I came to a strange realization today. I don’t want to beta test Star Wars: The Old Republic. I want to play the game and can’t wait to download my pre-order, but I want to play it with my husband and my friends. I know some people who are in beta testing, and they are lone wolves without their pack. And because of the NDA, they can’t even share their experiences and bring us along vicariously.
I’ve been making graphics for our guild and looking forward to launching a new website for us for the game. A lot of my game prep has been centered around having the old gang back, sharing news that I read in blogs and the forums with them, making sure we find as many as possible and get them signed up on the forums. I know that we will all have a much better game experience because we’ll have familiar voices on Vent, famous battle cries in Operations and Flashpoints, and support from each other for questing. None of that exists in a beta test, which would make the experience feel hollow for me.
A game has to stand on its own merits to be fun, but a fun game without the old gang around might not hold my interest for long. Being in a good guild was a lot of my enjoyment when I was playing WoW. I doubt I would have stuck with that game for five years without that aspect of the play experience. And as soon as people started slipping away from WoW and not logging in, more and more of us lost interest in the game.
I’ll admit, if I got a beta invite I’d probably still play, but I would be frustrated with not being able to share my experiences. That shared experience is what an MMO is all about.