Welcome to our blog post on the what, why and how of mobile game testing.
Flawed mobile games litter app stores, damaging player trust, and studio reputations. Lag crashes and design issues are often traced back to rushed, inadequate testing pre-launch.
Producing quality titles that captivate and convert users now requires a rigorous, proactive approach to quality assurance.
This guide explores efficient mobile game testing – illuminating what to test, techniques to mandate, and tools to amplify efforts.
Discover methods for benchmarking performance, maximizing compatibility, and optimizing user experience across devices.
Let’s build an understanding of how to evaluate and refine games to soar in crowded app stores!
What is Mobile Game Testing?
Mobile game testing refers to evaluating games designed for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It involves a systematic process of testing key aspects of a game to uncover issues before launch.
Thorough mobile game testing identifies problems with functionality, visual appeal, controls, reliability, performance, compatibility and overall user experience. Testing is conducted in-house by game developers and publishers or outsourced to specialist QA firms.
The mobile games market is highly competitive, making quality assurance imperative. Players quickly uninstall and leave negative reviews if games have technical problems, feel clunky or work inconsistently across different devices. This severely impacts rankings, visibility and the ability to generate sustainable revenue.
That’s why meticulous, ongoing testing across the entire game development lifecycle is a mandatory investment. Certifying flawless gameplay mechanics, lag-free motion, sharp visuals, engaging audio and intuitive interfaces on various mobile platforms establishes trust and satisfaction within player communities upon launch.
Mobile game testing is the practice of validating all technical and design elements that influence the following; a game’s playability, enjoyment and access to ensure marketability and commercial success.
What Is the Importance of Mobile Game Testing?
- Ensures Functionality
Testing confirms all core gameplay mechanics, graphics rendering, audio, menus, settings and features operate without crashing or malfunctioning across all intended devices.
- Optimizes Performance
Rigorous testing analyzes framerates, load times, lag and hardware utilization to identify and eliminate bottlenecks for smooth, stutter-free motion.
- Maximizes Compatibility
Testing on the full spectrum of target mobile platforms and versions prevents nasty surprises from unexpected UI quirks, display issues or control failures users could encounter.
- Solidifies User Experience
Testing with actual players reveals problems with difficulty, pacing, control sensitivity and progression balancing that impact engagement and retention early enough to address.
- Builds Trust and Loyalty –
Games that function reliably and offer enticing, glitch-free experiences foster strong sentiment and earn coveted app store ratings. This drives features.
- Mitigates Expensive Fixes
Finding issues during testing is vastly more cost effective than post-launch updates across thousands of installs. A bad launch can tank the whole product.
In short, meticulous mobile game testing directly enables higher quality, revenue, and cost efficiency. It also offers strong protection for the studio’s reputation by preventing bad reviews and excessive support burdens.
Types of Mobile Game Testing
Functional testing verifies all the core components and gameplay features operate without errors or crashes. It ensures buttons, mechanics, menus, settings, graphics and audio all work so players can progress properly.
Types of Functional Testing
- UI Testing – Validates all menus and HUD elements function.
- Input Testing – Confirms controls, gestures and peripherals behave correctly.
- Mechanics Testing – Checks proper triggering and execution of all gameplay systems.
- Save/Load Testing – Certifies progress and state correctly persists across sessions.
- Audio Testing – Validates sound effects, music and speech playback is right.
Best Practices for Functional Testing
- Test on actual devices in different environmental conditions to uncover real-world issues.
- Perform sanity checks after each new build to quickly catch regressions.
- Automate testing of critical paths to accelerate validation during development sprints.
- Employ platform native tools like Xcode to maximize test reliability and detail.
Performance testing measures and validates speed, responsiveness and hardware resource utilization. It ensures optimal framerates, load times and benchmark scores for smooth gameplay without lag, stutter or overheating across devices.
Types of Performance Testing
- Frame Rate Testing – Confirms steady FPS during peak action for fluid visuals.
- Load Testing – Checks asset and level load times to remain within targets.
- Stress Testing – Validates performance holding up under long sessions and max settings.
- Power Testing – Verifies battery drain and device thermals are within expected range.
