Roi of Gamification #1: Playtesting

Welcome gamers and players,

after the previous post, I write about how gamification can create business (and economic return). Mind the Roi and gamification. I’ll try to give some suggestion about insider game features, things often forgotten when calculating Roi of a gamification project (this problem can afflict game-designer looking for a way to drive managers to invest, or can be found in manager who need to judge gaming investment).

I cannot give tool to exactly calculate Roi of your gamification project: I can give a number of parameter you have to set, in order to make your calculation. Because of this the post is split into pieces, anyone about a specific factor of game-designing.
First of all, you have to consider this fraction:

(Revenue - Cost) / Cost

You could also find Revenue be written as “Payback”, and Cost as “Investment”. Except the word itself, nothing changes. Everything you need to calculate Roi will be included into one of these pool. This is the way you how Roi works. Now, I can’t write down the “standard” parameter you have to consider. There are dozens, hundreds or maybe thousands of books and guidelines to help you calculating Roi about economic standard issue, and a lot of “standard” calculation are about marketing, selling and other stuff not regarding gamification.

Down here you will find a list: for every point there are some tips about measurement and some different application to choose between accordingly to game design strategies.

Let’s start with the tail. I mean playtesting. In the next post, the focus will be on User Generated Content.


Usually considered as a Cost, it could be part of you Revenue

Tips about Calculation

Have you think about playtesting your game, right? Playtesting is quite similar to “testing” . You need to be very flexible when foresight playtesting’s cost.
When using it for Roi calculation, it can be added in several ways. Anyone means focusing your attention and resources on a different role of playtesting in your game-creation process. We’ll see the more common two.
α [Static Playtesting Cost] – Playtesting is usually added to denominator like [+Playtesting Cost], which is added to the overral cost. This  focus you on playtesting as final touch for your game. You are choosing to do not heavy change your game during playtesting. If so, you have to provide an average time and fee for playtesting, and adding it to cost. This way is useful for playtesting on game based on solid frame (like Monopoly) with lesser new feature.
β [Playtesting Impact Factor on Design] – Maybe for you is different. Maybe you’re not sure of all your game, and playtesting could change core rules or setting. Maybe your cost are growing too much,  and in this case, only if you have some  free-playtest structure, Playtesting could be used as a multiplier of Designing cost. This means that will have higher impact, possibly causing re-writing of entire chapter/section of game. This can be written as [Designing Cost] x [Playtesting Design Factor]. Your procedures got a big role in the process.
I you you create a rough game systems, without fluff or details, and playtest it. During playtesting, you can shorten time for further design (you can use suggestion from playtesters, or cut off lamest part of the game before it’s too late). This could probably cutting your time in designing of half, and helping you to have a smaller team of designer, in prevision of use the playtester also as “designer”. See the opposite example: you have rules, setting: an entire game. You test it, and after that you have to heavily re-write it. Maybe you designing time will be doubled, or even more. But, also in these case, probably is better to double cost of design (because you have structure or asset, or for any other reason) instead of calculating and including a totally new source of cost.
The Impact factor then usually could be placed somewhere inside x0.6 and x4, with most of the games that could consider x1,5 as a “normal” point (but you have to consider very carefully what implies this factor).
This kind of measurement of playtesting cost is useful in totally new game, whan you have to test from the basic frame of the rules to every little mechanical and mathematical aspect.

Tips about  Playtesting as a Revenue

In gamification, you could consider the testing factor slightly different for calculating Roi.
First, playtest could be not only a cost, but also a revenue. How? Using it as marketing factor. If you see the D&D Next playtesting project (starting 24 May 2012) you could find that Hasbro-Wizards use the designing latest phases as a way to reach the users disappointed of D&D4° Edition and convincing them, at least, to try the new version of the game. There are many examples, especially in video-gaming industry (with closed or open beta-testing phase). Microsoft have got an entire site to subscribe for testing their game for free.
These are game (not gamification) projects, but they show how a good reasoned play-testing (open to all, or upon registration) could generate hype and a marketing positive impact on your Revenue, like could have done a viral or social campaign.
Anyway, keep an eye focused on risk: if your game is not convincing, you could lose potential customer even before your game is ready. If you don’t care what say playtester, you could be seen as uninterest of improving your game. In fact, considering playtesting as a Revenue have the same advantages and risks could have a 2.0 marketing campaign.

Some link about generic Roi calculation (not focused on gaming and gamification)

Investopedia: guide to calculating Roi

HC Pro: how to write a good Roi

Workliteracy Roi materials

Forrester: Roi of social media marketing


3 thoughts on “Roi of Gamification #1: Playtesting

  1. Pingback: Game on Demand #3 – Playtesting and Feedback | Play for Business!

  2. Pingback: How to talk to your C-Level about Game on Demand (and Gamification) | Play for Business!

  3. Pingback: Governance of Gaming #1 – Controlling the Game | Play for Business!


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