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Dmitri Williams

I'm currently CEO of Ninja Metrics. Previously I have been a tenured professor at USC, specializing in technology, online community, large-scale data and gamers.
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Recent Posts

Video Game Analytics 101, Part 3: The Slightly-More-Advanced Bits

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Oct 9, 2013 6:59:00 AM

Now that you have the basics from the last post, you’re ready for the next level where we get away from the aggregate metrics and into areas where you can take actions, test, and see results.

Here we introduce the following concepts:

  • Individual-level metrics
  • Getting past averages
  • Segmentation
  • Predictive analytics
  • LTV and Social Value
  • Individual-level metrics

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Topics: Game Analytics, Video Game Analytics, Game Metric Definitions

Video Game Analytics 101: Basic Definitions

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Oct 4, 2013 7:02:00 AM

Here are the basic metrics any basic dashboard should have, along with definitions. These are the kinds of metrics that you would hand to your CEO or board to give a high-level view of how things are going. They’re simple, and best seen in the context of time, so the smartest use is to see their period-over-period change in a table or on a graph. More complex metrics are for developers, marketing and community managers who will need to dig deeper into changes. All metrics should be chosen based on the questions your business really needs answers to - see our Practical Metrics blog post on the subject.

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Topics: Game Analytics, Video Game Analytics, Setting Up Game Analytics, Game Metric Definitions

Video Game Analytics 101: Getting Started

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Oct 2, 2013 7:01:00 AM

Before you get started, I recommend you read the post on Practical Metrics. Once you have a sense of what your questions are and who will take action on the answers, you’re ready to consider onboarding a package. Here are four steps to get set up and to make an informed decision:


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Topics: Video Game Analytics, Setting Up Game Analytics

Practical Metrics: Setting up Game Analytics for Your Organization

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Sep 30, 2013 3:17:00 PM

Let’s talk about how, why or why you shouldn’t set up analytics for your organization.

First, do you actually need analytics? I speak with a lot of companies that say they want to be “data driven,” which sounds great (and is). I also talk to a lot who say they want analytics. When I ask “why?” I get a mixed bag. Some companies are getting them in place because they see others doing it. Some realize the need to work off of data rather than guesses. Few start where they should, which is with key questions based on their operations and their specific team.

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Topics: Game Analytics, Practical Metrics, Social Value

Scholars Lobby the APA Over Video Games and Policy

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Sep 27, 2013 10:46:00 AM

Scholars Take a Stand on Video Games, Violence, and Policy

It may not be the stand you would expect. I know that developers often feel like easy targets for researchers and pundits, and it’s often the truth. However, the research community such as it is, is not uniformly in one camp or another. There are a handful of particularly outspoken scholars who believe games are a real danger, but a vastly larger number who are more balanced in their approach.

Why does this matter now? The American Psychological Association maintains a task force on violent media whose findings will be highly influential among policy makers. If the APA decrees that there is strong evidence that games are dangerous, it will be used as both evidence and ammunition for laws restricting them. In 2005, the APA put out a strong statement to that effect, with predictable results, leading all the way to the Supreme Court (which struck the laws down).

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Topics: Video Games, Video Game Policy

GTA V: Little Ado About Something?

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Sep 25, 2013 7:33:00 AM

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) earned a metric ton of cash in its first week. What’s a little more surprising, perhaps, is the lack of controversy for a game that’s been the poster child for outraged parents, conservatives and pundits.

I speak with some experience here. As a newly minted professor, I testified before the US Senate on video games and violence, jousting with fan favorites like Jack Thompson, and a gallery of senators ready to pounce on the evils of violent games. I was there because I’d published a dissertation and subsequent papers that found no long-term impact. My study had players of an MMO play for 60 hours, which was the longest study exposure ever (by 59.5 hours). Needless to say, this was a hand grenade in the research, and was cited by partisans as evidence that games were perfect, I was crazy, and more besides.

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Topics: Video Games, GTA V

The Basics of Churn Analysis in Social Games

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Sep 23, 2013 4:30:00 PM

What is churn?

Churn is quitting, plain and simple. It’s bad, but it’s also inevitable. No one lives forever, no one plays forever, and no game lasts forever. In practical terms, this means that working with churn is all about minimizing it rather than eliminating it completely.

Churn of course hits your bottom line, but it’s different depending on your business model. If you’re running a subscription model it’s very straightforward. You lose X dollars/month if the player drops. If you are running a free-to-play or microtransaction-based title, you are losing the player’s particular spending. And, as most people know, player spending is highly skewed, with a small minority spending the most, and the vast majority spending nothing. As a general rule, you care the most about the “whales” and want to prevent their churn. Social ripple effects (below) are an exception to that thinking.

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Topics: Churn Analysis, Social Ripple Effect, Social Games, Zombies

What is Cohort Analysis and Why is it Important for Your Game?

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Aug 7, 2013 9:27:00 AM

What is Cohort Analysis?

First, the broad definition: a cohort is a group of individuals linked together, typically by age. It’s basically the same thing as a generation.

In practice, though, a cohort is any group moving through a system together.

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Topics: Cohort Analysis

9 Predictive Analytics Metrics You Should Be Using Right Now

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Aug 5, 2013 7:21:00 PM

Predictive analytics may be new to industry, but they aren’t that new to science. That means there are already best practices ready to go. Combine those with business realities, and you get the list that everyone should know, whether you’re measuring gamers, shoppers, gamblers or future users of health care.

First, the nuts & bolts, then the business cases.  

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Topics: predictive analytics

Predictive Analytics for Games: The Next Big Thing For Game Developers

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Jul 29, 2013 5:58:00 PM

Predictive analytics for games are here, accessible, and getting easier to use. Here is what you need to understand what they are, how they work, and what it takes to get them going

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Topics: predictive analytics

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