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TheLaughingMan

The Business End of the Stick... For Justin Bailey

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Justin,

What metrics and analytics are you using to help determine sales potential for games? AF and the Kickstarter can help gauge interest of early adopters, but what tools and models do you use to assess the early and late customer majorities? You pointed out in the last documentary that you wanted to consider marketing beyond PR, but perhaps employing analytics as part of strategic market planning would be beneficial.

You may find some of the concepts in the book 'Lean Analytics' may be beneficial night stand reading. The concepts are related to start up ventures, but you may find some of the ideas relevant if repurposed for games AND Double Fine in general.

If you were to survey us (fans and potential customers) with specific questions that could be help determine budgets, focus development, identify markets, etc., it would help with strategic planning. I, as a fan and customer, would be happy to answer questions beyond what shirt or cereal box cover do you prefer? I suspect that anyone on the forum would be happy to contribute AND provide valuable and usable data as well. There is a lot of potential for Double Fine if you engage us...

Just some thoughts from a long time fan...

Cheers!

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We do use metrics and also share info with other developers, but I'll have to give some thought about utilizing our community to get other information. However the accuracy of the predictive models has been fine, it's more trying to figure out how to leverage our community to help boost sales so we can make more adventure games!

Thanks for the book suggestion.

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I also want Double Fine to be financially successful so you can continue to make fun games for my family and I to share together... And this is my motive for contributing some ideas; please take with a grain of salt... I am a fan.

The analytics team working on Mass Effect 4 put up a survey to help better understand what the players wanted (link below). The genius of the survey is that there is all kinds of intelligent segmentation going on in the background.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/69HFZTS

From the survey, they know what customers have bought, what classification of gamer they are, what parts of game development investment they value most and other preference data. From this data, the Mass Effect team better understand what the players want at a high level and this data can be used in creative and project planning sessions. If trade offs have to occur due to budget restraint, it would help the team to have a customer data input that may have weight on decisions made.

Reading forums and watching player videos is a great way to gain visceral feedback. But if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. And qualifying and quantifying preference, opinion, and market data allows for pragmatic evaluation over emotional evaluation.

As for execution, a tool like Survey Monkey would allow you to spin up pre-game release, post-game release, and general market surveys to constantly measure the audience preference of Double Fine games. The analytics model, the survey and market deployment could all happen fairly quickly; it has been done and done. And adding these kind of data analytics and metrics to the decision evaluation process would help fine tune the business end of the creative culture. This would eventually lead to 'fat stacks, yo'. ;)

Cheers!

P.S. If you find budget for a new community manager; you could add Customer Development and Analytics to their job description. ;)

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While I understand the value on analytical evaluation to the level of Mass Effect, it isn't necessarily a good use of time for a company like Double Fine. Quite honestly I couldn't care less what people on the forum wanted in the game, I want what Tim wants in the game. I don't want Tim and the team's ideas to be skewed because a vocal minority in a survey decided they wanted it to work in a certain way.

There is value in metrics, but it is very easy to over do it, I personally wouldn't let metrics touch creative beyond a budget/time constraint.

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Agreed. It's not a great thing to lean heavily on analytics. People don't know what they want until they get it half the time. But they know what they THINK they want.

I think Double Fine are much more likely to hit on said 'fat stacks' by hitting upon a great idea that nobody realised they wanted, and executing really well on that idea than they are through looking at what the data says - and even if they don't, it'll almost certainly produce a more interesting variety of games.

http://uxmyths.com/post/746610684/myth-21-people-can-tell-you-what-they-want

I get the value of analytics, but they do rely too much on the assumption that people understand what they want in games, and I'm not sure that's true. There's a level of care needed in interpreting that data and I don't know whether I'd just rather see Double Fine make whatever gets the project lead excited, and hope that that excitement translates into a hit. I've high hopes for Massive Chalice.

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Agreed. It's not a great thing to lean heavily on analytics. People don't know what they want until they get it half the time. But they know what they THINK they want.
In the business programming world, we use the saying "Everybody lies". They don't lie on purpose, they just aren't smart enough to be able to tell the truth. It's kind of cynical, but it usually bears out. (The not smart is hyperbole, but it gets the point across.) A friend of mine who worked on the college student short story publication said the same thing. Every writer would ask what the editor wanted, and the editor knew it when they saw it, but not how to tell it to the writers.

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Agreed. It's not a great thing to lean heavily on analytics. People don't know what they want until they get it half the time. But they know what they THINK they want.
In the business programming world, we use the saying "Everybody lies". They don't lie on purpose, they just aren't smart enough to be able to tell the truth. It's kind of cynical, but it usually bears out. (The not smart is hyperbole, but it gets the point across.) A friend of mine who worked on the college student short story publication said the same thing. Every writer would ask what the editor wanted, and the editor knew it when they saw it, but not how to tell it to the writers.

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Btw. it would be nice if DF wouldn't line into the row of those who are trying to milk europeans (by adding some weird offset or setting $s equal to €s).

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Btw. it would be nice if DF wouldn't line into the row of those who are trying to milk europeans (by adding some weird offset or setting $s equal to €s).

If I remember rightly, this is more to do with tax than it is DF

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Re: surveying customer base about what they want

This is one of those situations where the legendary Henry Ford quote applies:

"If I had asked people what they wanted, they'd have said faster horses."

We would never have gotten Journey or ICO by democracy. One of the things that makes the best movies, books, and video games so incredibly amazing is that they are exactly what you wanted, but you had no idea. Your favorite games of all time are very likely not games that you picked up and thought, "Yes, this is exactly what I expected." Most likely they are games that surprised you. Games that you LEARNED that you wanted, but did not know you wanted before the fact.

Not that polling for input on certain things can't be constructive in some ways. But a cohesive, consistent, and focused vision is the most important thing of all.

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