Planetary Annihilation Beta This Month, Out December

By Nathan Grayson on September 12th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

Launch that game, Uber. Launch that game until EVERYONE IS DEAD.

In other months-old news, EARLY ACCESS TO PLANETARY ANNIHILATION COSTS $70. That’s $20 down from the original asking price, but still: yikes. Here’s hoping the beta asteroid surfs into reasonable territory – away from the alpha’s orbital space base in Ludicrous Land. If nothing else, it’ll be bringing some pretty immense new features to bear when it goes live later this month. For instance, interplanetary war, which is kind of what the whole game is about. More details below.

Barring any unforeseen delays, Planetary Annihilation’s beta should be just around the corner. Uber’s crunching quite hard to make sure it happens on time.

“Beta is the word of the month over here, as the team marches towards that release. You poke your head in the office for just a few minutes and undoubtedly you’ll hear it a couple times. We eat, sleep, and think beta — which, by the way, is safer than it sounds.”

“Our current timeline is to see the beta released later this month. And as we’ve mentioned before, the beta has some cool mechanics and concepts that you haven’t experienced in the alpha. Like, say, interplanetary war. And colonization. And blowing up planets. So much stuff.”

December, meanwhile, is the goal for full release, which is looking ever more doable given that the game already has everything from Mac and Linux support to a custom planet and system editor.

That’s good news, seeing as it all sounds extremely tantalizing – even if the current price tag is not. Despite that, is anyone in the alpha right now? How’s it been? Is it living up to the promise of Uber’s original Kickstarter?

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70 Comments »

  1. P.Funk says:

    I think the absurd Alpha price is a smart idea. It basically ensures the only people playing the Alpha are dedicated and willing to play it a lot, which means they’ll be far more productive testers for that earlier phase.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Beta price is much closer to the release price so that more people will Beta test.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I thought it was chosen to match the kickstarting tier that included alpha access, so as to not make those who backed it feel cheated?

      • Torn says:

        Por que no los dos?

        • Sheng-ji says:

          The kickstarter tier was probably chosen to price out all but the most dedicated fans, so indeed, both!

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Smart idea or not, this game would have to give me a handjob whilst playing for it to be worth that much.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Well you can probably play with just the mouse, leaving a free hand

        • Bluenose says:

          Ha, that genuinely made me chuckle, thank you!

        • airmikee99 says:

          I can do that myself anytime, and it doesn’t cost $70. The game looks fun, but after beta testing so many other games for free, I refuse to pay for the opportunity to play a half made game.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            It’s kind of like wine. Self gratification is fun, but $70 self gratification just seems to feel better.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Wait, you can do that with wine? …I don’t think I want to know how.

          • Vandelay says:

            This is starting to sound like an embarrassing hospital trip.

          • SominiTheCommenter says:

            They call it cork for a reason…

    • tigerfort says:

      Beta access will probably cost USD40, to match the kickstarter pledge level that gave it, just as alpha access was pricematched to the relevant KS pledge.

    • Teovald says:

      They also wanted to avoid a PR nightmare coming from kickstarter backers angry to see that it was possible to get the same thing for half (or even less) the price they paid..

      • Caiman says:

        Instead they ended up with a PR nightmare anyway because people who didn’t understand that they were trying to protect their backers felt they were entitled to get access for much less. On the Internet, nobody wins.

      • Vandelay says:

        If people that backed it on Kickstarter complained then they really should realise want giving money to a project on Kickstarter actually means. You are not pre-ordering, but helping to fund the game being made. The rewards are just that; the developer recognising your help with a gift. In no way do tiers reflect the actual value of the item you receive.

        I imagine what they have done probably resulted in more damage than pricing Alpha Access at a reasonable amount, as the people who are seeing Steam will now know it as the game that was idiotically priced, even when the price does come down to something sane. Remember, there is likely only a small percentage of Steam users that actually follow the goings on in the industry and probably didn’t even know about the Kickstarter. The appearance on Steam and the cost is likely all that many Steam patrons know of Planetary Annihalation.

        • Doganpc says:

          and yet it still sold, I remember making top 10 steam sales charts for a couple weeks even at
          $90. This leads me to believe that it truly was just the wankers that bitched about the pricing of early access and not actual people interested in playing the game.

