Did you know the Subway Surfers alone engaged 191 million downloads across Play Store and App Store in the previous year? The number of gamers across the globe has escalated significantly, involving millions with dynamic expectations, requirements, and preferences. Gaming companies are therefore facing stiff competition in the market, struggling to deliver a successful app and flawless gaming experiences.
The bedrock of a successful and seamless game is a holistic and integrated game testing program. Gamers don't wish to compromise their gaming experience—slow loading, freezing, poor graphics, and app crashes can lead to gamers uninstalling the app in seconds. Even a minor glitch or a bug can cause heavy negative reviews of a gaming app leading to tarnished brand reputation. Especially with the emergence of more and more advancing technologies like AR/VR and amazing features like gesture control, high-definition displays, cloud gaming, massively multiplayer online games, voice recognition, wearable gaming, and so much more, consumers only have to heighten demands that require rigorous testing to meet the user's expectations.
What makes game testing different from any other testing?
1. Complex environment - Gaming environments are often highly interactive and complex and involve multiple users engaging with the games across various platforms (i.e., phones, laptops, PCs, and many more), making games susceptible to diverse errors across the different platforms. Such errors and glitches can be easily overlooked without efficient testing leading to a significant drop in unit sales due to poor experience.
Also check: Game Testing Challenges and Essential Metrics
2. Frequent version release - Gaming companies frequently release newer versions of games. Every release needs to be tested rigorously to ensure an optimal gaming experience with improvements from the previous version and newly added functionalities.
3. The heightened importance of graphics - graphical consistency is pivotal to gaming apps. Irrespective of the type of the game, the visual elements need to be smooth throughout the entire playthrough. When a player engages for an extended period, the chances of specific bugs and inconsistencies showing up are more in the graphics. These can be image artifacts, irregular textures, pixelated visuals, and much more. With multi-user interaction, testing gaming apps for these glitches often becomes more complex than other apps.
4. Importance of user experience and user interface - A successful game needs to offer a seamless gaming journey to the gamer where he/she can navigate through the app with complete ease and every element functions optimally. It is a significant drawback if any gamer repeatedly faces difficulties with certain buttons or features and might end up uninstalling the entire game. Thus, a user-friendly interface is prime in gaming apps. Again, user experience is a major focus as well that involves the performance and playability of the app.
5. Focusing on user engagement time - Unlike other applications that can suffice with a good UI and UX, gaming apps necessarily need to focus on the engagement time of the users. The time gamers spend on an app measures the success of the game, and as a result of which, game testing needs to be efficient to ensure making the games highly interactive and engaging for users to drive them to spend significant time with the app.
6. Considering unique KPIs - While other app testing focuses mostly on UI/UX, functionality, security, and system, game testing often needs to offer realism, multiplayer features, simulations, and others. For instance, racing games aim to offer a near-real experience to gamers and thus need to be tested for realism and require niche domain knowledge. Again, several games need to test the social and multiplayer features in order to offer a consistent experience across different devices and people. It is often challenging to maintain the right consistency and synchronization while integrating multiplayer features. To ensure proper functioning and performance of these, several metrics must be considered, for example, average load time, latency, response time, concurrent users, DAU/MAU, sessions, connections per speed, and many more.
7. Considering different types of games and their unique requirements - Today, gaming apps are diverse. Besides the traditional single-player online board games, we have social games with enhanced graphics, interactive features, multiplayer features, and much more. These require not only good graphical consistency and seamless gameplay but also need real-time interaction capabilities, AR VR functionalities, communication among players, and much more. Some of the popular types of games and their requirements include:
- Simulation Games: These games require players to control an object in the game. They may also require players to control a character, such as in SimCity 4 and Roller Coaster Tycoon. Such games require flawless performance of the characters, real-like scenarios in the games, and so on to maintain user engagement.
- Multiplayer Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs): In this type of online game, players assume the roles of characters in a virtual world. The characters can interact with each other and the environment and can change the game's settings. Players are able to play alone or with others across different locations and in massive numbers, such as World of Warcraft, EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, and Aion. Gamers can define how much interaction they wish to engage in with other gamers. These games must ensure the seamless functioning of the interactive chatting and communication features among players irrespective of the number of players.
Also read: A Complete Guide to Functional Testing
- Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) Games: These are real-time strategy games with different teams competing against each other where every player needs to control a particular character. MOBA games often require players to communicate and talk among themselves during the gameplay. These games require verbal communication among different players and thus need robust network connectivity to allow the players to talk to each other in real-time while the game is on proper audio quality, and many more. Thus, the developer needs to opt for suitable game testing platforms to enable testing the performance of the game across different networks, the ease with which the players can chat or talk over various networks, the audio quality, and much more.
Integrating a game testing workflow for an optimal gaming experience
Game testing can be extremely complex with the different features and requirements emerging across the industry. The rising intervention of cloud, AR/VR, and mobile technologies have brought new challenges and requirements across the gaming industry in the course of brands trying to stay competitive while delivering a seamless gaming experience.
