Historically, the gaming industry does not have the culture, infrastructure or tools to deal with the volume of fast-changing data it manages.
Peter Salinas is a veteran Game Director and Cognitive Scientist who has been working in the game development industry for 15+ years on over 60 games across mobile, consoles and PC. Peter recognized a fundamental problem within the gaming industry relating to the way data is gathered, understood and applied to the strategic decision-making process. He knew more could be done to unlock the potential value within the patterns of gamers’ behavior.
Peter chose Xpanse Insights – a solution that allows him to build a better, more intelligent, faster and more competitive gaming company.
To make truly entertaining games, designers need to get inside players’ heads. They need to be able to combine cutting edge game design with an in-game experience that leaves the player hungry for more. The key to success requires a combination of psychology and data and for this, designers need constant feedback on what makes the game entertaining.
What will make players return time after time? Where are the points of frustration or failure? Are there gaps in the game mechanics allowing exploits and “supernatural” advantages; making other players feel cheated? And, most importantly for the bottom line of the business, what elements would be considered premium and could conceivably be monetized?
The way a player plays a game hides answers to these questions.
Immediately after the game release an avalanche of signals starts flowing in from global users interacting with the game. “As an industry, we do not have culture, infrastructure or tools to deal with the volume of fast-changing data flowing in. Yet this is where the ‘make or break’ of the game is buried.”
“Most players are not wealthy; [they are] the younger side of the population from the ‘kids’ to the 30’s. They either have no income or they spend their income on a mortgage. Selling to them is a tough way of making a living,”Peter Salinas
The issue remains that, typically, gamers do not provide a lucrative, bottomless revenue stream of continuous in-game purchases. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to state that, by their very nature, a gamer will be adept at weighing up financial investment against the perceived benefits of play. As customers, this group are savvy and have high expectations within a ruthlessly competitive market.
An insurmountable challenge?
So how do we reconcile this scenario? We have a business model that requires continuous improvement, development and exciting enhancements to appeal to a user base who are time rich but cash-poor in a vastly competitive market with an influx of data that is too overwhelming to be actionable. In many ways, this has the hallmarks of a truly insurmountable challenge.
“Games used to be like movies; once released they stayed that way. Now we keep improving even after the release date. You can do this if you analyse the audience’s reactions, understand them and are willing to act on that insight. But the big problem is speed,”Peter Salinas
As with any digital or online experience, gamers leave a digital footprint wherever they go. As with any large data set of this nature, we saw past the challenges and recognised the opportunities. Xpanse Insights users are able to use these data points to discover valuable insights.
Because Xpanse Insights was built for use by any business user, it meant that the data could be analysed and actioned almost instantly. There is no longer a need for lengthy data analysis or large analytical teams, and Peter’s teams can continuously learn and deliver new builds at the same time.
Real-time gameplay insights, as with consumer insights, allows Peter’s business to make informed strategic decisions about the future of their offering, without the delays or overwhelm they had been experiencing.
“We used to spend too much time arguing about philosophy of Psychology. Behavior is math and data and in games we can understand the very nature of who a player is. There were no good tools that would allow us to quickly analyse players profiles and their lifecycle. Even updating something like Tableau can take days or weeks, but this changed when we came across Xpanse Insights.“Peter Salinas
It’s about getting the facts to the decision-makers, fast
“Xpanse Insights allows us to slice and dice the data with the ease and speed not available in other tools. For example – within few clicks I can discover segments of players with high churn rates and I can compare them instantly to the loyal players. More so, game designers can do that too and this instantly feeds into their creative thought process about how the game can be improved,“Peter Salinas