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Top remote playtest platforms for unmoderated testing

Pick the right online playtest platform for your needs

Playtesting doesn’t just have to be in person, and online playtest platforms can take a lot of the hassle out of recruiting and organising people to take part in your playtest.

Finding genuine players, rather than just asking other game devs, friends or people at a conference vastly improves the quality of the playtest data you get back – and many of these tools make it convenient to access a wide range of player types.

This article introduces some of the most popular playtesting platforms, gives an overview of their features and shares my experience with each.

Before we go on: Get a single email each month about playtesting and UX in games, with a playtest guide just like this one.

What is a remote playtest platform

Online playtesting platforms offer a way to get playtest feedback on your game remotely. Most involve uploading a build of your game to their platform, writing some tasks or questions, and then they handle distributing those to players. 

You get back raw playtest data, such as videos of people playing your game, their survey responses, or analytics from your game build. 

This can save a bunch of time for finding playtesters, but comes at a cost – so can be out of reach for teams on a tight budget (here’s a free alternative method of recruiting players).

Not all platforms are equal though. They have different functionality, users, and specialities which means you should look beyond just ‘price’ as a distinguishing factor.

Top remote playtest platforms

PlaytestCloud

Playtest Cloud

Platforms: Mobile (iOS and Android)

Price: from $69 per participant, including video footage

Can they find participants?: Yes, included in the price

Can they help with the analysis as well?: Yes

I’m a big fan of PlaytestCloud, and they are trusted by many studios of all sizes for their mobile testing expertise.

They support a large variety of study designs, including multiplayer testing and longitudinal studies – and their price includes videos of each participant playing and survey responses. I’ve also seen a sneak peek of some of their upcoming features, and am excited about the potential for using their platform for more of my playtesting needs.

Their platform ensures that testing + game code is kept confidential, and they also offer support from in-house and external expert researchers to help design or analyse studies, for teams who are not confident designing robust playtests.

They also support testing with children + teenagers (while meeting ethical and legal compliance requirements) which is extremely valuable for teams who work on games for kids.

For teams who run regular playtesting, they offer a subscription package which brings the cost per participant down further, and also bespoke cheaper packages for indie teams. 

Find out more on the PlaytestCloud website. 

Antidote.gg

Antidote.gg

Platforms: PC, browser and mobile

Price: from $29.50 per participant, without video footage

Can they find participants?: Yes, included in the price

Can they help with the analysis as well?: Yes

Barcelona based Antidote are a growing provider of playtesting services, and support a wide variety of study designs including multiplayer, or longitudinal studies. They would currently be my top recommendation for testing a PC game, based on some lovely chats with their team. 

For an additional cost, they can provide gameplay footage, or support more complex participant recruits.

They also have an expert in-house team of researchers who can help design, run or analyse your study. 

Find out more on the Antidote.gg website

Playtesting.Games

Playtest.Games

Platforms: Mobile (Android only)

Price: from $39 per 15 minutes, including video footage

Can they find participants?: Yes, included in the price

Can they help with the analysis as well?: Yes

I recently met the team behind Playtesting.Games, who have been working on their playtest platform since 2019. Building on their history of building communities for gamers, their platform offers the ability to test in a single session, or multi-sessions over time, making it suitable for diary studies.

Uniquely, their platform also offers verification of players’ previous game history, by scanning the playtime of other apps – giving confidence to game developers who want to make sure they are getting legitimate players.

In the near future, they are adding the ability to record the player’s face via their phone’s camera. Playtesting.Games are also developing an SDK which allows their playtests to be triggered within a game engine, again offering options to target players once they reach specific milestones in the game with a survey or recorded playtest (and have an early version live now).

Find out more on Playtesting.Games website

Gotestify

GoTestify

Platforms: PC, iOS, Android

Price: Enquire for details

Can they find participants?: Yes

Can they help with the analysis as well?: No

Built by a team of former game developers, GoTestify supports a variety of study designs, including usability studies, multi-session testing and multiplayer tests.

Their platform promises a degree of automation to identify the most important moments automatically (although I haven’t seen this in action, so can’t verify!). This could potentially be very valuable for time-stretched teams, but I’ll hold off judgement until I’ve seen it’s impact on a real project.

They are relaunching their platform shortly, so we’ll learn a lot more soon.

Learn more about GoTestify

GameTester.gg

GameTester.gg

Platforms: PC, browser and mobile

Price: from approx $5 per participant, without gameplay footage

Can they find participants?: Yes, included in the price

Can they help with the analysis as well?: No

GameTester is focused around gathering quantitative data – both through surveys, and in game analytics. 

Surveys are only appropriate for some study designs, and the lack of video footage will make it unsuitable for many research objectives, but the price is very reasonable!

It’s not a platform I’ve used personally (although I will give them a go soon), but one to keep in mind if you are running a quant-focused study.

Learn more about gamestester.gg on their website.

Playcocola

PlayCoCola

Platforms: PC and browser

Price: from free, with gameplay footage included

Can they find participants?: Yes, for an additional cost

Can they help with the analysis as well?: No

Targetted directly at indie developers, Playcocola promises the full range of data collection, at an indie-friendly price. Their software allows playtesters to record their gameplay, spoken thoughts and written comments, and bundles that all up for developers to watch and analyse. For playtesters, it doesn’t require any special software installation or registration – making it easier to include players who are less confident with technology.

The default packages requires developers to source their own playtesters, but they also offer access to their playtest panel is possible at an additional cost.

Playcocola is reasonably new, but one to consider if already have a panel of research participants ready to go, (perhaps gathered through this guide!) or want to get started with playtesting with a small budget.

Learn more about playcocola on their site. 

Steam Playtest

SteamPlaytest

Platforms: PC

Price: Free, no gameplay footage or survey data

Can they find participants?: No

Can they help with the analysis as well?: No

If releasing a game on Steam, they also have an inbuilt way of distributing playtest builds, called ‘steam playtest’. This is free, but has several limitations that make it not suitable for professional quality user research.

First, it’s difficult to screen or control who takes part. Players sign up to a waiting list, and are let in at random based on the amount of empty slots you provide. This means that we have no insight into who is taking part in the playtests, no ability to screen players out, or to treat different segments of players differently.

Second, it’s extremely limited how you can get data back from your players. No tasks are given, no video footage is captured, and no surveys are distributed. To get data back from players will require either integrating telemetry, or to coordinate outside of Steam’s ecosystem – which is also challenging as developers have limited control over who can access their playtest. 

I’d recommend extreme caution using Steam Playtest – it encourages lax standards for your playtest around finding the right players, and capturing only convenient, rather than appropriate data. Those bad habits require expertise on how to avoid them biasing your conclusions.

Learn more about Steam Playtest

Don’t let the platform tail wag the dog…

Playtesting platforms make running some types of playtests convenient. But convenience isn’t the only thing we should consider when deciding the appropriate way to run a playtest.

The most common trap I see developers fall into is ‘deciding the research method before confirming what they want to know’. And playtest platforms encourage certain methods (usually unmoderated remote playtests supported by surveys). 

Always start by confirming ‘what do we need to learn from this playtest’ before even starting to think about ‘which method would be best to answer this’.

Sometimes that will be a method that a playtest platform supports. Other times, it might just be popping to the local coffee shop with a laptop and showing someone your game.


Need help with picking the right method, and running the right test for your game? The Playtest Kit is designed to help make running accurate playtests simple for time-stretched developers.

Continue growing your playtest skills

Found this helpful? We’ll be exploring all of these topics in more depth in the future. Get a single email each month about playtesting and UX in games, with an article just like this one.

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