To follow the (alpha/beta) crowd or not?

There’s some discussion on the blogosphere at present about the Elder Scrolls Online beta. The NDA ban on writing on the game’s beta is still in force unless you’re on the relevant press list. Wilhelm over at The Ancient Gaming Noob is ruminating about whether to jump in or not. Eliot Lefebvre at Massively has a damning opinion piece about the game, namely that it’s just average, ‘nothing special’.

I haven’t bothered applying for a beta code for this game since it doesn’t particularly appeal to me. However since it’s one of the upcoming MMO games that will require a box purchase and a subscription it might be worth trying the beta for free but then a free trial post-launch (if one is available) would be preferable to the possibly incomplete¬† beta gameplay experience.

By a similar token I have zero interest in the Everquest Next Landmark alpha test. Testing games in my spare time isn’t my idea of fun. I just don’t have the patience to deal with pre-launch issues on a regular basis. I did play in the SWTOR beta, which was a positive experience; but then I also remember the Allods beta and that turned out rather differently (if you don’t know about this debacle, Google “Allods beta cash shop”). Syl has a blog post on the subject of Alpha testing and player expectations.

Perhaps both games (ESO and EQL) are coming at the right time for those MMO players bored with the current crop of games – those looking for something new. For me however there’s plenty of hours fun left in Neverwinter, EQ2 and LOTRO. I’d rather wait on the sidelines for these games to launch and to see something more concrete about how they’ll play when all the testing is done.

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6 Responses to To follow the (alpha/beta) crowd or not?

  1. zaphod6502 says:

    Sorry – had a major keyboard malfunction – feel free to delete the above post. The best way I can describe ESO is a multiplayer version of Skyrim. It is so similar it is uncanny. The problem for me is I play Skyrim as a single player. Playing the same game as a monthly subscription is a concept I need to get my head around. It is certainly an interesting RPG experience and the quests are just as interesting as that in the single player Skyrim.

    • Telwyn says:

      I may give it a brief look if I get a beta key. But it was most likely to be a game I’d play with a friend who is a bigger fan of the series and he’s not playing MMOs much anymore so even that encouragement is lacking.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    I thought the Allods beta was excellent. I got to about level 30 as I recall and had a great time. It was only at launch that the problems arose.

    People’s feelings about betas vary wildly. I tend to find bugged content funny rather than annoying, at least when it’s in a beta environment when you know it can and will be fixed. Buggy content in Live MMOs is far more unacceptable and annoying – GW2 is hands down the buggiest live MMO I’ve ever played, for example, and that includes Vanguard.

    Also betas are the dream of dynamic content. Almost every day something changes, often something substantial. In fact, the real reason to avoid betas is that few MMOs are ever as much fun to play when they launch as they were in testing.

    • Telwyn says:

      I’d contest that Allods stayed in beta for a very long time – way past the disastrous cash shop launch which sunk wider interest in the game.

      Bugs can be lived with for sure but, perhaps as a former IT Manager, I find it irksome how the IT Industry (and games development as a related industry) use customers as ‘free’ testers. The common view of all new Microsoft software having an open beta called ‘release’ is true in my view. I’m willing to deal with that at work, but I do not want to have to test games when I’m at home, and certainly wouldn’t pay for the privilege to do so.

      I most definitely agree with your last point though. I had the most fun in SWTOR beta, it was such an exciting time and the game seemed very polished despite the odd bug. The saddest part about this is that not only are MMOs probably more fun to play in beta, but they actually get steadily worse after launch – joining an elder MMO as a new player years after it’s launch-glow has faded can be a pretty depressing experience, one that I’ve been through first-hand many times now.

  3. Jonny 5iVe says:

    Having spent the best part of the weekend in the ESO beta, and without breaking the NDA, I can wholeheartedly agree with Zaphod.

    The noted exceptions are that a lot of the things that made Skyrim great IMO, obviously can’t be implemented well into an MMO. Murdering an entire town and claiming castles as your own, shoplifting, etc., obviously can’t really translate to a persistent online world.

    This for me is the biggest problem.

    It was an enjoyable experience, granted. But I don’t know if I’d keep up a sub for more than a month, when I can quite happily play Skyrim with that portion of my gaming time anyway, for free.

    As for the whole, whether or not to take part in a beta question?

    Personally, I like to drop in, if only for a couple of hours, ESPECIALLY for a buy-to-play or pay-to-play game.

    We live in a world where demo’s, steam free weekends, and piracy are rampant. Non-free-to-play MMO’s tend to be the only games nowadays that can’t be experienced through one of those three methods. Especially at launch.

    Final Fantasy XIV is a prime example of this. I got to play both closed beta’s (original and ARR), but since then have had no opportunity to try it again. I was on the fence about grabbing a copy, but without another 10 hours to experience it, I’m reluctant to take the plunge. So, on the fence I shall remain until such time I’m granted more time.

    The other side of the coin is SOE, doing their kickstarter funding wannabe… But for a company that already rakes in millions in profits, and is just being outrageously greedy.

    Pay to test an ALPHA (not even a beta) of a minecraft clone?

    Why o’ why would anyone do that?

    But yeah, curse had a 500,000 ESO key giveaway this weekend too. Although the 30GB client for 17 levels of gameplay is a little excessive, especially for a beta IMO.

    • Telwyn says:

      Agreed, charging for beta or alpha is very bad form. Oh I hadn’t heard about the curse giveaway, although I was too busy to play much of anything this weekend. Friends are recommending I try the game so I’m hard-pressed to be too stubborn on this. At least it’s good for a free stab at the game before the paywall gets erected.

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