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World of Warcraft maker unlocks gameplay data with 'ecosystem approach' to BI

Scott Carey | March 2, 2016
Popular online game maker Blizzard Entertainment reveals it's linked up analytics strategy

The next step for the Blizzard BI team is around delivering not just operational business value from its data but also strategic value, or in other words "making a better experience for our players", says Gleicher.

He uses the example of bad matchmaking leading to players having a bad experience, by either getting beaten by a superior player or winning too easily, and the risk of subsequently losing customers because of this.

Engagement managers

To explain this strategic value add, Gleicher talks about how the BI team changed fundamentally six months ago with the introduction of a new role: engagement managers.

Before this the game developers and BI team were being overseen by a project manager that brought customer requirements in and mediated between the two teams. This tactical approach was "meeting expectations but we didn't feel like we were pushing the boundaries, not reaping dividends from this data asset not because it was anyone's fault but because people didn't know what to ask for," says Gleicher.

So Blizzard looked into a more strategic approach by replacing project managers with engagement managers. The new job spec called for: "MBA people, quantitative and technical. So they understand the business of our games and also can speak IT and big data," says Gleicher. They "own this strategic partnership, so they are only successful if the games are yielding value from data and analytics."

So how does Blizzard bring the strategic and operational streams together to add genuine value? First, Gleicher thinks the new proactive approach to business intelligence, alongside the reactive side of day-to-day report building, has helped derive value for Blizzard.

Second, the team is structured around what he calls "engagement pods" where a developer from each game will sit nearby the engagement manager, a data scientist and a report developer to discuss how they can use BI to improve each game.

As Gleicher said, when World of Warcraft was being developed ten years ago "no one was thinking we should capture data around this," they just thought it would be cool to be able to kill dragons in a virtual world. Now Blizzard is doing both.

Source: Computerworld UK 

 

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