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Why Large Firms In The Video Gaming Ecosystem Rely On Niche Partners Like Gameopedia

The Current Landscape

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a lot of people to stay indoors. One pastime that has seen a spike in interest as a result of this forced isolation is video gaming. This sudden increase in the demand for video games has been a blessing in disguise for the Video Game industry. Gamers have increased in number on all platforms, be it mobile, console, or PC. Video game publishers and stores have also reported rapid growth during this period. Even better, this growth has been observed across all sectors of gaming, ranging from the big AAA market to the niche Indie/AA market.

Through this growth, the ecosystem strongly indicates better ties between large companies and smaller, niche firms to tackle the rapidly changing trends.

Video Gaming Ecosystem

Traditionally, large companies find it a challenge to be agile when it comes to decision-making. Their policies are controlled by a huge leadership team, which in turn is influenced by the interests of the company’s investors and shareholders. As a result, adapting to changing trends is only feasible for these companies by turning to outsourcing. They partner with smaller, boutique firms that can provide them various services at a fraction of what it would have cost to set up the same in-house. These smaller firms are focused on a very specific niche in the industry, such as Game Teardowns or Sentiment Analysis of game reviews. This sharp focus allows them to develop expertise faster than most large firms.

Benefits Of Working With Niche Gaming Partners

Let’s see why using niche firms is a more feasible option compared to setting up a new business unit in-house:

  1. Focus – A niche market offering is all about solving those crucial time-consuming and error-prone problems faced by businesses. Niche players do not cast their net wide but are very specific about whom they serve and how they do it. This focus helps bigger companies as they get to take advantage of an expert team’s services without a huge upfront investment.
  2. Scale – Large firms are often skeptical about collaborating with other larger players. Niche firms are a safe bet, as they are more focused on building their expertise, and the smaller scale at which they operate negates the risk of competition, thus making them an ideal partner for larger firms to collaborate with.
  3. Speed – Niche firms in general do not deal with a lot of bureaucracy and red tape. They operate with much leaner and faster processes, which enables them to constantly adapt to the clients’ needs. This in turn makes it possible to deliver results in a quicker time period. This speed can rarely be found when collaborating with a larger firm. 
  4. Customization capability – Following up on the above, given that niche firms are more flexible with their processes, they are also able to offer more customized solutions, without compromising on speed. The clients are also comfortable discussing more customizable options, as they know that the dedicated team of experts will do their very best to meet the requirements. This is not to say that a larger firm would not be able to offer the same, but it would likely take much longer to get back with a similar offering, not to mention at a significant additional cost.
  5. Pricing – Speaking of costs, hiring niche firms remains profitable for most large companies, as the former stay lean with a small employee base. Every person hired in these firms is chosen after careful consideration and this reflects in the very reasonable pricing structure offered to clients. In these uncertain times, these firms place great emphasis on building relationships, so they are unlikely to jack up prices overnight. This makes them a safe choice to work with.
  6. Dedication – While every service firm does its best to treat its clients with equal priority, the fact remains that the larger the firm, the more likely it is that the client will be given only as much response as contractually obligated. Smaller firms realize the need to treat their clients with utmost priority and can focus on delivering the very best in customer satisfaction.

Services that Niche Gaming Firms Can Offer to the Video Game Industry

  • Video Game MetadataMetadata provides essential information about a game such as its developer and publisher, release date, age ratings and so on. This data is essential to maintain several kinds of game databases and plays an important role in data analysis as well.
  • Game Teardowns – Looking into what makes a game successful can help other developers and publishers understand what makes a game tick. A game teardown offers a vast and comprehensive breakdown of what a game consists of how all of its moving parts work. This work is best done by experts in the industry who do similar work on hundreds, if not thousands of games each year.
  • Game Insights – Part of the process of making a game involves understanding how the market is reacting to certain elements in a game. A proper analysis of multiple games already released in the market can provide these insights, and not every developer can or will want to do this analysis in-house.
  • Sentiment Analysis – Another service that niche firms are best suited to offer is sentiment analysis. This involves analyzing the conversations and general sentiment about a game after its release. A game may have varying opinions by critics and the public. As it is the public conversations that influence sales in the long term, understanding this sentiment is important for developers of upcoming games.
  • Game Content For Reference Fingerprints –  Automatic Content Recognition helps identify the game being played on a screen, be it a Smart TV or a Smart Device connected to a TV. ACR data is used by several players in the market, and for the recognition to be made possible, Reference Fingerprints of the game being played are required to match against the sample collected from the consumer.
  • Video Game Media – Some companies – especially stores – require custom game media to use on their portals. This includes custom box art, descriptions, short clips and so on.
  • Customized Services – Then there are services which are unique to the company looking for them. These services may not have been defined by the industry yet. Resolving them requires a team of experts who are well-versed with the multitude of games coming into the market each year and can provide custom solutions.

While the gaming industry has been fortunate to come out strong during the pandemic, the world economy continues to remain uncertain. Also, it is much riskier for large firms to take new in-house initiatives at this time of uncertainty. In such a period, it is beneficial for large firms to entrust niche companies to help them adapt to the changing trends, instead of trying to develop new in-house capabilities from scratch.

