Developing a commercial video game requires a lot of effort by an entire crew of specialists in many field. Some of them are responsible for the coding or design the music and sound effects, while others do the artwork plus graphics for the game. Before a commercial video game is released however, it must go through a very through and well structured game quality assurance process. This will ensure that the game is playable on many different computer types and that the code is free of bugs which can affect game play and user experience.
Previously, video game companies handled this entire process in house, meaning that all of the testing that was conducted on video game at the conclusion of its development process was handled by employees of the same video game company. Video Game Testers were often professionals who only tested games from one video game development house. However, this trend is rapidly changing.
According to news reports from the video game industry, there are plenty of game development companies that are outsourcing many parts of the game quality assurance process to third party contractors. In fact, there are some companies now in existence which specialize in providing game testing to a variety of clients.
Of course there are some reasons behind this. One of the main ones is cost. It is often less expensive for a video game company to hire the services of an external firm, rather than maintain dozens of video game testers working on a full time basis for them. Also, if a PC game is being tested, this will require the acquisition of various different computers, running on different operating systems, having different CPUs and graphics cards, etc. This can put a considerable strain on the budget of any game company, especially the smaller ones. Specialized game testing providers have access to plenty of different hardware already, which will eliminate the need for the gaming producers to acquire hardware which will be solely used for testing purposes.
Elements of Game Programming are also often “outsourced” to end users as well. Certain companies make beta versions of games available to either the general public, or to those who have already purchased their products. Users are encouraged to play the game and then report any issue that they have had, no matter how small, to the developers of that game. This will enable the video game company to make any necessary fixes, adjustments and improvements to their product before a final version is released. Of course, this is a very cost effective way to test the game, as the video game testers are simply end users who are basically “working” for free. While this doesn’t happen to all games, many popular video game titles for the PC have had a beta version released before the official product shipped.
Gina Kraft is a video and mobile game enthusiast. Gina is very interested in the process of Game Programming. She thinks that Game Testers are very important in the industry. She also thinks that all video game publishers should invest in game quality assurance.