In the following article, you will discover insights into the role of a game analyst, their responsibilities, the path to becoming one, common interview questions they face, an overview of their career trajectory, and a comprehensive game analyst job description.
Whether you're passionate about gaming and aspire to demonstrate that you can not only enjoy playing games but also earn from them, or if you're simply looking to pivot your career towards more engaging and fulfilling pursuits, the role of a 'game analyst' could be your ideal pathway.
Who is a Game Analyst
If we provide a literal definition, a game analyst is essentially a person who assumes the role of an analyst within a game project. However, if we delve into what this person does, the definition becomes more refined and explicit. For instance:
- In the context of an entire game project, an analyst is an individual who assists project owners in making informed decisions regarding its development by leveraging analytical insights. They help in understanding the current state of the project and whether it is progressing in the desired direction.
- Within the game development process, an analyst serves as a game designer's trusted ally. The analyst's primary responsibility is to objectively describe and evaluate the subjective decisions made by the designer.
The distinctions between game analytics and analytics for other products lie in the details. People engage in gaming primarily for entertainment and enjoyment rather than tangible benefits. Quantifying and assessing this 'fun' and 'good time' aspect is inherently complex. Consequently, the work of game analysts is often more interesting than that of product analysts.
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What does a Gaming Analyst do?
A game analyst primarily focuses on two key tasks: identifying bottlenecks within a project and identifying areas of growth potential.
Upon closer examination, the scope of responsibilities for a game analyst can vary depending on the size of the company:
In larger companies, the game analyst specializes exclusively in game-related analysis, with marketers and other specialists handling tasks such as market analysis and traffic channel assessment. Nevertheless, the analyst possesses a comprehensive understanding of these roles and their methodologies.
In smaller companies, there is often no task segregation, and the analyst takes on the responsibility of analyzing all available data. Additionally, they are tasked with testing the project following any modifications.
So, how can we describe a game data analyst job tasks? They:
design data collection systems;
implement analytics into projects;
establish KPIs within the project;
monitor and calculate metrics, including assessing the impact of updates;
compile and present reports on update results;
identify potential issues, including planning experiments, organizing them, calculating results, and interpreting findings;
formulate hypotheses for enhancing the project based on its reports.
The allocation of responsibilities among analysts is not set in stone; it varies depending on the company's structure. For instance, game events analysts (often a combination of analyst and game designer), marketing analysts, product analysts, and others may collaborate within the same team.
Furthermore, the tasks of analysts change depending on the game genre. In match-3 games (where players match three objects to make them disappear), the primary focus revolves around level analysis. In MMO games (such as Warcraft), the central concern lies in currency balance — how players accumulate it, what's available at each specific level, and what additional offerings to introduce. Social casino games demand the development of an optimal strategy for manipulating outcomes, aiming to keep players engaged for as long as possible. Conversely, in hyper-casual games employing an advertising monetization model, gameplay may be tweaked to encourage user satisfaction, prolonged playtime, and increased exposure to advertisements.
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How to Become a Game Analyst
Becoming a game analyst is an attainable goal for individuals with diverse backgrounds, including marketing, physics, engineering, quality assurance testing, technical support, and more. While it's advantageous for analysts to possess a technical foundation that enables them to grasp the inner workings of games and databases, it's equally valuable for them to adopt a marketer's perspective, a skill that often develops with experience.
Lacking a mathematical background should not deter you from pursuing a career as an analyst, although it may require a more diligent commitment to self-education along your journey.
In game development, a genuine passion for games, the ability to comprehend them deeply, and a profound respect for games as both an art form and a business are indispensable qualities. Even if an individual transitions from a financial analyst background to become a game analyst, they must possess a player's insight. This means having a firm grasp of what draws people to games. For instance, if you aspire to work for a company developing titles like League of Legends, reaching a certain skill level within the game is often a prerequisite for employment. Therefore, during interviews, expect questions like, 'What games do you play?'
Surprisingly, one can initiate their analytics career simply by being a dedicated fan of a game. By suggesting valuable improvements, enthusiasts have been known to catch the attention of developers, leading to job offers.
Fundamental skills of a game analyst, commonly outlined in any job description, include a passion for games, proficiency in SQL (above average), the ability to effectively visualize data and reports, familiarity with R or Python (though not mandatory), and critical thinking paired with the capability to filter and refine ideas.
Once a game analyst secures their role, success hinges on their ability to balance two crucial aspects. On one hand, they must delve deeply into understanding the project's current state across various dimensions. Simultaneously, they must remain vigilant about emerging market trends and the latest developments in the industry.
Read more: 20 Best Books for Game Analysts
Interview at Devtodev and Aptitude Tests
As a game analyst, your job will involve playing games extensively, making it essential to embark on this career path only if you have a genuine love for gaming. During interviews, you can expect questions about your gaming preferences and experiences.
The interview process typically comprises several stages:
First, you may be asked to deconstruct a game you've played previously. This exercise involves analyzing the game and proposing hypotheses for its improvement, all while grounding your decisions in data-driven insights rather than relying solely on intuition. The interview may also include a discussion about your knowledge of game analytics, potentially focusing on specific courses or training you've undergone in this field (e.g. Edvice's course in game analytics). To evaluate your data querying skills, you might encounter a basic SQL knowledge test. Additionally, some companies may assess your reasoning abilities. 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”).
In addition to these standard interview elements, you might encounter more unconventional exercises designed to evaluate adaptability and reasoning skills. For example, you may be asked to initially argue convincingly that the Earth is flat and then switch to arguing the opposite perspective.
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
Game Data Analyst Career
A career in the field of game analytics typically follows a concise trajectory. Initially, you start as an analyst and can progress to roles like Head of Analytics or Chief Analytics Officer. These positions often represent the culmination of an analyst's career ladder. At this juncture, you have the option to pivot towards product-related roles, such as becoming a producer or a product analyst. Alternatively, you can transition from the realm of game analytics to non-gaming industries, such as banking and finance.
How to Become a Game Analyst
Becoming a gaming analyst is well within your reach if you have a passion for gaming. With a technical background, you may only need to enhance specific skills to prepare for interviews. On the other hand, if your academic background leans more towards the arts, the path may be somewhat more challenging. However, with determination and hard work, you can successfully navigate this career path.