Gameopedia is one such provider of niche solutions in the gaming industry. For more than a decade, we have been building our expertise in providing game metadata, recommendations, and insights, which makes us the top choice for meeting these niche services. We offer a wide range of services in the gaming ecosystem that cater to various companies. Interested in what we have to offer? Reach out to us to learn more about our service offerings.

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The Definitive Video Game Database

With an estimated market size of $167.5 billion, the video game industry has come a long way since its humble beginnings around fifty years ago. Once marketed almost exclusively towards kids and teens, video games have now matured to create unique experiences for adults as well. This is helped by the fact that the children who grew up playing video games in the 20th century stuck to their hobby and are now adult gamers.

A natural consequence of this evolution is that there are now multiple genres of games to choose from, with each game further having several sub-genres and other elements that make it unique. Even for the most passionate gamer, it can be hard to keep track of the multitude of games arriving in the market each year. This is one of the reasons for the existence of a Video Game Database.

What is a Video Game Database?

A Video Game Database contains intricate data on multiple aspects of each game. There were some databases that started in the 1990s, became popular and in fact continue to thrive today. These were almost always crowd-sourced and worked as a good source for gamers and enthusiasts. 

Since then, Video Game Databases have continued to evolve and gave rise to niche Professional Databases for more intricate requirements. They are maintained by teams of video game experts, who take great care in curating the data entered into the database. Their goal is to provide curated and classified high-quality data for the gaming ecosystem. 

Before we dive deeper into the two types of databases mentioned above, let us examine the need for a Video Game Database in the first place.

The need for a Video Game Database

With thousands of video games releasing on just one popular marketplace (Steam) every year, it is clear to anyone who works in the industry that there needs to be a process through which one can organize and study data regarding major releases. This is where a Video Game Database comes into the picture. A properly managed database can provide accurate information about an assortment of games.

The two major types of Video Game Databases – crowdsourced and professionally managed – are both essential to organize and understand the huge stream of data pouring in each year. This data, when used efficiently, has several applications, the most prominent of which is to help consumers make smart purchases.

Now let us compare the two major types of databases, looking at the benefits and limitations of each one.

Crowdsourced vs Professional Databases

Video Game Database

What does a Video Game Database contain?

  • Game Metadata (Basic information) – This includes information like the game’s release date, developer/publisher, age ratings, release platforms, and so on. Game metadata is used to quickly identify core information about a game, which can then be used to find games with similar data. 
  • Game Breakdown/Teardown  – A breakdown/teardown of a game breaks down the various concepts and components that make up a game, to analyze what makes it tick. This builds upon the information included in the metadata and adds on data like Genre, Gameplay Actions, Game Concepts (Design choices used in the game), Perspective, Types of Elements used (weapons, mods, and so on). Building upon information collected in a game breakdown, Games can be classified into groups. This classification helps in identifying patterns between games. 
  • Game-related multimedia– These include screenshots, high-definition trailers, and gameplay videos.
  • Relations – This information analyzes how a game is related to other games in a series or franchise. For example, a series includes games that continue their story with sequels. An example of this is the Halo series. A franchise is a group of games that all revolve around a common theme, but have their individual stories. An example of this is the Assassin’s Creed franchise (which, interestingly, also has a series of sequels included)

This varied mix of information enriches the value that a database can provide, giving rise to many potential applications. So, who exactly taps into this potential?

Who needs a Video Game Database?

  • Online game stores – Digital game purchases have gone up by leaps and bounds in recent years. This makes it important for Online game stores to ensure that they provide accurate data that are always up to date about each game to their customers. It is also in their interest to provide smart game recommendations for returning customers. These recommendations are powered by algorithms, which in turn need a database to feed them.
  • Game Developers & Publishers – Market research is a key phase in the development of any video game. Game developers of all sizes spend a considerable amount of time analyzing the in-trend game features and their competitors’ games to make their games better. Such data can easily be provided by a professional database.
  • Advertisers – Advertisers can use video game data for creating better ads, powered by sentiment analysis. This allows advertisers to pick an opportune moment to run their campaign, by reaching out to a targeted and engaged audience, that is already invested in the kind of game(s) being advertised.
  • Media outlets – As competition heats up in the media space, larger outlets can differentiate themselves from their competitors by providing richer and up-to-date data to their users via an API that is powered by a stream of data fed by a Video Game Database. The data is then supplemented with high-quality screenshots, trailers and artwork related to the games. 

And it’s not just limited to these four; many digital distribution platforms, gaming websites and forums also require access to an up-to-date video game database.

Conclusion

The recent boom in gaming due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to sustain well into the future. As the number of gamers across the world increases, businesses in the industry will need to serve this rising audience more efficiently. Using the functions of a well-maintained database is a step in the right direction.

Gameopedia’s professionally maintained database can serve multiple needs of businesses in the gaming industry. We provide a vast array of customizable services, powered by our database that contains more than 5 million Video game facts/insights and up to 13,000 Game attributes for more than 180,000 games.

Our database keeps growing every day and we are excited to work in this dynamic, ever-changing industry. Get in touch with us to know more.

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Everything You Need To Know About Video Game Metadata

What is Video Game Metadata?

Metadata describes the contents of an item, i.e. any information that summarizes basic information about the item, which can make finding and working with particular data easier.  For example, the ingredients listed behind a box of cookies is metadata describing the contents of the cookie. 

