Big Data has currently become a fundamental tool across most industries. Naturally, as a market that’s always at the forefront of innovation and development, the gaming industry adopted it quickly, with many companies and brands harnessing the power of big data to improve their offering in 2020 and beyond.
Analytical frameworks using big data are a natural fit for the gaming industry since today the industry is heavily dominated by online elements, whether that’s in terms of streaming platforms hosting the game, DLC purchasing, or online play against opponents. All this online interaction adds up to stacks of data that companies can collect, giving them insights into everything from the time of day a certain game is played, to game replayability, or what items of equipment are popular with which demographics. The gaming industry, then, is becoming increasingly shaped and driven by big data. But how are the individual sectors making use of this powerful analytical tool?
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Why big data?
First up, let’s take a look at what makes big data such a useful tool for the gaming industry.
It’s been estimated that by the end of 2025, big data will be worth over $50 billion. Its value? Well, that lies in its ability to simultaneously improve customer experiences while providing brands and businesses with significant, measurable results.
Since big data at least for this industry essentially monitors and collects information about customer behaviours, as well as demographic data, it’s an ideal tool for businesses that operate in the saturated and highly competitive marketplace of modern gaming. If the data aggregated and analyzed, that holds the key to player engagement and retention. These data may include the event streams when the players are playing, and the duration of play, levels they reached and the money they spend on buying virtual goods.
Whereas a couple of decades ago it was mostly the big players like Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, etc that held the vast majority of market share, gaming today is much more fluid and accessible industry, thanks in no small part to the development of mobile gaming. Therefore, it’s no longer a given that a gamer will be dedicated to one particular manufacturer or game publishing house. Instead, they’ll be looking for the best playing experiences.
Factor in the additional insights that social media data can offer, such as location, age, gender, and networks, and big data becomes a powerful tool that reveals deeper information about target customers. It can be used to both measure the social-cultural and financial positions of target customers, as well as aiding in the performance evaluation of existing products.
How gaming sectors are making use of Big Data
In the year 2012, Electronic Arts were facing a hard time as gamers were spending less on matters such as the growth of freemium games. They involved Big Data to analyze what adjustments could be made to create a more engaging experience. By the end of 2014, its revenue grew by 22%.
The gaming industry is vast and comprised of many different sectors. Nevertheless, various distinct sectors are currently making full use of big data, alongside other analytical and development tools: video games, iGaming, mobile gaming and so on.
Video gaming encompasses publishing houses, console brands, streaming services like Twitch, game developers, etc, but the vast majority of brands in this sector are utilizing big data to make significant marketing decisions, enhance their products, and even determine the nature of future releases and upcoming games.
Interestingly, big data is also helping to shed light on just how diverse today’s global gaming audiences are, in particular giving credence to female gamers. Recent statistics show that 46% of women now actively play games in some form or another, shattering the illusion that video gaming is for, and mostly enjoyed, by men. To keep attracting this powerful demographic, gaming brands must pay attention to the needs and requirements of their female customers.
In video gaming, big data is now playing a significant role in helping brands offer personalized, relevant experiences that keep them engaged and retain their loyalty.
It’s a similar story in the iGaming sector. Up until now, most iGaming platforms focused on developing portfolios consisting of various poker and casino games that were designed to be played by the individual. Even in those that follow a competition format, there’s very little in terms of interaction among other players or dealers (in the case of certain live games).
What big data is showing is that one of the main target demographics – affluent 25 to 35-year-olds – are seeking much more social experiences. Rather than playing in isolation, they want that social experience that comes from being able to play together. As a result, live casino-themed events are beginning to take off, and brands are experimenting with advanced tech like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to deliver a more interactive gaming experience.
And with iGaming being such a competitive marketplace, the analysis that comes from employing big data can provide brands with the vital information they need to ensure their promotional offers are matched with the right audience at the right time.
This is true also of developers in the mobile sector, which is perhaps the gaming sector that’s most reliant on the crucial information that big data provides.
Although revenues from the mobile sector account for around half of total global gaming revenues, the vast majority of apps and games are Free To Play (F2P), meaning that users can download and play them without having to spend money on the game. Instead of selling their games in the traditional business model adopted by video and console games, developers of F2P apps monetize their gaming real estate, enabling things like in-app advertising and microtransactions.
Using big data, developers can analyze the efficacy of their current monetization strategies, as well as tracking user behaviour. This is particularly important because an over-aggressive strategy can instantly alienate players from freemium games, something that these developers simply can’t afford to let happen. Big Data becoming a game-changer.