Up For Debate - Publishers Selling Access To Beta Tests

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Jan 31, 2016 2:00 PM
System Requirements Optimum 1080p PC Build Low vs Ultra Screenshots GPU Performance Chart CPU List That Meet System Requirements GPU List That Meet System Requirements

There’s no two ways about it, games are a complicated business. Making sure something is totally bug free is a nigh-on impossible task, with countless permutations of player movement and choice to accurately predict. The more systems you layer in, the more difficult it becomes to understand how to counter all of the issues that may flare up. Bethesda might not have expected you to put one of Fallout 4’s key items in a bloatfly corpse and try to fire it out of a Junk Jet. Hey presto, you’ve stumbled on a game-ending bug.

The way around this is testing. The bigger publishers use small armies of testers to play through sections of game many times over, scrutinising every mechanic for potentially odd behaviour. Smaller devs often have to painstakingly do it on their own, but it’s not an exact science. Paying testers doesn’t come cheap. Get 20 in for a year and you could have easily spent half a million dollars. The cheapest and easiest way to do it is to get gamers to do it for you. For free. And now, it turns out, people will even pay for the privilege.

I mean, talk about turning the tables. People are paying publishers, which rake in billions of dollars of revenue, to test their games for them. It’s like giving Wladimir Klitschko a tenner to smash you in the face before a big fight. You know, just to get some practice in. Well that’s exactly the situation we had with The Division beta, which is running right now.

The $10 tier in a Humble Bundle granted you guaranteed access to the beta test. Failing that you could have pre-ordered a copy and got yourself a key. I tried this, with the intention of cancelling my pre-order once I had the key. I was told my account would have to be charged and my purchase locked-in if I accepted the beta key. Swivel, Ubisoft, it could be an absolute stinker.

They are by no means alone though. Beta keys are being thrown out with abandon for all sorts of pre-orders, and it’s increasingly being used as a marketing trick to hook players in, rather than as a genuine attempt to bug test the game. Which is, by my estimation, a very ugly way of doing things. Public perception has been skewed like they’re doing us a favour, with “Beta Key Giveaways” and “Exclusive Access!”, when the absolute opposite is true. When you beta test, you are helping them create a better product. A better product which they then turn around and sell to you.

You can probably tell where I stand on this matter, but what do you think? Do you just look at betas as a chance to play a game early? Have you ever paid for a beta key? Let us know!

Would you buy a beta key?

Login or Register to join the debate

Rep
0
Offline
16:30 Feb-06-2016

If I'm PAYING for a game(alpha,beta,RC1,RC2,or retail) I EXPECT to be able to continue my saved game on the final release.Problem is these like division beta just wipe everything & make U start new.Why pay 2 do devs work 4 them?

0
Rep
0
Offline
16:33 Feb-06-2016

I've re-installed Witcher3,and 3 different batman games and all had the save points I last created,why can't beta create a save and continue in release from there?

0
Rep
4
Offline
12:04 Feb-07-2016

Betas may change elements of the story progression before the point you reached, or may even over haul the save data format before release. There could be many reasons why not, every games reasons would be somewhat unique - and yes some may not have a reason.

0
Rep
16
Offline
14:34 Feb-01-2016

if its 1 euro/dollar its not that expensive.
if its free every one will get it overloading servers affecting download speed and causing disconections..
i paid for the division downloaded it at max speed and had no problem joining the game
if it was for free i dont thnig i would have had the same experience

0
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
11:58 Feb-01-2016

It's bad enough we have to play games which sometimes are completely ruined by bugs after launch, now we 'get to' pay for them, having a bug-ridden taster.
Used to be testers got paid to do it as a job, now it seems it's the other way around AND the 'testers' won't really be doing a proper job of it...


The future is now! :D

0
Rep
63
Offline
11:02 Feb-01-2016

Well what u said is true but nowadays people are treaing betas as demos not betas so devs are too....cos if people were treaing beta's as beta's they wouldnt be criticizing division's bugs

0
Rep
31
Offline
08:57 Feb-01-2016

Most betas arent real betas anymore, just demos.
If the game is coming out in a month you can be pretty sure it's not a real beta.

