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A/B Testing In Game & App Development

With engines like Unity being freely available, and many people having a fair amount of time on their hands in lock-down, it’s not surprising that we are seeing a huge growth in small games coming onto the markets. The sheer usability of Unity makes game creation not only easy but fun too, and even non-developers are finding it rather straightforward to get to grips with.

But designing and developing a game is one thing; making it work properly and be something that other people want to play requires testing, and that is where many people fail. Some tests are purely functional and establish how good gameplay is, some are bug-finding exercises. However, there are also tests that are used to check audience acceptance – the people who are likely to be playing your game – and how much they like it.

This is an important factor since there is little point in spending time creating a game that people don’t want to play. Do your research and testing and you are GTA V, don’t do it and you are Lost Planet: Extreme Condition – a game that was so devoid of passion, characters, and fun that it is legendary amongst gamers. Much of the heartache that the developer ended up with could have been avoided if they had carried out some basic testing on their audience.

Of course, you can just release something and walk away, but isn’t it more satisfying to create something good, particularly if you have spent money doing it? Of course, it is, and one of the most fundamental tests is called the A/B testing, which is a very simple to use but powerful tool.

At its most fundamental level, A/B testing is used to compare potential outcomes on audiences in a random fashion, to prevent them having any preconceived ideas. In this way, the control groups are likely to give their true feelings on something and that gives the initiator a good idea of their intentions toward what they have been presented with. Obviously, if you give people too many options, both they and you just get in a mess, so the A/B test does just that; presents people with only two options.

A/B testing can be carried out many times during game or app development and at many different levels. You could start at the very beginning and test a control group to determine fundamentals such as should the main character be male or female, or even human or animal. From there you can start to expand out and subject every major decision that you arrive at to an A/B test.

You could carry out such testing on a logo design, colour gamut, titles, game-play elements, and outcomes. If you are really unsure, you could ask your control group about almost any aspect of your game, and get a black or white decision, provided, of course, that you don’t keep getting 50/50 results.

A/B testing is a staple method of making decisions in the gaming world and when used with other forms of testing it helps construct not only a solid game, but also one that people want to play and can enjoy, and what more can we ask from our entertainment.