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To Beta, Or Not To Beta…

In terms of video games, 2014 is off to a productive albeit unusual start for me. I've played a lot of games this year and we're only two months in. And of the games I've played, I've had the opportunity to play a number of games that haven't even been released yet. Some of these games are/were in the alpha stage - rough, but playable. While others are/were in the beta stage - further along but not necessarily representative of the final product. Perhaps the two most notable titles I've played were the betas for Titanfall and The Elder Scrolls Online.

I swore up and down I wasn't going to play the Titanfall beta. Not because I'm not interested in the game. Quite the contrary actually. I'm very excited for the game, I just didn't want to see or hear or experience anything in the game until it was released. But I succumbed to the pressure and ended up playing it. I mean, everybody was talking about it. At work. On the Internet. Everywhere I turned I was seeing Titanfall this, Titanfall that. How could I not?

But now that we're a mere 10 days away from the launch of the game, I'm not nearly as excited about the game's imminent release. Make no mistake about it - I love the game and have every intention on buying it on the day of release. But the spark...that feeling you get when you buy a game you're really excited about. You hurry home and cut the security wrapper off of it. You remove the disc ever so carefully and load it into your console. And then the magic begins. You get all giddy (at least I do) as the game starts and the introduction begins. It rates right up there with the beginning of a Star Wars movie...

Of course there are benefits to participating in a beta. I guess technically it helps the developers by giving them feedback, but it also gives participants the opportunity of seeing the game first and the chance to become familiar with the controls and gameplay. You also get to decide whether you're interested in the game enough to buy it or not, but I don't think that is the purpose, maybe just a beneficial consequence.

Ironically, most games I play the beta of, I never purchase. I don't know if that says anything or not.

But perhaps the biggest reason I don't like betas. It's silly really, but I can't help it. I'm not a fan installing games on my console or PC I know aren't going to be there forever, or at least a very long time. Oh sure, I know you can uninstall games, and it's a fairly easy process, but I still feel like it "gunks up" the system. This is especially true of the PC.

Another downfall of playing games before they're released - sometimes you have to wait a really long time before the game finally does come out. Thankfully, Titanfall's beta test period was only a few weeks before the game ships. This hasn't always been the case in my experience.

Then of course there is the thought, "Why would I want to play a game that isn't even out yet when I could be playing a game that is?" Many of us have a backlog chock full of games we want to play...games we paid for and are interested in. And many of us are time limited and don't have as much time to play as we'd like to.  I recall a particular game I played before its release...and all of the progress I earned was lost after the game officially launched...because all of the stats were reset. One could argue it was a waste of time. Perhaps.

Yeah, I know there are worse problems a gamer can have, but I do wonder what others think about playing betas and how many of you would rather wait for a game or try and get early access by playing a beta.

Have a wonderful weekend, regardless of what you're playing.

Cheers.

 

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