24

Unbaked

November 23, 2022 by Tim

Disclosure #1- Darktide was at “mixed” when I started the comic, and “mostly positive” by the time I finished it.

Disclosure #2- I am having a blast with Darktide, despite the server problems.

So. Darktide launches on November 30th, but they let people who preordered start early to help do some final testing/stressing of the servers. Pretty straightforward.

And, sure enough, there have been some issues. Disconnects, trouble joining, getting kicked from games, etc. It immediately started getting slammed with negative reviews from people struggling to play, which in turn ignited a rather interesting conversation that I can see both sides of. Should the game get review bombed for struggling during a beta test or is that entirely what beta tests are for? Since you’re paying for access to the beta period, are you entitled to expect a flawless experience? Or by knowing it was a beta when you pre-ordered, did you enter into an unspoken agreement to be a tester for an unstable product, and your money is only for the finished launch product?

On the one hand, if a product is unfinished, it does feel unfair to pass judgement on it, especially when so often reviews are “final” (ie, people rarely go back and edit them with new information/impressions).

I, certainly, would hate to have a comic I’m working on judged while it is still in the early sketch phase. And if, for instance, I showed it to someone to get feedback in the process, and they turned around and wrote a review that said “tomorrow’s comic sucks” based on an incomplete product, that would be pretty frustrating.

On the flip side, I believe consumers have a right to as much information as possible regarding a potential purchase. So in that regard, someone contemplating pre-ordering Darktide should know the pre-order beta is currently working through some server/optimization stuff.

But where is the line (is there one)? Should a game have its perception/review ratio affected due to problems in a testing period that is specifically there to catch and fix said problems? When is it too early to review a game?
Forced to choose, I would err on the side of transparency for the consumer. But I’m curious to hear your thoughts on what stage a game needs to be at for it to be “reviewable”? Especially when these days people often use negative reviews as a weapon to vent their frustrations.

Let me hear your thoughts.

Thanksgiving this week in the US, so I’ll be doing family stuff Wed/Thurs. No comic on Friday, see you on Monday!


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Tim
Tim
7 days ago

Fridays comic sucks!

WesleyRiot
WesleyRiot
7 days ago
Reply to  Tim

Elaborate

Calydor
Calydor
7 days ago
Reply to  WesleyRiot

It’s just a blank page; it’s like he hasn’t even started drawing it yet.

Aichon
Aichon
7 days ago
Reply to  Calydor

I’ve heard that there won’t even be a Friday comic!

(which is true; see Tim’s note above about Thanksgiving)

Jack0r
Jack0r
6 days ago
Reply to  Aichon

Then that comic surely must suck, if he isn’t even releasing it!

Neon
Neon
6 days ago
Reply to  Aichon

I heard there won’t even be a Friday!!!!

P2Mc28
P2Mc28
3 days ago
Reply to  Calydor

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For more detail visit this article.. https://startsetup1.blogspot.com/

Last edited 3 days ago by P2Mc28
no thanks nintendo
no thanks nintendo
7 days ago
Reply to  WesleyRiot

tell us you didn’t read the accompanying post without saying you didn’t read the accompanying post

James
James
2 days ago

Tell us you didn’t get the joke without telling us…

Phaet
Phaet
6 days ago
Reply to  Tim

It’s Thursday…

Acher4
Acher4
7 days ago

Truthfully, both sides have a right. But taking into account that a beta version is open to buy, meaning that the consumer actually buys something that is not ready yet… (except if, is it in normal price, or is there a sale for it at that moment?) What I guess would be best, is either, not the game to be open for everyone to buy it, while in beta test…do it with invites or something, or have a specific review score for the game, while it’s in beta, which is marked as beta and everyone knows it. And when the… Read more »

Varkhan
Varkhan
7 days ago
Reply to  Acher4

The dual review state is a good idea, because it also maybe shows how they improved.

Closed betas on invitation also exist of course, though I’m not sure Steam allows that out of the box.

Varkhan
Varkhan
7 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

That said, just realized that on Steam, there is actually two review scores

  • all
  • most recent

so typically the most recent ones should usually be the most indicative and cover that.

Jack0r
Jack0r
6 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

Yeah, development doesn’t stop with the release. There are lots of games (e.g. No Man’s Sky) that released in a rather lame state, but got really good a while after.

Pulse
Pulse
7 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

look at a steam review. at the top it will sometimes show “product received for free” meaning it was gifted to them. those are usually the better reviews to read since they have no money dropped on it.

Atros
Atros
7 days ago
Reply to  Pulse

Eehhhhh, can also be interpreted as meaning they were specifically _invited_ to give a positive review and given the game for free to get it, though. Unlikely to be handing out free copies to people who are going to hurt your sales.