0
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
07:19 Feb-01-2016

I voted "probably not" because it really depends on how much beta the beta is - just take a look at Kingdom Come Deliverance, it's just an alpha yet it's impressive to try out :)
on the other hand game like The Crew, which is not beta anymore yet it feels still like beta is great example of literally no difference between paid beta and paid game

1
Rep
180
Offline
admin approved badge
06:39 Feb-01-2016

I don't know what to think of this, i will not and will never pay for a beta version then have to buy the product later, however on saying this, i really don't mind paying for early access or kickstarter providing that i own the entire game (watch it grow with each update is a pleasure) and get some cool freebies along the way. H1Z1 said it would be free later, i bought the early access and it has been a real joy to play, same thing with carmageddon reincarnation, but to buy a beta? Are off your friggin crack table?

1
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
07:21 Feb-01-2016

I agree, paying early and being given full game automatically is fair approach, only questionable matter is if developer guarantees game completion

0
Rep
180
Offline
admin approved badge
12:27 Feb-01-2016

This is true especially when the game is being developed by a small group of people with minimal funding. It's a risk/gamble we sometimes make, this is where we question the community and the support it gets, how often its updated, future plans etc. Sometimes i just take a leap of faith and just enjoy the game for what it is although it may take a long time to be completed.

0
Rep
16
Offline
14:42 Feb-01-2016

i dont see my self bying and early acess, i will get a buggy/imcoplete game, driver support missing, no crossfire profil.. i will quickly get bored of the game and even hate it , and when the game comes out i wont play it too much

0
Rep
180
Offline
admin approved badge
07:53 Feb-02-2016

It's not for everyone, some people can put up with the bugs/crashes/poor performance, it depends if the game is really great to play regardless of those bugs, it also depends how often the updates come out. If the game is only updated once a year, then no, its not really worth it, but if its updated every month with bug/crash fixes and performance updates then for some its worth it. For example, H1Z1 was not so great at first, but was fun, it still is fun, although it needs plenty of work. I don't mind the bugs, the devs do a great job fixing things and so i will continue to play it.

0
Rep
7
Offline
04:43 Feb-01-2016

It's just a waste of money, nothing more than that! Game publishers, if you really want to test game before release, just use the conventional method. Appoint top games to it! Ask them to play over and over, instead of asking any random player to spend money, first for Beta key and then for the game.

1
Rep
55
Offline
04:18 Feb-01-2016

Sometimes I just don't understand some people. Are some gamers really THAT unpatient and need to play a game before its release date? I know that doesn't concern everyone, yet still we're the ones to blame.

0
Rep
-3
Offline
03:32 Feb-01-2016

Law of commerce. If there are idiots who buy it, they will sell it.

6
Rep
60
Offline
03:17 Feb-01-2016

I remember a time when Demos were free and included in magazines like Xbox magazine and Nintendo power but like all good things for gamers they simply went away.

3
Rep
55
Offline
04:23 Feb-01-2016

Sure, but you had to buy these magazines first, so Demos were not totaly for free.
Still i agree with u that demos were one of those good things. :)

1
Rep
4
Offline
06:06 Feb-01-2016

You could download demos although the internet was slower & more expensive, you could share demos freely, they'd come on game discs, etc. At a time when there weren't quality gaming articles free online, gaming magazines made sense.

0
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
12:00 Feb-01-2016

yeah, by the time you buy a mag these days it's already old news... :)

0
Rep
95
Offline
admin approved badge
00:18 Feb-01-2016

Personally I experienced glitches that made the Division beta literally unplayable for me. If i had paid to access it I would have been exceedingly angry!

1
Rep
8
Offline
02:02 Feb-01-2016

Im playing and the game works perfect on 4k (35fps) and 1080p (60fps) and we have close to the same PC. thats wierd

0
Rep
95
Offline
admin approved badge
03:50 Feb-02-2016

I cant change the game from Italian, it thinks i'm using a controller so the mapping is all weird, AND it thinks I am constantly holding the down and right button. Was looking forward to it too :(

0
Rep
116
Offline
00:07 Feb-01-2016

What i find interesting is that they are charging us money to test their game, and then, eventually when the game comes out, even if you payed for the game once, you have to pay again just to play the game. So basically, they are charging us twice to play the same game, which is just, no words.

2
Rep
14
Offline
23:15 Jan-31-2016

isn't that like overkill??


i mean if it's like steam's early access, and when the game is released you own the game then hell yes! or if you get the game at a heavy discount then it's passable...


if its like i understand and you have to pay to test their game for them and i get nothing for it other that the possibility of hurting my pc then f*** no

0
Rep
2
Offline
21:21 Jan-31-2016

I wil never pay for play beta games...
Is like 2 buy a car not finish...

