A beta test, or beta, is the phase of development after alpha testing but before launch, in which software is released to a group of potential users for testing. Hearthstone's beta test began in the Americas region on August 16th 2013. The European beta began on September 4th 2013.
Beta testing represents a stage in which all major features have usually been implemented. Beta testing is used to check for bugs, strength-test systems, and explore on a wider basis player enjoyment and experience of the game. Blizzard beta tests provide forums where players can discuss at length the balance and features of the game, and the developers may choose to make adjustments to the game based upon this feedback. Blizzard are also able to monitor game playing, such as measuring the precise win/loss rate of each type of hero, or how frequently certain cards are used in players' decks, and can use this to inform their development process.
While the beta test represents a fairly finished and often fully-functional service, it is does not represent the finished product. Major changes are often made during beta tests, and developers may use the test to try out radical or significantly game-changing alterations. As well as featuring numerous bugs, players should therefore bear in mind that not everything found in the beta will make it to the finished game. That said, the feedback forums are designed for players to share their experience of the current beta, so that the developers can decide what does and what does not survive this phase.
- ...one thing we want to reiterate is that Hearthstone started out as an experiment for a different approach to game development at Blizzard. While the game has grown a lot since then, it’s important to us that we continue to test out new ideas as the game makes its way towards release. That means working with our community team to try a bunch of different approaches for blog posts, news updates, and content we’d like to share with you all. Some of these updates may provide just the information you wanted. If so, awesome . . . tell us about it. Others may not hit the mark or speak to what interests you most. Tell us about that too. You definitely have a part to play as we move into the final phases of Hearthstone development, and we're probably going to have some misses along the way, so share your thoughts and help us make Hearthstone awesome!