In this installment of our “Where’s the Money?” series, we dig into the analytical challenges posed by another great game in gaming, WMS’ Clue™. This great game combines an online experience with a traditional in-casino experience. The game is changing the way that players play, and the analytical challenge is now how an operator can understand player behavior when much of that player behavior is interaction with a “gaming” experience outside the four walls of the casino. But before we dig into that, let’s first take a look at the data we have to work with.

In the past, the gaming industry has had near complete, albeit inaccurate, data. With this data, operators have trawled for customer preferences, piled those preferences to build market baskets and studied patron frequency patterns. This detailed data about our patrons has been at the core of many activities in gaming for at least the decade. Across industries, this data is of significant size and is in many ways comparable to the retail industry.

It may seem easy to underestimate the volume of data in the gaming industry when compared to other industries, for example, the retail industry. It can be tempting to consider the data in the retail industry as being significantly larger. However, the following analysis shows that the customer-related data is much more granular in the gaming industry. Of course, the real difference is that retailers have many more stores than casino operators have casinos—there are 4,500 Wal-Mart stores.1 So as gaming operators, we have similar granularity of data, although oftentimes we have a smaller size of data. (See Table 1.)

Table 1: Gaming Data vs. Retail Data
Table 1: Gaming Data vs. Retail Data
Gaming Becomes Social
But how does this connect to Clue? Let’s take a look. The July 2, 2012 edition of the Las Vegas Sun summed up the latest from the social gaming boom: “Caesars Entertainment bought Playtika, the Israeli developer of Slotomania, a Facebook slot machine game. MGM partnered with Playstudios to launch myVegas, a Facebook application coming this summer that allows people to play blackjack or slots. Boyd Gaming and MGM invested in bwin.party.” So gaming operators are clearly actively perusing online gaming. And in actuality, it seems like many gaming operators are not only entering online gaming, but are oftentimes buying companies that “manufacture” these online gaming experiences.

In addition, slot machine “manufacturers” are actively entering the online gaming world. The IGT interactive website states how the company has “10+ years in … online and mobile.” This, combined with Nevada’s approval of online poker, moves IGT firmly into the world of being an online gaming operator.

As was mentioned in “The Demise of the Slot Manufacturer” (see the July 2008 issue of CEM, available at www.aceme.org), the gaming industry can be compared to the software industry in that both have huge growth potential and huge change potential. In the software industry, the growth came from unexpected places—the PC and now the mobile platform. In gaming, one approach is to combine the online and in-casino gaming experience, which finally brings us to our great game of Clue™. The WMS Clue game brings benefits of the online gaming world to the casino.

A Great Game
Clue is known to be a strong-performing game, but what is exciting about Clue is that the player can leave the casino, drive home and then play online at www.playerslife.com to accumulate features that will change the in-casino gaming experience. While we cannot predict if this model of game play will be a long-term winner, it definitely creates a new kind of analytics challenge and a new kind of data.

Key Attributes
Image 1: A Player’s Life Screen
Image 1: A Player’s Life Screen
We have “field tested” Clue in order to learn its key features. Following is a list of observations based on our casino play and subsequent online experience:

1. The game, like many other premium games, relies heavily on its bonus features.
2. At the casino, initially certain “rooms” in the Clue house are locked. If a customer receives a bonus round, it might take place in the kitchen or in the study, while the billiard room remains locked.
3. Customers can create a login ID and password at the device so their progress can be tracked on the Player’s Life website.
4. The slot machine prints a ticket, directing the player to www.playerslife.com.
5. Customers can unlock rooms during their play at the casino.
6. Customers can go home and unlock additional rooms via an online experience.
7. Online customers have a wide array of options, including tracking the “trophies” earned for completing various achievements (e.g., unlocking a room in the casino); playing “Quick Clue” to temporarily unlock rooms in the casino game (see Image 1); and visiting a forum to discuss their experience with WMS games. These forums are quite robust—the forum for Clue was 45 pages long, with comments such as “Great Game!”, “Will play again on my next visit,” “Birthday party in Vegas in 5 days!” and “Is this game available in Oklahoma?” There is also a leaderboard to track who has won the most credits in the casino, listing the player and the casino.

