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Reader Comments (19)

Posted: Mar 19th 2012 5:54PM (Unverified) said

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Closed betas that take into consideration system specs and that last a year or so closed before doing open, are real betas. Betas that players get invited by pre-ordering or that only last "weekends" at a time, are just publicity stunts.

While there is no perfect system to get real testers instead of free players, the selective invitation one has a better chance at rooting out those that are not testing.

Until the standards of testing go back to what testing truly was years ago, and not have the game tested on release by paying subscribers, I'm going to say bust.

Posted: Mar 19th 2012 5:56PM aurickle said

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Honestly, this poll can't really be useful because it makes a fundamentally flawed assumption: that all betas are equal.

They're not.

There's a big difference between closed beta and open beta. The former is where bugs are being identified and fixed as well as systems being implemented, revised and polished. The people participating here should expect an unfinished product and should be expected to be helping identify bugs and provide developer feedback.

Open betas, on the other hand, are typically for server stress testing and load balancing. They're also usually used as a way to promote the game. It's too late to identify and fix bugs -- most items identified can't possibly be fixed by launch. People participating in these expect a finished/polished product.

So -- which type of beta are you asking about?

Posted: Mar 20th 2012 10:15AM Lenn said

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@aurickle Some of those f2p titles have been load balancing and stress testing their servers for years now.

They're quite thorough.
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Posted: Mar 19th 2012 6:03PM Azzura said

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Depends how they handle it -

TERA - with their everyone come test this 3 months ahead of time...even if you are an immature ahole and just want to troll the chat and level as fast as possible, and use foul language and yell at people asking you to please stop - was done poorly. You shouldn't have to turn off chat to test a game with your peers AND you shouldn't put a game out for people to test without a place to post bugs leaving email as your only course of reporting. Rift handled this last point very well. Mythos EU was another one that did it poorly...they didn't even give you an email at first!

Open Beta 2-3 weeks before launch, lasting a weekend for stress testing I think needs to be done. I have beta tested and cancelled my pre-order a few too many times now. Not because I pre-judged the game that included bugs, but because I played it enough to know it wasn't going to be something I will stay more than a month in. If they wouldn't have had that open beta - they might have gotten a sale from me!

But many do judge the game as 100% complete in betas and they shouldn't. That's why companies should be more careful with invites. How to do that is the trouble...Screening 50,000 people so you can let 10,000 OK testers into a beta is a bit time consuming.

Posted: Mar 19th 2012 6:14PM AlienFanatic said

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@Azzura

TBH, I think your descripion of the TERA beta is a great eye-opener for people who are interested in the game. I have a feeling that the folks you describe in your first paragraph will be the norm in TERA, not the exception, so that their open beta is a great way to see if you're going to want to foot the bill to play alongside those types of players.

Seriously, with the way that game is designed and the emphasis on busty female avatars, what kind of "community" do you expect?
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Posted: Mar 19th 2012 6:05PM The Cambo said

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I have participated in dozens for CBT and OBT and both focuses on different things. As Aurickle pointed, which type of beta are you asking about?

I would also like to point out that a bust or boom can vary depending if it's a F2P, P2P, or B2P. F2P, the publishers would want players to try out the game simply because they can continue to play it without spending money (if they choose to). However, B2P and P2P might be rough if the players did not enjoy the CBT and feel that the game is not worth the money. There is much less to lose for a F2P game.

Posted: Mar 19th 2012 6:09PM dndhatcher said

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Where is the "they are nothing but glorified demos that help more than the harm?" option?

Posted: Mar 19th 2012 6:10PM Fakeassname said

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Boon.

however that mostly applies to the community, not the developer.

the nice thing about Betas is that they are generally constricted to a mid level content cap and devoid of the imbalances produced by cash shops. so when you get into a beta you are more than any other time being offered a chance to experience the game's mechanics in their most un-manipulated prime.

no high end "god gear"

no ungodly grinding.

no paid enchanted gear beyond what is possible without a cash shop purchase.

resulting in a truly balanced game play since everything available is actually achievable by all without exceptional grinding or cash shop purchasing as if you are independently wealthy. where this tends to backfire for the company is that (A) it offers the game in it's peak state of what it can offer, but sadly a game's "best" mark may not always be all that great, and (B) after the game cracks the beta egg, it's typically all down hill from there as players who have become spoiled by the game in its prime get disappointed by the game's derailment due to level disparities and advantages paid for with cash.

(before the next "F2P is the devil" toolbag chimes in with how F2P is a failing format: P2P does the same damned thing, only difference is that P2P makes you pay out $150 in conjunction with a years worth of playtime before they give you an uber item Vs. F2P just letting you skipp the year's worth of play time and pay out the money.)

