Yanhui Su defends his thesis "Bringing Game Analytics to Indie Game Publishing – Method and Tool Support for Indie Mobile Game Publishing".
The defense is held in Insikten, Portalen but is also live streamed on Zoom.
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With the continuous development of the game industry, the research in the game field is also deepening. Many interdisciplinary knowledge areas and theories have been used to promote the development of the game industry. Business Intelligence (BI) has been applied in game development for game design and game optimization. However, few systematic research efforts focus on the game publishing side, especially for independent (indie) game publishing.
From the game business side, with the development of the game industry, the traditional game value chain has been complemented by the mobile value chain and the online value chain. The mobile game value chain refers to a new situation where game developers can publish games directly through different distribution channels like App Store (2020) and Google Play (2022). The online value chain means developers can connect with players directly, for example, through their own websites. These new value chains make indie game developers publishing possible. However, how indie game developers conduct the game publishing business is unclear. In addition, as more and more indie game developers focus on the mobile platform, creating increasingly fierce competition for players' attention. Many indie game developers are good at game development, but most lack experience in game publishing. They have issues with user acquisition work and how to transfer users into loyal and paying players.
This research plans to understand how game analytics can be used for indie mobile game publishing. In practice, a new method has been created and developed to guide indie game developers’ decision-making during free-to-play (F2P) mobile game publishing. This new method mainly focuses on addressing the main challenges of indie game developers during mobile game publishing. The new method facilitates indie mobile game publishing by providing guidance on how data collection and analysis can be conducted.
A Design Science Research (DSR) method is used to fulfill the overall research aim. The DSR method is used to guide the development of an artifact based on previous literature and empirical findings from working with indie game companies. Theoretical background was obtained through a literature review of BI adoption and usage in the game area, especially for game analytics. The empirical materials were gathered through interviews and surveys with indie game companies in Sweden and Asia. The main challenges with their game publishing can be determined through semi-structured interviews with indie game developers and combined with the literature review. Then a tentative design is provided based on the identified needs, and the existing ARM funnel model is extended and optimized. Then, based on the tentative design demonstrations and iterations with different indie game companies, the tentative design is refined until a method is finally provided. Based on the evaluation with several indie game companies from Asia, it can be concluded that this method can guide indie game developers with F2P (free-to-play) mobile game publishing and address their main challenges.
This research contributes both to research and practice. From the research perspective, the main contribution of this research is based on the traditional game value chain evolution and the indie game company interviews to identify the main challenges for indie mobile game publishing. Then a new method is proposed to address the main challenges and guide indie game developers with mobile game publishing. From the practice perspective, the method provided in this thesis is the guidelines and also the newly developed game data analysis tool, called F2PAP. It can be used in actual game projects and guide indie game developers with data collection, analysis, visualization, evaluation of their game business performance, and taking actions to improve their game publishing.
Björn Johansson, Associate Professor, Linköping University
Per Backlund, Professor, University of Skövde
Henrik Engström, Professor, University of Skövde
Sebaastian Meijer, Professor, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Prashant Goswami, Associate Professor, Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH).
Eva Söderström, Associate Professor, University of Skövde