This is a topic I’ve wanted to talk about for a while. Usually, game developers have alphas and betas to test the game before it launches. Often, the beta would turn into an open beta for a limited time for people to test the game to ensure stability and performance along with finding bugs.
Recently, the trend is to make alpha and beta more of a marketing ploy than testing. Alpha access, which used to be for press, people making content for the game and of course there was a small friends and family type access has turned into an expensive buy in. Beta access, which used to be for testing purposes (and yes, some people used it as a way to try the game before buying) has turned into a buy in with weekend access only. Often, multiple games have their access weekends at the same time.
So how does this impact the gaming community? If you go to Twitch for ArcheAge, for example, the top streamers usually GIVEAWAY in the title. Unfortunately, the cost of the Founder’s Pack is so high, most channels cannot afford to give away something that expensive. Let’s not forget the Twitter spam, “RETWEET this to win…”. It is no longer about giving a good show to their viewers to grow their community, it’s about trying to obtain growth (and money) via giveaways. A good show is secondary and you can see this by their actions. Buy from my G2A. Buy from my Amazon. Donate. Retweet and follow to win. Advertise the largest donator to encourage others to donate a higher amount for the opportunity for exposure on the channel. Often, with the larger channels, it is while subscriptions are rolling in. Dat money yo!
What happens in the long run? Another game is going to come out and streamers will have to jump to the next game to thrive or go back to their core game. That means the hype train dies for the Flavor of the Month game. It happened with Elder Scrolls Online, it happened with WildStar and it will happen with ArcheAge.
As I mentioned in the video, people creating fan sites, videos, podcasts, etc. should be given alpha access because they are creating long-term content for the game while creating communities, interest in the game and resources people can use to help their progression through the game. They are the ones bug-testing the game. They are the ones that will be in the game, actively playing, during alpha, beta, and beyond. Those are the loyal people who will keep the hype train going because they are passionate about the game.
What goes up, must come down. No company stays at the top in business forever. People earning money from gaming are running businesses and it is time for them to make business decisions. Having a contest to retweet for a chance to win, then saying “put the tweet on an account you don’t use much” shows EXACTLY how they aren’t thinking and they stopped caring about quality.
The numbers mean nothing…if no one is listening.
**Before someone says this is a whine “I didn’t get what I wanted” post, I DID beta test WildStar and I’m PLAYING ArcheAge (Russian). However, there were quite a few sites and streamers that were exclusive to WildStar that received no warning that their access was going to be highly restricted. I have not received Alpha access to ArcheAge (but like I said, I am playing it). I think, since they were handing out keys, those who could show they could make quality long-term content for the game should have been given access – meet those people half-way because it takes a lot of work and time to do that (let’s not forget it’s free advertisement). No, I’m not going to forget the people who have access that are no longer playing the game. Picking people based on the SIZE of their audience instead of their passion for the genre, the community/company or the game doesn’t win in the long run. Period.