I had the privilege to be a part of more than a few Alpha/Beta tests over the last few years and I’ve realized we as a people have an issue with how we view Beta programs. Talking to the people across the various groups I was in, something dawned on me that has been happening for a while but I never really payed much attention to. Someone within my testing phase said “I’m only here to try the game out. It seems OK, but I’m not sure it’s worth $60.” Normally I don’t rage on such things as people are going to do what they want regardless, but this genuinely concerned me. You see, this person got into a closed alpha/beta basically to treat it as free demo time and cared nothing for what a beta actually is, an agreement between company and player, to play the game and find bugs, problems, or anything else that would make the game “Broken”. What made it worse, was when I went to the Closed Alpha/Beta Forums, there were more threads on complaining than threads regarding actual bug reports. Threads about “This game is so broken!” and “Wow if this is how the game is going to launch, EA will have to relinquish its worst company title!”
For what ever reason we the gamers seem to have completely thrown out what we’re supposed to do in Alpha/Beta and have just started using it as free time before we actually have to pay for the game. Do companies know this? I’m sure they do, and maybe it’s why they end up selling the DLC and not just giving it to us. Instead we get the watered down basic versions of the game we buy now. I know what your saying, “That doesn’t make any sense at all!” but if the players aren’t reporting bugs and they have to dump a bunch of extra manpower/money into fixing a huge amount of bugs after launch, it kind of does. Now obviously this more than likely is just straight greed, but they put so much time into hyping a game early and letting the public get their hands on it that they forget the need to finish the game first BEFORE that free time use. This is true Alpha/Beta testing as we used to know it. Do you see the paradox here?
Now I know not every player does this because of the amount of bug report thread’s that were in the forums was above 60, but when did it become OK for us to accept Alpha/Beta as Free to Play time and not send in reports for every little thing that we found wrong? When did we as gamers decide that we’re going to stop helping our favorite companies find problems with their games and just take full advantage of them via complaining about a broken game? I remember a time when being a Beta Tester was an actual job that you got paid for. Maybe I’m just being a little over dramatic and it’s really not that big of a deal, but I feel like if nobody is reporting bugs, then how do they get fixed? If nobody is reporting bugs, can we really be upset the game launched with so many bugs and problems? If you are one of the people that does send in your reports, you’re awesome and you’re doing us all a favor by letting these companies know something is broken, if you aren’t reporting these problems, then you can’t really complain about a broken game when you had the chance to do something about it, and all you did was complain about a broken game…that was in Alpha/Beta.