What to expect at Game Developers Conference, 2018

With a rich history spanning over 3 decades, the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco has firmly established itself as one of the flagship events on the gaming industry calendar. Attracting over 26,000 attendees each year right from programmers, artists, producers, game designers, QA professionals, audio professionals, business decision-makers, etc. – GDC is a must-attend for anyone working or looking to make a career in the interactive entertainment industry.

As one of the world’s leading Game Testing Companies, GlobalStep has been a key part of GDC in the past as and delegate as we led conversations about the future of QA in gaming. We were there in 2017 as the Nintendo Switch started making big waves and redefining console-based gaming, and as Augmented Reality finally took a big step forward with Pokémon Go.

As we get ready for GDC 2018, here are our thoughts on what we think will be some of the main talking themes this year:

  • The return of PCs and Consoles: With mobile-based games gaining significantly over the last few years, we’re expecting PCs and dedicated consoles to dominate developer interest this year. With all the 3 major console manufacturers tasting success and customer acceptance with their flagship consoles – The PlayStation Pro, The Nintendo Switch and The XBOX One X, The PS VR, we’re expecting to see several interesting hardware and software concepts to be unveiled at GDC. That said, mobile continues to be the future of immersive gaming and we expect to see some fascinating game previews especially around Mobile AR / VR.

 

  • Monetization & Community Management: With the lifecycle of games steadily increasing, we are expecting to see interesting discussions on monetization strategies – including in-game advertising, loot boxes and freemium models. Developers and studios are also increasingly becoming aware that the fate of their games depends upon user acceptance and opinion – most commonly displayed on social media. Community management and social media engagement strategies are therefore going to be an important topic of discussion, especially among the burgeoning community of indie developers.

Over the last few months, we have been having some fascinating conversations with our customers as well as industry leaders over the need for QA to extend itself beyond the traditional beta phase of development. This led to the reimagining of traditional QA into holistic 360-degree QA that has a far-wider influence and improved value addition into the game development process.

Re-imagined QA shifts left to provide valuable insights into the design and development phases to improve predictive outcomes. It shifts right towards the release process with a focus at collecting data to provide insights into a better update and monetization strategy. It shifts up to align itself with business strategy and KPIs to provide better return on investment. And last, but not the least, it shifts down to be closer to players, social media, and communities to provide valuable insights into maximizing a game’s value proposition.

We’re excited about the week-long of exciting new developments, announcements, and deliberations at the GDC. Are you going to be there too? To set up a discussion with us, click here. and follow #TalkToGlobalStep for more updates from us!

[Aashish Washikar is the Head of Corporate Communications at GlobalStep. ]

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5 Benefits of Outsourcing Game Testing and QA Engineering

Outsourcing tasks within an organization to an experienced partner can help drive cost savings of 20% to 40% depending upon process complexity and capabilities of the service provider. On the other hand, there’s always a nagging doubt in the mind of the management regarding the ability of the service provider in understanding the typical complexities of the market and delivering on promised service level agreements. While both approaches have their pros and cons, increased process orientation, better project management and the demand-supply gap for experienced testers are making the case for outsourcing stronger.

Software Testing traditionally has had a rich history of outsourcing success. While Game Testing is conceptually similar to software testing, it has its own nuances and challenges. Game Development studios are constantly struggling to make the right decision between in sourcing and outsourcing. But with a market that’s growing fast both in terms of the number of gamers as well as the number of devices games are being played on, the scope of game development and testing has amplified manifold.

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Gaming: Projected Market Growth

Game developers/publishers now need to ensure a much wider testing coverage to maintain the same levels of quality as doled out before. Agility of testing also needs to improve to test the multiple updates and patches that developers are now rolling out to gamers within shortened schedules. This is where an independent game testing company can help developers get access to the right talent at a cost better than companies can manage internally. Today, we look at how independent game testing service providers like GlobalStep can help your business.

Why should you choose to outsource?

  • Gain access to an experienced team of the industry’s best game testers:

Game testing service providers will provide you access to the best-skilled game testers. These teams usually have an experience of working in different genres of games and on multiple platforms. Their credibility, experience, and a wide perspective ensure that defects are identified and communicated at an early stage, enabling you to maintain high-quality standards.

