Mobile Game QA: Seven things to consider

This post outlines seven important issues that QA engineers (and their management teams) should consider when they set out to test a mobile game.

There are now approximately 2.5 billion gamers in the world. To put that another way, roughly 30% of the world’s population is now playing video games, and this year gamers are set to spend approximately $152.1 billion on games worldwide.

At $68.5 billion (and growing), mobile games represent the single largest segment of global gaming revenue. So it’s no wonder that competition is fierce among mobile game developers — as they compete for a slice of a growing, multi-billion dollar pie.

The role of the QA engineer

Among hyper competitive mobile game companies, the job of the QA engineer has never been more important. Bad performance or a poor user experience can literally cost a mobile gaming developer millions in revenue. QA engineers help game developers increase their odds of success, assuring that only high-performing games are released to the public.

But the role of the QA engineering is a complicated one, as she must balance demands from different sets of stakeholders and account for disparate performance on different devices or in different regions of the world. And while games must meet very technical, stringent requirements, they also have to satisfy the (often subjective) demands of the consumers for great user experience. QA teams have a tough job.

As a nod to QA engineers around the world, we’ve outlined seven important issues that QA engineers (and their management teams) should consider when they set out to test a mobile game. We hope it makes the job of the QA a little easier.

1. Game Installation Testing

For a game to succeed, installation should be seamless. Games that don’t install easily or correctly often don’t even get played, so this sort of testing should be high on a QA teams list of tests to conduct. Rigorously test the installation process to ensure it is as fast and easy as possible. The fewer steps the installation process requires from the user, the better.

2. Interface Testing

User interface is made up of a huge number of variables — colors, fonts, sound effects, animations, resolutions, notification placement of menus, navigation, load speeds, and many, many other factors that impact game play. If all of the elements that make up the user interface aren’t working together to create an enjoyable, intuitive experience, a game simply isn’t going to succeed. Quantify and measure the quality of the game’s interface, then use data to make improvements, as the quality of user interface (how you control the game) is arguably even more important than functionality (what you do in the game).

3. 3D and graphic testing

Mobile game graphics have become increasingly more sophisticated in recent years — and today’s users demand quality graphics that are rendered to near perfection. Effects like realistic shadows and lighting, changes in perspective, movement of objects through space and other real-to-life phenomenon require continuous 3D simulations. Unfortunately, these simulations can take a toll on app performance. The QA Engineer should be able to check the quality of 3D objects and models in a mobile game and understand how these elements affect overall game performance.

4. Stress testing

Stress testing ensures that an app keeps working reliably — even under extreme conditions. To stress test a mobile game, QA engineers intentionally try to throw more at a game than it can handle. So dream up crazy scenarios (extreme load conditions, a huge influx of mobile users, etc.) and try to make your game fail. Then fix as necessary and retest.

5. Security Testing

Almost every modern app contains some kind of third-party code somewhere in its codebase. However, for mobile games, these codes often power the main functionality of the app, so security testing is an extremely important part of mobile game QA. Third-party codes are often vulnerable to crashes, bugs, or other security issues, so work to eliminate as much risk as possible in these areas.

6. Battery testing

A game should be able to provide a user with hours of seamless, uninterrupted game play — without draining the battery or causing the device to shut down. Lots of factors can affect battery longevity, such as device/OS combination or image quality. Test on a number of devices (preferably the ones favored by your core users) and in a number of network conditions for best results.

7. Device/OS/carrier diversity

The global market contains hundreds of different devices from different manufacturers. These devices offer different resolutions, screen size, and computing power — all factors that can affect game play. To complicate matters, these devices are powered by different operating systems (each with different versions) — and they run on different networks that provide varying speed and reliability.

Testing for all of these different combinations might sound daunting, but it’s absolutely essential for the success of an app. Prioritize testing on combinations used by your core group of users.

Learn more about how HeadSpin can help mobile game developers create, execute and automate tests across multiple global devices

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