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News & Features Discussion  » [Editorial] General: The Beta Is a Lie

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123 posts found

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 15980

OP  5/15/13 2:09:05 PM#1

One of the more common occurences as more games go free to play is to see "soft launches", so-called open betas, where the team can hide behind the beta moniker but simultaneously profit by taking players' money for cash shop items. In his latest column, Bill Murphy takes on this troubling trend. Read on and then tell us what you think in the comments.

I could probably make this a video rant, but in the interest of just getting it all out there, I thought I’d keep it to the old print format that we serfs have dominated since the movable type was invented (thanks, Mr. Gutenberg!). It’s a topic that’s been bothering me quite a bit lately: the idea of “open beta” meaning “we’ll take your money, there will be no wipes, but please don’t call it launch”.  The most recent case of this is of course Neverwinter, but Firefall seems to be doing the same thing (someone can correct me if there will be character wipes there). And it’s been the standard practice of the F2P MMO industry for years now. 

Read more of Bill Murphy's The Beta Is a Lie.

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Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Hard Core Member

Joined: 11/10/12
Posts: 1541

5/16/13 9:07:39 AM#2
I'm waiting for games in alpha now to "release" and start taking our money.

Elite Member

Joined: 3/24/05
Posts: 2425

5/16/13 9:08:43 AM#3
But is it not better that they openly admit that the game is not done then pretending to have a "gold" game... after all the raking in of money will happen any way... And most betas.. even closed ones are pretty much just marketing tools any way these days.

I guess soft launch will be the term that will be used in the future, but change does not happen over night.
Originally posted by flizzer
I'm waiting for games in alpha now to "release" and start taking our money.


That would be WarZ... So it is happening already =P


Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/15/11
Posts: 1198

5/16/13 9:10:58 AM#4

its F2P, the greatest thing we have ever seen and the future of all futures. /sarcasm off

Are you really bitching about a launch of a f2p game? Does it really ever even have a launch since you just purchase things from a cash shop and get the game for free anyway.

I suppose you can say they did have a launch, of the cash shop.

Keep pushing those f2p trash games, the world needs more.


Novice Member

Joined: 11/26/03
Posts: 116

5/16/13 9:11:35 AM#5
I agree after a time your released and no longer open beta. It's hard to see what's from devs perspectives when they want your money but say its open beta. Meh. Nice read now back to nw 20more levels to go

Elite Member

Joined: 10/06/09
Posts: 2342

5/16/13 9:18:13 AM#6

Lots of games are "Done" by Open Beta. Another reason that many of these games remain in "Open Beta" for so long is that there are countries out there which offer government grants for things like R & D, new product development, innovation, etc. However, once the product is officially released to market you can't get those grants or tax breaks or tax credits anymore. So beat is a lie, yes, you should basically consider Open Beta as release for most titles now. Closed Beta is where all the "real" beta testing is actually happening. 


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Staff Writer

Joined: 3/07/12
Posts: 475

5/16/13 9:20:53 AM#7

Isn't Smite still in Open Beta?

And for the record. All I got was a T-Shirt that I won through a contest like any other player. I bought my spider mount.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/12
Posts: 505

5/16/13 9:21:52 AM#8
well written .. open beta is just an excuse for bugs and flaws the game has.

Novice Member

Joined: 7/03/04
Posts: 3618

5/16/13 9:22:05 AM#9

Maybe there are legal advantages.  For instance, we all know mmo's typically have crappy launches.  By having a soft launch and calling it beta, they remove the class action lawsuit or demands for additional time tacked onto accounts, not to mention refunds.


I've noticed this more and more.  I don't necessarily mind. 


Managing Editor

Joined: 7/28/06
Posts: 2147

5/16/13 9:22:28 AM#10
No, SMITE is released now.  But they did this for a long time too.  Hell, I think DOTA2 still is.

Novice Member

Joined: 10/26/10
Posts: 52

Sometimes you can't wait, Sometimes you have to scream your name & just run in.

5/16/13 9:26:06 AM#11
Definitely Agreed, this is one of the reasons why I'm starting to take my NW gameplay slower... Hoping Zen and AD balance soon and I can rejoin w/o spending any more money (which I was already enticed into doing by lockbox keys)


Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/15/07
Posts: 1141

5/16/13 9:29:37 AM#12

For those of us who are actual developers (not of games), "beta" has a specific meaning. I think in the beginning, "beta" meant the same thing in game software. But then marketing got hold of it, and now wants to charge for being in a beta. Pre-order now and get into beta! BS I say.

For games, beta now means another way to make money, or to hide the fact that their product is unfinished and full of bugs.

