Meet HeadSpin at STARWEST in Anaheim from Oct 4 - 6
Close
Mobile Game Testing - Challenges, Best Practices, and Emerging Trends

Mobile Game Testing: Challenges, Best Practices, and Emerging Trends

August 25, 2022
 by 
Shinji KanaiShinji Kanai
Shinji Kanai

Game testing is complex and different from other types of testing. There is a need for live user testing, alpha, and beta testing, but these are only a few pieces of a broader equation. Game testing also differs from standard app testing in terms of user engagement and experience. While performing gaming app testing, QA teams must consider the fact that the success of the gaming application is contingent on the duration of time gamers spend interacting with it. It indicates that the app successfully provides users with an engaging gaming experience. 

This article highlights the challenges, best practices, and emerging trends for testing mobile game applications to deliver a superior gaming experience.

Challenges in game app testing

Challenges unique to game development and QA include device diversity, hardware configurations, AR and VR environments, OEM/carrier customizations, and various operating system versions. Considering user engagement for a longer time, factors like measuring device metrics, CPU, battery usage, overheating, social media integrations for multiplayer functionalities, AR and VR features come into play.  

These factors increase the complexity of QA and lead to longer development cycles (time-to-market), higher field crash rates, higher customer support costs (more customer complaints), and an inefficient development team (dealing with customer issues vs. developing new features). 

Thus, the quality of gaming applications would be substantially impacted if testing is based solely on playing the game to detect flaws. It must be performed on a comprehensive game testing platform trusted by key industry players.

Games24x7 leverages HeadSpin to test metrics like FPS value, battery drain, memory usage, logs, videos, and more.

Best Practices of Mobile Game App Testing

Here is a compilation of types of testing that should be incorporated as best practices while performing game application testing:

  • Fun factor testing
  • AI testing
  • Game level testing
  • Multiplayer testing
  • Audio testing
  • Cross-device performance testing 
  • Localization testing
  • Modification API testing

Fun Factor Testing

Usability or user experience testing is performed on all software. However, fun factor testing is specific to games as an entertainment product. In addition to intuitive functionality, games must also be enjoyable to play. Initially, development teams need to determine whether any concept for a game is enjoyable and it would attract the intended audience. It takes a unique understanding of game design and a plethora of information and data about the target audience and what they enjoy.

AI Testing

With the increasing complexity of user behavior, testing computer-controlled opponents and artificial intelligence for intended behaviors can become exceedingly challenging. Social games like chess are a good example. Such testing requires the tester to comprehend what triggers various types of behavior and how these triggers can be confused by multiple parameters. Expertise in AI and game design must be implemented to deliver a flawless game app experience.

Game Level Testing

The level or game world testing can be one of the most complex components of game testing, especially if it is a sprawling 3D game environment, as in modern MMOs. Some of this can be automated in unique and exciting ways exclusive to game testing. It includes bots moving randomly across the game world to see if they become trapped or discovering other bugs. As the complexity of the activity increases, finding ways to simplify it with the aid of tools becomes increasingly vital. 

For puzzle games, it is crucial to ensure that the graphics for each level look attractive and that each level is also passable. It is also critical to review that the game mechanics have been tested in isolation function in the different level implementations.

HeadSpin facilitates QA teams to conduct functional and non-functional analysis with the black box and white box testing, helping in customer-centric development. With HeadSpin’s performance monitoring and optimization tools, QA teams can also identify and resolve factors impacting the performance of gaming applications. 

Multiplayer Testing

Multiplayer testing is an entirely different segment. Multiple players engage simultaneously with the game world, game servers, computer-controlled opponents, and each other. With so many possible adverse outcomes, this typically takes an entire team of testers. Numerous risk-based decisions must be made if QA teams do not wish to spend indefinite time evaluating various scenarios. For this form of testing, it is essential to understand multiplayer game design and how to test efficiently as a team.

With HeadSpin’s AI-backed testing platform, game development and QA teams can record test sessions on real devices, and perform user experience and multiplayer testing.

Audio Testing

Games have distinctive characteristics when it comes to audio testing. QA teams must test that the music in a video game must immerse the player and enhance the gameplay. The audio should not only play without stuttering or missing pieces but also contribute to the gameplay. It takes substantial audio expertise and specific game audio knowledge, particularly domain expertise. 

Cross-device performance testing 

Despite having the most innovative narrative, the best gameplay mechanics, and the most captivating characters, players will not enjoy your game if it is difficult to load. 

