What is a Multi-Session Playtest | 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 early meta-game additions or a new feature introduction later down the line, a Multi-Session Playtest is the way to go.

A Multi-Session Playtest is one of the most popular long-form playtests we offer at PlaytestCloud – the other being our Longitudinal Study playtest. Now, in this new blog post, we explain exactly why it’s so popular, and how it’s been helping out studios all around the world.

Multi-session Playtests are tests that incorporate multiple playtest sessions with integrated breaks in between, allowing you to dive into the player experience of the first 2 to 5 gameplay sessions in a natural, swift and detailed manner. In general, they're the perfect setup once you start working on the session-to-session aspects of your game!

When you create this type of playtest, players will come in to play your game for a short session – usually from the comfort of their homes on their own iOS or Android devices – and then log off for a little while. They then return for their second session, their third, and so on until all requested sessions are complete.

It’s important to keep in mind that the specific goal of a Multi-session Playtest (and what makes it different from a Longitudinal Study) is to test player acuity beyond the first session after a short break, as opposed to day-to-day assessments of player behavior across several days.

The architecture of our Multi-Session Playtests are set up like this for a very simple yet important reason: most mobile game users are playing mobile games in intervals. By replicating that behavior, we can give an ideal approximation of what the actual playing experience is – for both the player and the game creator.

In other words, mobile gamers play to fill up gaps of time in their daily life, and more rarely play for consecutive hours as they might with a PC or console game. That places a higher importance on early-stage gameplay – which is what we replicate with the Multi-Session set-up.

The idea is, if players remember how to play your game during their second play-session and beyond, then they will have the opportunity to test more complex mechanics across sessions. If not, then you know your game has some work ahead to improve the overall player experience and players’ understanding of the gameplay environment.

What sets this type of playtest apart from, say, a Single-Session Playtest, is that you are able to test more than just the first few stages of your game. You can even order this type of playtest to get players through entire levels of gameplay!

Multi-Session playtests are also uncomplicated to order, and can be completed in 3 steps using the PlaytestCloud platform. All you have to do is:

  1. Choose your target audience and test setup. You can select how many players you want, how long you would like them to play for, how many sessions of gameplay they should participate in (2 to 5 sessions), and how long of a break they should make between sessions.
  2. Upload your iOS or Android build. We cater game builds to all kinds of iOS and Android devices.
  3. Receive gameplay recordings in as little as 1 to 4 days. We review all videos for technical issues and offer a 100% money-back guarantee or replacement if an issue occurs.

If you are thinking about ordering a Multi-Session playtest, know that they can be used to test just about anything, like for example: test boosters, first-session player experience, and early meta-game concepts and articulations.

And don’t worry if you’re thinking your playtest idea 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 a Multi-session playtest right away? Just sign-up now, or head here if you already have a PlaytestCloud account. Want to know more about the benefits of Multi-session playtests, including specific use cases of how it’s helped our clients? Then just keep reading below.

The Benefits of Multi-Session Playtesting 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.

So what playtest type is best for your game’s user research aims?

The main benefit of a Multi-session playtest is that you can learn whether players are having fun during their first gameplay sessions.

And we can do this for any player, targeting your specific target audience. In fact, our online platform gives you direct access to 1.000.000+ players of all genres and demographics, and can often get your survey questions answered in just a few days (2 sessions are usually done overnight, while 3 to 5 sessions are usually done within 2+ days).

And since Multi-session Playtests are the most realistic replication of how your game will fare in the real world, you’ll find it super simple to…

  • Diagnose problem issues to increase player and tutorial retention. Are players remembering that important feature you mentioned in level 2? Are they still using that feature at level 20?
  • Experience for yourself how players truly interact with your game. Do players feel the same way about your game in the first session as they do the fifth? What changed between players’ experiences from session 1 to 2, and so on?
  • Analyze play-through material including detailed recordings, graphs, and documents. What can I learn about the player experience based on player feedback and data? How will this data inform further game iterations and development decisions?

Best of all, because we take care of all the technical player logistics like NDAs and player reward, you will be free to focus wholly on your in-house user research goals and tasks, such as:

  • Teaching players your game
  • Testing whether your game helps players master in-game challenges beyond the first session
  • Learning whether people love coming back to your game
  • Seeing whether players remember what the game taught them in the first tutorial phases
  • Exploring the first-hand usability and discovery of complex game mechanics and game loops

In other words, Multi-Session playtests can eliminate uncertainty surrounding every aspect of early-game development, making this type of test absolutely ideal for early stage testing.

Why? Because Multi-Session Playtests grow with you, just like your game should with players.

