The Elder Scrolls Online Closed Beta Test is soon to be underway. As of writing this on January 22nd 2013 the beta signups are available at http://signup.elderscrollsonline.com. These signups are for the initial closed beta so far, for which only sign ups are open. As with past MMOs we’ll see the first beta invites go out within the next few weeks and then we’ll start hearing rumors of what’s actually in the game.
To sign up for the beta you need to submit your region, your full name and a valid e-mail address. Otherwise you’re welcome to share with ZeniMax which games you have played, which games you’ve tested pre-release, your hardware configuration and an answer to the question: “Why should you be a beta tester?”
* If the signup forms don’t work for you, try to use Mozilla’s Firefox. There have been reported 404 errors by users using Chrome.
Within an hour after beta signups went live over 2,000 people “liked” their Facebook status announcing the signups. This probably means a similar number of people signed up in the first hour.
Beta Timeline: Past MMO betas have generally lasted anywhere from 4-8 months. Depending if it’s a new game or just an expansion. Blizzard’s expansions usually go live 4 months after the beta is open while the classic World of Warcraft had its game files leaked almost a year before its live release. Based on ZeniMax’s target release date of 2013 and the typical 4-8 month beta test for a new game, they are right inline to release during the end of Q4 or sometime in Q1. That is, if everything goes as planned.
Here is my predicted beta timeline:
Closed Beta: February-April. We’ll see the closed beta in full swing in early-mid February and most people who weren’t invited into the game will forget about the game until late March. Once March comes around we’ll see ZeniMax accept invites for an open beta. We might even see pre-orders on Amazon and Gamestop offering beta access. This open beta will probably launch in April or May.
Open Beta: May-October. May to October gives ZeniMax 6 months of time to run an open beta. During this time they will be releasing and testing new features every month or so. September and October will be the month of “cuts.” Cuts are the features that video game studios cut from their game to hit their release target. Blizzard’s Diablo 3 cut out PvP for an entire year after launch. We’ll likely hear about new features throughout the summer only to have them cut in the final months of the year.
Promotional Betas: October-November. In the last months of the beta we’ll see all sorts of promotional betas. Beta give aways, beta teasers and maybe even an open beta like we saw in World of Warcraft in 2004.
You don’t need to be an early closed-beta tester to enjoy ESO. As a matter of fact, being a beta tester can be extremely difficult. Character resets, server downtime, quest bugs, game imbalances and feature unavailability can make a game hard if not completely unplayable. Most of the time the final game is worth the wait! Either way, good luck.