The Need For Mobile Game QA Testing & How It Changed

In case you are new to the topic game QA, it primarily refers to the quality assurance of a video game. In other words, after a video game is officially developed, one needs to be sure that the final product including all of the features is working as intended.

What Is Mobile Game QA And Who Is Responsible For It?

Now, the systematic and structured approach to this testing is known as video game testing. The mobile game testing, in reality, differs from the regular mobile app testing. All the agile processes, automated frameworks, and seamless integration are aspects that are quite different in the eyes of the mobile game QA testers – who work to identify any possible bugs and help developers to remove them efficiently.

However, the big picture with this topic is not the testing itself as a procedure, but the need for mobile game QA in general. It is true that the mobile game marketplace is growing as we speak, with over a million games and countless variations of them. However, most of all, mobile game testing takes place in a vibrant marketplace which is regularly updated, with iOS and Android as the main forces of these upgrades.

The Beginning Of Change

Most Apple fanboys and hopefully many of you still remember 29-June-2007 when the first generation iPhone was launched. Although the idea behind that device was to combine multimedia features of iPod and a typical mobile phone into one system, it was also the beginning of a new era in mobile gaming. With a robust platform of Apple, the developers soon started with numerous game launches, slowly transforming the looks and feel of old generation mobile games into console quality graphics. With many games launched in the App Store and high monetization tactics by Apple, other platforms like Android and Amazon also joined the race. Compatibility testing at the initial stage on such mobile platforms was no big deal for most game developers, especially due to the limited quantity of devices.

However, by the end of 2016, Apple has finished launching 34+ touchscreen devices with iOS in their heart, some having storage variants between 4 GB to 128 GB. That makes a huge number of uniquely configured devices from Apple alone, including iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices of various generations. Still, this number of iOS devices looks small when it comes down to arranging all of them to ensure smooth gameplay and overall compatibility of the game with devices of multiple generations. Nevertheless, by this time, numerous manufacturers across the globe, mainly from China, also manufactured myriad smartphones and tablets with Android as their pre-installed operating system. Testing any game for robustness on a huge number of Android devices is not feasible in most cases.

So the common idea used by developers is to only cover the devices popular in target geography for every game. There are few other ways around it but remain unexplored due to lack of proper guidance on the topic. Then there are first party updates in mobile operating systems for older as well as new devices, creating more tasks related to mobile OS compatibility testing for developers.

The Need For Continuous System Upgrades & How Mobile Game QA Fits Into It

Just because of the frequent launches of new hardware and operating systems, the need for mobile game QA testing has grown recently. As much as the quality, graphics, and gameplay get improved with every new upgrade, it is the actual testing that makes this possible and puts it into practice. There are various methods involved around it, including but not limited to arranging a variety of test devices for compatibility checks covering maximum possible target users, getting help from end-user communities across the globe, Beta testers, external QA agency, using middlewares, emulators and so on.

The bottom line is that mobile game validation does not relate anymore to just a simple process of running through basic gameplay and the features of a video game. Instead, it is a whole industry that relies on particular standards, procedures and systematic approaches, all to guarantee that the games played are of the highest quality possible.

The market for mobile games is still experiencing hyper growth but year 2016 was not without a struggle for mobile game developers. Need for quality apps in the crowded market with extreme competition is inevitable. The infusion of various Game Validation & QA services with the help of external teams or well-equipped game testing agencies can be paramount.

Article by,
Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

Paradox Indian Mentality And Desi Myths About Video Games Industry

Gaming industry today is advancing rapidly. However, I don’t see many heads always with quality astute. Albeit, the wide range of gaming platforms are providing numerous attractive options for the end-users, the gaming side interest is still considered extremely costly and ‘damaging’ in India. Individuals do play a considerable measure of diversions here. Most of the parents and people in the Indian society have a negative opinion regarding video games and the entire industry. So the blame ‘game’ continues.

Are you really in control?

  • If by any chance, you are getting corpulent due to any reason, would you accuse the individual who efficiently feeds you?
  • If by any chance, you eat 10 dessert mugs in a day and come down with a pathetic cold, would you accuse the fellow who sold you the frozen yogurt containers in the first place?
  • If by any chance, you spend a whole school year watching movies on a regular basis, would you accuse the actors and theater owners of your subsequent disappointment in your exams?
  • Also, if by chance, you spend most of your time gaming, at the expense of your classes, would you accuse the video games industry, for your disappointments in your scholastic life?

The myths and beginning

The obvious answer to every single question listed above is a big NO! Why? Because you make your own decisions. It’s pointless to accuse other individuals, various factors or different commercial ventures if you are overdoing the things that you do. You ought to do everything in a controlled manner so as to avoid regrets.

I have had many individuals say to me, “Kindly don’t acquaint yourself with our children because you work in the video games industry!” Strangely, they are always eager to get their children inspired in the professions that never caught their interests in the first place. I have seen individuals saying “Thank God the gaming industry in India is not booming like US, Japan or China!” Indeed, I have even seen people blaming video games for every wretched circumstance in their lives. Now, I am beginning to feel that soon, the majority of the Indian folks will start to directly accuse video games even when their kid experience constipation! To make sure that it doesn’t get to this, I aim to educate people about gaming, and the industry in general, through this huge article.

Keeping up with technological developments

Today, the video game industry alone is actually a few times bigger than every other medium of entertainment put together (including, although, not limited to the music and silver screen industry of all nations). We are as of now, taking a gander at mobile games earning millions of dollars daily and the PC/Console-based games that are literally doing billion dollar businesses within the first 2-3 days of launching. Even the greatest blockbuster movies of all times don’t get this much earning. With this, you can envision the force and reach of the video games industry. Have you ever considered the occupation and opportunities created in this industry? Enormous! And this area is much excessively specialized. You can find my article about career opportunities in the games industry on this website only.

Slowly but steadily, the games industry has actually begun changing the method for instructing and educating individuals of all age groups about everything. Schools are utilizing gamified books and even intuitive diversions to teach kids about almost everything that cannot be taught by any instructor. It’s logically demonstrated that video games can help the general advancement of mind and critical level reasoning. Also, lots of crucial things and even the foundations can be taught more easily and more efficiently with the medium of video games. It’s “natural” for the human cerebrum to handle and retain everything that is introduced in an entertaining way.

