Battlefield 3? More like Beta Fail 3, the most mismanaged beta test in recent memory

Battlefield 3 beta

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you exactly what I think: the Battlefield 3 public beta is the single most mismanaged and ill-conceived beta test I’ve ever participated in. Oh, the game itself is fine, I actually quite enjoy it despite the bugs; Electronic Arts and DICE’s attitude towards the players and lack of attention to detail? Not so much. Read on to find out why I think so.

How could EA and DICE release an open beta less than a month before release and not expect people to judge the quality of the finished product based on their beta experience? Apparently, Battlefield 3 must generate some kind of reality distortion field, since that thought never crossed their minds before they went ahead with the beta. In fact, DICE’s Global Battlefield Community Manager Daniel “zh1nt0” Matros had the cheek to chide us for not knowing what a beta test is. I don’t know about you, but as someone who has participated in countless closed and open betas, I took that as a slap in the face.

To make things worse, it seems that the developers and publishers have no idea how to run a beta test. In response to a question on why the Caspian Border map was not made available in the beta, EA’s Battlefield 3 community manager Ian Tornay stated on Twitter: “We can either put work into doing that or into the final product – which would you prefer?” Excuse me, but isn’t the point of any beta to test content, discover bugs and fix them in time for the release of the final product? How is that supposed to happen that if said content is not made available during the beta?

In many ways, those two statements by the Battlefield 3 community managers highlights the real problem here: the utter lack of communication and outreach from DICE and EA about the beta. Instead of telling us from the beginning that the beta was an old build and that many of the bugs we see in-game have been already fixed, DICE saw fit to only inform players of this a full 4 days after the beta first begun. In fact, DICE never told us exactly what was to be tested in the beta until they posted this particular update on the Battlefield blog — a curious choice instead of the Battlelog news section, which has since become the primary news source for players participating in the beta.

Information about the beta continues to be scattered across multiple sources, ranging from the official sources like the Battlefield website and the Battlelog news section, to unofficial sources like developer Twitter accounts and unconfirmed sources such as people who claimed to have played the Battlefield 3 alpha test. DICE themselves have made statements — such as a veiled threat to ban your entire EA Origin account if you played on hacked servers — which were subsequently withdrawn or deleted. Because of this, beta participants were left to speculate on their own and there has simply been so much misinformation spread throughout the community.

All these issues wouldn’t have been a problem, if only EA and DICE had a consistent and authoritative message splashed across multiple platforms and trusted media right from the beginning. Instead, we’re forced to trawl through the hundreds of Twitter updates from @battlefield, @demize99@zh1nto, @crash7800 and @Elxx in the attempt to find some reliable information and learn of bugs that were already identified and fixed. This isn’t rocket science; if Blizzard’s community managers can maintain and update a detailed list of known Diablo III beta bugs in the official forums, why can’t DICE do the same?

While I understand this is a beta — and that problems in betas generally get fixed before launch day — the total mismanagement of the Battlefield 3 beta and the lack of communication from EA and DICE has caused myself and many others to think twice about purchasing the game.  That is a real pity, because — make no mistake — once you get past the Battlelog issues, game bugs and other beta annoyances, Battlefield 3 is great fun. Enough fun that my friends and I come back for more every night despite the frequent crashes and inability to play in the same squad or team even if you join as a party.

Whether I, and others like me sitting on the fence, will pick up the game on launch day will depend on how well EA and DICE can clear the air of uncertainty and doubt that they have created through this sorry excuse for a beta test.

Update: The lead photo was previously a screenshot of a Tweet from @battlefield claiming that “34k pre-orders” were cancelled. It has since come to my attention through Reddit that the screenshot is possibly fake and I have replaced it.

Have your say. Add your comments:

  • Desertfox31

    I agree that they do need to work on communicating more but sure release might be a month away but they have stated the the build we are playing is something like two weeks to a month old. That is TWO months of development time from a huge game company that is currently releasing their BIGGEST GAME YET. I would imagine it is all hands on deck.

    Calling zh1nt0 explaining what a beta is a slap in the face? Have you seen some of the people commenting on various forums? It legitimately seems like they have no idea what a beta is.
    “Excuse me, but isn’t the point of any beta to test content, discover bugs and fix them in time for the release of the final product?”

    Complete speculation on my part but I believe they are more wanting to test how the servers handle the load, can battlelog take it as well as balancing guns etc.

    Having played like two rounds on caspian, yeah I agree they should have just run with caspian but they didn’t and we have metro.

    something tells me that tweet is fake as well.

  • Aaron

    Is this what the final product will look like? I feel like Dice and EA have misled us. And yes, I know it will look great on a PC, but they said BF3 would be the best looking FPS on any platform. The lighting does look nice, but if the graphics stay the same then it will not look even as good as MW3, let alone better. 

    My other question is why haven’t we seen much console multiplayer footage before now anyway? Maybe it’s because this is exactly what the game looks like.  


  • Wei-Meng

    Those are great comments, Aaron.

    According to DICE, the current console beta is an old build because of the long certification process Sony and Microsoft puts through any code before it can be released on the PS3 or Xbox 360. What we’re playing now is probably 1 to 2 months old, and DICE claims that everything will be fixed by the time the game hits retail.
    You’re right that this beta has cast lots of doubt on what the final product will look like, and if we can only go on faith in DICE and EA, then honestly I’m not too impressed.

    Regarding console multiplayer footage, I’m not sure about that one. I’d be surprised if YouTube doesn’t have any footage!