Best Practices of Performance Testing
- Test using production-equivalent test devices, not simulators, under realistic conditions.
- Align test devices to cover your target market segments based on hardware.
- The instrument builds to record detailed diagnostic metrics like CPU/GPU usage over time.
- Identify performance bottlenecks early and rework inefficient subsystems.
Compatibility testing evaluates how well a game functions across different mobile platforms, operating systems and hardware configurations. The importance is to ensure gameplay, visuals, UI and controls work properly on the intended target devices without crashes or presentation flaws.
Types of Compatibility Testing
- Platform Testing – Validates experience on operating systems like iOS and Android.
- Device Testing – Confirms compatibility with phones and tablets like iPhone 14, and Galaxy S23 Ultra.
- OS Version Testing – Checks regression issues across OS iterations – iOS 16 vs iOS 15.
- Screen Size Testing – Assesses UI and layouts on various display sizes like 5.5″ and 6.8″.
- Chipset Testing – Verifies performance on target chipsets like Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and A16 Bionic.
Best Practices of Compatibility Testing
- Maintain a comprehensive test device matrix covering all key target market segments.
- Automate testing across platforms & devices by integrating solutions like Firebase Test Lab.
- Focus compatibility testing on OS/hardware with the largest addressable player bases first.
- Identify compatibility issues early to assess the engineering effort required for each variant.
User Experience Testing
User experience (UX) testing evaluates subjective player satisfaction with a game’s enjoyment, challenge and emotional appeal. Fine-tuning engagement, progression and monetization must maximize retention and organic evangelism.
Types of User Experience Testing
- Playtesting – Observing real prospective players interact with the game to uncover issues.
- Focus Groups – Discussing likes/dislikes, confusion points and recommendations in a group.
- Surveys – Wide questionnaire distribution to quantitatively measure sentiment.
- App Store Reviews – Monitoring early reactions during soft launches to identify areas for polish.
Best Practices of User Experience Testing
- Test with a diverse player demographic covering novice, average and advanced gamers.
- Identify key tasks, checkpoint areas and flows likely to cause frustration if not optimal.
- Assess game balance including challenge, length, rewards and tension curve.
- Collect qualitative feedback on assets and settings that enhance or detract from immersion.
- Leave some testing until the late stages to get fresh perspectives on the almost-final product.
Mobile Game Testing Tools
Manual Testing Tool
Manual testing refers to human testers physically interacting with a mobile game to evaluate functionality and quality. Instead of automated scripts, actual people manually check all areas of the product by playing through features and flows.
The Advantages of Manual Testing
- Enables nuanced verification and observations about subtle problems automation might miss.
- Tests final build variants and hardware that matches real user conditions.
- Allows direct player feedback on enjoyment factors and areas needing polish.
- Testers can assess non-functional elements like graphics, and audio quality easily.
- Useful for exploratory testing to discover bugs during interactive sessions.
The Disadvantages of Manual Testing Tools
- Slower and extremely labor-intensive compared to test automation.
- Platform and device access constraints severely limit testing scale and coverage.
- Lacks robust instrumentation for metrics gathering, diagnostics and reporting.
- Consistency challenges arise when testing flows manually across multiple users.
- Does not easily facilitate largeMatrix testing across combinations of variables.
Best Practices for Manual Game Testing Tools
- Combine exploratory testing with scripted test plans/cases for coverage.
- Focus manual testing on the most crucial user flows and game mechanics.
- Capture extensive details on all defects uncovered including precise reproduction steps.
- Use video clips to easily showcase issues experienced during testing.
- Have testers cover areas where automation lacks the capabilities to verify.
Automated Testing Tools
Executing test cases manually is time-intensive and limits coverage. Automated testing helps accelerate validation for mobile games through programmed scripts simulating workflows.
Some key tools include:
- Appium – An open-source test automation framework supporting cross-platform testing on emulators and real devices via automation APIs. Tests gameplay flows replicating real user actions.
- Calabash/Frank – Leverages automated UI interactions by integrating with the game engine. Enables in-depth functional testing with access to internal states.
- Unity Test Framework – The unit testing framework bundled with the Unity game engine. Facilitates testing game logic without UI needs.
