-By Shashikala Rajaji & QA team
The gaming industry is experiencing rapid growth, with projections indicating it will reach over $300 billion by 2025 according to the report from Global Data. As games become increasingly complex, game testing has become a crucial part of the development process to ensure high-quality gameplay for gamers worldwide. Game testing requires in-depth knowledge of the gaming industry and an organized approach that includes a well-described game design document, clear test cases, and a test execution plan. An effective game testing process also incorporates a test automation framework and an agile process to ensure the game meets the expectations of players.
Let's take a look at some statistics.
The graph below depicts the increase in the number of gamers from 2015 to 2024.
The graph below depicts the average age of US gamers.
Game testing involves evaluating game rules and ensuring they work as intended. It's a crucial process to ensure the game runs smoothly on supported platforms and different versions of operating systems and hardware. Game testers put themselves in the player's shoes, considering the player's experience and interactions with the game. The process is different for PC games, console games, multiplayer games, and free-to-play games, and the focus is on evaluating the game rules and logic, which vary depending on the game genre and player persona. Game testing should be carried out in an environment as close as possible to the production environment, and each game is tested in a unique way depending on its specific needs. As the gaming industry evolves rapidly, testing methodologies and technologies are continually changing.
Game testers perform various types of testing beyond just playing the game repeatedly from start to finish.
Functional testing is an essential part of game testing, which checks if all the game's features, interactions, stability, multiplayer, progression, and settings are working as intended.
Beta testing focuses on players' interactions, understanding, and feedback and is categorized into closed and open beta testing. Soft launches are also a form of beta testing to test the game's success in specific geographic markets.
Stress testing simulates many players playing the game simultaneously to see if the game can handle heavy stress and remain stable.
Compliance testing is necessary for console and mobile games and aims to meet the requirements of the platform to get featured in app stores.
Basic acceptance testing verifies the major functions of the game, and localization testing is done to test the implementation of game translations in different languages.
Disruption testing is specific to mobile games and tests the game for scenarios that interrupt gameplay, such as phone calls or text messages.
Negative testing involves using a different path than the ideal path intended for players to identify functional issues and bugs.
Game balancing ensures that all levels of the game are in sync, users enjoy only what's allowed, and rewards and treasures are located correctly.
AR/VR game testing includes thorough checking of audio and video throughout the gameplay.
Compatibility testing ensures that the game is compatible with all target devices, platforms, operating systems, and web browsers.
Regression testing scrutinizes the functionality of the complete features of the gaming application, re-checking test cases to identify any new errors or vulnerabilities.
Automation converts all regression tests into automated tests, which can be executed on multiple platforms and devices to improve time to market and overall quality revenue.
To effectively test games, a strategic approach is necessary, which involves determining what to focus on, when, and how. Unfortunately, the gaming industry is generally lacking in awareness about this approach. A good game-testing strategy should be specific to the product, focused on risks, diversified, and practical, taking into account resources, constraints, and other factors that may impact testing. It's important to test all important aspects of the game, not just obvious features such as level progression or play-through. Quality criteria are used to identify problems, and various testing techniques involve analyzing the environment, elements, and quality criteria. The perceived quality of the game is the result of testing. A five-fold testing system involves considering five dimensions of testing: who is performing the testing, testing coverage, potential problems and risks, and how test cases are executed and evaluated. Combining different dimensions can help achieve desired results. Considering these dimensions while testing can lead to better choices and more optimal results.
There are multiple aspects of a game design which cannot be comprehensively tested. These have more to do with qualitative features like the flow of the game & how immersive it is:
Regardless of the type of testing techniques applied, game testing meets the objective of meticulously analyzing games to ensure that they are devoid of mistakes, bugs, or glitches and that they provide an exceptional gaming experience for the audience. Efficient game testing is not limited to detecting flaws or inconsistencies, but it also considers the overall user experience while playing the game. Game testing guarantees the quality and efficiency of the game product and offers a critical eye to the development process, which enables the detection and resolution of as many issues as possible at an early stage.
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