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They also claim to have worked on more than 1,400 mobile applications. (www.babelmedia.com)
Beta Breakers is a relatively new entrant into the market but has achieved $7.7 million in revenues. Their focus is games and multi-media testing, but they seem to be focused primarily on PC and Mac games (not console), as well as peripheral device testing. Their rapid growth could be attributable to a dedicated focus on this particular niche of the market, where they appear to have made significant headway. (www.betabreakers.com)
Game Instinct (a division of Testing 1-2-3) is a game-industry specific division of larger software testing firm Testing 1-2-3. Game instinct has revenues of $2.25 million. Their services tend more towards the hardware side of the business with a focus on TCR checks/compatibility testing, localization testing, black box/crash testing. But they also do standard functionality testing, playability testing, localization testing, and offer beta administration services (helping a company run its customer beta test process). They have a location in India for low cost testing labor. (www.gameinstinct.com)
Veritest (a division of Lionbridge). Lionbridge is a leader in the market, with a very large localization division. Their testing business (Veritest) has roughly $20 million in testing revenue total, including games testing. Lionbridge also offers application development, and a full range of hardware and software QA and testing. With locations in multiple countries around the globe, they have a high profile in the market and are strongly positioned as the leader in localization/translation and globalization services. (www.veritest.com)
Critical Evaluation: Market Situation and Growth Opportunities
TTI has established a strong presence in the industry, with several high-profile clients. However, its business has been focused primarily on console games, which is not a high-growth segment of the market at the present time. Staying focused on this market segment alone will cause TTI's business to stagnate, thus it needs to seek find ways to grow revenues through one or more of the following approaches:
1. Increase the NUMBER of customers served: Increasing its customer base in its current console market segment through enhanced customer acquisition and retention campaigns
2. Increase VALUE of each customer through service-line extension: Expanding its service lines for the existing customer base to create upsell opportunities and grow same-customer revenue (increase the customer lifetime value)
3. Increase TYPE of customers served: Enter new market segments to broaden its customer base, offering the same service suite (or slightly modified versions) to new markets
Rapid growth is occurring in the segments of online and mobile gaming. In many respects, expanding its services to incorporate testing in both of these new segments would be a natural service-line extension for TTI, leveraging its brand identity as game test experts. Some investments in equipment and personnel would be required to be competitive in these segments. In terms of the subject matter expertise required, online game testing is relatively similar in nature to console testing, and many of the same development languages are used for both types of software. However, mobile games and applications are typically developed using different programming languages, primarily Java.
The software testing market is also growing rapidly, and is more than twice the size of the games testing market, thus presents a very attractive potential target. However, the most significant trend in outsourced software testing is the increasing use of Indian firms. India offers a technologically educated workforce yet at labor rates that can be much lower than those in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, creating significant downward price pressure in the market. Those software firms that outsource their testing are increasingly looking to India. TTI would have to pursue a cost-leadership positioning strategy to compete effectively in this market, a shift from what has been its successful differentiation strategy.
Marketing Analysis: To date, TTI has done little marketing. It has established a basic "brochure-ware" website presence, and appears with a small (10' x 10') or tabletop booth at game industry tradeshows. No industry-focused collateral, public relations, or other marketing campaign tactics have been tried. These avenues helped the company to acquire a handful of accounts, but only modest success has been seen with these limited marketing tactics.
The traditional customer communication stages are designed to move customers through each step in the response heirarchy: Awareness, Interest/Knowledge, Evaluation/Preference, Intention/Action/Trial/Purchase, and finally Advocacy (Kotler, 2001, p. 273). Historically, the company has done only minimal activity at the front end of the process, and their customer acquisition has been slow as a result.
The primary customer acquisition strategy has been relationship selling to a few targeted, large accounts, based on industry contacts of the company founders and executives, and customer referrals. To penetrate new markets in online, mobile and software testing and achieve continued growth, the company would need to engage in more defined marketing activities and brand building. While thus far TTI has been effective at growing the business to its current level and acquiring several large customers, the growth potential with those customer is now limited, and the company needs to begin attracting a larger number of new customer accounts. For this it must increase its visibility in the market and engage with the broader target customer base of game developers and publishers in both its existing (console) and new (mobile, online) market segments.
The strengths TTI has in the market and internally include:
Top notch clients in games industry
Strong reputation as high-quality games test service provider
High customer satisfaction and willingness to refer (later stages of the customer engagement process)
Deep domain expertise in designing and running test projects
Repeatable processes and internally-developed tools that promote efficiency and quality
Highly developed test lab security procedures
Flexibility and scalability to configure test labs and personnel to suit a multitude of customer project needs
Low Market Awareness
Known only as a game testing company -- niche segment of the software industry.
Low brand awareness overall. Lack of investment in marketing means profile in the industry is low (early stages of the customer engagement process)
Lack of Domain Expertise Outside of Core Service Line
Little in-house expertise in mobile platform requirements like Java and J2ME
Marketing and Sales Process Gaps
Customer engagement and customer sales processes and tools are underdeveloped
Potential opportunities that TTI could choose to purse include:
Entry into new market segment: online game platforms
Entry into new market segment and service line extension: mobile game platforms
Launch new service line in packaged software testing
Competition from other test firms that offer broader range of services focused on game companies, e.g., multi-media
Some competitors are better capitalized/owned by larger firms so can sustain larger infrastructure investments
Companies in India and elsewhere offering testing services at low labor rates
Continued recession/economic slowdown impacting game and/or software development industries
Reputation. With some of the leaders in the games industry among its clients (Electronic Arts, Microsoft Xbox), TTI has established credibility and expertise, that will help it open more doors in the game industry. Among firms that know of TTI and/or have worked with it, the quality of the game testing provided is well-known and acknowledged. Referral has been a strong source of customer acquisition. If TTI can find a way to leverage this reputation and bring more awareness to the broader market, it is poised to become the acknowledged game test leader, not just a "stealth" market leader. Positioning themes could include messages like "the best kept secret in game development."
Capabilities/Expertise. The company was founded by game and software testing experts who "had gaming in their DNA." They have built on this initial foundation to bring in some of the most highly skilled game development and testing experts in the industry. Over the last five years, they have created and refined testing specifications, processes, tools and test documentation protocols that consistently deliver some of the lowest "bug" rates in the industry, resulting in fewer customer complaints and lower technical support costs for TTI's customers once games are released to the market. These tools and processes also enable TTI to run projects with efficiency, keeping testing costs under control for its customers in an industry that too often sees testing budgets soar through the roof. Additionally, as a result of working with some of the market leaders in the highly competitive game development industry, TTI has created facility and electronic security procedures that help keep the intellectual property of its clients secure from piracy or pre-release market leaks. This level of security could be highly valuable to companies in certain highly competitive sectors of the general software market as well.
Flexible and Scalable. TTI's facility management and personnel management approaches have been refined to allow the company to rapidly scale up to meet customer needs in a hurry. Testing projects are often outsourced because the developer realizes they are running out of time before a delivery date to the publisher or release date to the market, thus they need extra manpower to help…[continue]
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