Making games has never been this competitive. It’s more difficult than ever to cut through the noise and get your game in the hands of players, having to deal with everything from app store rankings (on both iOS and Android) to, of course, everything that goes into making the game itself.
Through all of this, playtesting has risen as an essential part of game creation, and an absolute necessity for making sure you're making the best game possible. It is, after all, the best way to get feedback directly from the people you’re making the game for: its players. It’s only by gathering and responding to this feedback that companies and their games can be successful – and playtesting is the safest and most effective way to get it.
Playtesting can either be carried out in-person, face to face with your players, or at a distance. We call this remote playtesting. In-person playtesting feels like the most straightforward way to get feedback from your players – after all, what could feel more natural than watching people play your game and talking to them about it? Because of this, for many studios it’s just the way that playtesting has always been done. But remote playtesting brings its own unique advantages, some of which are obvious, others less so; and these advantages are growing in line with advances in technology and even societal change.
Both in-person and remote playtesting have their own set of advantages, meaning that each one should be explored equally, independently of what studios have been doing in the past. At PlaytestCloud, we’ve based our entire existence on the mission of helping companies make games that players love – and, looking at the fact that we power playtesting for 45 of the 100 top grossing games in the App Store, we’d say we’ve been on the right track. These companies playtest with us, remotely, and have achieved their best results through this method, fully aware of its specificities and advantages.
This raises the question: why aren’t others doing the same? And the ones that are… What do they know that others don’t? After all, Playtesting exclusively in-person means covering a great deal of work (not to mention the high costs) of building and maintaining an entire research process from start to finish.
Running an exclusively in-person playtest program works for some studios, especially those who have a very specific requirement or limitation that prevents them from using remote playtesting effectively. But for most, there is a clear question of cost-effectiveness when it comes to building a lab, recruiting players, managing reimbursement, and all the other challenges of building research logistics and infrastructure. If remote playtesting allows you to get high quality data more quickly, cheaper, and perhaps even with other distinct advantages, why wouldn’t you factor it into your research program?
Below, we go deeper into this topic, exploring the specific advantages remote playtesting brings to the table. You can also reach out directly to us with any questions using the form below, or find out by yourself by starting playtesting right away.
Remote Playtesting: The (Many) Advantages
Making a mobile game can take somewhere between several months to several years. That’s quite a bit of time, along with quite a lot of work. Organizing or analyzing a playtest may not take quite the same, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy work, either. From finding the right playtesters to organizing the playtest, to then actually gathering and analyzing the data, playtesting can be a long, difficult process. And if you do it in-person? Well, then all the work falls on you and nowhere else – from finding the players, to paying them, to even dealing with what happens when a player just doesn’t show up. Along with this, creating your own research lab is a huge undertaking, and typically not a core skill for user researchers.
If you do it remotely, however, all of that work is out of your hands, and you can do what you should be doing, be it creating the best games you can or focusing on the research to improve it. No more logistics to deal with, no more organizational work.
Let’s look at the many advantages remote playtesting brings, basing the comparison specifically on what we, here at PlaytestCloud, offer.
GDPR? Playtesting with children? NDAs? We’ve got it covered.
In an age where dealing with private (and business!) data has never been this regulated, there’s a huge amount of bureaucracy and paperwork that can go into creating, organizing and running a playtest. Do you give each individual player an NDA? How does it work with children and their parents, and the specific regulations around that (specific for each country, as well)? Not counting with the added difficulty of getting both children and their parents in your office! These are just a few examples – and, in our case, we’d have it all covered. By centralizing everything and having experience with all types of markets, companies and playtesters (including, yes, kids), all the work would be on us – not on you.
Players all around the world, immediately accessible.
We have more than one million players all over the world, ready to playtest – and you can have access to all of them, immediately. This not only saves immense work from your side, but also allows you or any game company to pick very specific players you’d like to get feedback from – including people you wouldn’t otherwise have access to (not everyone can travel to your office or lab, after all!). Do you want your game to be tested by someone who loves game X or Z? Or someone from a specific territory? You can pick and choose right away, automatically, from over one million players – more than most offices or labs would ever have room for.
We do everything from contacting them to, yes, also arranging the payouts. And if the player doesn’t show for a scheduled playtest? Don’t worry: you won’t even notice! We have backups always ready to go, and we can ensure you never waste time (nor money). Again: no work from your side.
At PlaytestCloud, we have a number of security features that work together to secure your game – along with all your intellectual property. Each playtest is completely anonymous, for example, with the player not knowing which company is making which game, unless your game itself discloses that information. Many still believe that remote playtesting isn’t a safe option when, actually, this is an old misconception.
Playtest invites are also random, not giving players the choice of picking which game to play, for example. Along with this, our software contains and protects your game, making sure the build is only and exclusively accessible during the playtest, and not at any other time. Once the test is done? A kill switch is activated, and the game isn’t accessible anymore. Along with this, we also use build fingerprinting, meaning that each build sent to each gamer is traceable. We’ve worked with IPs such as Star Trek, Family Guy or The Walking Dead, and know just how important protecting your game and your intellectual property is.
Last but not least: we give you a fully-integrated suit around testing.
We’ve worked hard on creating one single solution for everything around playtesting, customizable to your specific needs – from targeting, to analyzing your results, to even having a games user research team ready to help with whatever you need, we have all the best playtesting tools in one single place.
This centralization simplifies everything around the process (and its results), saving you a huge amount of time and work. From longitudinal studies to multi-session, we guarantee everything you need not just towards and arranging the playtest with the right players, but also towards getting you the exact insights you need to answer your questions.
In Conclusion: Remote Playtesting Works
From every angle, from what it offers to the results it can achieve, remote playtesting is an option that should always be considered by game studios out there. In a time when the industry is as competitive as it is, and making games by itself is already such hard work, focusing on playtesting in-person, spending both time and resources on it, can sometimes be an unnecessary burden. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but both remote and in-person have their specific advantages, and both should be considered.
Our mission at PlaytestCloud is simple: to help you make games that players love, by giving you access to the best possible playtesting tools in the market. So, there’s something studios need to consider: if these tools are already readily accessible… Why should they not use them?
When compared to in-person, remote playtesting has its own specific advantages, creating possibilities that, until now, simply weren’t there. When it comes to playtesting in general and the ways of doing it, there isn’t a one-model-fits-all solution – which is why different ones should always be on the table. And remote, though sometimes overlooked, is one that should always be considered.
Want to stay updated on all the playtesting and games user research news and best practices? Sign-up for our newsletter below!