          Personally… I like it, tired of these soft release beta games where the general opinion of the game is developed before its considered done just so they can take your money now. Kind of sad how I actually miss store releases these days. Then I remember how buggy those rushed to market products were… you truly can’t win on the internet :D

    • dE says:

      I still remember the times when QA was a paid job and not a job you paid for.

      • Grey Poupon says:

        I’m pretty sure everyone playing the alpha are doing so because they want to. I’m also pretty sure not all of them provide feedback and as such are essentially useless when it comes to QA. So in the end they’re paying for entertainment while also ensuring the finished product is better than it would be without their feedback if they so choose.

      • LionsPhil says:

        “Being a QA tester” being the same as “getting to play incomplete versions of games early” has to be one of the oldest idealistic “dream job” myths of the games industry going.

        • airmikee99 says:

          I was a paid beta tester at Avalanche/Sculptured back in the 90′s, having to play Space Jam on the Saturn 40 hours a week nearly ruined video games entirely for me.

        • dE says:

          Oi, you’re really quick in jumping to conclusions and assumptions, aren’t you? And at misrepresenting too, are you having a bad day?

          My point was the following: A thousand untrained Fanbois hammering away at an Alpha can and DO easily replace a handful of professional QA Testers. Not by quality but by sheer quantity. You get completely shitty reports along the lines of “game crashed here you bloody idiots, fix it OMG”, which in itself is worthless but since you’re getting a thousand of those, you’ll end up at the same end point as with a team of testers, thanks to the numbers. With the difference that instead of paying, you’re earning. It’s a form of crowdsourcing. In a similar direction as to how Wikipedia is erroding traditional encyclopedias.
          Is it good or bad? I don’t know. All I know is it put a friend out of work.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            To be fair, it probably did your friend a favour – QA in games is like data entry, use it as a means to an end but for the love of god, don’t try to make it a career or break into the industry by that route.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Christ, you’re tetchy.

            One good bug report is worth more than ten thousand crap ones.

          • dE says:

            Yeah, he’s saying the same in retrospective. The things he mentioned did shine quite the not that great light on the industry and their approach to bugs. When he started out, he was all idealistic about reporting bugs, only to smash into the good old do we REALLY have to fix that? Let’s weight potential damage versus cost and time to fix.

            @LionsPhil
            Nice dodge and roll. I’ll just stick with you having a bad day.

          • MaXimillion says:

            They don’t really replace QA testers as much as they replace extra QA setups, since they allow you to test a huge range of different systems without having to actually have direct access to those.

    • Player1 says:

      Just see how far we have come. This industry is getting worse every day. Now we even start thinking it’s ok to pay such a high price for testing a game for a company…

      • trjp says:

        No-one is forcing you into doing it – I think their approach is smart and I’d like to see more developers follow that path.

        There’s a real danger in giving cheap early-access to games – they end-up working like demos and can put people off as they’re obviously incomplete.

        Asking a premium to get into an alpha/beta means the people who do it will be more likely to give active and positive feedback and less likely to whinge about minor issues and other stuff you don’t need to know about.

        Check any Early Access Forum on Steam for examples of people who are enraged that they’re not getting a complete game which is fully optimised etc. etc.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          You’d be crazy to think that AAA pubs charging people $70-$90 for the honor of playtesting their games would have anything but a negative impact on the industry. Big-ticket QA testing is something that will never be adopted en masse by the indie scene, so it’s impact can be kept at a minimum, but we all know how the bigger guys love to jump on the bandwagon as soon as the opportunity to make easy money becomes apparent.

          Bethesda charging its fanbase $70 to QA the next Elder Scrolls game? I can’t think of a single positive effect that would come from that.

          Ignore my rant if you were just referring to indie devs/pubs.

          • trjp says:

            You’ve got some weird distinction in your mind there – I suspect you’re conflating “AAA” and “large studio developer with access to professional QA and other services”.

            My point is that I see no issue with a developer allowing players “in early” for a premium price – a price which will drop as the game approaches completion. That fact this dovetails with how many people are using Kickstarter is also a bonus.

