About Me

My name is Thomas Debeauvais. I'm a PhD student in the Informatics department of UC Irvine, in the group of Crista Lopes. Expected graduation date: June 2016.

My research focuses on player behavior in games, particularly real-money transactions, skill, content consumption, and retention. I apply statistical methods such as regressions or clustering algorithms on datasets with millions of player data. I can also use qualitative methods such as participant observation and semi-structured interviews.

Have a look at my resume, research projects below, github page, or drop me an email at: tdebeauv (then @uci.edu).

Games User Research

The Impact of Gating on Retention in Jelly Splash

In the mobile game Jelly Splash, three mechanics limit player progression: level difficulty, friend gates, and life regeneration. We found that the difficulty and gate mechanics increase revenues, but also cause churn. Published at FDG 2015.

Screenshot of Jelly Splash

An Empirical Study of Driving Skill in Forza Motorsport 4

In this paper, we looked at patterns of play, skill, and progression in a racing game. We also predicted when a player is ready to permanently increase the game's difficulty with precision and recall reaching up to 90%. Published at FDG 2014.

Screenshot of Forza 4

Retention and Progression: Seven Months in World of Warcraft

We correlate demographic variables with in-game activity and churn. For 100 World of Warcraft players, 10 drop out every month, but 5 come back to play again. Published at FDG 2014.

Evolution of WoW player base

Business Intelligence in World of Warcraft

2012. PhD advancement paper about retention and buying gold in World of Warcraft.

Correlation network

10,000 gold for $20: an exploratory study of World of Warcraft gold buyers

We looked at demographic, social, and game features related to buying virtual gold in World of Warcraft. Achievement-oriented men with full-time jobs and little time on their hands were more likely to buy gold. Published at FDG 2012.

Screenshot of World of Warcraft

If you build it, they might stay: retention mechanisms in World of Warcraft

This paper looked at demographic, social, and game features related to player commitment in World of Warcraft. A quarter of players keep paying $13/month for 6 months or more without even playing the game. Published at FDG 2011.

Histogram of break durations.

A qualitative study of Ragnarok Online private servers: in-game social issues

Players of Ragnarok Online prefer private servers because they provide more customization, tighter communities, and less repetitive gameplay. Published at FDG 2010.

Screenshot of Ragnarok Online


RCAT: A Scalable Architecture for Massively Multiuser Online Environments

Technical Report from 2013. Performance analysis of a multiplayer jigsaw game server.

Screenshot of a Jigsaw puzzle app relying on RCAT

RESTful Massively Multi-User Virtual Environments: A Feasibility Study

Preliminary numbers and microbenchmarks for a REST-based game server. Published at IGIC 2012.

Performance curves

RCAT: a RESTful Client-server ArchiTecture

RCAT is a scalable RESTful back-end architecture aimed at supporting thousands of concurrent and interacting users. Published at Netgames 2011.

RCAT Architecture

Distributed Tuning of Machine Learning Algorithms using MapReduce Clusters

Map-Reduce scales up parameter tuning, but can harm accuracy. I used Weka, Amazon EC2, and random forests. Published at LDMTA 2011.

Random Forest results