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Live Ops Management before Live Ops - a.k.a. Live Ops Tool Development of 2021 at Square Enix Montreal

What are the essential tools to operate live games in 2021? I share some valuable insights in this blogposts.

Live Ops Blog Series 

1. Live Ops Management before Live Ops—a.k.a. Live Ops Tool Development of 2021 at Square Enix Montreal 
2. The Day of a LiveOps Manager during the soft launch phase at Square Enix Montreal 
3. Creating Personalized Player’s experience for maximum engagement 

 

LiveOps Management before LiveOps—Live Ops Tool Development in 2021 

When LiveOps is brought up, the first things that usually come to mind are only the tip of the iceberg: game-events and in-app purchases. There is a world that front-end user (i.e., players) do not see! 

In this first in a series of LiveOps blog posts, I will focus on the best elements of LiveOps infrastructure, systems development, and integration that run parallel to the preparation of games for the LiveOps phase. 

 

There are two main phases in LiveOps Tool Development: 

  1. Deep Foundation building: Back-end live ops systems and tool development
  2. Foundation building: Integration of back-end systems and customization of the tools based on the product needs

The aim of delving into the tech behind LiveOps operating the service (the game) while learning about the game’s health through an understanding of player satisfaction thanks to KPIs.  

If adjustments are required based on the BI (busines intelligence) performance insights, the in-game parameters can be adjusted at any given moment without involving engineers. 

For LiveOps managers, the development of back-end systems and tools begins by laying out core functionalities and then using the ambitious features of the latest technology, which will enhance the tools in our arsenal within LiveOps.  

 

Let’s look at the core elements of a LiveOps system in 2021:  

LiveOps Scheduling Tool is the primary element of a successful LiveOps infrastructure.  

This is a platform where events can be schedules, including Game Events, In-app purchases, Push Notifications, Pop Ups, Newsletter, and Resource Gifting to players.  

Scheduling is simply defining when an event (e.g., a special offer) will start and end.  

When a LiveOps event is scheduled (e.g., an offer or notification), the parameters of each unique event type must be modifiable. These parameters include the contents of an offer or the text that we want to communicate via a Push Notification.
Because the scheduling tool is mainly used by non-engineers, the interface needs to be user-friendly, easily understandable, and error-proof. 
Also, scheduling needs to be available in multiple environments.  

Before launching an event in the Live environment (Live environment is what the players interact with when a game is downloaded from the App Store or Google Play), the event’s functionality and configuration parameters are tested in the QA environment by our QA team to provide a flawless gameplay experience.  

Imagine launching a new feature or an event with modified parameters despite skipping the testing phase! That’s unimaginable at Square Enix Montréal! That is why new events are tested in a QA environment to which players do not have access.

 

Analytics / BI is another element without which LiveOps and Product Managers would be lost when it comes to understanding insights into product performance.  

With over 1 million games available to download in 2021, it is not exactly news in 2021 that the competition in the mobile gaming market is fierce. 

Games today need to evolve daily to provide players with the experience they are looking for. As top-performing games are competing, the only way to quickly extract insights about game performance and player behaviour is through data analysis.  

Through data analysis, our Business Intelligence team provides valuable insights into potential issues and churn points.  

Through analytics, we also look for game features that keep players playing. If we uncover churn points, then we can measure the impact of the applied changes afterward. Analytics are also leveraged to flag potential issues within the game economy via an automated error flagging system that helps direct our attention towards aspects that might be harder to uncover.

 We create games for millions of players and LiveOps aims to deliver the best possible experience for each player type in the user base. The Data Science team, in collaboration with the Product and User Research team, identifies the player types by leveraging the available data.  

 

Segmentation is the third element of LiveOps that allows us to provide players with customized experience based on their progression in gameplay or on the features they engage with.  

Players can move in and out of segments as well.  

Here is an example: We want new players who have just installed the game to encounter an easy Intro Battle Event to learn the core mechanics. In the meantime, other events are available for advanced players. New players won’t have access to the other events unless they complete the Intro Battle. Once players complete the Intro Battle, they transition out of the “New Players’ Segment”. This is an example of dynamic segmentation that lets players to move from one segment to another based on their in-game actions. 

New Game Features, UI elements, Offers, Notifications alongside many other game elements are launched every day. The goal of the product is to provide an experience that makes players stick around and enjoy the game.  

Within development teams, there is often a debate regarding the best possible way to release a feature. Colors of UI, Difficulty levels, Price points or Content of offers are the main design changes that lead to A/B testing.  

 

A/B Testing is often key to discovering our players’ preferences by offering multiple versions. Within the LiveOps scheduling tool, a feature is required that lets us run different versions of the same event. This ultimately guides us to the version of the new feature that is more engaging to players. The engagement of each version is determined through Analytics since the players who participate in different cohorts can be identified within the data. 

LiveOps tools are essential to delivering a flawless user experience because they empower us to improve games quickly, which, in turn, enables us to increase player satisfaction. 

 

In the post in our LiveOps Series, I will share the day of a Live Ops Manager during the soft launch phase of a game at Square Enix Montréal. 

 

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