How a Game is Born Part 4: Testing and Publishing
Written by Daniel Westerstal   
Thursday, 07 July 2005

This is the last part of our guide on how a game is born. In this part we investigate the testing of games and how to publish them.

When the artwork and programming is done and put together a first version of the game is released to a small number of people. This version is called an Alpha version and is nowhere near the finished product.

In the alpha testing phase a chosen number of people (usually the developers themselves) tests the game and try to find bugs and room for improvement. Also a lot of hardware is tested to be certain that the game runs on different computer systems.

After the corrections has been made the game goes into beta testing. Some companies hire testers here to play the game and find bugs and other problems. Other companies choose to release the game to a small number of gamers online. The gamers play the game and then notify the developers of problems they have encountered.

When the testing phase is done the game is sent to the publisher who sends it to be pressed, the games goes gold.

Now the publisher takes over the rest of the process. There are a number of game publisher out there but the most famous ones are EA Games, Atari, Vivendi Universal Games. But there are also publishing companies focusing on independent developers.

The publishers market the game in different media. In the old days computer games were rarely marketed in television but this has changed and the media is used more frequently. Other parts of the marketing process are sending the game out to PC Gaming magazines for review, show the game at trade shows (such as the E3), buy ad space in online and paper magazines and much more.

Still the most powerful way of marketing games are the E3 trade show and sending the game to PC Gaming magazines for review. This is because the games creates a sort of buzz and initiates the very powerful mouth-to-mouth marketing.

For publishing the game the publishing companies usually wants commission on all sales. Also the vendors and printing company wants their share, all this cuts into the developer’s profits. Many developers therefore choose to publish their games online, this means that you exclude almost all middle hands and get a higher profit.