To deliver a successful commercial product, it is crucial to understand your customers. This is especially true when your product is a recurring service, as you are not only delivering a one-time product, but also supplying reasons why the client should keep paying on a regular basis.
The business of online games has evolved dramatically over the last 10 years. What used to be a niche form of entertainment covering thousands of players is now targeting the mainstream, resulting in tens of millions clients enjoying a single product. In this constantly changing environment, it is not enough to simply design a game and then release it into the world. Instead, the key is to design a game with your target community in mind, connecting your target demographic to your product right in the early stages of development.
Carbine, a video game company behind the project Wildstar, lets players choose one out of four styles of gameplay, resulting in a tailored experience to the client’s needs. These four gameplay styles were not chosen on random. In fact, they are rooted in psychological research.
Who does research like this? Community analysts.
The role of a community analyst connects behavioural analysis, data mining and the knowledge of gameplay development to provide information on how to shape online games into tailored experiences that are well received by the target audience. Using behavioural analysis in combination with data mining, the analyst comes up with a theory that may be retested and subsequently used as valuable input in the game design process.
A community analyst could explore things like motivation behind playing videogames and how these relate to demographics (Yee, 2006). This information is further used to establish a connection between the motivation and payment models (Hsu, & Lu, 2007). Such approach uses the ideas behind behavioural analysis to predict customer behaviour based on collected data, allowing the company to design a smart payment model.
A smart payment model is one that is not only based on what the customers enjoy, but also flexibly adapts to how the community shapes over time. With the emergence of innovative payment models within the entertainment industry, such insight is not only advantageous, but also crucial to releasing a successful online game.
The role of a community analyst is no longer a fancy perk a successful project can afford after releasing a game, but instead a necessary component present from the very early stages of development.
I hope I personally can use ABA to develop innovative approaches to the way we perceive the connection between a community and a product and I would love to one day develop a flexible development model that, with little to no delay, responds to a change in community.
Tomas Engelthaler – Blog #4
Hsu, C. L., & Lu, H. P. (2007). Consumer behavior in online game communities: A motivational factor perspective. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(3), 1642-1659.
Yee, N. (2006). The demographics, motivations, and derived experiences of users of massively multi-user online graphical environments. Presence: Teleoperators and virtual environments, 15(3), 309-329.