Pulse
Pulse
7 days ago
Reply to  Acher4

there have been a few games ive played that were in beta when i got them and raised their price significantly after “launch”. kinda felt like a discount for being a test dummy.

TomB
TomB
5 days ago
Reply to  Acher4

Steam needs that bifurcated reviewing as a feature. Beta is NOT the same as GA and anyone who has been around games long enough ought to know that. The beta team almost always post notes indicating there may yet be substantive changes before GA and to have old, crufty, negative reviews hanging around an appearing to apply to the GA product is kind of inaccurate and unfair. I hate seeing a rating that makes a game not so good and then other posts saying ‘This is all fixed in the current patch and ignore those old posters…’ Maybe what they… Read more »

James
James
2 days ago
Reply to  Acher4

Expanding on this great idea, steam could also display a ‘review score over time’ graph on the page for each game. If the graph is going up over time, despite a lot of negative initial reviews, this would be a great indicator that improvements are being made. And would prompt a ‘sort by most recent’ for me.

Samus
Samus
2 days ago
Reply to  James

There is a “show graph” button in the filter information above the reviews that does exactly this.

Come on, Sense
Come on, Sense
7 days ago

If they PRE-ordered to play it on release day without server troubles (because they could download the installation files early), and in addition are given the opportunity to help stress test the servers in the final beta phase, I don’t think they are given a raw deal. Beta testing is work. If it was fun, people wouldn’t get paid for it. Of course, any company that starts a (semi-) public beta test will have to accept that the PR consequences of the test may be detrimental if they don’t put people under NDA (and enforce them … which would probably… Read more »

Varkhan
Varkhan
7 days ago

Ever heard of StarCitizen ^^ ? Ahem 😀 To your point, I think at some point people need to stop behaving like spoiled babies. If you see “beta” and you pay for it, it *is* expected of you to have your brain on and *expect* an unfinished state. I mean currently most released online games struggle through these kind of problems at the start. Even at that point, having some compassion for the devs, some understanding that no, not everything is perfect out of the box nowadays, should also be the baseline. Leaving bad reviews close to or soon after… Read more »

Varkhan
Varkhan
7 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

Oh, as expected, telling people that they act immaturely actually gives you bad reviews 😛 … ok, cool.

Killiak
Killiak
7 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

Guess their brain wasn’t on 😛

But that said, you are completely correct. Also, Devs are just employees, living up to deadlines and targets set by oblivious marketeers and managers, whose brains are in a permanent state of not understanding a single thing a Dev would ever tell them.

I pity modern day Devs, for the shit they have to put up with.

Varkhan
Varkhan
7 days ago
Reply to  Killiak

Spoiler alert: I’m a dev (though not in the gaming industry) so I empathize a lot with the game devs 😀

no thanks nintendo
no thanks nintendo
7 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

Even at that point, having some compassion for the devs, some understanding that no, not everything is perfect out of the box nowadays, should also be the baseline.”

If it’s not finished, don’t sell it. I work hard for my money, I expect quality products in return. That’s the baseline. Not “well okay big AAA publishers that would rather release an unfinished game than delay the game, you can stick the tip in, just a little though!”

Varkhan
Varkhan
7 days ago

Again, no one forces you to pay anything, you decide, it’s marked as ‘beta’, your problem, don’t complain.

-And you can downvote as you want, that’s still true-
sorry, that one even with a smiley was a bit toxic.

Last edited 7 days ago by Varkhan
Cherubael
Cherubael
7 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

On the flip side, no one forces companies to release their product for public consumption on steam (marked early access or not).

If it gets them bad ratings then surely by the same logic it is their problem and they shouldn’t complain?

*shrug*

Come on, Sense
Come on, Sense
7 days ago

While I can completely understand the attitude “don’t sell it if it isn’t ready”, I’m pretty confident that most people are unaware of what that entails, and what the consequences would be. First of all, you can’t just eyeball code and SEE if it’s ready like a bricklayer’s work. You have to use the code in order to find out if it does what it’s supposed to do. “Using the code” not only means to take it for a more or less gentle test drive like that clunker from the used car dealership. You need to test it very thoroughly… Read more »

Frizbee
Frizbee
6 days ago
Reply to  Come on, Sense

An addition to your point about delaying the product by months or years, in that time, it’s highly likely that new hardware launches in that time, which would in itself require testing too, further delaying the launch… rinse repeat.

And, like Star Citizen, if development goes on for TOO long, then you end up in a situation where you may have to scrap what you’ve done and start again, or port everything over to a new game engine, because the one you were using no longer suits purpose for what the game has become.

