Face Off: Does calling it a "beta" justify selling an unfinished game?

PC Gamer at

Are qualifiers like "alpha" and "beta" used too liberally to justify selling unfinished products, or are monetized testing phases beneficial to PC gaming? In this Face Off debate, Tyler goes pro on the latter: sell what you want, he says, because it's the player's job to make informed buying decisions. T.J.'s on Con Air, and says that if players can buy the game it should be called what it is: released.

Clairvoyance is an online board game about "robots, lasers and the future"

Tom Sykes at

The best strategy games - Chess, XCOM, Boggle - involve thinking ahead, planning your next few moves, and (if you brain can't manage that) cupping your head in your hands and looking shrewdly at your opponent like you have something amazing up your sleeve. Clairvoyance, however, takes forward planning to another level as it asks you to make five moves at once. Similar to Frozen Synapse, it's an asynchronous online tactical battle game that demands each player make their next few moves in one go, before matching them together and seeing what carnage results.

Steam big picture mode beta to launch Monday

Marsh Davies at

Big picture mode is nigh! In a profile of Valve Corporation, the New York Times reports that Steam's much anticipated big picture mode will go into beta on Monday. Valve say it'll bring "simple, easy-to-read navigation designed specifically for TV" letting players flop back into their sofas without having to debase themselves with the frail hardware of the current console crop.

SimCity closed beta sign-ups now open, SimCity World trailer premiered

T.J. Hafer at

Registration has begun for the SimCity closed beta on the official site. You'll need an Origin account, but it seems you don't need to have pre-ordered the game to register.

End of Nations beta key giveaway

Tom Hatfield at

End of Nations, the Trion Worlds MMORTS, is having a beta event this weekend, and we've got 1,500 keys to give away to lucky PC Gamer readers.

Yes, you could be engaging in 26 a side co-op battles with over a thousand units this very weekend. All you need to do is follow the steps inside.

Guild Wars 2 beta gets new content this weekend

Josh Augustine at

If you're one of the lucky thousands that got Guild Wars 2 beta keys from us last week on the site or during our livestream of the Gendarran Fields zone, your already-exciting weekend just got way better.

ArenaNet announced on their blog this morning that they're adding a heap of new content, upgrades, and features to this weekend's beta test. Here's the big stuff.

Shootmania Storm beta applications open now

Tom Senior at

Yesterday's Shootmania Storm trailer did odd things to my brain. It fired all of the tangled synapses associated in any way with lasers, bright lights and Tron at the same time, a sensation that triggered an involuntary "ooooh shiny" response that still hasn't quite fizzled out. But what will it be like to play?

That's up to players. As with Trackmania, Shootmania Storm will rely on players to create interesting new maps, game modes, videos and more. LAN play and dedicated servers are supported and there's a spectator mode for esports competitions. Nadeo have spent year tuning the game to make it as agile and "pure" as they can. If you're tickled you can sign up to the upcoming beta on the Shootmania Storm site for a chance to throw yourself into the eternal war between red and blue.

Guild Wars 2 beta weekend: join the PC Gamer European community!

Chris Thursten at

The first Guild Wars 2 beta weekend event for pre-purchase players begins tonight at 8pm GMT (12pm PDT). European players are cordially invited to join the PC Gamer community in exploring the game for the first time.

The leader of our Guild Wars community, Archernick, has rallied the troops on the Desolation EU server. He's started a thread on the PC Gamer forum where you can find out more and share your contact details. There's also a thread on downloading the GW2 client if you've already got access.

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission "Play & Contribute" beta launches

Tyler Wilde at

Bohemia Interactive is, for a limited time, selling two "Play & Contribute" versions of Carrier Command: Gaea Mission. The two versions act as pre-orders, but also grant access to the beta, which Bohemia says includes a "considerable slice" of the Strategic Campaign.

The Secret World pre-orders come with beta access, available now

Tom Senior at

The Secret World site is now taking pre-orders. If you get hold of it now you'll get automatic access to all beta weekends between May 11 and The Secret World's launch on June 19. Your character's progress will be saved between weekends, which means they should be pretty powerful by the time the early access period starts, up to four days before The Secret World launches properly.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta sign ups live, all Annual Pass holders will be invited

Tom Senior at

Earlier this week the Mists of Pandaria embargo lifted, and an entire zoo worth of panda facts bounded out into the wild to frolic among the internets. Blizzard have revealed tons about the new battlegrounds, the fresh continent, the new class and the new race, the Pandaren themselves. For a comprehensive run down, here's everything you need to know about Mists of Pandaria. To get a good look at the new zones, check out our video preview and the new zones footage.

A beta testing session is "very close," according to a post on Battle.Net, and you can sign up for a chance to be among the first explorers of Pandaria. If you have a Battle.Net account, and a game attached to it, you can sign up for the beta on the Opt In page.

