User research helps Metro win in online Fantasy Football game

Metro is one of the top UK providers of online Fantasy Football gaming. In late 2009 it decided to redevelop the game to improve user experience and increase take-up of paid-for game features. Metro designed a first iteration of the new game for the 2010 World Cup, with novel Fantasy Football features such as ‘wager’ mini leagues, group tournaments and live scoring. Metro engaged new experience to conduct user research on this World Cup game to provide feedback for incorporation into the upcoming 2010-2011 season Premier League Fantasy Football game.

Live trial and self reporting

We recruited eight avid Fantasy Football players who had used a variety of games in the past, so as to benefit from their extensive experience. We began with a briefing session at our offices where we explained how participants should play and report back to us. In an interesting twist, we asked them to enrol into a ‘participant mini-league’ for a £5 wager each – as well as their normal incentive, everyone was playing for the additional pot. Participants trialled the game for three weeks through a mix of naturalistic usage and specified tasks, and wrote about their experiences in feedback forms which we monitored daily. We stayed in close contact with the players via email to ensure that feedback was of high quality and on-time, so we could carry out simultaneous analysis.

Post-trial in-depth discussions

The level of participants’ engagement and quality of reporting were excellent. We picked up many common themes affecting usability, enjoyment and understanding of gameplay during the trial. We discussed these when participants returned for one-to-one interviews and we were especially able to concentrate on exploring areas of particular significance to Metro: increasing the appeal of playing against others for money, novel gameplay ideas, and engaging friends to play.

Research findings quickly implemented into the next version of the game

Our research methods combined real-life use and remote reporting with focussed lab-based discussion. This was effective in drawing out relatively straightforward usability improvements, and in establishing how players felt about more complex elements of the game – something only possible when a person incorporates a service into their daily life. Following our quick analysis, Metro was able to implement a significant number of recommendations into the Premier League game which was released two weeks later.

What Metro had to say about working with us

“new experience designed and executed an interesting and highly actionable project, most importantly on time and on budget. The new experience team was highly engaged with the project and definitely a team we’d be happy to work with again.” Andrew Murphy, Senior Insight Executive, Metro (Associated Newspapers)