Last edited 6 days ago by Frizbee
Bry
Bry
6 days ago

If you don’t want to spend your money, don’t; you’re not being forced to spend anything or play anything released or early access. There was once games that were released fully: no DLC, no day 1 patch, nothing. You had to buy them on floppy’s or CDs, and that was it. Little to no support going forward even for bugs. Now, with people getting early access to games, the people help shape the game. If the devs did their vision front to back, the game would be released and people might not like it. Now, people can say the best… Read more »

Soag
Soag
7 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

Star Citizen is in open Alpha so doesn’t fit into this discussion. I agree complaining on the state of obviously unfinished product is a bit silly but so is complaining on said complaints. If someone decides to go into beta the complaints are actually a result they should seek for. Usually this should be feedback but anyone with at least few grey cells understands it will be complaints over feedback if you don’t carefully select the testing individuals and instead just let everyone willing jump on the train. I also draw a FAT line between open beta and payed beta.… Read more »

vaisravana
vaisravana
5 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

As for devs, I strongly do feel they deserve more compassion and I also strongly feel that we as consumers, to some extent (to which grade certainly can be argued), do hold responsibility for the work conditions in the industry. As for the other stuff…I feel it strongly depends. Yes, when you sign up for a beta, you should expect it to be a bumpy ride at the very least and a lot of things still being up to change. However, if they connect the beta access to a pricetag I feel it is not unreasonable to have a bit… Read more »

Robert L
Robert L
3 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

The problem with that is that so many games never leave “Beta.” If you accept the excuse that a beta product you paid money for never needs to fix its bugs…

Last edited 3 days ago by Robert L
Cady
Cady
1 day ago
Reply to  Varkhan

God forbid we expect the products we pay for to be fun and playable at the time we pay for them, rather than in some nebulous future that may or may not exist. It’s really simple – if you sell me a game, and that game sucks, I’m not going to pull my punches in my review just because it might suck less in the future. If you’re worried about bad reviews for your unfinished, buggy game, don’t sell an unfinished, buggy game. If you’re worried that your customers will chafe at the state of the game’s beta, don’t use… Read more »

Gonfrask
Gonfrask
7 days ago

Well, I have a friend that was indeed beta-tester (and as he sais, it was not funny: “go to the X building in X map and shoot to the left wall of the third room of the fourth floor, check if the hits are correctly rendered” or “see how many impacts the sand bag of the trench can support until it starts regenerating/all the hits disappear”) so technically the creators have a bunch of players doing the job of those tester and paying for it…seems tricky if you think it in hot. But is also true that sometimes player do… Read more »

Mastacheata
Mastacheata
7 days ago
Reply to  Gonfrask

What your friend was doing is the job of a playtester. They’re usually in the company or contracted by a game studio (i.e.: They get paid to test Games and give constructive feedback)

There is however the time where you reach an end with what can be done by hiring a dozen or maybe a hundred people to test your game and you need some real load to check if your servers and networking are correctly dimensioned.

That’s when you open private/public alpha/beta testing and see how people without a detailed plan will handle your game.

Pyre
Pyre
7 days ago

The line is “when do you start charging money for it”. If you are not charging money either in initial game price or microtransactions, then you can expect a certain leeway. As soon as you are charging full game price for it, then you are now responsible for it’s condition and the ensuing reviews.

Varkhan
Varkhan
7 days ago
Reply to  Pyre

I disagree entirely… at the end of the day, the seller didn’t force you to give them money, you decided to.

And you did this in full knowledge that the official state of the game was ‘beta’, which, considering that the managers/marketers decide to publish and not the devs (except for small indie games of course), might mean anything from ‘we started coding it days ago but we want money anyway’ to ‘we are just finished yet with most of it and want to have a mass test’ state.

TLDR: you decided to pay, no one forced you 😉

no thanks nintendo
no thanks nintendo
7 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

the seller didn’t force you to give them money, you decided to.”

Wow, guess I’m never allowed to give anything a bad review or return it because it didn’t meet expectations, ever.

What awful anti-consumer logic. I’m quite glad I live in the real world and not the fantasy world in your head.

Varkhan
Varkhan
7 days ago

I never mentioned anything about the right or not to give reviews, just pointed out that if you decide to buy a game in ‘beta’, review that fairly.

“and not the fantasy world in your head.”

Aaaaand that was pretty toxic in my view, but yeah, who cares 😉

Heldarion
Heldarion
7 days ago

Do you expect a finished product in beta?

DarkMetatron
DarkMetatron
7 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

Well, the customer always decides to pay when buying and is never forced to give money by the seller. So by this logic nothing should be reviewed ever.

Frizbee
Frizbee
6 days ago
Reply to  DarkMetatron

No, by that logic: If you purchase something that is still being manufactured, and prior to the agreed upon date of completion the manufacturer invites you into the workshop to look at the progress. And you take a look at all the disparate parts, you shouldn’t make a bad review that reads: “It’s unpainted and pieces aren’t attached. Terrible, shoddy product. I want a refund!” After release, then by all means give a review based on current state. But a lot of the bad vermintide reviews are including statements like “Only a handful of cosmetics, and no skins for weapons… Read more »

leduk
leduk
7 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

you have full knowledge ONLY if ppl can tell you how the game is right now. Or else it’s just a bet. And I hate bets.

