To Beta or not to Beta?

One of the interesting things about blogging is that you start to examine your own habits looking for something that might make a semi-entertaining article.  One of the really odd things that I find myself doing is getting super excited about a new game.  This is frothing at the mouth, insane email account checking, reading every scrap of info I can about the newest bestest thing ever….

Then I finally get the email… I’m in beta.   WOOHOO!  Best day EVER!  I rush home from work, impatiently download the client and maybe wait a few days if it’s one of the ever more popular weekend only events.  I’ll jump in and play a little bit to see if I like it.  Once I play enough to realize that  will in fact be playing this game, I then play a bunch of different classes for a few levels to see which I like the best.

All sounds pretty normal I bet.  I would assume that most of you are right there with me so far.  But then I do what is possibly the oddest thing of all… I stop playing beta.

Wait?  You do what?!?!!  Why would you stop playing something you are SOOOO excited for?  Two Reasons.

1. I don’t want to ruin the story or get burned out on the game at all.  I want it to be exciting when it is actually released.

2. I don’t want to waste my time on characters and progress that is just going to get wiped at the end of beta.

I always like to feel like I’m making progress.  Play a game for an hour, little higher level or little closer to whatever goal I’ve set for myself.  Progress that is just going to get flushed down the NDA toilet to Mordor?  No thanks.  I’ve decided to buy your little game now and will be back when I can actually make some progress.

The only exception to this rule I really have ever made is with Star Trek Online.  When they were transitioning to F2P they made it available on their Tribble test server for anyone who had a subscription to play.  I really wanted it to succeed so I jumped on to test for bugs.  They also had several rewards that they gave people for testing.  I don’t remember all of the exact level bands, but they gave several GOOD rewards for leveling up and beating on the content.

So the real question that game developers should be asking themselves if they really want people to test their games is “What can we give the players?”  I little “I Beta Tested The Heck Outta Those Pandas” title just isn’t going to cut it.  My time is precious… give me something cool.  Maybe it’s only a cosmetic.  Maybe it’s a little xp boost to get past the lower levels I’ve just tested 15 times.  Maybe it’s one of the devs coming to my house to clean my bathroom in a wookie suit.

(unless they are female, then I’m thinking the Harley Quinn costume from the Batman video games… all open for discussion).

So what would make you more likely to sink some serious time into a Beta?

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3 responses to “To Beta or not to Beta?

    • I completely agree with holding until a certain level. STO had several different tiers basically. Get to level 5, here’s something. Get to level 20, here’s something cooler. Get to max level, here’s something super cool. And I personally am not a title-chaser. Just a title wouldn’t do much for me unless it was insanely cool like “The Non-Gouty” or “Thrower of Babies”

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