Selling games to players is a great business. The only problem is that it’s not all of what you actually do. As respected developer Raph Koster has pointed out:

“It's a SERVICE. Not a game. It's a WORLD. Not a game. It's a COMMUNITY. Not a game. Anyone who says, 'it's just a game' is missing the point.”

That’s a big claim. Do the metrics bear it out?

Absolutely. Think about it this way: most games businesses operate and think as B2C, or business-to-consumer, models. A few are B2B. But what about C2C? Consumer to consumer, or in your case, player to player?

It turns out that players have a massive and important impact on each other—something community managers have always known, but have never been able to quantify. This Social Value actually accounts for usually 25-50% of all of your revenue. Social network analysis make capturing it possible.

OK, But Aren’t These Social Network Analytics Hard to Use?

If you’re doing them on your own, yes. You’ll need some PhDs who understand the science of networks. The math we all learned in school (even if you are a smarty pants who knows regression) doesn’t help here. What about “k-factor,” you ask? Not really. It’s just a simple fraction, and we give it to you as a by-product of the stuff that really matters. It doesn’t tell you much more than how well your invitations do.

What you want to know is how much players impact each other while playing. Like who are the trolls, who are the heroes and leaders, and most importantly, who are the ones who drive spending among their social circles? This is our particular area of expertise measuring Social Value.

It’s all about graphs like this, which show you real players, and how they connect to each other:

Interconnectivity in a player-to-player game environment

We watch the sequence of actions in these networks. Some players take actions and others follow them. Some don’t. This is the heart of understanding real influence and Social Value. It’s not about what people talk about. It’s about who’s connected to who else, and what they actually do.

The good news is that Katana® automates all of this. Our APIs will literally build these graphs for your players on the fly, then analyze them. The results are simple, understandable metrics presented in easy-to-use dashboards. These networks, communities, and relationships are all folded into our algorithms. These are harnessing techniques we developed in work for the Army, CIA and NSA, and they make what we do ridiculously powerful.

If you want to see visualizations of your players, they’re there, too

Social Network Visualization

What’s the Logic and Science Here? 

(This section for nerds only)

The reason why this is powerful, and yet hard to wrap your head around is simple human nature. We’ll use the example of the “birthday paradox.”

Imagine you are standing in line to buy movie tickets and there are 30 others with you. What are the chances that two of you have the same birthday? If you’re like most of humanity, you do the logical calculation: hmm, there are 365 days in the year and 30 of us, so the answer must be 30/365.


 Birthday Paradox Social Network Graph - One-to-All

Right? Wrong. Wait, What?

If you are like most humans, you’re thinking about yourself, and your relationship to the other people in line, and largely blind to their relationships to each other. What does that mean? Let’s say you are drawing a line from yourself to each of the other 30 people in line. Each line does in fact represent a 1/365 chance. But what about the lady two people ahead of you? Doesn’t she also get to draw 30 lines? She does, and they aren’t the same as yours. In fact, rather than thinking about a line for tickets, now put those same 30 people in a big circle, and draw a line for every possible combination. Yeah, that’s a lot of lines, and suddenly the odds are a lot higher than 100%.

Birthday Paradox Social Network Graph - All-to-All

So why didn’t we notice this in the first place? Simple, it’s not how we’re built. We are egocentric creatures. And that’s how we run our businesses, too. We think about us and our relationship to our customer. And while that’s of course crucial, it ignores their relationships with each other. Now for the first time, you have automated tools that use social network analysis to remove the blinders and tell you exactly how much value those relationships have, and how you can take action on them.

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