            Some developers take the opposite view – they offer early access cheap and raise the price as they approach completion – problem with this approach is that you’re simply less likely to get constructive feedback (perhaps they don’t want that?) AND you’re more like to drive away people who see the price going up (this they definately don’t want).

            I also think a lot of people think the pricing of things is a simple task – William Poundstone was written a rather excellent book which suggests it’s nothing like that…

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I was naive enough to forget that AAA studios used to hire full-time QA testers. Silly me :)

          • MellowKrogoth says:

            AAA studios struggle to fund the huge games people are demanding, so the positive effect would be more money to fund better Elder Scrolls games… if people want to pay 70$ for early access. If they don’t, there’s no harm done except a few angry cheapos.

      • Volcanu says:

        I think it’s worth remembering that the people who have paid for early access (including the alpha and beta) have done so BECAUSE they wanted to see this game get made in the first place. Remember a major publisher would not have made this game.

        To take a different tack – if someone told me I had two choices:
        (a) pay £100 for a game that I desperately want to see made, but which stands no chance of being released otherwise; or
        (b) I keep my £100 but no ‘X-Wing VS TIE Fighter’ uber successor ever sees the light of day.

        I’m perfectly happy with option a. Does this mean I think that every new game should be £100 from then on? No, of course not – I was happy to make an exception because of the exceptional circumstances.

        Same applies here. Its not like a major publisher of a well funded AAA game has decided not to do proper QA in favour of gouging customers is it?

        In actual fact, its pretty clear that the kickstarter backers of this project (disclaimer: Im not one of them) wanted the chance to have input into the games development, and alpha participation gives them this chance.

    • Thrippy says:

      That sounds reasonable enough except that this practice replaces about two decades of people alpha testing for free in good faith. Typically in most alpha tests, I usually encountered a smallish group of dedicated testers that carried the rest. Alpha testing is usually not much fun, the game isn’t feature complete, numerous build downloads, sometimes daily, frequent crashes. After a few patience trying weeks anyone remaining is well dedicated. I cannot emphasize enough whenever developers categorically ignored the majority of issues raised – sometimes unavoidably due to lack of time and money, the game ultimately sucked in critical and customer perception.

      This early access sea change replaces that volunteer process with an unmistakeable atmosphere of confirmation bias i.e. because I spent money the game IS/WILL/MUST BE good.

      • P.Funk says:

        Your conclusion is utterly ignorant of the rather unique nature of this project type. Its not a mainstream development. Its a niche title brought into existence through kickstarter. Any notions of how things are supposed to work because of X Y and Z from the last 20 years is not automatically correct simply because the direct crowdfunded game is a relatively new concept and as such would require a different anticipated business approach.

        Alpha testers must pay the same as those who paid into kickstarter at that price bracket for Alpha access. They’re protecting their investors who paid to test the game. Forget good faith Alpha testers, we’re talking about the people who funded the game wanting to participate in making it better. Sounds a helluva lot better than rich people showing up half way through development ignorant about everything and demanding something that makes no sense (in other words what happens to games all the time).

        In addition, you’re ignoring the fact that those with early access are directly tied into the development process. So the Alpha testers aren’t just testers, but those that are backers are effectively a crowd of plebs who get to tell the Magistrate what they want in their game and might actually see it. They paid not just for Alpha access but for the right to lobby the developers directly. This is the greatest advantage of Kickstarter.

        Why do people celebrate a new paradigm of game development then decry it because it lacks so many of the features of the other paradigm which we loathe?

    • Mctittles says:

      This is number priming at it’s best! Think of the following:

      Our game costs $20 but has now been reduced to $15.

      Our game costs $90 but has now been reduced to $15.

      I don’t like it, but it makes good business sense. The tactics of big chain brick stores are finally starting to become adopted in the digital world. Like the $2500 grill out front that makes the $20 plastic garbage not look so bad anymore.

  2. LionsPhil says:

    Every time I see this, it reminds me that I did not back it for reasons I cannot fully comprehend.

    Please be good.

    • Jhoosier says:

      I have the same thought! Although, I wouldn’t have backed it at this level anyway, it would’ve been for the cheapest tier to get the game eventually.

