The gaming industry has continued to impact our lives. According to Forbes, in terms of the tech trends affecting us, the $90 billion global video games industry is one of the leading most often. In this digital age, gaming companies are quickly iterating on diverse tech stacks to offer unmatched and exemplary experiences to gamers. With newer technologies disrupting the space, gaming organizations are now able to make their testing approaches more seamless and aligned with the precise needs of the gaming apps that can help provide quality end-user experience. Game testing capabilities serve as the facilitators for game development brands to ensure delivering error-free, reliable, and robust interactive apps.
What do you mean by game testing?
Game testing refers to a software testing process that attempts to identify and detect defects, errors, bugs, and different glitches in the gaming app to ensure stable and reliable functioning and performance.
The following are the stages of game testing:
- Defining the scope of the test
- Identifying the functions to be tested
- Setting up the environment
- Conducting the tests
- Analyzing results
- Uptaking corrective actions where necessary
- Reporting findings to management
In this article, we will cover an essential aspect of game development and testing that will help improve game functionality by leveraging testing techniques optimally.
Why is game testing different from any other software testing?
Game testing often differs from any other app testing as it needs to ensure multiple factors like user retention, user engagement, and other factors that define the app's success. Unlike several other apps, how much time a user spends on a game is a crucial factor for measuring its popularity in the market. And to achieve this, testers are required to capture critical KPIs that impact the user experience.
Furthermore, testing a gaming app requires creativity and imagination to deeply understand the elements of the gaming app, its core mechanics, UI, and much more, even before performing the tests.
Additionally, there is an increased need to test the games on multiple devices to test for proper functioning—the GPU of the mobile phone that is used most. The GPU might be running at the highest clock rate, and hence if it isn't implemented appropriately, the game can gradually slow down the device due to excess heating. Thus, the testers should test the games on multiple devices before zeroing in on the supported devices.
Considering the unique requirements of different gaming apps also makes game testing different and more complex than other software testing. Various social games with enhanced graphics, multiplayer features, interactive features, and more need not only good graphical consistency and seamless gameplay but also real-time interaction capabilities, communication among players, AR-VR functionalities, and much more.
For instance, simulation games require players to control an object or a character, such as in SimCity 4. The characters need to perform flawlessly and deliver real-life scenarios to maintain consistent user engagement. Again, in Multiplayer Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), gamers assume to be in the roles of virtual-world characters and can interact with each other and the environment. There are often a large number of players engaged in large-scale games like Warcraft and Lord of the Ring Online. These games need communication features to be consistent and flawless irrespective of the number of players involved at the same time.
Also check: Game Testing Challenges and Essential Metrics
The game testing stage of the game development life cycle includes the following phases:
- The pre-game testing phase: This phase refers to the phase where the game mechanics, app flow, and UI are tested. In this course, teams can also test any new ideas or changes incorporated after the last build. The major issues detected in this phase should be fixed proactively to ensure the game can move on to the gameplay testing phase.
- The gameplay testing phase: In this stage, players get to try out the game and evaluate how the gameplay is functioning in its current state. This phase involves a lot of fine-tuning, including balancing gameplay elements and fixing primary issues identified in the pre-game testing phase. If the teams think of any significant alterations, this phase is the best test for those elements.
- The post-game testing phase: After completing the gameplay and testing, the final modifications and bug fixes are carried out in this phase. This phase can also include adding new content to the gaming app if necessary. On finalizing that, the game is ready to be launched.
Tips for ensuring best-in-class gaming functionality
Effectively executing gaming app testing requires robust testing strategies, game-testing automation tools, and the right organizational approach to accommodate and suitably align the testing methodologies. The testing aims to identify the performance issues like crashes, progression blockages, app freezes and other gameplay issues, graphic issues, and many more across the entire map of the game. To ensure the desired results, enterprises must execute certain key tests on gaming apps to ensure superior functionality and user experiences.
Track performance-related issues throughout the mobile app lifecycle. Know more.
The critical test to be performed on gaming apps that help improve game functionality are:
1. Functionality testing
This involves playing through the game to ensure that every feature, action, and attribute of the game works as expected. This can range from the controls to in-game menus to levels, rewards, exit page, signing in, character movements, graphics, background colors, screen orientation, system navigation like loading time, timeout and display, calibration, user interactions, audio quality testing, and much more.
2. Compatibility testing
Verifying if the game is compatible across different platforms, devices, and hardware and software configurations is referred to as compatibility testing. This test can help developers avoid releasing games that might not function properly on a large number of systems—for example, installing and uninstalling games on all supported consoles/mobiles/desktops.
