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Games are serious business

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 9 December 2010.
Planet PHP
About a week ago I stumbled upon this post by Syp about the reception of betas in gaming.

It sums it up quite clearly, when you release a new game (especially, but not limited to MMOs) - the beta phase has to be awesome. Unless you're working on a major intellectual property (like Warhammer Online) or got a huge fan base (Blizzard) you can make or break your influx of users with the beta of your shiny new game.

Now where's the point for software developers, and especially open source developers?
Ever heard "Release early, release often."? - bet you did.

I'm not really seeing this in open source development. OK, some people don't really want to make money with their disclosure and free licensing of their code, they're happy about any feedback and just hope for a patch or bug report by people playing around with it.
Still many of those people then offer the product in any way or consulting/paid feature implementation - they get real benefits by short release cycles, even if it's only to be present in the news and not amass too many security holes by years-old installations. (Yes, that's speculation and a bit of faith in humanity...)

Bzt the same case stands for software-as-a-service vs. games with subscription costs. You're not making any big shots with the original software package or the game box (if it costs something at all) - no, you're relying on recurring payments by (hopefully happy and not disgruntled) customers.

So, where's the difference?
Is it because you're not making your money by selling the box and then forgetting about it?.
Is it because people using open source software are less demanding (i.e. happy something fixes half of their problems and they only need to solve the other half) than gamers who get to use the beta for free?
Are gamers in the hopes they can make an impact by reporting bugs in the beta so those might be fixed at release?