Playtests that we conduct for our clients usually consist of several stages:
1). Problem statement
First and foremost we precisely and in the most detailed manner define the problems that the Client wants to solve with a playtest. Only fully understanding the Client's task we can find the most effective methods for solving it.
2). Identifying the target audience, territory and platforms/devices
In the process of setting the task we agree with the client about the geography for the research, target platforms and devices as well as the target audience (age, sex, occupation, reference games, favorite genres etc).
3). Choosing methodology and preparing research mix
Depending on the task and the target audience we choose the appropriate methodology (the format and scenario of the playtest, the number of gaming sessions, the sample size - the number of people who will take part in the research) and the research mix. It may include questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, non-participant observation, “think aloud”, videorecording of the respondent's face, hands and device screen. At this stage we prepare questionnaires, focus groups guides etc. All research tools must be approved by the client.
We recruit the necessary number of respondents who are representatives of the core of the game/application target audience and meet all screening criteria. We only invite to participate in our projects those whose main motivation is love for games. We thank the respondents with gifts (these can be various certificates for visiting the cinema, water park, bowling, quest or game rooms etc). At the same time, we try to make gifts not too expensive, so people do not come to us just for the reward. Gifts for participation should compensate for the time spent but should not become the source of income. We never use the same respondents more often than once in six months.
5). Play session
Respondents come to our laboratory or play at home (we usually fully observe this process via Skype). They either play the game or perform a number of prepared tasks in the application and thus get the user experience with the product we research.
6). Data collection
We formalize user experience using various methods of data collection that we chose previously.
7). Data analysis
All collected data is analyzed. Analytical department prepares a report with conclusions and recommendations for the Client. The report includes graphs, screenshots, verbal explanations, numerical indicators, conclusions and recommendations for further product development. We also transfer all collected data in its original form (questionnaires, interview notes, video recordings and transcripts).