You may determine how your game performs on the most powerful graphics processing unit or GPU currently available by testing it on a powerful smartphone. Then, QA teams must test the game on mid-range and low-range devices to determine how the graphics degrade and how the game operates on cheap or older smartphones.

Your game must be playable on devices of all price ranges, as games that only look and run well on the latest flagship devices will have a minimal audience. Testers must evaluate the gaming application on all versions of the Android and iOS operating systems. 

HeadSpin’s global device infrastructure provides a combination of low, mid, and high-end devices for game testing to improve the entire addressable market for the mobile game manufacturers. HeadSpin helps measure game audio and video quality across platforms and OS versions using HS reference-free MOS score and supports multiple frameworks like AltUnity, Appium, and Selenium.

Localization testing

When developers upload a game to the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, they are exposing it to more than just the local audience. Therefore, testers must identify any localization issues. 

  • One potential localization issue is that of advertisements on the gaming application. Development teams must review if they target a specific market or demographic. They may wish to display different advertisements in several locations or nations according to geography to maximize the chances of generating substantial advertising revenue in such scenarios.
  • Language is an additional localization consideration, as not all potential users of the gaming application will speak English. Rather than limiting the game to an English-speaking audience, the production team may decide to translate the game's menus and subtitles for conversations. 

With HeadSpin’s data science-backed testing platform, QA teams can measure the performance of in-game advertising campaigns effortlessly. HeadSpin allows testing teams to evaluate gaming applications on real bare metal devices deployed in 100+ locations and connected to real networks worldwide. QA teams can collect data from real devices deployed in on-premise, hybrid, and BYOD models. 

With the HeadSpin Platform, Games24x7 achieved a more centralized testing process that eliminated its need for multiple test device infrastructures. The remote control feature of HeadSpin also helped Games24x7 team to access their preferred devices and screens at any time remotely.

Modification API Testing

Numerous software applications have APIs that are accessible to third parties. However, there are only a handful of other instances in which players will attempt to exploit these open APIs to gain unfair gameplay advantages. This takes unconventional thinking. QA teams must analyze how modders would utilize the API and how they would be able to alter the gameplay significantly.  

Emerging Trends in Game App Testing

  • Leveraging Artificial Intelligence

The intelligence of ML, big data, and artificial intelligence enable forecasting, predictive analytics, and in-depth assessment of gaming applications that QA teams tend to fail to notice during manual testing. Insightful analytics and reporting also contribute to accurate performance evaluation in game testing. Testers can consider automation when a process is feasible for the same and leads to similar or better outcomes as in the case of a manual test.  

HeadSpin’s data science-backed testing platform empowers testing teams to track every issue by conducting data-driven analysis, collecting 120+ data points, setting alerts for critical KPIs, and gaining AI-driven actionable insights.

  • Automation of Quality Assurance

There is a greater emphasis on quality assurance in the global market to gain a competitive advantage. Automating the QA process is crucial to gaming app development and manual quality assurance. An agile methodology enables the rapid resolution of problems and defects. These rapid, agile procedures also reduce the workload associated with the processes for gaming app testing.

When all key strategies are in place, it is possible to automate most of the quality assurance processes. When manual tests are still in place, QA teams can still use them to focus on the essential gaming app functionalities and features.

  • Cloud gaming

Cloud gaming will soon gain prominence. It requires stable, high-speed, and ultra-low latency connections to support the smooth operation of fast-paced, multiplayer games, necessitating instantaneous responses. Connections with a higher latency are a crucial risk for cloud gaming as they destroy the gaming experience. In addition, irregular latency frequently results in jitter, which distorts voice, chat, and display. The outcome is choppy gaming that disappoints the player. 

QA teams need to leverage an end-to-end testing platform that has expertise in next-generation, cutting-edge technologies such as cloud computing and QA of telecom applications backed with an understanding of latency and network-related complexities.

HeadSpin enables cloud gaming testing to evaluate the experience of end-users who engage from any device and not from the standard gaming console of the brand. 

Its unique game testing platform enables end-to-end evaluation of gaming applications across networks and devices, monitoring network latency that impacts the overall gaming experience.

Conclusion

Game manufacturers want to deliver the most engaging user experiences. Consequently, assuring the quality of mobile game applications has become an essential element. Since gaming applications involve intuitiveness, QA teams should test gaming applications on various real devices, operating systems, and browsers.

To expedite their efforts on the testing front, mobile gaming companies can leverage an enterprise-grade testing platform like HeadSpin.  

To explore more, book free trial now.

Mobile Game Testing: Challenges, Best Practices, and Emerging Trends

4 Parts