Similarly, video game metadata are descriptors about the game that not only give you an overview of the game like the developer’s name, publisher’s name, release date, game description, and so on, but it also helps the people, using this data, easily understand what the game has to offer without having to purchase or play the game yourself.

What Constitutes Video Game Metadata

Game Metadata could be any information that gives the reader insights about the game. From the release date to the game franchise it belongs to, any information that tells us something about the game can be considered game metadata.

Let’s take the example of Borderlands 3 – an action role-playing first-person shooter. The metadata for this game would look something like this:

Sample Game Data for online sellers

The information above may appear to be basic but its applications are invaluable to certain sections of the industry. 

Speaking of, let’s move onto our next question:

Who Needs Game Metadata?

Everybody that is a part of the gaming ecosystem, from the retailer to the consumer, uses game metadata at some level. The format in which the data is presented and how it is used can vary depending on the requirement. Let us explore this in detail. 

e-Retailers & App Stores

What is the retailer’s goal? To engage their customer and attend to their needs or solve a problem they have. 

Not the answer you were expecting? I’m sure everybody’s first thought was to sell more but it might be more prudent in the long run to gain the trust and loyalty of your existing user base. And gamers are a loyal bunch.

The best way to gain a gamer’s trust? Understand what you are selling inside out. 

With detailed and descriptive metadata, the store can display the right games to the customer most likely to buy them. What are these “right games”? They are games which have the features that a customer wants, or a game by the same developer whose earlier work the customer enjoyed. This is information that the customer needs to make a decision. By offering the right games, the store improves not just the customer’s user experience but also instills a certain sense of loyalty in them. You gain their trust by putting the customer first with recommendations and search results that solve their problem.

Let’s consider the example of Cyberpunk 2077. Even though it was the most anticipated game of 2020, not everybody was looking forward to the game. This segment of your user base would prefer not to be inundated with content and promotional material regarding the game. For these users, “Cyberpunk 2077” is the definition of not being the “right game”.

Cyber Punk 2077 Game Metadata

Combining comprehensive game metadata with user behavior, your game store can display content that actually appeals to the audience, making their experience more personalized and improving conversions. But above all, you put the customer first, building their trust in you and retaining them as loyal customers.   

For more information, have a look at our metadata offerings for e-Retailers.

Advertisers

People use the same item for different purposes. These purposes are defined by the user’s requirement. For example, while a gamer could be looking for a mouse suitable for gaming, an office employee will look for a mouse suited for day-to-day use. Depending on their requirement, the features they are looking for can also change.

This means that to advertise the right product to the right consumer, it is vital to understand the “why” and not just the “what”. So then you don’t just show the user the item that they were looking for, but you also solve their problem.

Let us look at this through the example of a game. The “Mario Kart” franchise is an incredibly popular series of games, having sold over 150 million copies worldwide. These games are enjoyed across all age-groups, by gamers who have different requirements from their gaming habit. 

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Metadata

Some gamers play a game because they like to win. They like competitive games. Then there are those who play games purely as a social activity that they indulge in with family or friends. There’s another group of gamers who have a hard day at work, and would like to unwind with a casual game in the evening, without having to worry about complex plotlines or learn advanced gameplay mechanics. 

The beauty of “Mario Kart” is that it has something for all the types of gamers described above, but an advertiser can’t expect to use one campaign to reach out to all three groups. Trying to sell a game in the “Mario Kart” series requires using a different pitch to sell to each of these three kinds of gamers. To do that, they need to understand how to appeal to these target demographics. What keywords do they look out for when making a game purchase? What features do they expect from a game? Do they expect their games to look simple, or photorealistic with complex mechanics?

Hence, the advertisers should not only align with “what” the consumer is looking for but also the “why”. With comprehensive game metadata, ad networks can improve their targeting, making it more personalized while providing context to why the said product is best suited for your needs, and not just the best on the market.

Advertisers can learn more about our data offerings that can benefit their campaigns.

ACR Platforms

Along with the rise of OTT, we have seen a significant need for Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) – identification technology that utilizes a large database to recognize content (video, audio, or digital image) played on a media device. Using this technology, ACR platforms can not only extract user-specific viewing data like time of viewing, show title, genre, etc. but also prevent third-parties from pirating online content.

For example, major appliance providers like LG and Samsung do not have a way to track what content is being played on their Smart TVs via gaming consoles, making it difficult for these brands to understand user behavior and interests. Instead, they have to depend on the device manufacturer or third-party providers for this information.

In a world, where gaming has become everyone’s new favorite pastime, this information is gold, and paying for this data is not feasible in the long term. This led to manufacturers using ACR to bridge this gap. 

ACR platforms utilize thousands of “fingerprinted” content to use as a reference in identifying the viewer’s on-screen content. With comprehensive game metadata, ACR platforms can tag game videos and screenshots with descriptive tags that describe key characteristics or elements that can be used to identify a specific piece of content.  

Read more on our data offerings for ACR Platforms.

Why Do You Need Game Metadata?

Improve Search Results and Product Discoverability

In a study carried out by Kotaku, 40% of purchased games are never even played. From this information, we can assume that there are people to play games but they can never find the right game. So, to get the right game to the right individual, it is important to work on cataloging these games properly.

With an exhaustive game metadata repository, you get access to descriptive tags and information that provide an in-depth understanding of the gaming product or service you are offering. This allows you to improve product placement and discovery.

