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The Art of LiveOps
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The Art of LiveOps

Author: James Gwertzman and Crystin Cox

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The Art of LiveOps podcast provides an in-depth perspective on modern game development and shares stories behind some of the most successful LiveOps strategies. Join our hosts, James Gwertzman and Crystin Cox, as they interview a variety of game development professionals in the industry. Presented by Azure PlayFab, if you are interested in learning more about LiveOps visit Download the latest episode transcript at
48 Episodes
David Nisshagen is an executive producer at Mojang Studio in Stockholm working on Minecraft Dungeons. He previously worked on other MMOs including Anarchy Online and Battlefield 3. He got his start as a video editor in the marketing industry which lead to his career in LiveOps Gaming.David and Crystin discuss the difference between satisfying your players and attracting them to your game and how you can embrace the idea of a co-creative process with your player base by listening to your community and building relationships with them. David also touches on how to establish a human-centered approach to your game from the beginning and to create a relaxed culture with your team. David also offers some valuable advice on tooling for your content management systems and the importance of stress testing your servers.This episode is brought to you by Azure PlayFab.Visit for all your LiveOps needs.Support the show
Austin Walker is the IP Director at Possibility Space. He was previously host of "Waypoint Radio" and he co-founded "Friends at the Table" (an actual play podcast). His work as a freelance writer in the video game journalism space has been featured on GameSpot and Paste. He's also written several short fiction pieces and comics. Austin and Crystin discuss LiveOps from a content creation viewpoint. They touch on a variety of topics including: Community tending; establishing ethical guidelines for monetization; the evolution in the way we interact with content creators; the impact Discord has on development; and reasons why some developers are fearful of their player communities.This episode is brought to you by Azure PlayFab.Visit for all your LiveOps needs.Support the show
Terry Redfield is the Creative Director of London for Niantic Games. She's was a founder in the mobile games space and a designer across many different LiveOps projects including Psychonauts, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering.  In her 27 year career, she's worked on many platform, mobile, PC and Facebook games.Terry and Crystin discuss different types of monetization models including cosmetics and fashion (skins); pain relief (cheats); goals (power-ups); time is money (skipping levels) and sponsorships (tournaments).Terry discusses biases in the games industry that create false assumptions about what your players will be attracted to in a game. She also talks about constraints and how they can be beneficial overall and how diverse teams make for better games.Support the show
Oscar Clark is Chief Strategy Officer at Fundamentally Games where he helps game teams understand what LiveOps is and how to make LiveOps work for them. He has a long history in LiveOps dating back to the late 90s. He's worked for the online games service, Wireplay; the UK mobile operator, Three; and for PlayStation Home, an early virtual world project. He also authored the book "Games As A Service: How Free to Play Design Can Make Better Games."Oscar will discuss production pipelines and how to keep your game dev teams healthy by focusing more on iteration and less on content and by discerning the best data to collect. Crystin and Oscar also chat about the art of monitoring data; the days of dial up modems; sittable chairs and flushable toilets in games; and the TV series "Columbo" as a metaphor for predictability with your players.This episode is brought to you by Azure PlayFab. Visit for all your LiveOps needs.Support the show
Bob Holtzman is a consultant in the video game industry. He's worked with a variety of teams, including Riot Games, Kerbal Space Program, and Nexon doing communications, PR and community management. Bob joins Crystin to chat about the importance of media coverage for live service games; why game developers need to involve influencers and streamers in their development process; and how to manage difficult conversations with your players. He also provides 5 important guidelines for effective community management.This episode is brought to you by Azure PlayFab. Visit for all your LiveOps needs.Support the show
Kim Swift is Senior Director of Cloud Gaming at Xbox Game Studios Publishing. She is best known for her work on "Portal" with Valve. She has touched a lot of different technologies across the industry, having worked at Amazon, Twitch, E.A., Motive, and Google. Kim talks about her hopes and dreams for the future of cloud gaming and what it means for LiveOps; how players can ascribe meaning and lore to benign design elements; and how even the simplest of design intentions can have unforeseen consequences. Crystin and Kim also discuss machine learning algorithms and how they might be used to create even more interesting interactions for players like advanced matchmaking or tailored experiences.This episode is brought to you by Azure PlayFab. Visit for all your LiveOps needs.Support the show
Jason Girard is the Director of Live Services and Technical Program Management at ProbablyMonsters, building the next generation of Live Operations from the ground up in a developer focused way. He's been in the games industry for over 10 years building and supporting platform level technologies at the scale of millions of players across multiple games simultaneously. His focus is guarding the player experience by keeping games online and working. Jason talks about Games as a Service; Monitoring and Alerting; How a LiveOps team integrates with other teams within an organization; the importance of database management and the dangers of collecting too much or too little personal data from your players.This episode is brought to you by Azure PlayFab. Visit for all your LiveOps needs.Support the show