Nate
Nate
6 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

You are right, no one forced me to buy. However I did, got the game and it ran poorly. Now I have a right to inform everyone else that the current state of the game is not playable. That is too properly inform other buyers of what they are getting. All of your posts are acting like a bad review is punishing the devs. News flash, if the game doesn’t work then a bad review is an accurate review. Steam allows players to change their reviews, it even encourages you too do so if you have a negative review and… Read more »

Vampyrr
Vampyrr
5 days ago
Reply to  Varkhan

You can disagree all you like. Doesn’t make what you say correct. A beta that is being tested shouldn’t cost money at least not the full game price. Maybe something where people can voluntarily pay to join and then that fee gets applied to full price game when it launches? But I don’t think beta tests should ever cost anything.

Cady
Cady
1 day ago
Reply to  Varkhan

Yes, the customer decided to pay. And they are unhappy with their purchase, so they’re voicing that displeasure in reviews and asking for refunds.

Isn’t that how this is supposed to work?

Pulse
Pulse
7 days ago
Reply to  Pyre

“As soon as you are charging full game price for it, then you are now responsible for it’s condition and the ensuing reviews.” so any triple A game nowadays?

Shinji Schneider
Shinji Schneider
7 days ago

In my experience what you get in a Beta is usually what the final product will end up being. Being is missing features, weird mechanics etc. Therefor a game should absolutely be judged by its Beta-State. How many games have we had where people were saying “No don’t worry, they will surely fix this before the final release” and absolutely nothing changed except for 1-2 bugfixes? I don’t expect servers to be running 100% smoothly. It’s something that just can’t be tested before the Beta (that’s why it’s called stresstest). A good example for this would be No Mans Sky… Read more »

Shinji Schneider
Shinji Schneider
7 days ago

TL’DR. I don’t judge based on performance issues (unless it’s REALLY grueling) and i make a clear difference between an Indy-Game and a Tripple-A-Game.

But Beta-State isn’t Alpha-State. To compare it to the cake-allegory. During Beta the cake is already in the oven. You can see it, smell it, you already know what to expect.

WereCatf
WereCatf
7 days ago

Not my experience. The general direction of the game is set, sure, and the plot — if any — is extremely unlikely to change, but it has happened plenty of times that e.g. some game-mechanics ended up being pretty much remade from scratch due to the feedback during the beta-period. I’ve also seen cases where new content was added because the feedback made it clear that there were pretty big gaps here or there that were obvious to the devs, but not the unwashed masses. Indie-games are the most willing to do sweeping changes based on the feedback, from my… Read more »

no thanks nintendo
no thanks nintendo
7 days ago

You are absolutely correct. This game, according to them, “releases” in a week (reality: it released the moment they started providing any product in exchange for money). Nothing massive is going to change between now and November 30th. That’s simply not enough time to make massive changes. Like you said in your follow up: the cake is not a bowl of flour at this point, the cake is already in the oven. If someone walks into the kitchen and says “that cake smells awful” it’s too late to do anything: the cake that finally pops out of the oven is… Read more »

jial
jial
7 days ago

so its important to note that they have many features turned off right now. that was clearly communicated in the pre order beta post. so to use the cake analogy this is the chef saying “hey if you come sit at the table so i can make sure its big enough ill let you try some of the cake batter while the cake finishes.”

Gonfrask
Gonfrask
7 days ago

Be careful, a cake in the oven can smell overbaked, but once out and cold the smell change and in fact can be perfect.
Of course, it also can need a bit of scratch a burned surface…

Sanquin
Sanquin
6 days ago

You’re exaggerating a little, but you’re basically right. For every beta I’ve been a part of that had some glaring issues there would also be dozens defending it with “it’s just a beta, of course it’s unfinished!” A beta is a final test before release, it’s not somewhere halfway through development. A game takes YEARS to make, do people really still think they can fix many glaring issues in a week or two? As I said, you’re exaggerating a bit. During betas devs do usually do more than just fix 1 or 2 issues. But you do get to see… Read more »

DarkMetatron
DarkMetatron
7 days ago

It is really easy:
If a product is ready to be sold then it is ready to be judged and reviewed.

Putting a beta tag on it changes nothing, as soon as it is officially released with a price tag it is released. Taking money but refusing reviews is like wanting to keep the cake(mix) and eat it.

DanVzare
DanVzare
7 days ago
Reply to  DarkMetatron

I couldn’t agree more.