For example, if a customer is interested in purchasing a popular RPG game called “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”, they would understand from the description that the game is an open world Action RPG with a medieval setting. But if they wanted to understand to what extent the open world and RPG elements are present in the game, they could be presented with additional information by using descriptive tags. For this game, some tags would be, “Open World (Defining)”, “Action (Key Feature)”, and “Role Playing (Defining)”. 

From these tags, the customer understands that the game heavily features open world and Role Playing features, while Action elements are strongly present without being the main focus. This additional layer of information can strengthen the customer’s resolve to purchase the game.

Understand and Use Your Data Effectively

The most common problem faced by people working with data is that it is not “clean”, i.e. it is not organized and easy to understand. This makes working with data difficult and time-consuming. 

With comprehensive metadata, people can make sense of the data presented to them, reducing turn-around times, and improving the quality of insights derived from the data.An organized dataset, such as the one provided by Gameopedia, can help by cutting down the time required to clean the noise and putting the data to use right away. 

Improve Trust in Your Data

Organized game data and information, collected in a standardized manner, means that the data is immediately ready for use and its in-depth nature provides transparency that would have been difficult to achieve otherwise.  Gameopedia has a proven track record in delivering standardized metadata consistently, with all the definitions and use cases being agreed upon by a team of gaming experts.

Properly managed game metadata can help organizations better trust the data that is collected as they can rest assured that the information is curated in an organized manner.

The data that we collect can be used for a variety of purposes. How much data you collect and how you use it is again at your discretion. What powerful, descriptive metadata does is it makes the data easier to understand and use irrespective of the volume.

At Gameopedia, we look to provide informative game metadata to every member of the gaming ecosystem in order to empower their efforts and capture the gaming market. Reach out to us to leverage the power of data encompassing over 180,000 games spanning 200 platforms.

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The Urgent Need For A New Game Taxonomy In 2021

As video games become more complex and feature more intricate features, there is a long overdue need for a new, comprehensive Game Taxonomy for 2021. In this blog, we will look at the need for a new taxonomy, and the industries who need this level of game classification.

In the last decade, video games have become the world’s favorite pastime. With the growing influence of video games in a person’s life, every member of the gaming ecosystem, from developers to retailers, now have a larger audience to build and sell games to. 

Selling to this audience can be tricky. Developers and publishers need to understand the complicated formula that works for successful games and then build on it. Retailers, who now have thousands of games to feature on their portals, need to correctly identify and recommend titles that a customer is likely to buy based on their preferences. This is where a comprehensive, flexible and actionable taxonomy comes into play.

The Definitive Game Taxonomy for 2021

Today’s games are complex works of art that are designed to continuously engage a wide audience. So, to think that one aspect of a game is what makes it special, is definitely foolish. For example, Candy Crush belongs to the Match-3 Puzzle genre, but is this mechanic what led to its enormous success?

The answer is no.

The leader board, new level additions, timer, move-limit and reward systems are some of the other attributes of the game that incentive the player to come back to the game. More screen time means more ad impressions which translates into more income for the developer, publisher, and ad networks. 

As you can tell from the example above, there are multiple factors that play a part in the success of a game. To identify the importance of these aspects in the game is what matters. And this is where Gameopedia’s Values System comes into play.

The Values System

Gameopedia has been delivering insightful game data to some of the biggest companies in the world since 2008. In the last 12 years, we have created detailed game breakdowns for over 180,000 games. Over time, we have come to realize that while a genre, feature-set, mechanics, and graphic style may be useful in providing a high-level description about the game, it does not do justice to describe what the game has to offer. 

So, we introduced a rating system that assigns a value to feature-sets and mechanics to help evaluate their importance within the game. Going back to Candy Crush, here is how our game classification framework would breakdown the game:

This unique view into the anatomy of a game can reveal information that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. For example, although Puzzle is the main genre of the game, there are certain important attributes of the game like the Beat the Clock mechanic that is more prominently seen in Action games. Clearly, to exclude Action as a Genre would be foolish but it is definitely not more important than solving the Match-3 Puzzle when it comes to game progression.  

This extra layer to the data allows for a more comprehensive look into the game and it’s offerings. Additionally, you can identify exactly what makes the game popular among its audience and how it can be improved or modified to appeal to another demographic.

Entering the Nitty-Gritty

Starting with Pong in the 70s, video games have evolved from a simple digital game with a couple of controls into more complex entities with multiple characters, storylines, mechanics, and so on. In this multi-billion dollar industry, game developers and publishers are innovating daily to engage a community with a goldfish-like memory. 

To break into the market, it is important that studios understand market trends, analyse their competition, and identify popular features. But with thousands of games hitting the shelves each year, it is difficult to recognise what a game has to offer. This is where a well-defined, in-depth, and flexible Game Taxonomy can help. 

A comprehensive Game Taxonomy lets you deep-dive into every, single aspect of the game and decode where each feature and mechanic fits in the overall scheme. It also gives you insights into how the developer has designed the game to make it not just enjoyable, but profitable as well.  

Let’s take a look at two of the most popular open-world games in the market today.: Grand Theft Auto V and Mafia II. Both are relatively well-known but one is clearly more popular than the other. The reason for the crowd loving Grand Theft Auto V more than Mafia II is because of the well-thought out and vast open-world. Rockstar Games created a dynamic open-world environment with multiple side-missions, heists, and DLC content that immerses the player and rarely breaks the trance. Mafia II on the other hand, serves the purpose of delivering a more linear story experience, while still allowing the player to explore the open-world.

