A Rant About Beta Testing & Early Access Games

Beta Testing & Early Access Games

Our partner in crime, Malonik, just released a fresh video on Beta Testing & Early Access Games.

Much of the RUST community gets painted as being a toxic body at large, but they’re really in the minority. Mal’s message is to remind you of the awesomeness of being able to test and access these games ahead of schedule, while introducing a few lesser known games that you may not have heard of.

Transcript of the Video

Hey guys! Mal here! Firstly, i want to apologize for my recent lack of content. I’ve had a lot of stuff going on in my life outside of here and i needed to get through all of it before i could continue.


Thankfully I’ve done that and so to kick things off again today we’re going to talk about early access games and beta testing for games.


It’s no secret that the current meta for releasing a game involves an early access phase. So much so that it seems to be a rarity to play a new game nowadays that is actually complete.


Now that’s perfectly fine because instead of having to wait potentially years before getting to try a game and see what it’s like we can jump in early, have some fun and in our own way be a part of the development of the game.


What isn’t okay is the absurd amount of bitching and odd sense of entitlement a lot of gamers seem to have when it comes to these games having bugs.


So let’s break this down a bit. When beta testing originally started a very long time ago it was all done in house by the developers. However, over time and as games became more complex developers started to offer opportunities to gamers to test their games.


This was solely so that they could find and eliminate bugs in their games faster and release sooner. Additionally, this was usually only offered to a small group of people, it was quite exclusive and was considered a privilege to get to help the devs create and fix their game.


Somewhere along the line someone realized that people would be more likely to pre-order a game if it got them beta access. It actually incentivized pre-ordering a game rather than waiting for launch whereas prior to this point it was just to lock in your copy of a game.


Obviously, this is far less of an issue nowadays with digital distribution being as big as it is but back then there was actually a chance your local game store would run out of copies.


Now back in the day betas were for the most part extremely rough and unfinished versions of the games. Some of the earlier betas were so far from the final product that you were essentially testing core game mechanics on a single tiny untextured map.


Once the developers realized they could make money out of the betas they very quickly started to polish up their betas and run them later and later in the development process. Some devs even left it until weeks or a month before launch to do so which personally i feel is far too late to be running your beta testing especially if you’re launching a hard copy of your game in stores.


Without even realizing it this whole process was the early stages of what we now know as an early access release.


Devs or more so publishers realized that they could sell copies of their games while it was still in the super hyped early development stage. They no longer had to wait for the game to be complete and released. They could sell the game on the idea and get gamers to financially back them on their ideas in a similar way to crowdfunding just with a slightly more solid foundation.


Look at rust, a game which sat in early access for years. Now they had their reasons for such a long early access phase, one of which being the fact that they rebuilt the game on a new engine half way through. As of March 2017, almost a full year before they left early access they went over the 5 million sales mark.


Obviously, specials, steams cut, wages, etc would affect that significantly but nonetheless selling 5 million copies at $20 a pop is a cool 100 million dollars. If we didn’t have the early access system in place they wouldn’t have seen anywhere near that in sales. It’s quite possible that rust may have died before it had even made it out of early access. Buying the game and getting involved gave them money to grow their team and crucial feedback to continue working tirelessly on rust.


Like with anything this whole system has its pros and cons. A pro being that as gamers we get to experience a game sooner and watch it as it grows and develops. A con being that there have been games that promised the world and sucked people in only to drop a half assed game that didn’t live up to the hype.


Over time gamers in general seem to have lost sight of the whole reason that beta testing and early access exists. It seems that the majority now expect a polished and relatively bug free experience in these developmental and testing phases, quite a lot of which aren’t even reporting bugs they find to the developers but instead turning to peers and online communities to complain about them.


At its core access to a beta test or early access to a game is there for two reasons. The main reason being that the devs need a large group of people that are willing to test and expedite the development process. The secondary reason being that it allows devs to gain some additional financial support from gamers to once again help improve the game and complete it faster.


A good example of this is star citizen which on a side note is an incredible space sim and gaming experience. They opened their doors to gamers incredibly early and actually set a number of funding goals. The idea being the more money they received in preorders the more they were able to add to their game. They started with a $500,000 goal on kickstarter which was what they needed to make the core game however by the end of that they had over 2 million dollars in pledges.


They very quickly realized that they were making something that a lot of people wanted and they could aim for the stars with this project. So they set up a number of financial goals each promising more features and content. They actually set goals all the way up to an ambitious 65 million dollars which given they were a new dev company was seen as a pretty absurd goal.


As of today, they have over 2 million pre-orders and have raised 183 million dollars for their game.


Now i bring this game up because it is a perfect example of early access when it is done correctly and gamers actually contribute with helpful information on bugs and such instead of just bitching about the game being broken or unfinished. When they first let gamers in it was a mostly unfinished space station and you could fly around in space a bit and shoot each other. Over time and with the support and help from the gamers they have released far more content and are still hard at work to get everything done and released as fast as possible.


Unfortunately, this is the best-case scenario and in recent times quite a rarity.


