Thursday, November 17, 2011

Diablo 3 beta vs SW:TOR beta

I was wondering recently what is in Blizzard's head regarding the beta and Diablo 3's release. For one thing, they claim that they are only testing server stability and load capacity and not gameplay issues. Apparently the majority of bugs are tested in house by their QA department. For another, there are still rumors going around that the game is in an unfinished state, or that certain big features are still being worked on when they should be already done. After all, when you are in beta that means the game is essentially finished and now it is just being fine-tuned and cleaned of bugs.

Blizzard has been keeping quiet lately and so much secrecy late in the beta and almost before release doesn't bode well.

I'm fine with how they choose to do their testing. What I don't understand is the apparent contradiction between what they claim and what the facts show. I mean, they claim that they are testing server capacity. Great! But why are there so few people invited to the beta? 200 invites a week + a few here and there doesn't seem near enough. They need to ramp up their invites!

Think about it. Millions of people are chomping at the bit to get their hands on Diablo 3. Most of them would love to join the beta. Yet, only a select fraction of a fraction has been let in. Pretty soon, the weekly Facebook invites will end and the number of beta testers will dwindle. Those servers need to be strained to bursting! I really hope their servers won't crash on release day. That's the price you have to pay for an always-online game.

I'm also certain that some of those who've been playing the beta from the beginning are bored and aren't really touching the game a lot. This makes for a slowly growing number of beta players but is that enough to test "server stability"? I don't want to get into any conspiracy theory crap but what if Blizzard is just trying to buy time with this beta? What if major sub-systems are still being frantically worked on?

This ties to an extent with my previous post about Torchlight 2's delayed release. Those guys are insiders to the gaming industry and I'm pretty sure they are privy to a lot more information than us regular Joes. Is it possible that they know that Diablo 3 still requires 3-4 months of development time before it can be released? Is that why they decided to continue polishing their own game for a little while longer? We may never know.

In contrast to Diablo 3's restrained beta, look at Star Wars: The Old Republic. Bioware gave away thousands and thousands (if not millions) of beta invites, if I heard it correctly. It's almost an open beta, if not in name then certainly in spirit. On the other hand SW:TOR is about to be released next month so it might be plausible to hope for an open beta from Diablo 3 as well, after a release date is announced.

I'm restless just like everyone else. I also have a lot of non-Diablo related stuff to do while I'm waiting for the game. In the meantime, you don't happen to have a spare beta invite lying around, do you?

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