Comment & Opinion

Why Playlab, Aeria Games and Spil Games are using Tableau to better understand their data

James Eiloart highlights partners

Why Playlab, Aeria Games and Spil Games are using Tableau to better understand their data

James Eiloart is Senior Vice President at data analytics and visualisation outfit Tableau.

It might take place on a small screen, but mobile gaming is big business.

The numbers are staggering.

With 1.9 billion users and worth an estimated $35 billion in 2016, up from $25 billion in 2015, mobile gaming is by far the fastest growing segment of the games industry.

However, the mobile gaming space is a competitive one.

Thousands of games are developed each year for mobiles, tablets and handheld consoles yet only a handful will succeed.

Developers across the world know that if their game is not among the top 100 in a given month, it's pretty much 'game over'. The stakes for developers have never been higher.

It has led many to turn to a secret weapon, one that is causing a fundamental change to the way mobile games are designed and created.

Data and development

Developing a game or a new update has historically been more art than science, where concepts and key decisions were made by creative leads based largely on instinct and experience.

But now, creative teams are being aided by an emerging force in development - data.

It's a move mirroring the entertainment industry with TV, where Netflix gathers vast amounts of information about viewer habits and preferences in order to deliver highly personalised recommendations to viewers.

The trick is being able to analyse data efficiently and quickly in order to achieve a competitive advantage.
James Eiloart

In the era of mobile gaming, where millions of users log in and play every day and where small tweaks or updates can be rolled out quickly, data is plentiful.

It is possible to closely track every user interaction from the start button through to complicated level design.

With all that data, often from multiple sources and diverse geographies, the trick is being able to analyse data efficiently and quickly in order to achieve a competitive advantage.

So what are the leading gaming companies doing to stay ahead?

They are using data alongside creativity to raise gaming to new heights - responding quickly to gamers' likes and dislikes to deliver a highly personalised experience - and handheld games are leading the way.

Three companies changing the game with visual analytics

  • 1. Aeria Games

Germany's Aeria Games creates free-to-play online games and knows that while its titles are free, users are equally free to leave, meaning it constantly seeks to deliver the best possible gaming experience.

Its games are played by 70 million people, which amounts to a lot of data.

S4 League

This can include data points such as the length of time players spend online, player engagement at various points in the game, popular in-game purchases, how frequently people come back for more and what prompts them to do so.

By seeing their data, Aeria Games realised players were most enthusiastic about what made their characters unique.

Part of the challenge is making sense of all the information coming in, seeing what's important and what can be ignored.

To do so, the team uses Tableau's visual analytics software to sift through hundreds of gigabytes of data, all of it coming direct from players and in real time.

An example of the impact of data on Aeria's game design can be found in its S4 League title.

Traditionally, the team might have assumed that big ticket items like new weapons or in-game currency would be what users wanted most.

By seeing their data however, they realised that players were most enthusiastic about what made their characters unique - things like the colour of clothing, type of glasses or style of hat. Aeria's team reacted quickly, creating more accessory options.

The result? Happier fans - and more stylish characters.

  • 2. Spil Games

Netherlands publisher Spil Games, publishes adventures enjoyed by 100 million monthly users, including Troll Face Quest, My Dolphin Show and Uphill Rush. In one of its hits, players must uncover hidden diamonds and grab the priceless treasures before time runs out.

For the team at Spil, searching to improve the user experience, the relentless digging through data to unearth gold nuggets of information felt like a game in itself.

With the adoption of visual analytics to see their data, Spil Games has been able to dig into and analyse performance across its games, including loading times and payment options, to see why players 'bounce' and exit.

Looking at data from millions of users, the team is able to pinpoint common reasons and fine tune gaming widgets and navigation, meaning a much smoother experience for users.

  • 3. Playlab

Asian developer and publisher Playlab, known for titles like Juice Cubes and Jungle Cubes, has seen its games downloaded more than 25 million times.

In fact, Playlab mobile games are so popular that it sees more than 2 million active users accessing the games on a daily basis, each of them clicking, swiping and pressing their way to generating massive amounts of information.

The data Playlab uses includes tracking how long users take to progress to a certain level, the number of moves left before a level gets finished, average scores and in-game performance.

Through analysis of data taken from their millions of users almost as it happens, the team is able to tweak and balance a game's difficulty and adjust any spikes that cause players to abandon a level.


The message to take from these leading gaming companies is clear: data is changing the industry - from the sheer volume of data points to the speed at which it is being compiled.

Data is a game where everyone is winning.
James Eiloart

But gathering data is only part of the story.

They need to see it, analyse it and understand it quickly is helping companies like Aeria, Spil and Playlab make better decisions and deliver the most unique and exciting experience.

For these developers and their users, data is a game where everyone is winning.

You can find out more about Tableau's products via its website.

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