|GameSpot.com is a news site for hard-core gaming enthusiasts.
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GameSpot, which calls the new service GameSpot Trax Plus, made the announcement this morning at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles.
1.5 million daily users
GameSpot, which offers previews, reviews, articles and chat areas about yet-to-be-released and currently marketed games, collects behavioral and registration data from its 1.5 million daily users through its GameSpot Trax system. The site's users are primarily the elusive 18- to 34-year-old male demographic that brands covet.
Retailers and game publishers turn to game market research sites such as GameSpot and its major rival, IGN.com, for demographic data and product feedback that help them determine where to put their marketing dollars.
NPD, on the other hand, provides sales and marketing information once the game has been released. The availability through one subscription of pre-release and post-sales data is a boon to the information-hungry game industry, along with investors, who are trying to maintain a competitive edge in this exploding field, analysts say.
One weakness of the new GameSpot Trax Plus is that its data is indicative of the avid, if not obsessive gamer, analysts pointed out. It's not a tool that taps into behavior or buzz of the general gaming population.
'Lifecycle of the pruchase'
With the new service "we're completing the whole lifecycle [of the purchase]," said Josh Larson, director of industry products for GameSpot, which is a division of CNET Networks. A game can be announced a few months to a few years ahead of time.
There's a lot at stake. The video-game sector overtook the Hollywood box office at $10 billion in sales in 2003, according to the Entertainment Software Association. There were 239 million computer and video games sold last year -- nearly two for every U.S. household.
"It's like following 1.5 million people around a store every day and watching their behavior," Mr. Larson said of the new service, which is rolling out the end of May. "We'll be coming out of E3 knowing what the buzz was for the new systems being released and how the target consumers are expected to react to them."
GameSpot Trax follows buzz and site behavior for 6,000 games, collecting a dozen metrics for each game. Data is updated daily. Metrics include total number of clicks for content related to each game; page views for each game; and specific keyword searches on search engines. Mr. Larson's department also tracks the number of page views for message boards set up for each game. GameSpot also collects registration data, and can identify what the top geographical areas are for each game down to the ZIP code. The site rents targeted e-mail lists to advertisers as well.
Hoping for a complete picture
"The Holy Grail of this is one day being able to paint a picture for the advertiser and say, 'This Madden gamer likes listening to 50 Cent, watching Desperate Housewives, and buying DVDs,'" Mr. Larson said.
In addition to GameSpot and IGN's data services, retailers and publishers acquire information from market-research outfits, consulting firms and their own research, but there's no all-inclusive reporting product.