Find a partner for your Games UX Study
Need a person or team to run your games UX study, but struggling to find them – or decide who to work with?
The list of experts will help you pick the right partner to execute your games user research study, usability test, or focus group.
Read on for our guide to picking the right partner, and a list of some of the top freelance games user researchers and agencies working in the games industry today.
It is hard to find good people
Running games user research studies, usability tests, user tests or focus groups requires a combination of research expertise, and deep game development domain knowledge to create unbiased yet relevant results.
That skillset can be hard to find – and senior level games research support is particularly rare (I think they all left to join big-tech!). When busy game development and insight teams need outsourced support at peak times, it can be difficult to find partners you can trust.
Too busy to do it yourself?
Running user research takes time and focus, especially to make sure the final results avoid your own internal bias. An external expert will free up your time, and give you confidence your conclusions will be accurate and unbiased.
Find the right match for your game
I need to start by being explicit – I don’t endorse the people and companies who appear on this list – and I haven’t worked with most of them. You’ll still need to do due diligence to find the right person or team for your needs.
Here are some things you might want to consider:
Do you want an agency, or to work with an individual?
The strength of agencies is their capacity – they can support multiple studies simultaneously, and are more likely to be able to get started immediately – and can throw more staff at a project to get it completed faster. However this can come at a cost (and you have to watch out for being passed off onto more junior members of staff once a deal is signed!)
A consultant can be a bit cheaper due to lower overheads, and you’ll be confident you’re working with the person who you’re speaking to. However their capacity can be lower, and it may be difficult for them to support multiple clients at the same time – leading to times of low availability.
Decide which is best for your situation!
Do they specialise in games?
Some companies offer games research as just one part of their offering, and will run user research for mobile apps or websites also. This can lead to their genuine game expertise being shallow, and a poor understanding of the demands of real-life game development.
Consider whether you want someone with deep expertise in game development, or whether experience of multiple touch-points across websites and apps will help answer your goals.
What do they work on?
The type of studies and challenges that people face working on mobile games will be completely different to a AAA narrative-driven adventure.
Look at their experience and the types of titles they have worked on previously, to decide whether they are a good match for your team.
What methods and approach do they take?
Some people position themselves as experts in a specific approach (such as Biometrics, AI, or psychological profiling). Look at their offer, and whether it matches with what you need.
Most important of all – get some proof
Research studies are expensive, and you need to build your own confidence that this partner can execute on your study. Look for testimonies, or ask your own network for feedback from people who have worked with them before.
Need help navigating this list?
Games User Research Agencies
Find an experienced user research agency who can help you understand if players enjoy and understand your game.
Agencies top strength is their capacity, and they can often ramp up to run large studies with less lead-time than a solo researcher.
In no particular order…
Player Research – We do games user research. Delivering actionable insights into usability, UX, appeal and play, so that you can focus on the game – https://www.playerresearch.com/
PlaytestCloud – PlaytestCloud is your one-stop platform for playtesting mobile games during prototyping, development, soft launch, and after release. They work with some of the world’s leading games user researchers ready to support your playtests and overall user research strategy. – https://www.playtestcloud.com/
Solsten – Solsten has created a human insights engine to revolutionize audience understanding, unlocking creative and business potential for companies – https://solsten.io/
Sprung Studios – At Sprung Studios, we believe that great design is more than just aesthetics—it’s about understanding. Not only do we provide comprehensive user research services, but we can also design tailored solutions based on the insights gathered and seamlessly implement them into your game. – https://www.sprungstudios.
