Testing video games is a challenging task. And it got even more challenging as the game got bigger and more complex. However, what made the task even more difficult was covering the work of three other testers. while pretending you have a full team of developers hiring. That’s what a number of QA developers said they were told to do while testing major games at large third-party testing houses.
Two current and eight former employees of Romanian quality assurance outsourcing company Quantic Lab spoke with PC Gamer about their work on an anonymous basis. It claimed management not only pressured testers above the norm for critical subsets but often lacked resources. of game development It also misleads customers about the size and capabilities of their QA team—and instructs employees to complete puzzles.
You may not be familiar with Quantic Lab, located in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. But you’ll find out how this Embracer Group’s games work: Cyberpunk 2077, The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine, Divinity: Original Sin 2, hired gun Necromunda, Cities Skylines, and more, all tested by the staff of the Embracer Group. Quantic testers have access to the development builds of these games. Look for bugs and potential blocks in the same way speedrunners try to “break” the game post-launch.
in june Video series from the Upper Echelon Gamers YouTube channel. (Opens in a new tab) Drawing attention to Quantic’s allegations of mismanagement and redundant business practices, UEG focuses on the testimony of a former member of Quantic’s QA Cyberpunk 2077 team. and its negative impact on the development of Cyberpunk.
Doru Șupeală, Romanian technology journalist Publishes a series of stories from a former Quantic employee alleging corruption in management to his subdivision, Hacking Work. (Opens in a new tab)Șupeală offered invaluable assistance in researching the matter. Quantic was also being investigated by the Romanian shop Libertatea. (Opens in a new tab)which has published similar research results.
The employee I spoke with described the environment in which Quantic continued to operate beyond the company’s limits. Accepting more projects than capable and expanding employees too narrow between them.
They stated that these issues increased exponentially when the company contracted to test Cyberpunk 2077 and NBA 2K21. Cyberpunk was a lightning rod for Quantic, but it appears the company was not officially credited with 2K21, a practice posed by one employee. at present touch
“Unfortunately, many Quantic Lab testers don’t get credit for every game they test,” they said. “In some cases, the publisher’s criteria for crediting a person is if they work more than five months on that game. If someone only worked four months and two weeks in that game. They won’t get credit.”
Night City Blues
A number of the employees we spoke to were closely involved in Quantic’s Cyberpunk 2077 testing. They accused Cyberpunk 2077 and NBA 2K as the company’s gravity organizations. It draws talent from other departments and leaves other projects scarce, even as Cyberpunk, a particular project, struggles. Every employee we spoke to stated that both marquee projects were fully staffed. But not with experienced testers as promised by customers.
“From a team of 30 people [initially assigned to Cyberpunk 2077]I think only 10 people have QA experience,” a source working on Cyberpunk for Quantic told us. “No testers Any ‘experienced’ person has more than a year.”
Many of the employees we spoke to were told by management to avoid discussing how long they had worked in the industry when communicating with CD Projekt employees, and they agreed that the developers were not working in the industry. The Poles don’t get the same level of experience paid for with the QA team at Quantic. They say CDPR has contacted Quantic several times about the team’s overwhelming performance.
The Cyberpunk team at Quantic will double during development. But the lack of experience, the Covid-19 attack and the Quantic management directives that conflicted with CD Projekt’s development priorities all made Quantic underperforming compared to the other QA teams that CDPR had working on the project.
An employee familiar with the project told us that one issue was that testers filed numerous low-impact bug reports. To meet the daily quota set by Quantic management, developers at CDPR receive a large number of reports of low-priority graphical glitches. And testers at Quantic have shifted their focus from exploring higher-priority issues, such as the core mission bug in progress blocking, making it the final version.
Several former employees on the project stated that Quantic’s contract with CDPR was open for extension through Cyberpunk updates and expansions, but not renewed when it expires in 2021.
Quantic is one of several quality assurance teams working on Cyberpunk 2077, including QLOC SA and CDPR’s internal team, but the truth is Quantic’s mismanagement has caused a third of Cyberpunk’s gaming QA staff to struggle to keep up. fulfill basic obligations
“I wouldn’t blame Cyberpunk on [Quantic]CDPR keeps getting crazy,” a former Quantic employee working on the game told us. “But the fact that the game is in the condition it is. [Quantic] The same employee noted that a better organized team in the same location could buy CD Projekt precious time on a project.
