Tell Us Dammit

Dammit, we want you to tell us stuff! Stuff like what you think of betas.

This isn’t some marketing survey or whatever. It’s an emotional investment in you. Yes, we’re interesting in knowing you, Kotaku reader person. You probably know enough about us — more than you even want to, we’re sure. But, hey, we’d like to know about you, too.

Anyway, here’s today’s question…

The StarCraft II beta is well underway and proving hugely popular. The Halo Reach beta begins in less than two weeks. Betas are big things now, as either valuable tests for the developer or, more often, vital cogs in the marketing machine. Do you play betas? Do you get excited about playing a small segment of an unfinished game? Has a beta ever changed your mind on a game, persuaded you to pick it up or dissuaded you from buying it?

Me? Increasingly I find myself caring little for betas. Just as I am less inclined to want to spend much time with an early preview build of a game, there's something about knowing the game is still incomplete that puts me off. I feel like I can't commit myself to a game when I know I'm going to be starting from scratch once it is finally released. I get why we see all these public beta tests, but frankly, you can count me out.


Comments

    I played the Blur Beta. I actually really enjoyed playing it. Usually with Demo's you can't play the online multiplayer component, so being able to do that was fun. It was actually quite a stable build and it only crashed on me a couple of times. I find it interesting to note that some game companies are deciding to charge for their demo's. I had thought having a demo could be very advantageous for a games publicity and sales (except of course if the the demo is craptacular).

    I usually enjoy them - but it all depends i guess

    Warhammer online beta was fun

    Got into the lego universe beta which was a waste of time as i never even got to play due to activity times!

    Quake online beta was also a great experience.

    I just like the feeling of being one of the first to try things - i don't get to do it often so i enjoy it when i do :)

    Only ever played the MAG beta, but it was worth it...a hundred odd hours from memory. Turned the game into a day one purchase for me. Also, the fact that you didn't know what maps they were testing that day was cool...always come across something new.

    I have mixed feelings about Beta's. I love seeing a Beta evolve and taking part in them.

    But there is a trend recently towards Beta's just being made 'public' before release, essentially serving as demo's for the game with a built in excuse for any misgivings. Only a lot of these are then locked down by making beta access pre-order exclusive, or exclusivity through other venues (which in my eyes, is as bad as paying for demos).

    I can understand why some of the betas for heavily anticipated games may never be truly 'open' due to sheer numbers. I suppose I just miss the ability to try games prior to purchasing them with a proper demo.

    It really doesn't bother me as the beta seldom tests the aspects of the game I'm interested in.
    Starcraft for example, I'm more interested in the single player game than multiplayer.

    That said, I'm going to play the Reach beta.

    Betas work if your product is already highly polished and there are just minor tweaks that need to be made. I think of Halo, Blur etc.

    Where they fall down and really hurt a game is when the beta reveals faults that come right from the core of the game. These cannot be addresed with a simple beta. All these really do is ensure the product to come is in deep trouble of even getting decent sales. I think of Alien vs Predator as a victim of this. I was suprised that the internal testing team did not realise the product probably should not have been exposed to the greater public.

    I think they are great, even if I don’t necessarily want to play the game you get to reap the benefits of a larger testing base when the game does go retail.

    I take them on a case by case basis and whether I buy them or not is far to complex a decision process to simplify down to liking a beta or not. I picked up Bad Company 2 on the weekend because it was half price and love it even though I had no inclination of getting it prior.

    I think they are as much a PR exercise as a legitimate attempt to get player feedback but tick both boxes. If you don’t want to play they you don’t have to as plenty of folk will in your spot and that is just fine too.

    Depends what it is. So far I have tried only a handful of betas - Heroes of Newerth, MAG, Mythos, Aion and occasionally the WoW PTR (sort of beta). Most of these are already highly polished, end of development sort of preview. It isn't so much beta as it is a Release Candidate. Yes I reported bugs etc but most of the time I just played the game and then decided whether or not I actually enjoy it. In some cases (HoN) I got so sick of playing beta I stopped playing it.

    This is VERY different from playing Beta builds internally in a game company. Most of the time I can list a million bugs, they crash a lot, most of the stuff don't even LOOK like the final build (regardless of the mantra that Beta = Art complete). In this sort of situation I treat the Beta as more of a full QA rather than a 'preview' of the game.

    Releasing Beta/RC to the public is most of the time a marketing drill. It also helps to expand the QA department so instead of having 10 jaded QAs they have half a million people doing it for them. I'd very much like that people start releasing real Betas though instead of tagging the word to what essentially is a demo :)

    I just had a rant about this on the Xbox forums. . . so game developers TAKE NOTE!

    I hate it when you fire up a game, get through all the intro crap, only to be met with the message "Press Start to Continue".
    Then, pressing start just takes you to the main menu. Why not just go to the main menu automatically?

    So. . .
    The reason Im having this rant is because of Final Fantasy 13.
    I start the game from the Xbox Dashboard.
    The first thing Im presented with is a black screen with a message that says "Press A to Continue".
    No intros, no menus, nothing!
    So what the hell am I pressing 'A' for?

    Then, I have to press the A button TEN TIMES to actually get into the game from where I left off.
    TEN TIMES!

    You shouldnt have to press it more than twice.
    Start Game/Continue.

    Ive noticed its predominantly Japanese games that have an infatuation with multiple button pressing menus. Like the menu screen is a game in its self.
    Damn frustrating!

    /rant

    My first beta was the WoW beta. . . the beginning of a long and suffering addiction.
    Also got into the Cities XL beta. That was a fun game.

    I would reckon it's a matter of personal preference.

    Would I want to participate in a beta where some things are overpowered (Think HoN) as is the case in most multi-player games? Frankly not, since you'd just be wasting your time when someone else would already have the inherent advantage.

    But in terms of a beta for FPS, it wouldn't do much harm since all they wanna do is tweak the performance slightly etc. etc.

    But if someone dropped by to give me a red dead redemption beta, i'd say hell yes, simply because the beta can't be THAT bad, and you'd get a general feel for the gameplay and storyline.

    looks like that community award is working, great comments to a narrow question, i love demos, still have every demo disk i ever got, but online betas when they finally work, arnt worth the effort for me, kinda like sex without the come

    Only been in a few Betas, those that I have gone for are mainly to make sure it's what I want from the game.

    Even if it's not polished, it gives you the best idea of what it will be when it is done.

    So I see them simply re-affirming what you knew about the game and confirms it as a purchase in the future, or the flip side, not what you expected so probably will stop the purchase. Exactly the same as a Demo that is to be release a week before the game hits the shelves.

    Overall though, it is for the Devs really, helps with bug testing and of course network testing (99% of all betas are online games).

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