If it isn’t ready, don’t release it yet.
Minecraft released long before it was finished, but it was ready when it was released. People’s enjoyment of it at the time is indicative of that, and was what led to its success.

raven0ak
raven0ak
5 days ago
Reply to  DanVzare

yh, even 0.5 version of minecraft was more fleshed out and polished than most AAA releases nowadays; also cost was lowered notably pre 1.0 (single player being free, and multiplayer was only costly part, 5$ first, then 10$ as 1.0 came closer)

WereCatf
WereCatf
7 days ago

The simplest solution would be to…mark all the beta-period reviews as being made during a beta-period and the beta-period review-score reflecting the beta-period score, not the release-score. Just make sure it very, very clearly displays that the score is specifically for the beta-period and once the beta-period is over, hide/remove it and replace it with the release-score instead.

This way you get both the transparency and yet the final release will be less negatively affected.

no thanks nintendo
no thanks nintendo
7 days ago
Reply to  WereCatf

That’s actually what Steam is doing: I looked really quick and all the reviews are currently tagged “pre-release review”

Which I disagree with the labeling – they’re charging money for a product, therefore it is released and these are not pre-release reviews. Beta period reviews or early access reviews would be more accurate a tag to have.

But regardless, it should accomplish what you’re talking about.

Not that garbage “reviews” like “Fix your game” or “Game is ok (beta) but Vermintide-1, 2 are WAY better.” are useful to consumers anyway. Steam reviews are such trash.

ReaverRogue
ReaverRogue
7 days ago

I think if you’re going into a game that’s in beta or early access, then you should absolutely expect beta or early access levels of something in the game, be it the service, gameplay, optimization, whatever. Going in and expecting a fully polished, ready to play, finished product is simply naive. If there’s a disclaimer that basically amounts to “this game’s in beta, some shit in it is probably messed up” then that’s all they’re obligated to give you as developers. It’s not their responsibility to handle your unrealistic expectations of a game’s state. If they’ve gone so far as… Read more »

Last edited 7 days ago by ReaverRogue
leduk
leduk
7 days ago
Reply to  ReaverRogue

And yet I want to know what I pay for and that’s why I’m reading reviews, even for beta, early access and stuff.

Defkon1
Defkon1
7 days ago

Simple golden rule: NEVER PREORDER, NEVER BUY BETAS

havok
havok
7 days ago
Reply to  Defkon1

Yep….Just wait 6 months after a game is released and most of the issues will be patched/fixed…….Everybody knows this

Tracker
Tracker
7 days ago

I mean, there’s only so much they’re going to be able to realitically change / fix in the what, one week left leading up to launch? The beta was meant to be a server stress test (and cleverly, a way to slowly wind up servers rather than switch everything on all at once which almost always just crashes the servers on day one). But the core gameplay is there, most of the graphical optimisation is there, and they’re charging full price for it, so it should be judged. Ideally there’d be a ‘beta / pre release’ tag on those reviews,… Read more »

The Legacy
The Legacy
7 days ago

An easy fix would be for Valve to add a note to beta reviews, saying “This review was written during beta,” similar to how it adds a note saying “This user received this game for free.”

Varkhan
Varkhan
7 days ago
Reply to  The Legacy

Steam actually does that for early access games, so yeah they could totally also do that. Though as you do have the two scores, total and ‘most recent’, that also kinda helps – if the game got bad reviews during beta but is now rocking and gets good reviews, then you’ll see the current state anyway.

JMWR
JMWR
7 days ago

I feel a good compromise… Beta reviews get a big beta sticker on it. Like date, time, and then big Black on yellow letters “Game purchased was in Beta at time of review”. I think that’d help folks decide on waiting or not.

no thanks nintendo
no thanks nintendo
7 days ago

I am firmly in the camp of “if they are charging money for it, I don’t care if they’re calling it a beta or early access or whatever – it’s fair to leave a review based on the state it’s in when money is spent.” If they don’t want negative reviews based on an unfinished product, they shouldn’t be selling an unfinished product. Simple as. This game, whatever it is (never heard of it until now), can say “we launch November 30, pre-orders get a beta” but the reality is that money is being spent and a product is being… Read more »

Last edited 7 days ago by no thanks nintendo
Eldest Gruff
Eldest Gruff
7 days ago

Holy crap. I… agree with No Thanks Nintendo. Yeah, at the end of the day, if you’re charging money for it, it’s fair to tell others what your experience is. People who don’t want their game played before it’s ready, shouldn’t be making giant public paid betas. Do a smaller, closed betas, or just some network tests. I don’t care if you call it a “beta,” if you’re selling access to people then *it is a product you are selling.* And maybe the betas will overlook that and give you leeway, or maybe they’ll see your game as a shallow… Read more »

Varkhan
Varkhan
7 days ago

“It’s absolutely fair to review the product received in exchange for money, and if that’s a negative review, so be it.” I think that specific part was never really under questioning, at least not for me. Reviewing is of course completely allowed, the problem is more that, if you’re reviewing a thing you paid for as ‘beta’ (or not even paid for, for that matter), then review it with that in mind. No one forced no one to buy it, and applying the same rule you do is IMO too the best way to avoid disappointment ^^ Yeah Steam comments… Read more »

Kaogen
Kaogen
7 days ago

People going “It’s a beta tho!” like we haven’t had years of experience with ‘full releases’ also being broken messes.