- AWS Device Farm – Provides access to a cloud-based device lab for executing automated test suites across thousands of real-world mobile devices.
- JMeter – An open-source tool to simulate heavy user loads via bots for identifying performance bottlenecks. Stresses servers to quantify capacity.
The biggest benefits of test automation include increased test coverage, reduced testing time and consistency across repeated test runs. Automation makes large-scale regression testing viable through scripts codifying workflows.
Advantages of Automated Test Tools
- Enables extensive test coverage at high speed.
- Facilitates large matrix testing across devices and variables.
- Captures precise diagnostic data to pinpoint issues.
- Integrates with CI/CD pipelines for regression checks.
- Cost-effective for long-term asset testing.
Disadvantages of Automated Test Tool
- Only confirms expected outcomes, unlike exploratory manual testing.
- Scripting overhead and maintenance of automated suites.
- Limited ability to capture qualitative feedback.
- Not well suited for testing final build nuances on real devices.
Best Practices of Automated Test Tool
- Automate testing of critical user flows and test cases first.
- Leverage read-only interrogation of backend data to avoid side effects.
- Architect modular, reusable test scripts to accelerate authoring.
- Implement codeless test automation for rapid UI/functionality checking.
- Make tests/metrics part of the definition of done for each developer work item.
Mobile Game Testing Process
Planning serves as a critical first step for effective mobile game testing. Adequate planning and preparation sets the foundation for systematically uncovering issues and optimizing the gameplay experience.
The planning phase’s key steps:
- Define the scope and objectives of testing upfront. Determine focus areas like gameplay, graphics, UI/UX flows, network connectivity etc. Outline deliverables expected from testing.
- Review game design documents deeply to gain clarity on all features, mechanics and intended functionality. Understanding specifications enables testers to design appropriate test coverage.
- Select testing devices and platforms based on the target market. Varied mobile phones and tablets running different OS versions should be included to represent real-world diversity.
- Construct test cases and scenarios to verify high-risk elements and expected gameplay flows. Catalogue all planned tests in a structured repository for easy tracking and reporting.
- Set up an appropriate test environment. From device syncing to tools for monitoring and logs collection, ensure all infrastructure supports planned testing.
Thorough planning directs testing efforts toward delivering maximum business value. It allows for anticipating moving parts, developing effective tests and creating conditions for smooth execution. A plan accounting for diverse real-world usage patterns is key for releasing a successful mobile game.
The execution phase puts the testing plan into action. Careful and regimented execution is vital for uncovering critical bugs and performance issues.
Smooth test execution requires attention to several aspects:
- Provision prepped devices to testers and calibrate tools for logging and monitoring. Ensure planned infrastructure is functioning before tests kickoff.
- Testers rigorously run through test cases while closely observing functionality. Devices, OS versions and use case scenarios outlined in the test plan are covered.
- Capture defects, annotations and performance data in a standardized format. Collated logs serve as vital project feedback for developers.
- Compare execution output across different devices and platforms to identify inconsistencies. Variations in graphics, network usage or gameplay reveal optimization areas.
- Track test coverage to fill gaps using additional cases. Execute tests iteratively until all intended scenarios specified in planning are covered.
- Retest closed defects before wrapping up execution. Validate fixes and prevent regressions before finalizing test cycles.
Disciplined execution as per a structured test plan is crucial for mobile games. It sets the direction of testing efforts for delivering actionable findings geared to improve quality and gameplay.
Reporting and communication of test results impact the ability to rectify issues and release improved game quality. Structured test reporting allows quantifying quality to guide data-driven decisions.
Comprehensive reporting involves:
- Summarizing test coverage for all executed test cases including pass/fail outcome. Highlights test effectiveness in aligning with plans.
- Detailing environment conditions under which tests were performed such as devices, OS versions and tools.
- Logging defects found during testing via categorical classification like crashes, graphics glitches, network handling issues etc. This enables prioritization for resolution.
- Presenting performance data procured through tools. Metrics on response times, FPS, memory utilization etc help optimize.
- Comparing quality across test cycles using benchmark indicators to demonstrate improvements.
