Game companies have had to steer blind when it comes to marketing research in advance of major video game launches. Too often, research from game marketing groups or publications is less than reliable.

That’s why Los Angeles-based OTX set out to create GamePlan Insights, a new online survey service being launched today at the MI6 game marketing conference in San Francisco. GamePlan is a service that depends on surveys conducted every week with more than 1,000 game players.

The data is expected to capture the pulse of gamer opinions and how they change over time in a far more scientific way than most game marketing research is currently able to, said Nick Williams, director of media and entertainment insights at OTX, which also does research on movies and TV shows. The idea is to create a gamer analytics tool that tracks all aspects of a game’s lifecycle, from idea to the end of its commercial life. The chart on the right shows the service’s results for the top 10 games consumers want to buy.

Williams said other marketing services collect data from visitors to game news web sites, but many mass-market consumers don’t bother going to such sites. The data could be useful in answering questions such as: Which games will sell more than a million units? What is the right date to launch a game to maximize revenues in the first two months of sales? Which games should retailers stock? What publicly traded companies have the best game portfolios? Who are the key competitors for a particular game?

The surveys are in-depth conversations with gamers, who fill out long online forms in exchange for a chance to win prizes or other rewards. The surveys can reveal gamer attitudes about a game six months prior to launch and six months after the launch. The researchers can capture data on 1,000 games a week. To date, OTX has interviewed more than 25,000 consumers on 600 games to build up its database.

Williams has been working on GamePlan for the better part of a year. It has competition from EEDAR, a recently launched game analytics service that costs about $25,000 a year and is targeted at major publishers and game developers. GamePlan’s exact price hasn’t been set yet, but it could range from $25,000 to $100,000, depending on the level of customized data.

Other rivals include the GamerMetrics and GameSpot Trax services of major game publications. OTX draws data for GamePlan from its own tracking surveys as well as game rental service GameFly and used game transactions on eBay, as collected by AERS. GameFly can reveal what percentage of gamers intend to rent a new game once it becomes available. While eBay data can suggest the ideal price point that a game should have, based on the pricing for similar games selling on eBay.

Beyond game publishers and developers, OTX is targeting video game professionals, retailers and financial analysts.