Game testing 101

Giridhara Madakashira,

Senior Vice President – Technology

Published: January 8, 2021

The global gaming market was valued at USD 151.55 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach a value of USD 256.97 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 9.17%. As the gaming industry continues to grow at an accelerated pace, gaming companies need to reimagine their digital capabilities to remain competitive in an increasingly complex, diverse, and ever-evolving gaming landscape. Delivering a seamless gaming experience across platforms is crucial, and the only way to do it is through rigorous testing.

What is game testing?

Game testing is indispensable to the game development process as it allows developers to discover, document, and fix software bugs lest they interfere with the gaming experience. It helps control the quality of the game, enabling optimal performance across distribution channels.

Significance of game testing

A highly interactive, complex gaming medium, coupled with many users consuming games over multiple platforms, makes games vulnerable to unexpected errors. These glitches may be overlooked and unresolved without a proper testing mechanism. Testing is, therefore, very critical to avoid criticism from gamers, frustrated by bugs that ruin their gaming experience. Testing also prevents gaming companies from losing out on revenue due to a significant drop in unit sales based on poor experience.

A thorough quality assurance testing determines defects present in the game code and allows developers to fix them before it is launched in the marketplace. This quality assessment and analysis process ensures that gamers access the most refined version of the product, not leaving the game's fate to chance.

Another area where game testing plays an important role is the new version release of a game. During the testing phase, many parameters are identified for improvement, and the overall value they add to the gaming experience is mulled over. Once validated, testers advise on aspects of the games that can be improved upon, paving the way for a more seamless gaming experience in the next release.

A game's ranking and review, which govern a game's purchase, are also heavily impacted by the testing process. Companies that review games rely on the tester's experience and assessment of the game across key parameters.

Game testing vs. software testing

While game testing and software testing may be fundamentally similar, in the sense that both involve testing code to deliver high-quality, working software, but in reality, they are poles apart. Unlike game testing, software testing leverages automation scripts developed pre and post-production of test cases. To set up automation scripts, testers use many tools and frameworks in the software testing process.

Game testing is conducted across diversified platforms like PC and desktop, consoles, web, and mobile. In contrast, software testing is performed for standard platforms like web and mobile. Software testing calls for qualified professionals with Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) certification, whereas no such formal qualifications are needed for game testing. While mostly executed by niche specialists, crowds (gaming enthusiasts) are often roped in to test new games.

In software testing, the requirements are well defined and documented before the development process even begins. But, game testing, on the other hand, thrives in the gray area, relying mostly on gamer intuition and skills, without any documented set of requirements.

While software testing focuses primarily on UI/UX, functionality, security, and system, game testing is centered around realism, AI, and multiplayer. In simulators and racing games, it is critical that the game feels real, and testing for realism demands niche domain knowledge. Similarly, multiplayer testing poses unique challenges and requires specialists to test different scenarios involving multiple players, simultaneously interacting with the game world, servers, platforms, and computer-opponents.

AI comes in handy while testing games as the key principle behind game testing is playing like an end-user to identify bugs, and AI bots can easily mimic this behavior. AI executes numerous routine testing tasks and saves a lot of human effort, thereby boosting productivity.

Testing is the secret to better games

One thing is clearly established: game testing is extremely complex, and the complexity will only continue to grow as games evolve. Comprehensive testing throughout the development process is the only way to counter the complexities and build a high-quality game that performs optimally across all platforms like mobile, console, and cloud.

Giridhara Madakashira

Giridhara Madakashira

Senior Vice President – Technology

A member of the NASSCOM, Giridhara Madakashira, is a visionary with two decades of experience in platform engineering and technology solutions. He is a core technologist at heart with a zeal for meaningful innovations for a better tomorrow. He has driven technology and business strategy alongside spearheading research and innovation initiatives. He is actively involved in strategizing and building innovation labs for customers and academia.

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