It's a challenging time to work in QA and localisation.
As well as the triple-A developers and publishers wrestling with the new tech found within the PS4 and Xbox One, there's a slew of mobile and indie developers coming to market almost every week.
And although these studios might know their stuff when it comes to making games, they're often not as well-versed on some of the processes needed to bring a game to market.
More and more indie and mobile developers are approaching us for their localisation needs,” Localsoft CEO Randall Mage says. But many do not have the necessary budget for professional localisation and some decide to do it on their own. This, of course, is a big mistake. The sooner developers understand the need to outsource linguistic and QA tasks, the better.”
And that's just one of the new obstacles facing QA and localisation specialists.
We have a new wave of content creators coming out of the indie scene and it can be challenging to convince them about the importance of solid QA and localisation to expand their market reach,” agrees Keywords localisation and QA director Thomas Barth, while established developers and publishers are more conscious of the importance of international sales to reach success.
As the number of triple-A to medium-sized titles decreases, with games basically turning into services, the QA and localisation work becomes more and more fragmented and results in key challenges in regards to resources utilisation and talent retention.”
"Can you put a price on positive reviews?
What about keeping your team long hours
to 'fix' poor localisation and ineffective QA?"
Loreto Sanz Fueyo, Universally Speaking
But it isn't just these smaller companies – many triple-A creators aren't giving QA and localisation firms enough time or money to properly work their magic. Sometimes they are even turning to cheaper options.
Can you put a price on the value of positive reviews? What about the damage of negative reviews? And what is the cost of re-doing your marketing campaign and keeping the team long hours in order to ‘fix' poor localisation and ineffective QA?” asks Universally Speaking's director Loreto Sanz Fueyo.
The above have a cost that, while difficult to quantify, is by no means negligible and can make a serious impact on the success and profitability of a game.
I could tell you many horror stories where we have had to fix some very poor localisation to the point of having to retranslate, and also where we have had to run very elementary QA and compliance checks at the last minute in order for our clients to successfully submit their games. In the end, it was a false economy and the lesson is a painful one to learn.”
Barth adds: Producing games is costing more and more and the competition is steep, so the success of game titles is a risk that some developers or publishers are facing with more conservative investments – on top of new monetisation models. We have always been giving our partners budget options and what we can see is that there is a trend towards the most cost effective offerings. As service providers, it's our job to offer solutions that fit even the tightest budget while still delivering relevant quality.”
"It can be challenging to convince
indie developers about the importance
of solid QA and localisation."
Thomas Barth, Keywords
After the plethora of bug-ridden games that launched at the end of 2014, one would assume that triple-A publishers would be more cautious, and perhaps change the way they approach QA and localisation – but the specialists are yet to see a significant change.
We haven't seen a massive shift in attitude or strategy towards allowing more time,” Sanz Fueyo says. If anything, it's gotten worse. Quality at the moment is determined by time and resources, including money. There seems to be very few developers that want to release the perfect product, especially not if it means delaying launch.
This will naturally have its consequences and we are likely to see again publishers, developer and games that will become ‘famous' amongst the users for the sloppy work and cavalier attitude towards the quality of the end product.
We strongly advocate the importance of good quality and how it translates into more sales and positive reviews.”
Pole to Win's manager of operations Dylan Edwards adds: The problem we are facing
is that consumers still want the same turnaround times for the release of titles, which forces publishers to take more risks by releasing games earlier than what they would have been comfortable with previously.
The perception of ‘The Release Date' might have changed but the importance of QA remains very clear for our clients. What we have seen is the growing need to have constant, centralised support from the early stages of QA through to Submission and Customer Service. Publishers are not aiming to reduce QA or lessen their product's quality, and the support needed is more rooted and wide-scoped than ever.”
But Barth's experience has been slightly (and we mean slightly) different: QA and localisation are more visible in the development process and there are studios allocating more time for them.
But in general not much has changed from my point of view, despite the internet being very vocal around those issues at the end of last year.”