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Splitforce takes analytics-based feedback test to Chinese game market

Above: Splitforce is moving its A/B testing on Unity into China.

Image Credit: Splitforce

Splitforce has embedded its user feedback testing, known as A/B testing, in Unity Technologies’ game engine, and it is taking the product to the Chinese game market.

The Beijing and New York company hopes that such testing, which helps a developer figure out exactly what gamers prefer inside a game, or where gamers stall or quit a game, will be enough to keep it above the fray in the overall analytics market.

The Chinese game market is growing fast, but it remains to be seen if it will be a haven for young analytics firms like Splitforce. In the wake of the PlayHaven and Kontagent merger, the analytics market has been disrupted. Offering just analytics, while PlayHaven-Kontagent will offer monetization and analytics, doesn’t seem like enough.

But Zac Aghion, chief executive of Splitforce, said his company hopes to distinguish itself by embedding its testing capability inside the Unity game engine. This will allow game developers to run A/B tests, where they give users a choice over one thing or another, inside Facebook and console games. Since the capability is native to Unity, the A/B variations can be turned on and published without having to resubmit an app to the app store.

Splitforce allows a game developer to create a game that doesn’t have to be updated in a painstaking way. It does so because it replaces the static elements of a Unity game with ‘dynamic’ elements that can be controlled from the server-side. When new users launch the app, the library assigns them a cohort and then pulls configuration data from the server for that cohort. That configuration data is then cached locally on the user’s device, so that they do not need to communicate with the server on every app launch. The data can be queried, tracked, and pulled into reports.

The company has native versions for iOS and Android as well. Aghion hopes that Splitforce will carve out a good niche with A/B testing, which is something that not every rival has. Aghion also said that his company is exploring partnerships with other established players to get its service in front of more game developers.

Aghion, who had been working in A/B testing since 2009, and David Ruiz, chief technology officer, met through a mutual friend in Beijing. They decided to form the company earlier this year after seeing incumbents were slow to move into the market. More than 100 apps have integrated the Splitforce software development kit (SDK). That’s very small, but Splitforce hopes to team up with other companies to get in front of a lot more app makers soon.

Splitforce has four employees. Its rivals include Game Analytics, Playnomics, and Swrve. Rivals in China include Umeng, which bills itself as the Flurry of China. Investors include SOSventures and Chinaccelerator. Splitforce is based in both Beijing and New York.

“When you have millions of players, every improvement counts,” said Simon Newstead, chief executive of Frenzoo, maker of the Me Girl games. “It’s difficult to get the balance of freemium games right from the start — the ‘science’ half of the equation involves a lot of data crunching and multi-variate tests. Tools that make this easier, particularly within a Unity environment, are a big plus.”

“We’re really excited about the analytics tools that are emerging around Unity and sharpening the competitive edge of our platform over other game development engines,” said Allen Foo, Managing Director (Greater China) Unity Technologies.

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