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SOE is offer a deal to EQ players, pre-order "Lords of Everquest". (boxes in stores soon) And you can play in the Phase 2 beta.
This is wrong in a couple of ways, and I predict it will come to bite SOE in the captains quarters.
The point of a beta is work out the bugs before releasing a game. Open beta are because PC's are not overly standard. So it gives the dev's a heads up on what hardware configurations may have trouble running the game and give them time (hopefully) to correct the problem before the game goes live.
"A game is only late until it's released, but it's bad forever"
First impressions, especially on the fickle game market, can be deadly ones. Hence open beta's to work out the bugs so that 1st time installers will have a flawless experience playing the game. But instead numerous paying customers will see a buggy and nearly playable result. How happy would that make you as a customer? Is SoE saying "It's a beta, just wait 6 months and we'll have it working" going to smooth over the 50 bucks you just blew to play the game today?
It didn't work well for Wolf Pack makers of Shadow Bane.
I can almost hear how this came about:
Manager "We need to make money on this game soon, our budget has been expended but the Dev's still tell me it's to buggy to release. Any idea's?"
Manager2 "Don't listen to them, they are just a bunch of whiners"
Manager "We did that for SWG and look what happened. Let's try something different this time."
Manager3 "Why not let customers find the bugs for us? They call that a 'deta' I think? They do it for free!"
Manager "That's a good idea... but our budget is gone. We need to make money".
Manager2 "Why not ask them to pay for it"
Manager3 "Pay to play a game that barely runs? How could we get them to do it?"
Manager "I got it, we've did the same thing in the high end game in EQ. We'll make it about elitism. We can make it seem only the "hippest" players will be in the beta... they will trampling over each other to get store to buy the beta box" (yes, they are old enough to still use the word 'hip')
This is a bad idea for both customers and SoE, unless this really isn't a Beta. It's a pre-release for the selected. Only Time will tell.
Achievers realise that killers as a concept are necessary in order to make achievement meaningful and worthwhile (there being no way to "lose" the game if any fool can "win" just by plodding slowly unchallenged). -bartle