO, Candy Crush Saga developer King Digital is going on a hiring spree as it tries to craft another hit game. The London-based game maker has listed about 165 job openings on its corporate website in locations around the world, including Stockholm, Malta and San Francisco. If all the job listings are for new positions and not replacements of current employees, they would constitute a 25 percent increase in King’s workforce.

Primarily, King is seeking designers and engineers to help create new games. The company tests out new game concepts on its website, royalgames.com, then adapts the most popular titles to apps for Facebook or smartphones. Overall KIng has made more than 180 games in its 11-year existence, but Candy Crush is by far the most popular.

So far Wall Street seems unconvinced that King has another hit on the way. While King is extremely profitable, earning more than $500 million in 2013, 78 percent of the company’s gross bookings come from Candy Crush. Hit mobile games have a habit of fizzling out relatively quickly, and Candy Crush generated less revenue in the fourth quarter of 2013 than it did in the previous quarter. Despite King vowing to create a diverse portfolio of mobile games, the company’s shares fell 16 percent from their IPO price of $22.50 on Wednesday. King’s stock slid further through the rest of the week. The IPO performance was reminiscent of Zynga, another maker of casual games that tried to parlay a mega-popular title (Farmville) into a big stock market debut but stumbled out of the gate.

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