DB Seminar [Fall 2014]: Zhanpeng Fang
Online gaming is one of the largest industries on the Internet, generating tens of billions of dollars in revenues annually. One core problem in online game is to find and convert free users into paying customers, which is of great importance for the sustainable development of almost all online games. Although much research has been conducted, there are still several challenges that remain largely unsolved: What are the fundamental factors that trigger the users to pay? How does users’ paying behavior influence each other in the game social network? How to design a prediction model to recognize those potential users who are likely to pay? In this paper, employing two large online games as the basis, we study how a user becomes a new paying user in the games. In particular, we examine how users’ paying behavior influences each other in the game social network. We study this problem from various sociological perspectives including strong/weak ties, social structural diversity and social influence. Based on the discovered patterns, we propose a learning framework to predict potential new payers. The framework can learn a model using features associated with users and then use the social relationships between users to refine the learned model. We test the proposed framework using nearly 50 billion user activities from two real games. Our experiments show that the proposed framework significantly improves the prediction accuracy by up to 3-11% compared to several alternative methods. The study also unveils several intriguing social phenomena from the data. For example, influence indeed exists among users for the paying behavior. The likelihood of a user becoming a new paying user is 5 times higher than chance when he has 5 paying neighbors of strong tie. We have deployed the proposed algorithm into the game, and the Lift_Ratio has been improved up to 196% compared to the prior strategy.