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The Daily Grind: Are betas really more fun?

We've all been in Free Realms recently, which is still currently in beta - and we've been having a ball. As such, when we saw Syncaine's recent posting about why games are more fun in beta - and if people would pay more for a similar experience, we thought it was a pretty good topic. The idea is that there is generally one shard; the community is smaller; many are using the forums; dev interaction is high; there's no real reason to race to endgame since the servers will likely be nuked and reset; and finally - it's free. With all that said, however, there are some negatives that weren't mentioned. Betas mean more bugs, long - often unannounced - downtime, no real addons, no item database sites, generally no quest helper sites or very weak ones, and while the game may be free, if it's crappy, people will abandon it in droves - even in beta. Personally, I feel that in betas, players have access to almost no information - no wikis, item databases, etc. - and are thus forced to simply explore the world blind, taking the good with the bad as opposed to zooming from carefully-mapped quest hub to quest hub, guide in hand.

This morning we thought we'd ask - with the above points, what do you think? Are games really more fun in beta due to the points raised by Syncaine? Or is it simply that due to the lack of extraneous helpers like item databases, mods, etc. we're forced to slow down and just explore, playing the game as just a game and not a string of interconnected places we race to in order to get the best experience and drops? Would segmenting players to a separate server with smaller population for a higher cost as Syncaine suggests truly make MMOs more fun? Or is it just a question of us starting to look at our enjoyment in games as a return on time invested versus a free-form experience with ups and downs? Are there other things you think are at play more than these points?

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