  • Ensure complete coverage with the best tools:

Experience with best in class tools, technologies and frameworks can be a key factor to ensure that your game is tested inside out. Game testing tools and technologies such as Appium, Robotium, Calabash, Device Anywhere typically require a different skillset. An independent testing service provider can help you gain access to the best tools in the market as well as the resources trained to use these tools to maximum advantage. Advanced project management methodologies and proven frameworks can further enable independent service providers test various scenarios faster and more effectively than you can internally.

  • Optimization of up-front and ongoing investments

All the testing needs discussed above are time and resource intensive activities. Sometimes, production houses also put the onus of testing on developers – which is not an ideal use of their time. An experienced game testing provider can provide access to the best resources, tools, platforms, and devices at a fraction of the cost, allowing you to concentrate on the core processes of your organization and expel your resources on your business priorities

  • Achieve a faster go-to-market

Even a small bug can bog down a game’s experience a great deal. With the Internet providing a voice to consumers, a negative comment can quickly evolve into a situation which can hamper the success of an entire game. However, as comprehensive and competent as your developers may be, bugs are inevitable. The only solution is to test effectively, find the bugs and fix them. Unfortunately, this is time-consuming and with the fast pace of the market, simply not possible anymore! Automation tools and frameworks available with experienced game testing partners can help reduce the time and manual effort needed in testing. With the advent and implementation of new transformation methods – using telemetry for reducing test efforts, risk-based testing, shift left etc., you can further reduce your time to reach the market. Test service providers can also leverage experience from working with various customers and implement best practices from across the industry for your project. This enables you to get your game as well as patches to the market faster, giving you a huge competitive edge!
With the dynamics of the modern gaming industry changing at a very fast pace, game development studios must consider a change in their testing strategy. Increased usage of tools, automation, data analytics and collaboration between developers and testers is going to be the key to rising above competition and outsourcing game testing can help you achieve all of these! It is however also key to evaluate service providers on key criteria such as experience, project management frameworks, quality of their QA labs and testing infrastructure, as well as adherence to metrics and SLAs. We wish you luck in your journey towards finding the right partner!

[Rachit Jain is Sr. Manager – Solutions Engineering at GlobalStep. He is a management professional with a technology background who loves to analyze and understand business needs and devise the integrated end to end solutions that fits the requirements. At GlobalStep he works closely with CXO’s and senior management to devise strategies for business development and devise a game plan to achieve the set goals.]

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What to expect at the Game QA and Localisation, Europe 2017

I’m excited to be part of one of the biggest QA and localisation conference for gaming industry in Berlin next week. While, I’m packing my bags, a quick blog to share my thoughts with you.

First things first! The event is going to be taking place in the beautiful city of Berlin for the first time. The location gives a very relaxed and friendly environment to reach out to fellow gaming professionals and exchange views on industry trending topics such as localisation, improving game developer workflows, developments in the game testing services and much more.

Improving the testing experience by analyzing the risks. Creating and managing successful QA services requires massive investments in technology, personnel, and resources.  The rapid evolution of platforms, reduced timelines, increasing complexity of cloud based environments, and the fragmentation of devices presents many unique challenges for a QA function in terms of test coverage within the swamped test schedules and to maintain its brand value in a highly competitive environment. My colleague, Suresh Iyer, will be presenting his thoughts on Risk Based Testing (RBT) – as applied to software testing and its extension to games testing to allay the fears of “not enough testing”

Unity in diversity: One of the pain areas for any game developer or publisher is to manage multiple teams and different workflows. I’m excited to hear the experts share their opinion on how uniting cross functional teams can maximize the collaboration and hence improve game quality. The panel at the event will have participants from key players in the gaming industry, who will discuss and brainstorm on how the companies re-work internal structures, and update the workflows to foster a culture of collaboration and innovation.

Localisation! Yes, it is one of the key service offering for various companies in the games industry and GameQA has ensured that they focus on this. No wonder, major part of the conference schedule is dedicated for various topics under Localisation umbrella. The key industry leadership is going to be talking about organizing teams to manage Localisation for a complex title. There are also going to be sessions which will prove to be very helpful for the team managers as they struggle to find the right collaboration tool for the team.

Its learning as well! The breakout sessions which are spread across the conference schedule promise to be helpful and informative. Interactive sessions focusing on identifying, developing and deploying the latest tools and techniques, improving internal cross functional relationships and workflows to create a culture of collaboration will be a great opportunity for the attendees to learn from the peers. I also love the networking sessions where you get to talk to people from different companies and learn more about the thing that they are engaged in.

GlobalStep is a sponsor of the event. Use #TalkToGlobalStep on Twitter to join the conversation.

