What are Player Interviews | 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 new concepts, mechanics, or in-game interactions–Player Interviews can be an incredible addition to your regular playtesting rounds, or a great way to gather player opinions in real-time.

But what are player interviews?

A Player Interview is basically a one-on-one call with a player in your target audience. It is how you can get their direct feedback or opinion on just about anything, from design to gameplay.

At their core, Player Interviews are the most direct way to talk to a target player or group of players. Based on your chosen time and day, players will jump on one-on-one calls with you to provide immediate reactions to your game content or concepts so you can understand player preferences for new trends and mechanics. With PlaytestCloud, these players can either come from our global panel of 1.000.000+ players, or you can bring your own players. Player Interviews can even be used together with some of our other services–like sending invites to players who you have already playtested with thanks to our recently launched Player Retargeting feature!

When you order (or add-on) a player interview, we do all the logistics–from recruiting to scheduling. What sets this type of playtest apart from other types, is that they provide two-way communication between your studio and players. You can also share your screen directly with players, invite others to the interview as observers, and use all our in-house analysis tools in reviewing the replay video of the interview, giving you all you need to get feedback and insights on exactly what you want

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

  1. Choose the targeting and timing for your player interview. Simply specify when you’re available and what kind of player you'd like to talk to.
  2. Place the order for your player interview. Our platform does the rest, and we handle other logistics like NDAs, scheduling, and player recruitment within your target audience.
  3. At the scheduled time, start and join the interview. Connect with target players to ask the questions you and your user research team came up with.

If you are thinking about adding on a player interview, know as well that they can be used to test just about anything, including…

  • Concepts: Showcase and share early material compositions, and ask for feedback on presented material.
  • Discoveries: Commit to exploratory and market research, even before you start building your game.
  • Competitors: Use our player pool to get player feedback on competitor games.
  • Player Engagement: Take deep dives into the thoughts and opinions of your existing players.
  • Playtest Follow-ups: Touch base with players who have playtested your games before to address remaining questions, gauge appreciation, and clarify any usability issues.

Want to order a Player Interview right away? Just sign-up now, or head here if you already have a PlaytestCloud account. Want to know more about the benefits of Player Interviews, including specific use cases of how they have helped game studios like yours? Then just keep reading below.

The Benefits of Player Interviews 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 right now?

The main benefit of a Player Interview is that you get to answer all the qualitative WHY questions your team needs to truly understand player behavior. That’s why we recommend player interviews for game studios who are coming up against a lot of why’s in their games user research planning, at any stage of game development. These are studios looking to answer questions such as:

  • Why are players getting stuck during gameplay?
  • Why do players prioritize this mechanic over another?
  • Why do players reject this tutorial task, but not this one?
  • Why do players like this type of game and not this one?

That said, Player Interviews have many more deep benefits that set them apart from other products in our service listing. We’ve already mentioned that you get two-way, real-time contact and conversations with players through our platform–and that we will handle all the scheduling and recruiting logistics like player rewards and NDAs. However, we also offer a whole host of other benefits as a part of the Player Interview service, including the ability to…

  • Target a select group of players from an immense player pool. Chances are, we have exactly the type of players you’re looking for.
  • Utilize observer mode or invite others to interview players. That way, colleagues can invisibly or visibly listen in on interviews for maximum feedback comprehension and collection.
  • Share and record all interviews. You can talk to players directly through our PlaytestCloud platform for maximum review and research capabilities. We provide full support for sharing your screen (and blurring your background) with players as well.
  • Book interviews into your regular calendar app. Never miss an interview, or double-book yourself for critical user research tasks.
  • Combine interviews with other services. Host player interviews after a regular round of playtesting to get more qualitative feedback about your mobile game mechanics, concepts, and development ideas.

And since Player Interviews can be completed remotely, you’ll find it super simple to start work on a new game, decide what game to make next, understand what players really want, what they think of a competitor, and more. Consider them a conduit between players and game creators; a bridge that was not there before, but which will result in huge value for both sides of the spectrum. On the one hand, the studio makes a better game, and on the other, players experience optimized, incredible gameplay that is legitimately fun!