Its a product, it can be reviewed in its current state. Period. If it gets better and fixed on release, great! It can get better reviews (as is the power of steam reviews and your ability to edit them), if it doesn’t, then these ACCURATE reviews may have saved someone from making a purchase they later regret.

Last edited 7 days ago by Kaogen
Mastacheata
Mastacheata
7 days ago

What your friend was doing is the job of a playtester. They’re usually in the company or contracted by a game studio (i.e.: They get paid to test Games and give constructive feedback) There is however the time where you reach an end with what can be done by hiring a dozen or maybe a hundred people to test your game and you need some real load to check if your servers and networking are correctly dimensioned. That’s when you open private/public alpha/beta testing and see how people without a detailed plan will handle your game. I think it’s fair… Read more »

Darmelo
Member
Darmelo
7 days ago

I see people talking a lot about how “if it’s a paid product it’s fair to review it as a finished product”, and I’m inclined to agree. Except. The thing here is that you AREN’T paying for a beta key, you’re paying for the whole finished game. The beta in this case is an extra for preorders, an optional early access. It’s simply NOT fully released yet. They even put out the disclaimer and pointed out your progress might not carry over since they may potentially have to rework things.

Prinykins
Prinykins
7 days ago

Interestingly enough, I believe a person deserves the product they have paid for.
In the instance of a currently incomplete product, I would feel an incomplete payment would be reasonable.
Half now, half later. Why not let that be on both ends of the transaction?

PhobosRising
PhobosRising
7 days ago

Maybe it would help if reviews got put into blocks. This score during alpha, this during beta, this if it ever makes it to finished product. Subsequently, it would encourage some devs to lose the alpha tags that have lingered for years. Consumers would get a better feel for the evolution of the game.

Namefield
Namefield
7 days ago

Alpha = Maybe we’ll improve some gameplay mechanics / UI designs.
Beta = Maybe we’ll fix some bugs / improve the performance.
Release = Maybe we’ll continue to improve the game instead of abandoning it / only adding DLCs.

Paul
Paul
7 days ago

I’m happy to see reviews for any product I might wish to purchase, but I do believe that the consumer does have a responsibility for their actions on reading any review. If you make a purchase based on weak reviews then that’s on you. If a product, such as a video game, is in beta testing then you shouldn’t put undue weight on reviews that emphasise bugs and glitches – that’s not really fair to the devs. If a review slams, or praises, the storyline, character development or fundamental game mechanics then you have a stronger foundation upon which you… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
7 days ago

Do connection issues count as a flaw in the actual game play?

Movian
Movian
7 days ago

I would argue that the steam discussions and forums are available for information during the beta phase, to provide the information people are looking for early. While the review should specifically be of the finished product.

That way both scenarios are provided for while being as fair as possible.

Thomas D
Thomas D
7 days ago

Now, I am a software developer myself (not game developer though), so I have some fairly hard options on when something should be “alpha”, “beta” or “finished”. But in my view, “beta” means mostly feature complete, but still working out bugs. Thus, once a product reaches the “beta” state, I would expect the dough to be finished, but not yet baked (to stay in Tim’s analogy). Whereas “alpha” or “early access” means “barely working and missing (critical) features”. So, I think it is fair to judge a beta product, but one must keep in mind, that it is *still* under… Read more »

Last edited 7 days ago by Thomas D
Tom K
Tom K
7 days ago

If they’re making money from it, they have no legit reason to complain that people are reviewing it. They might call it “beta”, but that term has effectively lost all useful meaning.

Tylendal
Tylendal
7 days ago
Reply to  Tom K

Thing is, by all accounts, Darktide is genuinely doing what “Beta” used to mean.