- Providing visual reproducing steps for reported defects. Adds clarity on expected v/s actual behaviour to fix bugs.
- Sharing suggestions regarding enhancements on gameplay elements and user flows.
The test report aids stakeholders in quantifying quality levels of release readiness based on insights gained through testing. Periodic status updates keep plans dynamic and testing value-driven.
6 Common Challenges of Mobile Game Testing
1. Device Fragmentation
The mobile device ecosystem spans thousands of Android device models. These are with huge hardware variations in processors, screen sizes, OS versions and more.
Testing a game across this exponentially vast fragmentation is extremely challenging yet critical to ensure broad compatibility. Using manual testing cycles to cover popular devices is time-prohibitive.
The solution to this challenge:
Leveraging extensive cloud-based device labs like AWS Device Farm and tools providing access to vast real mobile inventories proves invaluable. They enable test automation suites to run at scale against thousands of unique device and OS combinations.
This amplifies test coverage and uncovers compatibility issues through hands-off testing.
2. Location and Network Dependency
Unlike desktop games, mobile gameplay often depends on location-specific features and internet connectivity. Geo-based power ups, AR overlays and multiplayer battles rely on accurate GPS data which may not work reliably in all situations.
Similarly sluggish internet speeds drastically diminish the gameplay experience. Testing aspects tied to location and network requires simulating various realistic scenarios beyond functional flows.
Addressing this challenge:
Network connection emulators help test the game’s resiliency by throttling bandwidth to GPRS levels. GPS spoofing tools modulate mock location data to mimic the movement and check geotriggers. Together they expand context-based testing.
3. Restricted Access to Game Code
A third-party quality assurance team may not have access to a game’s internal source code due to IP protection. In this case, debugging defects found during black box testing proves tricky.
When integration issues or crashes surface during testing, tracing the root cause and suggesting fixes becomes constrained without code access.
Addressing this challenge:
This requires testers to collaborate closely with the game’s development team by providing highly detailed reproduction steps with annotations tied to each suspected defect.
Logs covering device states like OS version, available resources and network conditions also help devs investigate issues.
Working jointly thus becomes imperative to overcoming blind spots.
4. Time Pressure
The mobile gaming space witnesses cutthroat competition and fast-paced release cycles to continually engage users. Such market dynamics drastically shorten testing timeframes with limited windows to uncover critical bugs.
Attempting manual test coverage within such time constraints schedules leads to slippages.
Addressing this challenge:
The solution lies in scoping automation to the most crucial test cases derived through risk analysis of gameplay elements. By programming test scripts to replicate the principal user workflows, test coverage expands within tight timelines.
Automation thereby enables quality validation keeping pace with accelerated delivery demands.
5. UI/UX Defects
App layouts and graphics could break or get distorted across the mobile device spectrum. This is mostly due to varying screen sizes and resolutions. For example, a gameplay interface well-suited for 5-inch phones may not adapt gracefully to tablets.
These UI/UX irregularities severely diminish user engagement.
Addressing this challenge
Ensuring graphical integrity and usability requires defining an exhaustive test device matrix. Such tests must cover different display sizes, resolutions and aspect ratios. Testing across physical devices is supplemented by emulators to economically span multiple configurations.
Test cases specifically validate UI adaptations on switching orientations or modes while noting visual artifacts. This exposes compatibility gaps to proactively remedy.
6. Security Issues
Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in games to manipulate gameplay outcomes, steal user info or tamper with app behavior. Such cyber threats can bypass programmatic validations through service attacks, memory injections or manipulation of connections.
How to address this:
Testing the robustness of game security requires structured threat modeling based on an attacker’s perspective. Penetration testing techniques help simulate hacking attempts focused on cheating, information theft and denial of service scenarios. Identifying chinks through ethical hacking prevents exploits and upholds fair game experience.
So, there you go. You simply cannot have the best mobile games without performing mobile game testing. And even when you make up your mind to invest in testing, it is very crucial that you know what you want, the type of test and how to apply them. You must also be wary about the challenges and how to overcome them. Thank you for reading our blog on the what, why and how of mobile game testing.