How The Gaming Industry Uses Big Data to Shape Development

Given the continued growth of the gaming industry to reach monumental levels, it is no surprise to see business leaders begin to fully embrace the potential of big data. The gaming industry is following the lead of other businesses in seeking to maximize the trove of data that is stored during online activity. Big data also allows the video game industry to personalize their service to consumers, whether working out what type of advertisements to use or learning how best to create engagement on social media.

The video game industry’s adoption of big data will inevitably prompt some gamers to reconsider their level of data privacy, with online security more important than ever in this age of digital transformation. While these intentions to use big data may be transparent and not at all insidious, the knowledge that masses of data are being collected, stored and monitored can be disconcerting for some gamers.

Big plans for big data

Using data to create targeted in-game advertisements purely has the aim of generating more revenue for the industry. This can be achieved through cooperation with social media accounts, in which video game companies can build up a more comprehensive profile of a gamer. While this may seem troubling at face value, it may be a sacrifice that gamers have to make. If the industry can attract more money through more effective advertisements, more money can be spent on developing new products.

A more practical use of big data is to directly improve the games themselves. Companies can now use data analytics to interpret the key facts and habits of gamers, with the aim of being able to create a gaming experience that is ultimately more gratifying for players. The nature of video games lends itself perfectly to tracking player performance in order to gauge the difficulty of certain levels. This means that games can be tweaked subtly to improve the overall experience. If a review of the data reveals that players keep getting stuck at a particular point of a level, modifications can be made.

Adam Fletcher of Gyroscope Software posted at Gamasutra to explain the benefits of using data analytics to guide game improvements. Fletcher details how data science can pinpoint what keeps players engaged, with increased engagement generating more revenue for the developers. Therefore, there is every incentive for video game companies to use big data, while it creates a more intelligent product for the consumer.

A huge industry

LPE has compared the size of the video game industry with its movie and music counterparts. Video games generated $137.9 billion in 2018, substantially more than the music and movie industries combined. With so much at stake financially, it is no surprise that video game companies want to give themselves every possible edge.

The gaming landscape has undergone dramatic change in recent years. The rise of mobile gaming has proven lucrative, with almost 50% of the money generated by video games accounted for by mobile products. eSports have become a global phenomenon, with figures from Syracuse University suggesting that eSports will account for 10% of all US sports viewing by 2020. Another hugely influential contributor to the video games industry’s success is live streaming.

The power of live streaming

Gaming has always had the potential to be a social pursuit, but the sustained growth of live streaming is taking that communal element to the next level. Live streaming has also created bona fide celebrities from the world of gaming, which feeds into the lucrative nature of the industry. In January, Business Insider reported how Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins earns $500,000 each month for streaming games of Fortnite from the comfort of his bedroom. That kind of earning power would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago.

While Ninja may be the most extreme case, live video streaming is hardly an exclusive phenomenon. Newzoo analyzed data from January of this year, uncovering that 63,700 streamers hosted videos on Twitch and 22,000 people streamed video game content through YouTube. Those streams can focus on any form of gaming. While Fortnite and other trending games may dominate, many streamers venture into retro titles or simulation games.

Other parts of the gaming industry have found this trend towards live streaming impossible to ignore. Some online casinos have made a concerted effort to introduce more live streaming games, partly driven by a desire to tap into a more communal form of casino gaming. Betway now has a dedicated live casino page, with games ranging from roulette to blackjack streamed in high definition with real-life dealers. Mobile apps have also got in on the live streaming action. Quiz apps used to be a way for individuals to pass the time and engage their mind in some spare time, but HQ Trivia changed the playing field. Thousands of people across the world logged into the app at the same time to compete for prizes, with the quizzes hosted in real time by presenters and celebrity guests.

Live streaming looks destined to continue to expand throughout the coming years. After all, so many different games are attracting huge audiences that there is no reason to slow down. As those audiences swell, so do marketing options. If the gaming industry can use big data to track both streamers and audiences, it can tailor and sell advertising packages for a much greater profit.

It is natural that the video game industry would want to use all of the available information in order to improve its products. Data will be created by players’ actions anyway, so it makes sense to log and track patterns to ultimately enhance the gaming experience. With eSports and live streaming propelling the video game industry to new heights, the usage of big data may become even more widespread.


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