Is there a place for data research in gaming industry aka. where to begin?

Data role in game development. Do gamedevs need data? What kinds of data do they need? Why? Where to begin with the gamedev? Let's think about it. Let's discuss it.

This blog post is introductory and it is not an advertisement, it's more of an open thought and platform for discussion. I'll start with quick description of the company I work at (not to promote it but to help you understand the origins of my thoughts) and then I'll get into my history with gaming industry.

My name is Vasiliy, I work at Data40, data collecting and research making company. I am marketing and sales specialist. We work with different kinds of businesses and industries and provide them with research and reports containing lots of useful information.

Not so long ago we as a company have decided to join the gaming and gamedev industry verticals and start making relevant research and reports. However for now we are struggling with building our priorities on what is needed by the market the most. We know that there is a company who already does some reports and research for gaming industries - it's called NewZoo. But we also believe that it is not as great as it could be. And we want to do better.

But let me get this straight right here - the goal of this blog or even this particular post is not to sell you something or advertise our company but to better understand what is really needed in the industry so we could make something really useful and become helpful for real specialists instead of annoying them with the content no one really needs. And the best way to understand what is needed in gaming industry is sharing my thoughts with gaming industry specialists and asking some questions along the way. So here I am writing this post.

As a long going gamer with 20+ years of gaming experience and hundreds of games behind my back and even more coming soon I personally think I can call myself somewhat knowing of what's going on in gaming industry - but just from gamer's perspective. I've also tried joining the gamedev industry many times, but never did it properly or seriously enough to be successful. I've watched tons of materials and earned some skills like 3D modeling and games marketing. Since gaming has always been one of my main hobbies and interests, I've found some gaming related jobs. Long story short, I've became a gaming related marketing specialist. If you'll ask some big names in gaming I have promoted, I'll mention Black Desert Online.

But why have I never made it to the professional gamedev? Well, when I was learning 3D modeling, I understood that you don't just become a 3D modeler or, let's say, a programmer, or composer. It's not that simple. For example, if you work on something like AAA game, the chances are that you are not going to be just all-in-one 3D modeler. You can be objects or characters modeler. You can be high-poly or low-poly modeler. You can be animator. You can make materials. You can work in Z-Brush. You can do all kinds of stuff. All of it is 3D. But it includes an almost infinite amount of different specialists. "I want to be a 3D specialist" is not a specific profession goal, it's just a tip of the iceberg. And that is just one small example. It is also the same for programmers or anyone else involved in development. This is why some huge games are being developed by literally hundreds of people. And this is why, let's say, Assassin's Creed credits are going for 20 minutes straight or so. It's not that easy. It involves A LOT of specialists. It's really complicated.

So I've felt frustrated when learned 3D. But now, when I can call myself a somewhat good marketing specialist, I feel that frustration again as I approach the gamedev again, just from another angle. Gamedev is huge. Gamedev is really complex. There are thousands of companies of different sizes all around the world who make games. And all of them develop games. And all of then are interested in making something new and unique. Some developers implement unique gameplay features, some rely more on tech, some use very unique design, well, you get the picture, possibilities are endless. But everyone is trying to be different.

There is no questioning that all of these companies are doing something new and challenging themselves with something no one ever done before - so they have some questions or issues from time to time. Sometimes they solve them and move on, sometimes they find other ways to keep the process going without solving their issues.

And while there is a lot of questions around the market, while there is always an endless demand for new and unique experiences, I am 100% sure that there is a place for a data company, for a consulting company, that could, well, find those answers or provide companies with some data to help finding these answers.

I'll say it again: no, I am not telling all this to sell you our products. All these thoughts just bring me here with some questions I can't answer myself yet. Which are:

1) Since gamedev is always growing and always evolving, there are always some questions and some issues, so there is always an overwhelming demand for the answers or just for some help. But as you approach the industry and try looking deeper into it, you can see that it's almost endless. But you can't see the actual questions without knowing some insights from within the industry. So where to begin? I believe that it's not a great idea to just go and ask every gamedev company if they need something. That's not a conversation neither it's help, it's just a spam. But how the one can find out about the issues that require the answers the most, that can help the industry grow, that are being asked within the industry and need solving here and now?

2) There are thousands of game studios and an infinite amount of games already released, so the chances are that there is something similar to almost any new idea. Maybe we should move to that area and gather the information, company by company, genre by genre, game by game, so new developers could always rely on it and check if their idea is really that fresh? Do you feel like this is something that would be needed by the developers?

3) Here is a direct question to you, the reader, the person, who is related to gamedev much more than I am. Do you believe that there is a demand for some specific areas where we or the whole data industry should move to meet that demand? What could it be? What do you want to see on the market that could help your business, that you would use? What kind of consulting or data would you want or need? Since it's absolutely useless making reports that no one might need.

4) I strongly believe that as a company we should not become a shop or a store where someone finds some report and buys it and then forgets about the company until the next purchase. I believe that this whole reports and research system should be much more interactive and personal. For example, let's say there is a company which is able to find and structure any amount of data and find something useful in it, and there are lots of game developers, who know that company, who know their specialists and who rely on them while doing their work and a regular basis. I believe that it should not be something formal and documental, something rare and expensive, it should be something simple and quickly accessible. Let's say, any game developer asks a question or requests some data in his favorite chat from the manager he or she knows for a long time to receive some quick right answers. It should be different kind of relationship, much closer to the friendship than to b2b contract-regulated partnership. What do you think about that concept? Do you believe it has some potential? What are the flaws of it? What are the benefits? How would you use that or would you use that at all?

I think, this post explains my basic thoughts on this topic. Data and gamedev - how should it be? Should it be at all? I want to better understand the concept of our interaction with the professional which would be both productive and convenient for both sides. I would really love to read some opinions and commentaries from anyone related to the industry in any way - or just anybody who has anything to say. Do you have any concept in mind that we should look to as a company to become something you could need and use?

In my future posts I will be explaining how we as a company find the topics for our newest reports - again, not as an advertisement, but as a way to better understand if our ways are really the same as the ways gamedevs think and if we meet their expectations with current projects or should change our direction completely to make things better.

For now, I thank you all for reading this first introductory post and wish all a great day.

I hope, you will enjoy reading my blog.


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