Today, video games are the greatest medium of excitement. Even people enjoy spectating the matches of gamers playing in multiplayer mode. That makes another billion dollar industry of eSports. Amazon, Google, EA, Activision, Riot Games, Valve are some of the big names making massive investments in this area. I won’t be surprised if eSports attracts more viewers than the most popular sports events in future.

Stop assuming and start thinking

No doubt, the invention of gaming was purely based on the purpose of entertainment just like every other medium, and various sports. But have you ever considered playing video games as some sort of intellectual activity through casual or organized participation, with the aim to use, maintain or improve mental abilities, while providing entertainment to spectators? Most of the multiplayer video games can help build great team-work among kids at a very young age. The super entertaining way makes learning anything easy for them. Moving to adults, many non-gaming organizations today are utilizing gamification for transfer of required idea, core objectives and relevant information to their employees. Not only the process of training existing staff, but even the recruitment process in many multinational companies also incorporate video games for evaluation of applicant’s aptitude, thinking limit, decision-making ability, overall mental reflexes and general brain processing. Deloitte is one of such organizations utilizing video games in recruitment process despite the fact that the core operations of the organization are far away from gaming.

Keeping the instruction with diversions aside, regardless of the fact that we consider video games as an unadulterated medium for entertainment, Indian folks (especially the ones from the previous generation), are extraordinarily one-sided about gaming recreations and having a significant degree of negative considerations about the same. As a general rule, many people in their circle are occupied with Candy Crush on Mobile or some other casual game on Facebook, even during office hours. Yet, they are hypocritical about their thoughts towards the gaming industry and individuals who are bringing home the bread & butter out of it.

Why act like a hypocrite?

A career in the games industry starting with QA testing is way more specialized and mind boggling when contrasted with conventional software testing. It’s way more technical even for a certified and experienced software engineer. An experienced and passionate gamer with right presentation skills to a wide assortment of video games can produce a favorable report for all the stakeholders. Innovative thinking, years of exposure to the ever-evolving industry and experience of all genres of games is crucial in the process of quality assurance for video games. Many of such variables make the game validation a very specialized sector. You can’t just say that testing a developed game is simple and a piece of cake. Beyond that, the validation process itself runs in parallel to the development. The development may never start if the core concept of the game is not ‘validated.’ Testing gameplay mechanics is just a small part of a video game validation process.

It’s way more specialized, intricate and element in nature, when contrasted with QA testing of non-gaming applications. If you ask me, most of the computer graduates or post-grads and even ‘experienced’ software testers (from non-gaming industry) should not (and must not from a business point of view) be even considered ‘eligible’ for testing of any kind of game. Especially if they do not have very ‘good’ knowledge of the games industry, latest technologies/platforms, high exposure to various genres of games and the average ‘flaws’/issues’ faced by end-users in real-life scenarios. Here, I am not even talking about the complexity of end-to-end video game validation process and the entire game development life-cycle. This is probably outside the understanding of most non-gaming professionals who otherwise would take the video game validation profile very casually.

I have seen and heard of many examples in which so-called ‘successful’ people make fun of video game industry professionals. A case in point would be an NRI guy working on some IT job in a foreign country and making millions (in INR) purely because of the currency difference. And with a huge spotlight, this guy never has the guts to reveal the fact that his work is no rocket science when compared with his Indian counterpart. In fact, in most cases, that’s nowhere close to the average profiles of the ever evolving & electric video-game industry. Still, you may apparently have to deal with this guy’s shameless hypocrisy as he says things like-

  • “Oh, so you work in the video games industry? Man, you are enjoying the easy job of playing games! And my job is very complicated!”
  • “So you are developing your own video game? That’s not a full-time job, man. What exactly you do for a living?”

Such guys never really understand the adrenaline rush, thrill, and excitement that is always present in the video game industry despite various challenges involved therein. Of course, not everyone can be successful in this massive industry.

Face the reality that you’re living in denial

An excess of anything is hurtful for anybody, at any time. It’s as simple as that. Try not to be biased about gaming. Start birthing brand new ideas. In case you can’t get your brain to instantly think and process ideas, start playing chess. If you can’t play chess or don’t like chess, start playing any video game of your choice that can fortify your cerebrum and boost your brain processing abilities.

I am not certain if it’s low intellectual quotient or lack of common sense in many Indian folks. However, I not seen them saying no to their children’s dependence on copious things such as:

  • Staring at the TV for hours,
  • Going to movies with ‘companions,’ savoring alcohol,
  • Celebrating with ‘friends’ on some slope station or farmhouse and lot many things that even a grown-up thinks twice about, before doing, a lot of times.

But the same inhabitants/parents/geezers will protest in a flash even if you talk about video-games! I would personally suggest that parents who have a dislike for video games should do the following:

  • Send your child to play cricket for 1 hour to have some physical exercise.
  • Send your child to Karate classes to prepare for self-defense.
  • Allow your child to play video games for a limited period for a unique and unadulterated learning experience without the involvement of any other person, in light of your decision.

At the end of the day, if you do not have the capacity to control your kid’s fixation in gaming, you can’t save him from any kind of addiction in life. That is your failure as a guardian. Sooner or later, you’d have to reserve a place in some sort of rehab center. Also, it isn’t the fault of the gaming industry.

No matter what, everything in this world has a dark side. Simple law of nature.

The sole motivation behind today’s technology & innovation, including, however, not limited to PC’s, Laptops, tablet/smartphone devices is to offer simple access to incalculable applications, make your day by day work simple, give access to online networking, serenely mechanize/automate numerous things, have special experience and ‘bliss’. Naturally, every of such gadget and technology draws you towards covered dependence which “might” result in fundamental well-being issues like back pain, stiff neck, vision loss, wrist problems, numb fingers, short-term memory loss, slurred speech and numerous different things, as indicated by various reports. Many studies clearly show that you rely less on your own knowledge and memory because of the frequent use of the internet, which ultimately leads to reduced brain processing and increased chances of dementia. On the other hand, a recent study has proved in the University of California, that playing 3D video games may boost memory! Researchers are already working on conclusions that involve a use of video games for curing dementia. Now, keeping aside the 3D games and their potential benefits, do you ever call the technological innovations “awful” purely because of the above reasons and place all that into the same classification as video games? If yes, why are you still using your laptop, your smartphone, and even the Internet? You are better off in Tarzan’s tribe!