Alongside Cyberpunk, the company’s regular work on other small projects. continues But with the problem of personnel intensifying. A former senior Quantic employee hired in 2019 says it’s “standard practice” of manipulation. The “size and experience” of the company’s QA team to the customer.
These small projects don’t work enough on different sources. While management pressures employees to create a full team image. “In a small project You are lucky to have at least half of the testers,” said one former employee.
The degree of inadequacy in a given project is not a constant situation. The game will be tested for one round. And the team that manages it will have a variety of abilities at each stage at some point in its development. The project may be nearing or reaching its potential. Then come back for another round. but this time managed by a skeleton crew.
“It’s common to see an entire project managed by a single person, which actually requires a team of one to three testers. [in addition to the lead tester]“One former leader told us. “Some lead testers manage two to three projects at a time, with fewer than necessary testers assigned to each project.”
Our sources tell us that The “top testers” at Quantic typically only have one to three years of industry experience, because Quantic’s targeting is for recent graduates and the high turnover rate at the company for context, an experienced source at the AAA QA department tells SELF. We believe leadership has been promoted. “Quickly” if they got to that point from the beginner level within two and a half years. While some of the Quantic employees we spoke to faced that level. Professional pressure at a lower wage level in less than a year.
according to staff These lead testers are often positioned to maintain fiction about team size and ability to communicate with clients. In addition to the normal pressure to test the game.
“I’m a lead tester in dealing with clients and I had to do that. [lie about their team’s size]One former leader told us. “I’ve done that dozens of times.” They found the experience unsatisfactory. but said that he did it because of the lack of other career opportunities especially during the pandemic
Many of our sources assert to customers that they are misleading about how they are logging. Testers at Quantic often use a database called Jira to log bugs for their customers. in general Each tester has their own Jira account which they use to report issues. But the staff I spoke to alleged that testers at Quantic were often encouraged to log into the accounts of testers who had resigned, resigned, assigned them another job. during the test cycle or even never touching the game in question This is to avoid discrepancies in activities that may raise questions about team size.
low salary, low morale
coupled with these dishonest practices Employees who spoke to us said they worked in a toxic environment with low wages. A former senior employee said the manager insulted and scolded the lead tester. where the stress flows down to the wider team
Several employees told us that management would directly state that testing games were unskilled jobs. Such a stance may help to explain how high a leave or employee is considered valid. We have been told that in the past few years At the time of Cyberpunk 2077’s development, young testers were paid a minimum wage close to the minimum wage (1450 Romanian leu or about 300 euros per month) without bonuses. A complete lead tester can expect to earn around €680 a month, which a former employee we spoke to stated that it was still difficult to live in Cluj.
As with many workplaces The start of Covid-19 had a negative impact on Quantic Lab, and the staff we spoke with strongly criticized Quantic’s response. equal and largely reserved for senior management. Although remote work is widely used in the gaming industry to cope with the epidemic, The test subjects were aligned. side by side Several employees confirmed the embarrassing meeting. The HR staff stated that social distancing of 6 feet is required only when individuals are face-to-face. and it’s safe to be Close as long as it’s not.
Ultimately, the employees we spoke to were exhausted from the low-income environment. high stress lack of support and the slight stigma that comes with working supposedly “low skills,” especially during the pandemic. “At this point, [Quantic] should pay for my treatment,” one said.
Most of the former employees we spoke to went to other jobs. in technology and games And admit that at least they will get something on their resume. Another didn’t even give the company: “Quantic made me hate games and gaming. I’ve never tried working in game development again. Although at first it was my passion.”
Quantic Lab did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.
In addition to Quantic Lab’s specifics, quality assurance is a highly underpaid and underrated aspect of game development. QA practitioners are usually external contractors. Either at the company level, such as Quantic, or at the individual level, with wages, benefits and job security disparities with the salaried employees involved.
The success of Game Workers United’s QA union at Raven Software offers a viable solution. but to form a trade union Especially in industries that are relatively new to labor operations and in high turnover companies is inherently challenging.
The employees we spoke to were pessimistic about Quantic’s opportunities for change for the better as a result of current negative attention. One suggested a top-down management overhaul from the owners of the company at Embracer Group, which acquired the company in November 2020.