Experts vs Playtest
Sharon B. vs Nintendo

In the 1980s Sharon B. was an expert from the extremely popular Daily News, while Nintendo was a small company, running playtests.

Q: Do you think the current popularity of video games is going to last? 

No. I don’t think video games will last because they are not educational. Video games are just a fad that will slowly fade away. The public always gets bored and turns to something else. Just wait and see.

Sharon B, Word processor • Daily News, Wednesday, December 1, 1982

Here’s an example... he [Hiroshi Yamauchi, President of Nintendo] placed them [games] in headquarters and our factory. The idea was that we’d playtest them as a form of research.

JMasayuki Uemura • hardware designer, Nintendo. 1978

Today everyone knows Nintendo and we’ve never heard about Sharon.

It’s important to understand each tool before using it: its purpose, its strength, and its limitations. 


Experts can provide you with concentrated knowledge that would otherwise take much longer to acquire. They have earned this knowledge through their experience, time, and possibly financial investment. Their insights have invaluable value in analyzing what was done right and wrong in specific circumstances, helping you avoid repeating mistakes. 

However, it's important to note that expert knowledge can be influenced by personal perception (so be cautious in accepting it as absolute truth), but what is even more important - this knowledge relates to the past

If you work with game development for a certain time, especially with user study and analysis, you know changes in user preferences/behavior can be spotted every 6 months. It means, if you start building your project based on the freshest expert’s experience (will someone share their fresh plans for winning strategy instead of implementing it themselves?), it will take you 6-12 months to release your game, based on them, and finally miss the target. 

Undoubtly, you could name some examples, if we had a dialogue ;)

Marketing research

Or playtest, or user research, or user testing, or focus testing - let’s don’t let the variety of terms haze the point.
Marketing research provides you data for truly data-driven decisions (not opinion-based) and you act wide eyes open instead of grabbling in a room.

Playtest is one of the instruments of marketing research. To be more precise, it’s a qualitative variation of a hall-test or a home-test for games if naming it with more widely known terms.

Marketing research of your customers can tell in detail what you always wanted to know - answers to questions “why” and “how”. 

  • Why do players drop the game at a certain point?
  • Why players do not pay in the game?
  • How do players choose the game of our genre, what is the most and the least important?
  • How do players play the game - where, alone or with friends, what influences gaming session duration, one hand or both hands, how do they grip controls?
  • How do players percept a character, and what expectations it forms?
  • How do players like to learn about new games?
  • How can we make them switch to our game, what should we implement, and how to communicate it to them?

The list of answers could literally be endless. But you need different answers at different development stages, so no worries, they can come just in time.

And in-app statistics or experts can’t answer any of them. Maybe just some guessing, but if you read this - you’re done with guessing, right?


Expert interview, playtest, focus group, and statistics (quantitative data) are examples of research methods. Each of them was own purpose and limitations and should not be replaced with another, even if you are already familiar with it. 

We use all of them and even more methods - you can talk to us or learn yourself:

Make your great game happen via research and data-driven decisions.

What is the difference between playtests and other types of testing?