Software and Games: What is a Beta Version?

In the area of ​​software development and the application of programs on the end devices of the users, terms such as alpha, beta, update, upgrade and Co. are often used. But what do you mean by these terms? What does beta mean for a software, video game or app? Here you will find the answer to this question as well as further information on the individual stages in the development of software. In other posts, I also go into terms like “alpha version”, “early access” and the like.

What is a beta version? One speaks of a beta version when a game, a system or an app already has all the essential structures and content, but bug fixes, design adjustments and the like are still necessary. Beta testers help find bugs and provide feedback to create the later release version.

What is a beta version? One speaks of a beta version when a game, a system or an app already has all the essential structures and content, but bug fixes, design adjustments and the like are still necessary. Beta testers help find bugs and provide feedback to create the later release version.

What does beta mean for software and video games?

One speaks of a beta version when it is software that contains all the essential components of the program, app, system or game, but not everything has yet been tested exhaustively. while a alpha version represents the basic structure, it can lack essential functions or sections and maybe even more bugs appear, so the beta is already much closer to the final product. However, additional features, modules, sections, or content may be added after a beta test. The design can also change before the release of the first “correct” version.

Why is software released as a beta version?

Now you can ask yourself why developers and companies actually put unfinished software on the market. Well, that has various advantages for both them and the users - whether it's an indie video game or a beta version of iOS, macOS and other Apple operating systems. Depending on the type - such as pre-release of the main version or preview of an update of a finished software - there are sometimes these and sometimes those advantages:

  1. Testing of the software and constructive feedback from (potential) users
  2. Realization of better functions, simpler menus, better design, etc.
  3. Financing of further development up to the release of the finished product
  4. Other developers can use the betas of systems and interfaces to adapt their own apps, plugins, etc. before the release
  5. Players of alpha and beta versions usually get games (including updates and upgrades) cheaper than buyers of the later release product 

Companies like Apple release beta versions of macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS and Co. so that app developers can prepare for the new functions. Indie developers and studios release alpha and beta versions of their programs or games to get help finding and fixing bugs and money. Years of development can be financially draining, especially for newcomers to the market. The testers are also looking forward to first impressions of announced software and being able to help with the development. It's also cool to have to pay less for the game.

What are the stages of development before and after the beta version?

From the first idea to sketches and mockups to prototypes that can be demonstrated, one can speak of "pre-alpha". If the basic structure of the program, app or game is in place and it is published for testing with missing elements, then it is called the "alpha version". If the missing content has been added and the focus is now primarily on troubleshooting rather than creating new modules, then the software goes into "beta". There may be multiple alpha and beta versions, each with their own updates, add-on content, and bug fixes. Finally, there is the "Release Candidate" or "Prerelease" and then the "Release", i.e. the publication of the first "correct" version (quasi v1.0).

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