3BlackDot – a hybrid entertainment company with gamer and social-media-marketing roots and composed of video production, game development, online influencer and integrated marketing units – has officially come out of stealth mode this morning. Company principals include two former Machinima executives (Angelo Pullen and Luke Stepleton) and two prominent YouTube personalities (SeaNanners, aka Adam Montoya, and TheSyndicateProject, aka Tom Cassell).
As well, Stepleton’s older brother, former Duck Dynasty co-executive producer Hank Stepleton, will join the organization as partner and head of Pickaxe, the company’s video-content production company. The first Pickaxe project will be a live-action short based on Zombie Killer Squad, the mobile title developed by the company’s game unit and released last November to substantial success. The trailer for the short will be shown at San Diego Comic-Con this week, at a lounge 3BlackDot will be running for its online influencers and others.
Pullen and Luke Stepleton said the success of Zombie Killer Squad is an example of how the different units can work together. The game was developed in-house, then debuted with none of the typical media ad buys that back most game launches. Instead, they relied on the peer-to-peer networks of their influential social-media personalities to drive awareness, which led to 1 million downloads of the game within nine days. It eventually hit No. 1 on the Apple iTunes Store in three countries and No. 2 in the United States store. Zombie Killer Squad now has been downloaded more than 2.6 million times, a hefty hit. As part of Comic-Con, the game will be relaunched with new content, including live-action videos featuring new high-profile YouTube talent (ihascupquake and TmarTn, each with more than 1.6 million subscribers).
“We put zero promotional dollars behind traditional user acquisition so the immense success of Zombie Killer Squad was due to support from fans of … SeaNanners and TheSyndicateProject, both featured in the game,” said Luke Stepleton. “We’re building influencer-driven properties into massive franchises and Zombie Killer Squad is just the beginning for us.”
Pickaxe will produce video content for both traditional outlets such as cable (besides his recent Duck Dynasty stint, Hank Stepleton has credits with several other cable series, including Billy The Exterminator and Wild West Alaska) and so-called over-the-top video distributors, such as iTunes, Roku, Amazon, Netflix and Hulu.
The game unit will focus on both mobile and lower-end PC games, which can be created at relatively modest cost and time frames of six to 18 months. The influencers team is led by Montoya and Cassell, who respectively command 4.5 million and 7.6 million YouTube subscribers, with plans to add others over time. The integrated marketing team connects brands with online notables such as the in-house influencers. The integrated marketing team has already done projects for gaming companies such as Disney Infinity and Crytek, for the Fox feature Machete Kills, as well as for consumer brands such as Volkswagen and Home Depot. And the group of online influencers led by Montoya and Cassell and called VOID can reach large audiences at modest cost.