Friday, April 1, 2016

Let's Talk - BETAs & ALPHAs

In the past several BETAs I've participated in I've noticed a disturbing trend. That trend being the dissection of the games at the hands of modders, and hackers. It seems that these lowlife scum are constantly testing the waters looking for exploits, and are finding them through their misplaced efforts. With early access to a game via a BETA or ALPHA they can easily break it down, and manipulate it long before the game launches. The EULA, or "End User License Agreement" that is in place to stop this does f**k all to deter these delinquents though, because they are hiding behind several layers of anonymity which includes everything from faked IP addresses to multiple modded accounts. Do you seriously think a EULA, and it's legal technicalities are going to stop someone who can hide from the law. Nope. Therein lies the problem. How does a developer, or a publisher deal with such a threat?

First, and foremost I think an ALPHA or a BETA must be released with caution, and to a selective audience. It cannot be put in the hands of any/every Tom, Dick, or Harry who's looking to get their grimy hands upon it. Doing so results in the ultimate breakdown, and degradation of the game's intended future. There needs to be a background check on all potential participants that includes a close look at their PSN ID (or whatever online identity they might be using), any grief complaints that were filed against said player through the PSN (or appropriate networks), and a thorough investigation of their social media and streaming activities. This would weed out any bad seeds, and would give legit gamers looking to help in the improvement of the game through the ALPHA, or BETA a chance to do so.

As time consuming as that may be for publishers, developers, and marketing PR it is a must in this day and age. Cyber crime, and online griefing is at an all time high, and if no one does anything to ensure the integrity of an online experience nothing will counteract the inevitable loss of favor for said experience. In other words, if you let the kiddies crap in your metaphorical swimming pool none of the cool adults will ever jump in to party with you. No skinny dipping with the hotties for you.

Joking aside, I've always been an advocate for the developers who are trying to do right by the gamer. I've been an advocate for them, because they are the only ones who can provide the gaming experiences we love. Without their hard work, and sacrifice we simply would not have such gaming opportunities at all. Not everyone thinks the same way I do though, and it's these people who take gaming for granted. It is they who try to ruin it with their cheating, hacking, and modding. This is why it is so important for developers, publishers, and gaming network providers to work together to moderate the online portions of their games. If they fail to do so not only will they lose their faithful fans, and paying customers, but they will also shame their name in the industry. Becoming synonymous with games that are not fun does have an impact on sales, and reputation whether you want to believe it or not.

I'm going to close in saying mop up your mess gaming industry. There is no time like the present. Deal with today's problems, or reap the consequences of your lack of actions in the future. In the wise words of Yoda, "There is no try, only do".

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