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How Are Video Games Designed With Data?

How are analytics being used to help design computer games?

2Mar

Video games are big business. In one year alone World Of Warcraft is estimated to bring in $1 billion for Blizzard, the game’s creator.

It has grown significantly in the last decade, becoming more socially acceptable amongst the general population, not simply amongst the ‘geeks’ of the world. We now have multi billion dollar franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and Madden Football that are testament to this.

This last decade has not only seen the growth of these franchises, but it has also seen the increased use of online gameplay through these games. This works with everything from the massive multiplayer games like World Of Warcraft who have millions of people playing it at any one time, to a match played on FIFA between two people.

What this has created is a treasure trove of data for game designers, developers and writers. It has allowed people to see exactly what is being done on multiple different levels. This can be through individuals actions, such as bugs in the way that people are interacting, all the way up to how servers are responding to demand on particular platforms.

We have seen that this has been used consistently to improve the design of games to make sure that the product performs to the level expected by gamers.

Take Call Of Duty as a prime example.

They have 100 million players, 32 quadrillion shots fired to date and billions of data points from the way that their players have been interacting with their maps whilst playing online. This could be from the way they duck behind certain objects, where people are getting shot the most or even where people are hiding most effectively.

Through this they have managed to create maps that play to the strengths of their data. This means that they can work with what they know to make the maps optimized for their players. It comes from having players who have spent more than a combined total of 2.85 million years playing the game. This gives them a huge amount of data to mine. They can get information on how people interact with every single corner, every window or even every bush throughout an entire game.

But Call of Duty are not the only game to have done this and the idea is not always to create the best experience for players.

Game companies are companies just like any other, their main goal is to make money.

When you look at companies like King (makers of Candy Crush) they not only utilize their data to make their games more appealing to people, but they also use it to maximize the amount of money they can make from their players.

This data helps them to place offers in front of their players at the point that they are most likely to buy. This comes through billions of transactions and monitoring how people are interacting with the game. If they are struggling on a particular level, they will give them an incentive to keep them playing. If they are struggling, but remain playing, they will know that these people are most likely to purchase add ons to help them beat the game.

We are seeing that data is playing an integral part in the way that people are designing and playing their computer games and with the increase in the number of people playing online, the capability of collecting even more has never been better. 

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