Video Game Publishers Sure Like 'Extending' Betas

Yesterday, Bungie announced a two-day extension for the Destiny 2 beta, continuing a long-running video game industry tradition of announcing the same surprise news again and again. It's as sure a thing there is in video games: If there's a beta, it will be extended.

In video game parlance, a "beta" is a near-final version of a game that is used for testing, tweaking and fixing bugs. Game companies will sometimes open their betas to the public, especially for multiplayer games, in hopes of testing out their servers and finding significant problems. Betas also make for good demos, giving players a taste of a game such as Destiny 2 weeks before it comes out. And they always last longer than game publishers say they will.

We first wrote about this ridiculous trend in 2015, in the wake of Star Wars: Battlefront, Rainbow Six: Siege and Battlefield: Hardline all going live with betas that were then "extended". Since then, we've seen these beta extensions for The Division, Overwatch, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Doom, Friday the 13th, Halo Wars 2, Steep, For Honor and even Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. If a video game has a beta, it's safe to say that it will be extended, often because of what the developers say is fan demand:

  • Bethesda: "It's not over yet. We've extended the #DOOM Open Beta due to overwhelming demand. #FightLikeHell all day until tonight, April 18, 11:59pm ET"
  • 343 Industries: "Yup!! Because so many folk have asked, we're extending the HW2 beta to Wednesday! #HaloWars2"
  • Ubisoft: "Over the last few days, we've seen an incredible amount of excitement for the game… In order to allow everyone who has access to fully enjoy the Beta, we're happy to announce we're extending the duration by 24h for all players."

It's certainly possible that Ubisoft, Activision, Bethesda, Microsoft, Bandai Namco and other video game publishers all independently decided to extend their betas in the interest of pleasing fans and testing servers. It's also possible that it's tough to estimate how long a beta needs to be.

Another view is that these beta extensions are part of a carefully crafted marketing plan, decided months in advance by a PR team that knows how to drive buzz. What gets more headlines, a beta that is announced for one week, or a beta that is announced for five days and then miraculously extended?

This is not a nefarious practice, of course — longer video game betas can be beneficial for both players and developers — it's just a silly one.

Feel free to insert your own joke here about Destiny being a beta that was extended for three years. I would, but it'd be too easy.


Comments

    A Beta is not a Beta until real players push the game and they realise internal testers are NOT players. Testers play the code.

    That's cool and all, but there's not much to do in the beta. I've already done everything with all 3 classes.

      Got in a fireteam with 2 mates and spent a fun hour just exploring the start of the strike, which feels a lot like part of a patrol zone. Lots to discover.

      But yeah, there's a lot less than in the original Beta. I'm fine with that though. Nice taster. Still not sure about the change to weapons loadout (autos in two slots is confusing)... Back to the backlog... :)

    It’s not a bad tactic for getting people who don’t give a shit on board by letting them know that a “beta” is open for a bit longer.

    Xbox Live: “DESTINY 2 BETA OUT NOW!”
    Me: “Oh, I didn’t know about that…. by the time I download it it’ll probably be closed”
    Xbox Live: “DESTINY 2 BETA EXTENDED!”
    Me: “Oh cool, I could download it now….. no wait I don’t care”.

    See how that works? I was, at one stage, about 10% more likely to participate that I originally was.

    Now if only they could make the beta (or the game) worthwhile, they’d really have me!

    LOL, they've got a thing or two to learn from CIG - 'alpha' on Star Citizen has been going on for a long time now, although whether it has been extended voluntarily or through ineptitude is still unknown. Still, some fans seem to like it - more opportunities to buy ship jpgs.

    Pfft, check out ARK - Evolved, Steam early access with DLC.

    Dev team: We need to properly stress test our servers and see how our netcode holds up under real world conditions. We need a public beta.
    Publisher: Hmm... this could be a great opportunity to get some publicity. We need a public demo.

    And so, the modern AAA "beta" was born. If it goes well, I can't see any reason the publisher wouldn't want to extend it for a couple of extra days to give a few more people a chance to try it out.

    The Destiny 2 PC beta wasn't extended. My PC friends weren't very happy :(

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