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Hyping non-MMO games via crappy betas - what's the point?

So, out of sheer boredom I installed a file that has been on my desktop for about a month and a half. Crysis_SP_Demo.exe.

Now, ever since I played the Crysis fileplanet beta I've pretty much purged the game from my memory. I went and canceled my preorder and told my friends that there's no way this game is going to come out playable, yadda yadda. I knew it was a beta so I made sure to end my opinions in "but who knows", though that didn't change the fact that for me the game was pretty much ruined (note that up until that point I had been a pretty huge fanboy). Every time I thought of it I thought of the horrible FPS, the crazy bugs and all sorts of crap. And this game is going to get fixed in a month?

It's not like I'm a bad beta tester. I think my record so far is something like 142 bugs reported from Lord of the Rings Online's alpha/beta tests (counting from the spam in my email account). I'm willing to test, but when it's a little download box from fileplanet and I know that in reality it's just a hype-generating "early demo", I don't see the point if it's going to be ultra-shitty. Half of the time these "betas" don't even have normal functions that every beta should have.

In any case, I've had this happen to me before. Betas become available via fileplanet, completely for hype as they're coming out in a month and anything you do really won't matter since the game of course goes gold long before the release. So it's just for hype, and maybe nailing some bugs that they'll be able to patch as soon as the game hits. I play the beta, and it's just terrible. I mean, at least with a demo they could quietly release and not make much hype, then when it's fixed up a bit go "HEY! A demo!" and catch everyone's interest again.

The only reason I can possibly think of to do a crappy "public beta" instead would be to ride on the hope that people actually think of it as such and believe me, they absolutely do not. Even I have trouble with that at times and I'm usually very good about NDAs, bug reporting, accepting my responsibility as a tester etc. I've had people bugtest my stuff before, I know the importance of it. Most people don't even take closed betas seriously even if the game isn't coming out for another year or something.

Of course, with EA being the publisher they probably had all of this worked out while the game was in it's infant stages, so there probably wasn't even a choice behind it all. It's just pretty hard to take seriously when fileplanet has a giant flier advertising a beta like it's a two-dollar whore. That's what betas are seemingly becoming though, after all we all saw what happened with Crackdown.

In any case, after completing the demo I'm left wanting to go buy the game this very moment. I was very impressed, and it ran quite nicely and of course looked absolutely fantastic. Granted, I have no idea how the MP is, and that is what the fileplanet beta encompassed - but I'm not really that interested in it anyway. It's normal for MP to run worse than SP, but the difference between the two games I played was staggering. All I'm left feeling is - why did they bother?
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About twincannonone of us since 10:30 AM on 07.16.2007

Older gamer-turned-developer. Currently working on Dystopia, a Half-Life 2/Source modification.

Xbox LIVE:tncn
Mii code:1617 1124 20-ah, fuck it.


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