Tobold's Blog
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Cataclysm beta

MTV reports that Blizzard sent out a mail to "the press" asking them to state what their account was before April 15th, so they could get an invite to the Cataclysm beta. I didn't get such a mail. I am not very interested in the Cataclysm beta anyway. I know that this sounds like the famous Aesop's fable of the sour grapes.

I find it interesting that my press status in Blizzard's eyes isn't constant. I once got a press pass from them years ago, but nothing since. I'm sure some of the people who believe that I'm promoting Blizzard too much will find that very funny, but to me that is just another interesting puzzle piece in the larger "are bloggers press?" discussion.

The reason it doesn't bother me not to get a press invite into the beta is that betas for me have two major functions: They enable me to decide whether I will buy the game in question, and they enable me to write about the game as soon as the NDA drops. For Cataclysm I don't need that decision aid, I'm absolutely certain I will buy this expansion on the day it comes out. And regarding writing, I hardly need to explain people what the features of Cataclysm are. I do think I will be able to write some interesting observations on how player behavior is affected by the expansion once it is released, but in my experience players behave very differently in a beta than in the release version.

In my opinion the major problem of World of Warcraft expansions is that they only come every two years, and do not contain enough content to keep us busy for all of that period. Cataclysm will have to last us until 2012. So already for the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansion I only participated very little in the open betas, to not spoil it too much for me for the release version. I see no reason to change that behavior for Cataclysm.

So the more interesting conclusion from this beta announcement is that it gives us a better idea on the release date of Cataclysm. The Wrath of the Lich King beta opened in July 2008, 4 months before the release. If the Cataclysm beta starts in May 2010, that would point towards a Cataclysm release in September.
I'm not a fan of beta's either.

So you level your 80 character to 85 in beta. Only to do it all over again once it's released? What's the point?

And of course I'll buy the game anyway. Any Blizzard game is a no-brainer to me.
I believe you when you say you are not interested in taking part in the beta.

But you are just lying when you say that receiving this mail doesn't interest you! :)
I'm not interested in playing the beta either. The content of Blizzard expansions never lasts that long. As you said, they have about 2 years between releases.

I stopped playing Wrath about 9 months ago because I just couldn't be excited about the content anymore. It was fun while it lasted, but the gap in content was too long.

That being said, I will definitely buy Cataclysm. I'll probably resub about a month before it comes out just to get back in the swing of things. But, I don't want to ruin my playthrough by participating in the beta.
Nowadays I only apply for betas for games that I am only academically interested in, or which I expect to be in beta for a long time before launch. I no longer even consider beta-testing expansions for games I am actively playing.

When I got into betas years ago it was exciting just to be on the "inside". Now the novelty's worn off and I am very wary of the combination of being an unpaid dogsbody for a large corporation while at the same time spoiling my own enjoyment of a product I am going to pay for.
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