Hi-Rez Studios President talks improving SMITE patch quality with longer testing and console PTS

SMITE’s patch quality has come under scrutiny, on PC but especially console, in recent months. Though SMITE patches are put out every two weeks on all platforms, it’s rare for updates to launch without issues, sometimes game-breaking. Hi-Rez Studios President Stew Chisam, better known to players as Stew or HiRezStew, personally addressed the issue in a post on the SMITE subreddit called “Improving SMITE Patch Quality.”

SMITE New Console Home Screen
SMITE console recently got a new UI, but Hi-Rez hopes to increase their focus on console further.

Chisam believes a perfect patch is probably unattainable but that “current quality is not at all where it should be,” later saying, “I think bigger changes are needed. We can’t keep doing things the same way and expecting different results.”

According to Chisam, over 100 people are working on SMITE, a number far greater than the 18 people working on the MOBA in 2012. While Chisam acknowledges the productivity of such a large staff, he also quipped (Warning: profanity ahead), “While 100 people can achieve a lot more than 18 people, 100 people can also fuck up a lot more things than 18 people!”

Chisam also noted that as SMITE grows over time with more and more content — 90+ gods and their abilities, well over 600 skins, multiple game modes and maps — it becomes harder to catch every bug. Because of this, Hi-Rez decided to expand the regular testing period and will also expand the public test server to console.

Odin New Mastery Skins SMITE
From mastery skins to recolors to exclusive and limited skins, there are well over 600 skins in SMITE.

A quick rundown of Hi-Rez’s goals for patch quality can be seen below:

  • The PC release for 5.8 will be delayed at least one week. However, the PTS for 5.8 will still start this Friday, May 4th. This means that the release will spend much longer in public testing before going live. Future patches will be on a slightly different schedule, but the intent is to test them publicly much longer as well.
  • Internally, we are also making a variety of other adjustments to the rhythm of how we release patches, working to make sure that each release has more time for QA testing and quality.
  • We have also been beefing up our internal QA staff. The staff has been growing over the course of the year — and we just added two new, highly experienced QA staff this week (that had been working on AAA console game QA).
  • While it may not all happen in the 5.8 release cycle, over the course of the summer, we are also looking to expand our Public Testing Server capabilities to include Steam, and (as soon as we can, but probably still a couple patch cycles away) console.
  • We are also looking at additional ways to reward those players that help us by testing on PTS. For this process to work, it’s very important that we get YOUR help testing these patches.
  • I have instructed our community teams to no longer communicate when a patch is expected to release (at least until the night before, when we have a truly firm date). Patches should be released when they are ready. (NOTE: Since no patch will ever be perfect, a patch may still be ready and have some known issues. We want to find the right balance between being able to provide frequent updates and being able to provide high quality updates, without being paralyzed in what we can deliver).

Patch 5.8, which is being fully revealed today and will include the first Slavic god Chernobog, will also be delayed “at least one week” to undergo more testing. Chisam’s goal to increase quality also goes in line with Hi-Rez’s announcement to incentivize SMITE PTS participation.

Will the changes increase SMITE patch quality? We’ll have to wait and see.

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