Watch this space for more details, as we gear up for the event!

[Sumit Arora is the Operations Director in the Interactive Entertainment practice at GlobalStep and will be part of the delegation attending the conference.]

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What its like to be a woman game tester

A long-standing gender stereotype has been that women don’t like video games. With a 40:60 women:men ratio at GlobalStep’s QA Lab, we beg to differ! Not only women love video games, they are brilliant at it.

Since a long time female gamers have commonly been regarded as a minority, but industry surveys in the past few years have shown that in time the gender ratio has become closer to equal. As per a recent study*, 52% of gamers worldwide are in fact, women!

Women in the games industry are both designing and testing games. And we caught up with a few women game testers from our QA Lab in a candid interview. Read on to know how they deal with gender stereotype, what’s their all-time favorite game and more…


Why did you get into game testing?

You get to play games all day long, why else? Breaking the stereotype, our women game testers share, “We grew up playing video games. It has always been our passion.” One of the youngest girls from the group told us, “I was the only girl from my college in the Counter Strike team. Not only did I play the game but I won various Counter Strike inter-college tournaments with my team which btw was all boys!” Bravo!

What are the most important skills required to become a game tester?

“Many people think that because they like to play video games; they can be game testers… Well, that’s not entirely true. Yes, you do need to have the passion for playing but you also need some core skills like analytical thinking, you should be detail oriented and must have the eye to actually catch bugs while playing the game. Once you catch a bug, you need to be able to find the steps that will replicate the glitch. You also need a lot of patience! As a game tester, your tolerance to do repetitive and tedious tasks is tested every single day and you just need to learn to be persistent. Being able to work well in a team is important too.”

How do people react when you tell them you are a game tester?

The response to this question was in unison!

“Men think of us as Gods!”

“Women are always keen to know more. ‘What do you do exactly?’, ‘So you play video games all the time?’ or sometimes ‘Is that even a job!’ are the most common questions.”

What do you do when you take a break from testing games? Once a game tester, can you still be a gamer?

So when non game-testers take a break, we may interest ourselves in some sort of mobile or PC games, right? Our game testers can’t do this anymore and here’s why, “Since I became a game tester, it’s not so much fun anymore. Every time I play any game for recreation, I start spotting bugs. It’s difficult to switch off being a professional game tester! Having said that, I still love to play games for recreation.”

Wow, that seems like a professional hazard! One of the ladies shared what happened to her favorite mobile game after she became a game tester, “I used to play this very famous and addictive puzzle game and reached a really high level when I had to stop playing it.  Every time I would view the result screen on the game and clicked continue, it went into non-progression mode and had to be forced closed and restarted. My inner game tester couldn’t take it anymore. I reported that bug to the publisher and uninstalled the game. Now I play other more interesting games and try not to look for bugs!”

Is it true that women and men are better are at certain kind of games?

*Stats show men prefer action games while women prefer puzzle games. We asked the ladies if they agree, “That’s quite true actually. Women are mostly better at puzzle games as we are much better at problem-solving skills including logic, pattern recognition, sequence solving, and word completion. And men are mostly better at Combat, Role Playing, Adventure and Strategy games.”

“That doesn’t mean women game testers don’t test Combat games. As a matter of fact, women can focus better in testing bugs related to navigation or sound compared to men in such games as men get influenced by storytelling in, women don’t.” How very interesting!

Which is your current favorite game?

This question had the most varied answers of all! From puzzle to role playing to strategic games, these ladies love them all. Their favorites include – Shin Megami Tensei which is a post-apocalyptic role-playing game, Clash of Clans which is a famous strategy game and 4 Pics 1 Word, a fascinating puzzle game.

Do you play the games you test in your free time?

“Sometimes!”

“The developers / publishers, GlobalStep works with, make some really interesting games and it’s obvious that we would like to continue to play them instead of just testing. Once we are done with our daily tasks, we hang around in the gaming-zone where we can play any of the released titles on any platform be it mobile, console, VR, PC etc.” Perks of being a game tester, eh?

 

For a long time, video games have been designed keeping men in mind. Even with women making up the majority among games users, as characters / protagonists they are still mostly non-existent. From what we see with these intelligent women gamers around us, it’s time for the game designers and publishers to broaden the appeal of their games to both genders equally.

 

Source:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/52-percent-people-playing-games-women-industry-doesnt-know
  2. https://deltadna.com/blog/gender-split-in-f2p-games/
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