This year I took part in a couple of beta tests, notably for both Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar. In both cases I decided not to buy either game and therefore not subscribe. This wasn’t necessarily pre-ordained although I was cautious about both games, back in 2012 when I tried the SWTOR beta close to launch I was an almost instant convert to being a launch time subscriber for that MMORPG.
So the vogue that continued this year of having massive beta tests, which on face-value are more about marketing than actual, you know, testing; could be considered a negative as much as a positive for the companies making these games. Two out of three have shown me enough of the game’s faults for me to not pay up. I’d love to see the “conversion rate“, i.e. what percentage of beta testers went on to buy and sub for these games, although I’ll never get to see such privileged information of course.
I did actually treat both betas as their label would suggest and did submit error reports. We played around in both games for a relatively short time yet certainly found enough issues with them a) to get tired of reporting them and b) to realise the game wasn’t for us.
I guess a really polished beta game can be a great advert for the masses beyond your core fan base (those who have followed the game since its early inception). But for the undecided letting us in early isn’t I think such a good idea. Better perhaps to have a minimum two-week trial after the inevitable launch week servers-on-fire problems are over. Show us the game at its best and most optimistic but maybe after that first big bug-fixing patch has been deployed?
In 2015 I can’t see myself jumping in to betas in the same way. I’ve learned my lesson from this year and I’m not interested in part of some marketing hype machine again.