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AnimeWill MMO Reviews and Opinions

Whether you care what I think or not. Here is my view on the world of MMORPG's.

Author: gom276

Is Open Beta becoming more about marketing a game than testing it?

Posted by gom276 Monday April 7 2008 at 1:29PM
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Well, as the title suggest I have begun to wonder is open beta is more of a marketing thing than an actual test.  90% of the open beta users are there to play the game for free or to get a head start on learning the game.  Some even just so they can brag they helped "beta" the game.

The recent marketing of open beta by Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning for Collectors edition purchasers created a mass run on online and brick and mortar shops to get the CE and a place in the open beta.  Now was this a play to get fans to rush out and buy the CE they normally wouldn't have bothered with?  Or was it a reward to those fans who wanted to spend the extra cash for a CE?

Now I am a fan of the games and played them when I was younger. (feeling old now that I can actually use that term.)  So I was excited about the CE, it has some great value with nice books and content to me that was worth the extra cash.  I typically buy CE's for games I am excited about.  Heck i even admit to owning a Tabula Rasa CE.  (great packaging by the way.)  So the open beta was kind of like a thank you for me.  But as I saw the increasing number of braggarts and haters.  I wondered is the practice of baiting fans into spending money becoming too commonplace.  

Take for instance the Halo 3 beta, if you bought another title for the 360, you also got a code to participate in the open beta for Halo 3.  Suddenly everyone was running out to buy Crackdown. (a good title by the way.)  And media suddenly shined a light on Microsoft saying it was a baiting program to sell more games using Halo's brand name.  Yet practices like this have existed for a long time in the MMO beta world.  Buy a subscription to this web site and get access to open beta, or even sometimes a closed beta.  We are suddenly a source of revenue to the game companies just for testing the game.  As it becomes more common place and the numbers prove out the practice.  (money talks as they say.) More and more gaming titles will follow suit.  They will get more revenue putting out an open beta where you have to buy something or pay for a service to get access.

Now I am not knocking the service I mean I am sure the game companies are constantly buried under the pile of please let me beta e-mails, forum posts and the like.  And I don't fault them for making money off us gamers.  heck that's why they do this anyways.  To make a living doing what they love.  (unless your EA...  jab jab... duck for cover.)  But is doing this lowering the quality of testing they would otherwise be able to do just for the sake of the mighty $?  This is my main question.  I beta test and have for a long time.  I get into beta's because of my past experience and recognition.  I keep my mouth shut on what I am testing and how.  and I keep my head down and test for the love of the games and to help improve the experience for others who come after.

The sense of joy you get when you find a bug and see it in the patch notes is wonderful.  Being the first to discover a hack and then getting a thank you PM from the dev team.  And ultimately the joy of seeing the boxed game on the shelf and knowing you had a part in it all.  A real part in it...  and it is kind of sad to see it twisted into a marketing ploy to make some extra money and then see the beta board littered with "this game sucks." or "this game is totally broken I wont play it when it releases."  For me getting into any beta is an honor.  It's like we are contract employees almost.  So to see this kind of stuff is sickening.  I expect that stuff on release day.  But not during open beta, and even some of the closed beta's now days.

So what do you all think, my fellow MMO lovers.  Will this ultimately become a fixture in gaming or will it fall away as the community of quality testers are put off by it?

thesweetmeat writes:

I just think it's disgusting that there is the idea of, "don't buy it until you try the beta."  It's absurd,  I always thought that's what the free month was for when you bought an MMO.  I think this is with a new generation of gamers, who just want free free free, or have too many shitty asian MMO's available so they just expect new games to let them play for free before they put down some money.  

Mon Apr 07 2008 3:06PM Report
Hexxeity writes:

You are just now wondering this?  For the larger developers, this has been the bedrock truth for many years now.

Smaller companies who cannot afford a big Quality Assurance team do actually need to use open beta as a final test, and they often suffer a bit of bad press for it.  However, if they actually manage to fix the game before it goes live, a rocky beta is generally forgiven.  Sadly, this almost never happens, as smaller developers are usually tied down to intolerant publishers who are seldom willing to postpone a release date.

Mon Apr 07 2008 4:14PM Report
gom276 writes:

Yeah its not so much the open beta part... I get that its how they are now using it as a sales gimmick.  Marketing users to buy this and get into open beta.  Instead of we need your help to test the game before release please sign-up for a spot.  Like the good old days.  Usually it was people who actually wanted to test the game since it required active participation.

