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Betwatch: January 25 - 31, 2014

Eliot Lefebvre

Development on TUG is continuing, but it's shifting gears a little bit. What was originally going to be called the game's first beta phase is now still an alpha phase, even though most of the core systems are in place. But the game's still moving along, and as it enters its next major testing phase, it's looking for fans to help spread the word. The game also went into voting for Steam Greenlight, so there's another option to help support its development.

For the most part, this has been a quiet beta week, but there's still our full list past the break as well as our testing notes. So dive on past the break for the list, and as always, let us know if something managed to slip a cash shop past us or launched without letting us know (which often means the same thing).

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
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.

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/
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
Starlite (Project Whitecard): Announcement, Signup (fka Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond)
Strife (S2 Games): Announcement, Signup
The Elder Scrolls Online (Zenimax): Announcement, Signup (launches 4/4/14)
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
There seems to be a growing trend among a certain breed of games. Before closed testing, the game can't send out enough information to the press. When closed testing starts, they quiet down a bit. Sometimes they don't even bother letting us know when open testing starts, and when (if) they launch, you'll be lucky to hear so much as a peep.

Obviously, people who enjoy and play these games know what's going on. But it's not always possible to spot-check every single game on the list like a hawk (though we do try to sort through them on a regular basis), so it's possible for the smaller titles to slip past us. Especially for indie titles and certain free-to-play studios, sending out formal announcements can be at the bottom of the priority list. That's why we ask our lovely readers to let us know if we missed something; it's easy for a game to slip past our radar, but diligent players know it almost right away.

But why don't we immediately yank anything with a working cash shop as soon as we're told about it? Sometimes it's because it falls into another category, and sometimes it's because we need to be able to verify that the cash shop is up and running first.

When the game is being helpful, the official website will include an immediate link to the game's store. A lot of times, though, it doesn't. Trying to download the game, log in, and find the in-game store is both time-consuming and sometimes counterproductive. So it's possible for us to hear from people that the cash shop is up but not be able to say "yes, it's totally taking money," which puts us in the awkward position of digging further for verification one way or the other.

We always listen when you tell us that something has got a shop open. Sometimes we just need to do a bit more due diligence before we pull something.

Feel free to ask us questions about why we do things in a certain way for Betawatch -- this section is here to answer your questions!

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!

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