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Battlefield 3 and the Beta Test "Misunderstanding"

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So you’re playing the Battlefield 3 beta test and feeling a tad underwhelmed., Maybe even a tick angry because it’s nowhere near complete and only teases some of the features and has some bugs.

Fear not, says DICE’s Patrick Liu to The Guardian.

“Yeah, I think there’s been a misunderstanding of the term ‘beta test’. It’s (the test) taught us a lot. Our primary intentions have been to test the backend. As we said at the beginning, we have six times the number of players we had with Bad Company 2, we have record high concurrent users compared to anything we’ve done before. And we know it works. In previous games, like Bad Company and 1943, we’ve had serious problems with the backend, it’s just been overloaded – this time it hasn’t been a problem.

…we just wanted to know it wouldn’t crash and burn at launch. It was horrible with Battlefield 1943 – it sold ten times the numbers we thought it would, and it was down for three or four days which is really bad. We don’t want to go through that again.

I think Liu has a point, sort of. A lot of people seem to think that this is supposed to be a demo of Battlefield 3. It’s not. Now you can make the case that DICE should add more stuff to the test, but’s DICE’s test and the company can run it however they see fit. How smart it was to release an “everybody can play” beta test is another question entirely because they had to assume people would form opinions of the game based off the beta. People didn’t download this thinking, “Hey I can test this for DICE!” They downloaded it thinking, “I get to play BF3!”

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Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

9 thoughts to “Battlefield 3 and the Beta Test "Misunderstanding"”

  1. Whatever they meant the open beta to be for doesn’t matter anymore. It is now a demo in the perceptions of the people playing it and it is leaving people feeling underwhelmed and that is going to affect sales. It probably wasn’t wise of them to make it open in the first place but now that they have they should start realigning their needs with player’s expectations if they expect those players to shell out $60 for the full retail game. Constantly saying, “we’ve fixed that for the retail release, trust us” doesn’t infuse much confidence into the player base.

    It’s sad to because I wasn’t going to buy the game but after playing the beta for awhile I think it might be good. But I’ll be waiting to see what the retail game turns out to be like before dropping $60 anywhere near it. They could have sold me out the gate if they had made any attempt to address problems during the beta.

  2. I was really planning to pre-order the game, but saying I was “underwhelmed” by the beta is exactly right. I appreciate the attempt to make sure the network tech works right at launch, but from where I stand the game just doesn’t seem like what I wanted it to be. I’ll have to give it time to release and see what’s there. Not only did it not have the features that I want from battlefield, but the simple tech of it didn’t seem right. The spawning was strange, the death animation was strange, you could fall through the ground regularly, I just don’t know.

  3. I understand that people might confuse the open beta for a demo. After all, it isn’t often that companies do this sort of thing. I can also agree that having a less than perfect product may tarnish some folks idea of what the final build will be like.

    Knowing that many of the problems have likely already been fixed, and the entire purpose of the beta was to avoid messy day one launches… Why would I cancel my pre-order based on a few frustrations during the BETA?

    Maybe if, during the beta, you said to yourself

    Hey there’s no racing in this game! I’m canceling my preorder!

    Then I would understand. But to say

    This doesn’t meet my ridiculous standards for Battlefield titles. Why would I want to play a game where I fall through the ground? I’m canceling my preorder… And posting about it online.

    Seems a bit absurd using your grown up brain to come to that conclusion.

    Would we really rather another Brink launch, killing the game before it landed because of a broken multiplayer? Avoiding that problem is the whole point of a Beta. The fact that I got the overstated privilege of helping through participation is merely a bonus.

    What I think most of us know is that we should not pass judgment on something 1.)we didn’t pay for and 2.) isn’t even close to a final product.

    Wouldn’t you feel worse if, say, another popular modern shooter launched two weeks later and you found out that there multiplayer was full of bugs because they never tested it in the wild. Too late, though, you already gave them your money, proving that they don’t need to test it to make money.

    P.S. I avoided using quotes to hopefully prevent a spam block on the forum, so you may need to imagine some. In fact, anything you disagree with me about…I’m quoting you…. or your mom. Just kidding, I’m open to lively debate.

  4. They should have been extremely clear up front in setting expectations and arguably called it something other than a beta. When you release any kind of playable material within a month of a game’s launch, it’s reasonable to think that expectations will be for a very polished product. Instead, the product is remarkably full of bugs and ho-hum graphics.

    More to the point of calling it a “beta,” I don’t know that I’ve ever seen something called a beta released so very close to the launch of the game. Normally, it’s several months in advance. That timeframe provides reassurance to the players that there’s time for problems to be solved. Instead, a multitude of problems in playable form so close to launch throws up red flags in all directions.

    I hadn’t preordered it, but expected to buy it. Now, I’m enjoying Gears 3 and will wait and see how things shape up in the final release. Some games, like MW, are buggy for months after release. Other games, like BC2, take several patches and DLC releases to feel like complete titles. I can wait.

  5. 1) I feel like a midget. BFBC2 doesn’t feel this way, but I’m entirely too low to the ground. Killzone-like.

    that’s something I can live with, but

    2) If feels too much like Modern Warfare. And that’s where I get off the bus. Why am I going to pay $50 or whatever to play a variation on something I’ve played for the past 4 years. I’m not. I suppose I’ll just stick to Red Orchestra 2 which give me more of what I want.

  6. I had no interest in the game until the beta was released. This will be the first battlefield game I will have bought since 1942, but I won’t rush out and buy it at launch. It won’t hurt to wait a few days and make sure everything is copacetic.

    Also, people canceling their preorders because they were let down by a tiny protion of an unfinished game they downloaded for free? Kinda seems like jumping the gun.
    Try the retail release or read a few reviews before you decide to hate the game.

  7. I’ve been playing BF3 beta on pc and honestly I don’t know what everyone is complaining about. Graphics are pretty on point imho and the gameplay feels just like it should. A small piece of a big pie. Perhaps the bugs are due to the fact that they did restrict a lot. Only thing I dislike is the origins/bf3 client interfacing they work together like oil and water. Once again what do you expect from EA though?

  8. I’ve been on the not exactly most positive side of the bf3 beta for some time but that quite changed after they finally unlocked the caspian border 64 player conquest map. it might have been a mistake to so heavily focus on the metro map since it doesnt have the classic bf feel, on the other hand it might have convinced many cod players to get the game. im looking forward to buying the game in half a year or so when its thoroughly patched and gotten a pricecut

  9. Until a game goes gold the dev team can refer to it however it wants. Maybe they should have specified that the beta was to gauge multiplayer latency, but it’s absurd to fault them for using a well defined term that people have placed false expectations on.
    If this were a demo people should feel slighted. This sucks if it were close to a finished product.

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