Video games are a revolutionary development within digital entertainment that are affordable and user friendly for past and present generations. In the modern era, however, gaming has taken an exponential liftoff with the ability to read into players’ in-game engagements and interactions. Now, by utilizing analytics and studying trends, game data developers can further improve users’ experience, enhance their personalized worlds, and immediately fix game issues at the snap of a second.
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Video Games Data Success
Video games have become one of the world’s most dynamic and exponentially explosive forms of media and entertainment, dominating the majority of digital entertainment markets and bridging the imaginations of millions of individuals across continents and oceans.
Today, gaming has expanded to encompass mobile, immersive virtual reality, console, laptop/desktop, and various handheld forms of gaming. LPE compares the magnitude of the video game industry to that of the immense movie and music industries.
When we say compare, we really mean looms over. Video games generated $137.9 billion in 2018, significantly more than both the music and movies sectors combined. It’s no wonder gaming has reached the pinnacle of existence during, indubitably, the most diverse and sophisticated period of human digitization.
The very nature of gaming innately resonates within cyberspace, with millions of complex interactions taking place at any given time, many of which can be tracked and studied to provide vital analytical information to gaming companies, executives, in-house data scientists, engineers and ultimately, shareholders.
The world of video games brings a flood of touch points and multiple sources of user data to be pulled from. User interaction, play time, quitting points, decisions made and gaming style are all amongst the top-level KPIs, or key performance indicators, that companies are tracking and utilizing to enhance the games they develop, as well as the experiences users get and the profit margins their stakeholders get to enjoy. Video games inherently exist in a digitally vibrant world, meaning this existence is tied directly to data, hard figures and even analytics tracked over time.
In gaming, nothing is ever static—particularly within developments from recent years. Daily to weekly updates mean features are constantly being added, removed or altered. Ads and promotions are always running or being swapped out, and in-game offerings keep users consistently interested and engaged.
Every aspect of game worlds can be measured, and from a marketing standpoint, operating within a virtual realm means substantially more opportunity. Data and business intelligence, or ‘BI’ analysts, scrutinize and flatten data down to digestible formats.
These newly created insights, when recognized quickly, can efficiently help companies position and quietly readjust certain factors, jump into action to deter wide-scale problems and bottlenecks, make games more immersive, add personalization aspects, and most importantly, generate more revenue. The question is, where is this data located? How do companies really make sense of this kind of information? How can this kind of data induce growth? Let’s jump in to find out!
“THE NUMBERS, MASON, WHAT DO THEY MEAN!”
If you recognize that quote, you’re a hardcore Call of Duty fan! The questions that many major gaming marketers and developers seek to answer lie predominantly within the sphere of game and player. Questions that may accurately measure game performance and friction/difficulty. What is the number of daily users who are active within a game?
How about monthly? Are there users quitting during certain levels, or do they choose and perform better with certain weapons outfits over others? The responses to these relevant questions actually already align with gaming’s inherent KPIs, such as DAU (daily active users), MAU (monthly active users), or CLV (customer lifetime value).
Pulling data from events can reveal the highest spikes or hot points of interaction between players and the game world, specifying to game developers what personalized tastes certain players lean towards. After all, one of the major reasons people play video games entirely is because they can enter a space where depth of personalization, individuality and diversity are so fundamentally imbued.
Making sense of the multitude of figures and statistics from millions of hours of player data can provide a gateway into comprehending which game elements are popular, when players abandon the game, and why users behave or perform certain actions. The key goal for companies such as Electronic Arts, Square Enix, and Activision, is to create a gaming experience that is increasingly gratifying for players.
The popularly dubbed term “big data” refers to the vast swathes of information and user data pulled from interactions and engagements between consumers and the market, or products/services within the market. When one wields this intel and automates systems to pull only data which is relevant and manipulate it towards company growth, “machine learning” falls into play.
Both of these tools, alongside various other analytics methods such as segmenting or time series anomaly detection, are the secret weapons giving major gaming giants—such as Rovio or Valve—the edge over the competition. While users delve into the vast and detailed worlds of Angry Birds, with over 14+ app iterations and well over 3 billion downloads since its inception, or Half-Life—a game pioneered with combatting in-game cheating and fraud in mind, developers at these firms were subtly tweaking game facets to provide a more overall enjoyable gaming experience.
Data science keeps players engaged and focused on the game, that subsequently feeds the engine of gaming analytics and marketing by generating playtime within virtually tracked environments. Developers collect and carefully parse through the gathered information, making sense of the random numbers and building foresight into the future.
Creating a more intelligent product for consumers goes without saying—using big data and analytics as the avenue, however, can make the key difference between losing fans and followers, or retaining them and expanding beyond.
