Google Analytics is the most widely used website statistics service, and different statistics services conclude that over 50% of the most popular web-sites in the world are using it. Why? Well, apart from the fact that it's free, it's also incredibly easy to set up and also offers an incredibly comprehensive toolset to study your games performance. So, to get started, the first thing you should do is sign up for an analytics account here: http://www.google.com/analytics/ (note, if you have an existing Google account for AdSense, etc... you can use that to sign in with rather than create a new account)
You will then be presented with the main "Home" page (which will be empty if you are a new user), and from here you should click the button labelled "Admin" to take you to the administration panel of your analytics account.
The initial account setup can be a bit confusing at first, due to the way that Google generate the forms that they require you to fill in. However, you can break it down into the following steps:
- Create an Account
- Create a Property
- Create one or more Profiles
The first thing to create, the Account, is the main group in which your games will be placed, so if you have a company name, or a publishers name, it is probably a good idea to use that, as all your games will be listed under this account heading (in the example image, you can see that the user has three accounts... one for the final games, one for test apps and one for a web site that is under their control).
Note that when you create an account, you will also be requested to create a Property, which can lead to some confusion since the actual Account details are listed at the bottom of the form after the initial Properties section. This can be seen in the image below (the account setup is highlighted in red):
For the Account name, use the name of your company or publisher, or even your own name if you are an individual that is publishing your own games. You should probably also leave the data sharing options checked too as this will help improve your statistics tracking, especially if you also have a linked AdWords or AdSense account. Once you have done that you will need to define the first Property (the upper part of the form) which is covered in the section below.
Once you have filled in your account details you should fill in the Properties section of the page. The Properties section is going to be used to hold the different Profiles for your apps, and we recommend that you create one Property for each of your games, and then within each property, one Profile for each of the target platforms.
The first thing you have to do when defining a Property is choose whether it is a Web or an App property. We recommend that you choose "Web" first and link this first property to your own web site so that you can then include the tracking code given to you with your page. Once you have created this property (or if you have no web site), you can just go ahead and create an "App" property and name it after the game you want to track, then click on the "Get Tracking ID" button.
You will now be presented with the tracking id for the game that you are creating, and this is the value that should be used in GameMaker:Studio to activate the tracking (see Using Analytics). The next step is to set up individual Profiles for each of your apps within this property.
NOTE: You can create a single property for each target version of the same game (ie: An iOS propert, an Android property, etc...), with each one having it's own individual profile and a unique tracking ID for use in GameMaker:Studio, however Google recommend against doing this and suggest that "grouping" game versions together under one tracking id is better.
When you click on your new Property, you will see that there is already a pre-defined profile available. This profile is created automatically by Google and is an "overview" of your game which will contain the tracking stats for all the profiles that you create. However, you should now create individual profiles for each of the target platforms that you wish to publish your game on.
At this point you will need to have thought out what target platform your game will be for, as you will need to choose one or the other profile type ("Web" or "App") depending on this. The following table explains this better:
You should also give your profile a specific and descriptive name, like "Catch the Haggis for iOS" as it will make things easier to follow, and select the reporting time zone (this only affects the time that appears in your reports). Click on the "Create Profile" button to create your profile and be taken to it's setup page. If your profile is for iOS or Android (you chose to make an "App" profile) then you need do no more here and can now start tracking the game, but if your profile is for HTML5 or Windows Phone (you chose to make a "Web" profile) then you need to click on the Profile Settings tab (highlighted in the image below).
On the Profile Settings page, you will have to mark whether the game is HTML5 or Windows Phone, and if it is HTML5 supply a URL. This selection is made from the Website URL drop down menu, and for non Web games, you should select the option "Not a Website". You can fill in any further details that you feel necessary but this is not necessary for basic tracking. Click on the Apply button at the bottom to save your changes to the profile.
You can now track your game on any of the target platforms that GameMaker: Studio supports.
To see the analytics for your game, you should start by clicking the Home icon at the top of the page. This will take you to a folder view of all your tracked sites and games, which you can then click on to open the sub folders for properties and profiles. you can then click on any of them to be taken to the profile dashboard.
NOTE: Analytics can take some time to start coming through the system. You should expect to wait up to 48 hours before getting any results.
The dashboard is the main starting point to view how your game is doing, and is highly customisable, however it basically shows things like geographical distribution, page views, time used etc... Note that the options and views will differ depending on whether your game is classed as "Web" or "App" although the same basic info is always available. The sheer number of possible options for the different views as well as the massive amount of information that is shown, is outside of the scope of this tutorial, and it is strongly recommended that you visit the Google Analytics Support pages to get the most from their analytics.
That said there are two important section that you need to be aware of and they are covered below.
The real time options available to you are an excellent tool for testing your games right from the start. It is a section of your game overview pages that can show you at any given time some very basic information about how many people are playing your game and their location, with the exact data being defined by the "Web" or "App" profile of your game.
Within a couple of hours of setting up your app profile, you should be able to see the real time events, but note that for the best results on Android or iOS, you should test a compiled app rather than one run from the GameMaker:Studio IDE. For HTML5, your test pages should generate data without any problems, as should your Windows phone games, even if using the emulator rather than a physical device.
Custom events are user interactions with content in your game that can be tracked independently from a web page or a screen load. Things like downloads, ad clicks, achievements, game time etc... are all examples of actions you might want to track as Events.
GameMaker:Studio has a couple of extra functions available for analytics (their use is explained here) which enables you to send off these custom events, which can be generic (an event with a simple text), or extended (where you send a string, a parameter and a value). The extended events can only be used to send one parameter/value on one call (unlike Flurry which permits up to ten), but are still incredibly useful to find out (for example) how long a player takes to finish a game, or the final score of a player at the end of each level.
To get these to custom events will depend on the profile that you have chosen:
- Web - From the left hand menu go to Content and then select Events
- App - From the left hand menu select Engagement and then Events
As with the rest of the analytics panels, there are various views that can be opened here, and explaining them all is outside of the scope of this tutorial, however the Google help is extremely concise and should be consulted whenever you are unsure of anything.