Why I don’t do betas any more

So my geekness knows no bounds. I’ve put in several years playing different MMOS. A lot of fantasy games, a few super hero games, and some sci fi ones too. Over the years, I’ve gotten into a few betas and usually was pretty excited about it. It is great being one of the few folks to see a brand new game, and help in making it a polished product for the final launch.

Two big MMOs on the horizon, Star Wars: the old republic and DC online, have announced they are taking beta applications. All though I’m excited about both of those games. I have no desire to throw my hat in with the other beta testers.

A couple of things have stuck with me in my past experiences with betas. One thing I’ve experienced is that the game is typically done by the time I am testing it. Most companies have all ready gotten the big game design philosophies locked in. I’m always excited about possible features and new tweaks to the MMO genre, but have been at times disappointed once the game rolls out.

I’ve found that most MMOs have locked onto standards of game play, required features if you will of just about every other MMO out there. I guess it speaks more to the people that regularly play them. People want crafting. People want loot. People want the instant gratification of killing 10 rats, speaking with a robotic NPC, and seeing their little xp bar move up 3 pixels. It’s like a check list that every MMO must have.

And while the initial boards might have some interesting ideas floating around from the beta community, typically I think this viewpoint is ignored by the game devs. After all, they have a firm grip on the algorithms and nuts and bolts of the game. And finding that sweet spot of something engaging for the masses, while still being fun, is very elusive for them. I’ve come to realize once I’m beta testing, the game is done. What I am playing is pretty much what will be released. I’m just tweaking game play and squashing bugs.

This leads me to my main reason, if the game is not going to change much by launch then I’m just replaying content. Yeah, it’s pretty exciting to work on a game before it is released. It is neat to test out powers and abilities and get a grasp of the mechanics of the game. Once it’s released though, I’ve gone through certain content so many times, trying to squeeze out the fun is difficult. To be able to keep up that experience of wonder and enjoyment exploring a game I’ve all ready been playing for 6 months is pretty hard to do.

So while I’m tempted on applying for these betas, I’m going to pass. I’ll wait for release, and savor that new experience along with most other players. Maybe I’ve gotten burned out on MMOs. Maybe the repetitive gameplay they all have is starting to show through for me. Yet, I find that being in a beta diminishes that excitement I have for a game, it doesn’t enhance it. I’m selfish. I want to hold onto that enjoyment as long as I can.

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