General

The Use of Big Data in the Video Game Industry

By May 11, 2016 No Comments

The Gaming Industry at a Glance

The gaming industry is on the ascendance. The market is growing. In some estimates, it is getting bigger than the music and movie industry combined. In 2015, gaming represented $75 Billion while music and movies was at $50 Billion. In 2016, gaming represents $80 Billion while music and movies remained constant. This is due to a few factors:

Pirating games is not easy. With the use of bit-torrents, people can download whole movies and albums very easily. However, downloading whole games can be hard as it can contain a massive amount of data and files. On top of which, you might have a hard time getting it to play on your PC or counsel.

Social aspect, gaming is one of the very few platforms where you can have a constant contact with other people. Moreover, it gives people a shared experience that is hard to replicate in a virtual space. It builds a sort of “brotherhood”. The only place to do that is out in the movie theater and concerts. With gaming, you can have it in the comfort of your own home.

With the rise of mobile gaming, you can now take your game anywhere. That means the point of contact is greater than ever.

Gaming companies know that just about half of their audience are women. Therefore, they are building gaming experiences that are geared towards women and what they like.

Gaming Pushes the Technology

As far as one can remember, gaming has always pushed the need for higher technology and more powerful machines and infrastructure. The push for more processor power and speed is accelerating due to the introduction of virtual reality to the space. Virtual reality also pushes a greater demand for bandwidth from telecoms and internet providers. Because of social games like World of Warcraft and League of Legends, more cloud space is needed to keep track of the characters’ histories and analytics. Since the late eighties, there has been a need for powerful graphic processors in your gaming machine. These processors allows the creation of fantastic graphics for the player’s gaming experience. With virtual reality, the demand for powerful graphic processors will be even greater.

Big Data

While the term “big data” is relatively new, the act of gathering and storing large amounts of information for eventual analysis is ages old. The modern uses can be mind boggling.

Facebook is taking our posts and connections to gather information about us and selling these to people willing to pay a price. Facebook is also allowing marketing automation people to place relevant adverts on our pages.

Google keeps track of our searches and our activities in other apps like Gmail, maps, translate, drive, docs, and of course YouTube. They use this information to create profiles of all their users. And they sell these profiles to their customers.

Both of them use the data provided to them by their users to create a more personalized experience. My search results on Google will differ from yours. And even if we both have the same group of friends, my Facebook experience will be different than yours.

Gaming

Big Data and gaming pretty much goes hand in hand. Gaming has become a major contributor to big data. These are some statistics to consider:

  • More than 2 billion gamers  = 50 Tb of data / day.
  • AAA multiplayer titles = about 1Tb of data / day from in-game telemetry.
  • Social games = 150Gb of data / day.
  • In a typical month, EA hosts about 2.5 billion game sessions, representing about 50 billion minutes of gameplay

When you consider that these bits of data isn’t graphic where each graphic or video can mean megabytes of data, but these bits of data are numbers and figures. As a result, the scale of data generated by games can be visualized a bit easier.

The fact that games happen in a virtual world, every aspect of the game can be measured. For example, if you have a modern battle scene, you can set the physics of every single particle of the scene. You can track every bullet, every surface, every character’s movements, and every punch and kick. All of these can be done in real time as the game is being played.

Based on these types of measurements, you can try to improve the physics to make it seem more realistic. Some gamers can use these statistics to play a better game.

From a revenue point of view, operating in a virtual world also presents new sets of money making opportunities. Because in certain games, the player is constantly engaged with the game, you have a tremendous chance to sell things and allow others to sell things in this virtual space.

“The way we were able to get gamers to start spending money is by making it easy in the beginning to gain points. Because the players were able to progress so quickly, it made it fun for them. Then, they would invest more time into building their empire. And as their empire value increased to millions they become more invested in the game. However, there are some limitations from the free abilities given. As a result, to keep it going, the player have to spend money” Paul Chen, the Tech Evangelist of Reality Games says,”our value proposition is letting the players come to terms with the idea of ‘you have to spend money to make money’.”

