One of the beautiful things about the “Creating Games” series that Masahiro Sakurai has created on YouTube is that he dives into the “lesser talked about” parts of video game development. It’s not all about designing the game and writing the story. There’s plenty of work that goes into making sure the game is functional. I, and Daddy Sakurai, am speaking about QA Testing. It’s a vital part of game development, and if you don’t dedicate the right amount of time to it, you’ll have a very buggy launch. Super Smash Bros, by Sakurai’s own admission, has an extensive bug testing period…and it still doesn’t get everything.
As Sakurai reveals, when you’re dealing with a game like Super Smash Bros Ultimate, the things you have to test are almost infinite. There are 89 characters in the final game, and you have to multiply that by the moves they have, the number of players in a fight, the stage they’re on, then the items, spirits, assist trophies, Final Smashes that can change gameplay, and more! You simply can’t test it all, and Sakurai even says that in Ultimate, there are multiple bugs that you can easily find because they were impossible to test/find before launch, such as with player-created stages.
Masahiro Sakurai also states that no developer WANTS to have a buggy launch, but sometimes it can’t be helped given the large scale of titles. So perhaps we are being a little too harsh on developers/publishers when they release a title in a bad state…or maybe we’re not. You can be the judge.