The study also highlighted the difference between experiences of men and women while playing the same game, which has implications on the marketing of any new game title.
The bio-sensory study commissioned by e4e was performed in conjunction with EmSense on one of the industry’s top First Person Shooter (FPS) game titles. The study tested both attendees at the Game Developers Conference in March 2009 in San Francisco, and a sampling of target consumers for the popular shooter game. Interpreting the results of the study, market research and consulting firm Techaisle concluded the following:
• Participants from the game developers group who were familiar with the FPS genre showed a much higher level of engagement during elements of the game, such as the overall story, cut-scenes, and highly scripted combat encounters. Target consumers, however, were much more engaged during simpler aspects of the game, enjoying running and gunning through the experience in nearly two-thirds of the cases.
• Also significant was the difference in gender reaction, which indicated games that are developed primarily for women would benefit from a focus on storyline and cut-scenes. Men were only engaged by cut-scenes 37 percent of the time, while women showed directionally above average engagement to the same events.
Implications for the Game Development Industry
Production elements such as video cut-scenes, which focus on slick graphics and well developed characters, can carry significant costs for game developers. Additional elements like complex vehicles and weapons can also run up the expense of creating new games. This study clearly shows that these elements of games tend to reflect the preferences of the developers themselves and not the preferences of the target consumer.
“The success of a game depends on several factors including age, gender and cultural influences, making it more challenging to deliver the right gaming experience to the right audience,” said Shirish Netke, President, Interactive Entertainment, e4e. “A rigorous analysis of user data throughout the development cycle can help mitigate the risk associated with the publishing and marketing of games and improve predictability of success of new titles in the market.”
Over the course of several days, 15 minute gameplay sessions were held with conference attendees, simultaneously recording participant game play and their bio-sensory responses. GDC attendees include those employed in game development, testing and associated businesses. The target consumer group is comprised of those owning or having access to an Xbox 360 and who play first-person shooters on a regular basis, but are not employed as game testers or developers.
While playing the game, participants wore EmSense's patent pending wireless headset leveraging robust bio-sensing technology, combining multiple sensors measuring everything from viewer's brainwaves (EEG) to the moments when they blush into a unit the size of a headband. The system measures objective and continuous emotional and cognitive responses.
"Brainwave and bio-sensory measurement technologies give developers insight into the visceral engagement and emotion of gamers, all with the precision of real-time measurement,” said Tim Hong, SVP Product Development and Analytics, EmSense. “Traditional focus groups or surveys have their fair share of biases and only try to get at the thrill and fun of a gamer experience, but using this powerful technology clients have quantitative, benchmarked measures for game engagement."
In future studies, Absolute Quality and EmSense will continue to explore gamer experiences in other genres of the video game industry, and will probe deeper into the issue of developing games which are engaging for women, who now represent more than 40 percent of gaming consumers.
About Absolute Quality
Absolute Quality (absolutequality.com), an e4e Company, provides Consult, Implement Operate (CIO) Services for the interactive entertainment marketplace, addressing critical operational problems across the entire business cycle. This includes crucial aspects such as market perception of new game concepts, localization, testing and quality management of new games, and finally revenue generation and support of games that are released in the market.
e4e (e4e.com) is a global business services company, delivering business value through services in our chosen vertical markets. The company provides customers with utility services based on a combination of domain knowledge, relevant technologies and a reliable global service delivery model and help our customers increase business value through cost reduction, process re–engineering and most importantly through revenue enhancement in existing and new markets.