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Beta Testing Is Important.

February 21, 2010

The Starcraft 2 beta launched recently and much to my dismay I didn’t get an invite to said beta. This is pretty normal as I’ve only ever been in around half the tests I’ve applied to and even that would be considered a lot. My issue lies more with the selection process itself and many of the idiots currently playing the game. Beta selections are typically random, but almost always include a set group of “Elites” who actually test the deeper aspects of the game to counter little Billy,the 14-year-old kid who lied about his age to get in, and screws around and provides little to no feedback about the game. I’m starting to think that the random selection process is a model that actually hurts games more than it helps.

Could charging for beta access be the wave of the future? Before you scream and shout consider the fact that people already do this with certain games that give beta access via pre-order. They run to a Gamestop or EB Games to put $10 on the pre-order and get beta access if they like the game they go pick it up on release day and pay the remaining cost. This seems like a pretty common sense solution that could bring in some extra revenue before the game is launched and the increased volume of testers who really want to be there could lead to bugs being found faster. Games like The Old Republic are going to have millions of beta applications many from people who don’t actually want to give any feedback, and are only interested so they can gain early access to see what the game is like. I’m not saying eliminate the random entries entirely as getting a good mix of players is always beneficial and could never be completely phased out without tons of protest. Hoping you get a large amount of people willing to report bugs and give suggestions when the majority of the people playing were randomly selected seems rather foolish.

One of the major goals of beta testing is to find huge bugs so the developers can fix the issues before launch. This tends to be rather difficult when a large portion of the population prefers to just screw around and not actually do the job they said they would. It’s bad enough many of the people who get into these tests are children who are breaking the rules by applying when they can’t legally accept the NDA contract. I have to come to terms with the fact that we’ll probably never eliminate the kidlings from beta tests as much as I’d like to see it happen. What we can prevent are the people who do not give any feedback from staying. Kicking testers for not doing their jobs and banning them from selection for any future tests for the game or it’s expansions would be a novel idea. If a kid can give enough feedback so he’s not kicked out people like me wouldn’t have to complain about them.  This all leads back to making sure the people in the beta are the people who really want to contribute all they can and aren’t in it for a demo.

As you can probably tell I come off rather bitter about not being selected for tests. I have a rather large résumé of games I’ve tested for and have always provided pages of feedback on said games. I look at beta testing more seriously than my own job and I would hope there are people like me putting solid effort in. Watching streams of idiots massing SCV’s and supply depots and not actually building an attacking force makes to want to strangle them. It’s as if they streamed these games in hopes that it would anger people like myself who would sacrifice a small child to be a part of the test. I can’t wait to not test The Old Republic and have to watch streams of some idiot named Mahra Jayde running around aimlessly, and beating their lightsaber against the heads the same mobs for an hour.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2010 13:04

    I’m a major Starcraft fan, and I’m in the same boat! I’ll join you in being bitter.

    Your point on making people pay for beta is interesting, some of the Starcraft 2 beta keys have been going for insane amounts on Ebay and the like.

    • February 23, 2010 13:24

      I’m in hell as a friend of mine has a key for me from Blizzcon, but he just moved and has yet to unpack it.

      Oddly enough I was browsing your site as you left this comment…

      • February 24, 2010 04:36

        Ooh, nice! At least you’ve got one on the way!

        Really? How weird. Good ol’ SWTOR forums. Perhaps it’s because we’re the only two brave enough to pimp our blogs in our sigs!

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