So now, what information in particular can some of these KPIs provide and how is it truly relevant? These three factors are what Anodot describes as the guidelines by which companies can make sense of player, session and game data and the aspects of real-time tracking which can yield the most robust results:
- Analytics after changes: What was the effect on monetization, reaction and retention to this new change, enhancement or feature? (Game-oriented)
- User Acquisition: Where should ad budget be spent considering platform, game type, channel for maximum exposure and conversion? (Player-oriented)
- Churn: Where are users getting out of the game? (Player-game relationship)
WINNING YOUR OWN GAME: THE REAL-TIME PROCESS
Taking a game-first approach, we can analyze the processes and methods by which companies focus on improving the game. To conduct this type of wide-scale, ongoing renovation-style approach, a reliable and detailed influx of data is required to provide quality insights and results from user experiences within video games.
The beauty of this process and the machine learning tied with it is in allowing the tracking of both positive and negative trends, and highlighting anomalies and figuring out how to account for these spikes while still accruing relevant data.
For example, to attract new users, a gaming company may try to ascertain what paid options or in-game purchases users are vying towards, or the likelihood of a player upgrading to a paid account. After understanding their DAU, a company can reconfigure their pricing strategy—especially if active users are declining. They can redeem themselves with players before they are churned out, offering discounts, deals or even just personalized help to keep players satisfied and them both on the same team!
This is particularly useful with troubleshooting and in-game errors/bugs. Developers can use algorithms and real-time tracking to detect gaming and network issues from certain countries or areas. This AI-powered gaming helps analysts fine-tune alerts and remove false positives, especially during fluctuated periods such as weekends.
Rather than deal with deviations in data, companies can use time series data sets to accurately chart changes of variables over time, while accounting for bugs and outliers. This data series is just that—a series. Rather than random snapshots of information, developers can tag along while gameplay ensues then nip the issue in the bud while it’s still fresh, to avoid having to rely on long-term crash reports before taking action.
Gaming firms can comprehend whether some levels are too dull or challenging, not enough guidance is provided, or users physically can’t move forward. This can save thousands in lost revenue, lost ad spend budget, brand quality and reputation—particularly if players are unhappy.
Being able to quickly review metrics and deploying powerful solutions before crashes can take automation and gaming analytics to the next level; providing players with next to immediate relief from gaming obstacles through the ability to have an open and effective line of communication with the creators of their favorite titles.
POWER TO THE PLAYERS: PERSONALIZING THEIR WORLD
Besides the games, of course, the most important facet of video games are the group of individuals that keep it alive—the players! Without them, not only is none of this possible, but all your analytics and trends go down the drain. Gamers have become the most valuable resource in attaining solid feedback from the very product that game developers spend months, if not years creating.
One of the major ways that aforementioned open communication line has flourished was through the rise in prominence and integration of social media outlets/channels within gaming software and console hardware. This collaboration fuses the gamer and their personality into an online avatar-style means of gameplay, encompassing everything a player wants to within their gaming footprint.
The major way developers of video games learned they could profit from the social characteristics of gaming was by means of in-game advertising and purchases. While we live in a time where data privacy and hacking is rampant, gamers lend their trust to developers to create quality experiences of video games by dealing with some ads and trailers so they may continue to create and develop more amazing titles far into the future.
As such, these ads are constructed after careful analysis of the markets, the areas players live in, what their interests are, and the decision points at which they would or would not make purchases/click on ads. Another method in these video games was providing utility to players by offering additional tools, resources, enhancements and weapons within games for purchase.
Data analytics, particularly gaming analytics, has begun to provide immense clarity to developers in video games regarding what factors bring in the most revenue, and where the hidden opportunities lay. Farmville was one such game, which originally featured animals as decorative elements.
People were infatuated by them and started interacting and even purchasing the in-game animals, and parent company Zynga caught on quick—adding animals as a central feature down the road, and boosting their revenue flow.
This intelligent and adaptive approach to monetization and game marketing yields high ROI for brands and also resonates with users. They get exactly what they want from developers for affordable prices, reactive communication and personalized interactions.
Video games have always been he future of entertainment for a wide majority of individuals across all walks of life. Gaming has expanded across all manner of platforms (personal computers, tablets, smartphones/mobile gaming, consoles, handhelds). Considering games’ affordability for the millions of dollars’ worth of experience they contain and how much raw earning power there exists, gaming is an industry whose increasingly lucrative nature will inevitably be taken more seriously.
Developments from companies working in machine learning, AI, algorithmic tracking, gaming analytics and marketing video games will take the depth of gaming and heights of experience to sensory realms the likes of which we could have never imagined. Humans will surely strive to build greater virtual worlds where we can get truly lost in our imagination!