Computer games give players new worlds to explore, and by using Hadoop file systems to evaluate player data, gaming is also creating a virtual playground for analytics professionals. A recent Slashdot article noted that gamers have long been at the forefront for adopting new computing technologies, and big data is the latest innovation gaming companies have embraced.
According to one customer experience management executive, gaming offers a more interesting space for analytics than many consumer sectors because there is more constant, engaging interaction. Data from online game behavior can help vendors increase player engagement and retention by improving leaderboard metrics and virtual prizes, for instance. One online betting site uses Hadoop to predict the number of bets users will make, as well the average duration between bets and the sports most likely to keep visitors interested.
"Games have a persistent connection with the user and as a result, we get so much more data," Reid Tatoris, CEO of PlayThru.com, a verification game marketed as a replacement for text-based Captcha Turing tests, told Slashdot.
At Riot Games, the publisher of the popular League of Legends game, analyzing a combination of player data, game data and session data – more than 500 GB of structured data and 4 TB of logs daily – has helped the company cater to user interests and become one of the most popular games in the world. Its analytics operations have grown from one mySQL instance with query results plugged into Excel spreadsheets to tens of employees running regular Hadoop Hive queries, according to a separate Slashdot article.
"We moved quickly to Hadoop as a scalable low-cost storage system," Barry Livingston, director of engineering for the company's big data group, told Slashdot. "We use Hive to overlay an SQL-type interface on top of the Hadoop File System."
Using Hadoop and big data logs, the company checks a wide range of user behavior, often turning up unexpected results. Although computer games may seem like a diversion for many, data analysis also helps to turn them into a successful business.