Try to understand that we live in the era of technology that has many side-effects, and an overdose of any kind is a ‘killer.’ Knowingly or unknowingly, every person in this world is suffering from some sort of overdose. You just can’t say that one type of overdose is better than the other.

Are hypocrisy and biased mentality also hampering the jobs in India?

The higher level education system in India is not necessarily useful for creating employment for everyone. In fact, the ‘real’ and ‘useful’ education for most youngsters is offered by their employers. The graduation or post-graduation literally looks ‘useless’ when compared with the real education that matters the most.

  • Indian parents decide the career stream without even considering the child’s interest, passion, grasping ability for various topics and opinions on a particular subject. A good example would be a mechanical guy working in an IT company as a coder. What’s the relevance here? Even some school-going kid can be trained for coding work! Why waste years in engineering? (Yeah, wait, but this also applies to QA testing and millions of other things! What’s the point in showing the world that you have wasted years of your life in useless higher education, whether it’s your degree in the computer line or outside that field?)
  • Skipping the path of becoming an employee and jumping directly to entrepreneurship needs the brain, guts, and more importantly, passion. A lot of wrong assumptions are made out of this. It’s a different matter that financial and mental support from family can be a great plus. But that’s not mandatory to become a successful entrepreneur or employer. Becoming an employee of any organization is the easiest task when compared with becoming the employer who is actually responsible for the survival and growth of a team. Let’s hope the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Start-up’ India programs will start changing the mentality of average Indian folks and create more examples of successful employers.
  • Selection of career is purely based on comparison with somebody else and the so-called ‘prestige’ related to becoming an employee at some MNC. It’s a different matter that most multinational companies also recruit such candidates who are literally rejected by small start-ups and are clueless about the core operations of the stream. Regardless of their possible contribution, such people are recruited purely for increasing headcount at big organizations. In India, even such people getting huge payments while working as a puppet are considered intelligent and successful. At some point, such recruits, directly and indirectly, hamper the overall employment for the rest in long-term.
  • Nontraditional industries (video games industry for instance) are not even considered as an option by average Indians for a career. Even the basic profiles of video games industry are misinterpreted by the most. Many folks in India would make fun of you, look at you suspiciously or start talking sarcastically or in hypocrisy if they come to know that you work in the gaming industry.
  • Average Indians are completely clueless about the phenomenal growth of the global gaming industry and the growing viewership related to the same. They’ll laugh at you even if you talk about gaming as some sort of sport. Some high school in Norway will soon be having classes for e-sports on equal terms with other sports-related programs like football or handball. This is just beginning. On the other hand, Indians can’t see or sense anything beyond cricket.
  • Regardless of the kind of career, one strong reason draws a fine line between employee and employer. Not everybody understands and respects that enough.

Ever seen or heard about the bright side of video games?

Please understand that every video game is published with a purpose and is usually created for a particular category of end-users. There is always age and content rating promptly and clearly displayed to the buyer. Regardless of that, there needs to be a mature decision maker involved in the purchase of every video game. Thus, nobody is deceitfully selling drugs or something illegal to your kids. Clear?

Many Indians think of video games as an addiction and waste of time (even if one is playing the game purely for requisite entertainment instead of watching some daily soap). Video games are wrongly said to hamper education and way of life. So I would like to enlighten such poor souls.

Regardless of the biased thoughts of many about the video games industry, soon the entire world will be looking at the education, knowledge transfer and way of life in the language of video games due to many advantages such as:

  • Game-based learning and assessments provide a fun new way in the field of education(Unlike the traditional pressurizing exams for students).
  • Games allow you to socialize, teach you about teamwork, starting with your own comfort zone and allow you to become a free explorer, encouraging you to make mistakes with relatively lower risks, that too in a safer environment than the real world.
  • Games provide timely and useful feedback. One can gradually progress towards handling more difficult situations without using help/involvement of any other person.
  • Inside a game environment, any kind of feat is rewarded. But failures are not heartbreaking. Instead, they are motivating. This surely keeps away the pressure of exams.
  • People with no functional expressive language can use games to demonstrate exceptional problem-solving skills and understanding of complex science concepts. Games meet learners on their own level of understanding and produce results that could not be produced by traditional exams and study methods!
  • A deep learning experience is possible through successive failures in video games. By tracking learner’s failures and behavioral outcomes in a video game, one can assess how the core concept was applied, and what kind of persistence / problem-solving ability was demonstrated.
  • The real life scenarios can actually be transcended by the video games. For example, students understanding the following:
  • Basics required to build a city along with all modern amenities (even the hardcore civil engineer stuff)
  • Check of political aspects for the development of the city
  • City traffic management
  • Socialize with the people with various roles inside that city
  • Invent a machine
  • Build a theme park
  • Debate a top ranking politician on some important topic
  • Learn the end-to-end process/business of farming even without using the help of parents/teachers!
  • Talking about my own experience relating to the above, I literally learned to build an empire when I was a school-going kid. Destroying the empire of an opponent was more fun, though. LOL. On a serious note, I literally practiced left-hand driving (for my business trip to the USA) by playing a couple of driving simulator games. I learned that quickly. It was pure joy. Otherwise, it’s a tricky task for an Indian guy to start driving a car in the USA.
  • Going beyond gamification of school level education, believe me, many graduates/postgraduates/job-seekers in India can significantly benefit from video games even to improve their English, boost ability to think out of the box (or even out of the world) and achieve higher success in today’s open world economy. That’s a different topic altogether, and I’ll leave that to your googling skills!
  • The global games market ought to exceed $100 billion by the year 2017. As the medium becomes more famous, new jobs are opening up in the field. video game employment goes past simply making, testing or validating recreations for a mobile, PC or console. The industry needs specialists who accomplish more than simply making the entertainment work. Massive amounts of professions are accessible in video games, and there’s something for pretty much everybody.
  • Today, PC video games and eye tracking technologies are used to change the way vision is tested and is even used for concussion detection.
  • There are video games that now even make kids brush their teeth regularly and happily.
  • Gaming can be inspiring for kids to go for physical activity in unique and innovative ways. Especially the gaming consoles with motion controllers have loads of games to get every possible physical workout that you can actually enjoy. On your game console, you can be playing rugby, volleyball, tennis or any other game to mimic outdoor action inside your living room, breaking you into a nice sweat. In fact, you can master the sport inside your living room before challenging somebody else on the ground.
  • Microsoft is using Minecraft to teach basics of coding to kids. Just a small example of education being gamified.

