I need to speak my mind, and write my thoughts about the upcoming expansion: Legion. It’s not about the game itself though but more about its Beta process.
First of all, they didn’t announce the game on their Blizzcon convention but at Gamescon in August 2015. Now that can be due to the fact that the community was outraged and on fire by the fact that Warlords of Draenor is a 2 “Major” patches game only. People were royally pissed about that little gem. So I think they thought long and hard about announcing the game on Blizzcon set in November, or on Gamescom in August. They decided the latter as we all know and it doused the fires a bit. They also said during that announcement the Beta would be starting soon. Hinting that they already started the Alpha phase as is usual in development.
We know that there are certain versions a game goes through before it’s golden (ready for release). After the initial coding and testing, the rough Alpha begins. The Alpha is meant for testing core game function and sometimes a small group of players is invited to give feedback. Things like pristine graphics are not important. Then if the game is tweaked and coded to the extent that it’s acceptable for launch, a Beta can begin. During the Beta larger groups are invited to give feedback, or during an open-Beta everyone is given the opportunity to test the game. Although we’ve seen that over the years the “open-Beta” changed from stress testing and finding the last bugs to a cheap marketing trick to ensure a vast amount of pre-orders. By Blizzard standards it meant they were collecting feedback from the community on what they did or didn’t like about the game and made final adjustments.
So, why is Legion still in its Alpha phase then, 6 months after the announcement that the Beta would start soon?
Legion has been in the Alpha phase for quite a while now but is due for release this summer according to most rumours. And that’s strange. It appears to me that Blizzard has changed it’s game (he he). At least I hope they did. Because if there will be a Beta after this Alpha, then we can forget a release this summer, maybe even this year.
Could it be that they are skipping the open beta all together, and suprise us with a release date this or next month? Maybe the end of June, two weeks after the release for their motion picture?
Think about it for a second.
If you are depending on the test results of your playerbase in a Beta. Do you really want to include people who might be trolling? Or even closer to home, that you’re unable to filter for useful data because there is simply too much feedback.
So what do you do if you don’t want your players to feel excluded? You name what is actually a closed Beta an Alpha. In this way you can just invite a small amount of players. Players you know that want this game to be good and only they are the ones whose feedback will be used to polish and tweak your game.
A Beta stress test will not be needed, because come on… They are in this MMO business for almost 12 years now. They know what to expect on launch day, and they always fuck it up. So I HOPE! This is the case and Blizzard will give us a big ol’ suprise somewhere in June. I don’t see anything sooner happen, and more than 3 months after the movie will be a curious marketing move.
What are your thoughts on this whole?
Let me know in the comments.