Mar 14, 2013
QA has in the past suffered from a bit of a bad rap. Often looked upon as the ‘stepping stone’ into the gaming industry, many successful producers and directors have passed through QA in the early stages of their career.
But as we stand now on the verge of the next generation in console gaming (now beginning to catch up with the power of PCs), games are becoming increasingly creative and complex, pushing the boundaries of the platforms they are released on. Meanwhile, the proportion of the population that can be called ‘gamers’ continues to increase, and – mostly thanks to being spoiled by the innovation in top games – they are more discerning than ever before.
You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to work out that more complicated games + more discerning gamers = a need for a top-notch gaming experience.
QA is one of the most essential parts of game development, as it ensures the playability and satisfaction of a game. These days, a major developer releasing a very buggy game leads to plenty of negative press, a drop in reputation and a consequential dip in sales (albeit shielded somewhat by the power of a major brand name or franchise). For a smaller or indie developer, it could mean game over. Literally.
So what can we do about it? Well, changing the way that the top brass in a large publisher or developer view QA & localisation means a culture shift, which is arguably one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome. These functions are both often viewed as just necessary evils in order to get your game to market, rather than a powerful tool that can increase sales dramatically (good game = good reviews = better sales), not to mention the reputation of a brand.
The approach should be twofold; first, slowly win over the internal decision makers by demonstrating that better QA leads ultimately to more revenue. It will take time, but it can be done – there are many great success stories in the industry (some of which we will hear at this very forum).
Secondly, we need to change the way QA is perceived externally. This can be done by increasing the level of standardisation across the industry, and by better communication between senior QA professionals who are all in the same boat.
- Develop best practices, implement them internally and – if they work – share them
- Set up a more defined career path within QA – this will encourage people to want to stay in the function and help to catalyse a perception shift towards acknowledging QA in its own right, and not just a stepping stone into production or programming
- Improve internal and external cross-team communication
- Don’t skimp on the essentials – if you go with the cheapest QA solution, you’re not going to get quality results (what was that earlier about not being a mathematical genius?). Invest in the solution that is the best fit for you
- Budget, forecast and plan as accurately as possible – if production knows how long QA will take and how much it will cost, they will be much more receptive in future projects
- And finally, silly as it may sound, do some QA on your QA!
At the Game QA & Localisation forum we will unite senior QA professionals from developers of all sizes, across all platforms, to discuss these issues, share best practices and work through some of QA’s biggest challenges.
The forum will take place in central London on June 25-26th 2013.
Visit the website www.gamingQA.com for more information on speakers, programme and prices.
We look forward to seeing you there!