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Reader Comments (48)

Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:12AM Mirin said

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No doubt, I have been a part of several closed betas over the last few years that have, within minutes of logging in, made my decision for me to NOT purchase a game. That being said I have also spent good money on boxed copies of steaming piles of donkey poo over the years so I think personally I have come out even.

From a developers standpoint, I can see how you might not want to have an unfinished product be the first taste of your years of hard work that the public sees, but to this I can only say stop making terrible games? If I play a trial or a open beta and I see an awful UI, crappy character animations and uninspired environments, why would I believe that any of that will change before release? I wont judge a game in its early stages on content and things of that nature, but if the basics are just wrong than why would anyone bother?

Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:50AM (Unverified) said

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Betas are not free trials

YOU are suppose to test the game and give feedback.
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:56AM Mirin said

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Oh I totally agree, And when I am in a testing situation, I do my best to provide feedback based on my experiences. My point was more toward the free trial part of the question. I wasn't trying to say betas are the same thing. Although I find it hard to believe once they are in open beta phase they are doing anything more than testing the servers to make sure they wont blow up when launch day arrives.
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 9:26AM (Unverified) said

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If an open beta is held so close to a set-in-stone release date that there is no way for any of the testing or feedback to be dealt with, then yes, it IS a free trial.
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 10:32AM drakon said

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What he said ^^^

If you think major feedback from OPEN beta is going to make it into release, you live in a delusional reality. Close beta is another mater. If the animations and UI etc are a steaming pile during open beta, its certainly not going to change before release.
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 10:34AM Pingles said

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I've done the same thing.

I take Closed Betas seriously but if I enter the gameworld and realize this game type is just not for me I don't participate in the testing any more.

But lately I have had much better luck testing. Have stuck with the last four or five all the way through.
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 12:29PM (Unverified) said

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dude you surely messed up your way of thinking for CB or OB your suppose to help the developers and then to tell them to make a better game MMO's take ALOT of work, something you cant get your head over to relize I would mention names of MMO's that did bite but turn into to be Gem's of the MMO world so dont base your thoughts on a game that not even finished if you are goin in to PLAY instead of help out then set the game back down and come back 6 months later and then play it instead of messing over the developers when they think that they can get some help out of you.
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 12:39PM drakon said

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FFXIV, its very hard to understand what you're saying to be honest. A little punctuation goes a long way.

But if I understand correctly, I am not disagreeing with you. I know the purpose of beta is to provide feedback to help the developers, and I do. What I am saying (if you were even replying to me) is that 9 times out of 10 open beta is nothing more than a marketing tool, free trial, and stress test combined. By the time an MMO is in open beta the only changes that will take place are bug fixes. CLOSED beta is a whole different story.
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 12:46PM Mirin said

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In the OP i meant Open Betas and Free Trials not closed betas, sorry for the confusion, it was early =)

Lord Simon has it right on, The way the schedule Open betas so close to release dates means nothing will get changed essentially aside from server side hardware issues in most cases. its for marketing and to give them a "Soft Open" so to speak
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:13AM (Unverified) said

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For me trials are a good thing, because they can save the customer time and money.
I tried WAR via trial, liked it and subscribed. Same with Fallen Earth. And thanks to trial I quickly learned, that I don't like Vanguard.
Back then that was not possible. If you wanted to check out EQ, you had to buy the box. Also EQ2 and WoW offered no trials like today.

Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:45AM (Unverified) said

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Wolf68 I think you completely missed the point of the article. The article wasn't saying are running Open Betas good for the players, it was asking if running Open Betas are a good idea for the company producing the game.

Your first sentence does however point to the fact that Open Betas aren't always a good thing for the companies involved as they may adversely affect their initial sales figures.
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:35AM Phenomen said

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I'm pretty sure that WoW and EQ2 offers free trials.
Also there is almost unlimited EQ2 Extended "trial".
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:42AM (Unverified) said

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@Alex: That's why he said "offerED no trials like today".
I think.
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 9:24AM nomoredroids said

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@Herem: I think you missed the point of the article AND the guy you commented on. Way to be.

I actually tried out the WAR trial recently and liked it a lot, then subscribed. Good times.
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Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:24AM Xilmar said

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well first of all, if game companies have open betas, it must be useful in one way or another. as an AI student i learned that testing is important, and less efficient testing is better than no testing at all. basically it helps, the thing that differs is the degree.

