My personal worries with "perpetual beta" or "continuously improved" games

This is a personal take* on games which are sold on every available platforms like Steam, where customers can browse through a selection of games enrolled in a distinct Early Access program.

More specifically, I want to talk about games which are marketed and sold with the “traditional” feature-stable** games, yet are sadly not feature-stable.

Click on the text to expand or “collapse” the section:
You might want to skip to the third one…

"Perpetual beta", or "Early Access"?

“Perpetual beta” is an expression I saw somewhere on the internet once, and I honestly looked at the Wikipedia entry about the concept. I’m not entirely sure that the definition of “perpetual beta” is 100% applicable to games like Generation Zero, but I’m trying really hard to find a different expression than “Early Access”. :sweat_smile: I just read “Mass Effect: Andromeda becomes an early access game after launch” on Polygon, and I think that the problems raised by the author apply to a lot of games today.

Consumer rights, let's quickly get that out of the argumentation

While I think that publishers, developers and stores are not playing nice with consumers when they don’t put what should be an Early Access game in the Early Access category of the store, this is not my issue right now.

Main argument: Leaving no one behind

That is my main issue. When I buy a game like Before We Leave***, No Man’s Sky, Per Aspera, or Generation Zero, and then I realize that the game is not finalized, I get worried, and I look for:

  • a public explanation;
  • a public plan with milestones and pauses to engage with the existing player base before setting or working towards the next milestones;
  • a prioritization on bug-fixing and Quality of Life improvements (over new “features”) which will create a pleasant, coherent, and consistent User Experience (When needed or asked);
  • effective and efficient communication channels, some being bidirectional, some not;
  • mechanics and awareness in the development process to avoid or mitigate any disruption for the existing player base while finalizing the game. “Disruptions” include:
    • Modifications to the existing story.
    • Modifications to the core mechanics/systems
    • Addition of new core mechanics/systems
    • Additions of new rewards in existing mechanics/systems
    • etc.

“Why?”, you could aks? Because I am worried that a game I bought one day, becomes a significantly different game some other day without me having any way to do something about it, whether by avoiding this entirely through “team effort”; or by circumventing the disruptions with official thought-through and community-plebiscited solutions. I’m worried about the developers attracting a new and significantly different player base that would steer the game I initially bought away from those things I liked.

“Bu-Why?” Because I don’t like change, and I like rules; and games (board games or video games) usually have stable rulesets which are why I keep coming back to them. :sweat_smile: On the other hand, video games also offer a great opportunity to play with those rulesets and bend them, but I cannot do that if the rules keep changing. My 3-years old nephew likes to change the rules as we play, and it can get boring really fast; When I play a video game, that’s because I want time off from the nephew I just babysitted! :sweat_smile:

So that’s it. If I’m worried when I look at a game in my library; this game, its brand, its creators, and its partners are tainted in my little reptilian (or caveman) brain. The thing is, I liked playing that game for 20+ hours (and I want to keep playing), but I decided to wait for the Landfall Update before playing more. I waited because I was anticipating a better experience**** and I was worried I would not have a great time playing in the meantime. Now, I’m worried***** again because the update did not meet my expectations and I’m worried this might not be the last time. I’m also worried because I don’t know what is the creators’ stance on the current situation; which is really one of my biggest issue. It’s a lot about trust.


End Notes

*This is not an attempt at analysing best business practices.
**When I use the expression “feature-stable”, I mean games which have all their core features and mechanics finalized. Except for bug fixed and minor Quality of Life (QoL) improvements.
***Before We Leave is actually a very polished games. Developers simply decided to add stuff over the current game mechanics. In fact, this game is the only one in my list that never decreased my trust level into its developer. I love that developer, even though their game should have stayed in Early Access a bit longer.
****“Better experience” was about a good weapon wheel for the gamepad players; bug fixes; User Interface improvements; improved general “User Experience” (UX).
*****Yes, the overuse of “worried” was intentional, and lazy. :stuck_out_tongue:



I don’t know how long you’ve been playing GZ but this is already the case & there are plenty of discussion threads on here with people on both sides of the argument making their case for and against it.

