«

»

Let Us Play: Street Fighter V – Beta Off Dead!

lup-betaoffdead-title

Welcome back brothers and sisters of the blessed congregation of the game, it’s so good to have you back here for another reading from The Book of Frog. I’m taking a little sidestep from the E3 articles for today, and I apologies I DO have the Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer article finished, and I was going to post it before I saw something else happening that really annoyed me and I want to rant about. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to get both done, because after a long day at work, after a very short amount of sleep (if any) I wanted to relax in the bath, and found myself falling asleep in there, while listening to Lady Antebellum.

Ahem…

Also, I haven’t done one of these in a while, you know, providing you don’t count my rant in the Metroid Prime: Federation Force article, so for a little bit of variety, siblings, take controllers in hand, and raise them high, as we take a look at the Street Fighter V beta, on Let Us Play!

lup-betaoffdead

lup-charlie-ryuFor anyone who has been living in a frozen cave on Pluto for the past couple of decades, Street Fighter V is the up coming sequel to one of the biggest fighting game franchises of all time. With a game this popular with such a huge living room and even pro-circuit following, and Capcom always quick on the uptake when it comes to making money fast, it was announced that for North American and European PS4 players who preordered the game, as a bonus, they would be able to take part in the beta release of the game, starting from July 23rd, until July 28th.

No sooner than the beta went live, did it experience it’s first massive issue, and the servers were taken down for maintenance and to fix the bugs, and over the course of the week, there have been a huge number of complaints from irate players, demanding that they be allowed to take part, and be able to play the game, as promised by Capcom and the Street Fighter V team. So much so, that the first beta has been extended, as an apology for these interruptions. Some of the biggest issues aside from the two days of down time during the beta period, was the numerous match making error messages for online play, such as time outs, inability to connect, servers at capacity and some general glitchiness.

lup-chunliNow, with my Metroid Prime preview, there was certainly grounds to call me a fan boy. I’ve never hid nor been ashamed of the fact that I love Nintendo, and some people will believe what they want to believe, and claim that I was being a “Nintendo can do no wrong” type of fanboy, and thus of course I would jump to defend Federation Force. Fine, I accept and respect your skepticism. On the other hand, I don’t think that for the past 5 years that I have said a good thing about Capcom, outside of praising the Monster Hunter team, and being overjoyed at them allowing Nintendo to use Megaman and Ryu in Smash Brothers. I really have no love for Capcom as a company, and when they were in financial dire straits, I was actually hoping they would go under and the Megaman, Resident Evil, and Monster Hunter properties would be bought by Nintendo or some other company that would be able to take these games to new heights.

I find a lot of the methodology behind Capcom’s marketing and game production and distribution, extremely anti-consumer. Their brand of releasing a game that’s got a number of bugs, and instead of fixing them via patches, re-releasing the game, for a second and even a third or fourth time, at full day-one prices in particular irks me greatly. Their announcement that they won’t be doing this in the future with Street Fighter V, interests me, but i remain skeptical, until I’ve seen proof of this. I can’t say that I trust them to not find new ways of milking Street Fighter V, with pay for required add-ons to make it Super, Ultra etc. or else server access will be revoked. Call me a pessimist if you like.

However…

lup-kenIn this particular situation Capcom have done nothing wrong! What do you think a beta is?

Capcom never promised early access. They never promised a stable demo. They said that players who preordered the game would be able to take part in the BETA TESTING of the game and it’s online servers. did you think this was a bonus to you? Of course it wasn’t! The beta tests are designed to find the errors, glitches and flaws in the game, and the supporting tech, bring them to light and get them fixed. A lot of companies will pay professional games testers to run the game through the mangle until every single programming error is revealed as the dirty sin that it is. Except this time instead of paying people to play test the game, YOU have PAID Capcom to play test the game, and have provided them extremely valuable market research, that they can show to their investors, because of the sheer number of extremely early preorders.

And you people have done your unpaid jobs well! Straight away multiple errors and huge game breaking bugs were discovered, and as such the servers have been rejiggered (a technical term) to fix those errors.

Capcom are now extending the length of the beta test, do you really think it’s because a number of players couldn’t get online, or had trouble actually playing? Of course it’s not, they have discovered some HUGE errors, and additional play testing isn’t just a good thing, it’s absolutely mandatory to make sure those errors are ironed out before they move on to the cross platform beta test, later this year. They also reached server capacity, which means they are going to attempt to raise that cap, even further, to get the best performance out of each individual server, and once the cap is raised, they are going to want to test it again.

lup-cammyTo me this is one of the issues with the cancer that is digital copy preordering, in gamer culture. Thankfully GOG lead the way with being able to get a refund on games you don’t like, and Steam have recently followed suit, but with heavy regulations on what games can and cannot be traded back, and at what duration of ownership/playtime. So that’s certainly pro-consumer and not as much of a problem as it used to be. The issue here instead the so called “incentives” being misunderstood or misrepresented, as being something for the consumer, when in reality it’s nothing more than unpaid games testing, and data collection, which is far more valuable to the developers and the publishers (through investor confidence) than it is as a “bonus” for the players, who are finding the experience lacking or not what they expected. Arguably that comes down to the ignorance of the consumer as to the true nature of what they are taking part in, but blame for this is, to a degree on the developers, who obfuscate their intentions.

Sure, everyone should, by now, know what a beta test is, but when it’s dressed up as some awesome exclusive experience, rather than it being told the way it is, free labour, it’s easy to get lost in the hype.

I have personally taken part in a number of beta tests, Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, Dungeons and Dragons Online,  an interesting pirate game that never got released, and a few games through steam. A number of these games, Guild Wars 2 especially, were very close to completion, and were very well made games at the time of the beta test, the open testing was just a matter of pushing the limits of the game and the servers. We knew what were were on board for. Others, like the unnamed pirate game, was quite broken, but I could see what they were going for. It seems that the people taking part in this beta were not aware this was a distinct possibility, especially seeing as the games release date is still a year away!

AndFinally-LetUsPlay

Sure, there’s a lot of blame that falls on both sides here, the company for making it seems like some awesome exclusive incentive, when in actuality it’s just bug finding and data collecting, as well as the ignorance of the players pre-ordering, not realising what they were actually signing up for. I think as a move forward, Capcom should be very clear in what players are to expect when doing beta tests in the future, and players… I can’t stress this enough… you need to be more aware of what it is you are signing up for, to be able to cut through the woo and get to the raw facts of what your pre-order bonus actually is, and as I spoke about in the Metroid Prime: Federation Force article, to not be so arrogant and entitled as to expect anything more than exactly what you have been promised. This was access to a beta test. This experience includes suffering through the down times and the various patches, that are required for the devs to know how the game works, and most importantly, how it doesn’t.

That’s all from me for today, I’ve been Andy Frogman – The Priest of Gamers, and this has been Let Us Play! Only on The Book of Frog!

Peace and high scores my siblings!