Electronic Arts: Big Data and video gaming

Electronic Arts: Big Data and video gaming

How EA uses Big Data in practice

In 2012, EA were facing some challenges. Gamers were spending less on their core products – the shoot ’em ups, sports simulations and epic fantasy games that had proven perennially popular. Plus, several widespread changes in the industry– such as the advent of “freemium” games – were disrupting their business.

To help combat these, chief technical officer Rajat Taneja unveiled ambitious plans to win back customers – by working out how to use all the data they were gathering during online games to give gamers exactly what they wanted. As Taneja said at the Strata 2013 conference:“We are now able to collect so much insight on the game, the gameplay and the gamer that we have to rethink all our fundamental assumptions of the past.”

Keeping players hooked is the name of the game, and Big Data is helping EA do just that. Say for example that a number of players are losing all of their virtual lives and giving up in frustration at one particular point. Analysis can show where adjustments could be made to create a more engaging, and longer-lasting player experience. Or, if players who engage with other players over voice chat tend toplay for longer, analysis can determine which features of the game encourageusers to communicate.

EA’s data-driven approach is paying off. By the end of 2014, revenue had grown 22% to 4.4 billion – the company’s highest turnover in their 30-year history. Much of this was attributed to better customer engagement.

 

The technical details

EA’s analytical framework is built on open-source technologies,including Apache Hadoop and Spark. Once a game is installed on a user’s device, it can gather information on that device. And if the user connects their social media account, it can learn everything they share on there. In-game, each of the player’s actions can be tracked to build a profile of how they like to play.

 

Ideas and insights you can steal

EA has been on a mission to create experiences more in tune with what their audiences enjoy. This is something any business, whether you manufacture a product, sell groceries, or provide a B2B service, can learn from. By understanding more about how your customers use your product or service, you can tailor your offering so it better suits them.

You can read more about how EA is using Big Data to drive success in Big Data in Practice: How 45 Successful Companies Used Big Data Analytics to Deliver Extraordinary Results.


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Written by

Bernard Marr

Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.

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