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Paying for Free to Play?

Beta’s provide an opportunity for developers to leverage the community to help them polish the rough edges off their game, and deliver a better end product. Games from Halo, to Minecraft, to Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm have all taken advantage of this medium to assist in their final stages of development. A beta is generally either closed or open to the public. A developer will decide whether to allow a massive influx of people or invite a select few to take part and give feedback. For most games a beta invite is a privilege or a lucky draw. You’re either a valued member of the community or simply one of a group randomly selected to participate. The amount of commitment for feedback varies between beta opportunities as does the breath of the experience. You may have access to just one map, or you may have access to an entire game. For the developer, they’re able to perform a much more thorough quality assurance process. This also allows for the gathering of focus group type data from a wide scope of users. For players, we get to be a part of the process. Get to see a game just a little bit before everyone else, and get to provide feedback on what we would like to see in the game. In short, a beta benefits both sides of the transaction.

While charging for access to a traditional retail game’s beta is the norm, charging for access to a free to play game is not. Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm (HotS), is charging players for access to the beta. Some may claim that the HotS “Founders Pack” ($39.99) is not paying for access to the beta. The argument being that you get in-game items that don’t come with a beta key. Read more