TennoCon 2018: Why Warframe will never launch (and why that doesn’t matter)

There’s a question that floats around our Massively OP office discussions occasionally, especially when updating which game is labeled what: Will Warframe ever launch? Or did it? We’ve even been known to hunt back through the years to make sure we didn’t miss a clandestine launch somewhere, and we always come up empty. Then we theorize why the game is still technically labeled beta and wonder if the swap to the label “launched” will ever happen in the future. Thanks to TennoCon 2018 and Live Operations and Community Producer Rebecca Ford, we now have the answer to the question, “When will Warframe leave beta?”.

Eternal beta

Wait, Warframe has never launched?! That might come as a shock to a few. Some folks, especially newer players, may not realize that Warframe is not technically a launched game — at least as far as nomenclature is concerned. After all, the game has all the earmarks of being launched (regular expansion updates, cash shop, etc.). So for all intents and purposes, it is launched, it is just happens to missing that moniker. So does that even matter?

In my interview with Ford, I asked if we somehow missed the switch to launch, and how the company views the game and why. She replied, “Oh no, it’s in beta.” Well, at least we didn’t miss anything! Would Warframe ever move out of beta? “No,” she said. “Why would we?” What does the label do? Ford noted that many folks already consider the game launched, and pointed out that it only says beta in one place on the site: the open beta agreement. “That’s the only place that we are technically still in beta. Everything else is a pseudo launch.” She continued,

“There’s literally no reason to do it other than the fact that if we say we’re launching people are going to have expectations. And we’re like, well, we like what we’re doing now, and we can continue to have our own launches for specific content types. But if we ever said Warframe was launched as a game it would be a farce for what that term means. So even if we are making a farce of beta right now, it would be a further farce of launch if we use that term.”

So there you go. Digital Extremes simply believes it is no slave to nomenclature. It ignores standard naming practices and just focuses on making a good game and delivering more and more content to its fans. Why mess with a good thing? It never had an actual launch, and it never will. There’s simply no point to. What about having a chance for fans and devs to celebrate as most launches tend to be? For Ford, there is no need for any launch party because TennoCon is their party (and a fun party it is — see this year’s in the gallery below!).

So don’t bother categorizing Warframe within the common labels. If the game must be labeled, we’ll just have to make a new one like Warframe beta or betaunch (launcheta?) just for it. After all, it is its own unique beast. Hm, suddenly, I wonder if I can use a Fortuna echo-lure on Warframe for conservation purposes. We certainly never want this game to lose its magic!

Check out the rest of our TennoCon 2018 coverage!

Disclosure: In accordance with Massively OP’s ethics policy, we must disclose that Digital Extremes paid for our writer’s travel to and accommodation at this event. The studio has neither requested nor been granted any control or influence over our coverage of the event. MJ’s bus even had internet, y’all!
Massively Overpowered is on the ground in London, Canada, for TennoCon 2018, bringing you expert coverage on Warframe and Digital Extremes’ other games!
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Andrew Sammon

No. The one thing I do not want is for new games to be in a state of eternal beta like Warframe. As good as Warframe… can be, or could be… at times… I don’t like that they have been in beta for as long as they have been. Because I do wonder what the finished product will look like and I hate the everyone gives DE a pass. I think the clock HAS to run at some point on a beta phase for any game. It isn’t right. Even if it isn’t their intent to string their player base along, it isn’t right because the next developer to take this approach will not be as noble. It’s very a bad precedent to set. It’s why I don’t touch early access games ever. Warframe’s success is entirely on the timing of their “release”. Any later and they would be dead in the during the days of Early Access. It worked for them because they were one of the first, we didn’t catch on by then.

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primal

Do you know what the launch game would look like? Exactly the same just with them announcing launched. That’s it. It’s f2p so there’s no launch price, so pointless in doing it

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Preston Beaulieu

I think Warframe should launch, otherwise it just feels misleading. Like “wow, this is just the beta, I wonder how amazing the actual game will be.”

I understand the nature of the problem: Warframe is just so unique as a game that normal gaming terminology doesn’t always apply. But the proper solution to that is to either (a) make up your own terminology that fits your game, or (b) use the existing terminology as it best fits. Intentionally using existing nomenclature incorrectly is not the solution.

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Lethality

This is the future of online games as a service… there really isn’t, and doesn’t need to be, a launch point. That’s old thinking, and I’m glad they verbalized it.

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Preston Beaulieu

I agree 100% that there doesn’t have to be a definitive launch date, but that doesn’t mean it should just be in beta forever. There should be new terminology to more accurately reflect what’s actually happening.