As mentioned here already, gaming can aid people in their studies as it improves concentration, cognitive abilities, memory exercise and so on. Gamers are usually focused on their ‘mission’ while playing the game, and exactly the same concept of intense focus in a dynamic environment of the video game is used to treat dyslexia. Gaming is increasingly used for therapeutic purposes around the world. Even gaming these days is frequently prescribed for post injury recuperation. On top of that, one study on surgeons proved that those who played games at least few hours a week were prone to make lesser errors than their non-gaming peers. Also, mid to old aged people who never experienced video games in their entire lifetime can slow down their aging process significantly, if they spend some time in gaming. Alzheimer is already being treated with video games.

With many such applications, gaming is pushing the human thoughts and abilities to a whole new level. Probably, most doctors in India are completely unaware about this. But still, such highly qualified folks with their so called status, never stop pretending that they know everything, and everything includes “gaming is bad!”

Indian folks, especially the video game haters from the old generation, it’s time to wake up…

Already feeling like you are living in a stone-age? Well, you have not seen anything yet. All of such opportunities to evaluate learning (regardless of the age factor), cannot be implemented in real life. You literally get a virtual ground for practice. You can even call this a “time-travel!” There is a reason behind gamification of the entire process of training of marines, pilots, surgeons and so many other occupations in the world.

How about looking at the future (through a system in virtual reality), check all possibilities, know all respective outcomes of all possible branches and come back to your previous position before making your future-changing decision? With gamification, you can literally eliminate all the barriers of real life by getting the experience in the virtual world first. The possibilities in this industry are limitless. Most of your routine gadgets are already talking the language of gaming. Even the first prepossessing application on VR platform was a video game. We are already looking at the examples of video games being used even during recruitment at large firms that are not anyhow related to video games industry. Beyond that, many organizations across the globe are already using the process of gamification to train their employees for their core operations efficiently. The very first project of GameCloud falls under this category only. Testing the gaming technology that educates the faculties in global top 50 university was quite something. Today, we have returning clients from all over the world with projects that use gaming technologies not only for entertainment but much more than that. And this next level of video games is beyond the understanding of average Indian folks, especially the old generation. I am hoping for a change in this soon.

The faith that I believed in myself and the Industry

Being an enthusiastic gamer since 1987, I have always enjoyed working in and around video games. Me getting recommended by multiple clients across the globe for the game validation services, even before going outside India is just the corollary of my passion for gaming and technology. Even though I did not monetize everything, I founded one of the very few startups that survived to see the light of day (yes, the dark side of start-ups is a different story). I became a steadily growing entrepreneur and employer mentor to many IT graduates and postgraduate who turned into perfect contributors and not brainless puppets. This feat I think I’ll cherish for forever. To me, this is a reward for my passion in gaming. And of course, let’s not forget my parents for not dragging me out of the industry with biased vision!

In my school days, individuals used to laugh at me because I was not intense about vocation in the “blasting” conventional IT division, but in the gaming industry (which is anyway somewhat a mixture of IT, workmanship and with perplexing challenges for average guys). My relatives, especially the ones clueless about reality, told my parents that the future of their child (me) is endangered because of gaming. Even when I was running the biggest and most famous LAN gaming parlor in Pune during my college days, I used to get sarcastic comments like “How is your Cyber Cafe doing?”. I never felt like explaining the ‘real’ difference between a dedicated LAN gaming parlor and typical cyber cafe to them.

Some said working with video games is not prestigious (yes, this is India!). Some just pulled away – my friends purely because I was involved in gaming-related activities. In any case, I disregarded each “master” conclusion and expert opinion to move forward in life. Indeed, even today, I confront a few creeps from the days of yore, asking me “how the hell did you turn out to be so effective after wasting such a great amount of time in computer games?”

I hardly found folks in India who were not biased toward video games and the industry in general. Most were highly biased with negative opinions. I don’t even think that such people, especially biased Indian ‘aunties’ can ever understand the reason behind me constantly exploring all kinds of games, genres and gaming technologies like a schoolkid.

Conclusion….

My only recommendation to the Indian folks is, “Quit being wolves in sheep’s clothing and one-sided towards the video games industry. Try not to speak by and large about anything in the business. At any rate, let your kid investigate the world while utilizing his own particular rational soundness and DO stop him in time if you feel he is overdoing it (whether it’s cricket, films, parties, social media, or video games, hold it under control). Indeed, even you can control that.”

A career in the video games industry is a 100% moral way to earn a living. This electrifying industry is super diverse, ever evolving, ever growing and already creating employment for millions of people worldwide. In addition to the usual skill-set required for traditional IT industry, the video games industry demands candidates who truly understand the meaning of artistry, creativity, innovation, passion, guts and ‘job satisfaction.’

Do not judge people working in video games industry, or dish out sarcastic comments on the topic that is completely outside your understanding/grasping. Stop being a hypocrite. You’ll be making a fool of yourself by cursing the video games just because you are not in control of your life. Hopefully, Indian folks will start embracing gaming in the future instead of despising all the games and people associated with the industry.

If by any chance, this article, as it offers deep insight, does not change your partial views about different commercial ventures, especially the video games, your inexperience, and ignorance is bound to last forever!

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B Thipse

Founder & CEO

GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd


	

App Store Optimization: Losing Prominence To Bad Influence

Hard work, perseverance, and firm faith in your abilities could have called the prerequisites to achieve success in the real-world, but do they hold same distinction or relevancy when it comes to virtual (read, the web) world? In all probability, they don’t. It has to be like this because the way things move along in the virtual world is entirely different than they do in reality. No matter how good your website is or how unique and appealing your product is, it might not receive the deserved attention until or unless it’s promoted thoroughly. It’s SEO or Search Engine Optimisation that ensures better visibility, sale and other such results that prominence brings along with it.

