It's easy to dismiss publisher re-commitments to stumbling videogames as nothing more than a cynical effort to keep the money rolling in, but I'm starting to think that Ubisoft is serious about getting The Division back on track. Earlier this week it announced a plan to fly players to Sweden to help shape the upcoming 1.4 patch (sorry, that offer is now closed) and today it revealed that a public test server is on the way.
“We’ve seen a lot of very constructive feedback across the forums, Reddit, YouTube and Twitch. The enthusiasm that you have shown to help us make the game better is incredible and only proves that this is an important step in the right direction!” Ubisoft said. “As many pointed out after we announced Update 1.4, a great way to involve you would be to let you try the update before its release. Good news! We are thrilled to confirm that we will be opening a Public Test Server on PC for The Division in the near future.”
Public test servers give developers the ability to test updates and new content for online games in a live environment, without the risk of messing things up for everyone. It's an effective way to expose bugs before they get into the hands of the playerbase at large, but it's even more important for determining when systems are “off” in one way or another, and need to be tweaked. Blizzard in particular is known for making extensive use of them to good effect, and it recently came to light that one may be coming soon to Hearthstone.
A launch date for the PTR hasn't been announced, but details will be announced “in the coming days,” Ubisoft said. “We wanted to break the news as soon as possible so you can have full visibility on the next steps we are implementing to improve the game.”