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Why Analytics Matter in the Game Industry
by Ulyana Chernyak on 07/02/14 07:29:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


When most game companies think of examining a video game, they are usually talking about game testing or reviews from game journalists. But one are that is gaining popularity is the use of analytics to give more information to designers on how their game is being responded to by the consumer.


Today's post talks about the importance of game analytics software and some of the metrics that any designer would be interested in knowing about.

The Early Examination:

The first major use of game analytics in the industry is credited to Valve with Half Life 2. One of the side effects of the development of Steam last decade was that it gave Valve the ability to track how people played Half Life 2. They were able to see information like how long it took someone to beat a section, what weapons were the most popular, what achievements were earned and etc.

This information provided Valve with a detailed examination that they were able to use to tweak not just Half Life 2, but how they developed future games. Information like this provided Valve with unbiased views of how people saw their titles and showcases the importance of analytics. It was this kind of data that instrumental in the development and growth of Valve's biggest hit Team Fortress, that went through numerous changes in design over the years.

Team Fortress 2 has been an amazing success and has been analyzed heavily by Valve.

Chances are for most of you reading this, you are either developing or already have a F2P game released and analytic software can be extremely useful for you.

Examining Online Games:

While Valve's use of analytics was originally for their singleplayer games, analytic software also serves a purpose for multiplayer or games built around monetization.

Regardless of the analytic software that you are planning on using, there are several important areas that you should be examining. Obviously the size of your player base is a big deal, but we can go deeper by looking at retention and churn rate.

Retention simply means how many customers you had in one month are still there the next. Churn rate measures how many people are no longer subscribed or playing your game. Both variables are incredibility important for social or F2P games as a way to measure success and how profitable your game is.

Analytics can give you information relating to how well your microtransactions are doing.

You can also examine the monetization aspect of your game: What items sold the best, what sold the worst, is there a specific type of item that is doing well/poorly? These are important questions when it comes to not only developing new content for your game but to also see where you need to make changes.

For instance, let's say your game offers cosmetic items like capes, hats, etc. Your software reports that the majority of your fan base is buying hats as opposed to other items. That means two things: You should have your team focus on making more varied hat items and that you should also try lowering the price on the other items to see if that will attract a following.

Game balance is another area where analytics can come in handy. If you notice that the majority of your expert players are using one specific type of weapon, maybe there is an imbalance that you missed during development that needs to be adjusted.

If you are looking for analytic software, there are third party software companies out there. Analytic information is becoming more important in the Game Industry. As developers are competing with free to play titles or simply wanting to improve a single player game, this information can be vital to making sure that your game becomes a hit.

(Reprinted from the Blog)

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Darius Drake
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Information from an analytic system would be very beneficial if its full potential is extracted. I know this article was solely about analytic systems but, would you agree that a better way to gain insight in customer preferences is to get to them directly (via surveys, for example) and compile that information? You could give the player an incentive to take the survey. Something really good would be to personally contact players and ask them what they think.

Then a team could gather the results and make conclusions.

Ulyana Chernyak
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The problem with surveys is that it's hard to get accurate data from them even if you offer incentives. If you try to force people to take surveys (Like Dungeon Keeper) they either wont' do it or they'll give you all 5 stars or no stars just to get it done.

Likewise with providing incentives, most people won't take the time to read the questions and just go through it as quickly as possible to get the rewards.