developer Sony Online Entertainment said this week that it opened its previously in-house only Usability Lab services to outside companies, in order to provide user-centric feedback for product development.
"By opening the doors to the Usability Lab we are able to share our industry expertise with other development companies, while offering a cost effective way to test their products and services prior to launch," said SOE's Paul Venuti, director of development services at SOE in a press statement.
SOE recently touted its usability labs during GDC Austin earlier this month, when SOE president Jon Smedley said the company used the labs extensively to monitor kids playing the MMO Free Realms
, using cameras fixed on their hands and faces.
SOE said that Free Realms
, the free-to-play youth-oriented PC MMORPG launched in April this year, was the first game to utilize SOE's Usability Labs. Free Realms
currently boasts over 5 million registered users. The Usability Lab tested the game's tutorial, user interface, and gameplay mechanics.
The labs have "top of the line" PCs and PlayStation 3 consoles. Services provide include usability testing, heuristic evaluations, focus groups, and product evaluations. Interested parties can visit the program's official website
for more information.