3. Soak testing
This type of game automation testing involves leaving the game running for a prolonged period of time in different modes of operation and, for instance, idling, pausing, or at the tile screen. Soaking helps identify memory leakage or rounding errors.
4. Regression testing
Regression testing refers to a suite of automated tests that help check the functionality and correctness of the game after Any modifications or alterations are made. This helps ensure that a new feature, bug fixes, or an update introduced don't impact the gameplay or cause regressions in the user experience.
5. Interrupt testing
This type of testing involves the teams evaluating the behavior or response of the app during any interruption in the gameplay. The interruptions can include incoming and outgoing calls, low battery, network failure, lost connections, and much more.
6. Load testing
Load testing involves simulating a system's capacity to cope with an increasing load, such as increasing the number of players on an MMO server, the number of sprites visible on-screen, and much more. The capability of an app to function properly even under the heightening pressure or load is determined by load testing.
7. Spike testing
This test is deployed for testing apps with extreme increments and decrements in traffic loads to evaluate the behavior or response of the application with changing user load and gauge the recovery time.
8. Tree Testing
Tree testing refers to a method where testers explore all the possible menu options and paths through the game. It's similar to combinatorial testing but involves less emphasis on specific inputs or variables until they're all listed somewhere.
Tree testing can take quite some time and requires patience from both the tester and developer because there are many possibilities.
9. Security testing
One of the biggest concerns common to every application is the user's security. A gaming app must be tested rigorously to ensure that the sensitive information, personal data, and other crucial information of users should not be compromised. Additionally, gaming apps with subscription and purchasing options need to ensure secure payment gateways. Also, the increased popularity of online games has provided an extensive platform for hackers to disrupt gamers' experiences. Hence, security testing is a must to ensure top-notch functionality of the gaming app with the ability to identify and correct the vulnerabilities across the gaming network.
How are gaming companies leveraging HeadSpin to ensure superior game functionality?
HeadSpin's data science-driven testing Platform allows gaming companies to leverage advanced AI and ML models and test gaming apps to seamlessly identify crucial game performance issues, capture critical KPIs that impact gameplay, and ensure flawless gaming experiences.
HeadSpin's solution enables gaming companies to:
- Monitor important KPIs to understand user experience better and improve the gamer's engagement with the app. The core KPIs include memory usage, battery usage, frame rate, time-to-interaction, launch time, app crashes, video mean opinion score and many others
- Measure and monitor network latency
- Enables enterprises to write, execute and automate tests on real devices. HeadSpin also allows testing for all gameplay scenarios and measuring gaming experiences across real user conditions across a wide range of devices, carrier networks, and locations.
- Run multiplayer testing
- Monitor in-app transaction performance
- Perform cross-platform testing to ensure consistent gaming experience across different gaming devices like consoles, mobile devices, Smart TVs, and other device types and locations, and maximize user numbers
How HeadSpin enhanced the user experience and brand reputation for one of the world's most popular social games?
A San Francisco-based social gaming developer company faced severe challenges in addressing a surge in the number of concurrent players during the pandemic scenario. The game had a geographically dispersed user base with complex game user journeys that were difficult to automate and required a speedy ramping up of the testing infrastructure.
HeadSpin, with its data science-driven capabilities, was able to deliver test automation for the platform the client was using. This client was able to detect different factors that led to battery drain and could fix this issue to ensure improved playtime for users with lower-end devices. Additionally, HeadSpin provided the client with the infrastructure they required to better understand user experiences across their diverse market geographies, enabling them to improve their brand value and reputation.
As gaming apps are at the peak of popularity amongst various age groups across the globe today, companies are looking for continual improvements in their testing efforts. Ensuring optimum game functionality is a must for every company to achieve the desired customer trust and expand their customer base. In the course of achieving this, streamlining the testing efforts and investing in the right tool is a must, driving ways to deliver the best gaming experiences and elevating business revenue.
Q1. What is recovery testing?
Ans: This form of testing verifies how well the app can recover from crashes, hardware failures, and associated errors. The app is forced to fail and later observed how it recovers from the specific failure conditions and environment.
Q2. What are key metrics that a game tester should consider?
Ans: The most crucial metrics to be considered are:
- Performance metrics
- Download rank
Q3. What are the benefits of game-testing partnerships?
Ans: Having a properly managed QA testing partner offers the following benefits:
- Access to expert testers
- Improved efficiency
- Faster turnaround time
- Improved quality