Are Ubisoft Cheapening The Term Beta Test?
You might about heard The Division going into Open Beta. By might I mean probably, it’s had marketing on par with most triple A releases. Witnessing a trailer for a open beta is truly odd, even more so given how it was presented. Flashy, loud and confident, all for an open beta?
Ubisoft are the leading force in a trend that creates concerns. Betas aren’t demos, but this seems to be changing. At its core, a beta represents a test of functionally, with later stages gathering feedback. They help developers find errors and issues, allowing them to release a product in the best possible state. Betas work both ways however, they need vocal and observant users.
The current trend of Ubisoft using Betas as a means to draw in pre-orders is worrying. The users who play said Beta have already invested into the game. Their views towards the game have already been tainted somewhat by the finical attachment they have with the product. Why is this a problem? Simple, their unbiased stance as a Beta tester is diminished.
How objective can someone truly be once they’ve laid down the cash to enter into a Beta? Will they even bother to report bugs and glitches? Would they even be willing to give feedback through official means? Beta events need tester who know what is expected from them. Offering Betas as some kind of bizarre pre-order reward makes little sense, cheapening the process. Ubisoft treat their Betas as demos, which makes resulting buggy release even more of a problem.
Ubisoft are marketing the Beta like some kind of promotional tool and nothing more. In-house testing would of been ran, but their attitude towards Betas highlights a worrying trend. In the last five years Ubisoft have used Beta access as a pre-order incentives for various games, those Betas were for games that released with a fair amount of bugs. Assassins Creed: Unity, Rainbow Six: Siege and The Crew.
In the case of Rainbow Six: Siege, the first two months of the game saw various bugs and glitches run riot. Even in mid February there’s still a glut of bugs to iron out. For a game that had numerous Beta events, this is a little disconcerting. The Crew and Unity also featured various bugs and glitches that managed to make it into the final release, despite a fair amount of Beta events.
Who is really to blame? Ubisoft for replacing the word ‘demo’ with beta? Should we point the finger towards them for sacrificing quality and functionality in the name of pre-order numbers? Or maybe it’s the Beta testers faults for not doing enough testing and reporting? The blame can be dished around in various portions, but the argument remains that Ubisoft are cheapening the Beta testing process.