A product manager at King recently published this brilliant article about some research they did to help them understand the audience for various game genres better. In essence, they laid out the top 100 grossing mobile games, coded them for genre, and looked at the degree of player overlap between each of them trying to find clusters of crossovers. The analysis yielded some interesting results, like the fact that Candy Crush is pretty much adjacent to everything because it's so darn popular, and that metagame structure and art/theme may be more important to figuring out audience overlap than mechanic.
But for me, there are two really important lessons here. First, there is real value in making your data visual rather than just doing a huge dump of numbers. Human beings can parse these kind of visual representations not only more quickly, easily, and accurately but often more deeply - gaining new levels of understanding. Second and most importantly, it's easy to develop ideas about who the audience for your game is and what they like, but it's important to actually ask - or at least query the data - rather than work off your assumptions.
Mobile Game Doctor is a boutique game design and production consultancy that partners with game developers worldwide to help improve games, teams, and processes. Dave Rohrl is its Founder and one of its Principal Consultants