Antidote – An online playtesting solution to measure & improve the User Experience of your game – https://antidote.gg/
thinktank research – A full-service market research consultancy specializing in gaming. In addition to usability research, we conduct surveys, focus groups, interviews, and playability studies. – https://www.thinktankresearch.com/
Good Game Research LLC – Looking for a decade UR video game industry veteran to work on your projects personally? Anything from user research to market research, or if you are in need of some contract/consulting help short term. Contact for the company deck – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathan-bonillas-20560b52/
TryEvidence – We assess the quality of the game through playtests, focus laboratory tests or neuromarketing methods such as eye-tracking, psychogalvanic reaction and emotional stimulation of the player. – https://tryevidence.com/
AnswerLab – We conduct studies to discover valuable insights about players and help you uncover new opportunities. https://www.answerlab.com/gaming-ux-research
Situated Research – We specialize in doing advanced qualitative studies to support designers. – www.situatedresearch.com
Affecture – We have a suite of non-invasive sensors and methods that gather data from the user’s brain, heart, and skin, and our AI translates that into metrics of attention, engagement, and general emotional responses to provide insights into the user experience throughout gameplay, without disrupting the playtest – https://www.linkedin.com/company/affecture/
Beetested – At Beetested gamers and development studios work together to take gaming experience to the next level. Thanks to our artificial intelligence models, we get to analyze the real reactions of every gamer to whatever it’s happening in-game. – https://www.beetested.com/
Are you a games user research agency who should be on this list? Contact me and let me know.
Games User Research Freelancers & Consultants
Games user research freelancers can run studies, offer training and help you de-risk development of your game.
Freelancers top strength is the one to one relationship – you know exactly who you’ll be working with, and can assess whether they can deliver on your project.
Once again, in no particular order…
Steve Bromley (hey that’s me) – I am a veteran games user research consultant, helping teams use player insight to create successful games. – More about Steve and his games.
Veronica Zammitto – Veronica has been involved in countless AAA titles and mobile games, including Battlefield, FIFA, Plants vs Zombies, among others – Veronica’s website
Alistair Greo – Games user research strategist. I help existing games user research teams do better, and help companies that haven’t done games user research successfully before – Alistair’s website
Pietro Guardini – An independent Games User Researcher with a PhD in Experimental Psychology and 20 years of research experience – Pietro’s Website
Olivia Whitt – A UX Researcher who helps studios design accessible user friendly games by understanding the behavior and motivations of players – Olivia’s Portfolio
Victoria da Costa Lamas – a UX Researcher with two years of experience working in the video game industry – Victoria’s LinkedIn
Volkan Eke – Self-starting user researcher in games and tech with reliable people skills, and project management experience. – Volkan’s Website
Megan Pusey – I enjoy figuring out complex problem spaces and uncovering user needs through a variety of user research techniques & keen to help an Aussie/NZ Devs if they need User Research help – Meg’s LinkedIn
Lee Stinton – A results-driven User Research consultant with a passion for data-driven decision-making and a strong background in gaming with an exciting startup operating out of Belfast. Lee’s LinkedIn
Alicia Marisal – User-centered professional focused on utilizing data-driven research and collaboration to create amazing product experiences – Alicia’s website
Noah Fishel – With 35+ years of passion for games and 14 years experience as a consulting UX researcher, Noah makes things more fun and easier to understand. – Noah’s LinkedIn
Lucila Drughieri – A UX researcher in the gaming industry with over two years of experience. I’ve had the privilege of working with companies such as Ubisoft, Schell Games, and Netease, among others. My passion resides in improving player experience and immersion within games. – LinkedIn profile
Are you a freelancer or consultant who should be on this list? Contact me and let me know.
Run your own study
Didn’t like the look of anyone?
If you’re looking to run your own research study, you might find this list of unmoderated research platforms helpful for finding people to take part in your playtest.
You’ll also find the Playtest Kit helpful, for designing your own unbiased and efficient test with your players.
Work with Steve Bromley
I am an experienced user researcher, specialising in games user research and building new user research teams.
I work with publishers, platforms and studios of all sizes from indies to AAA to run playtests, and integrate user research into the game development process. I’ve spent over 25,000 hours with players!
Prior to this I was a senior user researcher for PlayStation and worked on many of their top European titles, including Horizon Zero Dawn, SingStar, the LittleBigPlanet series and the PlayStation VR lineup.
I help teams run better playtests – I wrote the best-selling 5-star rated book Building User Research Teams and the bestselling book How To Be A Games User Researcher which has over 50 5-star reviews on Amazon.