Experts from Braze, a mobile engagement automation company, define QA as a ‘key brand differentiator’. Quality improvements influence user experience and engagement, which are the key factors of game popularity.
CleverTap shares that “25% of all apps are only used once” and “a 10% increase in user retention can increase the value of a business by more than 30%”.
So, what can game developers do to increase user retention? Every stage of the game dev process contributes to user happiness, but QA should not be overlooked. Moreover, only 29% of tech companies perform exploratory testing, (QA tests the product while it’s being developed, not after full completion).
Both developer-based testing and QA can alleviate commercial release bottlenecks, downtime on production, and decrease the number of significant game defects. Efficient and thorough QA will ensure a successful release and increase user retention.
Here are some examples of failed games that demonstrate why testing is important:
A lot of features are critical for a fun product: music, sounds, graphics, dialogues, and more. If you don’t want to release a boring game with poor user engagement, QA must be a mandatory stage in your product software development lifecycle.
An idea or concept is generally the starting point for any product. But what happens next?
Irme Jele, a co-founder of Bossa Studios says, “You can make an amazing game, but you can’t make a success. Your players make the success.” Keeping the users’ wants and needs in mind through the entire game dev process is vital to the success of your game.
Game testing is imperative for quality management and finding bugs. Testing is needed during the development cycle in order to be ready for the Alpha launch, an early version with potential for many mistakes.
During testing, QA engineers must find answers to the following questions:
Answering these questions is indispensable to understanding every nuance of your game before Alpha and Beta releases. That is why QA is an essential piece of the puzzle in the game development lifecycle along with:
The game development process takes a lot of time and demands several iterations, thorough testing, launching Alpha and Beta versions and many hours of behind-the-scenes work.
Every stage involves testing: exploratory testing throughout the whole development process, clean room procedures to assure code reliability, and users’ post-production reports as a kind of testing as well.
Marissa Mayer, the Yahoo CEO, noticed in her Twitter: ‘Geeks love tech issues so much, that all the details are of crucial importance’. This quote is relevant to our topic as well. Assuring game quality we exclude irritating bugs and errors spoiling nice game concepts. So, what stages should be followed to create the perfect product?
We propose to follow every stage to learn about objectives, responsible specialists, and the sense of the procedure.
Stage: closed Alpha testing takes place on the preliminary level
Objective: identify bugs, which were not obvious in the earlier development stages
Who performs: a group of users reflecting the real user environment and playing as if it happens in real life after the game release.
Stage: closed Beta. It’s quite similar to closed Alpha but more extensive
Objective: figure out the potential obstacles to the natural smooth playing flow
Who performs: volunteers from the users, not development team members
Stage: open Beta is a stage, during which all users are welcome to play the game and report any poor functionalities
Objective: improve user experience and define any broken code in a production environment
Who performs: every user willing to play
Stage: Fun factor, balance, learnability, or reliability tests
Objective: make live user test process successful
Who performs: real players or focus groups
All the stages involve game testing processes delivered both by QA engineers and real players. We propose to follow every stage for a better understanding of the whole procedure.
Game testing processes align with a typical SDLC (software development lifecycle): the game is tested on aspects like endurance, performance, and engaging user experience. The following list presents the usual steps:
Before commercial product release engineers work on finding bugs and errors, quality control may look like the following:
QA is applied practically on every stage of SDLC, being composed of many processes and performed in a variety of manners. It can be done either manually or in an automated way. What’s better?
Sometimes the game is tested manually, sometimes the tech team writes special scripts to automate quality control. Both methods have pros and cons.
Manual testing is convenient because it provides:
To get the best of both worlds, human ingenuity and automation precision, sometimes it’s necessary to conduct both forms of testing. Exacol, a database developer, estimates manual testing is 100,000 times slower than automation. They suppose that automating repetitive tasks anywhere in development is prudent, but especially in testing. Consider the pros and cons of both methods for your project, just like we do for our clients at Innovecs.
When estimating testing duration, keep in mind that every character must face every other character in every possible game situation on every possible level. It sounds quite time-consuming. Many repetitions are required, testers must play the whole game but also repeat the same game fragment trying to break it. Time should be spent finding code irregularities, art glitches, level bugs, and logic game errors.
Your testing process includes:
To stick to deadlines, testing plans with detailed objectives, resources, and processes are helpful. You can estimate potential testing timeframe by considering previous experience with similar games, your knowledge about the testing processes, and awareness of how much time manual or automated testing requires. The more you know about QA, the easier it is to visualize the process and plan any necessary outsourcing.
The fact that Sony, a giant in the game industry, announced a global Bug Bounty Program is proof enough that it’s worth paying attention to testing if you want to produce a profitable product. Companies seeking opportunities to provide an engaging experience for their user community should test often to ensure perfect quality.
Let’s peek at some frequently found bugs:
Carefully considering every detail of testing issues can help avoid a failure after release. A bad release can destroy the reputation of the game production company and deter users from attempting any future game releases.
In this article we have outlined and described the following:
When you are ready to outsource testing, Innovecs can provide intuitive QA engineers who can protect your game from the risk of failure. They are well-versed in executing a variety of test cases to deal with bottlenecks and prevent financial losses due to poor game code. We are a trustworthy partner, and our QA experts implement up-to-date tech solutions.