Should Mihoyo Be Listening to its Beta Testers?

(Potentially reliable, but not fully verified spoilers for Genshin Impact’s version 2.5 ahead!)

This article isn’t about any one character in particular. Rather, it is an observation about the connection between game developers and their most fervent players who dare to test the waters of unreleased game development. Genshin Impact features a closed beta test for a small subset of its users. They get to play future versions of the game, in order to provide helpful information and feedback on upcoming content and characters.

Recently, it was noted that one upcoming character was said to be too close in design and function to another character that players have long since had access to. This sparked a bit of controversy over how much Mihoyo takes this feedback into consideration; whether that’s a good idea or not. Let’s dive into it.

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More than a few of these beta testers expressed their concern for this new character having too much overlap with the role of an existing character, and not distinguishing themselves enough from that character. Mihoyo apparently took action and made changes to the upcoming character to rectify this.

However, there are two major potential issues with this:

  • One is that these beta testers are just players; it is rare that the average player has enough game development knowledge or balancing experience to effectively weigh in on this to a degree that is helpful.
  • Two, is that when you eventually give a large enough player base this insider information, there is bound to be enough players who do, in fact, have that knowledge and experience among them, and do their opinions matter? 

By listening only to the beta testers, who are a small sample size, a game developer is taking a risk that their initial balancing and judgment of this character’s abilities were flawed or insufficient, and that the beta-testers were able to figure this out and provide input.

  • What happens when the beta testers can’t see the big picture with future information that they cannot possibly know. If the testers base their opinions on what they feel a character should play like? Should passionate or loud feedback be enough to sway the future of a character?
  • If only the numbers are to be changed, and not the mechanics themselves, should a developer trust their initial balancing? Or should they make changes based on the potentially inexperienced opinions of a small handful of people with limited information?

More Eyes on the Problem

On the other hand, once these characters reach the general player base, a lot more experienced and/or educated members of the community might expose flaws in that character’s kit. It’s simply a matter of having more eyes on the problem.

However, it’s quite rare for a character to see any changes after this stage. It seems antithetical to what could be the correct balancing approach. Save for Zhongli, who was directly buffed post-launch due to overwhelming public outcry, any buffs to a character after their release have come indirectly, through blanket elemental changes, or new artifact sets. These are all important considerations to be discussed moving forward.

Should Mihoyo and developers be listening to testers less, or more? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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