Game Development Reference
Interview with Exploding Barrel: Give Them
What They Want—cont'd
Q: How do I know what questions to ask of my analytics?
HP: It'll have different answers based on what stage of the game they
are in. There's a set of questions you'll ask at the beginning. First is user
acquisition. “How do we get our CPI down as low as we possibly can?”
And this kind of comes down to old-timey advertising and optimizing. So
there we ask, “Are we presenting the right message in the right way?”
Then once we've acquired that user, it becomes: “Where is the fric-
tion?” “What are the chokepoints?” “How much time does it take players
to get from point A to point B?” If we're losing everything in the tuto-
rial, maybe it's too wordy. Maybe it's too confusing. Then, if we're losing
people after three weeks of play, “Why?” Where are they in progression?
Did they just get bored with it? Or is there something in the game that's
actually chasing people out? Why are people buying? Where are people
spending their money?
SB: “How often are they coming back?” If they're not coming back
enough, maybe your return mechanics aren't tight enough, and you need
to build some more compelling loops to bring them back every day.
HP: So the critical thing is to ask questions that think of every two min-
utes as a vertical slice. Think carefully about what you really can change.
What can you fix? Data is useless if it is not actionable, so don't ask ques-
tions if you can't do anything about the answer. Focus on actionable,
strategic questions that break down play into concise increments of time.
Focus there, and make sure you get that right.
HP: As gamemakers, to be able to give the people what they want should
be something you focus on. We believe the customers know best.
Q: What advice do you guys have for game designers who are coming from
the traditional space and are diving into making social games?
HP: Don't think it's easy. Don't think that you're going to get it immedi-
ately. Be willing to try a few things. Going to one GDC Online and taking
some notes isn't enough. It's harder than it looks.
SB: You've got to play a lot. Study it. Respect the space. More people get
that now than when we started, which was almost two years ago. There's
a lot here that's different from building AAA console games, but we think
there's a lot that we can bring from the console world—something that's
additive. It's still pretty embryonic, what's being done with social games.
There's a lot of room to run. As more folks from AAA console space get
involved, they'll bring what they have, and things will get really interesting.