Over the years, I’ve become less and less a fan of participating in betas, for the reasons that you often hear: You experience buggier early versions that ruin your perception of the game, your characters get wiped, it robs you of the first-day experience, etc. And while it’s not a hard rule that I refuse to join one, I generally just… don’t. There’s more than enough to play right now to keep my attention until the new game can release.
But sometimes temptation is too great and there arises those hot-hot-HOT betas that everyone’s dying to get in. I mean, if someone came up to me right now and offered me a TOR or GW2 beta pass, I’d have to think long and hard about saying no. So I’m trekking into the Rift beta this weekend with a lot of other folks (and I’m sorry if you wanted in but didn’t get called this time around — I hope it swings your way next time!), which has made me re-evaluate my stance on betas.
One thing that a beta offers is the chance to become part of the development team. I think this concept isn’t as obvious to most players — testers — but it’s there. While most beta gamers are there for a sneak peek and to satisfy their curiosity (as well as get some free play time), the ones that do take the time to test systems and report bugs essentially join the dev team as unpaid QA testers. Post-launch, you can still give feedback, but there’s the sense that the dev team doesn’t take your input as seriously because you are now a customer — on the other side of the line.
Maybe it’s a matter of semantics, but I see passionate beta testers as being proud of this chance to team up with the creators and (hopefully) do some good that will give this game the best possible chance come release.
Speaking of sneak peeks and curiosity, while it’s not fair to judge an MMO by its beta, betas do serve to give a quick answer to a long-boiling question: Is it worth it, or should I just move on? We’ve all seen betas that dash hopes and crush anticipation in the community almost overnight — and when that happens, the company thanks its lucky stars for the NDA and a brief slice of time to try to make wrong things right. I’ve been in plenty of betas, both good and bad, for a single day only, just to answer that question. If there are severe red flags and my gut is saying that the game isn’t going to pull itself together, then I know to pull up roots and relocate my interest elsewhere. If I see a smash hit in the making, I’ll feel a bit better about the long wait to release. Betas don’t provide certainty either way, but we can’t be blind to the fact that they do provide indications for failure or success.
In any case, Rift’s beta’s under the usual NDA lockdown, so unfortunately you’re not going to be hearing me or anyone else chat about it until they lift it. However, anything publicly released is fair game, like this video that we posted at Massively.
Nothing radically new, but I do like the presentation. A few thoughts:
- Interesting choice bringing gamers/testers into it for their testimonies. Whether they’re pressured/encouraged/edited to say nice things or not is up to your opinion, but I like the angle of them saying it vs. the devs. Word of mouth is key for an MMO’s success, and the sooner we hear it from people who aren’t working for the company, the better.
- The dude was riding a gorilla mount, right? I wasn’t just making that up in my mind?
- Trion is putting it out there: “We’re going to be complete at launch, polished at launch, and there’s enough here to back up our claim that we are next-gen.”
- “Or play as a teleporting sniper” *BAMPF!*
- They’re really selling the dynamic rift events as the single biggest point of the game. It really is going to live or die on them.