Posted: Mar 19th 2012 6:11PM smartstep said

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Depend on betas.

Though most betas are glorified demos nowadays.

Posted: Mar 19th 2012 6:18PM myr said

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They're a boon, but they need to stop being called betas.

If it's a stress-test, they need to call it such. If it's a pre-release demo to get you hooked, they need to call it that.

I can't remember the last true beta that I experienced, where bugs that you filed were actually fixed. And I've been in a lot.

Posted: Mar 19th 2012 6:40PM Ehra said

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I enjoy testing. If I can find bugs early on before other people run into them then I feel good about myself for a few minutes until I go on with my day. I also like giving feedback that may or may not end up mattering in the finished product.

Do you know what ruins beta experiences for me? The knee-jerk reactions from fanboys to honest, fair criticism. Yes, it's a beta and everyone should go in expecting a less than ideal experience. At the same time, IT'S A BETA. If there is a problem, it absolutely should be brought up up to and until the point that it's addressed by the devs and/or fixed. Nothing ruins my desire to participate in beta more than the droves of people that endlessly scream "IT'S A BETA, WAIT UNTIL RELEASE TO COMPLAIN." No. Release is too late, and completely misses the point of a beta to begin with.

Heck, the "wait until release!" cry of fanboys is annoying no matter the context. Kinda too late by then, isn't it?


Posted: Mar 19th 2012 6:51PM MtthwRddl said

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Even though Betas are now glorified playgrounds, I do feel they are a necessary evil.

If there weren't betas:

1) some people would be unwilling to drop money on a game without playing a free trial.

2) some people would drop the money and end up not liking the game.

at least with the pre-release "trial", players can see if they like the game or not before they drop all their money on it. Unless your ArenaNet and expect players to pre-purchase the game to get into beta.

Posted: Mar 19th 2012 8:04PM hansh0tfirst said

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I didn't vote, as It really depends on the beta (and the publisher).

A well organized beta set far enough in advance of launch to address concerns/bugs is a boon, assuming that the testers are willing to test and the development team is willing to listen.

A not-so-well organized beta set mere weeks (or possibly even days) before launch is really little more than just a marketing ploy.

I also think developers/publishers have to be *very* discerning about who they invite to beta (fanboys and freeloaders aren't particularly productive in testing anything but server load). Is the common practice of inviting 'friends & family' really effective at providing unbiased feedback? It's been my experience this is seldom the case.

Frankly, one of the biggest problems with betas is they've effectively become synonymous with "try before you buy".

IMO the industry needs greater division between development and marketing. Additionally, I think many problems could be alleviated if publishers were a little less uptight about offering genuine free trials before and after launch.

Posted: Mar 20th 2012 1:02AM Brendan Drain said

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In my opinion, a game not having a beta at all is usually a REALLY bad sign that the game is terrible and they don't want anyone knowing. A poor beta can ruin a game's marketability, but only if it's because it reveals that the game is rubbish. In short, any game that can be harmed by its beta isn't good enough and isn't ready to show the public. No amount of marketing can fix that.

Posted: Mar 20th 2012 5:16AM StevenTM said

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WAR's beta was brilliant, especially the community. I only wish they hadn't fucked up and dilluted that community with the bajillion (mostly empty, compared to the beta) servers at launch.

Posted: Mar 20th 2012 8:14AM nhat said

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I think the developers/publishers NEED to clearly say what the PURPOSE of beta is boldly somewhere on a popup window or when they sign up. It's obivously going to have bugs and glitches and people complain even though they're there for testing.

Posted: Mar 20th 2012 8:23AM ZenD said

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Open Betas, particularly those held shortly before relase when the games are essentially in code freeze minus tweaks for game-destroying bugs, have just become huge publicity stunts. Generating a media frenzy and getting players competing to see who can win a place. Wouldn't surprise me in the least to see companies start charging for exclusive 'beta' access keys soon, which would be just early releases with added character-wipes at the end.

If companies -are- taking these as serious feedback and testing sessions, then the paying customer will become their previously-paid testers...

Closed Betas are a very different animal indeed. No distinction in this poll however.

Posted: Mar 20th 2012 9:39AM (Unverified) said

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Definetly a boon. It allows the players to bug test, and give customers a chance to see if they want to buy it. OTOH, it gives customers a chance to see how horrible the game is.

Posted: Mar 20th 2012 10:57AM mrantimatter said

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@(Unverified)
I remember playing FF14 at PAX and thinking it was quite nice Then I go home, played the open beta, and quickly saw the problems with it.

When the best part of your mmo is character creation, and the opening fmv, you have serious problems.
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