If you’ve played critically acclaimed 2K Games1 (part of Take-Two Interactive Software) such as NBA 2K, Borderlands, Sid Meier’s Civilization, or WWE SuperCard, you can appreciate the creativity and quality development that go into delivering some of the most popular and entertaining games today.
In a recent webinar, 2K Games’ Head of Mobile Analytics, Hao Zhao, and Senior Director of Data Engineering, Steven Yvinec-Kruyk, shared how the team uses data to bring clarity to their business. The team uses the Snowflake Data Cloud to build and deploy sophisticated machine learning (ML) models to help them serve their customers better.
The Mobile Gaming Market Demands Data Insights
There is strong demand for PC, console, and mobile device gaming, and the growth opportunities associated with mobile gaming are dramatic. The State of Mobile Gaming Report estimates that consumers will spend $120 billion on mobile gaming in 2021, up 20% from 2020. 2
According to Zhao, pressure to deliver top-notch experiences for customers in the growing yet competitive mobile gaming market is increasing. Data and analytics are crucial differentiators that influence how games are designed, distributed, optimized, and delivered to the market. Data has become critical in helping the 2K Games team understand what customers want and how often they want new content each month.
“We leverage the insights we get from data to enhance the game and the player experience and to inform the business aspect of our title, including marketing effectiveness, user acquisition, and user retention,” Yvinec-Kruyk said.
More-Secure Data Sharing Accelerates Time to Market
Yvinec-Kruyk explained that when mobile was a relatively new focus for 2K Games, it leveraged Snowflake Data Marketplace heavily to help ensure its success. “It allowed us to work with some third-party vendors to capture the insights and data from our mobile games and telemetry and quickly provide insight to our developers during game development,” Yvinec-Kruyk said. “Working with vendors that were already part of Snowflake Data Marketplace allowed us to have insight into our data almost immediately, to move fast, and go to market very quickly.”
Enterprisewide Data and Insights
According to Yvinec-Kruyk, the data engineering team backs all the data efforts throughout the 2K Games organization. His team supports the mobile analytics team so they can get the insights they need. They also ensure the company has the right enterprisewide platform—the Snowflake Data Cloud—to analyze crucial business metrics such as sales revenue, installs, engagement, and churn. The team strives to provide deep insight into the user experience and gameplay, allowing game developers to make better games and release relevant content to users. And when new games are released, the team can understand their performance.
“We’ve loved the technology so much that we’ve used Snowflake Secure Data Sharing internally within different Take 2 family subsidiaries,” Yvinec-Kruyk said. “It’s been very easy to implement. Our time to market with these solutions has been hours and days, not weeks and months. And everybody at 2K has become more of a data user and consumer.”
Game Industry Data Opportunities
According to Yvinec-Kruyk, when it comes to taking advantage of data opportunities in the game business, a holistic approach should include all business functions. “It’s important to get the right people in the room early to make sure you’re generating all the telemetry and game events needed to run the business but also to enhance the game and make better player experiences,” Yvinec-Kruyk said. “Look at the business end to end and capture all the data you need. The industry has shifted, and the product lifecycle has changed, so it’s important to capture metrics early. It’s a lot easier to think about these things upfront than after a game is launched.”
Setting Game KPIs
At 2K Games, the analytics and data science team defines KPIs for the business. As the company makes minor changes to games, it develops new KPIs to measure them. Because the team works with a wide range of games, they have two sets of data. One data set they can use across all games, such as the number of installs, daily active users (DAU), play minutes, and the number of sessions per day. For the other data set, game-specific KPIs track player progress over different campaigns and the number of sports games played.
Innovating with Data
The 2K Games team shares the company’s vision for the future of its platform as it strives to make real-time data more of a “first-class citizen” in its environment. “ Snowflake Data Marketplace helps shorten the time between action and insight,” Yvinec-Kruyk said. “We’re striving to develop best-in-class technologies and systems to support our growing business.”
Check out our webinar to learn more about innovating with third-party data.