Usability Testing on Microsoft Xbox
Product usability testing has been around for quite a while now for the sole purpose of providing the consumers with the best product a company can. Some companies hire specific testing consultants who specialize in product testing and other companies just release beta versions of their product to a small market and collect feedback. Companies like Sony or Nintendo hire companies that test their products and make sure there are no problems with the product. Software companies, on the other hand, release test versions, also known as beta versions, of their products and improve their final product based on the feedback from the beta users.
There are many products that are released to the public that are not thoroughly tested. These products get tested like any other products, but they just don’t get tweaked and changed enough to be the best that they can be. This situation can be the result of the testing company not having enough knowledge of the product or poor diversity of the test groups or target audience. An example of a product not tested enough is the Microsoft Xbox. The Xbox, a game console released on November of 2001, marked Microsoft’s official entry in the gaming industry. Immediately after the release, users stated the Xbox was rushed into production and wasn’t properly tested. However, articles titled, “CES 2001: Microsoft Discusses the Announcement” and “Xbox Product Testing Initiated,” both written by Shahed Ahmed, state that Microsoft did officially test their product, the Xbox and its peripherals, before making it available to the public.
After Microsoft released the Xbox, the public rushed to purchase the video game console. Almost immediately, complaints start to appear about the console. A small percentage of Xbox units were defective as stated in an article titled, “Microsoft Addresses Report on Xbox Defects,” by Shahed Ahmed. Defects in a small percentage of any products sold happen often. However, another complaint surfaced shortly after the Xbox was released: the controller was over sized and the button configuration was inconvenient for certain games. Microsoft quickly addressed this complaint by releasing a redesigned controller that was smaller and had a more convenient button configuration. The release of the new controller Microsoft is well documented in the article written by Giancarlo Varanini titled, “Redesigned Xbox Controller in the Works.”
The Microsoft Xbox is a great example of how a product is never perfect, no matter how much it is tested prior its release. Product usability testing will never catch all the flaws, in my opinion, because either the test groups are not diverse enough or there is not enough time to efficiently test a given product. However, increasing the variety of test subjects along with the size of the test groups would certainly reduce the problem,
1. Ahmed, S. (2000, December 19). Gamespot News: Xbox Product Testing Initiated. Retrieved from http://www.gamespot.com/news/2000/12/19/news _2666638.html, July 29, 2005.
2. Ahmed, S. (2001, January 6). Gamespot News: CES 2001: Microsoft Discusses Announcement. Retrieved from http://www.gamespot.com/news/ 2001/01/06/news_2671946.html, July 29, 2005.
3. Ahmed, S. (2001, January 6). Gamespot News: CES 2001: Xbox Controller. Retrieved from http://www.gamespot.com/news/2001/01/06/ news_2671752.html, July 29, 2005.
4. Ahmed, S. (2001, January 7). Gamespot News: Microsoft Addresses Report on Xbox Defects. Retrieved from http://www.gamespot.com/news/ 2002/01/07/news_2836831.html, July 29, 2005.
5. Varanini, G. (2002, March 4). Gamespot News: Redesigned Xbox Controller in the Works. Retrieved from http://www.gamespot.com/news/ 2002/03/04/news_2852514.html, July 29, 2005.