£££ = Beta?

So yesterday was the first time I saw a developer mention a “Paid Beta” and it got me thinking on the whole concept of paying money to be a part of a product’s development.

For those that don’t know what on earth a “paid beta” refers to its the idea and process of paying for early access to a game, usually in its beta stage. This has been done for years with MMOs and some triple AAA titles but usually as a pre-order incentive, and even then the customer gets additional loot for placing down a pre-order.

This was the first time I saw someone just offer the beta access in exchange for a purchase and it is very interesting as the games industry seems to be the only industry that does this! I’ve never seen someone put down money to test an early version of Windows 8 (although from the sounds of it, who would want to?!) or pay a little extra to see a movie’s rough cut before it’s released on Blu-Ray.

So why is this? Is it because consumers are that desperate to play the latest releases they’ll pony up the cash to play a buggier version of it or do they really want to help make a game as good as it can be for when it’s released?

What does this also mean for developers? Do they want to start making revenue as soon as possible or do want to offer fans a chance to play early?

Threes a fair bit to support either answer at the moment but with the rise of crowd funded games and projects we will probably see this kind of thing get more and more popular and with that we will hopefully see and understand the reasons as to why this happens.

Personally, I do see it as a good way to get people interested in your product and pull in a fair few testers who can hopefully break things you didn’t think were breakable. However developers need to be cautious and explain that they need people to actually test things when in there beta instead of just playing, and be sure to utilize their own more hardcore and rigorous testers and testing patterns to make sure that these customers who have already paid get the product they deserve.

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