Both games have been successful in their objective and have proven profitable for their respective publishers. But for someone looking to replicate this success, it is necessary to understand what made each game tick.

Industry-Defining Game Taxonomy Designed With A Purpose In Mind

A comprehensive Game Taxonomy has use cases for a wide range of beneficiaries. Gameopedia’s Game Taxonomy, has been created while keeping the pain points and requirements of the gaming ecosystem in mind. 

Retailers – They can help their customers find better results for the kind of games they are looking for. For example, a customer may want to purchase a shooter game. This is a huge genre that has drastically different games that can show up in a search result. A single-player game like Metro Exodus and a multiplayer title like Halo 5 are both shooters, but they are each meant for a different target audience. A well-defined taxonomy can help narrow down the results to suit the customer’s preferences, thus helping the retailer maximise the chances of a sale. 

AdvertisersAdvertisers can benefit from a good Game Taxonomy by having access to better ad targeting tools that are built by measuring trends in the community. Understanding the current mood towards popular genres can help advertisers focus their attention towards maximizing returns from markets that are highly receptive.

Developers/Publishers  – In order to ensure that their in-development game will get a strong start at launch, developers and publishers need to understand the market and analyze their competition. Releasing a game in a particular genre when there is negative sentiment in the market towards that genre can be bad for business. Similarly, releasing a game that is too similar to the competition can also bring bad news. Therefore it is essential to do the research beforehand, in order to come up with a strong launch strategy. This can be achieved by making use of a comprehensive Game Taxonomy to understand the competition as well as the market.

Conclusion

A good Game Taxonomy should ideally be consistent, flexible and most importantly, up-to-date to keep in touch with the evolving trends.

At Gameopedia, our team of experts are constantly at work analyzing the changing trends in the video game market. Our taxonomy is well-researched and built to ensure that the most important aspects are covered accurately. If you have a business problem that requires a customized solution powered by a comprehensive Game Taxonomy, get in touch with us and make better business decisions with game data.

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How Quality Game Reference Fingerprints Power Ad Targeting

Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) is enabling advertisers to interact with their audiences like never before. With millions of Smart TV owners opting-in to use ACR across the world, advertisers now have valuable data to refine their campaigns and better understand their target audience. 

Smart devices such as Roku and Apple TV are also being paired with regular TVs to give them the “smart” capability of connecting to the internet. This helps bring many more households into the ACR fold, providing more valuable data to draw insights.

The video game market is one of the fastest-growing segments for the ACR market. With millions of people playing video games during the COVID-19 pandemic, activity numbers are spiking for a large number of popular games. ACR vendors catering to advertisers will thus have one requirement right away: high-quality reference fingerprints for the latest and popular video games.

Traditional Ad Targeting

Before moving on to reference fingerprints, let us step back a bit and talk a bit about ad targeting. With consumers being exposed to thousands of ads per day, ad targeting is important now more than ever. Connecting advertisers with their target audience was a challenge in the days before the introduction of the Smart TV. Advertisers would bid for commercial spots on various programs that their target audience was reportedly interested in, and then they hoped that their ads would reach enough people to justify the high spends. This rudimentary form of ad targeting is still used of course and is admittedly still effective in some markets, but targeting can now be achieved more efficiently and effectively by making use of ACR platforms.

Ad Targeting powered by ACR

Now let us bring reference fingerprints back into the picture. When coupled with relevant metadata, ACR platforms can be used to provide advertisers flexible ad pricing depending on the popularity of the game or the genre. Advertisers can use this data to provide interactive experiences and game recommendations to their target audience. 

For example, a user playing an Action game such as “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War” could be recommended a similar game such as “Doom Eternal”, which is also a First-Person Shooter like the former.

The more practical use case, however, is with live-service games. Users who have opted-in for ACR to be enabled on their Smart TVs and Devices benefit from the technology by receiving personalized ads. A user who spends a lot of time on a live-service game may be pleased to see an ad from the game’s publisher, offering an in-game bonus or reward for interacting with the ad. This is just one scenario of how personalized ads can be sold using ACR platforms.

Another application is audience segmentation and measurement. Advertisers can get valuable data that identifies which group of gamers are highly-active and spend more time on a game,  maybe even playing it to the end. This group is more likely to actively be interested in purchasing add-ons or similar games.

We are still in the evolving stages of personalized ads delivered through ACR platforms. As vendors and advertisers continue to discover the potential of this new medium, the possibilities are huge. It all starts with proper content recognition, provided by reference fingerprints.

