To Beta or Not to Beta

"It is my desire ... to do nothing which I cannot do with my whole heart. Having said this, I have said all." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm sure this post will frustrate a lot of people who have been anxiously awaiting their Mists of Pandaria beta invite, if there is anyone left who doesn't have one.

As a Annual Pass subscriber I knew that I was going to receive a Beta Invitation eventually as it is one of the perks of committing to keeping a WoW account active for a year. It ain't all about shiny horsies, after all. When it finally did arrive I was thrilled; I had never had a closed-beta invite to anything before so this was something new. I was always a little jealous of people who could claim that they started WoW in the beta, so this was my chance to get into something at the very beginning.

Of course, as a blogger, the beta of a new expansion provides a vast new range of subjects to talk about. There are a lot of changes coming that need to be discussed and opined on, not to mention entirely new and gorgeous vistas that are awaiting my virtual, gnomish-engineered camera. There are endless topics in the beta to write about because the beta itself changes constantly. No blogger in their right mind would pass up the such a rich source of writing material, would they?

Well, perhaps I'm not in my right mind, but after the initial excitement I've decided not to participate in the Beta.

Don't hate me if you don't have one yet, let me explain...


With the great heaving chaos that is my life right now, any chance I get to play WoW is a rare and beautiful thing. It often comes in the few fleeting moments between when the Dwarfling is put to bed and the daily chores are done (which means cleaning up the swath of destruction that she leave in her wake) and when I go to bed. Sometimes it's an hour, sometimes less. And sometimes all I can manage is to stagger to the couch and pass out, leaving the great, menacing evil-doers of Azeroth unmolested for a night.

There are two great drawbacks to spending my very limited amount of playtime on a Beta server as opposed to the Live servers. One is that everything that is done in the Beta is transient because it will be reset to zero when the Beta ends and the expansion is launched. So any time and effort that I put into a Beta character is wasted and I think better spent progressing my characters on the Live Realms.

The other drawback has to do with the eternal frustration of crashes and inconvenient bugs. There is nothing more infuriating than having a glitch cost precious time when on a limited play schedule. I don't think I could handle the instability of the Beta. I think it would create far more tension than it would solve for me. And I get enough of that with the low level PVP that I've been indulging in lately.


The other, less concrete reason has to do with spoilers. I'm the type of person who values the quality of the experience as much as the experience itself. How something is done is just as important as doing the thing itself. A Beta, with all the bugs and unfinished bits, is not a great way to see content for the first time if the texture of the experience is a primary concern. Seeing things perfectly polished in their final forms is what I'm after, and if that means waiting, then so be it.

However, the other side of this particular coin is that on launch day it is going to be virtually impossible to see things the way they should be seen. The giant crush of people descending on the new zones will make things chaotic and mucky, as has happened with every expansion so far. The Pandaren starting zone is going to be wall-to-wall bear butts competing for the same quest mobs and objectives, people will be griefing with their gigantic mounts on top of quest-givers and things are going to be in a general state of higgledy-piggledy. Not really the best way to experience brand new content either, is it?


Of course, when I see things like this I can't help but be tempted by the Beta.

Taken from the official WoW site.

From what I've seen so far I am incredibly impressed with the quality of the visuals of Mists of Pandaria. It looks simply amazing; the best work that Blizzard has done so far, I think. I would love to experience it first hand and create some stunning Images of Azeroth posts, but time simply is not on my side.


  1. To Beta or not to Beta...I think depends a lot on what current, live WoW is doing for you! If you're content and not bored on live WoW, it seems counterproductive (to me) to hop onto the Beta and spoil things/take away from the eventual excitement when Mists actually comes out! I mean, sure, if you're there to write about class changes or preview stuff, that's different. But I know that if I don't NEED to be there, I'd rather do basically anything BUT spend time on the Beta.

    Your play time is limited - I'd spend it on things that actually accrue/stick around, instead of on buggy, crashing servers where whatever you do/make/earn will just be wiped out anyway.

  2. I'm actually on your side on this one. I signed up for the AP and bitched and moaned when I didn't get my beta invite until six weeks after everyone else, and now that I have it I'm less than enthusiastic about it. I've logged on a few times to try to get a handle on changes to shadow priests, and that's been okay, I guess. I refuse to do the Horde-side Pandaria quests because I look at how utterly sick I am of Cataclysm questing (Therazane, I'm looking at you) and I don't want to burn myself out before MoP even drops. The Alliance Pandaria questline is broken about six quests in. I leveled a baby monk-let for a while, deliberately leveling through Alliance stuff like Westfall (which, again, is broken) and Loch Modan, but the prospect of leveling another toon 1-90 makes me want to throw up.

    ...that's a long-winded way to say "Hear, hear."

  3. Like you Fannon, my game time is limited, and I am not sure I would like to fritter my time away in beta when I will have to do all those things again when xpac really hits. I still have things to do in current game, and when I'm not in current game, I'm touring SWTOR very VERY casually - just to give myself a break from WoW and reassure myself I'm not addicted to WoW itself, just ... I'm like to play.

    It's also a good time for me to catch up my blog reading because all these people who are writing about beta I've been skipping, so it has cut my reading list big time.

    So I'm with you on this one :) Though I look forward to seeing what great panoramas you will be bringing out with MoP hits.

  4. Well said, Fannon. I've spent minimal time in the beta for all of those reasons.

  5. My biggest fear with the Beta was exactly what Stormy mentioned. I didn't want to spoil the new stuff for the characters that would need to do it in July (*crosses fingers*). But I wanted to get in a try out things. So I've done most of the Jade Forest from the Alliance perspective, and I've leveled a Mistweaver (healing) monk to get a feel for the class. And then I'm also playing a Protection Warrior (something I've wanted to try) while playing through Alliance zones with my better half, because he hasn't seen the updated story. We could just as easily be doing it on live, but it gives us the opportunity to test features at lower levels as we play along side each other.

    And when D3 comes out next week, well...all bets are off.