Beta Fatigue : 2018 Version

I wrote about Beta Fatigue back in 2009. For me, then, it was the start of the changing process of how Beta tests went from actual bug hunting and shaping games to public marketing stunts. We have become even worse with beta phases lasting several years while “testers” pay for the honor of supporting a beta cycle. Heck, I was once a part of a group that was paid to beta test. Yes, you rea that right. Paid. The organisation was tasked with stocking beta testers who actually gave focused feedback. (The testers didn’t get paid, but the company did.). Still – that kind of engagement, where beta testers could lose their spot if they weren’t being productive and helpful is a better start than what I see in betas today. You can tell on the beta forums for Magic The Gathering: Arena a very vocal group who are trying to sway developers to basically give everything away for free because those individuals have zero intention of actually ever paying a cent. The idea that they would have to pay for any part of a game in 2018 is appalling. That is the sole focus of this loud group it seems – get the game as free as possible so they don’t have to invest in or support the company financially. Those that speak against them are attacked as employees of the company or rich whales that want a monetary advantage.

So much for civil discourse. Still, I am on a similar side of that but for other reasons.

The new Beta fatigue is more damaging in my real upcoming world example. I love the game, MTG:Arena. I have played around 1000 matches. I have several decks I love, tons of cards to build more, and over 20,000 gold (around 20 packs worth) that I haven’t spent because I have no need to. The game is slick, fun, challenging, and has a bright future.

Except I probably won’t play it.

I can’t imaging having to play another 1000 games just to get back to where I am today. I love where I am. I’m in a great spot. I am invested and have invested a TON of time and energy into it. But starting from square one on “launch” day just do do everything and collect everything I already have will not happen. Having this realisation over the weekend I almost logged out and was done – but then I realised that no, this is my time to play. When they wipe everything I have done and accomplished to date, when the “final” beta wipe happens is when I will be done with the game. And it is a shame because I won’t be supporting them financially after all (and they do deserve it). Before you get mad at me for that last line – the truth is, the game could be out right now. It doesn’t need to be in beta. They are choosing to leave it there and have people invest hundreds of hours (and dollars, the payment system is live. When the final wipe happens no one gets refunds of cash but gets refunded  the crystal currency to start fresh). The game runs well enough and with some avatar tweaks and basics the game is ready for prime time.

The only option I can see that would change my mind would be if I were able to pay for the option to keep my beta progress. Have a supreme collectors edition. I’d pay well over $100 to keep my deck and current progress.  That would also keep me playing, and paying in the future. Unfortunately, as of now, I will just be a beta player – who did help shape the game, but will not be a part of it when it moves to live status. Which may be 2 years from now, with how many other betas have run recently.

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. It’s a curious phenomenon. When I beta’d EQ2 I played nothing but the beta for about three months before it went Live. I couldn’t wait for launch. I was champing at the bit. I was desperate to get a permanent character and redo all the stuff I’d already done. That was an old-school, closed beta where you were supposed to take the testing seriously but the I had much the same experience with both Rift and GW2, where I was only in a series of Open Beta Weekends – could not wait to get to Live and do it over.

    On the other hand, when it comes to betas for expasnions for games where i already have a permanent character, I learned long ago to avoid them like the plague. There it does feel exactly like you describe – the last thing i want to do is play through the content then have to do it all again.

    I think it depends entirely for me on that element of permanence and then only, very specifically, as it relates to the permanence of my character, not of the game itself.

    1. I am similar enough historically with MMOs – although I have stopped doing those so I only have to level once – in the past it wasn’t that much of an issue. Perhaps because their aren’t characters at all in this instance.

  2. I was also in the old beta wave, up until the launch of Rift if I recall. The closed beta stuff, the ones where it seemed every week there was a reset. I enjoyed being part of the testing experience and having a voice in the development, albeit a small one.

    Nowdays, beta is just pre-sales, and that may or may not include a wipe. Early Access is even worse.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply won’t play anything that isn’t considered launch. I’ll read about bits and pieces, but my time is worth more than the money I’d spend. I think that’s the main difference now – I have much more disposable income and much less time than I did before.

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