This post is part of a series of posts about analytics platforms that I would use and recommend using for game analytics. None of these posts were asked for or sponsored by any of the companies that own the platforms. My knowledge of the platforms comes from demos they made by my request or hands on experience working with them. My objective is to state what each platform offers and what makes it unique so that it helps game developers in the process of picking a platform if they choose to do so.
I know Mixpanel for some years now. It was the first platform we used extensively at Miniclip. I was a producer and interim lead producer while we used it and Mixpanel fit nicely into the work producers did back then. There were no game analysts working at Miniclip and Mixpanel allowed anyone that accessed it to answer their own questions.
Do you want to know how?
What do you get?
Like I mentioned, I wasn’t able to test Mixpanel lately so both you and I will have to trust my memory and what I’m about to tell you is quite dated. Like any platform I expect Mixpanel to have moved forward to new and better things but by visiting their website I feel that the platform’s original DNA is still present and strong.
“DNA? What DNA are you talking about?” you ask… or don’t, bear with me… The cool thing about Mixpanel is that it doesn’t really offer visualisations and dashboards but rather extremely simple yet powerful tools for you to build and share your own. The tools available are funnels, cohort analysis and visualisations, all of them very easy to use.
My personal favourite in the past was cohort analysis because I could define whatever event took place and then see who engaged with the game in some other way. While cohort analysis tools usually focus on retention (and Mixpanel’s page actually calls the feature retention) it goes quite a bit beyond that. I can create a retention table for the percentage of users that made a purchase and returned to the game within a given time interval measured in hours, days, weeks or months. I might be wrong but I recall correctly Mixpanel is the only one able to do this on the fly.
Funnels are effortless to create. Simple, useful and powerful, by event or event parameter and fully retrospective.
Last but not least, simple and effective visualisations that allow any business user (yes, any, non-techy, non-data savvy) to create visualisations, from DAU per country to hourly revenue per device type, from bar to pie charts. Any event, any parameter or property, simple, quick and easy.
Another cool thing about Mixpanel is that segments of users are very easy to use across the platform. The reason being a cool idea called super properties. I don’t know if this still exists, but it is basically a way of maintaining a user state managed at the SDK level. All events sent have super properties attached and those super properties are usable in all tools. Although I have many reservations about client side managed user state, it is a very simple and effective way to have many user properties available to the several tools that we can use.
Is that all?!
Nope… I never used it much so I really don’t want to go deep into it but there are a couple more features that I’d like to bring up. The first one is a user level analytics and push notifications. One of the most relevant part is the ability to isolate users and see not only their user state but also their event stream. The second feature is A/B testing.
Integrated A/B testing is always a plus and push notifications likewise but given my lack of knowledge I won’t give any opinion but it’s good to know that both, plus the user state are options in the platform.
So what about the perfect scenario?
Cohort analysis, funnels and the ability to quickly check data visually are very important in analytics. Mixpanel offers this to business users at blazing speed with very well built tools. It is a platform for people that want to explore data and wonder around their own questions but that don’t have the data-techy skills to do it.
I recall very vividly having great discussions with a game designer around visualisations in Mixpanel. These weren’t visualisations that were on a dashboard, these were things that we were building and slicing as we were discussing. This is the real power of Mixpanel. The ability to move in data visually.