Designing and marketing games is a lucrative business. As of 2020, the gaming industry on both mobile devices and PCs recorded over 100 billion dollars in total revenues. Certainly, a game done right has the potential to become an instant money-maker.
It helps that there isn’t a dearth of a possible audience out there, given the sheer number of people who own smartphones, laptops, and gaming consoles. The gaming market expands across age, gender, class, and interests. There is a game for everyone.
With the thousands of games constantly being developed and launched, only a handful manage to achieve commercial success. Much of this success can, of course, be attributed to rigorous game testing.
Stages of game testing
Like any other commodity, a game is the result of product design, development, and review. Game testing falls under the general review services category.
From a practical and commercial point of view, it simply does not make sense to launch a game that has not undergone game testing, considering the stakes involved.
Game testing has three stages: Closed Alpha, Closed Beta, and Open Beta.
The first iteration of a game normally goes through the Closed Alpha stage. These people play the game and simulate a real user environment to identify bugs as well as provide the necessary fixes.
The Closed Alpha stage is perhaps the most critical of all stages. This is where the major issues need to be patched and quick. Ideally, there shouldn’t be any major bug left in the next stages. Otherwise, game testers in the more advanced stages will not be able to focus on the very critical nuances of the game as they would be constantly bogged down by issues that should have been resolved already during the first stage.
On the lookout for bugs
When the Closed Alpha stage ends, the game graduates to the Closed Beta stage. Like the Closed Alpha stage, game testers in the Closed Beta stage are on the lookout for bugs and other issues that may negatively affect the overall user experience.
It is also during the Closed Beta stage where the game’s functionalities may be reduced or beefed up according to how the game testers respond to the game itself. Game testers may include volunteers who have no link whatsoever to the game developer. Thereby ensuring objectivity and neutrality in their assessments.
The Open Beta is the final stage of game testing and the penultimate step before the actual launch of the game. At this stage, the game becomes available to the public for use. The game should have undergone revisions, modifications, and alterations and should be more stable at this point.
The Open Beta is where game designers gauge the general public’s reception to the game. As an important last-ditch attempt at improving it further – ahead of the launch of the final version.
Understanding the gaming psyche
All these three stages require a focus on the part of game testers. Who need to be technically proficient and need to possess a deep insight into the gaming psyche of intended users.
Along with identifying bugs and the dispatch of lasting fixes, game testers need to understand what makes a game appealing, exciting, and easy to learn. This is what makes game testing very critical for game developers.
While game testing cannot accurately predict audience reception to the game. It could at the very least provide an approximation of the game’s strengths and advantages over other games of comparable dynamics and value. Such insights are useful in coming up with effective marketing strategies to target the game’s intended users and elicit positive feedback from the public.
Truly, the value of game testing cannot be underscored enough; even the simplest of games can benefit from it. For many game developers, rigorous game testing done right can very well spell the difference between success and failure.