Data and Game Development

On the 28th November, Birmingham will play host to the Cloud, Data and Smart Mobility Expo. It will form part of GLOBAL Big Data Festival and Entrepreneur Week, an event that spans 25 cities and over 10,000 participants. Dojit will be there, alongside many others interested in learning about new technology and how it can help grow their businesses.

We at Dojit have a keen interest in the data side of proceedings. In creating products such as Dojit Notify, we have used data collected from our published games to create the best product possible. Studying how players play the games, we could see exactly what a developer would need from a notification program and so create a detailed program that addresses the needs raised.

The collection and use of data is a tool that many companies and services such as the NHS are picking up on. Sir Bruce Keogh campaigned for transparency in the publication of surgical outcomes, and consequently survival rates for many procedures have increased by a third. The sharing of this data meant that surgeons and medical staff could improve their work with positive outcomes.

Gaming is an industry that could use the collection of data in the same way. As advanced as technology is these days, especially with the release of the new PS4 and Xbox One consoles, the way they are designed and marketed can sometimes be comparatively stuck in the dark ages. For example, Naughty Dog made headlines when they refused to remove main character Ellie from the cover art of Last of Us, after receiving the request from their publishers as it was perceived that male gamers would not buy the game with her on it. Ellie stayed on the box and Last of Us was a massive success in the gaming charts, making many reconsider what they think their customers want from a game.

Indeed, the narrow concept of the male, teenaged gamer has been outdated for years now. Gamers come in all different ages, both genders, and with a dizzyingly wide variety of tastes. Gamers are certainly a diverse bunch.

In light of situations like these, how are we to tailor our games to appeal to as many different people as possible? Many are beginning to think that the collection of data from existing gamers is the answer. This has been happening in an informal fashion within the fandom of games, with forums and blogs full of gamers’ thoughts on why certain games work, and why others don’t. Now, this is beginning to happen within the industry, as companies such as gamesanalytics.com are beginning to investigate what makes gamers tick.

They have done some interesting studies, such as one into why console developers don’t understand free-to-play apps, and the value of ‘freemium’ games. There are also some articles on why companies should be collecting data itself, and what it will do for their business. In ‘Let the data do the talking’, Richard Palmer of Opera Solutions describes an almost organic way of collecting data. By watching what products their customers used, they were able to recommend more suitable products to them, therefore retaining more business. Any customer of Amazon or Netflix, for example, will recognise this strategy. Platforms such as iOS and Google Play use rudimentary versions of this system, but with some focused data collection could make this an invaluable service.

The article ‘Effort Vs. Reward’ discusses exactly what data should be collected to achieve these goals. Rather than simply collecting as much data as possible, developers should focus on certain areas that will help them improve their games, taking a ‘business down’ approach. Areas include player segmentation, individual player experiences and communication. By focusing on key areas and targeting them directly, data collection is in turn much more focused and can lead to much better results for the developers.

This is really only really scratching the surface of what data collection can do for the gaming industry. With events such as the Cloud, Data and Smart Mobility Expo happening worldwide, hopefully more developers and gamers will begin to see the benefits.

Posted in Blog & News.