Five things on Friday #329
Things of note for Friday May 6th, 2022.
Hello hello x.
It’s the end of week one, month three in the new job. And it’s been hectic* (more, much more, on that later). I hope you’ve been keeping well.
It’s Thursday as I write to you. I’m home from seeing DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS and, without giving away anything all I will say is: I didn’t realise how much I’d missed Sam Raimi.
I’m hopeful for a subdued FTOF this week. The past handful of editions have slipped into the ranty space and frankly, this is not why I started (keeping weekly notes in my moleskine that became a blog which then became) my newsletter.
So let’s see open the FTOF dot txt file and see what happens.
My name is James Whatley, and welcome to Five things on Friday #329.
It’s ok, you haven’t missed much.
1. WHY NOT LET’S KICK OFF WITH SOME DECENT MUSIC
One of the handful of reliable sources of new music I follow is this semi-regular list from Jodie Bryant.
Some proper bangers on this month’s.
I think so at least.
2. WORLD’S BEST FPV DRONE SHOT?
Love me some quality drone footage. And guess what: I’ve got some for you right here. See that? That down there?
That’s a drone that is.
And what’s happening with that drone is this: an FPV drone pilot is doing a follow shot of professional mountain biker Tomas Slavik racing the Red Bull Valparaiso Cerro Abajo last in April 2022.
There’s an 11 minutes video from Red Bull (who else?) that sits behind it and while you could skip straight to 8:14 and watch the one continuous shot from there, I would recommend you watch the whole thing.
3. THIS WEEK IN GAMES
From a personal perspective, I can’t tell you anything much else outside of ELDEN RING. ELDEN RING IS LIFE. I’m playing far too much and to be frank, you’re lucky you’re even getting a newsletter at the moment, given the pull of the PlayStation behind me… and yet... here we are.
To the (games) things!
First, let’s talk about brands.
Beano Brain, the insights team behind Beano Studios (yes, that Beano), released this top ten chart from their top 50 of the coolest brands for kids and teens (UK data):
Every single brand on this first list is either a game or doing something with games in some way, shape, or form.
That’s even before you get to the clear winners of the games category in Minecraft, Roblox, Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox.
That’s Gen Alpha. What about Gen Z?
Adage and The Harris Poll have got you. And this one’s really interesting.
Here are the top five Gen Z brands by brand equity growth (almost certainly all US data)”
Yeah, that’s right. ELECTRONIC ARTS is up there with Old Spice, Urban Decay, Square, and Whirlpool.
[A]nalysts attributed EA’s plans to rebrand its popular FIFA game and end a long-standing relationship with the soccer organization, and its announcement of a mobile version of its battle royale game Apex Legends. The brand worked with video game influencers in late 2021 such as Twitch host KarimCheese, who made a video sponsored by the brand showing him teaching his grandmother video game lingo. Electronic Arts also collaborated with the NFL to create a virtual celebration for the Pro Bowl. It also launched a network of creators in late 2021, which gives YouTubers, bloggers and others the chance to collaborate and attend the brand’s events.
While I highly doubt the brand’s reported choice to move forward without its FIFA partnership has created that much cut-through, I do believe that EA’s other brand-based efforts, detailed above, have helped it rebuild itself into something that can once again be loved by players - and beyond.
Gaming brands, eh? Turns out they’re important.
And now for some bullet news:
That Matrix Unreal 5 demo? Yeah, some smart folk have modded Spider-Man and Superman into it. 1. This is a great watch. 2. I would absolutely be here for a new Superman game where you could actually fly like this! Would be amazing.
America went nuts again. Bungie stood up for what’s right. And my friend Matt went viral because of it. An average week.
4. THIS WEEK IN JAMES
See what I did there?
No Metaverse moans in slot number four this week (not directly, at least - honestly it’s just punching downwards at this point). No no. Instead this week I thought I’d gather up all the other stuff I’ve been doing since we last spoke.
Instead, because I’ve not been writing Five things on Friday for a few weeks, it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped writing anything. It means the writing, and occasional speaking for that matter (or in some cases simply turning up), has been elsewhere.
Here’s a list of that stuff, if you’re at all in any way interested in that :)
Late last month, I spoke to The Drum about Microsoft’s plans to introduce more ‘traditional’ advertising into its games. Utility and understanding being key here.
