Home > Uncategorized > I do not think that word means what you think it means

I do not think that word means what you think it means

To this day, there are songs sung of the escapades of the Shorties in Planetside, an MMO shooter whose merits we came to see only after joining the beta. Had we not had such an opportunity, it is likely we would never have played. This was, in fairness, mostly due to poor marketing that made the game seem to be a clone of Battlefield 1942, a market niche that was, at the time, already rather overpopulated.

But getting us in on the beta for Dungeons & Dragons Online was diametrically opposed in outcome, showing us that a game we had looked forward to was unworthy of our attention. (Coming from a group that then and since reliably gathers semi-weekly to partake in the P&P D&D.)

Shit, it was even a beta invite for World of Warcraft that brought the title from “that game I ignored in the preview section of PC Gamer” to “all I want for Christmas is a ticket to Azeroth.”

And you don’t have to be a VP of marketing to get that the common thread here is that a good game sells itself, if you let people have the first hit free. That’s why ever MMO now has some sort of free trial. Well, except for the ones from Nexon; they just give all their games away and rely on demonic pacts for financial subsistence. That’s the only theory I’ve found plausible.

But now, “beta” has become some kind of code word for “early preview for fanboys and other dedicates.” Not only does this enable the fanboys to go forth and beat the war drums in support of the title, and engage in their beloved flame wars, but it also allows the developers and/or publishers to gently slumber on Olympian stacks of cash.

What’s that? How do they get rich from this? By charging for it. Take, for example, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3. To gain admission to the “beta” for this game, you must purchase the similarly-titled but wholly-distinct other game Command & Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath. Such devil-bargains will erode your sanity if you ponder them too long.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning’s impending beta is nearly as infuriating. Originally, they were going to restrict the “beta” to people who pre-ordered the $90 Collector’s Edition. Hope you wanted to pay for those hardbound art books and the Orc Warboss figure!

Of course, both RA3 and WAR are being published by EA, a company maligned by some as a den of jackals. We Shorties used to lampoon their erstwhile slogan of “challenge everything” as “ruin everything.” Unimaginative, but concise.

I also have this festering theory that I feel should be included to give this post sufficient anti-EA cred to be believable, and the quickest way is with propositions of conspiracy. Perhaps by allowing their more zealous audience access to the beta, where bugs are expected and tolerated, the publisher/developer cabal might be trying to immunize their die-hard base against a possibly damaging retail release with unfixed problems. That way, the attitude isn’t “The bugs aren’t that bad.” but instead, “Bugs? What bugs? They fixed all those already.” Of course “all those” bugs that have actually been fixed are, of course, the only ones that have been fixed, if you follow me. The rest remain unrepaired.

Okay, I’m done.

Of course, being a sentimentalist and a fuddy-duddy on this topic leaves me on the non-victorious side, which I accept. To borrow the words of a friend after I voiced these concerns, “You might as well get your hose and start spraying the kids, but they not getting off your lawn any time soon.”

Note: as I wrote this over the weekend, we were all given access to the Red Alert 3 beta, and the rest of the Shorties got in the WAR beta. We’ll see how that’s going on Wednesday. Cathartic!

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 15, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Hober,

    I miss you. ❤

    Love, msleeper

  1. September 8, 2008 at 1:31 am

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