When is an Open Beta not an Open Beta?

Exactly what the Beta 1.5 Update for APB will entail has been released, and for the most part it’s good. Closed beta continues on for a while longer, and everyone gets an invite who signed up in February, the new spawning system (which should prevent your team separating), the new witnessing system, the ‘balanced’ modifiers (which have downsides as well as upsides) and lots more goodies.

What has caught my eye is that this patch will continue into Open Beta, and that all characters created during the Closed Beta version of 1.5 will be carried over, not only to Open Beta, but into Live.

So why is it called Open Beta then, if everyone gets to carry over into live? They’ve stated that if there is any major problem with 1.5 then they’ll extend the Closed Beta (and potentially reset all characters) but once Open Beta is live then they’ll not only keep characters, but open up the Weapon Shop for Real Money Transactions.

Now, once they start taking cash from people that screams to me “This game has been released” and it is in no way a Beta any more. Just because they’re going through a wave of rapid updates, hotfixes and balancing doesn’t mean it’s Beta. Hell, most MMOs are constantly fighting the battle to keep things balanced, keeping on top of bugs and sealing exploits.

Why not just call it “Released” and be done with it? Is it just a card they can play later down the line if something does go horribly wrong? The “It’s Beta” card is normally something played by forum fanboys rather than the developers and it would be disconcerting to say the least if this does happen.

G1’s attitude has been one of a very human nature. The devs talk to their playerbase without patronising them (a bit like CCP Games and their EVE community) and have admitted when things they’ve done weren’t terribly smart, or when an experiment went awry (without going into details) and have been generally good at keeping people informed.

The problem with this humanising aspect of their dialogues is that there is an air of fallibility and of utmost caution in their steps. Granted, this is their first big MMO project and hedging their bets is probably a smart thing to do, but it does leave my stomach feeling a bit queasy when they talk about taking money from us in the unstable fluctuating morass that is Beta.

Either that or it was that Boohna I had last night.

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