For example, you don’t have to order all 5 sessions at once, meaning you can iterate your own playtest sessions as you go depending on what players tell you. You can target your testing as specifically as possible to your needs, and nothing more.

Lastly (as with our other playtest types), Multi-Session Playtests capture the whole gameplay experience of your game. Not only do we record the players screen, their touches, and what they have to say during every second of each session, our video recording tech reduces performance impact on players, keeping the gameplay experience as natural as possible.

Then, when you have your results, you can annotate videos, create reels, hashtags, 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.

3 Tips to Help Plan Your Multi-Session Playtest

Before you jump in and order your Multi-Session Playtest, we recommend you check out these 3 helpful planning tips:

  1. Make sure you have each game level you want to test ready to the point that it can be playtested.
  2. Find out what factors you want to test, and work independently (or with PlaytestCloud) to design a Multi-Session Playtest to focus on those aims before you order your playtest.
  3. Contact PlaytestCloud in advance of your playtest order to let us know about your upcoming test and what you hope to get out of it. This can help us prepare for a successful playtest, and expedite the ordering process. Leaving you with a faster and more thorough playtest experience.

Need more help throughout the entire playtesting process? Have a look at our HOW TO GUIDE for Multi-Session Longitudinal Playtests.
The Different Use Cases for Multi-Session Playtesting

The Different Use Cases for Multi-Session Playtesting

We’ve outlined the specs for you… and now it’s time to learn how Multi-Session Playtests can help you build incredible mobile games regardless of where you are in your development cycle. What problems can they solve? What questions can they answer? And what different setups can you achieve with them? Indeed, when creating your Multi-session playtest you might want to know what testing prompts to include.

To answer these questions and more, below we give you 3 examples of how our clients have used Multi-session playtests, showcasing the problems this service can solve, and the different setups each test can be run – as well as their cost.

When you’re finished reading, we recommend you also check out an in-depth Multi-session case study from the incredible studio in charge of the ‘Idle Miner’ game series, Kolibri Games.

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 Multi-session playtest?

Multi-session playtests come with a few variables, all of them affecting the price– some sessions in your playtest can be longer than others, for example.

To put it simply, we price Multi-Session playtests along with a set up fee of about 8.7 Video Tokens. Then the number of sessions and respective session length (5 to 60 minutes) will further determine the VT cost, with the number of players also playing a factor.

Let’s take a look at a very basic breakdown below:

Part 1: Price per player
Playtime per session Price per session
15 min 0.72 VT
30 min 1.16 VT
60 min 1.45 VT
Part 2: Target audience factor
Standard targeting Included
Advanced targeting Price per player x 1.5
Kids targeting Price per player x 2
Part 3: Setup fee
8.7 Video Tokens


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s have a look at how Multi-session playtests have helped our clients – and how they can help you.

3 Multi-session Playtest Case Studies to Motivate Your Next Playtest

Multi-Session Playtesting for Tutorials

Scenario: When game studios have enough game content that they are able to start late-game production, developers and creators begin to take on a ‘bigger picture’ view of their mobile game.

That’s just what happened with a home-decorating mobile game studio we have been working with over a few single-session playtests. They had been developing each level piece by piece, and with enough assets were able to pivot and test whether the early-game tutorials were remembered by players later down the line.

Let’s take a look at their playtest approach below, and what they gained from it:
Goal: To make sure that early-game tutorial elements are retained and used by players when they come up at later stages of gameplay.
Cost: Given the price per player, the target audience cost, the number of sessions, and the setup fee, the total cost of this playtest was 15 Video Tokens broken down as follows:

Price for 3 players: 6.48 VT
Price per player: 2.16 VT (0.72 VT per 15 min session x 3 sessions)
Target Audience Cost: No additional cost for standard targeting
Setup Fee: 8.7 VT
Total: 15 VT (6.48 + 8.7 rounded down)
Setup: The game studio placed an order for a Multi-session Playtest with 3 players who are actively playing city-building games. The idea was to have each player play their game across 3 sessions, each one lasting 15-minutes (meaning 45 minutes of playtesting total). This gave each player plenty of time to move through the tutorial, and to use these tutorial aspects at least twice during regular gameplay. Players were then asked to complete surveys between sessions and at the end of the playtest using the PlaytestCloud Survey Monkey integration.
Results: The smaller scale of this test allowed the game studio to dig in deep into player behavior during each gameplay session. As a result, they discovered that their game tutorial was successful in providing the right gameplay knowledge to players. With their main goal achieved, they then used reported findings to further develop other aspects of their game.

