You like playing games and you always wanted to prove to your parents that you can actually “play the games and get paid for it”. Or do you just want to change your career and do more interesting things in life? In both cases, the profession of “game analyst” may be exactly what you need.
Who is a game analyst
If you give a literal definition, then a game analyst is just a person who plays the role of an analyst in a game project. But if you look at that person from the point of view of what they are doing, the definition can be more narrow and more clear, for example:
For a game project as a whole, an analyst is a person who helps the owners of this project make decisions about its development using analytical information. They help to understand where the project is at the moment and whether they are moving in the right direction.
For the game development process, an analyst is a right-hand man to a game designer. The analyst must, first of all, describe and objectively evaluate the designer's subjective decisions.
The differences between the analytics of a game and the analytics of other products are in detail. People don’t play games to get any benefit, but they just want to have fun, have a good time. And all this “fun” and “good time” is rather difficult to calculate and evaluate, and as a result, the work of game analysts is more interesting than the work of product analysts.
Read more: 25 Things Analysts Hate
What does a gaming analyst do?
An analyst (ant analyst) has two main tasks - looking for bottlenecks in the project and finding points of its growth.
If you look in more detail, the tasks of the game analyst will depend on the size of the company:
In large companies, the analyst only deals with the game, while marketers and other specialists analyze the market, traffic channels, etc. However, the analyst understands what they do and how they do it.
In small companies, this task sharing doesn’t exist, and the analyst analyzes everything that looks like data and also tests the project after modifications.
What exactly do they mean by “analysis of the game”:
design of a data collection system;
implementation of analytics in projects;
establishing KPIs within the project;
monitoring and calculation of metrics, including monitoring the impact of updates on them;
reporting update results;
search for possible problems, including the planning of experiments, their organization, calculation, and interpretation of the results;
formulation of hypotheses for improving the project based on its reports.
There is no fixed assignment of analysts to certain areas of responsibility - again, it all depends on the company. For example, a game events analyst (analyst/game designer), marketing analyst, product analyst, and others can work together.
The tasks of analysts also change depending on the genre of the game. In match3 games (games in which you need to match three objects in order to make them disappear), the main task is to analyze the levels. In MMO games (for example, in Warcraft), the main focus is on the balance of currencies (how a player accumulates them, what is available at each specific level, what else to offer). In social casino games, you need to develop the optimal strategy for manipulating the results, which would keep the player in the game for as long as possible. In hyper-casual games that use the advertising monetization model, you need to make the gameplay a bit slower so that the user feels good in the game, spends more time and sees more ads.
Read more: 5 Key Soft Skills of Game Analysts
How to become a game analyst
You can become game analytics if you are a marketer, physicist, engineer, tester, technical support specialist, and so on. It’s very good when the analyst has a technical background and they can understand how games and databases work, but it’s also good if they can look at everything from the marketer point of view (although this skill is acquired with experience).
If you do not have a mathematical background, then this will not prevent you from becoming an analyst, but your path will be more difficult because you will have to constantly self-educate (courses, lectures, webinars, articles).
In game development, the love of games, the ability to understand them, and the respect for games as a genre and as a business are also very important. If, for example, a financial analyst wants to become a game analyst, they need some kind of expertise at the player level. That is, you need to understand what attracts people to the game. For example, if you apply to a job at a company developing League of Legends, you won’t be hired if you have not reached a certain level in it. So at the interview be prepared for questions like “what games do you play?”.
You can even start your career in analytics by becoming a fan of a game. You may suggest some useful improvements, and then developers will notice you and invite you to work (there really were such cases).
Basic skills of a game analyst: love of games, above-average SQL knowledge, ability to visualize your reports, knowledge of R or python (but this is not necessary), ability to use your head + to filter your ideas.
When the analyst has already got the job, in order to successfully perform their functions, they need to look in two directions: they must understand in detail the current state of the project in many aspects, and at the same time keep an eye on all the latest events and trends in the market.
Read more: 20 Best Books for Game Analysts
Interview at devtodev and aptitude tests
As a game analyst, you will need to play a lot of games and that’s why It is better to start this career path only if you really love them. And at the interview, they will most likely ask you about the games you play.
The first stage of the interview is a deconstruction of a game (they will send you the game’s title in advance). Then, the future analyst should offer some hypotheses on how to improve this game and explain their decision using numbers, rather than intuition. The second stage is a discussion of the devtodev course in game analytics. The third stage is a basic SQL knowledge test. The fourth is a check for reasoning. For example, at devtodev analytical company, they may ask you how much money a particular company earned in a particular year. If you really want to become an analyst, then you will find this information and make a report (rather than saying “a lot” or “around a mil”).
Another test may look like this: first, you will need to convince the interviewer that the Earth is flat. That is, prepare the data and arguments and fight your corner. Then you will need to prove the opposite theory that the Earth is round. Here you will also need to collect data and prepare arguments and distance yourself from everything you talked about a couple of minutes ago.
Let's turn to more meaningful tests:
You’ve returned from vacation and were surprised to find out that one of the project teams managed to make a clone of the Bubble Witch 3 Saga game in the setting of a space Western. This game had a soft launch 8 days ago and UA-team acquired 1000 users every day. You have a meeting with the board of directors in one hour and they expect you to report on the prospects of this project. What 10 things will you look at in analytics first? (Assume that the project developer accidentally left a log of all the events in the game with all the parameters in the analytics.)
Let’s take a hypothetical match3 game with levels that has a “bomb” booster for 100 coins. The producer of this game believes that a player should get 10 coins for watching a video ad, but the game designer believes that they need to rise it up to 20 coins. The user is allowed to watch no more than 5 commercials per day. You need to run an A/B test to choose the reward. How do you organize it? What metrics will you use to measure the results?
Read more: Game Analytics Metrics Glossary
A career in this area is quite short. At first, you become an analyst, then you grow to Head of Analytics or Chief Analytics Officer. And this is, in fact, the last step of your career ladder as an analyst. From this point, you can move to the product,e.x. you can become a producer or a product analyst. Also, you can move from the game analytics area to non-gaming areas (to banks, etc.).
How you can become a game analyst
If you like games and want to become a game analyst, then everything is in your hands. If you have a technical background, then you just need to improve some skills and you can go for an interview. If you major in arts, then this path will be more difficult, but if you have a goal and work hard, you can go this way.