Challenges of Fingerprinting Video Games

  1. Video games tend to be between 2 – 100+ hours long, with some games offering replayable content that can theoretically be played for thousands of hours. There are exceptions where games may be as short as 10 minutes, but these are far and few. This is a key challenge, as storing footage worth hundreds or even thousands of hours for one game is not practical.
  1. Video games are unpredictable. Being an interactive medium, Video games are influenced by user behavior. So the footage created from two gameplay sessions might be significantly different. For instance, an experienced gamer may play through a level with ease, and finish it in less than thirty minutes. A relatively inexperienced gamer might spend an hour or more on the same level, exploring various possibilities to clear it. This results in extra footage of the same level that is hardly useful for a database. Now multiply this with the thousands of games that get released each year and storage quickly becomes a challenge.
  2. An incorrectly captured fingerprint can prove to be costly, as the advertiser will have spent their marketing dollars in identifying a wrong game. Low-quality fingerprints also have the risk of matching against the wrong game. A well-constructed capture process can help avoid the risk of producing low-quality fingerprints.
  3. For live-service games, it is important to keep updating the database with fingerprints of the latest content update. Most live-service games are updated on a “seasonal” basis, with each season lasting between 2-4 months. As user interest spikes at the start of each new season, it becomes essential to have a reference fingerprint available within hours of the season’s launch.

Conclusion

Quality reference fingerprints, delivered on a timely schedule will help keep your database up-to-date and ready to cater to the needs of advertisers in real-time. When coupled with relevant metadata, these can be incredibly beneficial for ad targeting, offering efficient returns to advertisers’ investments.

After analyzing hundreds of recently released games, we here at Gameopedia have devised a proprietary process to create high-quality reference fingerprints that identify the unique elements of a game and enable accurate recognition. We are well-equipped to keep track of new seasonal updates for some of the most popular games across the world. Our team of experienced professionals (who are also avid gamers) can identify new content and create high-quality reference fingerprints, within the launch window of the new season. 

We would love to hear from you about your video game fingerprinting needs or any custom requirements you may have to maintain your database. Talk to our game data experts or mail us at services@gameopedia.com.

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How e-Retailers and App Stores can boost Game Discoverability and Conversions with Quality Game Content and Metadata

The ability to collect from and analyse vast pools of information is the standard expected of all enterprises with a digital footprint. This represents an increasing number of businesses and operations every year.

With more than one-third of all global retailers selling the majority of their products via digital platforms, and a two-thirds expecting the gap between physical and digital retail to shrink ever further in the coming years, it is becoming ever more imperative for e-Retailers and App Stores to streamline their data usage in order to improve uniformity, efficiency, and cost. 

In order to take advantage of the ripe condition of the digital retail market, there needs to be both the mechanism for sourcing large quantities of data, as well as the ability to analyse, categorise, and easily communicate what that data means.

This is especially true in the video game industry, which is growing exponentially, both in terms of overall sales, but also in terms of how many of those sales are switching over to digital retailing. 

PC gaming has steadily been shifting from physical sales to digital sales, with the ratio being 4:1 in favor of physical sales in 2009 in the US, to an almost directly inverse 1:4 in favor of digital sales by 2018

Gaming app download revenue was responsible for $20.9 billion, or 72.3% of all app revenue for Q3 2020, across both iOS and Android app stores

As a result of the current global pandemic, which has led many customers to turn to digital options for their needs, Sony has seen console game digital sales grow by 154% this year alone, in comparison to their physical sales growth of 1%. In the same year, for the first time in their history, more than 50% of all their gaming revenue came from digital sales. This trend tracks similarly for other major game developers. 

What is video game metadata?

Game metadata are descriptors about the game that not only give you an overview of the game like the developer’s name, publisher’s name, release date, game description, and so on, but it also allows the people who use this data to easily understand what the game has to offer without having to purchase or play the game yourself.

Video Game Metadata

How stores benefit from quality metadata and content

Video game metadata can be vital in increasing product discovery, as well as providing an enhanced customer experience, for discerning customers keen to know more about a product before, especially via a digital platform. This increases the transparency offered by a digital retail platform, further increasing the likelihood of a purchase, as well as a returning customer.

The presentation of certain keywords regarding genre or gameplay specifications will also greatly enhance a platform’s SEO, allowing visibility across search engines, while simultaneously increasing visibility of related products on the app store or e-retail platform. Powerful game taxonomy allows retailers to bolster their in-house personalization and search solutions.

Good metadata and content is capable of guiding the customer from arriving at the app store or e-retailer platform, to the point at which they make a purchase. During the discoverability phase, keywords, SEO classifications, and relevant images guide the customer along this journey. A varied database improves the targeting of a wider array of customers, leading to increased conversions.

An estimated 65% of users barely swipe or scroll beyond the first images and text they see. The remaining users, however, prefer to examine their products in detail. Access to well-organised video game metadata caters to both types of users. In addition to this, the smart deployment of a well-curated database can keep customers engaged for longer periods, improving website traffic.

Despite the rapidly growing state of the global digital market, the presence of high-quality metadata remains minimal. In 2020, most e-retailers and app stores rely on data provided to them by suppliers, and their own in-house collection and sorting. This is an expensive and cumbersome process, with supplier data varying in its quantity, quality, and clarity.

How can e-retailers and app stores gain the competitive edge in video game metadata?

In place of these expensive and inconsistent options, e-retailers and app stores are better served seeking out services and products that specialize in providing metadata collection and curation.

This allows retailers to avoid the hassle and expense of organizing and maintaining their own databases, freeing up their time and capital to be invested elsewhere. It also ensures the accuracy and uniformity of game information across platforms. In utilizing a pre-existing, well-curated database, e-retailers and app stores will be able to improve existing personalization and product discovery with detailed descriptive tags and metadata.