PC Gamer US Podcast #306: Downloadable Spinal Cords

PC Gamer at

Is day-one DLC (like Mass Effect 3's "From Ashes") a crime against gamer-manity, or simply an unoffensive, optional bonus? When are developers "allowed" to stop updating a game like Terraria and step away? Evan, Tyler, Logan, Josh and Gavin tackle these topics on this week's episode. In beta talk, Josh and Gavin also give a generous account of what they did and didn't like about the Guild Wars 2 beta; Evan and Logan reflect on the multiplayer and single-player Mass Effect 3 beta.

PC Gamer US Podcast 306: Downloadable Spinal Cords

Counter-Strike: GO beta keys can be yours if you complete Valve's survey

Evan Lahti at

The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team just published a blog update detailing how future sets of beta keys for the game will be sent out. Key recipients will be selected from a pool of people that've completed a survey. The survey is a simple template intended to judge your CS savviness, combined with an automated peek at your hardware. Copy this into a Windows Explorer address bar to open Steam and start the survey: steam://takesurvey/2/

Being absolutely honest about your skill, as I have above, is probably in your interest. "Over the coming months we will make selections from the survey participants. Sometimes we might add experienced players, other times new players. Sometimes 1.6 players, sometimes CSS players, sometimes people who have played neither."

"If you don’t fill it out, you won’t be getting a key," reads the post. Of course, Valve also states that active, current CS:GO players can expect to receive keys to gift to their friends through Steam.

Tribes: Ascend entering open beta on Friday, adding Arena Deathmatch and new maps

Tyler Wilde at

Good news, everyone! Starting this Friday, February 24 at 12 p.m. EST, Tribes: Ascend will leave closed beta and open its free-to-play doors to the greater public. The game won't launch officially until later this year, but with F2P games, the difference between an open beta and a "launch" is debatable. Perhaps the beta comes with an asterisk acknowledging that bugs happen, things get nerfed, and there's still polishing to do, but Ascend is already pretty shiny. It started strong, and developer Hi-Rez has made substantial improvements during the closed beta, which CEO Todd Harris says "exceeded expectations" with over 300,000 players.

Guild Wars 2 out later this year, beta expanding in spring

Tom Senior at

The first closed beta phase for Guild Wars 2 has ended, according to a new post on the ArenaNet blog. The team are now ready to "aggressively ramp up the size of our beta test events" from March onwards ahead of a full release later this year.

Dust 514 beta applications open to Eve Online subscribers

Tom Senior at

CCP's ambitious shooter, Dust 514, will take place in Eve Online's persistent universe. It will let space-borne generals on PC launch grand land-grabbing actions on Eve's planets, essentially ordering console players will fight and die for the glory of Eve's massive corporations. It'll be exclusive to Playstation 3 (for a while at least). If you're an Eve subscriber, and you happen to own a PS3, you can apply for a spot on the Dust 514 beta now.

Planetside 2 beta sign-ups now live

Tom Senior at

Sony are taking beta sign-ups for Planetside 2 beta right now. Massively mention that you can drop your name in the hat on the Planetsdie 2 beta page. Simply sign in with your Sony Online Entertainment Station login details for a chance of grabbing a spot. If you don't have a login, you can set up an account pretty quickly here. Of all the games you could get into early next year, Sony's massive MMOFPS sequel is a very hot ticket.

Win one of 10,000 Settlers Online beta keys

Tom Hatfield at

The influence of the Settlers series looms large on social games, all of today's browser based trading and city building games owe a huge debt to Blue Byte's original games. Which is why it's no surprise that they've decided to launch their own browser based, online version of the classic series, complete with a dynamic player driven economy, where gold is only the currency of choice because market has decided it will be.

If this sounds like your kind of thing, then you'll be wanting of our beta keys so you can get an advanced look at the game, and you're in luck! Because we have a whopping 10,000 keys to give away to your lucky readers.

To get a code, simply go to our competition site and fill in your details. First come, first served, so be sure to apply right away. Your beta code will be emailed to you next week when the competition ends, and you can redeem it on the Settlers Online website.

Don't forget to check out our The Settlers Online preview for more details.

WildStar opens beta sign-ups to aspiring players, bunny people

Nathan Grayson at

WildStar may not spark an MMO revolution, but if WoW was the first MMO to evolve thumbs, then WildStar's the universe's greatest thumb war champion. Also, it has purple-haired bunny girls, because... well, moving on, beta sign-ups!

Unfortunately, Carbine hasn't given any whens, wheres, or whats just yet, but I'm attempting to contact the developer for more information. In the meantime, we have this nice preview to help you arm yourself for the big galactic battle - with knowledge.

Blizzard: "Months, certainly not years" until Heart of the Swarm beta

Nathan Grayson at

Diablo III's coming "soon," and WoW: Mists of Pandaria's, er, probably not, but what about StarCraft II: HoS? Well, Blizzard's icy, secret-keeping heart hasn't suddenly melted, but the developer dropped a big hint during a group interview session at BlizzCon.

"As far as beta goes, we're coming up to it pretty quickly. I don't have a specific date, but certainly months - not years or anything like that," said lead producer Chris Sigaty.

So yes - red shirt kid, pro-level StarCraft player, or, er, Pokemon trainer - 2012 looks to be quite the year for Blizzard fans.