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The year 2016 was not without ups and downs for the gaming industry. Despite the growth at hyper speeds, the mobile gaming industry has witnessed the end of many studios and numerous layoffs. The mobile game development was never short on excitement and enthusiasm, especially among the developers. Still, there are significant flaws ignored consistently in recent periods, affecting the overall quality of games. Here is the list of top five mistakes to avoid:
1) Ignoring random feedbacks of unhappy gamers:
Game developers often ignore the negative comments placed by random players. In many cases, the ones who start blasting developers for spoiling the game in a recent post update are shunned. The reason behind this ignorance is upholding the update ideas regardless of the response it gets from end-users. Usually, neither a rollback takes place to immediately fix things nor the complaining player returns due to extreme frustration related to lost items or in-game achievements. Video Game crashing on individual devices or in a particular region after some update is also a common cause behind user complaints. Due to numerous policies and problems associated with an instant fix to the ‘update,’ the problem remains unsolved for quite some time. This will ultimately lead to the downfall of the mobile game in question.
2) Testing games on the limited number of devices or emulators:
With limited test coverage, a poor product is guaranteed in today’s market that is packed with a broad range of devices and technologies. A majority of game developers are away from exploring options of wider compatibility testing through 3rd party service providers, despite the availability of affordable solutions in the market. Some seek the help of beta user communities to get higher device coverage although it may not necessarily produce professional results. Users tend to upgrade the firmware to latest one which is another aspect to be considered. Then various complex scenarios can create critical issues only when tested on actual devices in real world environment.
3) Trying to use automation everywhere:
Stressing too much on automation has proved to be a failed investment for many in video games. The fact is, only small and predictable part of limited games may benefit from automation. That too is not essential. Manual testing in games has no alternative. Open world games that demand extensive feedback of gamers, especially in the MMO category can be a good example for this wherein you can consider automation testing as a small addon, at the most. In my opinion, automation testing can be 100% efficient in video games on the day when robots replace human players! At least till then, game developers need to give more emphasis to manual testing over automation and make productive use of in-house testers, external QA, help from communities/forums and focus groups as needed.
4) Not having a balance between CAPEX & OPEX:
Forming a balance between capital expenditure and operating expenses is still ignored frequently by mobile game developers. This balance is necessary while looking into the rapidly growing number of mobile gamers, not to mention the huge variety of mobile devices that is constantly growing as we discuss the topic. Some studios end up purchasing too many devices that are not relevant on a larger scale. Some end up relying 100% on the external testers who are not necessarily equipped with the necessary hardware inventory.
For all game development houses, it is always vital to balance between CAPEX and OPEX, especially while avoiding investment in mobile technologies that have an insignificant market life. Game studios can smartly push the cost of hardware and chunk of human resources on external QA houses to balance out everything. That usually helps to reduce the capital expenses, provides access to regularly updated device inventory to satisfy the market demands that too with the aid of reasonable operating costs with benefits like tax saving and relief from investments in the dangerous hardware game.
5) Not validating the game by juxtaposing with the top competition:
In the era of copy-pasted and re-skinned mobile games, not every developer thinks of innovation or uniqueness to stand tall in the crowd. Very few games in the market are validated with manual efforts and revised after assessing the positives and negatives of the top competing sets. Some developers rely too much on a community of gamers with a mindset stuck in a single genre, freebie mentality or the followers of pure ideology- “I don’t care what happens to your game in the end!”
Numerous issues associated with overall quality of the video game with often ignored points above on the front are responsible for making the mobile game development business riskier than ever. Selection of equitable 3rd Party Game QA and Validation services ought to play a significant role in the matter.
Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd