In Free to play, Game design, Games Analytics

We first previewed our Developer’s Guide for Analytics Driven Game Design at the GIAF2 event in London last month and from the lively debate and number of questions we received from the audience, it was clear that integrating analytics effectively is a challenge faced by many developers.

There was much discussion throughout the evening about exactly what data should be captured and analysed, and how to successfully navigate the challenges thrown-up from the numerous devices, platforms, hosting servers and third-party software systems involved in the majority of games today.

Delivering real player insight is not straightforward.

However, as the Games Industry increasingly orientates itself to position analytics as one of the three main pillars of success in gaming (alongside great creative ideas and high quality design execution), being able to maximise the effectiveness of any analytics investment is going to play an increasingly fundamental role in the way games are designed.

Our free whitepaper outlines a best practice approach for effectively integrating analytics from the get-go and actioning athe rich player data that is available.  You can download the full version here, but to get a taste, here are some of our most important design and implementation recommendations:

  • Build analytics in from day one

The implementation of data tagging to support analytics is often a low priority. This is a false economy, as on average, where data collection is integrated at the end of the development phase, it takes three to five times longer to implement.

  • Effort vs. Pain: make event data available in the game upfront

With events and their parameters well defined, a developer can then determine what data is required and when. Building this data structure into the code from the start ensures that the data is easily available at the right point in the code where the data needs to be sent.

On average, games where event collection is retro-fitted into the development process, only 60% of that valuable game data is collected, which is the equivalent to leaving money on the table.

  • Build a single player view

As games become more complex there are often multiple systems involved. For example, registration system might be different from the payment system which means that data is often sent from both servers and game clients.

It is therefore imperative to build a single player view by having a consistent concept of a User ID and session. Building a single player view allows information to be brought together in the analytics system no matter where the data originates.

  • Create a single session ID for effective analysis

Having a unique Session ID that ties all the events in a single session together is vital in allowing effective analysis. The alternative is to retro-fit data after the fact which is inevitably inaccurate and introduces errors.

Given a great deal of the initial player retention analysis is focused on the first session, having a consistent and accurate way of defining your sessions is essential.

  • Data completeness vs. Operational investment: Where’s the balance?

For all developers, there is always a balance to be struck on the depth of data collection.

Retention is often the most important aspect of a F2P game to get right, so consider making sure events that support retention analysis are implemented first to ensure analytics can start to deliver value for your game quickly and support retention optimisation.

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