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Reader Comments (22)

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 9:20AM kjhasdfjkhk said

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I honestly don't mind the perma-open-beta games. If it's in open-beta for a long period of time with no real signs of launch, and there's a shop, etc, then in my mind it already HAS launched. Open-beta is just a word (well, two words hyphenated to be technical) it doesn't really change the fact that the game is running full time with a solid population, etc. I assume, for most free-to-play games anyway, that the switch from open-beta to launch is a slow process. There is no exact date. It just kinda flows from one to the other over an extended period of time. If it feels like launch, then it probably is. At that point, I'm sure even the developers feel like the game has launched, even if they do fall back on the "beta" excuse if the game still has bugs. But in all honesty, most MMOs have bugs. MMOs are an ongoing process, there is never one "complete" version of the game that will never change. They are always in a state of improvement and change, which is why I really don't see it as a big deal. Whether the game is in beta or is launched, there is still going to be maintenance downtime, there are still going to be bug fixes and there are still going to be content patches. That's the nature of this type of game.

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 9:25AM Rindon said

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I see your point on this but I just treat most open betas on F2P games as their "launch". It is the same thing but without the title of launched. Since there are no barrier to access, i.e. sub fee, the OB is the end result of the closed beta work. There are no wipes, most of the content is in the game and it is continually tweaked just like any launched game.

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 5:11PM Skyydragonn said

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@Rindon
My issue with this is mentioned in the article. The absolution of responsibility to provide functional, stable, balanced gameplay. If the game is permenantly in "beta" stage then the developers dont have to take the same level of responsibility as they would for a "launch" title.
Also you have to consider player rotation as players drop off from the games "beta" due to lack of polish, poor balance whatever, new players join up all excited and eager to play, spend money on the cash shop etc etc....all without knowing that the game has been in beta for a year already, and many features since beta began are still not fixed.
To me a company should not be allowed to monetize what is effectively a "test product" No other industry has focus or test groups that have to purchase products in order to test them. After all beta phases are for "testing" aren't they?
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Posted: Feb 15th 2011 9:42AM Scuffles said

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With F2P games the beta cycle means very little.

Closed beta was the last bastion of actual testing to some extent but it seems to be devolving into marketing. Things like "Like us on facebook/twitter and we might send you a closed beta code!". At least some work gets done.

But Open beta .... that means absolutely nothing save for the first week to a month at most and that's more of an acid test for their servers than a bug hunt. Then that beta period like the article suggests gets dragged out to 12 months+, steady patches and a few expansions. Mainly as a get out of jail free card in the event anything goes wrong "well it was still in beta herp derp"

Again I say Beta has lost all meaning .....

In my book the second they bring their Cash shop online ...... typically these days withing the first weeks of closed beta .... I count the game as being LIVE. Yes they need some money to operate but if you feel your game is at a stage where your comfortable charging the players money .... then its not a freaking beta.

This doesn't mean people shouldn't forgive the occasional screw up or what have you but people shouldn't be expected to accept the "its beta" with rose colored blinders. I think the most interesting part of this phenomenon is the "arbitrary point" where something happens and the game is now officially live, but there have been no major announcements or anything.

Yes the "arbitrary point" is a fascinating tipping point indeed. You will first notice it when someone from the forums who has been spouting the party line of "its still beta so STFU" has magically shifted to yelling at people who use the now arbitrarily defunct beta excuse, siting that the game has been live for over a week. They still defend the hell out of the game but its "LIVE".

Sure you will dig around for a while trying to find the announcement but you give up in short order as everyone seems to accept the games live status.

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 9:47AM Pingles said

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"Open Beta" is a great warning for users that the game may drastically change.

I think it's especially important in Eastern translations when the Western audience is not playing the game the way it is played in another market.

I think Zentia went through this where the developers were caught off guard by what the new audience was focusing on.

I prefer them to leave the tag on until they are confident that they have a finished game.

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 10:49AM Langx2 said

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@Pingles
"I think it's especially important in Eastern translations when the Western audience is not playing the game the way it is played in another market. "

That is complete and total nonsense. The only real differences between the eastern and western versions of any other game tends to be the price tag and release times, and we always find ourselves with the short end of the stick in that regard. Sometimes companies take that mentality of "less for more" any apply it to events and support. Either way, it is almost never in our best interests for a game to be "westernized".

Stop giving publishers and developers so much unearned wiggle room. They are fleecing us and getting free marketing every week by keeping their games "beta". I would say you are all acting like naive children, but the harsh reality is that the majority of you are naive children. No insult intended, that is the targeted fanbase of f2p mmorpgs.
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Posted: Feb 15th 2011 11:26AM Tanek said

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@Pingles

While it is true that some games can change over the course of an "open beta", that is true of any MMO over its lifespan, no matter if it is alpha, beta, or release.

I tend to be on the side of those who feel if it is good enough for a cash shop to be open and operating, it should be good enough to be called 1.0. There needs to be a line drawn before the game becomes the MMO equivalent of 'Spider-man the Musical'.
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Posted: Feb 15th 2011 1:50PM Pingles said

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@Langx2

You may disagree with me but my statement is not nonsense. If you had been in the forums as Zentia grew in popularity you would have discovered, as we all did, that the Eastern version of the game had far different focuses (including the open world PvP) than the new Western audience was looking for.
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Posted: Feb 15th 2011 10:04AM cic said

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Perpetual open beta is just a convenient excuse for these f2p developers. If your game is playable by all, with a cash shop and open for business then you've launched!

