One of the speakers at the Gaming Conference India 2011 this morning, mentioned as an aside that it was important to have high quality products when you launch, because not unlike the case of WarHammer, bad press can destroy your product. This is something that has never been more true! News travels quickly on social media, and bad news always travels faster than good.
What does this have to do with my beta release? Today a lot of software gets released as beta, with developers believing that users will help refine the bugs and contribute to the development. Whilst this is still true, today your beta needs to be really well finished.
A polished, easy to use beta, that evolves quickly in response to users concerns and comments may earn positive reviews, more beta users and hopefully customers. A poorly finished beta, may very quickly earn the opposite – bad reviews, user drop off and worse a strong negative sentiment before the actual release!
You can’t hide behind the beta tag anymore. Today a software beta release is akin to the pre-launch of a new restaurant, an enormously powerful marketing tool if done right, and nothing less than a catastrophe if it goes wrong.