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18/02/09

Become a Superhero to Marketing Gods in 3 easy steps!

By Zarrar Chishti


“With great Data comes great Opportunity”
-Uncle Zarrar, Feb 2018

Over the last couple of years I have noticed a huge gap between what the Marketing community need and what game developers can provide. However neither of them knows this gap exists!

Initially the marketer wants an online HTML5 game to promote a product or service. Typically they will presume the latest game/app they are playing is what the rest of the world is into therefore will storm into a developer’s office and demand that they build a replica of that game.

So far this is fine. The developer will go ahead and build the game and hand it back to the marketer who will proceed to do what they do best and scream around the internet until the game becomes viral. At the end of the game the Marketer will collect all players data who entered their details in the game over screen.

Now we come to the issue. With absolutely no plan in place for data capture and data manipulation during the gameplay, the entire process really comes to an end when the game’s interest fizzles away (which it will do!).

However with a structured player database plan in place this is where the real reward for a marketer should begin.  

If you have any professional knowledge in databases then I believe the superhero they are looking for is YOU!

*disclaimer: please be sure to carefully follow my 3 step plan below; results may vary; if in doubt reach out to the nearest coffee shop, deity or bottle of Scotch.

Step 1: Cross Over to HTML5 Game Development!


It is important to understand why this happens. A marketer knows nothing about databases and in most cases neither does a game developer who will just typically build the game he is told to develop. So there is no one who can introduce the idea of developing a database within the game.

However you know databases, right? Now what about game development? Is it important to learn this as you know the fundamentals of programming?

Yes it is and moreover, by quickly getting to grips with the fundamentals of online HTML5 gaming techniques you can become the true technical hero that bridges the game development and marketing communities.

My book “Crossover to HTML5 Game Development” does just that. I wrote it with you in mind; the Professional Software Database Developer.

The book will help you quickly come to terms with the secrets of online game development by going through an exciting project. It does not make you go through pages of technical terms and practices as you already know what an array is, right? Also you do not need chapters on explaining what a for loop does.

The book will allow you to go straight into the world of HTML5 game development from chapter 1.

Step 2: Follow the player


No matter what the game being developed, there will be many ways to capture data for the marketer.

There are two phases in a game. The first phase is where you will not know who the player is and the second phase is after the player has reached the game over screen and entered their details; at which point you do know who the player is.

In both phases I hope you can see the whole idea here is for you to be capturing data at hundreds of key areas within the game for all players.

In phase 1 you are collecting data on generic player’s actions. This can be just as valuable as player identifiable data. You should look to group together this data to give an overall idea of how the game is being received and played.

Taking a typical example you could record the follow during a player’s journey in a game:

  • Time of day and/or day of the week most players enter the game
  • Which points of the game do most players leave?
  • Product interaction – does the player interact with the products in the game?
  • How many players that have reached the game over screen?
  • Do they play again?
  • Did they share the game?
  • Did they interact with the other options within the game?
  • Do they ever return to the game after 24 hours?

This is just a very short generic list of the options available to you. Depending on the game being developed I am sure you will be able to architect a wonderfully diverse and in-depth player journey database plan.

Step 3: Offer your data to the Gods


At the start I mentioned that in typical games a marketer will get all the players details who completed the game over screen. So all they can do is send one generic email to all the players which is not as effective as sending tailored emails depending on the player’s journey within the game.

Imagine getting an email which sympathised that you did not reach the end of the game however the good folks at “XYZ BRAND” would like to give you a cheat code so you can beat that level.

Or if the player had done well, reward them with a voucher to get a discount at “XYZ BRAND” website.

There are several layers this data can be looked into, for instance:

  • Measuring the game's success
    • Does the data prove that players understood the game's product message?
    • Did players understand the game enough to get through levels?
    • Did the players feel the game was good enough to share?
    • What percentage played again?
  • Actioning the data:
    • Email all players who interacted with the games product
    • Email all players who did not interact with the games product
    • Email all players who did not even hit the play button – offer them a few instructions on how to play the game

The opportunities here are endless; any decent marketer will be able to come up with ways to manipulate and action the data. However you need to offer them the data in the first place.

Final Thoughts

The more I work as a consultant in the commercial world, the more I see the above issues occurring in marketing departments everywhere. The worst part of it is that marketers are then discouraged from building further games due to lack of player data. Neither they nor the game developers seem to comprehend the need for player database integration. The reasons above will hopefully encourage you to look into being this missing link required by both parties.  Good luck!

​​​​​​​About the Author

Zarrar Chishti is a software and games development consultant with over 500 games developed for companies around the world. He is sought after to advise on the development of viral games for major marketing campaigns. His consultancy and development firm serve prestigious companies such as Turner Media, British Airways, and Channel 4.  His work can involve him in liaising with marketing directors for new launches and project managing teams of game developers and designers for large scale development projects. He is also involved in organizing and running game development courses and events. During the last five years Zarrar has also helped train developers to crossover and become software game developers. Most of the trainees go on to either work for Zarrar or gain programming jobs in the ever expanding game development community of Scotland.

Want more from Zarrar? Check out his book, Cross Over to HTML5 Game Development.