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

Basic Statistics in 5 minutes!

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Oct 23, 2013 1:37:00 PM

I hated stats class in graduate school. Nothing made me feel dumber, faster. So, this post is dedicated to that full year of ridiculous, and I hope to now reduce the key points to a 5-minute blog post.

Regression. Sounds hard, right? Watch this.

Let’s say you’ve observed a series of events. Maybe it’s the temperature and the time of day. Maybe it’s the amount of people and energy consumption. Doesn’t matter. Now, you take the numbers from those observations and you put them on a regular X- and Y-graph.

Like this:

Regression Analysis Graph Ninja Metrics


Topics: Game Analytics, Regression Analysis, Basic Statistics, Correlation, Coefficient

User Research: Balancing the Left and Right Brain

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Oct 16, 2013 4:17:00 PM

“You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”

So goes the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ad in which two great tastes are miraculously combined, to the delight of partisans of both chocolate and peanut butter.User Research Ninja Metrics

It’s not quite that simple in science, where the team of labcoats who really, really like chocolate don’t exactly get along with the team that likes peanut butter.

In this case, the chocolate is a proxy for hard numbers--experiments, surveys, big data. We call this quantitative research. The peanut butter is squishier stuff--observations, interviews and participant observation. Both of these approaches are valuable to developers, but what keeps them separate are the scientists themselves.

Why? This is a left-brain/right-brain issue. Some people are more drawn to the logical and others to the creative. If you’re a game or mobile app developer, you recognize that some of your staff are ace programmers, some are ace artists, and the overlap is pretty rare. This is true in every industry.

The quantitative stuff is almost always given more weight than the squishy interview work. After all, who can argue with numbers and graphs? Yet there’s a risk in avoiding the squishy. Here’s why.


Topics: Game Analytics, User Research, Left and Right Brain, Quantitative Research, Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Qualitative Research

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

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Oct 9, 2013 6:59:00 AM

Video Game Analytics 101-3 Ninja Metrics

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


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

Video Game Analytics 101-2 Ninja MetricsHere 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.


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

Video Game Analytics 101 Ninja Metrics

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:

  1. Instrumentation

  2. Review the SDK

  3. Make security decisions, Enterprise vs. SaaS

  4. Understand “real time”


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

Practical Metrics for Game Analytics Ninja Metrics

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


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

Video Game Characters Sonic in FrontScholars 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.


Topics: Video Games, Video Game Policy

GTA V: Little Ado About Something?

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Sep 25, 2013 7:33:00 AM

Ninja Metrics GTA V Grand Theft Auto VTo 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.


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.


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

Cohort Analysis - Why it's important for your game.

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.


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

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.  


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 Developers

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


Topics: predictive analytics


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