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Are we all beta testers or it's someting else?

02-27-2011, 06:40 PM
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Croatia
Posts: 247
Are we all beta testers or it's someting else?

Lately we have too much games with so many "bugs" and their quick fixes, 1.01 updates in few days after game releases that makes me think:
Are they really bugs or its some kind of marketing to make us think how they care about us-costumers and about our beloved payed games.. and then months or year pass till real content update..

I did not develop or even have idea about making games but...
Whether these games are tested before selling them out???

Same question goes for games that I like and that ones I regret spending my money on them. It's really nice to get quick controls fix from caring developer but... thats like when you buy new car, salesman tells you should wait week or two for steering wheel!

It's probably just my imagination but what do you think?

Game Center: CroRock
Openfeinth: CroRock
02-27-2011, 07:13 PM
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,737
Nope, it's not just your imagination at all. This situation has occurred throughout the history of computer gaming (console gaming is different, one reason being that until recently, it was not possible to patch console games), but not quite to this extent. Developing a game costs money, but during the development, you have no revenue (unless you're selling other games). Small development studios will often opt to release their game early in some semi-playable form in an attempt to recuperate costs while they continue development. This leaves the customers as the guinea pigs who have to deal with all of the bugs and other crap. Note that I'm not referring to the occasional missed bug here and there. That's just a given; It cannot be avoided. I'm talking about games that have clearly not gone through solid QA before release.

Now, I'm not saying that it's ok just because it happens all the time. It's not. But as consumers, we can't always expect every developer to be looking out for our best interests. The easiest way to protect yourself from this is to not purchase games on release day (except from trusted developers with a good history), and just follow the thread in the forums to see what kind of feedback they're receiving. If half the posts are complaining about the game's unplayability, then just pass and go to the next game. Of course, the tradeoff is that you might need to wait an extra week before buying any game. I still purchase games on opening day regardless, and I just view the lemons as an occasional $1 lesson.

On a side note, I think sometimes we take Apple's review process for granted. Sure, it sucks when a developer informs everyone that their game has been submitted and then we're all stuck waiting another week+ for it to appear on the App Store. But imagine if Apple didn't do that. The App Store would be horrendous. Yes, a lot of these bug-filled games are making it through that process, but there are a ton more that haven't and we should be thankful.

Last edited by Dazarath; 02-27-2011 at 07:17 PM.

02-27-2011, 09:14 PM
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Arizona
Posts: 51
I can offer a little insight to this as a developer. I have a game coming out next month that I have been working on for almost a year. About 6 months in I emailed around and scheduled ads to run. Based on availability of ads I set a release date. I have steadily been working towards that date, cutting off features I wouldn't have time for and cleaning up bugs and errors.

With a 2 man team who can't afford to work on apps full time, things can get pretty crazy when your launch deadline approaches. We have been fixing up bugs for the last two weeks, but now that we are a month away from launch (and ads running) we have no choice but to submit the app.

In our case, openfeint has to approve the app first, then it has to go through apple. A month is cutting it close, we would have liked more time but we had a few major bugs that had to be taken care of.

What happens if a week before launch the game still isnt approved? Things start to get pretty scary. A month should be enough time for the Apple approval process seeing as how they have been good about getting things through in 2 weeks, but you never know. What happens if it is rejected for some unknown reason?

With deadlines looming and money already invested, sometimes you have to submit the app with some remaining bugs. My app doesnt have any bugs, that I know of, but we also only had a few weeks of hard testing. Who knows what will be found later? With the submission process as it is, it is safer to submit an app and release an update right away with fixes. It isn't always ideal but at least it is better than the old days before the internet, when an Atari cartridge was all buggy and would never get an update.
02-27-2011, 10:00 PM
Joined: Nov 2010
Location: alea iacta est
Posts: 1,366
A big thing is that apps in beta form have different saving mechanisms that apps released in the app store. So apps that mess up saved data (Minigore, Bug Heroes) it's not that they didn't test it, it's that the app store version is different.
02-27-2011, 10:15 PM
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Arizona
Posts: 51
Originally Posted by K?! View Post
A big thing is that apps in beta form have different saving mechanisms that apps released in the app store. So apps that mess up saved data (Minigore, Bug Heroes) it's not that they didn't test it, it's that the app store version is different.
It's things like this and accidents where you lose your phone or a game that have convinced me of the importance of cloud saves. If devs use systems like openfeint and plus+ it allows your save game data to be uploaded online. As a developer your save game data should be the same throughout different versions of a game if you are using another system to upload and save game states, so that hopefully wouldn't be a problem in the future.
02-28-2011, 07:08 PM
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Croatia
Posts: 247
@wossname, what you said makes sense, but you must admit it's quite annoying to buy half-finished product.

