More and more it seems as though we as gamers are being asked to moonlight as beta testers for video game companies when they feel they need to push a game out the door by a certain deadline. These can include game crippling bugs which impede game progress as was prominent at the launch of Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, or odd server bugs which seem to be more common in recent console releases. With game developers feeling that they will be able to put patches in these games and fix them at a later date these problems are passed on to the consumer without worry of any real major backlash. Although I find this type of behavior completely in excusable, I feel that there is one game which has staked out even darker territory in the last few months. With Slant 6 Games release of SOCOM: Confrontation, I believe that not only was this game released at no better than a game in beta stage, but is also being used as a massive Trojan horse for a beta of massive proportions.
As everyone is well aware Slant 6 is the second string SOCOM development team for the series, having only previously worked on SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Tactical Strike. When it was announced that the newest game was being created by this team rather than Zipper Interactive, many people were shocked and wondering why Sony would trust such an important game for the PS3 to Slant 6. I believe that this was because Zipper and Sony decided that this SOCOM release would be the sacrificial lamb to help them create what is currently titled M.A.G..
Why would there be so many major server issues with a game which has set such a great precedent as a console shooter. It seems almost impossible that such a huge server debacle wouldn’t have been noticed, or at least anticipated, at some point during the development process. I believe the truth is that these server issues were completely expected, and in fact the product was developed specifically to create these issues in order to aid in the development process for Zipper. As was disclosed at E3 in 2008 M.A.G. will be a game with massive battlefields totalling up to 256 individual players. The number 256 also happens to be the number of players allowed on each regional server for Confrontation. I believe that Sony decided that the best way to test servers, which would support such a large number of players for M.A.G., was to release a game to the public for $40 in which you would ultimately be paying for the privilege to beta test their server technology.
Has anyone else come to this realization? What are your opinions on using paying customers as beta tester? Am I that old man sitting on a bench feeding squirrels while quietly whispering to them about the governments plans for satellite based mind reading? read