Publisher Ubisoft is doing one more big test for its online shooter before releasing the final product on the world next month.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is getting an open beta test February 18 for Microsoft’s Xbox One. PlayStation 4 and PC players will get access beginning February 19. This trial period, which will help the publisher see how the game operates under heavy use, runs through February 21. Tests like these are important because game companies can use them as free promotion for their big releases in addition to using them to understand where their games might crash or fail under stress. By combining a marketing promotion with a necessary test that might help The Division have a smoother launch, Ubisoft can save a little bit of money while potentially ensuring that its main release for March doesn’t give an awful first impression as a broken game to fans who just spent $60.
With console and PC gaming worth tens of billions of dollars worldwide, Ubisoft is relying on The Division to fill out release calendar for 2016 — especially with rumors that its annual franchise hit Assassin’s Creed may skip this holiday. The Division could also help the French publisher generate a steady stream of income into the future since its online nature is ideal for downloadable content and in-game purchases — business models that are becoming crucial to the console market.
This is the third test for The Division. Ubisoft ran a closed alpha and beta earlier this year. And Ubisoft knows that a lot of players who participated in those are likely going to return for the open period. For them, The Division’s developer is including new content, which includes new story missions. And to incentivize players to try the game out, Ubisoft is promising a special in-game reward that will unlock when the final game debuts March 8.