Joost van Dreunen encourages developers to focus on internal data they can trust

GDC 13: Data expert tells devs to be cautious about analytics

Data alone does not display a clear picture as far as games analytics are concerned, and developers should treat it with caution, says the head of a data firm that examines games.

Speaking to Gamasutra at GDC 2013, SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen said developers need to remain vigilant whenever they are working with data.

“I say this as a data guy, but you should really be suspicious of data at all times,” he said. “You should really take it with a grain of salt.”

All data must be examined in the appropriate context, he said.

Today, developers and publishers rely on telemetry and other analytics to understand what players are doing with their games, and this is used to improve or change everything from the core game experience all the way down to simple usability issues.

"Some people say, ‘Everyone’s a gamer, everyone has an iPhone’. Well, not really. There are a lot of nuances when you’re trying to figure out where your company stands,” van Dreunen said.

“If online gaming or social gaming taught us anything is that traffic [data] alone is not enough. You might have a million people signed up, but nobody’s spending any money, you’ve sold no ads, so it’s useless, in terms of a business. It might be fun, but it’s no business.”

Offering some advice, van Dreunen encouraged developers to focus on internal data.

“Think about what you’re selling – what’s not working? What’s too expensive? There’s a moment where you have to look further than your cubicle, further than your office. But for a lot of the small guys, and the guys going after a dream, it’s not necessary to do that. But there is a moment when data becomes relevant, and that’s usually when they say, ‘We’re not in the habit of looking at data, but we should’.

“I wouldn’t focus too early on on everybody else’s data, or what everyone else is doing. That’s exactly why everybody’s doing the same thing.”


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