When it comes to navigating the intricate world of game testing and user research, Hannah Mattil, the Team Lead of Research Operations at PlaytestCloud, has a few years of experience under her belt. With the department formerly known as Project Management currently undergoing a significant rebranding, now changing its name to Research Operations, Mattil discussed the anticipated improvements teams using PlaytestCloud can expect moving forward.

Revamping the Role of the Research Operations Team

The transition from Playtest Management to Research Operations signifies an important strategic shift. "Our team’s role has evolved," Hannah pointed out, "from just facilitating playtests and delivering results, to advising clients on research and making recommendations on how to best structure their studies." This redefinition symbolizes the team's enhanced capacity to serve as trusted advisors for their clients, further strengthening PlaytestCloud's commitment to its users. “The renaming of our department makes it much clearer to both our clients and the industry what we do.”

In the past, the Research Operations team was more focused on managing game tests, but a recent restructuring has seen them evolve into a more consultative role, offering more support than ever to clients. As advisors and experts, they are now better positioned to assist clients, from scoping projects to ensuring that their research questions are suitably answered. This enables the clients to get the most out of their playtests and research projects, bringing tangible value to their game development process.

The transition comes with challenges, however. The team has to ensure that their advice aligns with the client's vision and that it effectively addresses their needs. At the core, the Research Operations team’s priority is to get clients actionable insights from their research projects in order to improve their games.

Hannah shed light on the department's strategies to manage complex project information. "We have a process where we document and track all projects that we're supporting," she explained. This meticulous process, coupled with the use of templated questions for clients and regular internal team sync-ups, enables the Research Operations team to deliver bespoke solutions tailored to individual clients' needs.

For example the research operation team spends a lot of time finding the right players for each game - which is no easy task. As Hannah explains, "It’s crucial to find the right players because a study is only as good as the fit of your players and the feedback that you can get from them.”

It’s important to note, however, that PlaytestCloud’s platform allows for clients to take full control and, in most cases, find exactly the players they want – with just a few clicks. “A lot of customization can be done directly on the order form”, says Hannah. “However, there are clients that need more specific players – they need players that are experienced with a certain game at a certain level, have a certain interest, or have no experience with a popular title.” And for that, the Research Operation team is there to find them. The team uses the platform's robust customization features in combination with their research knowledge to craft bespoke screener surveys and facilitate this critical matching process.

Meet our Research Operations Managers

Meeting the Diverse Needs of Different Subscription Plans

PlaytestCloud offers various subscription plans to cater to different needs, including Starter, Professional Basic, Professional Advanced, and Indie. Each plan has different available features, and the Research Operations team ensures that clients can seamlessly navigate their research needs within their subscription type.

This means creating a balance between broad player targeting, which leans on the platform’s capabilities, and niche targeting, which requires customized screener surveys or even manual screening by the client to find the right fit. By offering developers the tools to build their own screeners, clients can effectively reach out to their target players, thus making the process more efficient and effective.

At the end of the day, though, the Research Operations team is there to support any client and their needs, no matter what. “We give each client that needs support assistance. It doesn’t matter their plan, or their size–we’re going to give them the best support we can, and prioritize tests that are running based on the deadlines they have”, says Hannah. “Some projects need less planning and monitoring, others need more. Often our involvement is as simple as making a quick screener for players, while in other instances projects need detailed planning a couple of months in advance, including finding an expert researcher, scoping out what kind of audience is needed, or searching our panel for the right players”. For whatever project, the team is there to help.

Catering to the Enterprise Plan’s Unique Requirements

Clients on PlaytestCloud's Enterprise plan often require extra attention and custom solutions, due to the scale of these studios’ projects and the complexity of their testing needs. The Research Operations team helps these clients plan and execute their testing strategies, ensuring that even the most complicated, high-stakes tests are successfully run.

The team conducts regular check-ins with these clients, working closely with them and the Customer Success Management team to understand their past platform usage and how they can better utilize it. These check-ins allow for more in-depth and strategic planning, which caters to the client's longer-term, complex needs. “Bigger studios oftentimes need a dedicated team member that meets with and supports them with their projects because they might be running multiple projects back-to-back” says Hannah, talking a bit about the unparalleled support the team is able to give to some of the biggest studios in the world.

Sr. Research Operations Manager Elie hard at work

Vision for the Future: Advancing Client Empowerment, Engagement, and Their Connection With Players

Looking forward, the Research Operations team at PlaytestCloud is striving to get their clients more actively involved in the playtest preparation process, particularly those who need specific target audiences. Hannah discussed the emphasis on empowering clients to use PlaytestCloud's tools effectively. "We're encouraging developers who have specific audiences in mind to use our platform to screen for their own players," she explained, referring to the platform's ability to create custom screeners.

By enabling developers to bypass some of the traditional processes and engage more directly with the PlaytestCloud player panel, the team believes they can create a more customized and efficient PlaytestCloud experience. "This feature enables teams to build their own screener surveys themselves rather than having the Research Operations team try to read their minds" Hannah stated. “After all, the clients know their audience and their research needs best.”

This enhanced ability to screen for players is more important than ever with the upcoming release of Live Playtesting, our new feature, which will allow game creators and researchers to playtest live with their players. This new feature will allow PlaytestCloud clients to have more connection than ever with their target players, opening new doors for how playtesting is done and offering a dedicated Live research service explicitly made for players. The Research Operations team will be essential in making sure that, as always, game creators get the results they need from the tools PlaytestCloud has to offer.

Furthermore, the team is conscious of the ever-evolving needs of their clients and aims to remain flexible and responsive. "It's challenging for both sides to ensure that the client has found the right players for their study," Hannah acknowledged. By maintaining clear, open lines of communication, they are able to adapt and tailor their approach to best serve their clients' unique needs.

The future goals of the Research Operations team at PlaytestCloud are deeply rooted in their commitment to client satisfaction and the delivery of top-quality services. As they continue to evolve and adapt to the changing landscape of game testing, their focus remains unwavering: empowering clients to better understand their games, their players, and ultimately, create more engaging and successful gaming experiences.

Hannah's insights provide a fascinating peek into the future of the Research Operations team at PlaytestCloud. As the platform continues to adapt and evolve, the team is poised to deliver more effective, tailored services to meet the diverse needs of PlaytestCloud's clients–and, with upcoming services such as Live Playtesting coming soon, those needs will be more than met. One thing is certain: the Remote Operations team and its members will remain committed to delivering fast, quality insights to clients through clear communication, attentive support and by relying on their years of collective experience in facilitating games research at PlaytestCloud.