Nintendo

The Nintendo’s Switch library just keeps growing. During a recent Nintendo Direct announcement reel, Nintendo revealed that several fan-favorite titles from yesteryear are making their way over to Nintendo’s beloved console/handheld. Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s coming to a Switch near you soon.

  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout – “Participate in a variety of obstacle courses and events as a goofy bean.” Read our full review here.
  • Outer Wilds – “Explore a solar system as you try to escape a time loop and prevent a sun from exploding.” Read our full review here.
  • Samurai Warriors 5 – The next entry in the long-running hack-and-slash series starring Samurai warriors hits the Switch this summer. This entry will be set in the Sengoku Period and follow historical figures like Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akeshi.
  • Legend of Mana – This 2000 PlayStation release was the follow up to the beloved SNES RPG Secret of Mana SNES, and it let you assemble towns and dungeons to encounter. Watch us replay the game here.
  • Tales from Borderlands – “A two-sided tale starring a pair of impromptu vault hunters on the demented planet of Pandora.” Read our full review here.
  • Capcom Arcade Stadium – Capcom is releasing a bunch of arcade classic in one bundle, starting today. You can download the “collection” and get the arcade shooter 1943: The Battle of Midway for free, but you’ll have to pay for other titles like: Bionic Commando (1987), Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (1988), Street Fighter II (1991), Captain Commando (1991), and more.
  • Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse – This original Xbox third-person action game about a zombie comes to Switch on March 16.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville Complete Edition – “Take sides in the seemingly endless conflict between plants and zombies in a third hero-based shooter.” This edition releases on Switch on March 19. Read our full review here.
  • Miitopia – “Take a party of Miis on an RPG adventure, giving them a variety of standard – or silly – jobs and personalities as they fight to restore peace.” Originally released on the 3DS, this version hits the Switch on May 21. Read our full review here.
  • Ninja Gaiden Master Collection – Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge come bundled together in one package on June 10.
  • Ghost and Goblins Resurrection – This visually remastered version of the ‘80s run-and-gun platformer comes to Switch on February 25.
  • Saga Frontier Remastered – The 1998 PlayStation RPG is getting retouched visuals and a new playable character, Fuse added as a playable character on April 15.
  • Apex Legends – “Fight alongside your friends for supremacy in Titanfall’s powered-up version of battle royale.” This edition releases on Switch on March 9. Read our full review here.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD – “A lengthy and well-paced main quest, tons of side missions, and surprisingly challenging post-game content adds up to the best possible Wii swan song we could have hoped for.” This Wii classic comes to Switch on July 16, and if you can get some special Joy-Con controllers if you act fast. Read our full review here.

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Affiliate Site Selling For $7 Billion? 7 Key Takeaways

According to the New York Times, Credit Karma is about to avoid the IPO market, and sell to a financial firm for $7 Billion.

We’re talking about an affiliate site here. An affiliate site is one that earns commissions from promoting OTHER PEOPLES products (by linking to their website through a special link).

Credit Karma was founded by Ken Lin. It is a website that has grown to have a lot of content, and it makes commissions from credit repair sites, and loan sites, and so forth. 

Now while it started out as an ordinary site, this is no longer an ordinary affiliate site.

They claim that one third of all Americans who have a credit profile, have used their site. 

So that’s a lot of names and email addresses they have acquired over the last several years.

They have grown to be huge, and I don’t want to make this sound like it’s in any way typical.

But it is inspiring and there are many key takeaways that can be learned here. 

7 Key Takeaways

#1 You don’t have to be a product owner, in order to build a big online business

Over a decade ago, I visited the headquarters of Clickbank for the first time. 

And I asked them, about which vendors were making the most sales. 

They shocked me by mentioning that 8 of the top 10 account owners on Clickbank were pure affiliates, and didn’t even own their own products. 

They were people I’d never heard of, guys who were simply buying traffic, sending it to their own website, and earning affiliate commissions promoting other people’s products. 

While I was already a strong affiliate at the time, and was also in that top 10, I was a strong vendor too. So I had assumed the top 10 would be full of vendors. 

In the case of Credit Karma, they have taken affiliate marketing to the extreme. 

#2 Leads are valuable

Affiliates can make a lot of money without ever collecting a single email address or lead. 

