Mark Robinson likens the experience of data-mining to exploring a new city, noting “I have always liked being lost … and then uncovering something surprising and thought-provoking.”
Robinson has been tackling data analytics and helping bring companies closer to their customers for over 15 years. But one sector has been lagging in connecting with their user base. “The (gaming) industry lives with retention rates that are too low,” Robinson says. “And it’s our fault, not the players. By getting closer to the players, we can understand their frustrations and deliver fun more consistently.”
What’s in the Data
In order to help combat this problem, Robinson, along with co-founders Chris Wright and Tim Christian, founded deltaDNA in 2010. Robinson explains that the gaming industry is “incredibly lucky” because companies can actually collect detailed and vast data on player experiences which can be used to personalize games for different players — and it’s not something the industry is taking advantage of.
“It’s not good enough for each player to get the same game,” Robinson says. “Novices should be nurtured; experts should be challenged. We have the ability to build really engaging experiences that are responsive to individual players.”
Robinson explains that most of the gaming industry is at Analytics 1.0 when they could be at Analytics 3.0. Analytics 1.0 is simply monitoring game performance, whereas Analytics 2.0 is actually understanding player behaviors enough to improve a game’s general design. Analytics 3.0, however, is when companies are able to use the insights on their players to adjust the gaming experience in realtime. “The real value in engagement and lifetime value is at 3.0, and that’s where we should strive,” he says. “deltaDNA enables Analytics 3.0 via rich functionality and high performance database power.”
Robinson does admit that the gaming industry is still learning how to make great F2P experiences with consistency, noting that it’s an interesting but nerve-racking time. With game player demographics continuing to grow, he says, “there is a wealth of opportunity” to tap into different markets.
Decoding the Data
For those looking to decode the data analytics provide, Robinson has some advice:
First, make sure the data is accurate and complete. “When you have a question, but not the data to answer it, it’s incredibly frustrating,” he says. Investing some extra time at the start so you make sure you get the data right pays back many times over.
Next, if a result still seems confusing, ask around. “When our clients create player segments in our platform, most of the segment types should be recognizable — e.g. Needy Socializers, Curious Experimenters, Cautious Novices — but the most interesting ones are surprising. By taking the views of different people in the business, you can figure out the implications of the findings.”
To help companies with such data mining queries even more, deltaDNA recently teamed up with Vertica so users can take advantage of “incredible database power.” Robinson notes that the extra power combined with Open Access means publishers and developers “have the best of all worlds. Rich analytics and realtime messaging functionality using deltaDNA, with high performance database power and Open Access so you can still use your favorite tools such as Tableau and R in one flexible and productive environment.”
All of this can come in handy for Robinson’s last piece of advice to those working with data: “Go and look deeper.”