Big data analytics adds new market plays for the video game industry

Portfolio Marketing, Hadoop/BigInsights, IBM Analytics

Necessity is the mother of invention—and competition is the driver of innovation. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the video game industry, where intense competitive pressures continually spur developers to push the limits of creativity and ingenuity.

A few mind-boggling stats explain the economics driving the industry’s fierce competition. Consider this: the global video game market was on track to grow by a whopping 9.4 percent in a single year—from $83.6 billion in 2014 to $91.5 billion in 2015. At this pace, global revenues will reach $107 billion in 2017. And with this immense potential upside, the industry’s top players continually search for new ways to harness technological innovation that can help capture larger portions of market share. 

Why? For one thing, attracting and retaining customers takes products that are tangibly ahead of the technology curve. But innovation isn’t enough. Understanding the kinds of innovation players expect—along with their habits, behaviors and preferences—is critical for product development and market positioning. But hitting the marketing bull’s-eye is no easy task. Today’s gamers expect more than ever before. Graphics and gameplay are reaching new levels. The limits are constantly being pushed and gamers won’t settle for mediocrity.  

It should come as no surprise that the video game industry has been quick to embrace big data analytics. 

Understanding players takes companies to another level

Because video games are played in virtual environments, it’s possible to measure just about every aspect of user interaction. Valuable player data, if aggregated and analyzed, can hold the answer to keeping players engaged and loyal.

Case in point: a few years ago, Big Fish Games—the world’s largest producer and distributor of casual games—transitioned from a PC-centric to a mobile-centric gaming company. With mobile games emerging as the fastest-growing market segment, competition for users was becoming increasingly more intense. To succeed in this rapidly evolving landscape, the company needed to upgrade its analytics capabilities or risk losing out to more mobile-savvy competitors. 

More experimental analysis boosts player satisfaction scores

The company built a new analytics platform using IBM PureData System for Analytics and IBM InfoSphere BigInsights. The solution allows data engineers to analyze large volumes of unstructured data and carry out more experimental analysis, providing critical insight into which areas the company should explore further and where it should pull back. gathering data from several types of external sources and comparing it with data in internal systems, the company can make more conclusive decisions about a customer’s spending patterns, tastes and levels of satisfaction.  

As David Darden, BI Engineering Manager at Big Fish Games explains, “For the first time, we have insight into whether customers are playing as we expect them to. In other words, we now know where they get stuck, where they continue to play and which features make them most likely to play multiple times a day. Ultimately, this means that we can fine-tune existing games or new releases to ensure we offer players more of what they really want.” 

For leading game developers like Big Fish Games, the profit potential on a single product launch is huge. But so is the risk. With millions of dollars at stake, companies can’t afford to gamble on their investment. That’s why they are increasingly relying on big data analytics to help them increase customer acquisition and player retention. With rich player insights, they can respond faster to market trends and create more meaningful gaming experiences for their customers that will keep them coming back for more. 

Find out more. Take a deeper look at the potential of big data analytics in any industry with demanding customers.  

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