: Betas: No Longer A Novelty, A Necessity?

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Betas: No Longer A Novelty, A Necessity?

I still remember my first beta.

As I hadn't been a PC player since the late '90s, it wasn't until Sony issued a beta test for Warhawk on the PlayStation 3 that I got my first taste of playing a game early.

Of course, the purpose of a beta test (or an alpha or any "test") is to give the developers valuable and often critical feedback. It's especially essential for multiplayer-focused games that will rely heavily on the performance of servers and other technical elements, which can really only be thoroughly tested if a lot of people jump in and give it a whirl. So, obviously, given the multiplayer explosion in the past decade, it stands to reason that beta tests have become standard fare. However, I'm wondering if they've ceased to become a novelty and are now more of a necessity...and beyond that, a very valuable marketing tool.

It seems like with every new beta, more and more people are diving in. Ubisoft says that "unprecedented interest" in the beta test for Tom Clancy's The Division means wait-listed players couldn't get in on Friday (and there's no guarantee for Saturday). And this is a closed beta; I remember when those were almost exclusively restricted to industry insiders and journalists. Last year's open beta for Star Wars: Battlefront saw over 9 million people test out the popular shooter (and we wondered if the experience changed the minds of gamers). In so many ways, gamers in this generation are starting to take betas for granted. The very idea of a multiplayer-centric title releasing without at least one test seems implausible.

Thing is, they might be more important than ever. We're seeing a string of unstable games releasing this generation, and one has to wonder just how unstable these games would be if developers didn't issue multiple tests. Granted, a lot of these unfortunately unstable products are single-player adventures, but let's not forget a lot of online screw-ups. Battlefield 4 was a trainwreck for a solid year, and both Metal Gear Online and Grand Theft Auto Online launched with significant problems. Maybe betas are just becoming too important. Furthermore, they offer publishers a chance to hype the hell out of a game well before it's available, and if the beta is great, it's good news the whole way 'round. If people love The Division beta, I guarantee it'll have a positive impact on day-one and first-month sales.

And how many times have we heard development teams say they were very thankful they held a beta? It basically allowed them to fix a ton of problems, problems we would've seen at launch, right? Yes, the novelty has turned into a critical part of the industry, wouldn't you say?

1/29/2016 Ben Dutka

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bigrailer19
Friday, January 29, 2016 @ 10:23:34 PM
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I personally think they are more of a Novelty today. While of course more people participating in a beta will of course let the developer see various things ocurring. But while I'm not speaking on behalf of every participant, I don't think the majority are providing feedback. More and more people are joining just to try it out, as a demo sort of.

Yeah, it's also a great way for a company to advertise the game. Hey, offer it as a pre-order incentive and you've already got consumers throwing money at it.

While I'm not doubting it's usefulness, I'm doubting the consumers role in achieving the point of a beta.

More often than not even after a beta, games still have issues, mainly those that existed in th beta. This is further solidified when a game has a beta 1 month prior to its release. Seriously, what can they accomplish in that time frame when a game should have gone gold at that point?

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 1/29/2016 10:26:51 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, January 29, 2016 @ 10:37:38 PM
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Apparently I'm in the beta for Jaffe's "Drawn to Death" thanks to my man Bikersaint!

But the damn server never connects. Still waitin for Doom.

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BikerSaint
Saturday, January 30, 2016 @ 1:27:35 AM

Hey World,
Thanks for the shout-out, but here's the newest FYI on Drawn To Death,

Jaffee just sent word via Twitter that that yesterdays update caused some unforeseen major problems, so Drawn To Death will be down for about 3 days in order to fix it all.

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BikerSaint
Saturday, January 30, 2016 @ 2:14:34 AM

At this moment, Jaffee is stating that Drawn To Death is back up & running now.

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Solid Fantasy
Saturday, January 30, 2016 @ 6:17:47 AM

Thanks for the update Saint. I was starting to wonder what happened to Jaffe's latest project.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, January 30, 2016 @ 11:45:32 AM

I did get into the training room, I wish I could try the other guys but hopefully I can open them up. The game has promise but it needs more awesifying imo. And probably some better writing around the theme of a kid in school drawing epic insane things instead of listening. (I was one of those kids).

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Temjin001
Saturday, January 30, 2016 @ 1:07:55 AM
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No time for me to make posts. I've got a SFV Beta to play!

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shaytoon
Saturday, January 30, 2016 @ 6:50:01 PM
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sadly betas/alphas have become a monetized novelty. sure they listen to the players and squash any found bugs, but thats not their intention anymore. they use it as an incentive to make money off of us just for extra game play, or play the game on day zero right before it releases or get free dlc/skin packs. its lame now.

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Rogueagent01
Sunday, January 31, 2016 @ 3:05:55 PM
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Well one thing is for sure what used to be betas are now alphas as betas have become nothing more then stress tests/demos.

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