Beta Burnout Syndrome – Why I Won’t Grind-Play a Beta Again

In my last (so uplifting) post, I mentioned that I had trouble jumping into Elder Scrolls Online since launch – I played it for a week and have literally not touched it since. I said it was because I just couldn’t get into it and it must be a symptom of my depression.

So, why is it when Final Fantasy XIV: ARR announced a Free Login Weekend for those with inactive accounts, I was giddy as hell to jump on that? I stopped paying for FFXIV:ARR because of ESO – only one subscription game at a time in our household (we have bills to pay, after all). Would I have stopped paying if ESO hadn’t come out? What gives?

With two hours left on the FFXIV:ARR patches (I wish they had sent that email out on Thursday and not Friday night / Saturday morning!), I’ve had some time to think about it. I have come to the conclusion that I did one thing for ESO that I did not with FFXIV:ARR – I played the beta. I am a sufferer of Beta Burnout Syndrome.

But what is Beta Burnout Syndrome (patent pending), you ask? Let me tell you – it is where you play the beta of a game to which you are anticipating, and you CRAM as much gameplay in as possible at every opportunity. Whether you grind your levels, just explore or start mastering that crafting system, it makes no difference – you spend every available beta event playing the hell out of it. When the game is released, you go to play and – wait, I’ve already done all this. And this. And that. The original anticipation you held for the release is gone, because you’ve already experienced it as a “soft release” during the beta and now, you just feel like you’re going through the motions, trying to get through the content you have already played.

I don’t want to say the allure is gone, but those first moments of excitement have already been had – during the beta. So when it came to play the released game, there was nothing new for me. It was all the same: I knew what options were available for my character, I knew where the questline was going, I knew what my armour options were and how they looked, and I knew what my skills were and how they worked.

The Elder Scrolls Online Beta

This place looks oddly familiar…Oh wait, I’ve been here before. In the beta.

Final Fantasy XIV: ARR, I probably did have the opportunity to play the beta, as I briefly had an old FFXIV account. But I didn’t do it. I decided to see how things would go. It turned out, at launch, the game looked very appealing and I wrangled a couple copies. I jumped in and loved it despite a few pitfalls (which you can read about here). As I only very briefly played FFXIV and did not take part in the beta, everything was new and fresh, exciting and shiny. Even now, when I think of playing it before, I still get excited for it and wondered if I should reactivate my account…

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

I know I’ve posted this in my last FFXIV:ARR post, but this is still hands-down one of my favourite screenshots from an MMO.

…Ah, but I already have a subscription in ESO. A sub that I’m, well, not really using. I can’t say that it’s the setting or systems. After all, I have been playing Skyrim almost everyday (and yes, ACTUALLY playing. It may be small spurts, but questlines are being completed).

I’m going to use an analogy for this situation. Say you have a friend that’s a chef at a restaurant, and they are going to premiere a new dish. This dish happens to be your favourite food, and they’ve asked you to help them perfect it by playing taste-tester. They say you can eat as much of your favourite food as you want. They’d also like you to come to the restaurant for the debut of the new, perfected dish. Score! So, what do you do? Do you gorge yourself on your friend’s test recipe, eat normally with a few comments, or maybe wait for the premiere to really enjoy it? The latter two seem most enjoyable in the long-run – sure, you have to wait, but the anticipation and final result will be worth it. You get to taste your favourite dish and really savour it. For instant gratification, gorging yourself sounds great! But then, you just end up feeling ill (too much pasta, oh noes!) and lose all appetite for what was once your favourite dish in the world. You don’t know if you ever want to eat that dish again – Bummer.

That may not be a great analogy, but it’s as close to the feeling as I can describe. I gorged myself on ESO before it was really ready, and now I’m paying the price for it. Luckily, they seem to be doing a lot of updates, so who knows what it’ll look like later on – maybe there’s some anticipation and mystery left to experience. But from this experience, I don’t think I’ll participate in a BETA release for a game I’m really looking forward to ever again. It just kills all of the suspense and sense of discovery.


Update: 27 Nov. 2014

I’ve amended the title of this blogpost to “I won’t Grind-Play a Beta Again” because the main crux of the article was that I didn’t want to burn-out on a highly anticipated title before it was even released, which is what happened with ESO. I have since played betas – so all beta is a bit of a lie – but they were for games I had no expectations of and I also played them sparingly. This way, I got a good idea for the game, without grinding through the beginner content and ruining it for me when they were released. So, I just thought it was fair to make that clarification.