With that being the case, an even wider, even more varied customer base is likely to turn towards e-retailers and app stores for their video game needs. The ability to provide these customers with the most relevant information, organised and classified according to their individual search and spending patterns and quirks, is a provably successful way of increasing the frequency a customer returns for more purchases.

With a database spanning 40 years of video game metadata, across over 200 platforms, this is where Gameopedia and its products shine, specializing in a niche suite of data services that improve game discoverability, enhance customer experiences, and increase conversion. 

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Why the Gaming Industry is the Next Big Market for Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) Platforms and Smart Devices

The technology in Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) platforms has evolved rapidly since its humble beginnings as a music-detection tool in 2011. Today, this technology can be used to recognize more than just music and has expanded to multiple media markets. As per estimates from various vendors who work with ACR data, more than 100 million households across the world have opted-in to enable ACR on their Televisions and smart devices.

Of the various markets that can be reached through this medium, few are as active and rapidly growing as the Video Game market.

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a sudden increase in the number of people staying at home for long periods of time. This in turn caused a steep rise in the number of gamers. These include people playing a video game for the very first time and those playing one for the first time as adults. This caused several people to (re) discover a passion for gaming that helped the Video Game industry join the pool of select industries that benefited from the pandemic. It is expected that a sizable portion of these new gamers will continue to be active consumers for the foreseeable future.

Smart Devices, ACR Platforms, and Video Games

Over the past few years, Smart Televisions (TVs) and devices such as Roku, Chromecast, and Apple TV have found their way into millions of households across the world. Traditionally used to consume Movies and Television content, some of these devices are now doubling up as gaming platforms. Google brings its cloud gaming service – Stadia – to the big screen using its Chromecast series of devices. Similarly, Apple has invested heavily in its own gaming service called Apple Arcade. Amazon has recently entered the fray with its Luna gaming service, which will be connected to the big screen through its Fire TV line of devices.

These services are improving accessibility to games for all audiences, particularly among people who did not invest in a dedicated game console or a gaming computer.

Needless to say, it is a very intriguing opportunity to apply ACR technology to this rapidly growing market, the foundation of which is a Reference Fingerprint of the content to be recognized.

How Game Fingerprinting works

A Reference Fingerprint contains the necessary content required to correctly identify a piece of media, in this case, a video game. Depending on the requirement, a fingerprint may contain either video, audio, or both video-audio identifiers.

On Smart TVs and devices which have opted in to enable ACR, a sample of the game currently being played is cross-referenced with the reference fingerprint, enabling the recognition of the game. Video games are interactive media, so people may interact with games in different ways. For ACR to work as intended, the reference fingerprint needs to be created with precise identifiers, so that no matter how the user chooses to play the game, the content is still recognized.

At Gameopedia, we have developed a process that produces accurate reference fingerprints, enabling smooth content recognition.

The Need for a Reference Fingerprint Database

The video game market is in a constant state of evolution, with player tastes changing quite often. On one hand, there are thousands of games coming out each year, and on the other, a small set of “live-service” games are constantly adding new content to retain their existing player base. Thus, it is essential to not only identify which of the new releases will go on to be potentially popular but also keep track of existing live-service games that continue to remain popular.

Here at Gameopedia, we thrive on keeping up with the latest trends in gaming. Our team of gaming experts can help curate reference fingerprints from a new title, on Day One of its global launch. This is critical as interest in a title tends to be at its peak in the first few days of its launch. Likewise, we can provide updated fingerprints for live-service games whenever they are updated with new content.

Applications of ACR for Video Games

Audience Segmentation and Measurement: An ACR Platform can be used to identify and measure the audience size for a particular game. A reference fingerprint is used to recognize a certain game being played on ACR – enabled devices and various statistical inferences can be made about the audience for that game. This data is quite valuable as it helps estimate the global sentiment towards a game.

Ad Targeting & Pricing:  While video games of every genre have their own dedicated audiences, some genres inevitably have larger audiences than others. For advertisers, it is important to identify games from popular genres (a few of which include Action, Shooter, Adventure, and Driving) to set up suitable targeting and pricing structures. It is here that a reference fingerprint bundled with relevant metadata fits into the picture. The fingerprint identifies the game and the metadata quickly identifies the genre that the game belongs to, thus allowing the advertiser to estimate the popularity of the game.

Content Enhancement: ACR Platforms can also be used to enhance the user’s experience while consuming a piece of content. Manufacturers of Smart devices may choose to partner with game publishers to provide interactive experiences to the users when a certain game is being played on the device. Such experiences include guides with helpful advice on game progression, additional media such as in-game lore entries, unseen cut scenes, and so on.

Another application of ACR Platforms in enhancing user experience is to provide additional game recommendations, based on the users’ current selection of games. ACR can identify the game(s) that a user chooses to spend a lot of time upon, and this information can then be utilized to provide recommendations for games that are likely to appeal to players of the identified game.

Copyright Infringement Detection: Video game publishers tend to be a bit lenient with how their IP is used by the public, as seen by the rapid distribution of video game footage on media outlets like YouTube and Twitch. A lot of publishers in fact encourage users to record, stream, upload, or otherwise distribute footage from their games, as this has been proven to help with raising awareness of these titles.

However, publishers may not always want their IP to be distributed in such a manner. For example, some publishers provide early access to their games to a select set of users, usually in an early stage of development. At this stage, publishers would not want footage from these early builds to reach the public at large. This is where ACR in game content recognition and allows publishers to catch any potential cases of copyright infringement.

