Impact of Mobile Gaming in the Years
In recent years, mobile games have greatly impacted our daily lives. Based on my research, I learned that in the first quarter of 2022, mobile games were downloaded
14.4 billion times on the Google Play Store and App Store combined. In 2019 only, it was around
9.5 billion downloads per quarter. Other than pre-installed phone apps, the statistics also show that mobile games are the 5th most downloaded category among all the other categories.
It is clear that COVID-19 has boomed the mobile game market and evidently showing signs of increasing more in the coming years. So when a billion devices get involved with a single software, a minor bug can also question the app's reputation and bring down the business in seconds.
Mobile Game Testing
Mobile game testing is very different to normal mobile app testing. Effective mobile game testing derives from a very well-structured and systematic approach.
Normal mobile app testing is pure biology, whereas mobile game testing is biology with extra mathematics. This is why mobile game testing is a complex process where a QA engineer should understand where and when to apply specific testing methods.
In this article, I will try to walk through some challenges and best practices to realize impactful mobile game testing.
Mobile Game Testing vs Mobile App Testing
A software tester thinks that their testing experience of several years and knowledge of automation testing could be enough for them to fit in the game testing role. Most of the recruiters might also give you the same feeling. But it's not what you think or have experienced as a mobile or web app tester.
Game development today has been more complex than ever. There is constant pressure to innovate using Augmented Reality (AR), video, touch screen gestures, personalization, audio and many more. Working with these features is a tough task. Even more if it falls within a hard schedule requiring frequent updates then the testing becomes more prominent to make it less prone to bugs.
You think you can always automate the repetitive part if you only consider mobile app testing, but in game testing, it's a big NO. Manual testing is always the first priority in game testing. No automation tool can simulate various human interactions in a single gameplay.
For example, there is a parking game, and we need to park the vehicle in the designated parking spot. The way we drive to that parking spot depends on me, you, or some third person. There could be numerous ways to reach that parking spot which is near impossible to simulate using an automation testing method.
Challenges in Mobile Game Testing
1. Working with different phone Models
If you talk about iOS mobile games, it might be easier to manage mobile devices as iOS has very few variations on their phone and is frequently updated to its latest version. But the iOS mobile games market is only about 20% of the total mobile game market.
When you address mobile games, a monopoly of 80% of the market shares is occupied by the Android platform. It is a nightmare for you or any gaming company to manage the game to run on a maximum number of mobile devices with Android. Testing the games on so many versions of each OS can be quite challenging for game testers since every mobile phone company has their own OS.
2. Social Media Incorporation
Social media incorporation is almost every app's feature. With the intention to add more players as active user, almost every mobile games has social media integration feature with option to invite their friends to play the game he/she is playing. Since social media could possess both pros and cons in them, game testers must pay more attention to this.
3. Security Challenges
Most games today integrate social media into their apps. Mobile games take data from a player's social media or other personal sources. All data as such needs to be kept very safe. Every person today is conscious enough to analyze the security an app provides before using it. So we testers cannot afford to push insecure applications for release purposes.
How can we forget about multiplayer when the topic is mobile game testing? It is one of the crucial challenges in testing mobile games. Especially when the players are away from each other, playing from different geographical regions.
Honestly, from my experience, I must say mobile games with multiplayer features are difficult to test and debug. Sometimes they consist of problems that are almost impossible to fix.
5. Criticality of Game Performance
Let's suppose I am playing an exciting racing game, and it failed to respond immediately to my turn gestures. I will absolutely hate the game and give the lowest possible rating with an angrily bad review on the App Store. I might even share the disappointment all over social media platform I am involved in. It is expected because I am unlikely to forgive an issue as a driving game enthusiast during a very crucial moment.
Therefore, game performance must be thoroughly tested before release and monitored continuously.
The real challenges involved in game testing are the ones mentioned above. App size optimization challenges should be dealt with the most efficient methods. The latest testing tools and technologies will greatly help to evaluate mobile games. The only way forward is to keep learning and getting hands-on experience to tackle the challenges we face as mobile game testers.
In next part, I will be discussing the major areas to focus on as a mobile game tester. Do Subscribe for more contents.