A beta, a real man's beta program isn't meant to be some fantastic free ride for gamers but a serious time to provide feedback to the developers.
This is Stardock's philosophy and it's one they're going to stick with. Testers picked up the beta to find it "was buggy and utterly sucked", they aren't suppose to be marketing tools.
"The biggest part of the challenge has been the evolution of betas in the PC game industry," said Stardock supreme overlord Brad Wardell.
"Stardock has been doing public betas of its games since 1993 when the OS/2 version of Galactic Civilizations went into beta. We’ve always done it the same way - we put the betas out very early, very buggy, very non-fun and incorporate feedback into the game."
He argues that beta are too important to be used as a PR stunt to promote the game, they should be used properly as a means to get accurate user feedback to aid development.
"...in the last couple of years, someone decided (wrongly IMO) that a public beta program would be a good marketing exercise. The problem is that when people joined the Demigod beta, many of them had only experienced those marketing betas which weren’t true betas."
Wardell reveals Stardock's secret sauce formula for the perfect true beta program:
Beta 1: Buggy/Sucky. Beta 2: Less Buggy/Sucky. Beta 3: Less Buggy/AWESOME.
Beta 2: Less Buggy/Sucky.
Beta 3: Less Buggy/AWESOME.
"Many had been familiar with Supreme Commander and its “beta” (which was a marketing beta where the game was largely done). So when they picked up Demigod betas, they found that the game was buggy and utterly sucked," Wardell continued.
"In Beta 1 and 2, we intentionally messed with values in order to make the game not fun so that players would focus on the parts we cared about (beta 1 – engine, beta 2 – network)."
"So as Beta 3B has made clear, yea, it has all come together. Suddenly there’s a growing buzz that hey, Demigod might be the strategy game to beat this year."
He warns that the PC developers and publishers must "stop having those marketing betas because they completely alter the perception of what a real beta is" and its objectives.
Have you experienced the "sucky" Demigod beta?
Demigod beta meant to be "very buggy, very non-fun" say Stardock
10 March 2009 | By Simon Priest