The Daily Grind: Should MMOs charge subs for beta?


Dual Universe is not the first MMORPG to charge a sub for a beta – let me just state that upfront. So today’s Daily Grind isn’t meant as a referendum on that game but on the overall practice.

For example, who remembers Pathfinder Online? It’s still a going concern, believe it or not, and it was one of the first to try charging a sub long before a semblance of launch. The Frankengadget article I’ve just linked is one Justin penned six years ago, and I remember the outrage at the time. We were at the peak of Kickstarter back then, and even then, people were mad as hell.

Have things changed? Maybe we’re more inured to it now, but that doesn’t mean we’re more likely to whip out our wallets for a beta. I don’t even want to pay a flat fee for a beta. Heck, if I’m honest, I don’t even really want to play a beta, just as I don’t really want to read a half-finished book unpaid unless I’m proofing for a friend. It’s absurdity – I’m happy to pay for release products, not pay to test them. Why are we like this?

On the other hand, DU’s beta sub is cheap, and if a game’s gonna have a sub, I like that pricepoint. What do you all think: Should MMOs charge subs for beta? What do we expect an MMO to have before we’ll start paying into it, and would you actually pay such a sub?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Bruno Brito
1 year ago

Honestly? No. I’m quite tired of games being so shameless that they’ll charge you to test their game for them. We used to PAY people for that.

How the hell did we get here? People, stop buying this crap and pay for a FINISHED game.

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Brazen Bondar
1 year ago

Just … no. Charge when a game is …finished.

1 year ago

I’m ok with it. If its 6.99$/month like in DU or a 30-120$ pledge package for Early Access, where is the difference? With a sub You can test it and if You don’t like it just unsub. No more money lost. And if You want to come back later You just renew the sub. Easy.
Subs are the best and most honest payment model for a MMO, so for me its ok to just start with it for beta IF the game is in a playable state and if the sub is a small amount everybody can afford.

1 year ago

Personally I don’t think they should. Beta players help company to find bugs and fix them and do stress test of various system, and you do not even need to manually report these – the beta clients most likely have tools to automatically log and report necessary data. All beta players (even the ones who do not manually report any bugs) are essentially a QA testers and honest companies pay their QA testers, or at the very least allow them to do this for free.

Of course, a dishonest companies continue to ask people to pay for basically doing a job of QA testers ;-)

1 year ago
Reply to  Rndomuser

While I agree with what you wrote, I feel those days are long past. Sadly, seeking or subbing to alpha/beta is such a common practice these days. Why would companies pay people to do the job players will pay them to do?

1 year ago

No. Nobody ever should be charged to beta test anything.

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Paragon Lost
1 year ago

I don’t want to play in a beta nor do I want to pay for the privilege of doing so.

1 year ago

Paying to test a game is a ridiculous concept if you think about. It is literally a profession and you opt to pay to do the job. It’s like paying to get to drive a bus route or something.

Now the subscription question to me is not that interesting. I don’t see how paying a sub is fundamentally different from paying an upfront cost. It’s just a different way to pay but you are paying to be a tester in both cases. Paying for unfinished games is common practice now so meh… It’s just more of the same.

1 year ago

Yes, MMOs should charge for beta access to control the servers. Starting to charge depends how far along the game is at. As for price, I think 50% at the lowest.

1 year ago

Among all the ways to fund development, it seems one of the most honest. No unending Early Access, no spurious vaporware spaceships, no land leases for virtual territory that may never come. Just straightforward “hey, we’re standing up beta servers and need help funding their support and more development.”

The independence from publishers has really changed the payment models, and unfortunately so far it hasn’t noticeably improved industry or game quality, but I’m less bothered by this now than 6 years ago.

1 year ago

Kind of divided on this, it is a low price and it avoids any power creep.

If selling $1000 space ships (which some claim is “crowdfunding”) is ok for star citizen then why is a $6.99 subscription for another crowdfunded game not ok?

Star Citizen sold module access, it also sold 1st wave PTU access via its subscription.

What I am trying to say is all games tend to charge one way or another, whether it is through higher access price for earlier playability, a subscription or via some other method, eg $1000 space ships.

Bruno Brito
1 year ago
Reply to 

If selling $1000 space ships (which some claim is “crowdfunding”) is ok for star citizen then why is a $6.99 subscription for another crowdfunded game not ok?

I don’t find SC model to be ok by any stretch of the world. It’s a crowdfunded alpha with a fully functional cashshop. The game has a full, complete monetization, while core features are still out of it.

I mean, think about it: This game is as polarizing as it gets, yet, the game didn’t even launched, it’s still an alpha, but every part of the monetization is already up and running. You’re literally charging people for a piece of work that isn’t complete yet.