The gaming industry continues to grow, finding new outlets in which to reach us, the players. From well known companies, to the smallest of independent studios, more and more games become available from all around the world. The design, development, and distribution of this digital entertainment varies from title to title. It is the involving of players for development on which I would like to hear your thoughts.
Commonly referred to as Beta, the focus of this phase in development usually centers on finding bugs/issues in the game itself. The scope of these issues may be aesthetic in nature or extremely critical, and in turn they may be incredibly easy or frustratingly difficult for developers to fix. While employees of the studio strive to find, and fix, as many of these issues as possible, it has become a common practice to include players in one or more stages of Beta testing. This partnership allows the player to experience the unfinished game first hand, while contributing bug reports and suggestions to the studio, ultimately benefitting both parties, and hopefully resulting in a better game for everyone at launch/release.
It is with concern that I have noticed a misconception among some of us. Beta testing is spoken of as an entitlement by players, implying a right to Beta test simply for being interested in the game. In addition, some players discuss games they are Beta testing in public forums, possibly breaking non-disclosure agreements, and attempting to dissuade other players from considering playing the game. They may point out specific flaws found during Beta tesing or generalize, but the majority of these players seem to treat Beta testing as a demo of the game.
Players certainly have the right to voice their opinions about games, and this website offers a fantastic forum for doing just that. However, it is specifically in regard to Beta testing that I hope you will share your thoughts.
Do you believe that players should have the right to access Beta testing prior to launch/release of a game - why or why not?