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sophiskiai

The longer I play Warframe, the more their “Eternal Beta” status makes sense to me. They’re constantly innovating and trying new things, sometimes those things don’t work out and get abandoned (Lunaro) or removed from the game entirely (raids), sometimes they’re iterated on and developed further (from Cetus and the Plains of Eidolon to Fortuna and the Orb Vallis), sometimes it seems like they’re abandoned only to be picked up and iterated on much later (the improvements they’ve said Archwing will get with the Railjack release). And every time they release a new game mode or game system or piece of content, they rush it out as soon as it’s finished and basically let the PC build serve as a live beta environment for a week or two.

So multiple times a year us PC players get a slightly janky content release, a week or two of constant hotfixes to squash bugs and tweak balance, then the stable and more-polished build is sent to cert for the console releases. And the game is littered with experimental game modes and game systems which lie around unpolished and half-abandoned, but which (if you can overlook their flaws) add to the character and variety of the game.

I saw a great quote from Steve Sinclair in an article on another site, saying that when Warframe launched they didn’t have the money to give it more guns or more content so they decided the niche they’d go for to make it stand out was being more open and honest and flexible with communication and community connections and development. And it seems to have worked for them!

As for the cosplay, eek, the long arm of Ballas somehow manages to look even creepier in cosplay than it does in the game! I saw a few glimpses of the cosplay contest in Angry Joe’s TennoCon Vlog, looking forward to seeing the whole thing when DE posts the vid :)

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

But didn’t old school MMOs do the same thing? Just look at Ultima Online and SWG. They did things that pissed off large chunks of their player base well after launch, and they WERE launched and still good examples of what the genre can do, even after their blunders.

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kgptzac

As much as I love this game and the way it’s managed, I must disagree with normalizing the “eternal beta” mindset. It’s a lazy excuse, and luckily DE doesn’t really use this excuse because the game’s quality is usually above and beyond the passable mark. However other less well-made games will be emboldened to pick up this excuse, to the detriment of players.

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Tanek

I think we probably need to put down the “emboldened” argument for a little while. If other games want to copy Warframe’s eternal beta, so be it. They should also copy the quality, dedication, and the complete lack of using an “it’s still in beta” excuse for every problem.

People and companies are going to do what they are going to do. If a game dev is putting out a crap product and feels like they can rely on the shield of being in beta to protect them forever, they were likely going to do that with or without Warframe. Heck, they’d probably do that with or without the problem I do see in this area. Steam Early Access.

Basically, I much prefer a quality game that keeps evolving and wants to low-key its beta status than an unfinished game that bursts into “launch” on an artificial timetable after milking that Early Access shield for all it was worth.

Bannex
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Bannex

I’ve tried this game on multiple occasions. There is something massively wrong with the controls, gunplay and general playability of this game.

Floating and slowing time feels bad, gunplay and melee feels unpolished. Too many ambiguous and impactful ways to improve your character. Lots of unfinished systems.

The amount and variety of loot for crafting is stupid. The time it takes to craft something, also stupid.

Navigating and understanding the menus is unintuitive.

The reason they’ll never launch is because they’d have to go back and fix the myriad of junk you have to sift through as a new player.

Destiny 2 sucks as a game but the gunplay is in an entirely different (better) tier than this.

There is, however, tons to love about this game but not fixing and polishing the core systems will mean I’m not going to continue throwing money at them. I work too hard and too long to have to do research on how to understand video game systems.

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flamethekid .

there is nothing wrong with the controls, gunplay is just fine and its the same as almost every other game, Melee gets changed every year or two we are getting a new Melee system later this year

how is the amount and variety of loot for crafting stupid??
and the time it takes to craft isn’t that bad

the Menu’s besides the shop on your ship are just fine

you not wanting to understand video game systems besides ones you are familiar with seems to be the problem for you

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Preston Beaulieu

If you have this many problems with the game, then it’s just not the game for you, and no amount of “polish” would fix that. Which is fine; taste is subjective and we’re all allowed to like what we want.

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Brother Maynard

Next April 1 DE will announce the end of beta and wiping of all progress.

Sure would be fun to watch the reactions!

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Alex Willis

hahahaha*breaks down crying*

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Oleg Chebeneev

It will be the same with Star Citizen. People asking all the time: “When is the launch?”, making memes about it. Truth is its a game in constant development and there is no red line that separates launch from beta. They have several moons and stations now, at the end of 2019 we hopefully have fully finished and fully working Stanton system. Then they add few more (at much faster rate since they will already have all necessary tech and tons of assets). When 3-5 systems are done, Chris will probably mark it as launch to grab media attention and new players but that could as well be same beta since there will still be more systems and features to add.

So yeah, same with Warframe hard launch is irrelevant if game is perfectly playable already.

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Alex Willis

Is there any transferability of characters or progress from SC beta to launch?

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Wolfyseyes

…wait, it’s still a beta product? Yer seriously blowin’ my mind right now.

Hikari Kenzaki
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Hikari Kenzaki

I personally think it would be funny to have a “We were so busy playing Warframe with you, we forgot to ‘launch’ the game.” event