Beta?

Recently when talking about an upcoming project, I was asked whether we were going to put “Beta” on it.

I’m not even sure what that means now.  What does it mean to say your game or app is “in beta” these days?

It used to be that “beta” meant “not quite ready for a full launch” or “we’re still working out the bugs” or even “we’re not taking your money for this yet” or “this may change a lot.”  Somewhere along the line though, the meaning morphed into something much more ambiguous.   Major companies (Google, et al) now have products that are in beta for so long people forget about it and it becomes essentially meaningless.

So, is there any purpose in slapping a “Beta!” tag onto your product?  Has this just become meaningless (if somewhat self-defensive) marketing hype, or is there some kernel of meaning left to it?

When do you put something into — and more significantly, take it out of — beta?

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5 Comments on “Beta?”

  1. Daniel James Says:

    With our new game we’re in ‘Preview’ — invite only, no public reposting as it’s unannounced (though that will change soon), charging money for hard currency and generally treating it like ‘live’ with a controlled audience.

    I’ll let you know how it goes! People are paying, which is nice.

  2. Mike Sellers Says:

    Yeah, “Preview” seems about right for that Daniel. Like a “soft open” for a play or restaurant. And unlike some betas, you don’t stay in that state forever.

    FWIW, I do think there are valid reasons to call a project alpha or beta internally; I’ve seen and used a variety of different milestones like that to help people understand where the project was in its development. On one internal research project, we realized we weren’t even close to alpha, so we started with the Hebrew alphabet — aleph, bet, gimel, dalet, etc. ;)

  3. Macguffin Says:

    For Mustache Mercenaries, I thought it was important to keep that Beta tag on there to help set user expectations – especially since we’re hoping to pull in some core gamers.

  4. Doug Prince Says:

    Good point as always Mike. PS I like the look of the new site. Hope you had a good Holimas and have a great new year!

  5. Mike Sellers Says:

    Thanks Doug!

    Need to revamp the site again, actually…


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