In Wake of Battlefield 4 Launch Issues, EA Overhauling Testing Process
"It's a completely different test and QA construct," CEO Andrew Wilson says.
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Battlefield 4's launch last year was problematic to say the least. And though EA contends the game was "exceedingly successful," the publisher is overhauling its testing process to ensure future products, like this year's Battlefield Hardline, enjoy a smoother release.
"We're... changing the way we test our products," EA CEO Andrew Wilson told Kotaku. "Does it work? Zeroes and ones. There's a fundamental test. Does it do what it's supposed to do? QA? Is it fun when it's doing what it's supposed to do? Scalability? Does it do what it's supposed to do at scale? And usability, can a user get it to do what it's supposed to do and have fun with it with their friends and at scale?"
Overall, Wilson said, "It's a completely different test and QA construct in the company." This includes public beta testing periods that are conducted well in advance of a given game's release. One example is Battlefield Hardline, which is already in beta on PlayStation 4 and PC, ahead of its full release more than four months from now.
"Part of the reason we've come much earlier with that is we want to have a much longer ramp and a much longer phase to bring far more people into the game so we're hitting it harder...the game is already in a very polished state," Wilson said. "We've got to get things done earlier."
"This Hollywood blockbuster mentality of 'keep all of the information to yourself' is not something that makes sense in today's world" -- Andrew Wilson
The Battlefield Hardline beta will be extended to Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 later this year, though there's no specific timeframe to speak of just yet.
Battlefield 4's launch issues led to the commencement of a class-action lawsuit against EA, though the status of this legal action is unclear. EA maintains that even though 10,000 people tested the game, many of the issues came from the Xbox One and PS4 versions, which of course were unreleased at this time last year, making beta testing tricky.
Though Wilson hopes that EA's new testing processes will cut down on the chances of more post-release issues, he's not going to guarantee everything will go exactly to plan. "For me to sit here and say we will not have issues again would be disingenuous. It's not possible," Wilson said. "The only way you get to a point where you can almost guarantee no issues is if you're not pushing the boundaries, if you're not innovating."
Also in the interview, Wilson said EA will aim to be more transparent about game development going forward because he believes it is increasingly important to hear what gamers think earlier in the production process.
"The world is changing," Wilson said. "This Hollywood blockbuster mentality of 'keep all of the information to yourself' is not something that makes sense in today's world. In a world where you just don't share, you never get feedback, the only things you're ever going to make are the things you know are going to be hits. So I really want us to change as a company and start making more new stuff, and in order to do that, you have to get feedback, and in order to get feedback, you have to be willing to open the curtain and have a conversation about it early."
During EA's E3 press conference last week, the publisher provided an early, early look at BioWare's next Mass Effect game and its all-new IP.
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