Case Study: DeltaDNA
Who is DeltaDNA?
DeltaDNA provides an analytics library game developers can embed in their games to gain actionable insight.
They help game developers segment players in real time into casual and serious groups, but also into those willing to spend money and those who probably won’t. They also help developers identify in-game opportunities to keep players engaged and then act on them.
Games aren’t static software shipped on a cartridge anymore. Today’s games are dynamic, changing difficulty and mood in response to player engagement. If a game is too hard, people stop playing. If a game is too easy, people stop playing. With the growth of “free-to-play”, revenue models are changing as well. Perhaps only 1% of users will ever spend a dime on a game; identifying and even growing that set of users through advanced analytics becomes crucial. DeltaDNA helps developers embrace the future of gaming.
See https://www.deltadna.com/ for more.
What Problems Did They Have?
DeltaDNA needed a system that could process a near-limitless stream of events and make real time decisions concerning those events. These decisions needed analytics inside transactions and needed the ability to return results directly to the event source in milliseconds. Responses need to be quick enough to effect an outcome while it’s happening in the game.
Why Did They Choose VoltDB?
VoltDB had all of the features they needed:
- Fully ACID, Multi-Statement Transactions
- High & Scalable Throughput
- Analytics Inside Transactions
- Low Operational Cost
DeltaDNA leverages the latency, scale, and transactional analytics of VoltDB to convert more free-to-play gamers to paying gamers, and to increase spend per gamer.
These insights and smart reactions can be what separates a commercially successful game from a great idea with low revenue.
At the end of the day, VoltDB stood alone.
- Traditional databases and other systems with stored procedures were too slow and not cost effective.
- NoSQL solutions couldn’t support the analytics needed to drive the decisions at scale.
- Stream processing systems often have limited access to state, but universally have trouble meeting latency SLAs in the milliseconds.
What Does Their VoltDB Solution Look Like?
DeltaDNA offers a library to game developers that provides an API to submit in-game events and to query the remote analytics to help make in-game decisions.
Games use this API to push events toDeltaDNA servers running VoltDB. It could be as simple as recording sessions for each user with start and stop time. From this you can gain insight like install count, daily-average-users, user retention, and session length statistics, all driven from VoltDB.
One step further, you can push gameplay events as well. Pushing level progression data and in-game currency counts allows developers to track how users are actually doing in their game and to evaluate difficulty and balance.
Many platforms could solve the problems described above; VoltDB enabledDeltaDNA to add live-reaction to their platform. What does live reaction enable?
Live A/B Testing: How difficult should a badguy be?
- When approaching the bad guy, ask the DeltaDNA API for a difficulty value. Note, this has to respond in milliseconds to be valuable.
- When the badguy is beaten or skipped (or the player dies), send outcome statistics to the API.
- Behind the scenes, VoltDB can combine chosen difficulty with outcomes and other engagement statistics, quickly honing in on difficulty values that increase player engagement. It can even generate best difficulty values by player segments, so some players will see easier bosses and others more difficult ones.
Live Gameplay Balance: Never feel unfair.
Imagine a multiplayer battle game. Every time a player dies, stats are pushed toDeltaDNA and into VoltDB. Who was involved? What part of the game map did this happen? What weapon was used? Did the event cause anyone to stop playing? How can we use this information to keep players engaged?
Use statistics to segment players by skill. When assigning players to new battles, keep players of similar skill together. VoltDB’s speed comes into play for new players. Segmenting players in seconds or minutes can mean that crucial initial experience is positive.
Identify imbalance in gameplay.
Is everyone being killed by the Club of Doom? Automatically decrease its damage.
Is one corner of the map a hotspot? Put more loot on the other side of the map and close the spawn point near the hotspot.
Fast Makes it Possible
If DeltaDNA can increase the portion of paying customers from 1.0 to 1.2 percent, that’s a 20% revenue increase for the developer. Powerful analytics powered by VoltDB make this kind of increase common. DeltaDNA has also shown their platform can increase spend for paying customers by 40% on average, with some games going way beyond that.
Collecting data and understanding that data has long been the domain of big data systems. What’s changing now is that to achieve the next level of competitiveness, the reaction needs to be brought into the action itself. VoltDB makes the difference because it can inject big-data smarts into real-time gameplay reactions seamlessly.