Player Interviews have certainly become the perfect (and easiest) way to talk to players to solve any game issues and simply ask players what they think in real time. No more mysteries; just answers about your upcoming game ideas.
As the most team-based playtest type, Player Interviews can thus eliminate any disconnection between how players play and why they play the way they do. As with our other products, you can then share these recordings and findings with teammates quickly and efficiently for maximum player insights, or have them join you right in the interview so there is no miscommunication when it comes to the iterative and planning phases.

Player Interviews: Best Practices

Because player interviews take a more qualitative approach to games user feedback, you may be wondering the best way to utilize this service to your advantage. You might even ask, how should I conduct a player interview? How do I analyze the results afterward?

This is especially true considering that many game studios do not have a ton of experience in moderated research–something that can also now change, with the upcoming release of our new Live Playtesting feature, now in early access.

When it comes to player engagement, preparation is key. Before you begin you’ll want to know exactly how to transform your research goals into interview questions, and how to translate those answers into powerful research insights for your colleagues–even the non-technical members of your team. That’s why our in-house games user research team is always ready to help you create your interviews and guide the questions you ask–or even conduct the interview for you. We’re here to ensure you’re getting the best possible results from your user research analyses moving forward. Reach out and let us know how we can help!

In the meantime, the renowned games user researcher Steve Bromley has created a series of Player Interview best practice articles that might help you along the way:

  1. Overcome the fear - Preparing for your first playtest interview
  2. Running great playtest interviews - Making the most of your time with players
  3. Analyzing playtest interviews - Making sense of the data

The Different Use Cases for Player Interviews

Now that you’re here, it’s time to experience just how our Player Interviews have helped build incredible mobile games. What problems can they solve? What questions can they answer? And what different setups can you achieve with them?

To answer these questions and more, below we give you 3 examples of how our clients have used Player Interviews, showcasing the problems this service can solve and the different setups each studio chose.

But wait!

Before we dig into the case examples below, let’s quickly learn a bit more about something essential for any PlaytestCloud user: Video Tokens.

What is a Video Token?

Video Tokens (VTs) are like PlaytestCloud currency. They are tokens you can use to place orders–and come as a part of our subscription plans. Then, Video Tokens are automatically added to your account every billing cycle so you can keep ordering more playtests! Player Interviews have quite a few variables, all depending on your preference and needs, but the main thing you need to consider when planning your order is how many players you are looking for and how you would like the players to be recruited.

Standard targeting Advanced targeting Kids testing
Up to 60 a minute interview with a player we recruit 3 VT 4.5 VT 4.5 VT
Up to 60 a minute interview with a player you recruit (BYOP) 0.5 VT 0.5 VT 0.5 VT

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s have a look at how Player Interviews have helped our clients – and how it can help your game, too!

3 Player Interview Case Studies to Motivate Your Games User Research

Player Interviews for Niche Game Genres

When game studios want to create games in a niche genre, it’s best to check in with existing players in that player pool to gather new ideas about future game development.

That’s just what happened when a larger-sized mobile gaming company wanted to create a new game in the horror genre. They sought out our player interview option to see whether their ideas would resonate with players of horror-style mobile games.

Let’s take a look at their playtest approach:
Goal: To build an in-depth, qualitative understanding of what players of horror games love about the games they already play, as well as what they think of the current horror game concept under development.
Cost: At a cost of 3 VT per participant, this studio spent a total of 18 VT.
Setup: The game studio ordered a fairly simple player interview set up with only 2 target audiences. All they asked was that 3 of these players be horror game enthusiasts, while the other 3 not be horror enthusiasts (for a total of 6 players). Then, the studio set up a time to speak with each of these audiences for a natural, unrestricted conversation about the topics the team wanted to bring up. This flow-style of interview was unique to this interview set-up, and allowed the conversation to progress naturally without an agenda.
Results: This studio is no stranger to this type of playtest set-up–in fact they keep coming back because of the great successes that have resulted from these conversations in the past. From our own communications with the team, we learned they consider this practice to be a bit of a ‘gut check’ to either prove or disprove theories about their game ideas as they arise. We think it’s the sign of a strong company to listen to consumers through player interviews, keeping their ear on the ground and connecting with players long before game launch. And as an added bonus, this approach ensures your game aligns with modern gaming trends overall.

