Troy Zurawski, CEO of Design Works Gaming, addresses the increasingly integral role of data.
We’re living in an age of data and analytics. Whatever industry you’re working in, it’s likely that you have discussed how these things can improve your business in one way or another.
In Las Vegas, casinos have been tracking players through various systems since the mid-80s to better understand their habits and preferences. Using this data, they were able to anticipate what players wanted, offering new features at the perfect time.
If the industry hadn’t evolved with data 40 years ago, the player experience would have suffered. Players play for entertainment and enjoyment, by enhancing their experience you create a good outcome for the player. There has always been concern around the privacy of player data, but when ethically used, the collection of data results in an enhanced experience for the player.
With the emergence of the internet and online gaming, player data collection has become easier and more extensive. Now, suppliers as well as operators are incorporating this information into their business practices.
In September, I was invited to speak on a panel about player-focused game design at the CasinoBeats Summit in London. The focus of the panel aimed to discuss how studios use data to enhance product design. This is a topic at the heart of our business at Design Works Gaming as we’ve found great success from our data-driven approach. We use a unique model that allows us to create validated games.
On my panel were representatives from three other game developers and one operator. During the discussion, it became clear that all industry stakeholders understood how important data is to the bottom line, especially in terms of conducting market research and for responsible gambling purposes.
There are, however, still challenges around how to analyse data in a way that benefits game development. There is no one correct way to collect data for every company within the industry. It’s important that each company leverages data from their business, analyses it to create understanding and works to incorporate it back into the model.
At DWG, our focus is on building compelling math models. We use our data to ensure we are continuously improving the mathematics within games. Practising this allows us to offer operators games that are proven in different verticals and jurisdictions.
The art is important to draw a player in, but we’ve found more statistical significance in the math being the driving force behind the game and the most important factor in player retention.
It’s becoming more apparent that incorporating game data back into design increases a game’s success beyond traditional metrics and standards. Both my fellow panelists at the CasinoBeats Summit and I agreed, data-driven models will continue to become more relevant and crucial to placing games.
The days that games are conceptualised without bias and pitched to operators will be extinct. We have the technology now to validate a game’s success beforehand, rather than waiting to see what happens in live operation.
There is too much at stake with this old method and it’s too expensive. Shipping games that are unproven is too risky to the bottom line of businesses. If suppliers possess data that has been collected over several months from millions of players, they can instead prove they have a successful portfolio and reduce the risk for operators. This is the crux of player-focused design which we discussed.
It is an interesting debate that I’m sure will continue to evolve. It is clear the shift to data-driven operations that can produce a variety of validated games has already begun – and I believe it will be the core strategy for suppliers moving forward.
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