We at devtodev made the list of must-read books for game analysts which will broaden your horizons and make your games grow faster.
I am Vasiliy Sabirov, Lead Analyst and Co-founder at devtodev, and I'm used to hearing a question from my game industry friends and colleagues about the books that I recommend reading to understand metrics and analytics in games better?
So here’s why I've come up with the list for devtodev Education center.
Into this list, I’ve added the books only. Check out my list of articles, podcasts, and videos here.
1. Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz
This book answers the question of where to start analyzing your data. Authors have considered several business models (mobile application, user-generated content, SaaS) and proposed metrics that will work best for each of them. Also, the authors described the logic that you need to follow when choosing your metrics. And there are a lot of real cases as well.
2. Creating a Data-Driven Organization: Practical Advice from the Trenches by Carl Anderson
If you are data-driven or you want to become data-driven, you should read this book.
It will explain how the true data-drivenness involves processes that require genuine buy-in across your company, from analysts and management to the C-Suite and the board. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, and why creating a data-driven culture throughout your organization is essential.
3. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt
This book is called a production novel. And, although it is a real page-turner, people manage companies and conduct trainings based on it. A big plus of the book is that it is very well-written. With it, you will learn how to find bottlenecks in your product and what to do with them.
4. Say It With Chart: The Executive's Guide to Visual Communication by Gene Zelazny
Visualization is the shortest way from data to the solutions. That’s why being able to visualize data is equally as important as knowing Python. We highly recommend this step-by-step guide to create compelling and memorable presentations.
5. How to Analyze Promotional Activities in Games by Vasiliy Sabirov
The practical guide, written by me and published by devtodev, can be downloaded free of charge from our Education Center both in Russian and English. Starting promotional activities with discounts can be a part of the monetization strategy for many projects. However, in reality, we see that not everyone knows how to evaluate their effectiveness properly. In this book, we share insights and conclusions that will help you to make your promo activities successful.
6. Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data by Charles Wheelan
The tagline says: “The most interesting book about the most boring science,” and if I can argue with the second part, then I agree with the first. Unbelievably, this book is interesting and easy to read. It is fun and tells about quite complex things, with a large number of examples. Reading this piece of art is the best way to convert any person into a statistics lover!
7. The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow
Mlodinow is a co-author of Hawking so you should thrill at least. And in his book, he talks about complex concepts in a simple way, including. Only statistics and probability theory, but also game theory, even physics, and astronomy. By showing us the true nature of chance, Mlodinow gives us the tools we need to make more informed decisions.
8. MoneyBall: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
You probably watched the movie “Moneyball” with Brad Pitt directed by Bennett Miller which is an adaptation of this particular book. It is based on the story of the baseball manager who first began applying statistical methods in managing the team and, as you might guess, achieved something by doing so.
9. How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff
I would call this book rather “How not to be deceived with the help of statistics”. The author tells how statistics work and how features of statistics are used in the media and other sources of information. Also, you will learn how to manipulate people and data. It's quite useful, isn't it?
10. The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you by Rob Fitzpatrick
I guess that customer development starts with his book. Analytics is not only about data and metrics, but it is also about the ability to communicate and find out the needs of users. And this turns out to be even more difficult than building SQL queries.
11. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
In short, this is the best book about retention. This book describes in detail how to arrange triggers in your product that motivate users to return to this product again. Nir Eyal explains the Hook Model — a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.
12. Freemium Economics: Leveraging Analytics and User Segmentation to Drive Revenue by Eric Seufert
This is almost the best thing I've read about free-to-play games and how they work. The free-to-play economy is sensitive to users’ mood and changes, and the author of the book perfectly breaks this complex down for readers.
13. Exodus to the Virtual World by Edward Castronova
Castronova, the most important specialist in virtual economics, shares rather lofty discourses on how games work, how the economy works, and how virtual economic laws influence everything in our lives.
14. Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
McGonigal, a popularizer of games and game industry (here’s the video that proves it), shares her thoughts about the place of games in the modern world. For those who work in the game developing field, the book will hardly say something fundamentally new. But more importantly, this book is very motivating to go and make a cool game.
15. Game Analytics: Maximizing the Value of Player Data by Magy Seif El-Nasr, Anders Drachen, Alessandro Canossa
At the moment, this book is almost the only one, from the first page to the last, that is written about game analytics. It could be called dry and redundant but anyway, there is no other book in the world that covered the topic of game analytics more comprehensively.
16. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
This is the Bible of the entire behavioral economy, and if you need to choose any book to read on this topic, it will be “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. No one described behavioral economics more fully than Kahneman.
17. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
If Kahneman’s book is more focused on capturing facts, perpetuating them, then Ariely reflects more on how people’s ability to make emotional decisions is used for their enrichment.
18. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
Thaler and Sunstein, unlike Ariely, argue about how people’s inclination to make mistakes can be used in management, in government structures and social institutions. In other words, how to come to win-win solutions.
19. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler
I recommend Thaler twice, not only because he won the Nobel Prize in Economics but also because it’s the most recent and current book on behavioral economics.
20. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter
I hope that these books will broaden your analyst’s horizons, convert you to a science lover and as a result make your games grow faster.