CRM: “Customer Relationship Management” are software platforms that allow a company to manage information about their customers and use that information to engage with them for the purpose of Marketing, Sales and Service experiences.
Bungie, the software developer behind Destiny and Halo, is going to try and pull off a miracle with their 1 million active users of Destiny The Game; they are going to try to get them synced across the Playstation, XBOX and PC platforms. If they can make this work for the Shadowkeep expansion which launches in September, it will be a case study for gaming CRM.
The challenge they’ve accepted involves taking what has, up until now, been three distinct sets of players across each of these platforms with another complication that the PC base has been using the Blizzard platform for the last couple years and will be switching to Steam in September. So, let’s call it four distinct segments of players.
Bungie has been collecting digital warehouses of data on every single player’s experience with the game since 2014. Their data lake has to be the size of a small Moon and that’s where the wizards come from (sorry, inside Destiny joke—Google it).
Bungie has promised what they are calling “Cross-Save” in September, meaning that players of Destiny will be able to play on any platform and their character progress will sync to the cloud and be accessible from any other platform, keeping the experience relatively consistent but allowing players to pick up on any platform and play with different sets of friends. This is a phenomenal upgrade for players like me who have purchased every version of Destiny on each of these three platforms. Yeah, I went all-in on Destiny in 2014 and haven’t looked back since.
The risk here is pretty large for negatively impacting five years of playing experience. It seems that each of us will need to set the master account we want to begin with and this will wipe out all the other accounts we have. So, if you picked up the Wish Ender exotic bow from the Raid on PC and still haven’t completed the raid on your PS4, you’re out of luck and will lose that gun if you make PS4 your primary account. This is actually good news for me since most of my friends play on Playstation, my time spent in the gloriously superior PC (both in gameplay and framerate), means I’m going to be able to immediately take the value of my Playstation achievements and open them up on PC for all my solo play. I couldn’t be happier.
But Bungie is going to need to manage all those connections. So let’s briefly walk through it.
- I have an XBOX account with a unique identifier and a medium set of Destiny data.
- I have a Playstation account with a unique identifier and a large set of Destiny data.
- I have a Blizzard account with a unique identifier and a small set of Destiny data.
- I have a Steam account with a unique identifier and no Destiny data.
So here are my assumptions about how this will work:
Step 1: Choose which account I want to be the Master.
For me, this will be Playstation. Easy enough there.
Step 2: Associate all of my children accounts to this Master, so three children accounts (XBOX, Blizzard, and Steam).
Step 3: Bungie will erase or archive and abstract all data related to those three children accounts and create three empty shells that are still affiliated to those unique identifiers for each of those children platforms.
Step 4: Bungie will create a synchronization between those children systems and the Master. We don’t know if this data will be duplicated in all four instances or if all four systems will reference a single set of player data. The more elegant architectural data model would have all four platforms referencing a single set of player data. Not only is it easier to deal with a common reference point of information, but there are also fewer failure points than in pushing and pulling data across all of these player experiences.
Step 5 (Ongoing): Maintain and innovate on the scale and performance of this architecture over time.
Now, if Bungie can pull this off, the player engagement data that will pour out of this architecture will be digital gold. Imagine being able to serve up an offer to a player to purchase an exotic finishing move (customizable combat emotes that will either be awarded or purchased in-game) at the exact moment they clear a raid on whatever platform they are playing on, in almost real-time. The revenue generation potential here is huge for Bungie but on the other side of that coin lies the player experience and any improvement to simplify and democratize the information structure of Destiny means that Bungie will be able to analyze and react much faster to the player base than they currently can right now.
But more importantly, Bungie will never again be locked into being pressured or influenced by any particular gaming platform. Any XBOX Destiny player will tell you that not being able to get an awesome weapon because it was exclusive to Playstation players, just completely sucks. I envision a day where I can pick up any device, like my iPad, connect a Bluetooth gaming controller and start blasting guardians in the crucible with a relatively consistent playing experience for everyone across any platform (“Cross-Play”), which Bungie has coyly hinted at but not yet promised.
While a project of this magnitude, which carries this much risk, may seem like a miracle, pulling it off will the be the result of the right technology investment applied to the right planning and execution. It’s straightforward Project Management with a tight timeline of deliverables and if Bungie can pull this off, they will have effectively created the Gaming Customer Relationship Platform of the future. As a player who deeply loves the experience of playing Destiny, I have my fingers crossed and wish them the very best of luck as they jump down in the abyss of Master Data Management and integration for their customers.