Player Interviews Conducted By Our Team

When game studios want to build games that will be successful for audiences all over the world, it’s important they commit to some exploratory research into other markets before releasing their game. They wanted to see how their game would fare in the real world, before they committed to a ton of in-development work.

Let’s take a look at their playtesting approach:
Goal: To commit to quasi-moderated exploratory research into the game elements of competitor games to see how they would fare in a game built by this asian-based gaming studio. This playtest was set up for a asian based game studio that was looking to do a quasi moderated exploratory research interview playtest in order to see if elements of their competitors game would fare well in a game that this studio was looking to produce.
Cost:18 players with advanced targeting at a cost of 4.5 VT per player (81 VT) plus an additional 65 VT to have our User Researchers conduct the interviews and annotate the videos on the platform for a total of 146 VT.
Setup: This was a bit of a unique set-up as the asian based game studio was not comfortable with their english language skills. Additionally, their target audience was in the United States, which on top of the language issue was not a convenient timezone for the game studio in an asian timezone. So as a practical solution they instead relied on our user research service to conduct these interviews and provide an annotation service - where the researchers annotate and summarize the playtests post playtest.

The game studio was looking for 18 players from the US, Canada, or the United Kingdom with advanced targeting requirements willing to play a competitors game for 60 minutes then do a 60 minutes interview within a few days after the playtest.
Results: Once all 18 playtests and player interviews were complete, the research team analyzed the results, adding their own notes and annotations per their deep expertise in player behavior and psychology. When results were delivered to the studio, they were then free to make high-level strategic decisions during the next discovery research phases of their upcoming mobile game title.

Player Interviews for Games Post-Launch

When game studios want to ensure a game they’ve already launched is still attractive to players, they’ll often do a quick ‘gut check’ for a little quality assurance.

That’s just what happened for a mobile gaming company with a moderately successful sports game series who wanted to touchstone with players to get inspiration for future developments, concepts, and ideas for the series.

Let’s take a look at their player interview approach:
Goal: To develop a quality assurance check with players of their popular mobile sports game series to get inspiration for game improvements and development sprints.
Cost: At a cost of 1 VT per participant for the single-session playtest component, and 3 VT per player for the interviews, this studio spent a total of 54 VT.
Setup: The single-session playtest portion of this order included 36 players chosen entirely at random with no regard to gender or location. All players had to do was log into their PlaytestCloud player account, and play the chosen game for 30 minutes. The interesting difference about this playtest set-up was that the initial playtest was more of a triage playtest, quickly segmenting different players to see who would like to (and who would be most interesting to) move into the next stage of player interviews. Although we would usually not rush players to push through playtests, we did want to make sure that all playtest experiences were still fresh in the minds of players before they went into their player interview, and so we ensured all interviews were completed within 24 to 48 hours of their first interactions of the game.
Results: For the 3 players chosen for further interview, discussions were centered around what they liked and didn’t like about the game they played, and focused on game quality. However, before the interviews could commence, our team used our platform analytics tools to determine the different themes and questions to ask chosen players during each interview phase. Finally, the team accumulated a list of truths from interview results to better understand what qualitative impressions to glean from the interviews, doing one final scan of all video materials to see whether such findings and themes are replicated in the larger player data set.

Test Your Next Mobile Game with PlaytestCloud

As you can see, Player Interviews 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 to build deeper, more nuanced connections with the players who will eventually be playing your game.

As we mentioned before, if you already have an account with PlaytestCloud, then follow the instructions in this help-center article for help with your next order.

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 we will help you with your first player interview setup!

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