The reality is virtual, but successful VR games still require cold, hard data. Make success a reality: Register now for our latest interactive VB Live event, where we’ll tap industry experts on how they turned data and analytics into a VR game at the top of the charts.
Nicolas Nadeau, president of Exostatic, started as an economic designer at Ubisoft Worldwide, trying to figure out the optimal monetization model for mobile games.
“I quickly realized that one key part of it would be using data,” Nadeau says. “When I started bringing data to the table, discussions started changing completely. This isn’t what I think. This isn’t my opinion. This is what our consumers think. This is empirical data, so you can’t argue with it. It changed everything.”
His life, he says, was a lot more interesting from that point on, so he made a point of always using data, which became part of the foundation of his company Exostatic, a game consulting firm in a world that’s just starting to make inroads into virtual reality as a real industry game changer.
Mostly that’s simply because while the technology started long ago, penetration of the technology remains in its early days because the barrier to entry — the cost — is still staggering. But the potential, says Nadeau, is absolutely huge, especially for multiplayer experiences.
“VR immersion is tenfold, hundredfold of everything that’s come before,” he says. “I remember the first time I played [Survios’ VR game] Raw Data, just looking at my hand. I went for the pistol on my hip, took it in my hand, and just waved it in front of my face. It really accurately displays the movement of your hand. It’s mind-boggling.”
But to ensure that the experience remains exactly as compelling, as purely magic, and as purely kick-ass as VR can be, developers need data. “Knowing how your customers interact with your product is key,” Nadeau says.
It requires tracking usage of a game that engages a user’s entire body motion, not a simple controller where, for instance, left-handed people can simply adapt, or where the controller, the action interface, doesn’t actually impact gameplay.
“For VR, it becomes very important to understand what control scheme you’re using,” he explains. “Are you holding something? Are you grabbing something? Are you left-handed or right-handed? Are you using the Rift or HTC? Understanding the interface part becomes a lot more important. It has a direct effect on gameplay.”
Another essential point of data to keep track of is FPS (frames per second). Laggy FPS leads to what Nadeau laughingly calls “the Vomit-o-tron,” or users getting very motion sick, very fast, as happened when VR first launched.
It’s vital to track FPS across different levels, across different regions, across different machine specifications, and depending on the machine spec you have, all the way to the type of processor and video card you have. Precise FPS tracking helps you discover if you’ve got any level design optimization issues, regional issues, hardware issues, etc. — and then nuke them.
VR, too, is most powerfully a social experience, so keeping track of how often a player ends up alone is important for story and game optimization. Part of that is because even if VR is not nearly as sickness-inducing as it used to be, very rarely people will stay and play for eight hours at a time, and that needs to be taken into account as well.
“We need to figure out the content that we design and adapt it to the hardware that’s being used,” Nadeau says. “Data has been incredible for figuring out how long players are comfortable playing, how long they should play, and what they like. Yes, we can cross-reference what people are saying, but actually having their entire play pattern is a lot more useful to identify those points.”
Right now, no custom analytics package exists for VR, so when putting together the tools needed to capture this data, you need a lot of flexibility, and you need to move beyond traditional analytics software.
“For VR you’re not going to care about your average revenue per paying user or your conversation rate — it’s not relevant to what we’re doing,” Nadeau explains. “You need a tech stack that is going to give you the flexibility to output something that’s closely related to the game you’re working on, and also the results you’re expecting.”
You have to be serious about your data integrity, he says, making sure the data you collect is accurate, solid, and can be trusted, because when keeping up with VR game development, you are always going to run into situations where data needs to be backtracked, logs re-processed, and something will be recompiled.
“You need that flexibility, that ability to keep all that granular-level data, to be able to rebuild epiphanies you’re going to keep having every week,” he says. “As we learn, we can plan ahead. You need some power behind it to be able to do it well, and you need that flexibility to be able to get what you need.”
To learn more about the power of VR in online gaming, how analytics infrastructure can help propel your game to commercial success, and how to choose and deploy the right data and analytics tools, don’t miss this interactive VB Live event.
Don’t miss out!
- Understand the role of VR in online gaming
- Find out how VR company Survios successfully leverages the Exostatic analytics infrastructure for commercial and gaming success
- Discover how to deploy full-stack analytics infrastructure and tools
- Nicolas Nadeau, President, Exostatic
- Ben Solganik, Producer, Survios
- Kiyoto Tamura, VP Marketing, Treasure Data
- Stewart Rogers, Director of Marketing Technology, VentureBeat
- Wendy Schuchart, Moderator, VentureBeat
This VB Live event is sponsored by Treasure Data.