It’s clear that Ubisoft has high hopes for its upcoming MMO The Division, but it’s something of an unknown quantity for anyone outside of the studio. Since it was announced at E3 back in 2013, we’ve seen snippets of gameplay here are there — but we might soon have the chance to get much more acquainted with the title.
During an earnings call that took place last night, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot stated that the studio wants to have “enough feedback from consumers from alpha and betas” so that the finished version of The Division can be as strong as possible. Guillemot suggested that games in the online RPG genre take extra time to be complete due to their complexity.
Beta periods for online games like this have become very common over the last few years. The game that started the trend on consoles was Halo 3, which allowed players who purchased Crackdown access to a preview of the game’s multiplayer.
Since then, we’ve seen everything from Destiny to Call of Duty to Ubisoft’s very own Rainbow Six: Siege use the tactic. It’s a great strategy for developers, as it allows for pertinent feedback, as well as immersing players in the online experience so they’ll be eager to purchase the full game when it releases.
“Those games take more time to be completed and we want to make sure we have enough feedback from consumers from alpha and betas to polish it as much as possible before the launch so that it comes to the market with the best experience possible.”
For big titles with major online components, it’s all but a necessity. We’ve all seen the backlash against titles like Halo: The Master Chief Collection — if a major release is meant to offer a robust set of network multiplayer options, that infrastructure needs to be rigorously tested before it’s in the hands of its audience.
Ubisoft has had its own post-release problems with last year’s Assassin’s Creed Unity, and the company won’t be eager to repeat that experience with The Division. The new title’s online features are a major selling point, and if they don’t work as advertised, it could well kill the budding franchise off before it gets going.
Given that The Division has been in development for some years at this point, and the amount of staff working on the game continues to grow, it’s easy to infer that plenty of money has been invested in the project already. With the game officially delayed to 2016, here’s hoping that this beta demonstrates an eagerness to get the game right, rather than rush it out the door.
The Division is set to release for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2016.