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“It’s Alpha”

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I hadn’t heard this in such a long time — probably because of the people I surround myself with — but I heard it tonight: “It’s alpha.”

Long ago, we used to hear, “It’s alpha,” or, “It’s beta,” all the time as a reason to justify a game’s problems. Years, perhaps decades, ago this was probably true. A game in alpha or beta would be still heavily in development with issues that should be overlooked. That’s because back in that era the games stayed in alpha and beta for years and only the hand-picked select few actual testers gained access.

Tonight while watching some of the popular streamers playing Dauntless together, one of the streamers said he didn’t want to play Dauntless because it was repetitive and boring. As an aside, I agree that Dauntless looks boring. One of the other streamers suddenly became incredibly defensive and said, “It’s alpha, give it a break.”


It’s not true alpha. It’s a marketing promotional period for the game now. It’s a time to sell advanced founder’s packs for a game going F2P. Any game, not just Dauntless, in this position has left that stage where one can make excuses for the game. When you start taking people’s money and allow them to freely talk about the game, you lose the ability to disclaim that the game is not ready for people to critique.

In today’s “alpha” and “beta” ::gulp:: … “tests” … you’re a fool if you think that isn’t how the game will be at launch. Those systems? That UI? That’s launch. That’s what you’re going to play. If that game is boring, repetitive, sluggish, etc., then that’s how it’ll be at launch. Perhaps the only issues I would say you might have to overlook are server downtime and stability. Even then, I’d expect those issues — at least temporarily — at launch.

Launch doesn’t suddenly change the game. Launch doesn’t radically introduce a patch that makes the game go from being a boring repetitive mess into a sterling and cohesive package of fun. Why would it?

  • Camelot unchained is the one exception for this new unwritten rule of state of the game in betas. They are just entering beta and the game didn’t even have a proper ui.

    • Yeah, Camelot Unchained seems to be taking the process of testing quite seriously. I even had to stop “playing” (testing) because I didn’t want to ruin my experience. It was definitely alpha. While I don’t love the crowd funding / founder pack model there either, it’s definitely not a marketing ploy. We’ll see how their beta phase plays out.

  • Yeah, it’s not a Real Alpha or beta these days I remember the time when I used to beta test to get a place you would have to send them a resume of games that you have tested that they could verify you were the real deal.

    And even then its hit and miss if you get a spot you had to actively be on the Closed Beta/Alpha forums you had to be there with Dev’s in chat rooms to be told what the particular focus of the test was.

    These days na this is not Alpha or Beta it’s basically another way to say pre-order, but it’s not pre-ordering a finished game. Hell, even so, called finished games aren’t complete.

    Just do what I do wait till it is out. If the game never goes gold, then they never get my money. For instance, 7 Days to die been waiting to play that game for years guess what its still in Alpha lol

    Anyway my 2c.

    • Early Access introduces even more complexity. On one hand we have Founders Packs which are basically huge cash grabs up front for games going F2P, and then on the other hand there’s the “early access” model doing the same thing.

      Whew, what a rollercoaster of monetization models we live in.

  • I think you are being overly harsh on Dauntless, and I do see it as an Alpha regardless of the fact you can buy in to play now.

    You are correct, developers seem to be taking a tendency to allow early access for a price, but for me, I don’t see this as a pre-order or buy to play early. I have spent money on a few games that advertise themselves as being alpha. I don’t begrudge the money I gave them because I chose to support the product by funding them. To me, the founders pack is providing the option to fund the developer, and to reward you with your support they give you alpha access, and other perks. It kind of irks me that people see it as purchasing a retail product, and go off on a rant about the price to play. If you don’t believe the developer deserves your funding, don’t buy it and wait for it to release, simple as that…

    • I made the same point in the other post, but I’ll make it again because it’s fair. If you’re funding the developer or seeing this as a way to help fund a developer you support, then I can’t knock that or discount that. That’s personal to you.

      And I don’t mean to pick on Dauntless with two posts in a row. It’s simply the current example. Consider this point applicable to every game.

  • Saying a game is boring is valid whether its alpha, beta, EA, or full release. A boring game is boring. Want to not have your game called boring by those playing it? Don’t let people play the boring version, whatever tag you put on it.