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Beta, Beta Everywhere

By Laura Genender on January 10, 2007 | Editorials | Comments

Beta, Beta Everywhere

Community Spotlight: Beta Beta Everywhere...
By: Laura Genender

Editor's Note: This is an edition of a weekly column by Community Manager Laura Genender. Each week, Genender takes to our message boards and examines a specific topic raised by our community. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of MMORPG.com, its staff or management.

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The forums are overflowing with talk of Vanguard. There are the avid followers, who have nothing but good to say of the game; there are the posters who predict its immediate failure and demise. “The trolls have a point,” one thread argues, while another reminds posters: “It’s in beta testing…DUH!”

Of course, these are just the extremes. There were more conservative users, those who favored the game for the uniqueness of the classes or the scope of the world but understood it still had it’s faults, and those who fault the developers for releasing too early but admit that the game has potential. In a thread titled No Immersion forum posters got a bit off topic and began to discuss the state of the game’s release date – Poster dukelouie pointed out that some of the immersion issues were due to missing animations, and that the product was far from complete.

Poster Jackdog blames Sony. “SOE is rushing this one out just as they did EQII, SWG, and every other game they got their hands on.” Vanguard’s list of “features to be added just after launch” is somewhat daunting to the cautiously hopefully silent majority of Vanguard watchers. Gamers remember EverQuest II’s release, with unbalanced classes, innumerable bugs, and a mere fraction of the original EverQuest’s scope.

Many games are rushed out of the production office; how many games in the last few years have we seen launch with an incomplete tutorial? In my opinion, that is part of WoW’s huge success…unlike many of their competitors, Blizzard included a complete tutorial in their original game, while Lineage II’s tutorial wasn’t even added until a later expansion, and many potential subscribers likely threw in the towel in early frustration.

But then you have the other side of the extremes – your games like Tabula Rasa or Pirates of the Burning Sea. Tabula Rasa’s spent so many years in development that the length of time has almost become an industry joke, and Pirates of the Burning Sea loses hype and faith as time floats by without a release.

“I did hear the devs are intentionally keeping some content out so when the game is released there will be some new material,” dukelouie later adds. “I do believe the game will be fine and animations will be fully implemented by release.”

But user Ulujain isn’t so optimistic. “Artifact pulled the ‘you haven’t seen all our content shtick with its Horizons beta testers too.’” I agree with Ulujain – what good comes of holding back content once open beta’s hit? Sure, open beta isn’t supposed to be about attracting customers…but we all know that it’s used as a free trial by many potential subscribers.

“Open Beta is as necessary as any interview, ad, et cetera. It’s called Word of Mouth to help cushion those launch day sales. So far, although I will give them the next three weeks to turn me around, my word of mouth is that I am glad I wasted $10 as opposed to $50”, says Beauman.