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Thank you for your interest in our research study of PowerWash Simulator and its players! The research study has now concluded and is no longer be available for participation.

The first paper from the study has now been published and is available here! Along with the paper is access to the full dataset from the participants of the research study, de-identified and anonymised. The paper describes the dataset and how it was collected, outlining the key differences between the main and Research Edition versions of the game. It also suggests some use cases for the dataset, providing some useful examples.

A research paper with a full analysis of the study has yet to be published and peer reviewed but will follow, looking in more depth at how video game play affects players’ well-being. The researchers at OII plan to conduct detailed statistical analyses of the dataset and aim to publish their findings in the coming months as part of their ongoing collaboration with FuturLab. 

We were incredibly excited to offer our players the opportunity to take part in a unique collaboration between FuturLab and independent researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute. This was a one-of-a-kind anonymous research study centred around the wellbeing of PowerWash Simulator’s players and was a great chance to contribute to scientific research. We even had some unique in-game rewards for participants! These rewards are no longer available but will be gifted to all players later in the year (2023). 

From a game developer’s perspective, the opportunity to scientifically measure the level of satisfaction, competency, and general well-being your players feel while playing your game is invaluable – and incredibly exciting! I spoke in detail about some of the challenges we faced while implementing the study into PowerWash Simulator during my talk at GDC 2023. We are very proud of our work on the study and hope to inspire others to get involved in similar collaborative research.

James Butlin | Lead VR Programmer

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Is the Research Edition still available?

A: The study has now concluded and the Research Edition Steam branch closed.

Q: How do I get back to the main version of the game?

A: Please see the Opting Out section below! You can swap between the two versions of the game using Steam’s beta branch functionality.

Q: I missed the study, can I still get the rewards?

A: These rewards were timed exclusives for Research Edition participants and we hope to release them in the future to everyone. While we wanted to give a strong incentive for players to take part in this study and help further the research, we also didn’t want to create any negative impact by keeping them exclusive forever. We don’t yet have a date they will be made available.

Q: Will I lose my progress from the Research Edition now it has ended?

A: The Research Edition used a separate ‘save file’ which means your progress on the main game was left untouched. However, since the Research Edition has now closed you will be unable to continue playing using your Research Edition save file.

Q: I would like to ask the researchers a question about the study, how can I do this? 

A: Please get in touch via their dedicated email address. 

Q: Will the researchers know who I am if I participated? 

A: No, the data that was collected was de-identified so that no one at either FuturLab or Oxford Internet Institute would have been able to re-identify you as a participant.  

Q: When will the paper(s) for the study be published? 

A: Professor Andy Przybylski and his team at Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford are currently hard at work on two papers relating to our research study. Once these go live we will update this page with links to them (and the de-identified data for anyone wanting to analyse it).  

Q: What will you do with my data? 

A: In the Research Edition all of the data was anonymous and will be further de-identified for publication. There were two types of data being collected –

The first was the ‘base’ telemetry – metrics for player progression, shop purchases, general gameplay activities etc. This was both kept by FuturLab and provided to the researchers for analysis in the study. 

The second type of data was made up of the responses from the Research Edition-specific popups (aka the questions that the researchers asked you). Any question that you responded to from the researchers did not go to FuturLab, and was sent securely from the game client to the researchers’ own database. No-one except the researchers will have read access to this sensitive information. 

Q: What was the difference between the Research Edition and the main version? 

A: The Research Edition had the same content as the main game except for the following: 

– Multiplayer had been disabled 
– Non-English language support was disabled 
– A new launch sequence allowed first-time players to opt-in if they agreed to the terms 
– A new Opt Out button on the main menu provided players with instructions on how to transition back to the main game and remove their progression (and sensitive data) if desired 
– A new Tell us how you feel button in the menu allowed players to optionally give the researchers feedback about their experience once every 30 minutes 
– A new Rewards option in the menu allowed players to track their progress and claim their cosmetic rewards once unlocked.
– Throughout gameplay, a new character would periodically contact the player with communication about the study, often closely followed with a question about their experience
– Externally licensed content (Tomb Raider, Midgar special) wasn’t available to play

The Research Edition provided participants with timed exclusive rewards. Once earned and claimed, the rewards were made usable on Steam, both on the Research Edition and the main game.

They are currently only be available to equip on Steam. But will be visible on other platforms during cross-play multiplayer.

Though these cosmetics are currently only available on Steam and to participants of the study, in the future we hope to release these for everyone.

Using The Rewards

  1. During gameplay, with an appropriate power washer equipped, press E to open up the equipment menu. From here you can select the swatch in the bottom right of the currently equipped washer and click it to open up the modifications menu
  2. From this menu, select the newly unlocked cosmetic reward, and click to equip.
  3. Enjoy using your new cosmetics!