Now let’s take a look at another example which unfortunately hasn’t quite received the same support from the community.


Escape from Tarkov.


For those of you that are unfamiliar with eft it’s a hyper realistic fps with rpg elements and it is one hell of a ride keeping you on the edge of your seat anytime you’re in a match.


Now unfortunately while their dev team is very skilled and has members that have worked on various games such as stalker and the mass effect series they are a small team.


When it comes to developing any game a small team is going to take longer to release new features or content and it’s generally going to be a bumpy ride while they get through bugs and issues with the game.


Eft is certainly no exception to this and given that they are trying to make an extremely rich and tactical experience with an absurd amount of technical features it has been an even bumpier ride.


Unfortunately, it seems like the vast majority of the people testing this game have lost sight of the whole supporting the devs thing. Those playing eft should be making helpful posts explaining a bug, what you were doing when it happened and giving them time to look into it and fix it.


Instead their subreddit and forum gets flooded with moronic posts of people complaining that it’s broken and unplayable and threatening to quit playing the game if issues aren’t fixed.


A perfect example of this is the netcode issues with eft. Yes, this is a big problem and it needs to be addressed. It is a large focal point of a lot of the bitching about this game and people seem shocked that it hasn’t been fixed yet. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that fixing an issue like that is more or less going to require a full rebuild of the game on a different version of unity.


Believe it or not that is not a small task and is going to take a lot of time and effort to do. The devs are certainly aware of it and have every intention to fix it. In fact, with their latest patch they have greatly improved the netcode which can be seen in battle(non)senses latest netcode analysis.


However, some have seemingly ignored this and have gone as far as shit posting and circle jerking over how late they were with their latest patch when they had only heard rumors of when the patch would drop from random gamers and nothing official from the devs.


This is a ridiculous display of an absolutely absurd sense of entitlement on their behalf. You bought the game knowing that it was not complete and had issues and now because of those issues you are threatening to quit the game?


Grow the [censored] up.


You are there to test their game, to find these bugs and to help the devs. This isn’t meant to be a shiny, bug free experience. If it was the game would have launched and there would be no point in having the beta which you are currently in.


As someone that has been playing eft for quite a while i can fully understand the frustration it can cause. Bugs can cause you to lose gear which you’ve worked hard for and leave you feeling somewhat cheated. Hell i recently saw a clip on twitch of someone loading into a match with some very valuable items and when he got in they had literally just disappeared and were gone forever.


That being said it is no excuse to throw a tantrum, shit talk the game and threaten to quit.


Again, the game is still being developed. You having access to it at this point is a bonus for you financially supporting the game and the devs. If you aren’t okay with testing it and helping the development process then don’t play it until the game actually releases.


Hell from a legal standpoint the game could be a completely broken and literally unplayable and that is perfectly fine until the day they release it fully.


You wouldn’t go up to an artist that is one third of the way through a painting and give them shit. You’d wait until they finish the [censored] painting and critique it then so don’t do it with games.


As i said before i can fully understand the frustration that bugs in this game can cause and i’m no saint. I’ve had times where i’ve gotten annoyed and angry over things but i always remind myself of everything i’ve said here and calm down.


Whereas a lot of people have instead opted to make posts about how terrible the game is, how unplayable it is and how they’ll quit if something isn’t done about it and soon.


Obviously, this is the wrong way to approach games that are still in development and by telling people a game is shit or broken just because it’s in development is absurd and will only damage the final product of the game due to people having preconceived ideas that it’s bad before they’ve even tried it.


By all means warn people that the game you’re recommending has issues so that they’re aware of that. But don’t condemn a game just because they haven’t finished making it. Not only will you be misleading your friends but you’ll also look like an idiot for doing so.


Ultimately if people continue to carry on like this with beta testing and early access titles then devs are going to eventually close the door to the public until their games are more polished or even until release.


A perfect example of this, just recently two of the eft devs publicly announced that they will no longer be visiting or contributing to the subreddit. With all the shitposting going on there i don’t blame them at all.


This can be seen as a good thing for the times when a game actually releases and it is terrible.  However, this is far more damaging for the decent games. No input from the community that will play it therefore nothing is changed or designed to what we want. Plus less funding for the devs and in-house testing meaning games take longer to release.


People need to remember what beta testing and early access is all about. Calm down and help the devs finish the game rather than complaining and threatening them.


To conclude, if you know someone who is bitching about a game like this send them this video and tell them to shut the [censored] up. If you’re the one that is bitching then i genuinely hope you reconsider what you’re doing after having watched this.


Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on this. Do you agree? Maybe you disagree? I want to know what your thoughts are on it and i always endeavor to reply to everyone.


Thanks for watching right to the end and listening to me rant! I’ll see you guys in the next video!

About dg

Dg is the founder and co-owner of Corrosion Hour, a niche gaming community established in 2016 focusing on the survival game RUST. He is an active and contributing member of numerous other RUST communities. As a community leader and server owner for over 15 years, he spends much of his time researching and writing guides about survival games, covering topics such as server administration, game mechanics, and community growth.

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