Here, in this article, we would concentrate on the domain of mobile apps and see how the rules of SEO is reflected in ASO.

If Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is essential for augmenting the visibility of websites in search engine results, App Store Optimization (ASO) is important to increase the visibility of apps or to bolster their presence on mobile phones apps search results across stores (like on Google, Apple, etc.) that features those apps.

Understanding ASO (App Store Optimization):

To develop and launch a mobile app is a job half done, because, once you are done with app testing, you need to formulate a comprehensive plan to make it famous.

An app has to score high on discoverability, which would translate into conversions or downloads. Thus, to improve the visibility of your app, you need to opt for ASO to boost up its app store search rankings, downloads and overall discoverability. Though SEO is a far more complex and evolving process, ASP is still in the nascent stage, but it has been consistently expanding in scope as there is an ever-increasing surge in demand for apps. The fate of an app depends upon where it ranks in the search results rather than where it ranks in the charts. Thus, the competition is high.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold:

The ethical way to earn a decent ranking for apps is based upon tried and tested techniques, which need patience and faith in your product, a quality that everyone cannot offer. Add to it the factor of competition! With thousands of apps coming every month, it has become a big task to get noticed for your app, and this is where publishers or developers opt for unethical methods. Instead of making a robust app, publishers or developers manipulate app ratings to get more downloads for their apps. In fact, some of them even use fake downloads and bogus app reviews on a large scale to mislead the genuine users or downloaders. Such reviews create ripple effects because people get encouraged by them and consequently end up downloading those apps. This sophisticated form of cheating enables publishers or developers to earn quick money and more publicity, resulting in more revenues. In short, with money-power, big companies can win this race always against the small studios or start-ups who can’t invest for such publicity.

The Process Of Manipulation:

This process is quite simple. Here, scammers maintain thousands of bogus users’ accounts or bots, which are used to download an app multiple times. In the end, these apps appear popular and consequently begin to top the charts of downloads. Nowadays, such scammers also use paid/fake reviews, which add to the credibility of apps. By setting up a dubious account, spammers use an article spinning software, which can yield hundreds of variations of one review, which eventually make it difficult for all those spam detection programs to find out that the same person has written all these reviews. Moreover, developers also pay people to post reviews. Those who download these apps actually trust these reviews more than the download data information, which is not a public information. Ultimately, this manipulation causes a lot of damage to good apps and also renders genuine reviews ineffective. Especially the paid or ‘managed’ reviews for iOS or Android games convince the average end-users for literal gigabytes of downloads. Many remarks or reviews of genuine players speak about low quality and homogeneous gameplay with re-skinned character models or objects. Expect no immediate improvement in this matter, especially when Google Play and Apple App Store are crowded with countless identical games.

The Checkpoints: Preventive Measures To Be Taken

The trend of floating fake reviews has become a menace to everyone from all the genuine reviewers, app publishers and to those who download them. To tackle this problem, Google has come up with a new policy recently, which prohibits the app developers to alter the placement of any product in the store. In fact, it also discourages the publishers to indulge in any sort of fraudulent installs or encouraging fake ratings or reviews by offering incentives to rate products. Google has been keeping an eye on all this, and though there are some checkpoints already in place, it would further come up with some stringent measures to reduce manipulation and the spam of results, which have been ruining the overall user experience.

As a publisher or developer of apps, you can opt for the best and rigorous methods of testing to make your apps fool proof and long-lasting. The quality of your product will speak for itself. Go for focus group testing, listen to the feedback of beta testers carefully and try executing the best ideas from early-stage user experience (UX) testing. There are many notable and hugely popular apps these days, which gained a tremendous following with word of mouth. So, ultimately it is the quality that matters, which can be achieved by testing your apps thoroughly rather than taking the help of fake or paid reviews.

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

Need Of Video Game QA For Small And Big Publishers: Identifying Risk Is The Most Important Element Of All!

The unprecedented growth in the gaming industry has opened up avenues of opportunities for all those, who are related to it. This surge has also led to the emergence of many small studios, which have been coming up with a lot of exciting games and making their presence felt amidst market leaders or notable companies in the domain of game development. Simultaneously, game QA testing has also reached a whole new level of precision and sophistication (or at least expected to be) with a lot of small and big projects rolling in and out on a daily basis.

There is a stark difference between testing smaller titles or games released by independent studios and the one helmed by big-scale AAA titles designed by the leaders in the gaming industry.

A Lot At Stake:

Apparently, the budget corresponding to testing of a title is allocated as per the size/complexity of the game. Though the allocated budget would invariably be small for small games, a tester has to pay equal attention to every kind of bug capable of spoiling the whole effort of developing a game. It is important for small companies to be more adherent (read, alert) in subscribing to the proven specialists providing game testing services. Primarily to find out the game-breaking bugs and bolster the fate of the title – as a minuscule lapse in identifying and erasing bugs may prove devastating – not only for the fate the game title has but also for the reputation, growth and survival of the publishing company itself.

Large game publishing studios can afford to have an entourage of individuals taking care of the Public Relations and a prominent team of development staff in identifying an issue, bettering a broken trust and induce a change that can help restore the condition in no time – and more importantly help the big company to survive amidst stiff competition in the market, even if they miss out on some critical bugs. Needless to say, we already have big names in gaming who are high on show off and low on quality!

Small studios or companies just can’t afford to do that. Thus, it is imperative for the small studios to finalise a fool-proof (testing) strategy to ensure that not a single critical bug is skipped.

One Step At A Time:

First of all, testing companies need to target those vulnerable areas in the games, which can be attributed to critical bugs. After that step, a decision that depends on the experience and common-sense of the testing team remains to be taken in the form of scrutinising the overall impact of any bug. Testers also need to understand that games have become so complicated these days that it is simply impossible to find out all the bugs at one go. Apparently, to locate and fix every bug would increase investment cost and make the whole process expensive, especially after the build is made.

