Everything You Need To Know About Metadata For Video Games

What is Video Game Metadata?

Metadata describes an item, i.e. it is any information that summarizes basic details 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, metadata for video games 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 themselves.

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:

Metadata for video games

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

This leads to our next question:

Who Needs Metadata For Video Games?

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

A retailer’s goal is to engage their customer and attend to their needs or solve a problem they have. 

Your first thought might have been retailers want to sell more but it might be more prudent in the long run to gain the trust and loyalty of their 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 for example. 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”.

Metadata for video games - Cyberpunk-2077

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 their loyalty.

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 users’ requirement. For example, while a gamer could be looking for a mouse suitable for gaming, an office employee will look for a mouse more 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”. That way, 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 expectations from their gaming habit. 

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Metadata

Some gamers play because they like to win. They like competitive games.  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 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

With the rise of OTT platforms, 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 images) played on a media device. Using this technology, ACR platforms can not only extract user-specific viewing data like time of viewing, show title, and genre, 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 Metadata For Video Games?

Improve Search Results and Product Discoverability

In a study carried out by Kotaku, 40% of purchased games are never even played. From this information, it is clear that there are people to play games but they can never find the right one. So, to get the right game to the right individual, it is important to catalog 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 quicker. This reduces turn-around times, and improves the quality of insights derived from the data. Conventionally sourced data would require a great deal of fact-checking and cleaning before you’re sure it’s employable. However, using an organized and quality-checked dataset, such as the ones provided by Gameopedia, means you can utilize it 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 collected data because they know 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 at your discretion.  Powerful, descriptive metadata 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 our data that encompasses over 180,000 games spanning 200 platforms. 

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Powering Ad Targeting With Quality Game Reference Fingerprints

Automatic content recognition (ACR) is an identification technology which is used to recognize content played on a media device or present in a media file. It enables 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 better understand their target audience and refine their campaigns.

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 from.

The video gaming industry 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 most popular video games.

Traditional Ad Targeting

Before moving on to reference fingerprints, let us step back and talk a bit about ad targeting. With consumers being exposed to thousands of ads per day, ad targeting is now more important 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 expenditure. This rudimentary form of ad targeting is still used and admittedly remains successful in some markets, but targeting can now be achieved more efficiently and effectively by making use of ACR platforms.

Ad Targeting powered by ACR

Ad Targeting Using Reference Fingerprints

Now let us bring reference fingerprints back into the picture. When coupled with relevant metadata, ACR platforms can be used to provide advertisers with flexible ad pricing depending on the popularity of the game or the genre. Advertisers can then 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 be actively 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 endless. 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 in between. This is a key challenge, as storing footage worth hundreds or even thousands of hours for one game is not practical.
  2. Video games are unpredictable. Being an interactive medium, video games are influenced by user behavior. For example, the footage created from two gameplay sessions might be significantly different. An experienced gamer may play through a level with ease, and finish it in less than thirty minutes while 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 an issue.
  1. An incorrectly captured or low-quality fingerprint can prove to be costly, as the advertiser will have spent their marketing dollars in identifying a wrong game. A well-constructed capture process can help avoid the risk of producing low-quality fingerprints.
  2. 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 significantly higher Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).

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. 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 new season updates for some of the most popular games across the world.

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

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Why Automatic Content Recognition(ACR) Platforms Need To Target The Gaming Industry

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 around the world have opted-in to enable Automatic Content Recognition 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 has brought 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 In ACR Platforms Work

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 Automatic Content Recognition, 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.

Fingerprinting în ACR Platforms

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 Automatic Content Recognition 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 the content of 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: Automatic Content Recognition 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 Automatic Content Recognition in game content recognition and allows publishers to catch any potential cases of copyright infringement.

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 Automatic Content Recognition Platforms and smart devices.

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