EA Hired A Man With No Gaming Experience, Just So You'd Stop Quitting

Valve is far from the only video game company hiring total outsiders to come in and help make them money. Electronic Arts has done something similar, with Forbes reporting they've hired Danish data analyst Jonas Lygaard, despite the fact he has absolutely zero experience in the games industry.

What he did have experience in was looking at user data, and seeing scenarios and patterns emerge from the raw numbers.

His influence will be felt when gamers fire up FIFA 13 for the first time, and begin playing a game that will take notes of just about everything that you do, so that they can be sent "individualized messages designed to prevent them from quitting, spend more time playing the game, and spend more money building up their teams of digital soccer players".

It's as diabolical as it is fascinating.

"Their activity on the options market — do they spend a lot of time looking at players and making decisions? Do they buy packs of teams? Or do they try to build teams with players with individual chemistry? So I'm Danish. Maybe I want the best Danish team ever, so I will purchase the best Danish players," Lygaard tells Forbes. "And we're looking at their playing styles: do they play lots of matches, earning coins and using those to build a team? Do they try to build through competing with friends?"

Even creepier is the way he's helped FIFA learn when to stop kicking your arse and, in an effort to get you to keep spending money (on the game's microtransaction-fuelled "Ultimate Team" mode), help you out instead.

"Say a player goes in every day. He buys a team as a pack. He loses 4 matches in a row, and one of his players is injured. Then you go into predictive mode. This player will leave in 2 weeks and we can take what we know about him and use it to reengage him," he says. "We can start helping him: be more proactive, have more training sessions, so his skill gets better. We can make a note in the game to explain to him how options work. We can personalise the experience."

As nefarious as some may see it, nobody is forcing you to keep playing the game, and nobody forced you to start playing a game mode that costs you money on top of the cash you dropped for the actual. If Lygaard's work helps FIFA be a little gentler and more subtle with those who have made that choice, then it's mostly for the best.

Mostly. It's still a little creepy, though.

Playing The Gamers: How EA's 'FIFA 13' Hopes To Track -- And Change -- Users' Behavior [Forbes]

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Comments

    I don't really see that as diabolical as much as encouraging. I mean in a game like Fight night or Undisputed I would love to have had pointers sent to me when I felt out of my depth and while it is undoubtedly there to keep the micro transactions flowing, I feel that the bigger picture we can take from this is that as a developer they would like to have a more friendly and player unique experience.

    Seems to me like the ideal micro transaction model. Once you decide to opt in for that style of play there actually going to try and give you value for money and tailor the game experience to make it more engaging. Whether that equates to more satisfy or more fun gameplay.....?

    So long as it doesn't collect personal data, and isn't hurling ads in my face, I don't see a problem. Infact, I rather support it. Seems like the idea is to make the product what I want, which isn't a bad thing - makes it more likely that I'll be happy with it, and that EA will get my money.

    That said, it's Fifa, so I'll wait until I see this sort of system in a 'proper' video game, rather than a simulated reality game for a full opinion.

    My only issue is that the game company is hiring someone to keep people playing, when they could have used that money to just make better games.

    When the game company consider game improvements as optional, that's the end of the road. If players are quitting, it means your game is bad.

      No, gamers play games for less time these days then they ever have. Less to do with the quality of the games and more to do with the 'fast food' lifestyle we live. Same goes for music. How many concept albums you see these days like 'dark side of the moon'? Doesn't happen, cause people want to hear 3/4 of a song before skipping to the next.

      Considering games cost more to develop now than ever, it would make sense for any business to try and get the highest return on investment.

    Wasn't the Fifa 'Packs' thing the cause of the xbox live hacking earlier this year?..

    They won't be able to record my data unless the unlock my team. Although I think I will need to start a new PSN so I can play FUT.

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