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Video: 'Metrics' and 'monetization' don't have to be dirty words Exclusive

[Note: To access chapter selection, click the fullscreen button or check out the video on the GDC Vault website]
October 5, 2012 | By Staff

October 5, 2012 | By Staff
More: Social/Online, Business/Marketing, Exclusive, Video

The words "metrics" and "monetization" have earned somewhat of a bad reputation in game development. They're often associated with games that aim to squeeze money out of their players at the expense of good design but is that really the case?

Laralyn McWilliams, the VP of creative at online game company iWin (and, before that, the creative director of Free Realms) doesn't think so, and at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, she detailed the role metrics really play in game development, and explained why designers need to pay attention to them.

"So as a designer, why should you care about metrics? Well the blunt truth is someone at your company cares... And if you are not a part of that process, if the people who care about metrics are the only people involved in the process, then they're making decisions about the game's core experience without designers," McWilliams said.

"And I think that's a bad idea, because we're the ones who understand what we're trying to do in the game and what the player's experience should be... No one else should be making decisions about what happens in my game except me and my team."

She noted that if designers get involved in those outside discussions and analyze metrics for themselves, they can more easily take control of their own projects, and prevent their games from falling under the influence of executives, marketing professionals, and other employees who are not designers.

You can learn even more about the role metrics play in modern game design by checking out McWilliams's full presentation in the above GDC Vault video.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC and GDC Europe already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription Beta via a GDC Vault inquiry form.

Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can send an email to Gillian Crowley. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins.

Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from upcoming 2012 events like GDC Online and GDC China. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.

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Justin Sawchuk
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I wonder if anyone was able to get through the whole talk.

Florian Garcia
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I think it has often been assimilated to a good profit source and with everything related to money, we've seen the word monetization slapped on every walls of the industry.

Instead of saying that it "doesn't have to be a dirty word", I'm thinking about preparing a talk that takes things the other way, showing how metrics and monetization are surfing borderline with the sickness and addictive behavior of a minor part of the population. In fact, the exact same way Casinos and gambling is.
Those games are prohibited to under age so maybe we should look into those so called revolutionary designs and get a reality check.

Farmville rated M? well, it worth investigating just for the sake of it at least :)

Ramin Shokrizade
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This video is similar to my "The Fallacy of Interactive Media Business Intelligence" paper:

I agree with the speaker that metrics are of only limited value after retail launch, though 90+% of all metrics activity occurs after release in our industry. As I mention in my paper, I attribute this to metrics personnel outside of our industry doing it this way and expecting it will work that way for us.

The key thing is, as the speaker says, having designers interpret metrics data, not other departments. The problem is that designers may not understand the relevant math. Those outside of the design team likely don't have the domain expertise to successfully interpret metrics. The solution is to get at least one of your designers to go back to school to do metrics (the path I took), or get a metrics person to spend 10,000 to 30,000 hours playing games to develop domain expertise. Both of these paths are time consuming, so people rarely do either path. This is why there is such a severe shortage of qualified metrics people in our industry.