Interview

Xbox Game Studios’ Crystin Cox on designing for liveops success

Success is more and more focused on effectively operating and caring for a live game

Xbox Game Studios’ Crystin Cox on designing for liveops success

The next round of PocketGamer.biz MasterClasses are only just around the corner and we can’t wait to show you what we have in store for you this time.

If this is your first time hearing about our MasterClasses, they’re a series of deep-dive workshop sessions that take an in-depth look at practical games design topics. We work with the finest industry experts to create professional, half-day activities featuring tutorials, lectures and breakout groups, all accessible from the comfort of your home office.

On June 8th to 10th, you can expect to explore a range of key topics, from game pitching and mastering data, to live ops and UX. Today, we'd like to introduce Crystin Cox, director of live game operations at Xbox Game Studios Publishing (Microsoft). Cox will lead a session titled “Designing for LiveOps Success” on Thursday, June 10th from 16:00 to 19:00 (UK time).

Crystin is the director of live game operations for Xbox Game Studios Publishing. Before joining Xbox in 2019 she spent 16 years as a game developer working on large scale, online games with teams at ArenaNet, Nexon, and Disney. Throughout her career she has focused on game design and direction, monetisation strategy, and liveops while also being active in the game developer community as a frequent speaker and writer, especially about ethics in monetisation.

Pocket Gamer: Tell us a bit about your company

Crystin Cox: Xbox has been a leader in video games for 20 years. Today Xbox delivers industry leading hardware, platform services, and game development. Xbox Game Studios is a division of Xbox at Microsoft that creates 1st party original video games.

What does your role entail?

I help game development teams plan, design, and execute strategies for ongoing success and growth for their games. This means helping them with engagement, retention, and progression design, monetisation strategy, live content strategy, telemetry and data analytics, and player feedback pipelines. I work with a variety of game developers on games being published by Xbox Game Studios.

Is there anything you're working on currently that you’d like our readers to know about?

All my work is confidential but you can follow Xbox for news about Xbox Game Studios projects.

What topic will you be covering in your MasterClass?

This MasterClass is about designing games for liveops success. We will be exploring the fundamental elements that create longevity, growth, and engagement in games of all types. The class will be broken up into three sections each including a presentation, an exercise, and group discussion.

Part one: Retention

In this section we will explore how player motivation and engagement loops form the basis of retention and provide a framework for identifying how progression and investment design form your game’s retention potential.

Part two: Monetisation

In this section we will explore how monetisation strategy intersects with game design and player experience and help you define your game’s monetisation pillars.

Part three: Live Content

In this section we will explore adding and iterating on content while your game is live and provide a framework for understanding the importance and efficiency of different types of content.

Who is this MasterClass for?

This class is for designers, product managers, and producers who want their games to grow and thrive for years after launch. This class will be most useful for those working on games that have not yet launched or are very early in their lifecycle but even those working on live titles are likely to take away something useful.

Why is it important for your games industry peers to gain a deeper understanding of your chosen topic?

Game developers are often highly focused on the act of making games but success in our industry is more and more focused on effectively operating and caring for a game once it is live. The more developers can learn about the needs and challenges of liveops and integrate those learnings into every phase of development the better prepared they will be to thrive once their game is launched.

Tell us a little bit about the key takeaways people can expect from the session.

Attendees should come away from the session having a general understanding of the three biggest factors of liveops success; retention, monetisation, and live content, as well as practical tools for assessing and improving their design in these areas. Attendees will learn to think about design in each of these areas from a player experience perspective and to identify which aspects of those designs have the most impact on liveops success.

Finally, what are your thoughts on the games industry going forward? What major trends do you predict over the next 12 months?

I think we are in a very exciting time in the industry. I think we will see more focus on social/community features in games across all platforms but especially mobile where player engagement continues to become richer and more complex.

Don’t miss

You can hear Cox dive deeper into designing for liveops success in her MasterClass on Thursday, June 10th from 16:00 to 19:00 (UK time). Spaces are still available, but they're filling up fast and with strictly limited numbers for these tightly focused groups, don't hang about or you'll miss out! Book now!

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