Mon Apr 07 2008 4:20PM Report
rmk70 writes:

Uhh... common sense says open beta = marketing gimmick + stress test. That's all. Why would anyone think it's any different?

Mon Apr 07 2008 5:04PM Report
gom276 writes:

Guess it's just the tester in me...  I like to beta to make it better its just kind of disappointing when it's almost sold as a gimmick to sell more games.  Guess I am old school. (*cries at old age reference*)

Mon Apr 07 2008 6:25PM Report
fansede writes:

Open beta is not without risk of course. A few bad apples with NDA lifted could mean a slew of bad press and your product collects dust on the store shelves.

Mon Apr 07 2008 8:02PM Report
ZANGFEI writes:

Would i like to be in a Developers shoes these days...... No!

Mon Apr 07 2008 8:18PM Report
UncertaintyP writes:

Lol I can't believe you wrote this much about this

Mon Apr 07 2008 8:24PM Report
Gishgeron writes:

Of course its about marketing...but you can't deny that a game cannot be truly tested until a massive amount of players are set loose, hog wild, upon the world.


I think open beta is the most critical element of testing for releasing polished games.  Without tons of players doing things you would never think can you possibly fix it? 

Mon Apr 07 2008 8:35PM Report
Nightbringe1 writes:

I've seen to many betas where the elements that needed fixing were already set in stone, or the developers wished they had the time to fix but it was already to close to release to change.

Mon Apr 07 2008 10:14PM Report
Saito^ writes:

Well of course there is some promotion involved with open beta's this is mainly because this is actually the first time the public can see the game and even though it's a "beta" right there and then most of them will judge if they will continue to play the game ones it goes retail.

As for the development side of the open beta testing.. This is probably the best way to stress test the servers. Also any problems at least early game will come to light.

Tue Apr 08 2008 3:09AM Report
Smikis writes:

some get angry that ppl expect to try game before buying it.. but i tend not to buy game if i canot try it before


but generaly there are things opposing each other

like i do not wish to buy game if i dont get to try it.. mostly cuz developers doesnt believe in their product, and just feel like geting all the money they can. if game is good few weeks wont make any dimishing effects. it just increase sales


yet since free trial doesnt apear at start, and free trial mostly means they need more suscribers badly, which isnt good thing. i believe there should be open beta which can hold anticipated number of players who will buy game..

2weeks-1month open beta was never ment for testing and never will be, i can point out such titles as lineage2 or wow, do you really believe they made those 1 month open betas to test their game after 5 years develoment.. dont be stupid and blind. ill mostly go back to wow after second expansions rather than some title as age of conan or warhammer.. if i cant try those 2 games before buying them..

for some you in america it can be cheap. someone for me here with  another currency game cost up to 3-5 times that it cost for you..

i can point it simple.. imagine buying game costing 150-200$ , im sure you will think it over . instead of rushing and geting game for those 20-50$


Tue Apr 08 2008 4:24AM Report
squalleitor writes:

Yes its sad to see the "hard core gamer" putting a comment like "this game sucks" beta testers (closed ones) should be choosed more carefully, its about test, marketing could come with OB, and i join the gamer community that despise buy beta to get live and alike

Tue Apr 08 2008 8:32AM Report
thesweetmeat writes:

"Uhh... common sense says open beta = marketing gimmick + stress test. That's all. Why would anyone think it's any different?" 

Because I played MMO's and MUDs before they were populated by selfish little kids, when it was actually fun to be part of developing something in its final stages (even if it were only minor bugs).

Tue Apr 08 2008 9:53AM Report
Tarka writes:

Open Betas are usually stress tests.  By definition, developers need a sufficiently large number of people in order to achieve this.  And when so near the launch date, the only way of getting that many people into the game is to throw open the doors (so to speak) and invite large amounts of people into the game.  Sometimes far beyond the number of active posters following the game in the games forums.

Its a situation which mutually benefits both potential customers and developers alike.  Developers get to showcase their product and attract a bigger audience, all the while a potential audience gets to try the game prior to purchasing it.  Which can help the game tremendously.

Fri Apr 11 2008 5:23PM Report writes:
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