The two most highly expected upcoming MMOs have (coincidentally?) both begun their closed betas this weekend. Final Fantasy XIV, after a very publicized Alpha, began its closed beta today, and Star Wars: The Old Republic posted an announcement yesterday stating that "Game Testing ... is underway". While invites for both betas have already been sent out, be sure to check your email over the coming weeks as each game's beta continues to grow.
It was just more than a week ago that we learned Final Fantasy XIV's retail release date, September 30, which means the beta is slated to run close to three months long. Three months seems like an extraordinary amount of time for a beta, so Square must have a long list of updates they want properly tested before release. With the upgrades that took place from Alpha to Beta, this is certainly promising for fans.
Star War: The Old Republic has taken a remarkably difference to pre-release, with some subtle similarities. Information pertaining the The Old Republic's Alpha is practically nonexistent, to the point of being worrisome. The most significant difference, is that The Old Republic isn't due for release into 2011. Even if they're aiming for a January release, that's at least five months away, which a long time for testing. Of course, The Old Republic's beta could be more comparable to FF XIV's alpha, or simply incomparable at all. All speculation in the name of good fun, of course.
What's significant and measurable is that both games have given demos to media, specifically at E3. It's never a good idea to judge an MMO from a fifteen minute demo, but both games are looking to be at a similar level of completion. Considering that, there is so much more known about Final Fantasy XIV. Players are able to analyze to such a high degree, but despite that the response isn't as great as I think Square would like.
Sony is reaping the rewards of being less in the public. My personal experience with the game left me very unimpressed, but at the same time it was only a small demo so I reserve judgment overall. So in the meantime Star Wars fans are left to imagine just how amazing this MMO will be without any clear evidence or opinions.
What I'm excited about is how these betas will help us form a stronger opinion of of either game. Naturally, I'll be playing FF XIV upon launch, but at some point we'll all have to make the decision to switch or not. And if BioWare pushes Star Wars back any farther then they'll have Guild Wars 2 to compete with as well. These are decisions I welcome! It's a good time to be an MMO gamer.
Final Fantasy XIV is due for release Sept. 30, 2010 for PC and Star Wars: The Old Republic is due for PC release in early 2011.