The contact with the game doesn’t end when play stops. The player will post their game stats on social media and compare game notes with others in Reddit forums. The amount of engagement and devotion is all encompassing in their lives. Compare that to the level of engagement on a banking app.

On top of that, players are constantly checking their devices on updates of their transactions. For example, on Landlord Real Estate Tycoon, there is a Marketplace. It is basically a auction site where players can bid on real life properties. As a result, if you have made a bid, you may be checking during the duration of the auction to see the status of the bid.

Because of this level of involvement and the amount of personal data generated, game producers can create an environment suited to the gamer’s preferences. By using various business intelligence tools such as Hadoop and marketing automation we can use these data sets to calculate rewards that the player is mostly likely to accept, generating leader boards that will prompt more game play, and give the player virtual prizes to give him or her a sense of achievement. This way, the game producer enhances game engagement and retention.

In Landlord, players not only can brag about the size of their empires. But because Landlord is in essence, a property trading game allowing you to purchase real life real estate from a selection of 50 million objects worldwide, players can also brag about their ownership of some premium properties such as: Statue of Liberty, Old Trafford, Louvre Museum, and various Starbucks locations.

With this new level of understanding of the player, game developers will be able to make some adjustments to keep the players engaged. It could include changing the game mechanic a little. It could be to introduce a new enemy or others. Player retention should remain high from this.

Social Experiments

League of Legends is free to play, but players typically pay real money to acquire advanced champions, weapons and other virtual artefacts.  The existence of a virtual economy in most online games generates challenges for game optimization and analytics.  For instance, the game Guild Wars employs a hybrid market, partly controlled by player interaction, and partly managed by the game itself. This hybrid design helps to avoid the bloating of prices and market crashes, while allowing a realistic simulation of a real market.  Predictive analytics on these virtual market trends can be used to predict player behavior, including future growth of player populations in various “professions.”

The science of economics is famously hampered by the inability to experiment with real-world economies.  In the virtual world, however, experiments with economies can happen rapidly and with little real world consequence It’s likely that research on these virtual economies will lead to a better understanding of the dynamics of real world economies, and, the same economic analyses pioneered in Guild Wars could be used to predict how the job market will look in future years, as well as to more accurately predict market bubbles and collapses.

In Landlord, there is an actual real game economy. Human players are buying and selling properties. The prices are set by real world data from different APIs. Furthermore, there is no real regulatory body to inhibit transactions. As a result, the free market forces are in play and economic decisions are made based on how it would affect the player’s bottom line.  This type of behavioural data can be very useful in some macro and micro economic studies.

Sociologists and psychologists are also using data collected in online games to examine how people form groups, compete, co-operate and interact.  With every action of millions of real players available for study, difficult questions in these fields are becoming easier to answer.

The analysis of the data generated by online games is essential to improving the user experience and competitiveness of these games.  But, this “big data exhaust” has a broader applicability – the data generated from these virtual worlds can tell us important things about the real world.

What is Reality Games doing?

One of the problems in game development is the creation of original content which can take a long time in some cases years. This can include graphics, animation, background story, and user interface. In the current mobile environment, the time you are doing content creation is time you are not earning money. Reality Games will change that by tapping into a currently underutilized resource, big data. With terabytes of generated data from different sources per nanosecond, the internet is chock full of content to be gamified.

Segments of these data can be used to create some high retention low attention gaming. The company is building a game engine to process and package the data so it can be used by game developers to create high quality games right away.

The Results

  • Using Big Data as content
  • Cuts down game developing time from years to months
  • Fully in line with the Lean Startup model
  • Provides a virtual space to experiment and observe different sets of conditions
  • More gaming options for players
  • More data for industry to analyze
  • Genuine human interactions
  • Big data is fueling the game

Thank you for reading another post. We appreciate your support. Please check out other posts. If you like what you’ve read please share this post. If you haven’t done so, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Please check out our game, Landlord Real Estate Tycoon.

See you next time!