  3. Bull0 says:

    Yeah, I’ve been playing the alpha, it’s more or less exactly as advertised but a lot of the headline features are still missing (no shit – alpha). And I’m very, very bored of people moaning about the price of alpha access, especially seeing as they have already lowered it from the KS tier cost anyway.

  4. realm_greppy says:

    I’m in the Alpha right now.

    The game is fantastic, even in Alpha, and the community and the developers are even better and extremely talented.

    The game is going to get only better in Beta. Mainly because the Beta patch will include the first steps to interplanetary combat!

    Those who are interested should check out the good amount of content being produced, and streamed.

    youtube.com/zaphodx1
    petardia.com
    youtube.com/megamarshallxp
    pamatches.com
    the-realm-online.co.uk

    (I also stream, and will possibly record at a later date.)

    Alpha was worth the money (Easily doing 5 or 6 hours a day), Beta is going to be phenomenal.

    Stop moaning, stop hesitating, get your asses into Beta.

    /signed
    Greppy

    • BlueTemplar says:

      You seem to have played this game a lot, so tell me :
      Planetary Annihilation looks pretty great, but why should I spend 70$ for this, when I can play Zero-K for free?
      http://zero-k.info/

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        Bwahahah, thanks for reminding me of the Spring Engine games. Answer is easy: Zero-K is always gonna stay in mod-quality territory with a clunky and amateurish… everything and a perpetually quarrelling dev and player base. Planetary Annihilation is gonna be polished to a high level of quality by industry professionals.

  5. ralphie says:

    I like how people are wearing “I got ripped off!” as badges of honor.

  6. tehsorrow says:

    I like its style. Is this going to be its style when it comes out or is this placeholder stuff?

    • Tom De Roeck says:

      Thats the style theyre going for.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Oh good. I know during the KS they were describing it as “placeholder”.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          The stuff they showed in the KS was placeholder (prerendered), but they’ve kept a similar style in the end for numerous reasons, chief among them performance and ease of recognition.

  7. bstard says:

    Lets go do something original and make a flame thread @ the Steam forums.

  8. derbefrier says:

    While I think keeping the price so high after the game hasa been funded is pretty stupid. I do look forward to picking this up when it goes on sale. I would buy it now if the price wasn’t so outrageous but appaerntly the kickstarters pledgers are a bunch of whiney bitches and won’t let them sell the game at a reasonable price. If it drops to 40 or below for beta I will consider it again but There will be more important things to play in december so I suspect next summer sale I will pick this up.

    • Bull0 says:

      So, are you just trolling or do you actually think that

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Don’t worry, it won’t always be that price.

    • phemox says:

      The price is not supposed to encourage you to enter the beta, it’s also to make sure only true fans will invest. In all honesty, people might take this concept the wrong way from what I read in all the comments here and elsewhere.

      If you don’t want an alpha version to play right now, with beta and final release coming much later for this higher price, then don’t invest. simple as that.

  9. Commissar Choy says:

    I’m glad they kept the EA price so high. The choice was fucking over backers or keeping out people who weren’t going to be committed to actually alpha testing, and they made the right one.

    • Yaksha says:

      Then those backers need to learn what funding a kickstarter means. Emphasis on funding. It’s not a pre-order but a fund to get the game made. Once it meets it’s goal and they keep charging high price for any reason it just shows greed and a fy, i don’t care. Like Schafer is doing right now.

      • Commissar Choy says:

        Er? I’m fully aware of what funding a KS means, but you devalue the higher KS tiers AND the backers who funded the game if you turn around and lower the price significantly.
        You don’t have a right to a cheap Alpha/Beta, if you don’t care enough to pay the price then just wait until release.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        It’s so hilarious to read jealous and butthurt people complain about the price because they can’t get in. Otherwise why wouldn’t they wait patiently for release like the rest of us? Despite their claims that “paying for being a beta-tester is worthless”, their whining actually proves that it’s something people really desire.

  10. Notamungus says:

    so getting the alpha is like pre-ordering it, right?

    • Commissar Choy says:

      Except you get to play it earlier and get your feedback in.

    • MobileAssaultDuck says:

      Buying into the Alpha includes a release copy of the game, so it has the added effect of being a pre-order.

      The difference is that during Alpha features can still be substantially modified, so your feedback could significantly change a game.

