How Game Companies Lose the Battle in QA

QA may be getting the short shrift from game studios, which leads to a more bug-ridden, generally glitchy experience that in turn exasperates an audience that wants to focus on game play first, last, and only.

Game Developer magazine’s Editor in Chief Brandon Sheffield points out that the low priority given to QA jobs is the main culprit. In a guest column on Gamasutra, he wrote:

If you want people other than scrubs to apply (for QA positions), there needs to be a fundamentally different way of thinking about the entire department. If QA is thought of as a viable career path, and a truly important part of game development, it won’t be considered lower-tier, and your games will get better, because creative people will be thinking about how to improve your games and processes.

As an example, he cites Valve, producers of Portal and Half Life. There everyone, no matter what their position, plays its games all the time, effectively making the entire staff QA.

So the solution, Sheffield suggests, is changing company culture to knit QA deeply into the process. Then, offer a clear career path, don’t lay off the team when a project completes.

Will it work? Ask your users.

Hey, game addicts: Is passion for game play the best qualification for QA? Tell us in the comments below.

No Responses to “How Game Companies Lose the Battle in QA”

  1. The key thing to know here is that they need to quit calling it QA, it is just Testing. QA is a process and is comprised of other functions in addition to testing. Testing is a cornerstone activity, but not the complete picture to quality assurance. Second, they need to realize you cannot test quality into a product. This is a known fact by other parts of the software industry.
    Quality is a mindset and process that everyone has to ‘buy-in’ to, otherwise it is just a rubber stamp and will fail. The author is correct in saying that you need good and professional people to do this type of work. They need to be respected and given the same career opportunities as developers, otherwise you will not get people interested and dedicated to doing a good job.
    You need to have Testing involved from day one of a project/release, and keep them on after release. One of the most costly things a company can do it to continually retrain its test staff, keep the good people on and let them build a solid function within the company. Just as you need professional developers to build the product you need professional testers to make sure the product is in good enough shape to release.
    Testing is an insurance policy; you may not like paying for it, but you will be glad you have it when you really need it. Because as some of these companies are finding out it is more expensive without testing to get a product out the door and keep customers than it is when you do a good testing function in your company. The bottom line is the bottom line in this case.