Why Gaming Companies Should Double Down on the Player Experience

Delivering a successful game experience, especially during a one-time event like a game go-live is no easy task. Video game companies already have difficulties keeping up with relentless tech improvements to develop and maintain their products.

Why Gaming Companies Should Double Down on the Player Experience
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After two years of intensive development and millions of dollars invested, Epic Games recently released the latest version of Unreal Engine 5. This year`s version is among the highest performing and best-integrated gaming engines. It vastly expands the realms of graphics performance while allowing creators to deliver stunning real-time content and experiences.
Other well-renowned industry names such as NVIDIA are making giant leaps in computer hardware architecture, exploiting new advancements in AI computing to push the boundaries of graphics performance. Current developments such as the Hopper GPU architecture promise to deliver up to 30X performance compared to older processing units such as the A100 tensor core GPU.
Later advancements in tech seem to be making games more and more realistic over time. But do players value good graphics over a better in-game experience?
Few things can ruin the player´s experience as much as crashes in a game. These events are nothing but frustrating, demoralizing, and hard to troubleshoot. Many elements must come early into play in the game development cycle to optimize the player experience.
However, delivering a successful game experience, especially during a one-time event like a game go-live is no easy task. Video game companies already have difficulties keeping up with relentless tech improvements to develop and maintain their products. Meanwhile, gamers are becoming more critical and judgmental about quality and can easily sway toward other competitors with the unlimited choice of games that exists out there.

What are the critical elements to consider before launching a game?

Many gaming companies opt to work with external partners during the game development process. Having a good partner that is able to assist on various areas can be very beneficial leading up to a kick-off event.
While there are many elements that can be outsourced, we’ll focus on four critical ones for the player experience: game testing & QA, community management & moderation, player support, and localization. Organizing outsourcing strategies of these core aspects of the business early on will prevent a tremendous amount of issues impacting the player experience.
Game testing & QA: any experienced developer/publisher having a stake in the game understands the importance of game testing and will allocate various resources to guarantee that nothing breaks. A single bug can seriously affect the user experience and the overall experience of a game. The two core approaches are functional and non-functional testing. Let’s delve deeper!
Functional testing identifies and resolves bugs so that the game works to specifications. Quality Assurance (QA) engineers must find, document, and tackle errors in the code. These are submitted as bug reports to be fixed according to their criticality level.
How do testers find these issues?
  1. Check for compatibility and how the game interacts with other applications (external APIs, internet browsers, third-party platforms).
  1. Assert that no other parts of the code are negatively affected when fixing bugs.
  1. Validate if hackers can potentially breach the codebase to access the game restricted or unauthorized features in the game (improve player stats, increase in-game currency/rewards, among others)
Non-functional testing is concerned with the general properties of the game. These are quality attributes such as scalability, performance, and usability.
How is quality tested?
  1. Measure usability by scanning how well players can master and easily understand the game mechanics, navigate the different menus and options, etc.
  1. Benchmark performance in terms of memory usage, CPU and GPU runtimes, connectivity (lag and jitter), temperature, and energy consumption.
  1. Perform load tests on the game by recreating a scenario where many players use the game simultaneously to see how resilient the servers are.
Community management & moderation: With the potential to onboard millions of users, the last thing a videogame company wants is to hurt its reputation by fostering a toxic environment. Players can quickly get frustrated, leading to trolls, spamming, negative comments, sex offenders, violence, and even threats. Scaling the community is a high priority to consider before launch.
Can a single person handle a community of thousands and perhaps millions of users? NO WAY. That’s why finding responsible individuals who can be trained as moderators and are devoted to defining and enforcing clear community rules and guidelines is of vital importance.
Player support: Gamers expect player support that treats them well and gets straight to their issue. Hiring brand advocates across all channels for specific consoles and games is essential to ensure the best possible service outcomes.
Localization: players span the entire globe. That’s why assuring that a game is usable and enjoyable to gamers in different countries and regions is a must. All of the same features and functionality must be accessible in various locations. Since the content must adapt to foreign audiences, testers should be aware of the player’s cultural differences and language barriers.
Taking care of the many aspects of the development cycle may distract video game companies from the main focus: building great games.
That’s why outsourcing to a professional provider of player experience services is a crucial key to achieving a flawless launch. An ideal partner should complement the development team, providing transparent and regular updates while making the best efforts to resolve any roadblocks in the development cycle before officially publishing a game.
Partnering with a great provider can be a fantastic strategy to enhance the overall player experience. It relieves the burden of finding specialized support to deal with cultural and language barriers, guarantees a positive and non-toxic community, avoids game crashes, and successfully assists players with service requests.

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Written by

Jonathan Shroyer
Jonathan Shroyer

Chief CX Officer at Arise Gaming