'Level Up': Leveraging Skill and Engagement to Maximize Player Game-Play in Online Video Games
52 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2016 Last revised: 14 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 14, 2018
We propose a novel two-stage data analytic modeling approach, combining theories, statistical analysis and optimization techniques to model player engagement as a function of motivation to maximize customer game-play via matching in the large and growing online video game industry. In the first stage, we build a Hidden Markov Model (HMM) based on theories of customer engagement and gamer motivation to capture the evolution of gamers’ latent engagement state and the state-dependent participation behavior. We then calibrate the HMM using a longitudinal dataset obtained from a major international video gaming company, which contains detailed information on 1,309 randomly sampled gamers’ playing history over a period of 29 months comprising more than 700,000 unique game rounds. We find that high-, medium- and low-engagement-state gamers respond differently to motivations such as feelings of effectance and need for challenge. In the second stage, we use the results from the first stage to develop a matching algorithm that learns (infers) the gamer’s current engagement state “on the fly” and exploits that learning to match the gamer to a round to maximize game-play. Our algorithm increases gamer game-play volume and frequency by 4-8% conservatively, leading to economically significant revenue gains for the company.
Keywords: Online Video Games, Gamer Behavior, Customer Engagement, Hidden Markov Models, Optimization
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