Playtesting vs. Beta testing
Now that we’re about to embark on the perilous journey of looking for Beta testers for our RPG game Unknown RealmTM, we thought an article on the difference between playtesting and beta testing would be in order. It’s a common misconception even amongst some developers, especially indie devs, that beta testing is when playtesting tasks take place. When in reality, play testing is an entirely different and something that should be completed long before beta testing.
Playtesting and beta testing are both important stages in the development of a video game, but they serve different purposes and involve different types of testing. Understanding the differences between these two types of testing can help game developers create a more polished and enjoyable final product.
Playtesting is an early stage of testing that takes place during the development of a game. It is typically conducted by the game’s developers and a small group of testers who are familiar with the game’s mechanics and design. The main purpose of playtesting is to identify balance issues in the game before it is released to the public. Playtesters provide valuable feedback on gameplay, controls, and overall enjoyment, and developers use this feedback to make necessary changes and improvements. Playtesting is about finding and enhancing the fun of the game.
Beta testing, on the other hand, is a later stage of testing that involves a larger group of testers who are representative of the game’s target audience. Beta testing usually takes place just before the game is released to the public, and it is used to identify any remaining issues or bugs that may have been missed during earlier stages of testing. Beta testers are often recruited from the game’s community or through online sign-ups, and they are typically given access to a near-final version of the game in exchange for their feedback. Beta testing is not the time to make changes to a games look and feel, but to find and fix things that may have been missed by the development team such as bugs, misspelled words, art/audio errors, etc. Beta testing is going on a bug hunt.
One key difference between playtesting and beta testing is the expertise of the testing groups. Playtesting is usually conducted by a small, specialized group of testers who have in-depth knowledge of the game’s mechanics and design, while beta testing involves a larger, more diverse group of testers who may not have the same level of expertise. Most companies do their playtesting in-house or even with specially selected focus groups. However, depending on the type of game, some developers may decide to release earlier versions of their game for playtesting feedback, which is commonly done with “early access” releases.
In summary, playtesting and beta testing are both crucial stages in the development of a video game. Playtesting is focused on identifying and fixing issues during the early stages of development, while beta testing is used to identify any remaining issues just before the game is released to the public. Both types of testing are important for creating a high-quality and enjoyable final product.