Topic of the Week: betas, demos or marketing?


With Overwatch and The Division fresh in our minds, we come to you, dear readers, with a question: what do you think of betas? It’s the Topic of the Week, and this time it’s definitely going to keep getting done, every Wednesday, from now until the end of time.

Check out the best PC games ever. Why? Because they’re great, and we’ve already got two of 2016’s finest on there.

So: betas. They come in many forms these days, and never seem to do quite what they say on the tin. There’s the Early Access version where they truly are that, a hunt for bugs and a testing ground for new things. There’s The Division’s pre-order bonus, operating as an incentive to buy, a way to get a look at the game early and the developers get to see how it handles large numbers of players. Overwatch is its own thing, part honest-to-goodness beta with lots of changes happening regularly, but obviously a big marketing push from Blizzard as well, who ensured it got into the hands of every streamer and member of the press they could, much to the (slightly unfair) chagrin of their community.

There are many more, and the concept of this early access to a limited portion of the game used to have a different name – a demo. ‘Betas’ have certainly replaced those, with demos few, far between and often months after release now, developers preferring to give their game away entirely for free over a weekend rather than develop a special, locked off portion.

What do you think of this development? Are you fine with it, but wish they’d pick different names so you knew what you were getting into? Would you rather the return of smaller but more functional demos? Let us know in the comments below.