Big Data and Mobile Gaming

February 20, 2015
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ImageMobile gaming has come a long way in a short time. Relative to electronic gaming as a whole, the evolution from simple games like Nokia’s now-iconic Snake to complex, graphics-intense titles like Modern Combat 5: Blackout has unfolded at a breakneck pace. And the changes aren’t limited to game play.

ImageMobile gaming has come a long way in a short time. Relative to electronic gaming as a whole, the evolution from simple games like Nokia’s now-iconic Snake to complex, graphics-intense titles like Modern Combat 5: Blackout has unfolded at a breakneck pace. And the changes aren’t limited to game play. Electronic gaming as a whole is now valued at more than 90 billion dollars and the mobile gaming segment is poised to overtake the console industry in the worldwide market as soon as this year.

The shift is due in part to a huge expansion in audience worldwide. Whereas the gamer epithet once held very specific – and sometimes sadly negative – connotations, the ubiquity of smartphones and other mobile devices has done a lot to democratize the world of gaming. Back in the Snake days it would have been difficult to imagine that grandpa would be a social gamer or that one of the fastest-growing segments of players would be women and more specifically, mothers. Now a combination of game accessibility, low price and high quality along with amazing technological innovations in the mobile sphere like Snapdragon’s GPUs has attracted millions of players who just ten years ago would never have identified as gamers.

Now those millions of players have attracted the attention of the big data industry. Gaming’s expanding audience means new market segments, and the flood of small development firms who (thanks to ease of entry into app stores) can now compete with the big players are driving extreme competition in the mobile arena. But even as more gamers fire up titles on their phones, there are still limitations when it comes to how many hours and how many dollars players can spend on new titles. That means firms releasing games need to be catering to consumer desires more so than ever before. If players aren’t getting the experience they want, even established titles can go the way of the dodo. 

And that’s where big data comes in. Big data is helping game development firms figure out which features to keep or kill, what kinds of enhancements to focus on and how to deliver more personalized game play. The development cycle is moving ever faster in the gaming world, with real time development becoming the norm thanks to the cloud. Updates no longer make the news because updates are happening continuously.  

As a result, the mobile gaming industry is becoming more like a service than a producer of products. Analysis of everything from who is playing to when and what in-game benchmarks they’re meeting gives developers the ability to manipulate variables like marketing, game difficulty and monetization strategies. The goal is to not only bring on more players but also to keep those players engaged so they keep coming back and are more likely to try new titles from the developers of their favorite games.

Clearly this is a time of big changes in the gaming sphere. Mobile gaming is blowing up, games are cheap and plentiful, and in many ways there has never been a better time to be a player.  Thanks to big data, developers can stay involved in games through the lifespan of a title making adjustments that are based on actual player behavior and demographics instead of assumptions.  And that means that gamers, as a group, are getting not only what they want but also what they didn’t even realize they needed.