I gave a talk at GDC 2014 all about game analytics and AWS. In the talk, I showed how to start small by uploading analytics files from users devices to S3, and then processing them with Redshift. As your game grows, add more data sources and AWS services such as Kinesis and Elastic MapReduce to perform more complex processing. Here are the slides on Slideshare and the videos on YouTube.
Free-to-play has become a ubiquitous strategy for publishing games, especially mobile and social games. Succeeding in free-to-play requires having razor-sharp analytics on your players, so you know what they love and what they hate. Free-to-play aside, having an awesome game has always been about maximizing the love and minimizing the hate. Charge a reasonable price for the things your players love and you have a simple but effective monetization strategy.
At the end of the talk, I blabbed a bit about what I see as the future of gaming: Big data and real-time analytics. The more in-tune you can get with your players, and the faster you can react, the more your game is going to differentiate itself. Recently there was a massive battle in EVE Online that destroyed nearly $500,000 worth of ships and equipment. Imagine being able to react in real-time, in the heat of battle, offering players discounted ammunition targeted at their fleet and status in battle. Some estimate impulse buys to account for 40% of all ecommerce meaning there is huge untapped potential for gaming in the analytics space.