However, if you go to sell your website in the future, the money you receive is not only determined by how much you are making on a daily basis…

…How many leads, and how much data that you have on those leads, plays a huge factor. 

You can’t legally share that data, but if you sell your business, then it’s legal for the purchaser to acquire the data that way. 

Credit Karma collected names, email addresses, postal addresses, phone numbers, credit scores and more, from MILLIONS of people. That data is now worth BILLIONS as part of this sale. 

If you’re an affiliate at a smaller scale, the same principles DO still apply. Make sure to in some cases, collect names and email addresses. And have a newsletter followup sequence that builds a relationship and promotes relevant products to them.

That way, if you ever sell your site, it’s worth more money… AND you’ll make more from your site anyway, even if you never sell it. 

#3 Drop Facebook Pixels on every page in your site

Looking at the Credit Karma website, I see they have 2 Facebook Pixels being dropped on every page. 

That means they can now retarget to people, with ads on Facebook, Instagram and other web properties that Facebook owns or has agreements with.

You do so much to get people to visit your pages as it is, and if they aren’t on your email mailing list, then another great way to get them to come back is through retargeting ads. 

Warm prospects who have visited you before are a lot more likely to interact with you and possibly make a purchase in the future, than those who are cold (don’t know who you are). 

#4 Free Software often results in more shares, than other types of freebies

While it may have been more complex to build what they have today, the Credit Karma site actually started out as a very simple piece of software. 

People loved using it and shared it with their friends. So that in turn helped it to grow organically, as well as through any deliberate attempts they made at driving traffic to their site. 

I’ve done this in the past also, created free software, and found that the optins tend to keep growing organically from that software giveaway for years, as users share the software with others. 

For it to work, it has to be genuinely useful, and be better than the other tools going around that people can obtain for free. 

It’s not always easy to do this, but if you do have a great idea for software that you’d like to make freely available in your chosen niche, it can in many cases, prove to be more valuable than other forms of free gifts that get people to opt in. 

#5 Optins aren’t everything

There are plenty of opportunities to get your credit reading, etc, from other sites outside of Credit Karma, without giving your name and email address to Credit Karma. 

They have such useful pages and recommendations, that their site profits regardless of optins.

I personally have found that sometimes, as an affiliate, going to an opt in page is not the right way to go. 

Sometimes it’s better to run ads, that go to a ‘bridge page’ or a ‘quiz’ or an article, that then leads directly to an offer that I’m promoting. 

If that produces more profits, then go with that. 

#6 There is a lot of money to be made in Affiliate Marketing

Now while Credit Karma is an extreme case (potentially about to sell for $7 Billion), I see new affiliates starting out every year, and making piles of sales online. 

This does not happen to everyone, I’m not saying it’s push-button easy, I’m not saying it’s ‘typical’ but I regularly see newbies, coming in, and doing extremely well, within a matter of months. 

There are a lot of high converting offers in many niches (health, wealth, relationships, alternative beliefs, finance, education, and more). 

And it isn’t rocket science. 

Here’s a simplified equation of what is in play as an affiliate:

 

(Leads x Conversion Rates x Avg$ Per Customer) – Ad Spend = Affiliate Profits

 

For example…

If it costs you $1000 to send 2000 clicks to an offer, and that offer converts at 2%, and you earn on average $40 per sale:

Leads = 2000 clicks
Conversion Rate = 2% (0.02)
Avg $ Per Customer = $40
Ad Spend = $1000

(2000 x 0.02 x 40) – $1000
 
= $1600 – $1000

= $600 (Profit For The Affiliate)

If you’re not in profit, then:

  • Either the traffic that is purchased is not the right audience (and conversions will suffer)
  • Or the offer is not a proven one (conversions aren’t good)
  • Or you’re paying too much for the leads
  • Or the average commission $ is just too low. 

I know I’ve gone off on a tangent here, but I wanted to mention this because, there IS a lot of money in affiliate marketing, but sometimes people over-complicate things when it comes to figuring out what’s going right and what’s going wrong. 

Sometimes words in your ad itself, or on your landing page, are all the difference between a conversion rate of 0.3% and one that is 2% or higher. 

Sometimes it’s a matter of needing to try several audiences to find the winning ads.

