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Free Zone: Are Betas Useful?

Posted Nov 16, 2009 by Jon Wood

Free Zone: Are Betas Useful? Free Zone columnist Richard Aihoshi tackles the idea of beta testing and asks whether or not the development phase is as useful as has always been implied.

Richard Aihoshi

Does it strike you as kind of curious that by the time most MMOGs reach the closed beta stage where members of the public can apply to see and try them, there doesn't seem to be much true testing left to do? In this respect, I'm referring to elements, features, balance, etc. that are still subject to decisions or meaningful changes depending on the feedback the participants provide as well as related metrics.

Given the fact a substantial number of free to play offerings are imports that have already been operating for some time in other regions, I understand their betas aren't clean slates. The extent to which these games can be modified is always going to be limited. Accordingly, I don't expect that anything and everything can be changed. However, I can't help but wonder if there's any real point to "testing" when everything important is already decided or locked down.

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