Concept Testing at PlaytestCloud: How Studios Use It, and Why
What is a Concept Test | Mobile Game Playtesting
At PlaytestCloud, we believe playtesting is essential in order to allow every game studio out there the chance to create the very best games they can. No matter what genre you're working on, or at what stage your game is in, nothing can make it better than actually hearing from the people you’re making it for: the players. This is valid for any step of game development, be it pre-launch or post-launch. And to better understand just what players think of your ideas, be it an entire concept or even just your game title, a Concept Test is the way to go.
A Concept Test is a playtest type that allows players to speak aloud and answer posed questions about your latest mobile game concept. What sets this type of playtest apart from others is that you get in-depth player feedback from a few seasoned players, as opposed to an average impression from hundreds (like you would get from a simple PlaytestCloud Survey). This can help you iterate and decide on any idea or concept you might have for your game, allowing players to let you know directly and at any time of development if the direction your game is going is one they’ll enjoy. And, here, a concept can be anything, from storylines, to designs, to titles, to anything else you might have in mind.
Along with this, Concept Tests are uncomplicated to order, and can be completed in four steps using the PlaytestCloud platform. All you have to do is:
- Compile a collection of video, audio, or image files using concept art and text descriptions (you can include up to 30 slides with your playtest)
- Set up questions and prompts for players
- Receive screen and audio recordings from players
- Review ‘reaction material’ for deep player insights about your new concept
After that, you can just sit back, and have a look at what players think of your game once the playtest is complete.
Concept Testing can be used for just about anything, like for example testing intellectual property for game ideas that are just beginning, already in progress… or already live. You’ll get immediate feedback you can iterate on right away.
And by the way, don’t worry if you’re thinking your concept is too “out of the box” for testing, or if you think what you'd like feedback on is too specific. If you can dream it, we can test it.
Want to start Concept Testing right away? Just sign-up now, or head here if you already have a PlaytestCloud account. Want to know more about Concept Testing, including specific use cases of how it’s helped our clients? Then just keep reading below.
The Benefits of Concept Testing for Mobile Games
As you begin your game’s playtesting journey, you’re bound to come across a ton of product options to test different elements of your game: particularly if you're using a remote playtesting solution, like ours.
So what playtest type is best for your game’s user research aims? What does Concept Testing bring to the table?
The main benefit of Concept Testing is that it’s a deeply flexible alternative to simple surveys or longitudinal testing that can be used to test almost any element of your game, including:
- Game Scenarios - Fantasy or sci-fi? Who is the protagonist?
- Artwork & Design - Cartoon style or photo-realism?
- Game Soundtrack - Low-fi or upbeat?
- Character Voices - Which narrator voice do audiences like?
- Advertising - Which character should appear in our marketing campaign?
Best of all, you also get a unique, unmoderated, ‘stream of consciousness’ output from players as they review the concepts and questions you’ve created.
In other words, concept testing eliminates the self censoring between when a player experiences the concept you’ve presented, and when they type their feedback on a keyboard – as they would with other testing alternatives.
(For moderated player interview options, try our Player Interview product).
Finally (as with our other playtest type), you can annotate videos, audio recordings, and transcripts to relay playtest findings directly to members of your game studio team, ensuring you can implement the learnings from your playtest as quickly as possible.
The Different Use Cases for Concept Testing
How can Concept Testing help, however? What problems can it solve? What questions can it answer? And what different setups can you achieve with it? Indeed, when creating your Concept Test, you might be wondering what kinds of questions, prompts, or player parameters you should include.
To answer this and more, below we give you 4 examples of how our clients have used Concept Testing, showcasing the problems this service can solve, and the different setups each test can be run – and their cost.
Before we dig into the case examples below, however, let’s quickly learn a bit more about something essential for any PlaytestCloud user: Video Tokens.
What is a Video Token?
Video Tokens are like PlaytestCloud currency. They are tokens you can use to place orders – and come as a part of our subscription plans. They’re also how you pay for your one-off projects, for example.
Video Tokens are automatically added to your account every billing cycle so you can keep ordering more playtests!
How many Video Tokens would I spend on a concept test?
Concept tests are easy to price out; the only difference is which type of target audience you choose.
For 1 concept test between 5 to 60 minutes you will spend 1 Video Token for standard targeting, and 1.5 Video Tokens for advanced targeting.
|Standard targeting||Advanced targeting||Test with a child|
|5-60 minutes concept test||1 VT||1.5 VT||2 VT|
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s have a look at how Concept Testing has helped our clients – and how it can help you.
4 Concept Test Case Studies to Motivate Your Next Playtest
Concept Testing for Game Ideas
Scenario: Our first case study example involves a game studio that wanted to create a new game in the survival arena category.
Cost: At a cost of 1.5 Video Tokens per player for advanced targeting, the game studio cashed in 9 Video Tokens to concept test with 6 players total.
Setup: With a concept in mind, they wanted to tap into 3 target audience groups to gain more insight about their idea. These groups were:
Target Audience Research Group 1:
2 male midcore iOS players from United States between 18 and 40 years who have played the category leader in survival arena mobile games in the last 2 years
Target Audience Research Group 2:
2 male midcore iOS players from United States between 18 and 40 years who have played the second place category leader in survival arena mobile games in the last 2 years
Target Audience Research Group 3:
2 male midcore iOS players from United States between 18 and 40 years who have played in the game categories listed above in the past 2 years
To prepare, the game studio created a slideshow of 28 slides. Each slide included questions pertaining to the player’s profile, then showed game concept images, controls, and narrative choices, and took about 30 minutes for players to complete.
The results: From test results, the game studio moved confidently into a direction for their survival game, and began working on a prototype. From there they completed development for several levels of the game, and tested these with the same players from the original concept test (as well as new ones)!
Concept Testing for Advertising
Scenario: Our second case study example involves a popular game studio that regularly finds their games at the top of the charts in the App Store.
To ensure that future game marketing would fit the established brand of their game(s), this game studio used PlaytestCloud Concept Testing to discover which in-game ads were most likely to convert.
Cost: With more resources available, this game studio chose the standard targeting option and invested in a 25-player concept test at 25 Video Tokens total.
Setup: Their chosen player criteria was simple: they wanted participants who were 18 years or older of any nationality and any gender to complete a concept test of about 5 minutes. Their only caveat was that players had no history of completing playtests for this particular game.
Typically, we suggest 5-10 players for our playtests. However, since this playtest was so short in length, more players in this case meant a stronger point of comparison for their 2 ad variations. For some players, ads were displayed between different levels, whereas others experienced a ‘special sponsored game level’ feature that included the ad integration.With their request submitted, the game studio then created a concept test that included 9 ad mock-ups uploaded as PNGs and presented on-screen. Players would not be expected to play the game, and instead to simply look at the still image and comment on the ad integration shown.
Then, the game studio collected all audio and visual data to explore the verbalized responses of the players from their concept test.
Results: This game studio’s marketing team determined that the players who participate most in gameplay have a less favorable view of disruptive ads; however, results also showed that the second ad variation - with incorporated sponsors and ads within the level - trended slightly in the positive. This information was essential in helping the game studio find the unique sweet spot for ad placement, timing, and size.
Concept Testing for Game Validation
Scenario: Our third case study example involves a top-tier game studio with tons of hits on the Google Play and Apple App Stores.
With some exciting successes under their belt, and a desire to invest wisely, this studio used PlaytestCloud Concept Testing to validate concepts for a new game and determine the direction they want to take it.
Cost: With a total expenditure of 30 Video Tokens for 20 players at the advanced targeting level (equalling 1.5 Video Tokens per player), this gaming studio sought to test 10 separate groups. Each group consisted of 1 man and 1 woman aged 18 or older from any nationality.
Setup: From there, PlaytestCloud proceeded with player recruitment, where players were matched with a game genre they were most active in (say, games in the genre of The Sims, Choices, or Uncharted).
For the test itself, each player was given 60 text-heavy game plots, storylines, characters, and art mockups of the game concept currently in the early stages of development. The instructions were simple: give responses and feedback in real-time!
Results: Thanks to the transparent and insightful feedback from the players tested, the game studio moved forward with the direction in which they wanted to take their game. Since then, the game has moved well into the prototype phase!
Concept Testing for Usability
Scenario: Our fourth and final case study example involves a small independent game studio focused on fun and engaging educational mobile games for kids.
During the creation of an educational app with encyclopedic aspects and small mini games, the game studio used PlaytestCloud Concept Testing to gauge the usability and discoverability of the navigation tools in their app.
Cost: At a slightly higher Video Token rate due to playtesting with children, this game studio spent a total of 6 Video Tokens for 3 kid players. Player parameters were children between 10 and 13 from the US.
Setup: To create their Concept Test materials, this game studio used our Figma integration to create playable designs lasting about 5 minutes. We proceeded with the Concept Test phase, where young players were shown 3 mockup versions of an educational resources app.
As each mockup appeared on-screen, kids were asked simple questions with on screen prompts like “What do you think this app can do?”, “What do you find interesting about the home page?”, or “What do you think will happen when each button is clicked?”.
Then, as with the other case studies, the game studio received all audio and video material from these short playtests for review.
Results: Based on the authentic interactions of the kid playtesters, the game studio learned which elements players responded well to, and which ones they did not. From there, the game studio was free to work on new game variations during their next playtesting ‘sprint’ with a different group of children players.
Test Your Next Mobile Game Concept with PlaytestCloud
As you can see, Concept Testing can be used in a wide range of setups, and solve an equally wide range of problems. No matter the type of game you’re working on, or the players you’re hoping to reach, this type of playtest is essential in giving you all the feedback and insights you might need.
If you already have an account with PlaytestCloud, then when you’re ready to order a Concept Test you can just choose “Concept Test” from the New Playtest page on your account dashboard. Just remember to manage the Configure Your Slides feature for each slide you include in your concept test.
If, on the other hand, you are new to PlaytestCloud (and maybe even new to creating and testing mobile games), then you can create an account with us by filling out the form below, and requesting your first playtest!
We are so excited to take care of all your Concept Testing needs, and look forward to hearing all about your next playtest adventure.
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