And sometimes it’s a matter of capturing leads, and following up with those leads with an autoresponder series of emails, that takes a little time to get the sales, but can lead to more sales of other products long term. 

#7 Dream big and take action

It takes just as much energy to dream big as it does to dream small.

You are not protecting yourself or anyone else, by dreaming small. 

Small dreams = less motivation to carry on. 

I don’t see people who aim for the sky, and reaching the top of a skyscraper, being too disappointed. 

I also don’t see people aiming for the top of a skyscraper, reaching the sky either. 

It’s really important to eliminate any invisible glass ceilings, and have a dream that truly excites you.

Make a plan and work towards it. 

Ken Lin had a dream and he chased it. His vision became more clear as he went along, but he took action. 

I see the biggest difference between those who succeed at Affiliate Marketing and those who don’t, is that those who succeed are the ones who dream big, and take a lot of action.

When they take action and mistakes are made, they embrace the lessons that are learned along the way as part of the journey. 

They are willing to take a lot of swings at bat, and all the mistakes make them self-correct, learn lessons, and eventually hit the ball out of the park.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and that it helps inspire you to take action in your online marketing dreams.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing several more affiliate marketing tips and videos with my newsletter subscribers. 
 

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Google will soon begin enforcing

On Monday, Google announced that it would be clarifying the in-app purchase billing policies for its Google Play app store. In the interest of consistency and fairness, Google states that it will “be more explicit that all developers selling digital goods in their apps are required to use Google Play’s billing system.” And, consequently, they will be required to pay Google 30% of the money they earn from it. Developers will have until September 30, 2021 to make the change.

This move might have been prompted by the recent expulsion of Epic’s game Fortnite from both Apple and Google’s app stores for violating those in-app purchase policies. But whether Google thinks it’s being clearer now or not, that still leaves a rather big question for this blog.

Will this affect ebooks?

Historically, some developers such as Netflix and Spotify—and, of course, Amazon—have been able to bypass the in-app purchase requirement by using their own credit card payment system. But Google’s new payment guidelines requiring use of their billing system for in-app purchases explicitly state that they will apply to “subscription services (such as fitness, game, dating, education, music, video, and other content subscription services)”. They don’t specifically mention ebooks, but they do also cover items, app functionality or content, and cloud software and services. You could make a case that ebooks fit into several of those categories.

As we noted when Apple started enforcing its vig in 2011, the book industry has very tight margins, and there’s just no room for Amazon to pay another 30% of the purchase price of its ebooks on top of its other costs—whether it’s paying that surcharge to Apple or to Google. Amazon got around this with Apple by removing in-app purchase functionality from its iOS apps altogether. Other apps either followed suit, or raised their prices by 30% to Apple users. (Ebook stores couldn’t take the latter approach, though, given that agency pricing locks in ebook prices across every vendor and every platform.) They could certainly do the same again for Android users.

Since Android is much more open than Apple, developers could go the same route as Fortnite, and make a non-crippled version of their app available for download from their own site. While this does make it harder to get people interested in a stand-alone app, multi-platform services like Spotify or Netflix would probably have an easier time of enticing their users into downloading Android apps from them.

Given that Amazon has its own broadly adopted Fire tablet platform and app store, and makes the Fire app store available for free download to any Android user, it’s possible Amazon might hardly even notice if it had to pull its Kindle app from Google Play. All it would have to do would be to prompt Android users to add its app store any time they visited Amazon’s web site. (And another part of that Google announcement I linked earlier focused on making it easier for users to install and use other app stores in the new Android 12 release.) Of course, other ebook stores such as Nook or Kobo that don’t have such big platforms wouldn’t have it so easy.

Given that it’s still early days yet, there hasn’t been a lot of time to react for developers who would be affected by this change in payment policies. But if this is going to affect all the major subscription and media services, sooner or later you can expect them to start voicing much the same complaints as they did when Apple started enforcing its policies. It should be interesting to keep an eye on this over the next few months.

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com


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Google sign language

An aspect of video calls that many of us take for granted is the way they can switch between feeds to highlight whoever’s speaking. Great — if speaking is how you communicate. Silent speech like sign language doesn’t trigger those algorithms, unfortunately, but this research from Google might change that.

