The successes of having an open beta

Multiplayer betas have been creeping out of every nook and cranny in the past few years. Almost like a drug dealer, they give you a little for free to try out in the hope that you will get madly addicted and fork out too much money for the real thing in return, although with less of the illegalness.

That isn’t me complaining and no-one should protest too much, it gives us an idea of some games we may not have picked up if they didn’t feed us a little beforehand. Battleborn surely gained some sales from their well-executed beta a few months ago and I was courted beautifully by Overwatch before release, it has made me an honest man.

There’s also a few games that don’t really need the extra push to get sales and are simply giving fans a little striptease before their release. Destiny did it a few years ago, The Division also had a smaller affair and the Gears of War 4 beta helped quell some worries over how new developers The Coalition would treat the beloved, meat-head chainsaw swinging franchise.

A tip to the hat of the man who thought about doing this more often, it’s the perfect free advertising. Much like the old demos of the past, without the excellent magazine but the ridiculous amount of redundant shovel-ware, they are pleasing fans and enticing potential new players in one fell swoop.

Not only that, it can also help stress-test the serves for release and although no-one has quite stuck the landing yet, in fact more have fallen over face first than not, it’s good that they are at least trying to solve the problem before ending in spectacular failure.

However, developers cannot simply rely on something like a beta to boost sales. Some games will not be able to live on their multiplayer content alone and if it’s a sour experience, it will turn everyone away faster than a Bonnie Tyler song.

Take a look at the Doom beta, that was slated online for being a little too generic for the nostalgic crowd, especially on the PC. If not for the excellent reviews for its single player campaign nailing the feeling of the old game, it could have fallen flat on its face and the negative feedback on the beta must have impacted first-day sales.

It will forever be a risk versus reward venture but if they are confident in what they are bringing to market, they should at least give this a go. Much like the modern world of sending each other naked pictures, if you are willing to put it out there, you have to be comfortable that someone may get a hold of it and lambast you on the internet.


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