0
Rep
18
Offline
21:46 Jan-31-2016

English brother, do you speak it?

-6
Rep
139
Offline
admin badge
00:31 Feb-01-2016

Not everyone's first language is English, GD has users all over the world!

5
Rep
59
Offline
admin approved badge
03:24 Feb-01-2016

Thats true but the second line of 1Warrior guy almost sounds like Borat
(In Borat Voice)
Is love
LOL

2
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
12:03 Feb-01-2016

Aren't you bulgarian yourself? You should know first-hand that not everyone speaks english as well as some of us do.

0
Rep
59
Offline
admin approved badge
17:53 Feb-01-2016

Are u asking me?
Also i dont have anything against ppl whose first lang is not english i myself am one of those ppl, but we can always make a little innocent fun of others, cant we?

0
Rep
18
Offline
23:34 Feb-01-2016

I gues someone didnt get the joke, it's a mame btw. Use google before you go bashing someone just because they made a joke.

-1
Rep
8
Offline
22:48 Jan-31-2016

good like buying a car for 1$

1
Rep
8
Offline
08:00 Feb-01-2016

luck**

0
Rep
3
Offline
21:17 Jan-31-2016

i bought the division beta access to try the game before i buy it

0
Rep
116
Offline
00:01 Feb-01-2016

You bought a game to try it, before you buy it?

2
Rep
4
Offline
02:24 Feb-01-2016

I could maybe understand (or at least forgive) a paid demo, if it was final state and cheap as.


Better than no demos ever.

0
Rep
3
Offline
22:19 Feb-12-2016

bought the (((((((((( beta access ))))))))))))))) not the full game !!
and it was great experience , the game run without any bugs so i will buy the full version after i test the open beta ( huge players gonna try it )

0
Rep
6
Offline
21:06 Jan-31-2016

These days "beta tests" are more like "real players balancing and hands on experience tests". Every game I played in beta in 2015 was similar to the final build with the exception of progression. That said I bought a division beta key for a dollar, because I'd prefer to have a demo before I go all in. Anything higher is excessive though.

0
Rep
13
Offline
20:50 Jan-31-2016

I don't mind it , as long as the key is worth no more than a dollar

0
Rep
8
Offline
19:50 Jan-31-2016

Better be like blizzard on sc 2. When you buy starcraft 2 with dvd have 2 cd keys which can you send over to friends for X time. If they like it, they buy it, if not they won't. I would never pay for beta key.

0
Rep
8
Offline
19:51 Jan-31-2016

If i preoreder a game it would be because I like it not because of beta key. I'm 50-50 buying the division because i tried the beta. But when the price drops..

0
Rep
9
Offline
19:26 Jan-31-2016

i think its good that you need to play for the beta, you have pvp in the division. and people will start hacking in a free beta, as always.

-3
Rep
9
Offline
20:20 Jan-31-2016

play = pay lel

0

Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 5600H 6-Core 3.3GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1440p
Ryzen 7 2700X Radeon RX 5600 XT Sapphire Pulse 6GB 32GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen R5 1600 AF GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Ryzen 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX Vega 11 6GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i7-620M 2-Core 2.66GHz NVS 3100M 4GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-7500U 2-Core 2.7GHz GeForce 940MX 2GB 8GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 9 5900X 12-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX 580 Sapphire Nitro+ 8GB 32GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-10400F 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Inno3D Twin X2 8GB 32GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
Ryzen R5 1400 Radeon RX 560 2GB 8GB
0% No [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Core i7-11800H 8-Core 1.90GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 32GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1440p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz GeForce GTX 1080 MSI Gaming X 8GB Edition 16GB
50% Yes [2 votes]
Core i7-3770 4-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 950 MSI Gaming 2GB Edition 8GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz Radeon HD 5570 1024MB 4GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ultra 16GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super Gigabyte Aorus 8GB 32GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1440p
Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super Gigabyte Aorus 8GB 32GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Core i5-480M 2.66GHz HD i5 M480 8GB
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
APU A6-5400K Dual-Core Radeon HD 7450 4GB
| Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 3 3300X 4-Core 3.8GHz Radeon RX 570 4GB 16GB
| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz Radeon R7 250X Sapphire 1GB Edition 4GB
0% No [3 votes]