There’s a good reason why Super Smash Bros. is one of the greatest gaming franchises in history. It brings all the iconic Nintendo characters together, it’s accessible to players of all skill levels, it’s a great party game, and perhaps most importantly, it has a strong competitive scene. Games such as this tend to give birth to a bunch of clone-like titles. One of the latest and well-received entries in the genre is MultiVersus, a game that allows players to take control of their favorite character from any IP owned by Warner Bros.
Released in 2022, MultiVersus fared exceptionally well across all platforms. It was one of the best-selling, most-downloaded games of 2022—even surpassing 2022’s Game of the Year, Elden Ring, on many best-seller charts. So, you can imagine everyone’s surprise when Warner Bros. announced that they’re delisting the game and shutting down its servers after what seemed like a year of very successful growth for this brawler title. Gamers weren’t really shocked by Warner Bros.’s decision, as the game didn’t really vanish.
Instead, its open beta testing phase has now concluded, and we’re heading towards an official release. However, there are still those who wonder what has happened to their in-game purchases, whether there are going to be any refunds, and lastly, what exactly we can expect from the game once it fully launches in, according to Warner Bros. and Player First Games, 2024, when the servers are expected to go back online once again. However, to provide adequate answers to these questions, especially to those who aren’t really familiar with the game development cycle, we have to take a few steps back.
Gaming development usually involves several phases, consisting of pre-production, production (or active development), alpha testing phase, closed beta testing, open beta testing, and final release. Alpha testing involves early testing of the gaming titles in which the game isn’t yet feature-ready, but there’s a playable core concept. Closed beta testing is performed on games that are feature-ready, but there are some bugs and issues to be ironed out. It’s open beta testing that’s important for this discussion.
Though pretty widespread nowadays in modern game development, open beta testing was far less common in the pre-internet era (at least for gaming-related activities), but it was still happening. Instead of using the internet, the games would be distributed to a large group of testers, such as a gaming magazine readership, via optical discs. The testers would then provide feedback to the development team via email or other means of communication, and the game development company would take the data and implement what they deemed necessary.
Things go differently nowadays, and games such as MultiVersus conduct their open beta testing publicly; the gaming public has the opportunity to test out the game before its final build, and the developers get free QA testing and feedback. Players enjoy their favorite game throughout the open beta and contribute to data aggregation, which is then used to enhance further implementation in the final build. This also includes microtransactions, the plague of modern gaming, which is a topic for another discussion entirely.
Player First Games, a MultiVersus development studio, stated during the game’s open beta launch that the game would eventually go offline towards the final build. Now, the company has announced that the MultiVersus open beta will close on June 25, 2023. As part of that process, any updates for the beta version will be paused, and that version will cease its online functionality as the studio prepares the final build for the official launch, targeted for early 2024. Yet, some of the game’s features will remain accessible.
So, while all online modes and features will be unavailable, players will still have limited offline access to the training room—known in-game as the Lab—and local matches, along with access to all their characters and cosmetics items available within these gaming modes. Player First Games also explained that neither the publisher nor the developer has any refund policies in place for the closure of the open beta, meaning that players won’t be refunded for all the money they spent in-game. Though this sounds unfair, it’s actually pretty sound.
Player First Games explained that all previously earned or purchased in-game content during the open beta for MultiVersus will remain associated with the players’ respective accounts following the closure. The progress and earned or purchased content will carry over once MultiVersus returns in early 2024. This includes Gleamium—the game’s premium currency obtained through microtransactions—Battle Pass tokens, and any other in-game items. In short, all content gamers have earned throughout open beta will carry over to the main release next year.
This actually isn’t all that surprising since it’s a common practice among gaming developers to award those participating in open beta testing. In most cases, those rewards consist of some form of recognition or exclusive content. In the case of Metaversus, these players will get to keep all their progress. Admittedly, this will give them an advantage over those who haven’t participated in the open beta. We usually frown upon any unfair advantage in competitive gaming, but this is one of the few exceptions. Kudos where kudos are due.
As for what to expect from the MultiVersus once it officially launches, well, nobody can say for certain. Player First Games said that the gaming community could expect a variety of new content, features, and modes for the game, among other updates made to the final build of MultiVersus. This, of course, includes a ton of new characters, some of which were previously announced but were never actually implemented into the game’s character roster. A good example of this is Mark Hamill’s version of the Joker, which was unearthed by data miners but never actually implemented in-game.
Other confirmed but unreleased characters include Rick Sanchez and Morty from Rick & Morty, Black Adam from the the DC Universe, and Stripe from Gremlins. But the list of leaked characters who never made an appearance in-game but could make it to the final build is pretty extensive. It includes the previously mentioned Joker, Marvin the Martian from Loony Tunes, Gandalf and Legolas from The Lord of the Rings, Neo from The Matrix, Gizmo from Gremlins, the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, and the Powerpuff Girls from the same name animated series. And the list actually goes on.
So, ultimately, we can’t really say with any certainty what to expect from MultiVersus now that it’s down or even what to expect from the game when it launches. One thing is certain; the open beta was a massive success for Player First Games and Warner Bros., as they gave Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. and some other giant gaming titles a run for their money. So, we can at least expect the game to be as equally fun as it was during the open beta testing.
MultiVersus is scheduled for an official release in early 2024 on current- and last-gen Xbox and PlayStation platforms, as well as on PC.