It’s a real-time sign language detection engine that can tell when someone is signing (as opposed to just moving around) and when they’re done. Of course it’s trivial for humans to tell this sort of thing, but it’s harder for a video call system that’s used to just pushing pixels.

A new paper from Google researchers, presented (virtually, of course) at ECCV, shows how it can be done efficiency and with very little latency. It would defeat the point if the sign language detection worked but it resulted in delayed or degraded video, so their goal was to make sure the model was both lightweight and reliable.

The system first runs the video through a model called PoseNet, which estimates the positions of the body and limbs in each frame. This simplified visual information (essentially a stick figure) is sent to a model trained on pose data from video of people using German Sign Language, and it compares the live image to what it thinks signing looks like.

Image showing automatic detection of a person signing.

Image Credits: Google

This simple process already produces 80 percent accuracy in predicting whether a person is signing or not, and with some additional optimizing gets up to 91.5 percent accuracy. Considering how the “active speaker” detection on most calls is only so-so at telling whether a person is talking or coughing, those numbers are pretty respectable.

In order to work without adding some new “a person is signing” signal to existing calls, the system pulls clever a little trick. It uses a virtual audio source to generate a 20 kHz tone, which is outside the range of human hearing, but noticed by computer audio systems. This signal is generated whenever the person is signing, making the speech detection algorithms think that they are speaking out loud.

Right now it’s just a demo, which you can try here, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason why it couldn’t be built right into existing video call systems or even as an app that piggybacks on them. You can read the full paper here.

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Extra Crunch Friday roundup: Edtech funding surges, Poland VC survey, inside Shift’s SPAC plan, more

I live in San Francisco, but I work an East Coast schedule to get a jump on the news day. So I’d already been at my desk for a couple of hours on Wednesday morning when I looked up and saw this:

As unsettling as it was to see the natural environment so transformed, I still got my work done. This is not to boast: I have a desk job and a working air filter. (People who make deliveries in the toxic air or are homeschooling their children while working from home during a global pandemic, however, impress the hell out of me.)

Not coincidentally, two of the Extra Crunch stories that ran since our Tuesday newsletter tie directly into what’s going on outside my window:

As this guest post predicted, a suboptimal attempt I made to track a delayed package using interactive voice response (IVR) indeed poisoned my customer experience, and;

Sheltering in place to avoid the novel coronavirus — and wildfire smoke — is fueling growth in the video-game industry, perhaps one factor in Unity Software Inc.’s plan to go public ahead of competitor Epic Games. In a two-part series, we looked at how the company has expanded beyond games and shared a detailed financial breakdown.

We covered a lot of ground this week, so scroll down or visit the recently redesigned Extra Crunch home page. If you’d like to receive this roundup via email each Tuesday and Friday, please click here.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch; I hope you have a relaxing and safe weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor
@yourprotagonist


Bear and bull cases for Unity’s IPO

In a two-part series that ran on TechCrunch and Extra Crunch, former media columnist Eric Peckham returned to share his analysis of Unity Software Inc.’s S-1 filing.

Part one is a deep dive that explains how the company has grown beyond gaming to develop multiple revenue streams and where it’s headed.

For part two on Extra Crunch, he studied the company’s numbers to offer some context for its approximately $11 billion valuation.


10 Poland-based investors discuss trends, opportunities and the road ahead

The Palace of Culture and Science is standing reminder of communism in Warsaw, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland.

Image Credits: Edwin Remsberg (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

As we’ve covered previously, the COVID-19 pandemic is making the world a lot smaller.

Investors who focus on their own backyards still have an advantage, but the ability to set up a quick coffee meeting with a promising investor is no longer one of them.

Even though some VCs are cutting first checks after Zoom calls, regional investors’ personal networks are still a trump card. Tourists will always rely on guide books, however, which is why we continue to survey investors around the world.

A Dealroom report issued this summer determined that 97 VC funds backed more than 1,600 funding rounds in Poland last year. With over 2,400 early- and late-stage startups and 400,000 engineers in the country, it’s easy to see why foreign investors are taking notice.