Foxhood
Foxhood
7 days ago

For me seeing “early access” or “BETA” on either the game or the review is like seeing a Salt-shaker on the table. I know i should take some salt with many of the opinions and give it some leniency. If a Dev is really so lethargic to the idea of some early bad reviews, well it is simply the price paid for being able to earn revenue today, rather than tomorrow. The only games i show no mercy on. Are those that clearly are early access titles, but released as if a full release and pulled the whole “We can… Read more »

Skorpeyon
Skorpeyon
7 days ago

I’d say that they should put out a free open beta if they want help and feedback with testing the game before it’s done without being judged on the quality in their Steam reviews. Steam even has their “Early Access” setting for the game, which marks reviews as “Early Access,” but Darktide doesn’t seem to be using that system for some reason? I’m honestly not exactly sure what the difference is between that and what they’re doing, maybe there’s some reasoning here. For those commenting that the current reviews should be marked? They are. They say “Pre-Release Review” right on… Read more »

Sanquin
Sanquin
7 days ago

It’s not really paying for the beta though. It’s buying the game, but being able to play up to 2 weeks earlier in a beta if you bought it before release. When I go to the steam store right at the top there is a “Beta is live now” banner. And when I go to the area to purchase it it clearly says “pre-purchase”. As asked in the text above: Where is the line? How much information do people expect to be given? Being informed twice on the front page, before purchase, apparently isn’t enough? For the cake analogy, that… Read more »

Mnemnosyne
Mnemnosyne
7 days ago

The moment you can pay money for it, whether they call it ‘beta’, or ‘early access’, or anything else, the product deserves to be judged on its current merits, and bad reviews are totally justified.

If you’re not yet putting money down on it, it probably shouldn’t be getting bad reviews.

KBABZ
KBABZ
7 days ago

I think the key factor here is that they paid for early access. If it were free that’d be one thing, but lots of games launch early and have people who payed for a Super Ultimate Edition able to play the game early. By that logic, the game has “launched” and thus is subject to scrutiny, because you can pay money to access the final product.

Mirra
Mirra
7 days ago

One thing to remember is what beta release should stand for. Beta should be feature complete and only bugfixing is undergoing. So it’s correct to claim that the devs will probably fix the game more before final release. But some people also use the beta label as an excuse for bad features or missing features. “It’s in beta, they have time to redo it” is an attitute I hate. Of course there’s also the fact that some companies don’t use beta correctly. Hell, the software company I work for used to label “beta” what was actually an alpha and “release… Read more »

GurrenLagann
GurrenLagann
7 days ago

The new Pokemon games ARE UNFINISHED.

Beta doesn’t mean they aren’t finished, we have bene there many times before, an ALPHA is an unfinished project.

But anyway the only recent games I have seen done Beta, alphas, demos right are Nioh 1 and Nioh

David
David
7 days ago

If they’re charging for it, they are open to criticism. Full stop.

Want to be shielded from that? Make it free to stress test/play while you’re collecting feedback. If it isn’t ready to play, it isn’t ready to be paid for.

Arcslayer
Arcslayer
7 days ago

What I hate is how changing reviews leads to less exposure and engagement. I took part in the bombing of Doom Eternal to help reverse their decision to include core level DRM software. That got over 200 thumbs up (4x as many as some of m day 1 reviews) before they changed that. I wish there was a middle ground, where after big updates, betas and patches, you could post a new review instead of destroying you old one. Also, No Varkhan, your grasp on what a person’s free-time is worth is warped. This is in an economy where inflation… Read more »

Zit
Zit
7 days ago

As a consumer, I see benefits to both: On the one hand, I’d love to know the current state of things when buying into a beta access. On the other hand, if I’m buying it at some point after release, I most definitely do not want all the reviews of the early beta cluttering up the field. So personally, as a consumer, I’d like to see all the beta and pre-release reviews omitted from the scoring/reviews after the official release. (preferably with a checkbox or something that adds them in if I want to see them). But, so long as… Read more »

Aichon
Aichon
7 days ago

As a dev (not in gaming), we talk a lot about managing client and user expectations, which is really what this is all about at the end of the day. What does that look like for a beta test of a game? Be clear about issues and bugs that players can expect, try your best to make the players aware of all that before they can jump in (e.g. force it in front of their eyeballs when they boot the game up so that it catches fewer of them by surprise), and provide an obvious mechanism for submitting feedback outside… Read more »

Dan
Dan
7 days ago

There are two types of playtesters: -Those you pay -Those who pay you Those you pay are required to sign an NDA. They might have opinions to share internally, but they should not give external reviews. However, if you launch a game EA, those who pay you SHOULD let others (who would pay you) know what they’re getting into. If your game improves, they should update their review. Really, this is no different than day-1 reviews. When a company releases the game to the public, there will be bugs that need fixing, balance work, optimizations… some are oversights, some are… Read more »

Arcslayer
Arcslayer
5 days ago
Reply to  Dan

I agree that, in a perfect world, updating your reviews with major patches would be great. However, Steam removes your upvotes when you change a negative review to a positive, which discourages updates. Plus, some bugs and exploits can damage or brick your PCs (Hi there Dark Souls 3) and that’s not the consumer’s responsibility to gloss over.

I want some bad day 1 reviews to remain up to let me know what issues to watch out for and how long to wait before I buy a game. If that makes me an “anti-dev troll” then so be it.

