Have Gaming Companies Allowed the Public to Become Surrogate Smoke Testers? Gaming IQ Finds Out
In an industry where a late release can cost a studio millions, games are often released despite containing bugs. The common practice seems to be that if the gaming community creates a big enough fuss, these bugs will be fixed.
Allowing the public to find bugs that are thought to be hidden in game versions, or using demos and beta opt-ins, are increasingly risky in the age of gaming forums, metacritic reviews, and popular Let’s-Play-ers.
Ahead of the 2017 Game QA and Localisation Europe forum, Gaming IQ liaised with game QA experts to find out how and why these glitches are allowed to reach the market, and what the future holds for QA testers. The article, Gamers INC! When the Public Black Box Test Games delves into:
The noob‘s burden
When the gaming public discovers bugs in new releases, they are quick to blame QA testers. One QA tester with over five years of experience explains that “any brand new first day on the job QA guy can find these bugs. Because they are almost without exception low severity C and D priority issues (not show stoppers or major gameplay impacting issues), they are more likely to be bugged and waived (too much time, not worth the effort, requires re-exporting the entire map etc.)”
Tester‘s Syndrome vs. the madness of crowds
As black box players become more experienced in testing, there comes a danger of tunnel vision or the dreaded Tester’s Syndrome. This is a form of inattention blindness, where a QA tester starts playing a game by jumping at random places, running into walls, and simply testing and exploiting every part of a system without logic or benefit.
Lessons from compatibility testing
A QA black box tester who is already inside the gaming industry is probably aware of compatibility testing. However, a sizeable amount of desktop gaming complaints are still about how smooth a game runs on gamers’ computers. Floyd Billings, Assistant QA Lead for Sony Entertainment, mentioned to Gamedev.net “most games made by Blizzard (e.g. Diablo, Diablo II, WoW, StarCraft) are virtually bug-free because Blizzard doesn’t mind pushing a launch back six months in order to finish.”
Deleting the player? Automation in games
What happens if you get rid of the human element of testing altogether? Automation has found its way into video game testing. It is reliable, methodical and fast, hammering home an overarching theme of technological vs human advancement in the gaming industry.
Conclusions: Beware of the public and keep QA in the black box
Can gaming companies release inadequately QA-ed games, and rely on feedback from game purchasers? Will automation be used to eliminate the human risk of Tester’s Syndrome? What is very clear is that although a single avid player may be just one job application away from being a QA tester, when gamer fans unite in vitriol, their effect on the reputation of the company is felt more than their lack of knowledge.
The complete article can be downloaded here or requested by email. Those interested in attending the 2017 Game QA and Localisation Europe forum, can find registration details on the official event website: http://www.gameqaloc.com/europe .