The term “beta” has adopted a slightly different meaning in recent years. It used to refer to a game that is incomplete, nowhere near release, prone to numerous bugs, and absolutely nothing that players would be expected to pay for. Lately, with games like Warframe and SMITE, which have been in beta for a few months and over a year respectively, “beta” seems more like a term that developers can use to excuse poor coding or otherwise error-ridden games. My problem with this model is that microtransactions are still an option. I feel that, at the point where you reasonably expect gamers to pay for content, the term “beta” no longer applies. Fortunately, Hi-Rez Studios has finally announced an official release date for SMITE. The bad news is that it’s still quite a few months away.
Despite being available to play, like, right now (seriously, you can literally go to the website and click “Play for Free” and start the download), SMITE will apparently not release until March 25th, 2014. Between now and then, there will surely be at least two new gods released and plenty of balance updates, as there have been over the last few months. This begs the question: what will actually, physically change about the game on March 25th? Will it suddenly not require a download or an account? Will it magically look better or be more balanced? I don’t see why they can’t just slap the official release date of December 1st, 2013 on there and call it a day. All of a players progress in the beta will carry over to the official launch date, meaning that players who have already reached level 30 will be level 30 on the first day of the game’s release, and they’ll get a skin for Ymir to boot. However, Hi-Rez does at least have some form of special plans in store for the official release date in the form of a $100,000 prize tournament. The tournament will take place on the 29th and 30th of March 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia in front of a live audience and will include the top four teams in Europe and the top four teams in North America. Teams will have to qualify in the SMITE Weekly Tournament Series that begins on January 4th, 2014, so if you want to win that $100,000 and secure your place in the SMITE world as the best team in the world, you’d better start practicing!