Michael Roman
Michael Roman
7 days ago

You pre-ordered the game. You are gifted early access to the product if you want to play it in its current state.

If the baker invites you in to watch the cake get made and lets you sample the ingredients, you have to understand that some ingredients only work as the finished product. The sugar is still sweet, but the vanilla extract and raw eggs are probably not going to be enjoyable until it gets closer to finished.

Jin
Jin
7 days ago

I mean, if they are putting it up for pre-orders I’d have imagined that has gone past just ‘being a beta’. In my mind, if you pre-order something you are expecting a sort of finished product, not a product in development, and any reviewing should very, very much reflect that expectation.

I feel that it is not quite the same as an Early-Access game where you know you have an unfinished product.

Steelbreaker
Steelbreaker
7 days ago

I think it depends on the stage. Comparing to comics, if Tim offered a live-stream of him creating next week’s comic, and during the early stages people made complaints like “the lines are incomplete, everything is messy, and it has no colors. 0/5 stars” then Tim could be justifiably pissed at that. He provided fans an early access preview and is getting review bombed by morons unreasonably expecting a finished product. But, during the same early stages reviews like “this comic makes no sense” or “the jokes are bad” could be more justifiable. Especially once Tim stops the sketching and… Read more »

Last edited 7 days ago by Steelbreaker
ThatMageGuy
ThatMageGuy
7 days ago

The moment you start selling something, you open yourself to feedback and responses. That’s just the way commerce is. If you want people to test your product before it’s ready, but you don’t want them to provide consumer reviews, the answer is to not sell them the product but instead enlist them as a beta tester. Consider that virtually no triple-A games are generally “finished” at launch anymore. There’s always bug patches, DLC launches, rebalances, etc. Should a company be protected from reviews up until the point that they’re no longer updating the game? Obviously not. Thus, the only logical… Read more »

Ragnarok
Ragnarok
7 days ago

Basically, here’s what happened. 1) Darktide delays. 2) Darktide opens a closed beta in October. 3) Darktide then announces an open beta they hadn’t initially been planning for pre-order customers. 4) Open beta opens. People are somehow surprised that the literal open beta is still…a beta. Considering that this has entirely been run on ‘you understand this is a bugtest/stability platform before the full game drops and everyone and their mother makes our servers explode’ without any bullshit otherwise, people really need to chill. There’s a *reason* the latest hotfix slapped a permanent PRE ORDER BETA watermark up on the… Read more »

Nzall
Nzall
7 days ago

I personally am a FIRM believer in the Totalbiscuit school of product readiness: If you are allowing customers to pay for your product in some way, be that through selling access to the beta, providing microtransactions with real money pricing, tying beta access to the purchase of another product or service, any form of paid early access or anything else where real world currency is passed from consumers to the developers in exchange for access to the game or any content, features or rewards therein, prospective customers who would want to pay for the product have a right to know… Read more »

Arcslayer
Arcslayer
5 days ago
Reply to  Nzall

I miss TB. He was a consumer rights advocate that came off as classy and diplomatic. I still can’t find another reviewer on his level 😢

Ian
Ian
7 days ago

This is why Steam now marks reviews as “beta” or “pre-release” — they’ve been taking active measures to combat the “I tried it during EA and never went back to update my review after release” problem you cite.

An imperfect system, surely, but not as bad as many make it out to be IMHO.

Chris
Chris
7 days ago

Put a label on pre-release reviews that this is a review of a beta. That way post-release buying folks can filter out the bad pre-release issues vs the post-release issues

Anthony
Anthony
7 days ago

It really depends on what’s included with the early sale of the product. If early sale includes full product with no announced updates before ‘release’ ignore rest of post. Else: Since the word “Beta” has been so completely abused by gaming companies over the last decade it doesn’t really mean anything to the general public anymore. Its just a CYA tag companies use to CYA I guess. Analogy time: If you buy a desk and it comes in two boxes, but one arrives early and the other is expected to come on the posted arrival date, if you post a… Read more »

Last edited 7 days ago by Anthony
Dave
Dave
7 days ago

It used to be that alpha/beta testers were not charged money to participate in the process; that largely solves the moral quandary here. If people are not being charged then they should not be posting reviews as if they were playing a finished product that others would be charged for playing.

Soup
Soup
7 days ago

I agree with reviewing the game in the state it is now. That’s what people are buying currently, and there’s no guarantee that any particular issue will be fixed by launch. Reviews can and will be edited later when the game improves. Plus Fatshark does have a bit of a history of rough launches so people really should be properly informed.

Kenneth Marticelli
Kenneth Marticelli
7 days ago

i don’t get the point of open betas. You outsource the debugging to your customers to save save money over a proper debugging team, but then you still ship it supper buggy with the intent to patch them if you feel like it.