Risk Deduction:

QA testers need to prioritise the area that needs to be covered first. This decision can significantly reduce the budget and yield the right results. Experienced testers need to come up with quantitative rating methods to reduce the overall risk. It is important to work on the vital areas to make it a worthwhile and profitable endeavour for everyone – for testers, developers and publishing studios.

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

Career In Video Game Testing: A Win-All Choice

What we ultimately do with our lives depends upon the important decisions we take at certain stages of our lives. When it comes to career, we always have two choices, either to join the rat-race or to follow our heart.

Though, we all face challenges in our lives and go through hardships, only a few of us shows that required mental strength and chase dreams. It is no secret that we can make the most of our lives by doing something that we love to do. Playing video games is something we all enjoy, but only a few of us really make it a profession. It does not get better for all those who want to do something fascinating and get paid for it as a video game tester. Other jobs related to the same field could be video game designing, programming and production.

What Sets You Apart?

Yes, there can be nothing better than chasing our dreams, especially if the same returns with a good remuneration figure! But to do that we need to have that burning desire and sheer passion. So, if you want to be a video game tester, the first thing you need is that passion for this profession with an eye for details all along with critical thinking and decision-making capability. Most importantly, you need to enjoy what you do all the time and stay 100% focused on it.

A Different Path:

Though video game testing has emerged as one of the quickly growing fields in the world of technology and internet, it is still a relatively new career option. In fact, there are many notable companies, which provide game testing services, but still, when it comes to careers, some apprehensions are attached to it.

First of all, you need to understand that this job would not be like any other 9 to 5 jobs. First of all, you don’t need any official degree to become a tester. With passion and critical thinking, you can surge ahead and make your mark. Yes, you need a degree or a specific set of skills to make a career as a game designer and programmer.

Make The Right Impression:

To make an entry into the world of game testing, you need to come up with an outstanding resume – highlighting your love towards video games and, better, exposure to different types of games. The more extensive you’re, the better! A good command over English language is a must though! Given the global reach of English language, your usefulness and universality of your usefulness is a necessary component.

Your resume should have the attributes to showcase how much passionate you are about gaming and amount of time you have spent on games regarding exploring the nitty-gritty. Don’t forget to mention all the relevant information regarding your experience and qualification. A formal education will only attach more weight to your candidature. You can also try various websites which offer free Game Tester Jobs before embarking upon a job search. With the growing demands of game testers these days, a bright future is waiting for you – but are you ready for it?

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

Blockbuster Games: High On Showoff, Low On Quality

It has become a rather annoying trend these days that some otherwise mediocre movies get a grand reception and a tremendous initial response from the audience (in most cases, within few days of their release) – because their fascinating trailers manage to create that pre-release hype which translates into quick viewership. And then there is also a clever marketing and paid reviews that play a role in heightening expectations of the audience.

But thanks to social media and other platforms that allow sharing of information online. Such movies fail to sustain that viewership for a long time. Sometimes, not even more than a week. And in the end, they just find themselves lost in the oblivion along with other bad counterparts.

Game Releases – The World Of Hype And Beyond

Well, things are not much different when it comes to video games – many of which attain recognitions of being blockbusters even before their releases! The only difference with the torment of the naive movie-goer to that of a video game enthusiast is the amount of time and money invested in the process of watching a movie and the amount of torment and torture that the gamers need to go through by believing in the hype and the reviews – which vary in the range of being blatantly false, clandestine, and at times smart/paid.

The fact is that it’s more common to encounter two entirely world apart feedbacks on the same video game; here an ‘expert’ review can be dubious to a great extent.

Because a game could be termed excellent by a reviewer based on its graphics and overall expression, but at the same time, the same game could prove nauseous for someone who was looking for a better storyline or finish.

But simply because here a bunch of dedicated gamers suffer through those difficult moments of mental torture to finish the game at least once to reach a conclusion on the overall quality, the resulting agony almost equates to scale of its outburst at unhindered social and game forums. So, in tandem with the higher standard shelf life of a game (in comparison to a movie) the compounding negative publicity and the scale of those augmenting negatives may prove to be more detrimental to the publishers and other stakeholders of the ill-fated game title.

Complication Leads To A Lot Of Confusion

For any medium of entertainment to thrive, it has to earn new fans on a regular basis. Well, that is not a problem when it comes to other mediums of entertainment like film, music or literature – but when it comes to gaming, it can prove to be a tough nut to crack.

Just like you take the time to learn how to use a computer or camera, video games also force a new gamer to find out how to play them because it can be a tough task to be familiar with. To understand this, let’s take the example of the recently released Dragon Age: Inquisition game (developed by BioWare). In this game, you have to go through an assemblage of confusing and complicated menus to upgrade your sword or to mix different power options. The whole endeavour proves nothing less than a Herculean Task, which is enough to put many gamers off or to leave you with a feeling of disgust. Still, the game publisher did not find any reason in ameliorating the problem, before making an official release.

A Recurring Fever

It would be interesting to find out the exact reason that really forces or drives the gaming industry to make some bizarre decisions – again and again.

A few years ago, gamers were left in a lurch about the sudden ending of Dragon Age Studio and BioWare’s game Mass Effect 3. Actually, for many gamers, the ending was not thoroughly justified by the makers of the game. To make up for that grave mistake, BioWare released a revised version of the game with an expanded ending. This further made the situation murkier as the gamers questioned the very sanctity and intent of the game. Developers brought in some quick changes on the forefront to make the game more competitive, albeit with new patches.

But, in the end, gamers felt bad because it does not make much sense to tinker with the main story of the game post-release. Instead, they could have left the story like that and done a lot better job by fixing time-wasting menus in the case of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Sometimes, small changes are more important than a few big changes because the ultimate goal is to keep the gamers happy.

Blunder After Blunder!

Amidst all this, small and well-designed indie games have been gaining more takers than blockbuster games because they stick to their storyline and don’t test the patience of gamers at least not with the dubious game-play.

The year 2014 saw the worst of this when leading publishers released many over-hyped games in poor states. In fact, things went haywire when Microsoft and Sony released their buggy games in the form of Halo Master Chief Collection and Driveclub respectively; and with these leading publishers eventually requiring an apology to the gamers.

