Square-Enix anonymously monitoring your gameplay, discusses how it uses gathered data

Friday, 26 October 2012 09:43 GMT By Dave Cook

Square-Enix is watching the way you play its games, according to new reports that suggest the publisher’s end-user license agreement gives it permission to capture your playing trends. It’s not a massive conspiracy though, just a new trend in opinion-forming. The publisher has revealed all in a new interview.

MCV reports that Square Enix London is using metrics gathered from the publisher’s games to find out how you think and act when playing. Whenever you agree to one of the publishers terms & conditions documents, you’re giving them permission to monitor your actions.

Now, off the bat, we’re not saying this is a nefarious plot to spy on you, or anything reactionary like that, because metric gathering goes on in games a fair bit – based on the many interviews we’ve done. But it’s rare for publishers to open up about it quite as Square-Enix has.

They’ve done just that. Speaking with MCV, Square Enix London Studios producer Chris Dillon said, “Until you actually have data, you only have assumptions. You have a particular demographic that engages in forums and they can be very vocal. Often, at face value that can be interpreted as being a clear indication of a particular problem or a particular desire.”

“When you actually have the whole picture,” Dillon continued, “you get a much better understanding as to what’s really going on and often, it’s quite a small group of people who are taking a very big sense of need or demand.”

Dillon then went on to discuss how said metrics are used, “We’ve always looked to have metrics in previous titles but Sleeping Dogs represents a pinnacle of what we’ve achieved so far. We’ve actually gathered a lot of data about all aspects of the game, even for example simple things like the configuration you have on your PC options.”

“For example,” he added, “we can actually find out trends, like people’s Y-axis inverted as a default – yes or no? We can actually get information that shows up what people’s preferences are for those settings.”

“So when we actually make future titles, we can look at the data and set of defaults that we believe is what people want. That’s a really simple example of how we can directly use metrics and at the other end of the scale, we actually use it to drive things like our global and personal stats and our leader boards.”

What’s your take on anonymously-gathered metrics? Is it a good way for studios to form opinion? Can forum feedback only go so far? Let us know below.