Saturday, September 28, 2013

New Feature Release

We've got a few new exciting features that have just been released:

  1. You can now add e-mail addresses to your profile to receive notifications when games on your Watchlist have their limits satisfied. Look for the Profile Settings link in the drop down menu.
  2. We've added a new Playlist feature which works with the finished flag in the Library. The Playlist displays unfinished games and the community estimates for rating and hours. It's designed to help decided what to play next.
  3. Your Library can now be filtered by Genre, Rating, and Finished.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tech Tourist

Last week I found myself with some free time in San Francisco, and decided to be a 'tech tourist' for Gauge. It was astounding the number of meet-ups and entrepreneurial sessions I was able to attend with just a little planning, and the amount of valuable knowledge and connections I was able to amass in just a couple of days. San Francisco is an oscillating and inspiring wonderland for tech entrepreneurs!

During a chance encounter with Danny Maaco, I was invited to attend that evening's YetiZen networking event. Coming from Calgary, this co-work space, accelerator, and innovation lab for the vibrant San Fran gaming community was mind blowing for both the scope of activities and the support provided.

I was lucky enough to have conversations with CEO Sana Choudary, Chief Creative Officer Japheth Dillman, Event Coordinator Gordon Lai, super mentors Danny Maaco and Ian McGee, and a number of attendees. I pitched the concept of Gauge's 'Analytics For Gamers', and received lots of challenging and constructive feedback.

Sana Choudary specifically challenged me to think about Gauge from a sustainable business perspective and outlined a constructive model. Gauge creates tools for a very large and active Steam community, 50 million strong and growing. But only a percentage of this group, our Total Market, will ever become aware of Gauge and our tools for gamer analytics. 30 percent of this group will 'get it' and use it regularly. And 10 percent of that group might support Gauge with cash, over time. Using these metrics, our key business success factor at startup is to determine the realistic size of the Gauge Total Market, the total cost to engage with and educate these users, and the potential revenue we could generate to offset costs at this early stage.

We've loved building Gauge, and it's a tool that we'll continue to use. But it is important to figure out if it can be a real and sustainable business. Can we reach enough people that believe in the concept of Analytics For Gamers to allow us to keep developing and growing the Gauge toolset?

Because if we can make it happen, that would be a whole new, and very cool, ball game!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Analytics FOR Gamers

I've been thinking a lot about the marketing of Gauge recently, and identifying the value we intend to provide for the gaming community. For me it boils down to our team's basic goal of helping gamers make more informed buying decisions.

A key component of Gauge is the twist we want to apply to the concept of Consumer Analytics (CA).

CA often involves businesses measuring the consumer habits of their target audiences, collecting and analyzing the data, then building products and crafting messages to sell to their consumers more effectively. We want to shift the equation in the consumers favour:
  1. Gauge first collects data on the game playing habits of Steam users, based on numbers made publicly available by Steam
  2. Gauge introduces basic analysis tools, and makes the data and tools available to individual Steam consumers
  3. We invite gamers to analyze their own data, and compare it to the larger Steam community
  4. The goal is to help individual gamers to make more informed purchasing decisions, based on real and relevant numbers
I think it's a very important distinction. Gauge is collecting data and creating tools FOR consumers, not to use ON consumers.

Internally, we're calling Gauge 'Analytics FOR Gamers'.

Now we're excited to see if other gamers have the same thirst for game purchasing data and analysis as we did when we built it!

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Features, courtesy of Reddit

This week we asked /r/Steam for feedback on Gauge. We got a lot of useful suggestions and positive feedback. We've reviewed the suggestions and we decided to implement a few requests. Specifically:

  1. We've added a finished flag to games in your Library. Along with being able to flag each game, there is a filter to display your Library with or without games that are flagged as finished.
  2. It is now possible to download a CSV export of your Library. Look for the link in the upper right of the page.
  3. We've swapped the Cost and Hour columns in your Library to match the $ / Hour column ordering. Additionally, the input field in the Cost column will now always have a tooltip which shows the current price of the game on Steam.

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Feature Release

We've deployed some new features today, including:
  1. When adding a game to the watchlist, it is now possible to set a notification from the game details page. Clicking on the "Add to Watchlist" button will open a popup window that has the notification limit interface inside.
  2. There is a now a price filter on the browse and sales pages. Enter a dollar value to see all games that are priced for less. This is especially useful when you have some left over amount in your Steam wallet and you want to buy something with it.
  3. You can now enter percentages into the Watchlist notification limit. 25% is equal to 0.25 * base_price and -75% is equal to (1 - 0.75) * base_price.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Play time archetypes and why they matter.

Looking at the play time distributions for the games on Steam, it appears that there are two archetypes. An exponential distribution and a normal distribution. When evaluating a game, it is important to know which archetype it falls into so you can make better purchasing decisions.

Exponential Distribution: (Team Fortress 2, Skyrim, FTL: Faster Than Light, etc.)

Games that fall into this archetype are ones that can be played without a specific endpoint. Gamers can choose, based on their personal enjoyment of the game, when to stop playing. Making a value prediction for these games is difficult because of the wide range of play times. Many gamers wait to buy these types of games until the price drops to a point where they would be comfortable losing their money if they dislike the game.

Normal Distribution: (Metro: Last Light, Dishonored, Bioshock Infinite, etc.)

Higher priced, linear story games fall into this archetype. When people pay more for a game, it appears to be a motivator for completing a single play through. A linear story helps to group the distribution around a smaller range resulting in a distinctive hump near the average play time. The level of confidence in how long it will take to play through these games is much higher than the other archetype.

There are a few interesting observations regarding these archetypes:
  1. It appears that as a game ages, its distribution decays into an exponential distribution. This appears to be a factor of more gamers buying a game as the price is discounted and relying on their personal enjoyment to dictate when they should stop playing.
  2. You can have a greater level of confidence in the estimate for your expected play time when a game has a strong normal distribution, unfortunately this doesn't mean that you will enjoy the game.
  3. You can tell if there is a fanatical group of gamers that really love a game by looking at the range of the distribution. The longer the "long tail" is, the greater the fan base that really loves a game.