If you were waiting to play Street Fighter V during this weekend's beta, then the only thing you fought was disappointment. Our friend John Learned spent his time revisiting Street Fighter III: Third Strike rather than playing Capcom's latest and greatest. I'm personally glad I was out at Otakon all weekend as the frustration would've been high in my household.
Fans have been waiting for word on when the beta will be up-and-running again, but today Capcom confirmed that we'll be waiting for a while.
"Capcom offers its sincerest apologies to everyone who participated in this first beta test," wrote Capcom community manager Peter "ComboFiend" Rosas on the Capcom-Unity blog. "While the purpose of a beta is to work out these type of issues, it was very clear that the issues we faced were more severe than we were prepared for. After three days of testing, while we were making progress and collecting valuable data, we felt the majority of players were not having a good experience, and the best course of action would be to take the servers offline for extended maintenance. We will be postponing our first beta phase until we believe the experience is going to be a positive one for players."
Those who missed out on this phase don't have to worry about missing out on their chance to get in on the SFV action. Capcom has you covered.
"To be clear, this first beta test attempt will not count toward our previously announced beta test allotments," wrote Rosas. "There will still be at least three full beta tests prior to the game's launch. So for those in the Americas that feel disappointed that they were not able to experience their pre-order incentive, there will be plenty of opportunities prior to launch to experience the game. Additionally, we are working on a worthwhile in-game incentive for the players that participated in the first beta test. While we can't confirm specifics just yet, we will have more details on this in the coming weeks."
While a broken alpha or beta is rather normal, the interesting thing I noticed online is the reception to Capcom's issues. The idea of a beta is to give the game a run-through and find any issues before a live release. That's an idea that's shifted, with many betas being used as promotional opportunities for their respective titles. Players get a chance to try out the game for free, publishers potentially get a pre-order, and developers can use the data to improve their game before release. In Capcom's case, they offered beta codes to those who pre-ordered the game. Once money enters the picture - even through you're paying for the game, with the beta simply being an extra perk - people tend to get testy.
The problem with the promotional aspect is players have begun treating betas as demos. For a proper beta (or Early Access title), there has to be an understanding that things won't work. That's not the same as a product, an item sold that should work correctly when it reaches the customer. The beta is when you want things to be broken; that's much better than getting the final retail version home and everything is glitches and disconnects.
When a beta is treated like a demo, developers lose out on the ability to make a great first impression for their title. Logically, the beta is your first impression, but every developer hopes that you'll understand that there's a perennial "Under Construction" sign super-imposed over everything you're seeing. When you don't have that, you're missing the point of a beta.
That's not say I don't understand the anger and disappointment of being shut out of a beta for a game you're looking forward to. Sitting at a title screen, attempting to login again and again is rather normal if you're an avid MMO player. I've been there and in many of those cases, that was actually the live launch. People can get frustrated, especially if they've blocked out time to dive in. Just remember to temper that frustration with the realization that the developer wants you to play. They want you having fun, but they also want to see where you're tripping up, where you're failing, and where the game simply isn't working. They want that so when launch comes, everything runs smoothly.
So let's hope that Capcom gets Street Fighter V's second beta phase working right. From what I've played of the game at E3 and Kat's impressions, I think fans will be happy at their glimpse of what Capcom's working on. I want you folks to play and I'm sure Capcom does too. But this is beta. Hell, we're only getting 6 characters out of 16. Capcom still has a lot to do; the next beta will be way before all the characters are available and balance tuning begins. Things aren't going to work.
Be prepared for that.