With the rapidly expanding gaming industry and multiple types of games being released in the market with a range of features, UI, server specifications, functionalities due to interaction, multiplayer options, and much more holistic game testing must include the following tests:
1. Ad-Hoc testing - This is free-form testing that requires testers to be relaxed to leave the checklist behind and can simply play the game to find out any bugs and errors as a gamer.
2. Load testing - this form of testing helps to measure the system performance as the workload increases. Load testing involves monitoring the system's response time and staying power with an increasing number of concurrent users or transactions. For games like massively multiplayer online games or others that include several gamers engaging with the game, this testing assists in determining the maximum number of players that can play simultaneously on a server and if the app communicates efficiently with the server or memory used by the software. Load testing allows developers to identify the possible bottlenecks and which part of the infrastructure needs optimization.
3. Interrupt testing - this type of testing is performed to evaluate the behavior and response of the software product or system during any interruption in the gameplay. This includes
- Incoming and outgoing calls, SMS, MMS
- Battery removal
- Low battery
- Network failure
- App update reminders and others
4. Spike testing - This technique is deployed to test apps with extreme increments and decrements in traffic loads. Spike testing primarily helps to determine the behavior or response of the app with changing user load and also helps measure recovery time.
5. Automated testing - Overall automated testing is executed to improve the accuracy of tests done by the developers and easily detect bugs and increase test coverage as multiple tools can be deployed concurrently. However, automating the workflows requires the right automated game testing platform to deliver optimal outcomes.
6. Regression testing - Regression testing is performed to retest unchanged parts of the gaming software. The test cases are rechecked to analyze whether the previous functions of the app work perfectly and if new changes have not introduced any new errors.
7. Compatibility testing - Game compatibility testing verifies that the game runs seamlessly across different devices and hardware combinations. One of the beneficial ways to obtain the best outcomes is to avoid the use of emulators and work with real testing devices that can help evaluate the proper functioning of the game in real scenarios.
How can you utilize HeadSpin to craft an integrated game testing strategy?
Creating an integrated end-to-end game testing strategy needs to focus critically on several factors affecting the performance and user experience of the games, and HeadSpin helps you achieve that. HeadSpin's data science-driven platform leverages sophisticated ML models to test gaming apps to identify crucial game performance issues, capture unique KPIs and deliver flawless gaming experiences to gamers. As games become more and more immersive and personalized, with gameplay becoming challenging, HeadSpin caters to all of these needs to efficiently test gaming apps.
- Monitor critical KPIs: the gaming solution allows companies to measure KPIs critical to understanding the user experience issues and improving the gamer's engagement with the app.
- Measure and monitor network latency
- Analyze game performance and impact - CPU, memory and battery usage, time to Interaction, App crashes, and FPS insights on Android devices.
- Measure audio-video quality with HeadSpin's reference-free MOS score.
- [MOS or Mean Opinion Score is a scoring technique to measure the subjective quality of the audio/video with a single number. The MOS ranges from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest quality and 5 being the most excellent]
- Holistic testing: HeadSpin enables gaming companies to create, execute, and automate tests on real devices. The solution allows testing for all gameplay scenarios to measure gaming experiences across real user conditions across different devices, carrier networks, and locations. Additionally, run multiplayer testing and monitor in-app transaction performance. With HeadSpin, perform UX testing on real devices with recorded test sessions.
- Game compatibility testing: HeadSpin enables cross-browser and cross-platform testing to help gaming companies address the needs of verifying gaming experience across different device types and different locations to maximize the number of users while maintaining quality and performance.
- Accessing multiple devices from global device infrastructure - HeadSpin's secure device infrastructure offers access to several devices and enables one to run tests parallelly at scale.
- Proactive identification of performance and functional issues - HeadSpin’s AI-based testing insights into app performance and user experiences help deliver optimal quality of gaming apps. The solution helps organizations identify performance glitches early-on and offer suggestions to resolve them before pre-launch and post-launch, thereby driving users to rate the apps with higher stars.
Check how HeadSpin helps gaming companies identify gameplay malfunctions and resolve game performance issues worldwide.
HeadSpin's solutions have been leveraged by several global gaming companies to test their apps and ensure delivering flawless gaming experience. In one instance, a social gaming developer witnessed a surge in the number of concurrent players amidst the pandemic scenario across different geographies. The game user journeys were dynamic and challenging to automate, requiring a quick improvisation of the testing infrastructure.
HeadSpin deployed 21 dedicated Android and iOS devices on HeadSpin hosted cloud across the US, UK, and India and streamlined test automation workflow on a single unified platform. With HeadSpin, the client could identify different factors affecting battery drain, thereby improving the overall playtime for users with lower-end devices. Additionally, the platform's capabilities to capture KPIs and several other metrics helped clients understand user experience across major market geographies.
With an integrated game testing strategy, gaming companies can efficiently cater to the needs and address the major challenges across the industry. Game testing operations and gaming providers, in partnership with HeadSpin, can seamlessly deliver optimally performing gaming apps to ensure seamless gamers' experiences. These can help reduce time-to-market significantly for new feature releases, execute performance benchmarking to stay competitive, maximize revenue, and offer superior gaming apps in the market.