GameDaily Connect USA: Kimberley Corbett, Mobile Publishing WB Games, to talk design & analytics

Ginny Woo, Monday, August 26th, 2019 5:36 pm

The growth track is one that you’ll want to set time aside for at this year’s GameDaily Connect USA. With the likes of Facebook, Riot, Konami and more making an appearance, we’ll also have Kimberley Corbett, Vice President of Mobile Publishing and Analytics at WB Games, joining us to talk about how analytics and creative are key to growth. Check out a preview of what her talk will cover below: 

Why do you believe that gaming companies should lean into the numbers to help define their creativity?

Kimberly Corbett (KC): Designers and creatives often view data as the enemy when in fact, data allows your players to tell you exactly what they want in a game. Whether it’s a feature or a character, having solid taxonomy in place allows you to capture what your players are doing and interpret which of those things your players find the most engaging. In a way, when data is used to optimize a game, you’re getting a player-curated game experience as a result. While there are always exceptions to the rule, the vast majority of top grossing mobile games have a strong data backbone and execute against those results. You need to let the numbers guide you to be bolder in your product and push the boundaries. If you stop being audacious, you’ll get left behind. 

What are some of the biggest objections you’ve had to leading with the numbers? How do you help developers overcome them?

KC: Working on the publishing side of the house, we collaborate closely with game teams to usher their games to the top of the charts. The creative we use in app stores or in ads to distribute these titles can sometimes differ from the game team’s preference on how the art direction is interpreted in publishing assets. We rigorously test any assets that are live today in stores and in our ads – so ultimately what you see is the highest performing picks. However, these final selections may be different from what the game team thought would perform the best. This is why listening to data is so important. You may think you know what your players want, but when you run highly scaled tests that may tell you otherwise, you should listen to the data – and ultimately, your players.

How does WB approach data-driven design in its mobile games, especially?

KC: I would love to turn this to my colleague, Steve Sadin, Executive Director of Product at WB Games Boston, for his insights. He works closely with the team on data-driven game design on our top grossing mobile title, Game of Thrones: Conquest, and is best equipped to answer this question.

Steve Sadin: When operating mobile games, it’s important to find the right blend of art and science. In order to keep the game fresh for years, we need a lot of great design ideas. But in order to know which designs, iterations and improvements to prioritize, we need to carefully study what players actually do in our game, and how behavior changes over time.

One of our top grossing titles, Game of Thrones: Conquest is a massively multiplayer online strategy mobile game that’s designed to be enjoyed for years by players across the globe. If we see engagement waning in attacks on King’s Landing & Winterfell for example, then we know that we need to do something to make high-end competition compelling for players. That might lead us to use an existing tool, such as Kingdom Merge, to combine Kingdom A with Kingdom B to make a new Kingdom C in order to give players new potential friends and enemies to compete with. Or it might lead us to invest in a major new feature like Cross Kingdom Leaderboards which gives players a single short, concentrated, opportunity to compete directly against players from another Kingdom. 

Another great feature of a data-driven design process is we don’t have to hope that new or major changes will be received well by our players. We can test it. When we have a major new feature, we will first roll it out to a fraction of our players. We can learn a lot from initial test releases and by carefully reviewing the data as it comes in, we can make informed decisions that we feel confident in. Sometimes those decisions aren’t easy, and may require a significant delay, or even a cancellation of new features that people have put a lot of work into. However, it’s leagues better to scrap work than to hurt the game.

How can data help developers keep their edge when they’re making (and maintaining) their games?

KC: As a Publisher, we rely on data to be at the forefront of the incredibly competitive digital distribution model we live in. This means having a deep understanding of Facebook and Google’s algorithms and making sure we’re structuring our digital user acquisition to be at the bleeding edge of these auctions. This usually comes in the form of the way we bid, what we choose to automate and newly emerging ad formats. It also means we need to be lockstep with emerging platforms.

What are you hoping developers will take away from your panel at GameDaily Connect?

KC: I’m hoping both game and publishing teams work to empower their organizations to have a data-centric culture. Data democratization within an organization can have a massive impact as this is what uncovers $100M+ opportunities. If data is at the foundation of your decision making, you’ll have a much clearer direction when trying to scale the app store charts. With that said, operating with a data-centric lens doesn’t have to be at the expense of beautiful games and art assets. Firing on all cylinders across both art and science is where the best games are made. 

Be sure to attend Kimberly’s session at Game Daily Connect on August 27. She will be discussing how numbers and creative design can work together when it comes to ensuring that your title breaks into the market and leaves an impression on users that translates into long-term growth. © 2024 | All Rights Reserved.