Case Study on my two favorite technologies – Big Data & Xbox (Halo)

Just in case you missed it, at the Strata Conference, Microsoft Technical fellow Dave Campbell did the keynote and during this revealed a case study on how Studio 343, maker of Halo 4 uses Big Data to improve gamer retention along with other benefits.

Is this gamification of technology at work? My thoughts are that imagine if a game is able to get so many benefits out of analyzing data, imagine what your organization can achieve.

Link to case study:\_Study\_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=710000002102

Studio 343 was looking at ways to analyze data to gain insights into player preferences and support an online tournament. To handle those requests, the team used Windows Azure HDInsight Service, based on the Apache Hadoop big data framework. Using HDInsight Service to process and analyze raw data from Windows Azure, the team was able to feed game statistics to the tournament's operator, which used the data to rank players based on game play. The team also used HDInsight Service to update Halo 4 every week and support a daily email campaign designed to increase player retention. Below are some of the benefits they were able to achieve by analyzing the player data:

  • Increases Agility and Speeds Response Time – Studio 343 was able to launch new Hadoop clusters in minutes, run a query and get back to the business in a few hours or less.
  • Helps Halo 4 Team Make Weekly Game Updates - can take BI data pulled from the game each day and identify user trends, such as the average length of a game and the specific game features that players use the most. By getting these insights, the Halo 4 team can make frequent updates to the game.
  • Provides In-Game Analysis and Helps Identify Cheaters (fraud detection anyone) - Because Hadoop applies structure to data when it's consumed, the team can focus more on analytics and less on storage. Instead of worrying about how to store and structure game data, the team can concentrate on what game modes users play in or how many users are playing at any given time.
  • Contributes to Player Retention - The flexibility of the HDInsight Service BI solution also gives 343 Industries a way to reach out to players through customized campaigns, such as the series of email blasts the team sent to players immediately after the launch. For that campaign, the team set up Hadoop queries to identify users who started playing on a certain date. The team then wrote a file and placed it into a storage account on Windows Azure, where it was sent through SQL Server 2008 R2 Integration Services into a database owned by the Xbox marketing team.
  • Uses Familiar Tools to Simplify Decision Making - users do not have to be engineers or Hadoop experts to take advantage of the technology. Data is collected in Azure and made easily accessible through familiar productivity tools. "By hooking Hadoop into a set of tools that are already familiar, such as Microsoft Excel or Microsoft SharePoint, people can take advantage of the power of Hadoop without needing to know the technical ins and outs," says Vayman.