What’s In Store?

It is simply impossible to release bug-free games these days given the kind of complication related to graphics and evolved stages in the games along with the user expectations from the games. But that is still OK to a great extent.

These big publishing houses can get our benefit of the doubt, and we would not mind a bit of unpleasantness, till they show enough interest in improving upon their effort and remain from cheating their subscribers by buying reviews.

Big or small, game publishers must subscribe to competent game testing and QA initiatives to retain the trust of their subscribers and remain relevant in the future.

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

New Entrant Among Micro-consoles: Bringing More Non-Touch Controls To Android

Things have been shaping up nicely lately to heighten the presence of virtual reality to make it a universal phenomenon. There have been quite a few encouraging developments in this field and now the computer and game peripheral maker Razer has joined hands with VR firm Sensics to develop and promote “the Open-Source Virtual Reality ecosystems” or OSVR ecosystems.

Still, in the development stage, Razer will release its OSVR Hacker Dev Kit in June this year with a $200 price tag. Razer will offer both the software and hardware open-source so that the gamers or programmers can download schematics and build their own VR ecosystem.

OSVR will support Unity 3D, Unreal Engine and device plug-ins from the leading hardware makers – Bosch, Sixense, and LeapMotion respectively. Moreover, this has been designed to even work with rival VR devices such as Oculus Rift dev kit and Vrvana’s Totem. This newly launched Razer Forge TV microconsole will also provide a platform to play Android games and stream PC games for $99.99.

There are a few micro-consoles present in the market already, which are based on Android OS and this new console from Razer is expected to get stiff competition from them. With the help of Razer Forge TV, users would be able to play Android games downloaded from the Google Play store on a TV. The interesting thing is that up to three players can play the games simultaneously and there would be streaming options, which can be used to move PC titles via Razer Cortex game-launching software. The streaming functionality, which will be available with the beta version, will also work with other games that will be made by using Direct X9.

These developments should look exciting from a gamer’s point of view now, but there’s still a long way to go! While there have been various kinds of gaming tablets and high-end smartphones already on the market – in addition to Android based gaming consoles -but all this stuff has not been able to collect much attention of gamers. Thus, it would be interesting to see how this new micro-console will fare. If this trend really takes off, it would open up new avenues for mobile and casual gamers, as they might shift to joystick controllers. It would be possible for them to leave behind touch-screen controls if more of such controls (primarily based around joystick) would be developed in the future.

In practicality, both joystick-based and touch screen-based controls have become a necessity. As a gamer, you would need a joystick to enjoy and play games like Street Fighter thoroughly; while games like Angry Birds are the more suited to a touch screen. One obvious fact there is that gameplay on Android and iOS based game titles are quite different as compared to modern day console games and PC based MMOGs.

To ensure a rewarding transition from touch controls to the traditional joystick, developers will have to rely on extensive testing of the micro-consoles on games, based on different genres. Ultimately, the aim of testers and developers would be to provide easy control for the gamers.

With existing Amazon Fire TV, upcoming Android TV, the market gets one more name, Forge TV (Smart TV) which will be launched in the quarter of this year and expected to come with a $100 price tag. It would cost $150, bundled with Razer’s Serval controller. A gamer will have to spend $80 each to buy additional Servals.

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

Understanding Various Cloud Environments And The Utility In Game Testing

Gone are the days when buggy software applications would continue to prevail, and publishers would continue to have a chance to redeem their worth with an emergency patch. Today, challenges are dominant in the form of user expectations and asphyxiating competition from counterparts.

These days, it’s mandatory that companies pay equal attention (if not money) to test and fix bugs as they invest towards the development effort – all the while (or before) the app, software or a game makes its way to a major release.

The process, of course, invariably increases the overall cost of the project. But, if there is a problem imminent then a solution needs to be found, and in the case of a software/game proceeding to a commercial release, then the solution should be rendered in time before the release.

Here, the pursuit of the solution may lead us to cloud computing, which enables the users to enjoy a web-environment on-the-move! Here, testers can easily deploy, automate and test their applications and bring down the overall cost of a project under development.

In this process, the app/game title can be accessed and tested through a web interface via a secure medium.

Different Platforms, One Purpose

To reduce the testing cost significantly, shared or public clouds are already a popular option. In this case, the result of the testing effort can be shared publicly. Users who are not required to be explained about the location of the infrastructure or development site can start testing the applications by using the devices. This is a novel concept that enables the companies to get their applications tested by many people all at a single point in time. A comparatively cheaper means to engage a broad range of users/testers can help development companies to make the most of this facility and get the best results within a quicker time-frame.

Some companies, which can afford, can have their private cloud. Using the private clouds, the software/app or game developers and the specialists offering software or game testing services can make the information stay within the team or a designated list of individuals.

The third interesting concept is a hybrid cloud, which is a blend of both private and public cloud and segregated on the need and functioning of an app/game title.

Though this gives multiple options to users, here, game developers/publishers have to keep track of more than one cloud security platforms.

Whatever the platform may be, it is vital to ensure that development companies – while arranging for the cloud towards testing or regular game-play – needs to live up to the expectations of their targeted audience.

Cloud, Offered As Service:

These days, game developers (as well as users) can choose between various cloud-based services accessible through the Internet. One of the most common and used services is SaaS (Software-As-A-Service), where users can run their program in a cloud, while cloud vendors manage the whole process. This service has been proving highly beneficial for all those who want to access a single software service. An increasing count of users can be added without doling out extra fees towards vendors like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail Facebook, etc. or any online banking system.

The second most popular cloud platform is PaaS (Platform-As-A-Service), as a user, you need to manage data and application while the cloud vendor will manage everything else. This offers an excellent option to all those who have limited resources and platforms.

The last one is IaaS (Infrastructure-As-A-Service) where users manage applications, data, and operating system, while cloud service provider takes care of servers, virtualization, storage, and networking.

 

Article by,
 
Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

Bolster Testing To Emancipate Gaming Industry

Imagine a scenario that you are driving on a highway and your car starts behaving erratically, you can’t continue like that.

So, you stop the car on the sideway.

It is not unusual, what if it’s the same car that has come back from servicing yesterday? How would you feel about it?

