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Longitudinal studies are a great way for your game studio to get the most out of your playtesting phase. Yet, what is it? Simply put, longitudinal studies, or long-term studies/diary studies as they are sometimes called, are playtests that occur over an extended period of time.
With long-term studies, game studios can better understand key factors necessary for a successful game such as: player retention, what play styles players adopt throughout the study, and user experience. Indeed, playtesting for more than one day can lead to discoveries your studio might not have ever seen.
A market insight analyst for an unreleased mobile strategy game had this to say about longitudinal tests:
The longitudinal test we did was very useful in highlighting churn points. It was very clear we’ve got a great D1 experience, but there are multiple issues on D3+ which need clearing up before our launch
Conducting longitudinal studies for mobile games is no easy task, and might intimidate many game studios from implementing such a great tool. Thankfully, PlaytestCloud takes all the stress out of it with our intuitive and automated approach. We’ll show you a variety of our longitudinal studies so that you can choose the best one for your mobile game.
First Things First: What’s Included
In our longitudinal studies, we utilize a variety of tools and resources in order to provide your studio with actionable results. All of the players’ gameplay is recorded over the duration of the study, allowing you to observe, hear, and analyze every moment of their experience. What’s more, our sophisticated video review tools — which include video annotations, video thumbnails, and an Event Tracking SDK — are built to support you in evaluating your playtests.
In addition to recording the players during the long-term study, players take multiple surveys throughout the study’s duration. This allows you to track how their enjoyment changes over time, so that you immediately observe what works and what doesn't.
And if you’re worried that the players might forget to play your game on a certain day or at a certain time, don’t be! We have automated reminders to keep the players on track.
But why just describe our longitudinal studies, when we can show you!
Churn Rate for a City Builder
Let’s say your game studio is developing a city builder game, and you want to test how your game’s gameplay mechanics impact your churn rate. Since longitudinal studies occur over an extended period of time, they can help provide your game studio with actionable insights into key metrics such as:
- Identifying if there are any impediments to an enjoyable player experience during D2-D5
- Pinpointing when players would churn
- Discovering if late-game tutorials actually equip players with the necessary strategies to succeed at PVP
All of our setups can be customized to fit your studio's goals. A set up for this longitudinal study might consist of five male players from the US, UK, and Canada, between the ages of 18-35, who regularly play games in a similar genre. By targeting specific demographics relative to your game, your study will accurately reflect how your future players experience the game.
- 5 days of gameplay with at least one 15+ minute session per day
- Thinking out loud in all sessions
- Daily surveys
- 1.5 - 2 hours of video recordings per player
Comparative Testing for a Match-3 Sequel
For our next hypothetical scenario, let’s say you want to conduct comparative testing for a Match-3 sequel. Longitudinal studies will help your game studio gain insights into key questions such as:
- Do both new and existing players enjoy the tutorial levels, or is it too fast/slow paced for either group?
- Do existing players see the improvements and new game play aspects introduced in this version?
- Do the different levels provide enough variety to keep people engaged from D1-D7?
The setup for this longitudinal study is a little different from the first example we gave. For this study, we have two target audience groups instead of one.
One group consists of 5 casual female players, who regularly play the prequel to this new game. All of the players are 30+ and are American/British/Canadian.
The second group consists of 5 casual female players who play Match-3 games in general. Their ages and nationalities are the same as group one.
- 7 days of gameplay with at least one 15+ minute session per day
- Thinking out loud in all sessions
- Daily surveys
- 2 - 2.5 hours of video per player on average.
These are just two examples of how your longitudinal study might look when testing churn and Match-3 sequel. PlaytestCloud’s longitudinal studies are very flexible, ensuring that your longitudinal study will accommodate all of your needs.
We’ve Got You Covered
Running longitudinal studies for mobile games can be very difficult, which is why we provide support in the design and setup of your study. Moreover, we can also analyze the playtest videos and surveys in order to provide expert insights and actionable results tailored to your research questions.
Our network of game user research consultants are also a great resource for your game studio to use during the testing phase. All of the consultants have years of experience, and have worked with some of the biggest mobile gaming companies, so you know you're in great hands.
And, because we know that you're on a tight schedule, we make it our priority to have a quick turnaround rate.
Easy as Pie
PlaytestCloud’s longitudinal studies help you understand, measure, and track what your players like about your game and where it falls short from a game design perspective. Our player experience surveys, video review tools, and connection with leading user experience consultants give your mobile game studio key insights ranging from churn and retention rates to the characteristics and behavior of individual player segments in your target audience.
All of our setups are designed to help you get the most out of your long-term study so that you can take actionable results. And, to help you better understand what plan works best for your studio, we’ve made it incredibly simple to find the perfect study by allowing you to tinker with the type of study you want to before you ever .