Bloated Beta

Have you signed up to a beta before? You sign up with your e-mail, you hope for the best. Seems simple enough, but then you have the clever people, which sign up with two, three or ten or more accounts.

Have you signed up to a beta before? You sign up with your e-mail, you hope for the best. Seems simple enough, but then you have the clever people, which sign up with two, three or ten or more accounts. I know there are many who do, I am very sure it’s not an uncommon thing.

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Are you actually increasing you chance to get a beta invite by signing up with two accounts, or three? Or even ten? Thing is, you do… and you don’t. You do, if, and that is only if, you sign up with many accounts. Let’s make a very simple scenario to give you an idea. You have 20 devout gamers wanting to get that so elusive beta invite, they all sign with one account. So they have a 1 in 20 chance should only one invite be sent out. However, these are the cunning elite of gamers, so some minutes later they sign up with another four accounts, each, making it a total of five chances each out of a total of 100 accounts. Problem is, since they all did 5 accounts, they actually still are essentially at 1 chance in 20. I know people will say that that 5 in 100 isn’t 1 in 20, it’s 5 in 100, you can’t compare them… that’s fair enough I suppose, but let’s move on.

Let’s have a look at a current hot sign up, Guild Wars 2. I know you’ve heard about it, if you haven’t lived under a gaming rock the last few years. They passed one million e-mails entered into their database. So that means they have over 1 million users which will do their best to make sure the game is more polished and will be worthy of triple a game launch.

Or wait a minute… They would, if everyone hadn’t signed with two, three or even five e-mails. They would actually have a little over half a million with all using two, in the ballpark of 200,000 if five e-mails was registered… Suddenly that dedicated million isn’t so impressive anymore.

But things keep getting better. ArenaNet needs, lets say 500,000 testers. Yes, the number is correctly pulled from my lovely behind. They send out half a million invites to their dedicated fans, which everyone contributes to in order make this beta phase a wonderfully solid and good phase–which prepares the developers for the game launch of the century!

You had ten accounts registered, you are sure to get a spot! On average you should have a good chance, but honestly… Average results will just as likely be that you get zero or ten invites. Now lets assume you’ve been the awesomeness that you are and you got ten, yes TEN invites! And you use one… or if you’re really awesome and a friendly guild mate, you give one away to your mate, or girlfriend/boyfriend. That leaves 8-9 people with no invite.

It leaves 8-9 people out which could improve the game you wish to beta test for, that you want to succeed. That you want to become the king of games. Then you have the flip side… You signed up with lots of accounts and got none, *gasp* zero invites. But don’t worry, as shown before, some would have gotten two, three or ten. And I’m certain you know them all so you’ll get to test the game and help improve it… Right?

Have you honestly helped your game by signing up with two, three or even ten accounts? Have you helped the game to be a better game? Have you helped the developer by essentially giving them false signup numbers? Have you helped them to estimate the number of servers they will need? Will you fill in bug reports for up to ten people or however many accounts you signed up with?

You are no more likely to get invites into a beta if you sign up with more accounts; you will however create a bloated and false beta sign up number. You will, more likely than not, prevent good feedback from players which would actually send bug reports during the beta. In the short and the whole, you’re essentially hurting the game with false information and impeding a potentially great game. Of course the beta phase is only one phase in development, but no less important than the others. Everyone should work together to build a great game, to make it iconic rather then an unused icon on your desktop.

See you in a good beta!


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