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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.

Game fingerprinting in ACR platforms

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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