Absolutely terrible and this might lead you to file a complaint against the car servicing company to vent out your frustration or anger.

We all would agree on this that many of us would act in the same way under such circumstances. We do get furious over such things, but when it comes to the buggy software of game, we tend to give it the benefit of the doubt. No matter how annoying or frustrating a software or game can be at times, we tend to overlook the problem to a great extent. But we would not do the same if our washing machine or LCD TV would have given us the same problem.

The Latent Plight:

Sadly, it has become a trend these days to release buggy games and the way things have been going on in the industry; it would be suitable to say that something like this would continue to happen in the times to come. We as consumers haven’t begun making much noise or fuss about the recurring instances of bug-infested games released.

We have learned to live with them.

In fact, some people always label such games as “flawed but great” which is ridiculous in a way. A game can’t be called great just because of its design, graphics or concept. Isn’t it also required to offer the gaming experience too?

Media also plays a very dubious role in defending such buggy games by writing about their other aspects rather than bugs. Amidst all this, a dedicated gamer feels cheated. This experience, and the recurrence of its kind, again pushes everyone to focus on game QA testers.

In fact, big publishers with AAA titles also release such games, and now it can be termed as an accepted norm. This is the reason why we had seen launches of games like Battlefield and Driveclub, which had graphical problems of mammoth proportions.

An Unavoidable Situation:

We can all go with the bashing of big names in the gaming industry, but that would not change the fact. Games have become very complicated these days, and game testing commands the need to be taken more seriously. Now, it is simply impossible to release bug-free games or software. Even a small loophole or a minor mismatch in the environment or a minuscule error in code can lead to a big disaster.

Thus, it is decisive, but on-time, the pursuit of companies to adhere to means that can help them release bug-free games.

Let’s Straighten It Out:

We need to understand that companies have come a long way regarding development of console/PC/mobile games but yet they probably have not understood the need to invest adequate money and effort in testing.

Both demand and delivery have to tag along with each together. Competition has become so stiff these days that games have been developed at breakneck speed. Developers have to follow tight schedules. The overall scenario is severe, as large funds are allocated to support a specific release date for big game titles.

Thus, any delay in the release would translate into a huge loss of money, which is totally unacceptable for everyone related to the gaming industry.

Also, Game testing companies might not have taken QA seriously. Even if they are on it, testing experts have not been giving it a deserved priority. Generally, quality control people are considered with those enthusiastic youngsters, who just love to play games, and now they are in this industry to make money out of their hobby.

Well, that is the case to a great extent, but companies need to change that image of testers. They should retain experienced testers, sharpen their skills and treasure them by paying substantial money. It is important to keep an experienced tester, who can scrutinise and report the bugs. The process starts by prioritizing the QA department by filling it up with talented people, who can pursue testing as a career and not just to make inroads into the gaming industry. It is imperative to give importance to your game testers because if you are not doing that, then it means you don’t respect your customers.

Obviously, game lovers across the world would love to see such changes in the gaming industry, which would make a lot of things exciting and rewarding for everyone. It is also a responsibility of gamers not to review such games, and there should be ‘no tolerance’ towards buggy games. By creating such an atmosphere, we can expect encouraging results in the future as companies would be forced to pay more attention to testing.

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

Mobile QA Industry: Time To Embrace Challenges And Opportunities

In this swift and consistently evolving age of Information Technology, it is vital to always look out for new tools and innovative methods to stay ahead in the competition especially, if you represent a highly competitive domain like software or game development.

The advent of cloud computing has put the focus on cross-platform mobile applications development and testing tools. Moving in the same direction, Microsoft acquired HockeyApp recently to bolster its mobile testing facility. Hockeyapp is one of the leading services for mobile crash analytics and app distribution. This service is used by developers who build apps on Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Thus, with the help of this service, now Microsoft can offer a comprehensive range of mobile development possibilities, which would enable the developers and testers across the world to develop, distribute and beta-test mobile applications.

The Road Ahead:

The world of mobile apps and games has been experiencing an expansion of a humongous scale in the recent times, and this phenomenon will have an enormous impact on software development industry; almost like ‘big bang’ had in the universe. There’s going to be more, smaller teams of experts in development and testing.

No matter what size the competition take the shape of, still, developing and delivering good app or a game title is the final and the most important element of all that determines the success and failure of everyone competing and putting their stake in the process.

The struggle, however, continues even much after you have the product developed. You need to acquire users, and then you have to engage them and finally monetize your app/game title.

Here you need to get into the details and scrutinise the analytics. You would get thousands of queries and possible solutions, but this would further make the situation complex and challenging. This is where services like HockeyApp come into the picture.

A service like HockeyApp at the helm, you get fast and precise crash report after integrating it with your app. All these rich analysis and reports can be easily connected to your bug tracking systems as game QA testing tool. Once done with that, you can go for beta distribution and get the feedback with its built-in user feedback system. Besides these outstanding features, HockeyApp also provides a cross-platform support for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Thus, developers can use all these platforms to develop and test great apps.

Healthy Competition:

We all would agree on one point that the biggest factor behind any kind of radical progress in any industry happens when there is a healthy competition among big players. What we experience today as a tremendous surge in mobile handset development industry has been made possible by the ever-soaring competition among the manufacturers.

This has opened up various avenues of growth for everyone and has empowered consumers/users of produce.

Similarly, the competition among mobile app makers has paved the path for many exciting developments like the expansion in game testing services. There has been healthy competition among such services, and the most common and noteworthy are between TestFlight and HockeyApp.

What’s In A Name?

Well, both essentially do the same thing, as they make it a lot easier for you to manage user testing of applications, but still, they are entirely different. The biggest difference is that TestFlight is limited to iOS; thus it has put limitations on testers, as they can install apps on iOS devices only.

On the other hand, HockeyApp can be used across all mobile OS platforms, which offers more opportunities for testers and it has been showing a huge impact on the mobile industry. But only time will tell which stays true to its claim.

For the time being, yes, the acquisition has been made, and it would take some time before the statistics would appear and then we can gauge the real impact of HockeyApp on mobile application development. Hopefully, with better-targeted reporting and precise elaboration, it will render help to the testers and publisher in the challenging times!

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd