Betawatch: January 4 - 10, 2014

I'm sure there is a very good reason for having a full NDA on a game that's three months away from launch which is in no way unpleasant.
Who wants to talk about The Elder Scrolls Online? Because you can't, even if you're in the group of new beta testers. At least, you can't talk about the game itself. People have taken the time to talk extensively regarding the game launching with a subscription model and whether or not that's a good thing. The actual game mechanics will have to remain under wraps. If you'd like to discuss it down in the comments... please don't. NDA.

Fortunately, there are several games just past the break that are not under NDA. Some of them are even in open testing, so you can just sign up and go. Won't that be fun? As always, you can let us know down in the comments whether something surreptitiously entered a de facto launch state by adding a functional cash shop despite officially being in testing. Those sneaky cash shops really get in if you don't have proper sealing.

Open testing phase
Massively considers a game to be in open testing if it has open, public signups and plans for a server wipe before its official launch. Self-described "open beta" MMOs that have soft-launched with functioning real-money cash shops will not be listed.

Blood and Jade (R2Games): Announcement, Signup
Inferno Legend (Changyou): Announcement, Signup
Margonem (Garmory): Signup
Project Gorgon (Project Gorgon): Signup
Sevencore (Ignited Games): Announcement, Signup (beta until 1/13/14)
SmashMuck Champions (Kis Studios): Announcement, Signup, /r/ (early access on Steam now)
Taikodom (Gamersfirst): Announcement, Signup
UFO Online (gamigo): Announcement, Signup

Closed testing phase
We consider an MMO to be in closed testing if it features either future test signups or an ongoing semi-private beta/alpha that cannot immediately and freely be accessed by the general public. Some are restricted by NDAs. This still qualifies even if the test does feature an active cash shop so long as the signups are restricted; it also qualifies if the testing is limited to purchasers.

Aura Kingdom (Aeria Games): Announcement, Signup
DayZ (Bohemia Interactive): Announcement, Signup (access is for early purchasers on Steam)
Earthrise: First Impact (SilentFuture): Announcement, Signup
Elite: Dangerous (Frontier): Announcement, Early Access Purchase
End of Nations (Trion): Announcement, Signup, /r/
Hearthstone (Blizzard Entertainment): Announcement, Signup (open beta coming in 2014)
Infinite Crisis (Turbine): Announcement, Signup
League of Angels (GTArcade): Announcement, Signup
LEGO Minifigures Online (Funcom): Announcement, Signup (launching summer 2014)
Lime Odyssey (Aeria Games): Announcement, Signup
Line of Defense (3000AD): Announcement, Signup
MU Rebirth (Webzen): Announcement, Signup
Origins of Malu (Burning Dog): Announcement
Otherland (gamigo): Announcement, Signup, /r/ (development in limbo, possibly canceled)
Starlite (Project Whitecard): Announcement, Signup (fka Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond)
Strife (S2 Games): Announcement, Signup
The Elder Scrolls Online (Zenimax): Announcement, Signup
The Repopulation (Above and Beyond): Announcement, Signup, /r/
TUG (Nerd Kingdom): Announcement, Signup
Venus Rising (FoxySoft): Announcement (fka Orgia Romanus; adult MMO, possibly NSFW)
WildStar (Carbine/NCsoft): Announcement, Signup

Testing Notes
Over the past several years, the line between "beta" and "release" has gotten shakier and shakier. There are soft launches, games that are officially in beta but have released in all practicality, and games that are in alpha testing but require you to purchase them to play. The point is that it's a little ambiguous. And we sift through them, try to pick out what is and isn't in testing, and call it as we see it, which is all well and good, but it also means that sometimes our logic might seem a little impenetrable.

So we're adding something to Betawatch starting this week. This "testing notes" section will allow us to explain the philosophy behind why we cover one game or another, why we kick games off of the beta list when they still claim to be in testing, why we list a pre-purchase game with a functioning cash shop as a closed testing game, and how we draw those line.

Tune in next week for an elaborate discussion on why open betas with functional cash shops are launched games but pre-purchase games aren't.

Betawatch is Massively's weekly report on the latest MMO alphas, betas, and other games still meandering toward an official launch. From ArcheAge to World of Warplanes, it's covered here, complete with sign-up links so that you too can perform the unpaid quality-control work otherwise known as game testing. Drop us a comment if we've missed one, and many thanks to Steven Eyerman for the Subreddit links!

This article was originally published on Massively.