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Beta, early access, gold… what are the differences?

Developing and then marketing a video game is far from a long, quiet river. The opinions of influencers, critics, and the public have become increasingly important in recent years and are forcing developers to work harder on their products, even if it means having to delay releases. In order to present the game as fully as possible, the stages of development and promotions were changed, others appeared, under terms that sometimes sound very similar, sometimes ambiguous. Open Beta, Closed Beta, Early Use, Gold Edition What’s behind these categories?

During the development of the game, you will occasionally hear about it Alpha release from the producer. Named after the first letter of the Greek alphabet, it makes senseA first version of the game, still in development, is a far cry from the final product. Here, it’s not a matter of marketing, we’re purely in the business of creating, right after the coding period. During the alpha stage, bugs are still numerous, and this version is mostly reserved for internal use. However, some of them can be offered as a test to the lucky few. This is the CSS alpha period.

Advance access, or early access It is a term frequently used by the general public. This is a stage that combines development and financing. The studio provides public access to the product, in various stages of its development, for a fee. The goals are multiple. Financially, the money raised during early access often allows studios, especially smaller ones, to give themselves the means to complete development. Then, this stage allows you to receive initial feedback about the game to direct further development in the right direction. Finally, it’s also an opportunity to launch a first phase of advertising, by allowing word of mouth to be set up around the game, as the first previews come out. The advantage of early access is that if a product presses badly in the early stages of its development, the studio can still change its tune and correct issues brought up by paid testers. From time to time, outright cancellation turns out to be the best solution…

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in a short history early accessIt’s hard not to think of the first launch of Minecraft in 2009, which allowed users to play through a large portion of development, making the game a hit even before it was officially released, and largely lining the game’s pockets. Marcus Pearson, who would go on to found Mojang Studio. It should be noted that the term early access has been somewhat overused for a few years. Created initially to fund development and collect opinions, it now regularly resembles a simple access to the final game, just a few days before its release. We’re particularly thinking of the Hogwarts Legacy deluxe edition that gave early access 72 hours with its deluxe edition, in exchange for an important accessory. Money era.

One of many recent examples of Early Access.

After the alpha, I ask beta. The second letter of the Greek alphabet, this is a new stage of development, chronologically closer to the game’s release than to the Alpha version. During this time, beta testers are required to test the game and show them the last remaining bugs or narrative inconsistencies, for example. There are two types of beta. Open betathat allow anyone to participate, and closed beta, which requires registration or sometimes to be checked out by the developer in order to participate. Some trials can last several weeks or even less, others will be even shorter, i.e. the space of a weekend. When the trial period ends, it is often the final phase of the game’s release that begins.

After the beta, and recent bug fixes, if the editor decides that the development of the game is over, he can decide whether or not to pass his game on. Gold version. In concrete terms, this means that the final version of the game, called Master, is ready to be iterated for distribution. This is the time to offer the file to download systems for non-physical copies, and to CD pressings and prepare boxes for physical editions. From there, a little patience, dear gamers, it often takes a few weeks before a game is actually available to the general public.

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At first, if these different stages of marketing and development are very distinct, the boundaries between them become increasingly fine. It’s getting harder to find, and there is no longer an established chronology. Proof of this is the release of Diablo IV, which offers early access to its beta this weekend. Call of Duty or Red Dead Redemption Online has also been offered to those interested in paying for beta access. Getting paid to become a beta tester is an unfortunately recent phenomenon but one with an unfortunate tendency to grow. Let’s just hope that greed doesn’t end in the pursuit of quality.