Actual studies of user gains from involvement in design processes are few, although a concern for users’ gains is a core characteristic of participatory design (PD). We explore the question of user gains through a retrospective evaluation of a critical PD project. We conducted ten qualitative interviews with participants in a project aimed at developing technology that fosters engaging museum experiences, and rethinking cultural heritage communication. Despite the use of established PD techniques by experienced PD practitioners, a significant number of frustrations relating to the PD process were prominent in the research study. Based on these findings, we provide an analysis of impediments for users gains in PD projects: Differences between aims were unresolved, absence of a shared set-up for collaboration and different conceptions of technology.