Big Data is Revolutionizing the Video Game Industry

February 6, 2014

This year will see a dramatic increase in production deployments of Hadoop by companies across all types of industries. In fact, you don’t need to visit a financial institution or healthcare company to see what the future of Big Data holds—just take a look around your living room. Most likely, you have a PlayStation, Wii or Xbox console sitting just a few feet from your couch. In fact, 51% of U.S. households own a dedicated game console, and those that do, own an average of two, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

It’s a widely known fact that video games are big business. In 2011, video games generated $60 billion in revenues, and are expected to reach $80 billion by 2014, according to industry analyst Colin Sebastian for RW Baird. The increase in video game sales also means a dramatic surge in the amount of data that is generated from these games. According to Electronic Arts’ Rajat Tanejaere, there are more than 2 billion video gamers worldwide, generating 50 Tb of data per day. What’s causing the surge in data? Video game data is streaming in from several sources: gameplay data, micro-transactions, time stamps, social media, price points, payment systems, in-game advertising, virtual goods, multiplayer interactions, real-time events and content updates, to name a few.

To keep up with the massive amount of gaming data that’s generated every day, video game developers are using a variety of advanced IT techniques such as Hadoop to help them understand game player behavior. Imagine a typical scenario where millions of people are playing a video game in real time. That’s a lot of data that’s generated in three separate areas—player data, game data and session data.

In order to really understand their players and how to improve their game experience, game development studios are turning to commercial Hadoop distributions such as MapR to collect, process and analyze data from these massive data streams. Armed with this valuable insight from big data, video game publishers are now able to enhance game player engagement and increase player retention by :
• Analyzing gamers’ activity and social behavior
• Tracking players’ statistics
• Quickly generating leader boards, calculating rewards, and delivering virtual prizes
• Changing game play and mechanics so that experienced players will continue to play the game

One such video game studio is Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., a division of Activision Blizzard, known for creating some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed video games, such as World of Warcraft® and the Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® franchises. According to Dan Takahashi at GamesBeat, World of Warcraft is the most successful massively multiplayer online (MMO) game in the world, generating as much as $1 billion a year for Blizzard.

Blizzard runs three triple-A games simultaneously, and they needed to share resources among the games, but not the data. Blizzard turned to MapR to provide them with the solution. MapR’s NFS file system and volume features enable Blizzard to keep the data separate and update the data more easily than alternative approaches. In just the first six months of implementation, Blizzard processed over one TB of data per day much more effectively than before.

The amount of data that video game players are generating on a daily basis is growing astronomically. In order to analyze this massive amount of data, video game publishers are turning to innovations such as Hadoop. By using advanced analytics to uncover rich player insights, video game developers can now focus on creating much more meaningful gaming experiences for their customers.