So you want a Beta? You can’t handle a Beta!

I have a gamer friend that lives in the UK, and he frequently sends me links he’s found that are opportunities for “US residents only” to either beta test something or to register for contests. In his mind it is better that one of his friends benefits even if he can’t register himself. I do the same for my UK friends with things I find in their neck of the woods, and I think in the end it all evens out.

But in the last link he sent me I noticed a lot of attacks in the comments about how companies aren’t letting out their beta testing internationally, like they think the rest of the world isn’t good enough to test their software. My first reaction to these comments was to laugh at the ignorance of the posters, but then I got to thinking… if nobody educates these people, how will they know any better?

Now, I’m a game designer in student form. I don’t confess to having a ton of actual experience in the field, but I DO know people that are quite familiar with “how shit works” in the gaming industry. I decided to ask a few about this subject.

Here’s how it works, in layman’s terms:

Software is developed in one place, typically the home base of operations. That software is developed, tested, and polished in that home area. If a company bases its operations in the United States, you can bet your shiny gold token that they’re going to test their software in the United States.

Why? There is additional cost and effort involved in releasing a system or a bit of software in the international market. There are language concerns (even between American English and British English), there are differences in hardware, and there are differences in regulations for every country that the company services. If you’re in the testing phase of a game or a piece of hardware, it is simply common sense to test it in one market before going through the trouble of localizing it for everyone.

You also have to look at how many people the testing phase will involve. If there is a limited amount of material, and you have a surplus of testers available in your home area, why does it make sense to go through the effort to localize the material and make it available worldwide?

Then there is the argument about game developers padding their own pockets, and why can’t they shell out a little bit more for the consumer. Well do you want to pay a little bit more for every game you buy? Do you want the next big game to be scrapped because they didn’t know if the profits would be worth the cost? The world is the way it is, and business is always going to be business.

Next time you want to complain about not getting something for free, why don’t you make better use of the internet by searching for opportunities in your own area?