Lets take The Blocks Cometh game for example.. I bought that game on launch day and I liked it even with all those serious controls bugs (and we are talking about two direction left-right buttons and one jump button whats pretty much all of controls in that game) that makes it unplayable for some people. Few days after they release update because that bugs greatly reflects on sale. I don't mind them because I just love that little game.
That leads us to thing what @Dazarath said.. Don't buy game before some serious updates that make game playable or even better - don't buy game before updates AND PRICE DROP. So thats what devs want? OK, no problem, I can wait but i thought two man team needs some cash to fix bugs or make content updates. Can you see what paradox situation it is?

Lets take two more games for example..
Fieldrunners - just look at reviews on app store.. ppl are pissed on devs because they are greedy and making updates that makes game even worse then before, losing their IAP purchases, etc... I would never buy that game even I think its great!
On the other hand you have Cave's Dodonpachi Resurrection that was instant buy for me after I saw some reviews even it costs 9 dollars. That game is a blast.. perfect controls, gameplay depth, nice updates with hidden BGM, unlockable ship... everything! I wouldn't mind if they make update with IAP..
When Cave's next game appeared (Mushihimesama BUG PANIC) it was instant buy even I don't like Dual Stick Shooters.

I had jailbroken iphone before I changed my mind and said to myself.. OK, I can afford dollar or two for good games that i played for free JUST TO SUPPORT DEVS and now it raised to 35-40 dollars a month and counting (and in my country people work 2 days for that). Now someone can say: 'You don't need to buy if you don't like policy of developing and selling half-finished games' and he would be right.. I can always back to jailbreak!

Game Center: CroRock
Openfeinth: CroRock
02-28-2011, 08:31 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: UK
Posts: 1,030
I just don't understand why everybody is ok with it. A game gets released eg. Dungeon Defenders. It is released with loads of issues and bugs etc making it unplayable for some people. People moan a bit and the developer responds and says they are sorting it and everyone thinks it is ok. It isn't really. Eventually it even gets pulled from the app store. All the while they still have everyone's money. No matter what price an item is, it should do what it says it should do. Just because a game is only 59p/1.19/1.79 etc doesn't mean that it is ok to not function properly when it is released.

I understand that it must be hard for Indie developers with costs and time etc but nobody is forcing them to make games. Also being an Indie developer or any developer it is just not right to do this.
I understand that some games have some slight bugs that get missed but the state that some games get released is criminal.

It's not just on iOS though. Fallout 3 on PS3 was a joke when it was released.

In any other field it would not be accepted or allowed.
If I bought a car and on the way home I realised that the brakes didn't work properly I would take it straight back. I would want a new car or my money back.
If the salesman said ' Oh sorry, I am now aware of it and I'll fix it. I'll keep your money and you keep the unroadworthy car and I'll make sure they are sorted within a couple of weeks.' I'm pretty sure people would not be ok with it.
I know a car is a lot more expensive but it has to do what it is supposed to do when it is sold. And so do games!!

Game Centre, Openfeint, Crystal, Gameloft Live and PSN ID: Smallville2106

Last edited by pavarotti2007; 02-28-2011 at 08:35 PM.
02-28-2011, 08:58 PM
Joined: Nov 2010
Location: alea iacta est
Posts: 1,366
Originally Posted by pavarotti2007 View Post
But the difference is that the car costs thousands of dollars, whereas your app was made by a coder in their basement and costs nothing. And cars break all the time and need maintenance; that's why you have insurance. Having more people playing your app means more opportunity's for bugs, Oftentimes, devs simply can't find bugs that everyone else experiences, SyndicatedPuzzles had a big problem with this and are rewriting all their code to eliminate this. Basically, you get cheaper costs and faster release times if you put up with a few bugs.

And if you don't want to get buggy software, feel free to wait a week or two and get the game then.
03-01-2011, 06:56 AM
As a developer, I think it's important to realise that, even if you test your game very thoroughly on a wide variety of devices, bugs still slip through the net. That's why home console games have massive QA and testing programs. This costs a lot of time, energy, and money, as you'd need to employ a large team to test every nitty gritty detail of a game. And in most home console releases, there's still bugs and glitches that make it into the released on-the-shelf disc.

Sure, there are disappointments, games that should have been updated but never were, leaving a lot of players cheated. But surely these are isolated cases, and it's the fault of these individual development teams, rather than the iOS developer community as a whole. If you've been cheated by a developer's products before, why not stop buying products from that developer? The negative PR that arises from a buggy game that never gets fixed is surely damning enough for them.

For the most part, bugs exist because games are complex and intricate, and you can't predict every device configuration, or every action a user will take. Small errors can come in very easily because of typos, single forgotten lines or words, or minor oversights in a library's functionality. Even if you do test your game rigorously on a wide range of beta testers you can't catch everything.

It's not a crass marketing tool - it would take a incredible effort to build a community image by responding to negative user feedback, rather than simply fostering a positive PR image by having a finished and high-quality product.

I think it's much better to have a system whereby games can be released 95% bug-free and receive updates than by forcing developers to spend insane amounts of time fixing them up to 99.5% bug-free.