Five Noteworthy Video Game Betas

by Kyle Hilliard on Feb 16, 2014 at 01:30 PM

If you’re not playing the Titanfall beta at this very moment, you probably wish you were (I know I do). Respawn is creating a huge amount of excitement by letting players get their hands on its anticipated game early. This isn’t the first time a game with a huge level of excitement in front of it opened its doors early, however, and it won’t be the last.

These are a few video game betas that generated a huge amount of excitement prior to their official release.

Counter-Strike – In the world of online shooters, Counter-Strike has been dethroned in overall popularity, but it’s impossible to deny its importance to the genre. It began its life as a mod from a pair of Half-Life fans, and went through seven betas before seeing official release from Valve. It was those betas that got Valve’s attention, awarding its creators with employment. Some beta versions of the game are still played by Counter-Strike purists.

Halo 3 – Crackdown released in 2007 to positive reviews, but there are many who purchased the game simply because it included a beta entry for Halo 3. Halo 2 was a huge online success, and excitement was understandably high for the franchise’s Xbox 360 debut. It’s a good thing Bungie tested the game’s online capabilities, because the night it released hosted Xbox Live’s largest player count at the time.

World of Warcraft – It’s no surprise that one of the biggest massively multiplayer online RPGs ever began its life as a lowly beta. Blizzard continues to host betas for all of its expansions, but the game’s original beta was the one that generated the most excitement. I still remember hearing people talking about it in hushed tones as others excitedly requested entry from those lucky enough to receive a ticket.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – Much like Halo 3 and Crackdown, the beta for Uncharted 2 was also included with a first-party exclusive open-world game about super-humans. Players who picked up Infamous received a voucher to check out Naughty Dog’s first online, multiplayer shooter. The original Uncharted was a strictly single-player game, so fans were excited to see what the developer behind Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter (and of course, Uncharted) could do online.

Minecraft – Markus Persson’s world-builder wasn’t a game people were excited about before release. It wasn’t a game people knew about before its release. Its beta played an integral role in its journey from, "that cool indie game," to what is one of the biggest indie game success of all time. By the time the game final left beta in 2011, it was already well on its way to phenomenon status.

What are some of the betas you participated in that were particularly exciting (other than Titanfall)?