Multi-Session Playtesting for Game Sequels

Scenario: When game studios create a great game, they’ll often release a fun new iteration (or ‘part 2’) later down the line.

That’s just what happened with a large, multinational gaming company we playtest with, who have a ton of Tier A titles in the mobile gaming world, among others. As they began development of a sequel for a popular interactive story game they had created, they wanted to perfect the narrative aspects of their game to make sure gameplay was consistent.

Let’s take a look at their approach below:
Goal: Perfect the narrative and character-based aspects of the game to increase game retention upon publication. Understand what is working when it comes to story elements, and to explore gaps in story consistency, clarity, and accessibility.
Cost: Given the price per player, the target audience cost, the number of sessions, and the setup fee, the total cost of this playtest was 37.5 Video Tokens broken down as follows

Price for 8 players: 28.8 VT
5.76 VT per player ( 0.72 VT per 15 min session x 5 sessions)
Target Audience Cost: No additional cost for standard targeting
Setup Fee: 8.7VT
Total: 37.5 VT (28.8 + 8.7, rounded down)
Setup: This game studio ordered a Multi-Session Playtest with 8 players in the following target audience: 4 men and 4 women from the US, UK, and Canada, who have experience with interactive story games and other narrative-driven games. Each player would engage with the game for 15 minutes across 5 separate gaming intervals (with breaks in between).
Results: In light of the game studio’s core focus – story narration, character perception, and the players understanding of each level and character as they play through the game – they were able to use their gathered data to determine which characters most resonated with players, as well as those who were missing the mark (and why). By the time their game was ready for launch, they had used this data to make significant story changes to release a much more comprehensive and exciting game for their target audience.

Multi-Session Playtesting for Mobile Games Post-Release

Scenario: When game studios have already published their game, and need to measure game success, they’ll often order a quick Multi-Session Playtest that involves competitor benchmarking.

That’s just what happened with a third-person shooter mobile game studio we have been working with in the last few years. Their game had been out for 6 months, and they wanted to compare its performance to their main competitor: a top-rated game in the same niche.

Let’s take a look at their approach below:
Goal: Understand how their 6-month-old game compares to other mobile games in the third-person shooter gaming market.
Cost: Given the price per player, the target audience cost, the number of sessions, and the setup fee for both the multi-session playtest the A/B testing group and the B/A testing group , the total cost of this playtest was 113 Video Tokens broken down as follows
Price for 10 players: 87 VT
8.7 VT per player (5.76 x 1.5)
Base per player: 5.76 (1.16 VT per 30 minute x session x 5 sessions)
Target Audience cost: x 1.5 per player (advanced targeting)
Setup Fees: 26.1 VT
Multi-Session Fee: 8.7 VT
Setup fee for A/B: 8.7 VT
Setup fee for B/A: 8.7 VT
Total: 113 VT (87VT + 26.1 VT, rounded down)
Setup: When outlining the parameters of their Multi-session Playtest, this game studio wanted 10 adults between the ages of 20 and 30. This player cohort was then split into 2 groups for A/B and B/A testing, where those placed in the A/B group would explore an A to B game pathway, and vice versa for the other group, all without influencing the player’s perspective.

Since this was a competitor analysis using the PlaytestCloud app, selected players were asked to download the app so we could record their screens while they play any game on the Google Play store. In the first 3 of the 5 sessions, players in the A/B cohort were instructed to open the app, and then download a specific competitor to the game studio’s game. Then they would play the game for 15-minute intervals, where they would express their thoughts and feelings aloud. At the end of each session, they would fill out a brief survey about what they liked and disliked about the game. For the final 2 sessions, each player would switch and play the game produced by our playtesting studio. The same structure was applied in the reverse to players in the B/A testing group.
Results: Upon an internal review of all footage from each of the 10 players, this game studio was able to compile a series of helpful annotations, hashtags, and reels for summary review and project management. From there it was simple to export the data, and combine it with the post-session survey findings to develop a benchmark measure for how their game was performing against their competitor. Unfortunately, the ratings for their game were not as high as they’d hoped – yet they did not let that stop them from coming up with a game plan for how they would fix and adjust the game to ensure greater performance and gameplay in a later version.

Test Your Mobile Game with PlaytestCloud

As you can see, Multi-Session Playtesting 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 Multi-session Playtest, you can choose “Multi-session playtest” from the New Playtest page on your account dashboard.

P.S. If you need more insight on how to order a multi-session playtest, we have a help center article for that!

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 then request your first Multi-Session playtest!

We are so excited to take care of all your playtesting needs, and look forward to hearing all about your next multi-session adventure.