As a consumer, free trials are awesome. It's always hard to balance gaming money and beer money or whatever, so getting the chance to try out any game, as limited as it might be, before actually investing time, money and most importantly commitment into it is kinda priceless.

The trial experience is for quite a few people one of the deciding factors in subscribing to a game. For me personally, the only MMO where the trial was strictly for teh lulz was EVE online. i knew what the game meant and wanted to play it, so it was easy. but every other MMO i played started with a trial (even WoW) and so far it has always been a good indication of the overall state of the game and the degree to which is fit my play style.


tl;dr: trials, betas - good for players and devs...if they weren't, we wouldn't have them

Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:29AM (Unverified) said

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Definitely a double-edged sword. I've had both effects personally. Sometimes it has made me actively want to purchase a game i might not have, had i not played it, due to reviews, or just the information available from box/ads. Other times, i have been saved from buying a lemon.

In all, it's probably hard to say how they've actually helped or hurt the industry.

I can say that i actively TEST when i'm in a beta, closed or open. Albeit most of the time when a game gets to open beta, most issues are known, i still report them (unless the company's bug reporting system is terrible, which has kept me from reporting all but the most drastic bugs in those cases) Though i find that i'm usually in the vast minority when i'm actually trying to test a game during CBTs and OBTs. At least from general chat and grouping with people.

Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:37AM Carolina said

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Trials definitely helped me pick and avoid games. WoW and LotRO I picked up, City of Heroes and War I skept, but can't say they are bad games, just not enough for me to play & pay yet another title.

Aion I'd love to try a trial, but there is none. I'd rather not risk, and this is why I've been very attentive for beta of games, in case they give no trials later.

So basically, I haven't found a title that made me so curious that I just went and bought it to test instead of doing it on a free trial.

Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:49AM OxfordDon said

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It seems that developers are realising that the MMO crowd is becoming more and more demanding, if not discerning, of the choices available. I would hestitate to say more sophisticated having been subjected to various chat channels in the likes of WoW, but still, expectations are higher now than in the old days of EQ and AC.

Open betas and free trials are a good move generally I think, certainly for me, I cancelled my pre order of Star Trek online after participating in OB, and just yesterday did the same with FFXIV. I'm probably in a minority though, as I suspect most OB participants are going to buy the games anyway barring a complete disaster.

As a last note, it seems to me that eastern developers have a rather different attitude to their potential customer base in that they seem to expect them to accept whatever they are given and get on with it.

Posted: Sep 8th 2010 8:49AM (Unverified) said

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I love free trials and I love beta testing. That being said, if it's used correctly then it can be great. Free trials are almost necessary, without them I wouldn't have picked WoW back up with the wife, I would have never bought EVE Online, and I would have never known that the only real allure I had to Conan: Hyborian Adventures was, in fact, digital boobies, so it's a good thing I didn't purchase.

Beta testing can be good, like in the case of Cataclysm, they're actually paying attention to what's going on. However, if we look at APB, the "beta" seemed to just be a way to drive early buzz a few weeks before release. Unfortunately the game felt completely unfinished and with only a short time before launch, I knew it was a game to wait on for a good year to see if it gets better.

I was also in the beta testing for Star Wars: Galaxies and City of Heroes, and those were along the same vein as Cataclysm; great chance to check out a great game and help the dev team with tuning and adjusting the final bits.

So, free trials = good, beta test = good if you're actually testing, bad if you're looking for free press only.

Posted: Sep 8th 2010 9:07AM potaco said

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I love free trials/free weekends/etc. To me, they are the perfect way to sample a product before making a financial commitment.

They've definitely motivated me to subscribe to certain games, such as LOTRO and EVE (which took two free trials for me to get hooked), that I wouldn't have even considered purchasing. They've also kept me away from others (Champions Online, Vanguard, and more). I 've blindly purchased some in the past, with mixed results (WoW, WAR, AOC).

I like being able to preview what I'm getting into. MMOs generally aren't just pick-up-and-play-whenever games; you generally stick with them for a decent amount of time. Free trials and the like allow gamers to see what's in store and if a game is a good fit or something completely different than they were expecting.

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