But the fact is, GZ is not the same game it was and will change, and substantially in some ways.


Obi, what I see, is that the “Disappointed Squad” is far more louder and are constantly posting how they don’t like the evolving game. People who are OK with the path the devs are taking are not posting many topics specifically about that. Nor do many they take the time to argue against the “disappointed Squad” concerns. Still, I have the impression that the Devs are not to much influenced and are trying their best to listen to concerns while keeping control of their game and its future.


My problem right now is more about the level of communication. :frowning: I would like communication to be more effective and regular.

I honestly think that the current format of the weekly livestream is very ineffective. There’s a reason why Satisfactory’s livestreams have 700+ people in the pre-stream lobby, and I suspect it’s not only because the game is popular. I mean… I watch their livestream even though the game is currently sitting in my backlog until it reaches Version 1.0! :sweat_smile:

1 Like

As someone who playes Satisfactory, I think that game is doing well not only because it is fun but also because it is respecting the early access deal. Despite the label and little notice that comes everytime you start the game, Satisfactory doesn’t feel early access at all. To me it has found a good line of sticking to the devs vision but also open for community feedback and doesn’t use that whole “collab with players despite not being early access thing” that GZ is doing.

When new content comes out, it feels like it always has a purpose for being there. But with GZ new content comes out either unfinished or not that special, with that promise of it being fixed later. There’s too much words and promises and not a whole lot of action.

I’m not so sure about that. If the “Disappointed Squad” was so loud then so much of the game would be way different compared to what we have now. And who’s to say what people say is and isn’t valid criticism? The devs on Generation Zero’s website openly state they want everyone’s opinions and collab with players. I will agree that the devs need to stick to their vision, but at the same time, if they say they wanna collab, then they gotta stick by those words. GZ is trying to please everyone but realistically that is impossible.

Right now I think they should just outright remove the “next chapter” section of their site, as it just increases peoples expectations of what the game can or will be.

1 Like

I’m just chiming in to say that I added a clarification (End notes) to specifiy what were my expectations for the Landfall Update, because “Better experience” was quite vague. :sweat_smile:

Sadly, I think there is not whole lot of word either. I bought the game in December and I read the latest “letters from the development team”, but they did not provide much about a vision or an engagement. Even the roadmap they published Friday came alone, without any letter or detail, and two-thirds of it was a description of the already shipped Landfall Update. :disappointed_relieved: I was expecting more than a short infographic, because January’s letter said:

We’ve also mentioned that we wanted to become a bit more transparent with what we’re up to with our roadmap. While this isn’t the exact letter we can share that in, we can tell you that it is going to be coming soon and will also be accompanied by a big update on all platforms.

So… I thought we would get more information about the future last week, but now I hope this will happen this week instead. In case people wouldn’t know, the patch note does not contain much more information about a vision or an engagement.

1 Like

What I meant is that we always get the promise of better transparency and such, hence “too much words…”. Perhaps I should have worded it differently. Anyway in general like I said in the “Roadmap, first half of 2022” thread.

I’ve been with the game since around june/july 2019, back then until now it has always been teases and teases of what could potentially become new content. But it was a double edged sword, It kept people hooked but also since there never was a clear word of the future, expecations grew. And so did the issues such as with the console delays.

With the game feeling like a “perpetual beta” there is barely any sense of coherent vision. Instead of there being more story DLC like Alpine and FINIX rising, all the lore sine FNIX R has been in collectibles. Wich imma be honest and say that is really lazy in terms of storytelling. The recent paid packs have only been guns and that base defense pack.

Maybe I just don’t get it anymore. I just don’t like when I pay for a product and over time it becomes something else, yeah I agreed to the TOS. But at the same time I feel like GZ is slowly trying to become so much but not having enough recourses and time.

1 Like