It’s About Time!
One advantage of using mobile games (an “always available” platform) to collect demographic market intelligence is that respondents are able to fit their responses into the natural flow of their daily lives. For instance, a lot of us at the office play Slice of Life at roughly the same time each day, midday with a coffee, but play Name Dropper or Speed Stampede when we need a recreation break later in the day. This got us wondering, what do our login times say about us?
Who are the people playing mobile games? When someone logs in to play The Pryz Manor, our servers quickly determine where in the world the player is (for example Boston, Massachusetts, USA or Dublin, Ireland). Obtaining this information allows us to appropriately tailor our game content to make it most relevant and entertaining for each player. Using this location information, we can determine the player’s local time. Then, we can directly compare how different players interact with The Pryz Manor throughout their day and mine the data for interesting patterns of behavior.
Variance in Play Time Patterns
Within The Pryz Manor, we extract player metadata in addition to data from direct gameplay. Here are two simple examples of how different demographic groups have login patterns that can be subsequently used to help infer player demographic categories.
On average 24% of logins are players that are in families with children under the age of 6 (the US average is 19% of families). Analysing their login pattern it can be seen that families with young children express a different play pattern to those without. This manifests as an underrepresentation in their play times between the hours of 12am and 10am, peaking at 5am when there is a 25% decrease in the login ratio when compared to 3pm, which is the peak time for these players. Perhaps this is “getting the kids ready” time or grabbing those few extra precious ZZZ’s?
Another pattern calls out our high-school players. (The Pryz Manor is for players 13 and up.) The mode login time for our high-school players is at 4pm on a weekdays and 11am on weekends. This makes sense, as during the week students tend to be in class between 9am and 3pm. And don’t worry too much about the games played during this time. We’re not keeping our players from their studies! The graphs also include summer and break periods and the pattern would be even more dramatic if we excluded vacation. (One thing to note on all these graphs: we send optional, daily mobile notifications to remind players to play if they forget. These are sent on the hour, at the hour after the individual player’s mean play time. This accounts for the “spikes” on the hour as many players launch the game immediately after receiving the notification.)
Don’t Ignore the Metadata
Our platform is designed to extract maximum data from our respondents’ game play, because you never know where that next useful insight is going to come from. But traditional market research techniques could also benefit from analyzing their metadata in more detail. For instance, what would it mean for sample quality if a high percentage of survey respondents claimed they were full-time workers with incomes over 0K, but were answering an online survey at 11am? Metadata is true behavior and extremely informative. And when it comes into conflict with self-report, it’s worth investigating.