Ninja News Roundup: User Acquisition, Tips for Improving Programming Skills and Advice for Indies

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Aug 7, 2014 4:31:27 PM

Ninja Metrics NewsWhat video games teach us about user acquisition

Two of the biggest challenges that a video game developer faces when monetizing their game is first acquiring users, then converting them into customers through some sort of paid method.

Fortunately, many games companies nowadays have a pretty good grip on user acquisition methods compared to other industries - thanks to business models like free-to-play and the increasing popularity of gaming user-acquisition experts, big data and analytics.

So what are video games teaching us about user and customer acquisition? Kimberly Pointer, marketer for video game publisher Kabam, recently told VentureBeat that trial and error is a key to success, and that multi-step experiences help boost engagement in the beginning: “The relevancy and engagement of the click is what matters, not just fewer steps. You benefit from adding this at the beginning of the funnel.”

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Topics: Video Games, Game News, Game Industry

The History and Structure of the Video Game Industry – Modern Era - Part 2

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Jan 24, 2014 12:32:00 PM

Barone Firenze /

The Modern Era (2004-2010)

During the first decade of the twenty-first century, the percentage of American adults with access to the Internet increased from 37 in 2000 to 71 in 2010. Fast, broadband connections rose as well, with slower dial-up connections beginning to decline in 2001 (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2010). Meanwhile, by the end of the decade, video games had become commonplace in the American household, cutting across age and gender demographics. In 2010, estimates had 53 percent of all American adults and 67 percent of American households playing some form of video games (Entertainment Software Association, 2010; Lenhart, Kahne, et al., 2008). And despite the long-held stereotype of the young male gamer, both independent and university research (Griffiths, Davies, & Chappell, 2003; Williams, Yee, & Caplan, 2008; Yee, 2006) found this stereotype not to be true. In fact, according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA; 2010), women age 18 or older represented more of the game playing population (33%) than boys age 17 or younger (20%).

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Topics: Video Games, History and Structure of Video Game Industry

The History and Structure of the Video Game Industry – Beginnings, Boom & Bust - Part 1

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Jan 17, 2014 4:27:00 PM

This is part-1 of a 5-part series on the history and structure of the video game industry.

Beginnings (1951-1973)

Like many media industries, the home video game industry began with hobbyists and enthusiasts. The first known video game dates back to 1951, when a Cambridge University computer science graduate student named A.S. Douglas created a “naughts and crosses” (more popularly known in America as Tic-Tac-Toe) game. The next, slightly better-known video game, Tennis for Two, was developed in 1958 in a lab by a government nuclear research scientist with the fabulously improbable name of Wally Higginbotham. Higginbotham, tired of
seeing bored visitors at his lab’s open house, decided to create a game of tennis on an oscilloscope screen (Herman 1997). 1Higginbotham never patented the game, and this kept the U.S. government from owning the initial patent for the industry.

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Topics: Video Games, History and Structure of Video Game Industry

Do Analytics Help or Hurt the Creative Process of Game Development?

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Nov 20, 2013 7:11:00 AM

For starters, analytics are rarely used in pre-launch development, unless it’s the rare case where intelligence gathered from one title informs the next. They are more typically seen post-launch. When they are used in a live service with creative iteration taking place, they can be very helpful so long as the dev team follows best practices.

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Topics: Game Analytics, Video Games, Video Game Analytics, Game Development

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

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