The Division Open Beta: Then & Now – a look back at how Ubisoft’s RPG/shooter all began.
The year was 2013 and it was to be a big year for Ubisoft. Watch Dogs was in development and had high hopes. But Ubisoft had another game on the horizon as well that had big potential too. That game was called, Tom Clancy’s The Division.
I had the opportunity to see the game in person at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) back in 2013 and I could hardly wait for the opportunity to see what Ubisoft had in store. From all the previews I had read along with the first look video presentation, the game looked like a game changer to be honest. At the time, the game had a companion app to go along with assisting your companion during gameplay. During my time seeing this demoed at E3, I thought that this was game changing. Aside from Microsoft SmartGlass, I had never seen anything like this used in a game before and I thought it was a fantastic idea. The game had potential to be one of the greatest games in awhile and I was sold and was honored to have the opportunity to see this game first hand at E3.
Then came the tough times. The delays. Most video games get delayed because they just don’t play well. While some of the gaming community gets frustrated with a delay, I tend to stay patient with the understanding that what developers go through – vigious development hours, testing time tables, and so much more. But when multiple delays hit in the case of The Division, I tend to get a bit more worried. The first delay hit in 2014 pushing the game to 2015. Then in 2015 the game was pushed back a second time to Q1 2016. The game’s official website released the following statement at the time of delay,
“Working on The Division is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us at Massive, Reflections, and Red Storm Entertainment. We are creating something we are really proud of and we don’t want to compromise on quality. We are going to release the game when it’s ready.” – Ubisoft
Seeing as the game was not yet ready I began to lose some hope that it would not meet expectations. And then something totally unexpected occurred. Massive Entertainment announced that the companion app for the game had been cancelled. At the time of development, they had called the companion app a “really meaningful” now stated that it, “created an imbalance that compromised gameplay”. Feeling disappointed by the direction that the game was going, I held opinion back as more details were expected at E3 later that year (2015). I decided to hold judgement until that time came. And boy and I glad I did.
The game looked and played fantastic when it was showed off at E3. The hype began to build again and people forgot all about the companion app. Sure it would have been cool, but this game was about reshaping New York City that had been completely ripped and torn apart. It didn’t rely on the app to play the game any longer and it didn’t need to from what the demo showed off.
Then came the moment that gamers’ got the opportunity to play The Division during the open beta. And boy did they ever. The Division Open Beta came through and a whopping 6.4 million people had the opportunity to play the game making it the biggest beta ever for a new IP on current gen systems and it was yielding mostly positive feedback. Playing it myself I was highly impressed by what I saw now and back at E3 2013.
The Division is now only a few weeks away from release. It’s the perfect game example that has had a bumpy road from development to release. It’s been a long 3+ years of development and testing with high’s and low’s throughout it’s development lifecycle. A lesson can even be learned here regarding game delays specifically that when game’s face delays, it’s never the end of the road, it’s to make it better. While delays are unfortunate and unwanted, I believe they do make the project better in most cases. So now, when I put The Division into my console on March 8th, I will look back at how far this game has come and where it is now. And from what I’ve seen and played, I project great things. The Division Open Beta from the time it was introduced at E3 2013 has certainly come a long way. For all things The Division, keep it locked to @Mammoth_Gamers and be sure to follow me as well @AlbertPerkins.