Jill Braff, GM of Integrations and Mobile Games at Microsoft, has a 25 year career in gaming and media. She's worked on early console games with Nintendo, Sega and Konami; helped build Glu mobile through the launch of the iPhone; and spent a decade in media at Home Shopping Network and the Ellen DeGeneres show. She currently works with the Zenimax business for Xbox Games Studios.Jill discusses the similarities between the live call-in aspects of Home Shopping Network with LiveOps in gaming today and how the advent of the iPhone and Facebook changed the landscape of mobile game development.  Jill shows how the implementation of live data has given developers insights into player's habits and the amount of time they spend playing mobile games. And she illuminates us on an idea that "casual" games don't really exist.This episode is brought to you by Azure PlayFab. Visit for all your LiveOps needs.Support the show
As the general manager for Destiny 2, Justin Truman is responsible for the overall success and health of the Destiny product, business, and team. He spends his days helping to empower Bungie’s teams to make Destiny 2 the best it can be, and to have the best possible working experience while doing so.  Since joining Bungie in 2010, Justin has influenced the evolution of the Destiny universe for a decade from a variety of roles throughout the studio. On the original Destiny he helped build the Destiny engine as an engineering lead, and on Destiny 2 he served both as a design director and then later as a production director. Justin discusses the challenges of moving from a box released game to a LiveOps game; how Bungie organizes their teams to address live feedback and how to be more comfortable with transparency and less with always being right.This episode is brought to you by Azure PlayFab: https://www.playfab.comSupport the show
Alex Hunnisett (@Blondagles) has been serving as Head of Live Service at Rare, supporting Sea of Thieves on its continued voyage into Live Operations. Having originally cut his teeth in digital and product marketing before taking the leap into game development, Alex has worked with several studios supporting their Games through Communications, Community, CRM and Live Operations.Alex will give us some perspective on his history of running LiveOps on “Sea of Thieves” coming from a marketing community perspective. He uses an analogy of “The Hobbit” to illustrate the transition from boxed products to LiveOps. This episode brought to you by Azure PlayFab: https://www.playfab.comSupport the show
Chris Campbell is a principal designer at Supersocial Games and focuses on making games for the Roblox platform.Chris will enlighten us on a range of topics including his first job fielding player questions at Nintendo; the switch from premium to free-to-play; his experience with creating content on the Roblox Platform; his perspective on what the metaverse is; and his advice to all game developers when they need inspiration.Brought to you by Azure PlayFab: https://www.playfab.comSupport the show
Ben Jones (@Bagelbeard) is a creative director at Zenimax Online Studios where he’s working to build an ambitious IP from scratch. Ben has been a key contributor in AAA game development for 20 years, working on several high-impact titles in a variety of roles including MAG and Battlefield. His passion for games got him started in the business, but his love of people and problem solving has kept him in it. Ben will discuss design and creative direction for online games and how as a designer his relationship with data has changed over the years.  He also stresses the importance of live events, holiday events and calendarization of your games and using multiple data points to inform your design decisions.  He'll also touch on UGC, NFTs, mods and the metaverse. Support the show
Troy Skinner is a researcher at Immersyve who studies both games and game designers to learn why people play video games and what keeps them engaged.  He works with behavioral scientists and psychologists to operationalize these insights to make game design decisions. In this episode, Troy discusses the importance of providing players with consistent growth and long-term goals and he uses an analogy comparing game genres to making pizza.  He discusses the intrinsic and extrinsic goals of players and how collecting and analyzing these data points can help developers determine appropriate rewards and monetization strategies for their games. Support the show
Crystin Cox and James Gwertzman are back again for Season 3 of the Art of LiveOps podcast. Listen in to see what’s in store for this season.  New episodes will be posted every Tuesday starting April 26th, 2022. Support the show
Who really runs the show these days at games studios? Today’s guest, Patrick McGrath, makes a solid case for the Product Leads and PMs who are thinking long-term and making sure the studio is making the right decisions for all the games, and all the players, for many years to come. He also points out some exciting ways that other businesses are starting to make use of gamification and free-to-play monetization strategies to create the kinds of excellent customer experiences that keep them coming back for more.Support the show
Ever wondered why certain games thrive in one cultural context and bomb in another? Saumya Iyer, a LiveOps expert helping mobile games thrive in India, is here to explain the incredible impact of a shared cultural context and sense of community on a game’s success in any given market. This is a must-listen if you’re expanding internationally, or wondering why your game just isn’t catching on as you’d hoped in a new segment. Support the show
GamePoint’s BINGO has been going strong for fifteen years and counting. How do they do it? Wouter Schrijvershof, a veteran Community Manager and now LiveOps Manager at GamePoint, is here to share some of the secrets of their longevity. Spoiler alert: it’s all about transparency, responsiveness, establishing genuine connections, and keeping it fresh with live events!  Support the show
Bryan Mashinter, a true LiveOps expert, packs so much actionable wisdom into this episode it’s practically bursting at the seams. Listen to learn why you should be focused on creating win-win scenarios, why you need more content than you think you do, how many events in a row is too many, and so much more! Support the show
When you think about the top game platforms in the world, though Roblox may not immediately spring to mind, it should. With over 15 million games and 150 million players, Roblox is the #1 gaming site for kids and teens, and is growing in popularity across all demographics. Listen as Jay Jodway, Head of Top Developer, outlines how, and why, Roblox empowers their community of creators with LiveOps tools from day one.Support the show
Today we are joined by Ben Cousins, an expert with 21 years experience in the Free-To-Play and Games-as-a-Service space. Listen as Ben offers a sneak preview into the future of games as services. Support the show
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