For stand-alone games, you used to buy it and play it, with little or no changes. A game went "gold" when it was in this state. MMO's make it easy to sell a half-baked game, and keep baking it as you are being charged for it. Sort of like instead of buying a car, the MMO car comes and gets you every day to go to work, and the MMO car is not finished. But each day, as it comes to pick you up, it is a little bit more done.

RIP City of Heroes. One of my favorite MMO's.


Elite Member

Joined: 3/24/05
Posts: 2425

5/16/13 9:29:41 AM#13
Originally posted by Dogblaster
well written .. open beta is just an excuse for bugs and flaws the game has.

But as i said.. At least they are open with it and not trying to hide it (as was the way before... I look at you Champion Online, with friends ofc)


What are they "hiding" Olepi... It is in bold letter... BETA... as in not done yet... invest at your own risk.


Advanced Member

Joined: 12/09/08
Posts: 3285

MMORPGs are no longer about the mass multi-user

5/16/13 9:30:39 AM#14
The beta is indeed a lie when you put it that way. But look at it from an other side though...

(Open) beta is used to test the game. With the former sub MMOs there was a timeline laid out that the beta and open beta would happen, and after those had happened, the servers were wiped and the game would be launched. At that point you're certain to sell boxes and hope for an retention rate who'll pay a couple of months (mostly 3) of subscription.

With Free2Play MMOs things are a bit different. If at a certain point the game is (almost) ready to launch but you're not sure all bugs are killed developers opt to make it a 'soft launch' or rather call it open beta. During that period the game is monitored closely and you can expect a patch almost every day the first couple of weeks. Just to iron out the bugs that were not found during the (closed) beta period.

Yeah, Neverwinter is mentioned more than once as being in 'launched open beta', but Star Trek online's Legacy of Romulus will do the same. I just read on the STo forums that after LoR is released we can expect daily patches to iron out most bugs, glitches and exploits.

Personally I think it's a good move for Free2Play publishers to make open beta a 'soft launch'. They assure their players that the game won't be wiped anymore, and in the mean time these players are 'live testers', helping to iron out those bugs / glitches / exploits that have been overlooked during the (closed) beta period.

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Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/17/07
Posts: 14

5/16/13 9:35:33 AM#15
Totally agree with you but if you feel like this about open-betas then how about Kickstarter and, if i'm not mistaken Greenlight(dont use Steam so not really sure if its like Kickstarter). At least in open-beta you have about 80-95% of the game compared to to launched version, what does Kickstarter give? Absolutely nothing but some pictures and some promises in some cases. Its the same deal basically, accepting money from customer for a game still in "production", just like open-beta, but at least open-beta gives you an almost complete game(well complete in the developers view anyway, players would disagree on what a complete game would be).

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/11/05
Posts: 201

Not without incident.

5/16/13 9:35:43 AM#16
Glad to see you write this. I was just thinking this exact same thing recently and was trying to formulate how I would express it. You nailed it. Thank you!

Elite Member

Joined: 8/27/04
Posts: 8106

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

5/16/13 9:36:22 AM#17

YAY for someone being able to word it better than me and YAY to not being alone on this :D.

I have noticed this trend for quite some time but can't put a finger on what game started it or at least remember the first game i noticed it.

I am pretty sure MANY understand these gimmicks developers are pulling off,we just never hear about it much.Instead we see people starting up guilds before the game  even hits BETA.

I have been gaming online for so long,i have seen a ton of tell tale signs that i just know the developer is up to no good..

Want to know the funniest part about Beta's?You hear developers give their pr speech about everything is great,the fans love the entire game ect ect.How the heck do they know that,they don't even ask the Beta testers a single question about the game,yet they speak on behalf of the gamer's.Then you see the forums full of problems,crashes,bugs ect ect.


Samoan Diamond


Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/27/08
Posts: 282

5/16/13 9:39:30 AM#18

Couldn't agree more, nowadays beta's are marketing tools that provide the company with potential cash, while some people will treat beta's as a way to help the company find the bugs and fix them, this is generally restrained to the "This bug is halting my progress", and on another spectrum is the people that find exploitable bugs and hold them close, while abusing them.

My belief is if they are making money during a beta or asking for pre purchase to enter a beta(has been a higher than typical retail price in some cases)(different to say backing a KS and getting beta included), that's it, get reviewing, simple as that, if the product is unfinished or unpolished that's the companies fault.


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/18/09
Posts: 1524

5/16/13 9:40:41 AM#19
Totally support everything you said here.

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Advanced Member

Joined: 12/23/07
Posts: 1798

5/16/13 9:41:31 AM#20

Sites like MMORPG need to review and rate games based on what they are as soon as those games make progress permanent and start taking our money.  That's the only way this kind of crap is going to stop.

For instance MMORPG gave FFXIV WAY to much of a pass and they where not even trying to hide behind "open beta"


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