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 10:18AM Jade Effect said

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The MMO company can call it whatever they want. However, the moment they start accepting money, then I expect that they start taking responsibility for the state of the game. No more hiding behind the excuse of "lalala, we're still in beta, we'll work as and when we feel like it".

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 10:45AM Budukahn said

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I have to agree. Either your service is ready to deal with and support paying customers and is live, or it is not. This grey area a lot of companies seem to like to hide in makes me mistrustful, and keeps me from spending any time in their games or money in their cash shops.

I just don't trust that they will deal with my money professionally. After all, it's "only" beta and what do they drill into us about betas? That we're using it at our own risk and things might screw up. That's fine and dandy, but where my credit card number is involved, I'll pass thanks.
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Posted: Feb 15th 2011 12:04PM DeadlyAccurate said

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@Jade Effect Ditto. I'm not spending any money on a game that claims it's still in beta. I expect server wipes, drastic changes to the code, and extensive downtimes in beta. I'm not paying for that. I join betas to see if I'd even like the game. If I like it enough to keep playing, I might post on the forums my opinions and suggestions. (I did that a lot with APB). Otherwise, I move on to another game. But I certainly don't pay money to work for a company as their QA tester.
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Posted: Feb 15th 2011 12:20PM cray said

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@Jade Effect I disagree....especially if you are warned ahead time that the game is an open beta with cash shop. It's a situation of you pay at your own risk.

If you don't want to pay for a open beta game, then don't. It's really on you. Not how companies decide to do things.
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Posted: Feb 15th 2011 10:31AM Integral said

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I think a lot of them stay in "open beta" so they're free to radically change portions of the game or be protected from as much hate regarding bugs. They probably use the term "Beta" as a safety blanket. Just a thought (good does the same thing with every damn service they launch)

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 10:45AM Unverfied B said

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Once any money leaves my pocket and goes to the developers - the beta is over and i expect the the developers to treat it as a released product. (and reserve the right to bitch as much as i want if i don't see that treatment).

This applies any kind of business model - MT shops, "pay us sub fees while we keep calling it beta" (e.g. Wurm) and the new fad "preordering the game is the only way into beta" (e.g. Xsyon, and no, no chance in hell i'm paying those guys before i get a chance to play it.)

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 11:09AM Dogorox said

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As long a game sites like this one have open beta lists, there will be incentive to be on them for the free publicity. It's up to each individual site to decide on what, if any criteria must be met to get on their list, and that's a good opportunity for sites to distinguish themselves imo.

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 12:41PM MacDexter said

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I have a simple rule: if it's a beta (read: test!), there will be a character wipe afterwards. If there is no char wipe at the end, it's a more or less already launched game, where some company wants to earn money even before the gates officially open.

I don't remember such things to happen when the world of MMO's was dominated by subscription-based titles, but it is definitely happening now with f2p/cash-shop titles. And honestly - I am a developer myself - it is a perverseness of the term "test". Testing is supposed to find bugs, technical, logical, operational, whatever, not to give players the feeling of a headstart in the level rush.

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 1:50PM Mynsc said

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It's clearly a marketing move that tries to keep the game tempting for new players... a lot of the mmo community likes to get in a game as early as possible. By keeping the beta tag on it, the devs try to add some freshness to the game and keep the new players coming.

Of course, it's also an excuse for the countless bugs that plague most f2p games.

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 4:29PM Space Cobra said

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Two things I've seen before DCUO launched that were interesting and apply to this article:

1) There were many players (on the forum I frequent) that kept asking, confused, "Do we get to keep our characters after Beta is over?" When pressed as to "why" they'd ask such a question (from us MMO vets), their responses tended to be, "Well, all the F2P MMOs I've played never had a character wipe and this is the first one I've played that has."

So, in context of your article, that is REAL interesting, IMO.

2) This is My Opinion, but I think most of those studios, which are mainly F2P really either do not know the difference of "Open Beta" vs. "Launch" or they don't know when to announce an "Official Launch".

I think, partly, it goes to their work schedule: Get the game out, advertise for players, and keep patching. To them, even getting the game online, even in closed Beta (or even Alpha) is the start of money-generation. For businesses that want insta-cash and are small, I can see that. I also think some companies treat open beta as a "promotion" in line with "14 day trials" and similar trial offers. They got the terminology/definition wrong, in a sense. Really, for small companies, you want to make your money fast and this is an Asian way of thinking. It's not that they intentionally forget to mark a launch or they choose to "cover themselves with a Beta excuse", it's just that they are so busy, they don't think about it and by the time someone brings up the subject, it's awkward because the game has so obviously passed Beta stage (but no one's made an official announcement; Dev team/Engineer mentality/shyness seem the same the world over). An analogy would be if you lost a wheel of your car and took it to be replaced. They replace it, but they don't call you, but the car is visible from outside. You visit after a few weeks and demand if your car is fixed and they show you and expected you to call them asking about it weeks ago yourself.

Not a perfect analogy, but IMO, that's sorta the way of thinking with many Dev Teams.

Posted: Feb 15th 2011 5:37PM kgptzac said

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if you can pay for it, then it's not a beta

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