WHY PLAYTESTING IS SO IMPORTANT
Designing a game is a complicated process that should always be performed by qualified and talented people. But even the greatest minds in the field can’t fully prepare the product for the unavoidable collision with the user base. Any kind of expectations or educated guesswork tends to bring very surprising effects when confronted with actual players. This is the big reason behind performing playtests on all stages of the game development cycle. And it is your best bet for successfully preparing your mobile game for release. Here at Playsoft, we’ve implemented frequent playtesting to eliminate time and money waste that often happens due to “blind” product development. This way we can create value for the player as quick as possible, testing fast, failing fast, and adjusting fast. Lean for the win!
HOW TO TEST A GAME BEFORE IT’S RELEASED
Your game design team should take advantage of players insights on every step of the development cycle, from start to soft launch. You don’t really need a lot of content in the app to start playtesting successfully – you can begin simple tests as soon as you have just a UI mockup! Besides that, testing FTUE (first-time user experience) is one of the most important and potentially impactful activities that you can do early in the game development process.
The sooner you start continuous testing the better. You can even test game ideas without any actual development done – simply create a fake game listing on StoreMaven or a similar platform, direct traffic there, and measure the attempted install rate!
BUT WHO CAN TEST MY MOBILE GAME?
You should encourage your game designers or project owners to start with their colleagues, friends, and family – this kind of testing costs nothing and it can offer a lot of insights. Just don’t forget to remind your playtesters that you’re interested in any kind of feedback, even bad! People close to you could get a false impression that criticizing the product might hurt the game creator. It is wrong because honest feedback is the most valuable.
HOW TO SCALE UP YOUR PLAYTESTING OPERATIONS
Performing quick tests with your friends and family is great to get some insight, but it can be better. Having more people play your game equals more diverse insight, which is invaluable if you want to really prepare your mobile game for a big release.
Here at Playsoft, we’ve managed to recruit a variety of users from many demographics to help us by playtesting upcoming games. We’ve even struck a great relationship with a local school – we’re offering them tours around the office with Q&A sessions with our coworkers, and they come over to playtest our games. Their insight proved to be invaluable, as all of them had a unique perspective on the apps they’ve tested.
MOBILE GAME PLAYTESTING BEST PRACTICES
- You should start by preparing your own playtesting protocol. Don’t just gather people, give them smartphones, and ask what they think about the game – create a whole process that can be repeated and optimized. Build your own playtesting checklists to make sure everything is going according to the plan.
- Define what questions you want to ask your players – these should be as open-ended as possible to avoid data contamination. Don’t ask “do you think that the laser power-up was bad?”. Ask “what do you think about the power-ups?”.
- Always have a list of possible issues and newly implemented features. This way you’ll know what to look for in your players’ experience.
- Do quick surveys of your playtesters’ experience and preferences. Knowing how much they play and what are their favorite mobile games can help you better understand their reaction to your product.
- Prepare the people that will assist in the playtest. Make sure they understand that they shouldn’t explain too much to the players – you want to get as unadulterated insight as possible. Remember – knowing that your players don’t understand some things on their own can be easily turned into actionable insight.
Hope these tips will help you in performing playtests on your own mobile games. Remember – nobody can expect how the game will be received by the players until you’ll get them to play it!