Casino usability testing in Russia

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Stars Group puts prototype casino app through its paces in Russia

Picture of interpreter watching research via a monitor


Stars Group is a Canadian based gaming and online gambling company. It provides a variety of casino games through websites and apps. Stars Group operates internationally with licences to operate in 17 jurisdictions including Europe and North America.


UX24/7 was commissioned by Stars Group to organise a moderated usability evaluation of a developing app for Pokerstars. The primary purpose of the evaluation was to validate the findings from previous research on two other prototypes (that together comprise this one) in the Russian market.

The focus of the evaluation was the rewards area, navigation, game selection, design and localisation. Participants were scheduled from a pre-qualified list of PokerStars customers.


Our team in Moscow, working under the direction of our Consultancy Director in London set about organising the usability testing. The methodology was a standard, task-based usability testing method and so our tried and tested project process was applied. The key with casino (and sportsbook) research is to ensure someone in the team has hands on gaming experience. For those uninitiated, the language and terminology can appear completely alien!

The first step was constructing the screener for participant recruitment and sharing this with the client. We would be utilising their existing customers and after being provided with an initial list would post screen in Russia. This meant designing the screener in English and following client sign-off, translating to Russian.

Stars had already run similar research with their own team in the UK and so have a working discussion guide. Our consultants collaborated with Stars team as we localised the discussion guide and tasks, and suggested changes where we felt it could be better aligned with the objectives for the Russian market.

Once agreed, the discussion guide was translated, and the local team organised a pilot session. They were then properly prepared to run the 10 sessions over two days.

To ensure the smooth running of the project, UX24/7’s consultancy Director attended the sessions. This allowed us to provide oversite to the local team in Moscow as well as providing the point of contact for the client team in London. Because the client was unable to travel, we provided live streaming of the sessions with an interpreter simultaneously translating the audio.


  • Usability testing of prototype, mobile casino app
  • 10 participants in person in Moscow, Russia
  • Remote viewing for client team in London
  • Simultaneous translation from Russian into English


Participants had been playing poker for between 4 and 20 years so there was a good spread of knowledge and experience. Most preferred mobile platforms and mainly smartphones so they could play Poker anywhere. The majority agreed that the visual design of the Poker Stars app was in keeping with their expectations of the Poker Stars brand.

Although the research was conducted using both Android and iOS devices, in fact there was no difference in performance.

Participants could find the majority of functions that were not related to the game search quite well. They made some mistakes, but in general they managed to complete most tasks.

However, participants experienced serious difficulties when they were asked to find specific games. The major issue here, related to the top menu. Participants did not understand its functionality. This wasn’t an issue local to the Russian market and it supported the findings from UX research in other markets.

There were also some minor interaction issues and errors related to the filters, game tiles and specific buttons. This provided various opportunities to make the app easier to use and give participants more control. 

Part of the research focused on the inclusion of a new Stars Rewards proposition. Understandably, this was well received but there were opportunities for improvements that could be made to the navigation. Most participants reacted to the Stars rewards animation after login. In most, but not all, cases were then able to find and successfully interact with the rewards area including attempts at horizontal scrolling.

Overall, the prototype suffered from some issues with consistency in visual language to prompt micro-interactions. These were all covered in the detailed research report together with clear and actionable recommendations to help Stars Group improve the prototype ahead of build.

The team in Russia did a great job in all aspects of the project. Recruiting from client lists can be a real challenge but every participant met the screener and the overall quota was achieved. The translator was a real character and had been and interpreter for President Putin. Ironically, she was obsessed with England but that made her communications skills even better.

Lead Consultant

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