See a Beta, Play a Beta The term beta for a console game doesn’t signify an early code build. They are a representation of the final release used to stress test servers, discover glaring bugs and a marketing strategy to generate demand. And you should play every single one that is available. PC betas are a completely different discussion…and should be ignored for the duration of this article. The reason for Desinty’s success? Previously, I (expertly) stated that time is the most critical resource to consider when selecting what to do…but money is still important. Betas are absolutely free. This is a chance to play a product that normally contains a sixty dollar barrier to entry. Even if you only engage in one session, you still gain the experience and become a more well-rounded gamer. You can add another game into your catalog of knowledge. Through a quick match or hours of multiplayer you glean how characters interact, environment design and tone of the game. The change in retail release will be small. You’ll create a framework to talk about the product and provide input into conversations. If a review references the movement, camera positioning or lighting effects you’ll know exactly what they’re calling out. With the constant deluge of games it can be difficult to play everything to completion. There are plenty of articles available detailing gamer’s backlogs, what they should play next or strategies to manage compulsive purchases. The beta provides a glimpse without the commitment to continue playing. You are free to play the entire trial period or tackle the backlog once more; because their is a finite amount of time for the beta, players don’t feel stressed to complete everything, as they do with a retail release. You should absolutely stop playing the beta once you decide to purchase the game. Progress does not carry over and you’ll redo all level gains. There is no need to turn an enjoyable experience sour by retreading familiar ground and creating a situation where you will grind through the same levels again. If you are on the fence with the beta, remember you are seeing what the game has to offer. The developer doesn’t have time to implement enhancements before release. The environment, story, menu, user interface and mission structure will remain as is. The changes will be subtle, like a day one patch (which might be a bad example with some of the recent patches) or a rebalancing update. Currently, there are only a few betas available each year. As long as the population size and trend continues, you should play each one available for your console. These titles are huge benchmarks for the industry. If you think you won’t like the game, play it for free, pick it apart in the comment section and speak intelligently about why it fails. If you are interested, the beta becomes an extended demo (which is no longer available this console generation). The beta is a calculated strategy from the creator to drum up interest, create a media story and focus test the game. But its also an opportunity for you to level up your nerd IQ.