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Data Hero: Brian Baglow

Brian Baglow introduces us the Games industry in Scotland and tells us why data is so important to games design.
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SPEAKER: Recently, we visited Brian Baglow of the Scottish Games Network and we asked him about the importance of games to the Scottish economy.
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BRIAN BAGLOW: Scotland has had a fantastic legacy when it comes to video games. From the earliest days of the industry, we’ve had companies that have really pushed the forefront of gaming. From the earliest days when DMA Design released “Lemmings,” which, then, gave them enough money to go out and create “Grand Theft Auto” which went on to become the single-largest entertainment franchise in the world. And in terms of value to the economy, “GTA,” itself isn’t just matching the value of Hollywood blockbusters, but entire industries. So the month “Grand Theft Auto V” came out, it actually made more money than the entire global music industry. And we see this being replicated in many new companies now.
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We’ve got 4J Studios doing Minecraft and doing fantastic things with that. We’ve got Outplay, which is now the largest independent mobile game developer in the whole of the UK. The games industry is evolving at an incredible rate. And it seems to be getting faster. There are so many more opportunities, new technologies, which are driving the market forward in different ways. Everyone’s talking about VR and AR. But the ways in which AI, machine learning, the use of analytics or changing the whole nature of the industry is taking everybody by surprise. It’s very hard to predict where the games industry is going to be in the next 10 years. The next 12 months, that’s hard enough to say.
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But Scotland has always been at the cutting edge in terms of pioneering and in terms of making video games that are just that little bit more advanced than the rest of the country. So the opportunities for the game set to continue to grow and thrive are really, really high.
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SPEAKER: In the past, companies have been reluctant to use techniques such as data-driven games design. Can you outline some of the benefits of this approach?
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BRIAN BAGLOW: I think the reason for that is that there was a suspicion that it was, somehow, not playing fair. And people get into the games industry to make games and they are pretty much, universally, gamers. So therefore, they know what makes a good game and it is very much an artistic endeavour. The reality is that there is now so much competition, so much noise, so many competing products out there that you need to understand the player. You need to understand the consumer. And that’s a huge challenge. The only way you can really start to understand your audience, the players who are actually playing your game, is through the use of analytics and the clever use of analytics.
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What are the benefits of using data to design games? The smart use of data allows a clever developer to find out what parts of the game people are really engaging with and what parts they’re really not. In the olden days, when you produced a disc in a box in a shop, it was a dead product. Games are increasingly a live service. And if you’re running a service, you need people to come back again, and again, and again. You can no longer rely on getting the 50, 60 pounds up front. You need people to keep coming back to your game and incentivize them to give you money at some point, whether that’s directly or through advertising.
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And the only way you’re going to get them to come back again and again is if you’re giving them something new, you’re giving them something engaging and fun. And you know what? It might not be a popular opinion. But you can actually derive fun from the clever use of analytics. If you’re giving people more of what they like, they’re going to keep coming back.

Brian Baglow is a 20 year veteran of the global interactive media and video games industries.

Brian has worked with some of the world’s leading digital technology companies and has started his own companies.

Brian works as the CEO at Jukebox Labs.

We visited Brian earlier in the year and discussed with him the Scottish games industry and its importance to the Scottish Economy.

Brian discusses the changes in how games are marketed and sold. Do you think these changes are for better or worse? Leave your thoughts in the ‘COMMENTS’.
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Data Science in the Games Industry

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