In the business of analytics, it’s too easy to let numbers and acronyms do all the talking. With this feature series, we’re surfacing the people behind all the clever stuff that cranks out the ARPDAU, the benchmark reports and the Sankey charts.
This time, we collared everyone’s favorite senior analyst during his daily quest for coffee.
Quiz speciality: Best bad film: Rick or Morty:
Ben Newbon, Senior Analyst, deltaDNA
Nothing (I’m useless)
50 First Dates
Best bad film:
Rick or Morty:
Have you pulled those numbers that I asked for?[Answer redacted]
What metrics and information are developers/publishers typically most interested in when they first integrate?
Most of the time they know that their games are somewhat broken or that they need in help in a specific area and they want to know why. With retention, they want to know where and why they’re losing their players. With monetization, they want to know what their players are (and aren’t) spending money on – why they aren’t spending more. Retention is the most common top priority for new clients, typically in the very early game.
What should they be interested in?
It all comes down to the First Time User Experience (FTUE). People look at retention to get an idea of how many players are sticking around on a day-to-day basis, but they generally forget about the tutorial and the first few missions. That’s an error – you absolutely need to be looking at that early funnel.
What’s your process when starting an analytics project with a client?
First up, it’s all about establishing the point of intersection between what clients want, what they need, and what we can provide. The standard ‘jump-off’ is a Game Diagnostic report: we play the game, check out some benchmark KPIs, and present back to the client in a kind of remote workshop with Q&A. With key issues highlighted, we can then make collaborative decisions on the areas to focus on with further work and deeper analyses/reports. We do group deliverables under broad themes and titles for ease of explanation, but the approach and format is always customized to suit the project in question.
Are there any games companies that are doing really interesting things with their analytics?
There’s a few big names out there, like Zynga and King, that consistently seem to do innovative analytics work. I’ve always loved seeing what CCP Games have to say at conferences and such. The virtual economy in EVE: Online has insane depth to it and they work with professional economists when feeling things out. That level of analytics is pretty incredible. Every now and then you’ll hear about a war erupting in-game that ends up sinking millions of dollars in real-world player spend. It’s nuts!
As an analyst, what’s sure to ruin your day?
When I go to look at someone’s data and it’s all broken. It’s not uncommon for a developer to start sending data, go away, make massive changes to the game, then forget to subsequently change their data schema in the platform. When the schema don’t match the mechanics, the data flowing through becomes invalid and unusable. I wrote a blog piece back in the day advising people on how to set up their schema and I would beg all devs to give it a read. If not for me, do it for yourselves!
On the bright side, what’s to love about being a games analyst at deltaDNA?
Work as an analyst in other industries and you’ll likely do nothing but stare at the numbers. I love the fact that my work here involves playing the games themselves, collaborating with designers and marketers, and teaching clients how to get the best out of our tech themselves.
What one piece of advice would you give to developers beginning to use analytics?
Be selective. You might think that you want to track absolutely everything, but that just makes things noisy and difficult to understand. Because they often don’t have a bona fide analyst on board, it’s usually the smaller studios that fall into this trap. Work out your structure, what you need to know, and go from there.