Last week (and thanks to some unforeseen circumstances), I was super proud to represent Diva at the Ukie table at the MCV/Develop awards. It was a great night. AND I met my dev hero, Sean Murray. There’s me, explaining how much I love No Man’s Sky and going full nerd over it all (I just wanted to say thank you for the game!) and then to top it off the man hugged me! - and completely made my night.
Speaking of representing Diva, it was also something truly moving to be able to be an honorary member of the Bristol community at the recent One Question conversation ‘Who is responsible for our mental health?’ - I believe there is a write arriving any day now (possibly even next week), so expect more on this one v soon.
Lego and Epic announced their new partnership and Adweek asked me for some words/opinion/analysis accordingly (it’s genuinely the most fascinating metaversal thing to happen this year).
If that’s paywalled then don’t worry, I got you. A week or so later we wrote up said Lego/Epic commentary into a larger piece for the Diva website.
Publishers, having forgotten about Facebook’s fatal direction to ‘pivot to video’, are getting all hot under the collar about the latest thing big blue is trying to get them onboard with. That’s right. You guessed it. The Metaverse. As a result, The Press Gazette has a really good overview/primer on all of it ‘the next online revolution or a waste of money?’ and, rightly or wrongly, summoned me for a relatively scathing opinion on what publishers should and should not be doing with their hard-earned income right now…
DICE co-creator and all-round GOOD PERSON, Amy Kean, roped me into giving an IsolaTED TED TALK about The DICE Charter and the research DICE has been doing in what DE&I feels like. You can watch that right here. Interested in your feedback on this one.
In upcoming news, the BIMA Creative Council have invited me to speak at the BIMA Beat event, ‘Beat the Metaverse’ on May 25th. Tickets are available now and, if any of my old Publicis/Digitas lot are reading, it’s back at the office fam - see you there? 😊
And finally, in what has turned out to be a rather hideous self-serving section, something else that I got up to recently - and is in line with the themes we’ve been discussing in these pages over the past couple of editions, is the Playable Futures WASD panel about leadership.
We finally got our hands on a copy of the video from the panel that day and you can watch it all right here.
Personally, I’m really happy with how this turned out. I was only two months into the job at this point (EEK!) but thanks to some fantastic prep from our head of comms + PR (big up Emily Britt) and some inspiration from panel-hostess-with-the-mostest, Nicola Kemp, we had a really great conversation.
Covering everything from the games industry talent crisis, the gender pay gap, mental health awareness vs crunch, DE&I, and ultimately, what it means to be a leader in games in 2022 and beyond.
*Like I said: it’s been hectic.
5. THE EMPTY DAY
“The day after a mental health moment or psychiatric experience always leaves a void. I call it The Empty Day.”
Ahead of Mental Health Awareness week (or as some people call it ‘Annual Yoga on the roof week’, please read this.
THIS IS THE BONUS SECTION. BONUS LINKS THAT BUMP US OVER FIVE THINGS BUT DUE TO TIMING AND SELF-IMPOSED WRITING RESTRICTIONS ARE LIMITED TO PITHY COMMENTARY ONLY (IF THAT).
Linkedin is changing how it updates your feed. Fun to me that the one example it has used to illustrate this is the exact kind of thing I would want to unsubscribe from. Lovely!
Game of Thrones: HOUSE OF THE DRAGON trailer is here. I hope it’s good. It probably will be. But it’s odd, isn’t it? The GoT vibe. It seems like years ago.
Matt Holt’s strategy diet (similar to the last time he did but with a few decent updates) is worth a refresh.
Spotify launched ‘Spotify Island’ in/on Roblox (this isn’t the metaverse but it is interesting).
Coca-Cola says it is focused on bringing “unique” experiences to consumers… so it built a shop.
Obi-Wan Kenobi new trailer dropped. But I still can’t get over the swear word in the middle of that hashtag. Strong #SusanAlbumParty vibes.
I don’t need an excuse to post anything about Amanda Gorman (but this will do)
Michelle Yeoh stan account incoming.
Captain Power was a thing. I had no idea how much of a controversial thing. But it was absolutely a thing. Great watch.
Remembering Jamal Edwards. Still thinking of you, man.
YOU ARE REACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. HAPPY?
It’s been nice to [put the PlayStation controller down in my spare time and] do some newsletter writing again.
As ever, I’m always interested in what you’re up to. One of my favourite questions to ask new people I meet is always ‘What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?’ - it switches people on straight away and there’s nothing I love more than people being passionate about something they care about.
What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?
Whatley out x