Gaming is a rapidly growing industry. There were 2.69 billion gamers worldwide by the end of 2020, and growth has been steady with an average 5.6% year-over-year increase. The global gaming market was valued at 173.7 billion USD in 2021, and that number is expected to reach 314.4 billion by 2027. This growth has increased pressure on game developers to create the best games possible. To do that, we need insight into user behavior.
Tilting Point is an award-winning free-to-play games publisher that empowers independent developers. We develop our own games, acquire new games, and republish existing ones. The company has a distributed structure, with offices in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Kyiv, Saint Petersburg, and Seoul, to name a few. In addition to this, we work with many external partners throughout Europe.
I joined Tilting Point in September of 2020 as the first game data analyst at the company. Before that, Tilting Point had BI analysts, but the data team wasn’t involved much in the game development process. The company created my role to provide meaningful insights that would help developers improve the gaming experience.
Standardizing our Taxonomy
We had already purchased Amplitude to understand user behavior better, but we weren’t using it to its full capabilities. It was primarily utilized by the game managers, who used it for high-level analysis of metrics like daily active users or game revenue. We wanted to expand our use of Amplitude, and the first step was dealing with taxonomy.
We have a lot of different people involved in the game development process, making it hard to define events. Because of that, the documentation was either nonexistent or out of date, and our naming conventions weren’t standardized. When I arrived, I got to work with game managers and developers defining events and properties. Once we cleaned that data, everyone understood one another better and our work became much more efficient.
When taxonomy isn’t standardized, it’s hard for teams to understand one another and the data in front of them.
We have since grown our data analytics team to eight analysts, half of which are involved in the game development process. They aren’t the only ones who use Amplitude, though. I instituted as much training as possible so teams across the organization could benefit. With that said, Amplitude is an intuitive, easy-to-understand tool—it doesn’t require hours of training to get started with the basics. Once I showed people how to retrieve answers to their most-asked questions, they began to interact much more with the platform. Now, many more of us can discover meaningful stories behind our data.
How Amplitude Provides Transparency and Simplicity—Even as We Dig Deeper
There are several points in the game development process where Amplitude shines. One is in improving the first-time user experience. It’s imperative to make a good impression with a new user within the first 30 minutes of playing a game because that’s where we see the highest churn rate. We monitor the first-time user experience using funnel analysis charts. From there, we can identify which in-game screens cause the most problems for users and lead to churn. We then know where we need to make changes to improve our retention rate.
One of the most crucial metrics in this industry is the lifetime value (LTV). To increase our profit and revenue, we must increase retention and LTV. We use other tools—such as Leanplum, Swrve, and Adjust—but with those, there’s no simple way to check LTV. In Amplitude, it’s easy because of the Revenue LTV chart. Being able to see and measure our progress in Amplitude means we can quickly pivot when we veer off track. Without easy access to data, it would take a lot of time for me to query everything from our database. Amplitude offers the transparency we need to get answers fast.
We also use Amplitude for A/B tests because it clearly demonstrates how small changes alter user behavior. We used to rely solely on Swrve for experiments, but it had limited capabilities, mostly confined to our most significant metrics. With Amplitude, we can go deeper, seeing the number of levels played, for example, and how that engagement affects monetization. If the experiment results are positive, we can ask what we can do to increase engagement even further. Because we can do so many different things on one platform, it simplifies our tool kit and enables everyone to get consistent results.
My favorite Amplitude features are event segmentation and governance. I like to slice and dice our users into as many cohorts as possible, such as country, payment tier, or platform network. We know, for example, that new users behave very differently than long-time users. We segment users into different cohorts because we have a lot of events that could drive engagement for different groups of users.
I also like how the governance section is built within Amplitude because it makes it very easy to manage events and clean the data when needed. Even though we have standardized our taxonomy, events and properties can differ significantly from game to game. Amplitude’s governance section makes it extremely easy to locate errors.
Greater Access to Data Leads to More Engagement
Opening Amplitude to everyone means anyone can access any data anywhere they want. We still have meetings for some games that require our analysts to prepare reports. Amplitude’s integrations with Google Sheets and Slides mean we can easily update those reports. And now that everyone can see the information, the role of our data analysts has shifted to helping others interpret the data.
Amplitude improved our trust in the data because it is more transparent. People are even more interested in their work now because they can see how their actions directly impact results and the experience for the end user. We increased not only user engagement but team engagement, too.
With greater transparency, people are more engaged and interested in their work because they can see how their actions impact the end result.
When people couldn’t access the data, they were constantly questioning it. Every query came through me, and it took a lot of time to create queries in the database—which meant people didn’t get answers as quickly as they needed. It’s much faster to build the charts in Amplitude, meaning everyone saves a lot of time and can iterate faster. Everyone can see what’s happening and suggest changes to drive the development process.
Amplitude has given the teams at Tilting Point a way to engage and interact with data. It’s allowed analysts to go beyond writing queries to become the people who help others dive deep into the data and uncover more meaningful insights. That leads to better, more engaging, and more enjoyable products. From there, it’s game on.
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