This weekend Respawn Entertainment is hosting a small alpha test for Titanfall on Xbox One. The studio's community manager Abbie Heppe says that they might hold a larger test once the game reaches beta, though. I really hope they do.
As I've said before, it's in Respawn's best interest to let players try out the game prior to launch. Sure, they'll see a few bugs and glitches but they'll also get to understand what the game's all about. The anxiety over the 12-player headcount suggested that players are still unclear on what this game is trying to do. It's not just Call of Duty with mech killstreaks. Gamers need some hands-on time to see how the A.I., parkour and Titans all come together to create something different than the norm.
The argument against a public test is that the publishers and developers lose control of the flow of information about their game. They can't hide shortcomings of the game quite so easily. If there's something seriously wrong, that information's going to spread like wildfire over social media.
However, Respawn has admitted in the past that Titanfall is hard to market due to its multiplayer-only nature. There are no tightly scripted campaign moments to stitch into a trailer. They have to resort to releasing long blocks of unedited gameplay footage, which still doesn't convey all of the gameplay details.
An open beta would make it easy to spread the word about Titanfall, though. Thousands of players telling their friends about a game can be more powerful than any press release or trailer. Even with the NDA in effect for the alpha, we found out loads about the game. Imagine if thousands of players were able to freely upload footage, share screenshots and sing the game's praises. If Titanfall had that kind of buzz going, they almost wouldn't need advertising. The positives of opening your game to the public outweigh the negatives.
Titanfall's developers aren't the only ones with something to prove. Publisher EA's image took a serious hit thanks to the launch problems with SimCity and Battlefield 4. Gamers have a right to be leery of another online title published by the company. Will bugs and server outages prevent anyone from playing at launch? A steady beta doesn't prove that the game will have a smooth launch but a fun test can convince players that Titanfall is worth picking up on day one in spite of its potential issues.
Though Titanfall has received plenty of coverage over the past few months, it's still a new IP from a young studio. An open beta carries its risks but it's in Respawn's best interests to invite players for a test-drive.
Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.
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