By Anna Kozlova, Room 8 Group CEO and Octavia Vasilescu, head of QA service line at Room 8 Group
Sometimes overlooked and underappreciated, quality assurance is arguably one of the most critical aspects of video game development. That is because player experience is paramount in video games. And still, people might see QA as a back-end process that occurs only after most of the “heavy lifting” is done. This perception sometimes leads to starting testing quite late in the process, resulting in less time to cover the test surface and gain confidence within immovable deadlines. Our goal is to change this perception and bring exceptional quality to quality assurance.
EMBARKING ON A JOURNEY
Long ago, Room 8 Group started with an art-only approach. Since then, we have expanded to cover practically every stage of the game development pipeline with best-in-class co-dev and full-cycle services. Since 2011 we have been involved in the creation of hundreds of PC, console, and mobile titles of different scales. We know how crafting a AAA title can be a lengthy, challenging, expensive endeavour, spanning over the course of years (in some cases, over a decade).
Rooted in game development, we saw the frequent pattern of potentially excellent games suffering from inadequate QA. Talking to our clients, partners, and competitors, we felt the market need for high-quality quality assurance. Still, options were limited. In our conversations, we often heard, “We need high quality. We are not getting it right now, but frankly there’s not much to choose from” or “We really want to switch to a higher quality alternative, but we probably will not be able to find it, at least with the scope we need and the budget we have.”
Our mission is to approach testing in a more intelligent way: methodology, data driven decisions, AI, technology. We strive to augment talented QA specialists’ ability to stay passionate about every single detail.
THE TEAM THAT HAS BEEN IN THE CLIENT’S TRENCHES
Most brands in Room 8 Group’s portfolio didn’t start from scratch. In some cases, as we accumulated knowledge and took challenging projects, we evolved and learned to apply the skills in new areas. In other cases, we expanded our portfolio with specifically-targeted teams of specialists that fit the needs of our clients through M&A deals. This time we felt that we needed to look for a team that was literally in clients’ shoes.
We believe that the key to delivering quality is understanding the people we work with. And no one knows it better than clients themselves. Most of our team, including Martyn Sibley, our Director of QA, have spent their entire careers in quality assurance and worked on the customers’ side. This puts them into an unrivalled position, where they know exactly how to do great QA and what partners need and want.
Octavia Vasilescu remembers the synergy between her QA team at Electronic Arts and the developers at Maxis on her favourite project of all time, The Sims 4.
With such exceptional leaders on board, we spent the last year building muscle for our QA Service Line and investing heavily in this direction. As of today, we are close to landing several exclusive QA deals with our partners, some of which are among the world’s 10 largest game publishers.
PEOPLE ARE THE REASON FOR OUR RESULTS
The Room 8 Group approach allows us to shape the work environment where QA specialists are an essential part of the team. While QA is sometimes seen as an “entry point” to the games industry, we know it is a valid career choice spanning years. It requires a unique set of skills, like an eye for a finer defect or a hand to creatively destroy a beautiful piece of code.
While QA can be easy, great QA is not. We believe people are our strongest asset, and we support their self actualisation: we teach, we coach, we grow, and we invest in QA specialists to develop careers they will be proud of. QA Service Line is launching with the core pillars of functional testing on PC, console and mobile, and we plan to add a compliance testing component later this year. We understand that each game development project is unique, with its own set of challenges, requirements, and aspirations.
That’s why we work closely with our clients to develop customised testing strategies tailored to their specific delivery milestones and schedules. It allows us to deliver the highest quality testing possible. We monitor our progress and how build quality evolves. Our data-driven decisions let us adapt our coverage in real time, while escalating risks and concerns in a way stakeholders can see the impact. Over the years, these approaches have gained us a large amount of knowledge required to become specialists in the field. We’ve set up camp in Poland and Romania. They are perfect starting points for us, we have a great market understanding of these communities, and we benefit from incredibly strong talent.
Our plans are ambitious. Room 8 Group’s QA Service Line aims to form a global community to connect QA professionals from around the world. By elevating the importance of quality assurance, we want to give QA professionals more opportunities for growth, development, and recognition, as well as provide young people with more opportunities to be a part of game dev. For the industry, it could lead to more polished and engaging games and greater appreciation for the important role that QA specialists play in the development process.
In conclusion, at Room 8 Group, we believe that quality is not a luxury but a necessity, particularly in testing. We are committed to bringing the focus to QA and redefining perception around it, one bug at a time.