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Blog DevOps

How Log Management Helps Game Developers’ KPIs

By Mike Turner 08 Jul 2014

As the head of Bitfold & Maygem Online Games, a full pipeline social & mobile game developer which focuses on both original IPs and game development and operation services, I have worked on many games over the last six years. I have seen a few succeed and more than a few fail. Those failures made us ask why; and in review, the successful games shared several design characteristics the failures didn’t:

  • Fun game mechanics
  • Beautiful art
  • A technical architecture designed to scale well
  • Proper behavioral metrics integration ready at launch.

The other key: ALL the successful games we worked on was a skilled, fast-moving live operations team running the game.  

Live Operations Teams Have Two Critical Functions

Online games today are persistent services operating 24/7, and they need teams that are prepared to do the following:

  1. Understand user behavior, deliver daily updates to keep them retained & engaged for as long as possible, and guide them towards buying decisions
  2. Keep the game’s complicated architecture running 24/7/365

Generally, successful online game developers are absolute experts at point #1 (managing user behavior), but they are not so great at flawlessly managing the intense operational challenges. This is what I’m here to address today.

Things on the back-end break – a lot – and it hurts your KPIs.

Operational issues constantly arise in live games. When they happen, they cause problems for your users and negatively affect your KPIs in many ways.

  • Lost users: Losing thousands of new players who would’ve had ideal LTV
  • Reduced user LTV: Reducing LTV of engaged players
  • Missed conversions: Significantly lowering paying user conversion % during issues
  • Lost whales: Reducing the value of whales or losing whales

The speed at which you can solve these issues determines how much damage these problems do. Unfortunately, they are often hard to diagnose and discover, and so KPIs take a bigger hit than they need to.

Operational problems generally manifest in two ways:

#1 – You know generally where an issue is, but it takes a long time to search server logs to pinpoint its exact location and what systems it is affecting.

#2 – The issue goes unnoticed until it affects your KPIs, at which point you have lost thousands of players.

Over time, these operational issues can lead to thousands or millions of dollars in losses.

The best way to stop operations issues from hurting your KPIs is to employ a log management tool that helps you isolate and solve them much faster. You may think to build one of these tools in-house, but this approach ties up many developers and can substantially increase operational overhead given the intense data volumes that logging creates. For example, Albert Ho at Rumble Entertainment reported that they spent five to six figures per month running their logging cluster.

Loggly Helps Live Operations Run Faster and Smarter

Loggly does several things which help you move fast against operations issues:

  • Log centralization: Brings ALL of your logs to a central place
  • Log parsing & search: Define custom searches for logs and quickly dig as deep into them as needed
  • Log monitoring & alerts: See log data expressed in meaningful ways in dashboards and set alerts to detect conditions that signal trouble
  • Log storage: Logs are stored and used for trend analysis
Game Connection Logging Alert

These tools help you detect and respond to operations issues many times faster, and prevent them from negatively affecting your KPIs.

Real World Loggin Gaming Use-Cases

Many game companies already use Loggly:

Real-world usage study of log management in online games

[iframe src=https://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/34447595]

About Mike

Mike Turner is the co-owner of Bitfold & Maygem Online Games, a full pipeline social & mobile game developer which focuses on both original social & mobile game titles and game development and operation services. He has been developing and operating MMO, social & mobile games of varying genres since 2006 and has a large depth of experience in what makes online games sustainable & profitable.  He also is well aware of what can kill games and the companies behind them and seeks to educate people how to avoid those mistakes and achieve success.

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Mike Turner

Mike Turner