The two most common complaints about the Diablo 3 Beta are that it’s too easy, and that there aren’t enough testers. Point #1 has been (and will continue to be) much debated by fans, though Blizzard insists that it’s supposed to be very easy (even as they make it harder in every patch). On #2 though, I don’t think there’s any debate. Everyone (outside of Blizzard) feels that there are far too few beta testers and is amazed at how slowly Blizzard has been ramping up the numbers.
Since the last Blizzard beta test was for Starcraft 2, it’s tempting to compare. Obviously the games and target audiences and testing needs were much different, but Starcraft 2 generally had more than 20,000 testers online, at once, during the entire beta test. And Blizzard distributed tens of thousands of keys through numerous channels, gave every tester “invite a friend” keys several times during the test, gave out keys with pre-orders, etc. Many of us were expecting something similar with Diablo III, yet the D3 beta seldom has more than a couple of hundred concurrent games. This state of affairs creates the “Wow, another whole 200 testers added?” sarcasm that flows from the not-yet-selected masses.
Sadly, this doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon, at least judging by Bashiok’s forum comment today.
We’re restricting beta access because the intent is to test specific features, updates, and changes with specific amounts of testers. Inevitably we will want, at times, ‘stress’ testing with larger groups of testers allowed in, but it’s unlikely we’ll have an open beta or an invite included with the purchase of the game.
Now obviously, if Blizzard said, “We’ll have D3 beta keys with preorders at some point.” that would affect the buying habits of many people, and all of their preorder partners who aren’t in on that deal would scream bloody murder. Therefore, I wouldn’t take this as the final word — Blizzard PR routinely says, “X will not happen” until about 3 hours before X begins to happen, since that’s their job, and since nothing exists with Blizzard until it’s been officially announced.
Those reality checks delivered… it doesn’t sound like we’re going to see any big changes in the beta invite options, at least not any time soon.