Conclusion

We are on the cusp of a new generation of gaming. With the launch of two new, powerful game consoles and the rapid adoption of Smart TVs, the core gaming market is as strong as ever. And with cloud gaming poised to increase the spread of the market, now is the time for building a robust, up-to-date reference fingerprint database for video games. This truly is the next key chapter in the reach of ACR Platforms and smart devices.

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The Fall Of The IDFA and The Future of iOS Advertising

At the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple released a bunch of changes to its devices and operating systems as it always does.

But hidden among these were a series of privacy updates to iOS that nearly eliminates an important element of in-app mobile advertising and measurement — the Apple IDFA.

So what is the IDFA? And how does this affect the mobile marketing world?

The History of the IDFA

Apple introduced the IDFA in 2012 as a replacement for the Unique Device Identifier (UDID)

The UDID is a feature of iOS devices that is fetched when a user tries to activate the Apple device using iCloud or the Setup app. Similar to the IDFA, advertisers and publishers rely on the UDID to track user data and behavior. Ad services track the data and other apps a user has installed on their iOS device based on their UDID and use that data to target ads, as well as track app usage, setup game networks, and store some simple settings. 

Although the UDID was helpful to advertisers, it did have a major downside in terms of privacy. 

It was possible to link these tracking codes to a specific user which was a hindrance to user privacy. Also, the UDID was permanent which meant that if it was ever released, it could be directly traced to that user. As the conversation on data privacy took a more prominent role and concerns started to flow in, Apple eventually phased out the UDID and introduced the IDFA.

What is the IDFA?

The Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA) is a semi-permanent string of numbers and letters assigned to Apple devices like iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. 

It is used by advertisers and app publishers to recognize Apple users across multiple different apps to deliver personalized and targeted advertising, run frequency capping, measure campaign performance, and attribute impressions and clicks to app installs. IDFA also allowed the advertiser to identify whether specific users click an ad for payment and attribution purposes. 

The main reason to introduce the IDFA was to give power to the consumer. They could now decide if they wanted to share their tracking information with the app or service. Unlike the UDID, users now had the ability to opt-out of targeted marketing campaigns by enabling “Limit Ad Tracking” which restricts the advertiser’s use of the IDFA. Consumers could also reset their IDFA code if they wished to no longer receive personalized advertisements and experiences from advertisers and publishers.  

The IDFA quickly became a core component for the entire mobile marketing ecosystem on iOS, and plays a role in countless systems and scenarios, from ad targeting, remarketing, analytics, rate limiting, personalized content, user personas, and more.

But even the IDFA came with its flaws. 

The Problems with the IDFA

Although Apple introduced changes and updates to the IDFA system, the opt-in rate remained low and Apple is the one to blame for this. 

The option to opt-in to the IDFA program was hidden deep in the recesses of Apple’s settings, making it so that only someone who is actually looking for it can find it.

Pretty convenient, huh?

We thought so and so did other Apple users. And so as of September 16th, 2020, with the launch of iOS 14, Apple introduced an update to the system. Users are now shown a pop-up when they open the app asking them if they wished to share their information with third-party sites. 

By allowing users to choose, it will reduce the amount of data that’s collected and advertisers will no longer be able to accurately target and track those users within apps on iOS devices. Experts already estimate the adoption rate to be around  

Also, it would seem that Apple is looking to kill the IDFA themselves with the ominous messaging. Messaging like this would deter most from sharing their information.

Although a great tool to ensure user privacy, advertisers and publishers would now have to learn to survive without the information that enabled personalized ad targeting. With the adoption rate estimated to be around 10-20%, advertisers are going to have to look for alternatives to maintain their relevance.

Alternatives To The IDFA

The world without the IDFA is not as terrible as one would foresee. Although the IDFA is heading out soon (or at least appears to be), advertisers can still get the information they want.

Here’s our list of the alternate tracking methods advertisers can use to improve ad targeting.

#1: Fingerprinting

Companies already use fingerprinting to attribute web to app conversion paths. 

It collects mobile device attributes like IP addresses, device types, software versions, and more, to identify a device. In a world without IDFA at all, the app to app conversion flows could simply mimic the web to app flows, using fingerprinting in much the same way.

But even fingerprinting comes with its own set of problems. Apart from the obvious GDPR complications, fingerprinting may not be a viable option as it can be seen as an invasive and non-permissioned type of tracking; the very thing that Apple is trying to avoid. 

#2: SKAdNetwork

The SKAdNetwork aims to provide conversion data to advertisers without revealing any user-level or device-level information. 

It uses the mobile OS as a privacy-oriented mediator between the publisher, the advertiser, and the ad network that places the ad. The information that is shared does not contain any device identifiers, that would allow advertisers to track user behaviors. 

There are some downsides, however. Although accuracy increases, the quality of attribution data available to advertisers will be highly compromised as multi-touch attribution is completely out of scope for the SKAdNetwork. Also, campaign optimization and retargeting will also be much harder to do. 

The future of the mobile ad industry looks uncertain as advertisers look for new ways to stay relevant. 

At Gameopedia, we look to provide accurate metadata that will allow advertisers and networks to achieve true hyper-personalization with effective contextual ad campaigns. Reach out to us to join the future of advertising.

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