Betas: A Mating Ritual

We here at Kill Ten Rats aim to combine promiscuity and sexuality analogies with MMOs wherever a feasible connection appears.  Not as blatant as some in the industry, but we still have goals to maintain.  William Dobson over at Massively discusses the requirement for an MMO to have a beta with his article No beta, no thanks.

It is an understandable premise.  Playing an MMO is something more than a casual flirtation such as pushing a bomb in silly hats toward a base or shooting zombies on your lawn.  It’s an intimate experience  requiring a higher level of attention with what we would argue is a greater reward.  So when our companion video games require us to leave money on the bedstand before getting our hands in to the gameplay, it is justifiable that the expectations are laid out.  It is not just money though; sometimes days or weeks of play before are required before getting in to the end game.

Still most MMO players want the virgin experience with a new MMO, as awkward as the coupling may be.  If they could wait awhile longer until after that big maturation patch, the quality would be greater.  Yet, there is always the feeling that something might be lost when not surging forward with the crowd.  No one wants to do whats already been done (and done a lot on the MMO blogosphere).

It’s no wonder that betas have become a zone of safety for both parties.  The player can try the MMO without exposing herself to that uncomfortable moment when the thought crosses her mind that it would’ve been better not to wake up with the game on her hard drive.  The MMOs can unabashedly proclaim that the experience will indeed be awkward, but full bloom adventures are just on the horizon.  It can be comfortable education for both sides.

in the bushes

7 thoughts on “Betas: A Mating Ritual”

  1. I agree with Spinks. I am sick to death of these games that have an open “beta” a week before launch, when we know damn well the CD’s are gold and have been cut and are ready to ship. Any changes that would be made are geared up for some massive launch day patch already anyway.

    Just call it “open trial to see if you like this game after we kept it closed for months”

  2. Beta is a weird word to use for something like the recent Champions Online thing. Something that lasts only a few days, that anyone can participate in, and which offers no real possibility of significant change before the game goes Live, sounds like a Free Trial, so why not just call it that?

    Still, that’s language for you. Open Beta is becoming the signifier attached to the concept of “limited period free trial immediately before launch”, so we may as well get used to it.

  3. I won’t touch an MMO anymore without a “play before play” option. I like knowing what I’m getting into, even if I have to wait a few months after launch for it to happen.

    I do like that fresh feeling of a totally new game but when it comes down the cost of the box vs. “doing it first”, I’ll save the cash.

  4. The problem is that players have confused “Beta” with “Demo”.

    Every game should have the ability to try it before buying it.

    Trying to operate a beta with a large number of players who are just trying it for free: That’s getting messy.

    I’d like to see an end to the era of large open betas and usher in a new era of free trials available at launch. That would be the most honest approach.

  5. I think that what they need is to make the standard 2-week trial available from release. That way people won’t QQ about not getting into the beta or not being a fileplanet member or whatever.

    Companies that don’t make the trial available from release (i.e. all of them at the moment) are basically admitting to me that their game is a steaming pile.

  6. I agree with most of what is said here.

    Betas are not a good environment for people who want a trial before making a commitment to a game.
    But unfortunately, most MMO developers only seem to have beta’s, and not trials.

    Which in turn causes the player base to treat the beta’s ‘as if they were’ a trial, which is a mistake as the game is not finished yet. (of course they treat it as if it was)

    If I were in the developers shoes, I would have a beta of course, to work out the bugs, but make it clear from the get go that there will be the option of a two week trial for the game on release.
    While consistently pointing out the fact that the ‘game is not ready’, for the thick.

    I think it is a very good idea for games to have a two week or so trial, as it gives players the ability to give it a go without risk to themselves, and makes the game far more accessible in general.

    If EVE Online didn’t have it’s two week trial, I wouldn’t have gotten into it in the first place.
    (while I didn’t stay, they did get money out of me as a result of having the trial)

    Sure they won’t really be able to do box sales as a result, but they will likely pick that money up by making the game more accessible, which will grab people who otherwise can’t or won’t just go out and buy any MMO that pops on the shelf.
    It gives the studio a wider audience, and more time to sell their product.

    If their only using beta, then that’s all their banking on to sell their product, which as I mentioned before, is limited and incomplete. So, not such as great idea.

    But that’s enough of my inane rant.
    I go now.


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