By Tommy Indriets, Head of Production, Keywords Functionality QA
Mobile games are expected to generate a whopping $77.2 billion in revenues in 2020, growing +13.3% year on year. As you can imagine, opportunity on this scale ensures competition between mobile developers is intense.
If your mobile game app can offer true value for your players at the highest quality standards, you’re more likely to succeed than those that don’t.
However, it is almost impossible to ensure the best quality of your mobile game without first conducting proper testing.
Well, modern mobile devices come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, from many manufacturers, with multiple supported operating systems (OS) and versions.
That is a lot of moving parts interacting with each other, which can lead to any number of issues.
In an ideal world you’d check against all possible outcomes but it’s unrealistic to test every hardware permutation as well as unproductive and unreasonable.
This is where compatibility testing comes into play. In this article, I will outline what exactly Mobile Compatibility testing is and why you should consider it.
Let’s dive in.
What is Mobile Compatibility testing?
Mobile Compatibility testing is the screening of software applications and their suitability to mobile devices. Its aim is to provide a better experience for the end user or, in the case of game developers, for their players.
Think about it; the last thing you want after spending months pouring your life and soul into developing a mobile game is to find out after launch that it’s not working properly.
So, compatibility is quite important from my point of view.
Instead of focusing on the functional aspects of an application, this type of testing evaluates the compatibility of a mobile app against specific hardware, software and network requirements.
It helps ensure that the app works seamlessly across various hardware makes and models, browsers and operating systems.
Typically, compatibility testing relies on short assessments of core features, to be able to cover as many devices as possible, to achieve a minimum level of coverage.
Testing examines hardware dimensions in a mobile device including the motion sensors, GPS and navigation capabilities, camera, processing speed, screen, main memory, etc.
At the same time, it’s essential to check software dimensions including API compatibility, multimedia support and compatibility of software features within the mobile app.
What makes Mobile Compatibility so important?
If your mobile game has not been tested on different platforms, problems will usually start to emerge as soon as it hits the app store.
Your players can complain about the issues they are facing in terms of performance, user experience, interface graphics and app navigation.
But that’s not the worst part.
In some cases, the lack of compatibility testing can even affect the functional capabilities of your app. I’ve seen core functions not working under a new operational environment, for instance.
So ignoring compatibility testing can set your mobile game for failure.
With it though, you are given clear priorities and goals on what should be tested – on what devices – to ensure they all receive an adequate amount of coverage in a reasonable time frame.
How does it differ from Functionality Quality Assurance testing?
You’ve probably experienced bugs when playing video games at some stage and know how annoying they can be.
Whether you fall out of world, face a progression blocker or lose saved data, encountering defects while playing a game is always frustrating.
With the huge amount of games released on a weekly basis and the massive choice available to players, the last thing you want is to break the immersion of the player due to unwanted behaviour in your product and for them to churn.
To prevent such scenarios, developers employ Functionality QA (FQA) to help ensure games perform as designed.
It helps verify that any flaws, irregularities, blockers or defects encountered in the game are identified and fully documented in order to give developers the information required to address and fix all problematic elements.
This can include screenshots, videos and solid reproducibility steps.
A developer that has no preference or a loose preference on devices will usually prefer FQA testing over compatibility.
However, when it comes to mobile games, the more devices a developer needs tested, the more preferable compatibility testing is.
How long it takes for a player to access all core features of an app is often the deciding factor between FQA or technical QA testing (TQA).
If a player must play a game for more than eight hours to access the core features, then testers need to put in that much time on a single device to confirm the app works without issues.
On the other hand, apps with limited content that can be covered in a short space of time would allow a tester to test multiple devices in a day – ideal for compatibility.
So, if it takes more than eight hours to access core app features, a round of FQA testing is preferable. The shorter an application takes to cover, the more valuable compatibility becomes.
When you could need both
If a developer wants all areas and levels of, for instance, their large mobile MMORPG tested on a large device list, standard FQA testing will not cover all the devices required.
Also, compatibility testing will not go in-depth enough to test all features in the required time.
In those cases, FQA and compatibility can be tested by the same team in the same location as part of the same test pass, with different testers having different priorities.
A team of four testers could have two testers allocated to FQA and two conducting compatibility, for example.
They can detect and review discuss issues together.
With this approach you can expect reduced testing times due to the efficient synergies and more issues being found.
Conclusion: Future-proofing the success of your app
Apps are, in a sense, an extension of a mobile device.
They add functions to the pocket-sized computer you carry with you and use throughout your day. That means that software and hardware are highly interdependent.
All core functions of your app should be covered in a round of FQA testing but their interaction with the hardware and firmware functionality can often be a cause for compatibility concerns.
For peace of mind, these issues should be identified and documented through Mobile Compatibility testing.
That way you can be assured that your app optimally performs and your players have the best experience possible, leaving you in a better place to earn a slice of that $77.2 billion pie.
For more information on Mobile Compatibility services from Keywords Studios, download our latest solutions brief here.