When thinking about big data off the top of your head, you think Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, major social networks, online retailers, and online services, but what about gaming? Video games and the gaming industry are constantly changing and growing just like any other industry, but do we know the extent of the growth? The newly crowned king of PC gaming, Riot Games, has had their share of experiences with big data as their crown jewel video game League of Legends jumps past World of Warcraft as the most played video game in the world.
To understand the scope of League of Legends (LoL), let’s talk about the numbers that they have to deal with. LoL is played in over 145 countries and has a total of 70 million registered accounts. LoL also has 32 million active monthly players and 12 million active daily players, compare that to World of Warcraft’s (WoW) peak number of subscribers ever of 12 million subscriptions. Since the end of this year, LoL has an average play time of ONE BILLION hours a month worldwide! The demographic of players is quite interesting as well; Riot Games claims that over 90% of players are male, 85% of players are between the ages of 16 and 30 years old, and 60% of players are enrolled in college or have completed some college. There is no doubt that LoL is the most played game in the world.
Riot Games always considered the possibility of major analytics, but director of engineering for the Big Data group Ben Livingston noted that “We were a scrappy startup and wanted to get our game out the door. Analytics wasn’t an afterthought, but we didn’t have many resources for it initially” (Strom, 2012). According to Slashdot writer David Strom, gamer activity from LoL creates more than 500 GB of structured data and over four TB of operational logs each day (Strom, 2012).
Amidst the big data, there are meaningful discoveries that help Riot Games improve LoL. Riot can analyze information like what game characters and costumes are popular in different geographical regions and skill levels or which game characters have a higher chance of winning? Livingston mentions that “One of the benefits of having all this data is we can be more scientific about it, and we can now check everything” (Strom, 2012). Livingston goes on to say that the information gathered is all about making LoL a better game and a better experience for their users, treating the game as a “living, breathing service” (Strom, 2012).