The Invisible Force of Social Networks
According to the July 2, 2012, edition of the Las Vegas Sun, “Close to 1 million people have signed up for Player’s Life. A million more have registered over the past six months for WMS’ Facebook slot game ‘Lucky Cruise.’ Last week, WMS acquired Phantom EFX, which develops interactive and mobile slot games.”

Table 2: Before, During and After Gaming
Table 2: Before, During and After Gaming
Without social media data, social media interactions are an invisible force, an idea explored in “Why Do I Need Math? Part III, Gaming Interactions: The Invisible Force of Social Networks” (see the February 2012 issue of CEM). According to the article, this force could be so great that players can be researching and playing online, generating “a huge wealth of behavioral information. They [social media] also represent a sea of change when it comes to how people and organizations communicate.” Online gaming experiences that link to the brick-and-mortar experience are a special opportunity to build data that likewise links the online and physical worlds.

This linking, combined with an industry that is recognized to be at the cutting edge of advanced analytics (as illustrated by the 2012 cross-industry best practice win in advanced analytics by the Seminole Tribe), makes for a special opportunity for gaming to be at the forefront of the online social world. The first step in this process is to source the combined data.

Getting the DataImage 2: Total Rewards Portal to Player’s Life.
Image 2: Total Rewards Portal to Player’s Life.

Speculating about the impact of online gaming is one thing; setting up the tools to measure the impact is another. In today’s age of interactions, one of the driving factors is the experiences that the patron had prior to and after their gaming experience. The first step is to source this interaction data—to gain access to those 1 million Clue customers who could be interacting with the game before and after they play in the brick-and-mortar casino. Sourcing the combined data requires a special kind of cooperation between the operator and the manufacturer.

In the ninth installment of this Where’s the Money? series (see the March 2012 issue of CEM), we stated that “last century’s data breakthrough was transactional data. In other words, the finest-grained data was collected by retailers tracking their sales and inventories. … This century’s super data is interaction data.” This interaction data can be characterized as data that happens before and after the transaction. Table 2 shows the three stages of interaction: before, during and after the gaming experience.

A Perfect World
Table 3: Critical Aspects of Interaction Data
Table 3: Critical Aspects of Interaction Data
If a perfect world of data cooperation did exist, then the analytical methods available would be squarely in planted in the world of big data analytics. At a high, the three big analytical questions that should be addressed are outlined in Table 3.

Coexistence or Competition?
Can online gaming and brick-and-mortar casinos coexist? If so, how can this be accomplished? The world is riddled with examples ranging from restaurants and cinemas, where the online world has affected but not diminished the business, to bookstore, which have struggled in brick-and-mortar form. It is impossible to predict the impact of online gaming and what the gaming world will look like in 10 years, but we can say that those who gain and hold the data, learn to understand it and act on it will be able to make decisions that are better informed and more responsive to changes in the market conditions.

Table 4
Table 4
Clue is a great game that spans the brick-and-mortar and social media worlds. This exciting product has real potential to help operators and manufacturers bridge the gap between online and in real life, and understand what their patrons do online before and after their gaming experience. It will require special kinds of cooperation, but the results could be remarkable.

Image 3: WMS Slot Locator
Image 3: WMS Slot Locator
1 http://investors.walmartstores.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=112761&p=irol-faq, July 2012
2 http://www.showcase.com/Content/Articles/Retail-Space-for-Lease.aspxm, July 2012.
3 http://www.igt.com/us-en/interactive.aspx, referenced July 2012.
4 http://technorati.com/technology/article/1-billion-facebook-users-now-or/, extracted July 2012.

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