      Once a game enters beta, it’s feature set is usually pretty set in stone and polishing and balancing of systems takes place.

      So if you like the direction of the game, alpha is unnecessary. If you would want to be involved in possible major shifts and changes in the game, alpha is where you want to be.

      Though, to be fair, what defines a game as alpha, beta, and final is really loose these days.

      • phemox says:

        Heck no!!!!!!! It’s not loose at all. Alpha is when a game is still in concept phase, trying to flesh out gameplay mechanics and design. Figuring out the design direction they want to explore. *At this point it really makes no sense to start commenting on features that are lacking.

        Beta is all about polishing that all up to a more presentable state, adding more (planned) features and deciding which features to ultimately stick with and which to drop. *At this point huge features or game changing mechanics probably won’t make it in the final release.

        Then the final release is supposed to be all clean, polished and be an actual finished product. * Only NOW can you really start complaining about broken features or stuff that didn’t make it.

        The fact that so many devs or publishers mess a proper release has nothing to do with what defines an alpha, beta or final release.

        In all honesty, on certain points we might be chasing a promise on features that might not really end up in the game quite the way they presented the concept. But that’s the RISK involved in backing a title in this way.

    • phemox says:

      No, it’s essentially just backing the game. Remember that you pay extra and get virtually nothing more in return but early ALPHA access. It’s not a finished game and the final release version will be released the same date for everyone. People backing the game only get a sneak preview (all in unfinished Alpha glory) of what the game will probably turn in to.

      At this moment it’s quite silly to expect this to be a regular pre-order thing. The game is nowhere finished and the main incentive to support the title is just that, to support the title. Yes, you do get a few kickstarter extra’s, but that’s not what should be the only motivation.

      Honestly, if you can’t wait and are dying to play the game, better be sure you have thought hard about buying the game at this moment. Most people are better off waiting for the final release.

  11. Liudeius says:

    Well I’m glad I didn’t waste my money on the Alpha or Beta, so it was only something like $20.
    Though I do have to play as a goddamn trashcan with legs while Alpha players get to be a gundam.

    And I’m glad the beta is finally introducing interplanetary combat.
    Now I can say

    “Since they’ve said interplanetary transport will be limited, and there is no space combat, the game will probably play like a ton of separate matches, one at a time, and it will be pointless to try to attack an already fortified planet. Resulting in a game of ‘collect and fortify the nearest planets, then only ever fight on one or two border worlds which you both land on at the same time’.”

    Without idiots saying “itz alfa, u cainnt sey tat,” even though I’m not saying that, I’m saying that it’s probable from how they have said they intend to do interplanetary combat.

  12. mLocke says:

    Here’s the link you’re looking for. https://store.uberent.com/Store/PreOrder?titleId=4

  13. Jenks says:

    My $15 Kickstarter preorder is enough Planetary Annihilation for me.

  14. phemox says:

    ‘December, meanwhile, is the goal for full release, which is looking ever more doable given that the game already has everything from Mac and Linux support to a custom planet and system editor.’

    Yes and no. At the moment it’s quite far from even a proper beta and that’s supposed to be released this month. Effectively this means they had about one months, maybe two months of time to turn the current Alpha into Beta ready. I wish to believe they will achieve that, but at the moment I’d say there’s work left for 6 months at least.

    Still, I choose to support the game and I am sure they will make the game great. Even now, it’s already a joy to play, even when a little bit unbalanced but that is to be expected.

  15. JohnStarky says:

    Oh wow I remember when this was on Kickstarter. I was so pumped for it. Hey have you guys seen this one yet : http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/303658588/apotheosis

  16. slappdaddy says:

    I have been playing since Sept 1st. I have a high performing system (above minimum reqs and below recommended reqs) and the PA battles have been awesome! Of course there have been some glitches but I would say 100% of my matches have been fun even though I lose a lot. Maybe 20% of them had a problem that actually effected the game. I know I will be playing PA for many years to come and I can’t wait!

  17. hmess says:

    I got the alpha 2 weeks ago, I just thought I would try and been quite disapointed with the bugs in the versions alspha as well as this beta now… Shit are we supposed to run this game with a silicongraphics or what? It constantly sucks all memory and crashes… Is this woth the 65€???