How PlayFab will use IBM Watson to make better games


Video games can offer more data and metrics than pretty much any other form of entertainment, and PlayFab Inc. wants to use the power of IBM Corp.’s Watson artificial intelligence platform to turn that data into valuable insights for game developers.

PlayFab provides a back-end platform that makes it easy for game creators to implement a wide range of online features for their games, including player account authentication, friend lists, in-app commerce and so on. The company also offers a host of analytics based on in-game data, which will now be supercharged with Watson.

“Modern connected games offer immense artistic and commercial potential – but to realize that potential, developers need tools to analyze and act in real-time on the massive amounts of data these games-as-services continuously generate,” said PlayFab Chief Executive James Gwertzman. “By bringing the Watson Data Platform to our PlayFab developer community, we are democratizing cutting-edge data science – and allowing developers to make better decisions and drive increased engagement and profitability.”

Founded in Seattle in 2014, PlayFab said its platform already supports more than 600 games. Many of these games come from some of the largest publishers in both mobile and console games, including “Angry Birds” maker Rovio Entertainment Ltd. and “Resident Evil” maker Capcom Co. Ltd.

In its statement, PlayFab notes that developers will be able to take advantage of all of Watson’s features through its platform, including Watson Machine Learning, which PlayFab says will allow developers to “analyze more data about their players and deploy those learnings directly into their games via PlayFab’s platform.”

PlayFab is not the first game company to use data to make better games, and in fact, some of the larger studios have entire departments dedicated to analyzing player actions for insights on how to improve their games. For example, in a recent Ask Me Anything on Reddit, “Overwatch” head Jeff Kaplan revealed that Blizzard Entertainment Inc. has its own business intelligence unit that uses data to help the developers recognize and solve a wide range of problems, such as hero and map balance.

Of course, Blizzard is one of the few game studios large enough to afford its own business intelligence group, and PlayFab’s new integration with Watson could offer many of the same insights for other developers at a fraction of the cost.

Photo: IBM