Rift is in alpha/beta mode. Guild Wars 2 has an new demo on the way, and that there BioWare game is secretly in alpha… we think. Even for those not playing any of the three upcoming games, they are all having some effect on bloggers and mortals alike. It is simple fact that by now a beta is as much a marketing tool as it is an engineering one. So how are they being handled? Ardwulf takes a few blogger samples and finds that the hype is staling or souring for Rift. He believes that Rift is teetering on overexposure, worries about the end game hidden away in alpha, and even compares Rift’s trajectory to the abject success of Warhammer Online. Killed in a Smiling Accident maybe responds by asking for just the facts, ma’am. Leave the emotional opinings at the doorstep. I have noticed this tiring in Rift. I myself did not even play last beta event. Yet, it was because I agreed with Syp’s earlier statement that I was simply ready for Rift. I did not need a preview anymore, I wanted the full deal! I was having fun in the lower zones. Even without experiencing a dungeon, I had heard they were pretty fun. Ardwulf is worried about the end game, but I am not sure what he expects. Like a good conventional MMO, I would expect the end game to have PvP, contested PvE, instanced PvE, raid PvE, and rifts galore.
With so many good MMOs out there, I am not really worried. I know Rift can be plenty of fun, well worth the initial cost of entry. If their end game sucks, I’ll just move on. I am no longer looking for a home. I am looking for another fun vacation spot.
Still, is the limited access of the Rift beta causing some sort of negativity? Instead of a couple week long beta, Trion has been limiting the beta to beta events, each a couple days long. This provides a really compressed beta. The beta testers build up their excitement. The servers get a lot of concurrent users all through events, and the game is shown as alive. It could be that this roller coaster of excitement and fun is just starting to weigh heavy. People want to begin the steady, relaxing train ride around the theme park instead of only being able to play in dashes.
I still don’t think that’s quite it. I think the reason is because people feel the game is pretty much done. There is very little “the game needs more time in beta.” There are issues, for sure, but I imagine that the staling of beta is most felt by people that are done with the preview, and want the real deal.
Hunter’s Insight admires the Rift beta enough that he thinks it might be wise of ArenaNet to use something similar for their “beta” for Guild Wars 2. As he notes, this was very similar to what ArenaNet already did for the original Guild Wars. I would bet good money, that ArenaNet will do something pretty similar. If nothing else, Guild Wars 2 is as much an MMO as it is a single-player RPG. How many betas do we get for the latter?
As I noted earlier, there will be another demo at PAX East for Guild Wars 2. My 8-ball gave me some crap though when I thought there was a decent chance of it being a play-at-home demo as well. The demo will not be available for home entertainment. It seems demo engine was made to be quite flexible so that additional content could be added as necessary. Could it be that this preview system is also an early version of what will be the Guild Wars 2 beta, where available content and features are chosen by ArenaNet, and the rest is unavailable?
Even if it is not completely original, I think how Rift is handling beta is going to become the norm. A small group if dedicated testers will be in alpha under NDA, while the masses get treated to a preview in beta. It will be necessary to generate spikes of interest as the MMO genre burgeons. If Rift, Guild Wars 2, and Star Wars: The Old Republic prove to be successes, it’s going to be harder and harder to get excited for a future game’s beta. It would be usefully ironic if the MMO genre matured enough to the point where the only people that wanted to join a beta, were those that wanted to test.
we can’t all come and go by bubble