Play testing Vs. focus testing for me is a question of convenience rather than does it produce a better product in the end.
One pitfall that developers who aren’t experienced enough with play testing face is how they collect data. Most people on their first time around would take the answers at face value without factoring in any other aspects of how the player played their game. To put it simply they are focus testing but gave it a fancy name. What most teams who play test actually neglect to observe how the test subject reacts to what they are shown in the game through things like their movements, sweat and eye movement (“What is play testing and why do devs screw it up?”, 2013). The best way to define play testing is to find any contradiction between how you believe your game should be played and how the player believes it should be played.
On the other hand, focus testing is a lot easier to do but doesn’t usually create an experience that will be remembered as a classic. It is far simpler to ask people how they feel and move on to make changes rather than observe every aspect of play that a human being is experiencing (“Hollywood Endings”, 2013). This method is often used for the most popular games like Call of Duty, because those games require a massive return and have sold their souls to Satan in return for money already anyway. On the other hand this method can work if the person in charge is highly experienced and even then the process could or actively does harm the end product like with Bioshock: Infinite and The Last of Us (“Cite a Website – Cite This For Me”, 2012 & “The Last of Us focus test had to be made to include women”, 2013)
Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. (2012). Wired.com. Retrieved 8 April 2017, from
Hollywood Endings. (2013). YouTube. Retrieved 8 April 2017, from
The Last of Us focus test had to be made to include women. (2013). Destructoid. Retrieved 8 April 2017, from
What is playtesting and why do devs screw it up?. (2013). VG247.com. Retrieved 8 April 2017, from