Good Game! How Big Data Can Help the Video Game Industry Drive Success
Thu, April 22, 2021

Good Game! How Big Data Can Help the Video Game Industry Drive Success

Big data news website Analytics Insight wrote that big data is becoming a crucial analytical tool across industries, with the gaming sector leveraging its power in various platforms in 2020 and beyond / Photo by: Dean Drobot via 123RF

 

Big data news website Analytics Insight wrote that big data is becoming a crucial analytical tool across industries, with the gaming sector leveraging its power in various platforms in 2020 and beyond. Almost all forms of gaming have online elements added to them— from games being hosted online servers to players connecting to the internet via gaming consoles for battles and DLC purchasing. Gaming is fun, but are you aware that video game companies collect volumes of data each day? Such data includes how often a title is played, the replayability of their titles, and the like.

With the aforementioned data in their hands, gaming companies use tools to improve their products, decide on marketing campaigns, choose the genre and themes of upcoming games, and more. We can glean that the video game industry— regardless of the platform— is becoming more driven by big data.

Statistics on the Video Game Industry

The video game industry reached a record-breaking $43.4 billion in 2018, up from 18% the previous year, according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a trade association for the video game industry in the US and market research NPD Group, via the ESA’s official website and Kseniya Yurevich of Datanami, a website on big data and analytics. Video games industry analyst at The NPD Group Mat Piscatella said that consumers of all ages found compelling content whether they were playing on their mobile devices or on a PC or console.

Revenue from hardware, as well as peripherals, was at $7.5 billion in 2018, up from $6.5 billion in 2017. Software, in-game purchases, and subscriptions were at $30.5 billion and reached 35.8 billion the following year. In 2018, the total revenue of the US video game industry was $43.4 billion, a sharp increase from 2017’s $36.9 billion.

Industry giants like Microsoft are seeing the significance of data aggregation and acquiring gaming companies such as Minecraft for $2.5 billion, as they have come to realize the value of harnessing big data, said Kevin Rands of tech news website CIO. They also need data-forward companies to help them gather and understand user behaviors.

How Is Big Data Utilized In the Video Game World?

1.  Major KPI (Key Performance Indicator) Tracking

For game creators to accurately assess a game’s overall performance, they are faced with questions such as “What is the number of daily active users in a game? How many active players are there monthly? Were there any new users last month? If yes, how many?” The aforementioned questions are aligned with the most essential KPIs of gaming analytics, which include MAU (monthly active users), DAU (daily active users), and ARPU (average revenue per user). They can help answer those questions if video game companies calculate the KPIs with data analytics and visualize them with business intelligence tools.

This way, creators and developers can track both positive and negative trends, helping them formulate more effective strategies. For instance, if a game draws in news users each day, the chances that some of them will upgrade to a premium account increases significantly. On the other hand, degrading MAU rates might mean oncoming user attribution, which can be addressed if detected in time.

2.    Game Design

Big data helps developers give what the players want. Video game companies use behavioral data to update the game based on “what is working well.” This means creating more challenging games, but not something that will frustrate players away. For instance, Zynga, the online game developer known for FarmVille and other social games, used smart data to understand the “importance of giving users what they want.” 

Zynga monitored and recorded user behavior to gauge how well their games were being played. The insights they gathered were then used to tweak and improve gameplay. Dan Schoenbaum, CEO of Cooladata, said graphics and creative storylines are not enough because today’s online game developers are expected to invest in business intelligence to understand user likes, dislikes, etc. These insights are needed for online gaming, to drive success and become more strategic. Both game developers and marketers should chase after real-time user intelligence.

“If people are playing your game and there is something they are frustrated with, the developers can fix it and make the players happy, and the players will continue to stay on the product,” explained game designer and former pro StarCraft player Sean Plott.

Big data helps developers give what the players want. Video game companies use behavioral data to update the game based on “what is working well.” This means creating more challenging games, but not something that will frustrate players away / Photo by: Dean Drobot via 123RF

 

3.     Freemium and Monetization

Freemium refers to a business model that allows people to use games, software, media, or web services for free, but a premium is charged for additional features. Microtransactions can enhance their experience or offer an edge against other players. This is a good monetization tool if it is backed with data. Developers can track the behavior of a new customer and find out where they are struggling or even find out what prompts them to purchase in-game products.

The mechanics used in freemium games are designed to encourage players to make in-game purchases and in turn, keep them playing for longer. Hence, developers can use big data in the freemium stage to measure, predict, and track player behavior not only to optimize their experience but to also convert them to a paid model.

For instance, in Zynga’s first version of Farmville, they found that users liked interacting with animals that were initially just decorations. Some of them bought animals with real money. In the next version of the game, Zynga made animals a central feature of FarmVille and they created “rare species” to attract users.

4.     Personalized Ads

Personalization, 1-to-1 marketing, and other similar terms describe how marketers across industries are taking steps to stop aggressive, irrelevant advertising campaigns and instead offer highly-targeted interactions. It’s the same with online gaming.

By leveraging big data, gaming firms can deliver meaningful marketing messages to players. Playing a mobile game may seem intrusive to some considering the amount of data collected by gaming companies. However, they are mining such metrics to appeal to their players with content they are most likely to love and appreciate, not despise.

Video game companies need to strategize to drive up success in the long run. Companies can use big data to see what players like and don’t like. It may take a while but, one day, they can be as successful as Zynga and other firms.