Editor-at-large Mike Butcher reached out to several investors who focus on Warsaw and Poland in general to learn more about the startups fueling their interest across fintech, gaming, security and other sectors:

  • Bryony Cooper, managing partner, Arkley Brinc VC
  • Anna Wnuk-Błażejczyk, investor relations manager, Experior.vc
  • Rafał Roszak, investment director, YouNick Mint
  • Michal Mroczkowski, partner, Market One Capital
  • Marcus Erken, partner, Sunfish Partners
  • Borys Musielak, partner, SMOK Ventures
  • Mathias Åsberg, partner, Nextgrid
  • Kuba Dudek, SpeedUp Venture Capital Group
  • Marcin Laczynski, partner, Next Road Ventures
  • Michał Rokosz, partner, Inovo Venture Partners

We’ll run the conclusion of his survey next Tuesday.


Brands that hyper-personalize will win the next decade

Customer Relationship Management and Leader Concepts on Whiteboard

Image Credits: cnythzl (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Even for fledgling startups, creating a robust customer service channel — or at least one that doesn’t annoy people — is a reliable way to keep users in the sales funnel.

Using AI and automation is fine, but now that consumers have grown used to asking phones and smart speakers to predict the weather and read recipe instructions, their expectations are higher than ever.

If you’re trying to figure out what people want from hyper-personalized customer experiences and how you can operationalize AI to give them what they’re after, start here.


VCs pour funding into edtech startups as COVID-19 shakes up the market

For today’s edition of The Exchange, Natasha Mascarenhas joined Alex Wilhelm to examine how the pandemic-fueled surge of interest in edtech is manifesting on the funding front.

The numbers suggest that funding will far surpass the sector’s high-water mark set in 2018, so the duo studied the numbers through August 31, which included a number of mega-rounds that exceeded $100 million.

“Now the challenge for the sector will be keeping its growth alive in 2021, showing investors that their 2020 bets were not merely wagers made during a single, overheated year,” they conclude.


How to respond to a data breach

Digital Binary Code on Red Background. Cybercrime Concept

Image Credits: WhataWin (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The odds are low that someone’s going to enter my home and steal my belongings. I still lock my door when I leave the house, however, and my valuables are insured. I’m an optimist, not a fool.

Similarly: Is your startup’s cybersecurity strategy based on optimism, or do you have an actual response plan in case of a data breach?

Security reporter Zack Whittaker has seen some shambolic reactions to security lapses, which is why he turned in a post-mortem about a corporation that got it right.

“Once in a while, a company’s response almost makes up for the daily deluge of hypocrisy, obfuscation and downright lies,” says Zack.


Shift’s George Arison shares 6 tips for taking your company public via a SPAC

Number 6 By Railroad Tracks During Sunset

Image Credits: Eric Burger/EyeEm (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

There’s a lot of buzz about special purpose acquisition companies these days.

Used-car marketplace Shift announced its SPAC in June 2020, and is on track to complete the process in the next few months, so co-founder/co-CEO George Arison wrote an Extra Crunch guest post to share what he has learned.

Step one: “If you go the SPAC route, you’ll need to become an expert at financial engineering.”


Dear Sophie: What is a J-1 visa and how can we use it?

Image Credits: Sophie Alcorn

Dear Sophie:

I am a software engineer and have been looking at job postings in the U.S. I’ve heard from my friends about J-1 Visa Training or J-1 Research.

What is a J-1 status? What are the requirements to qualify? Do I need to find a U.S. employer willing to sponsor me before I apply for one? Can I get a visa? How long could I stay?

— Determined in Delhi


As direct listing looms, Palantir insiders are accelerating stock sales

While we count down to the September 23 premiere of NYSE: PLTR, Danny Crichton looked at the “robust secondary market” that has allowed some investors to acquire shares early.

“Given the number of people involved and the number of shares bought and sold over the past 18 months, we can get some insight regarding how insiders perceive Palantir’s value,” he writes.


Use ‘productive paranoia’ to build cybersecurity culture at your startup

Vector illustration of padlocks and keys in a repeating pattern against a blue background.

Image Credits: JakeOlimb / Getty Images

Zack Whittaker interviewed Bugcrowd CTO, founder and chairman Casey Ellis about the best practices he recommends for creating a startup culture that takes security seriously.

“It’s an everyone problem,” said Ellis, who encouraged founders to promote the notion of “productive paranoia.”

Now that the threat envelope includes everyone from marketing to engineering, employees need to “internalize the fact that bad stuff can and does happen if you do it wrong,” Ellis said.

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