Perpetual Beta

Do you still remember the era that we had to install and update every software program frequently? Do you miss that era or never wants to go back to that time ever again? In Web 1.0 era, users forced to install and update software every time when an application is upgrade with new functionalities. Compare with Web 1.0 era, Web 2.0 era claims “Perpetual Beta: Software has become a service- always on, always improving.”  Perpetual beta is a concept that it is impossible that a product is ever perfect and one designs it with constant updating and improvement in mind. It has associated with some fundamental futures including

  • Constant improvement through feedback
  • Increased openness and documentation throughout the production process
  • A collapse of the barriers between producers and users
  • Better, multi-directional communication amongst the producers/users

One of the patterns, which O’Reilly mentioned to describe what Web 2.0 is, is End of the software release cycle. End of the software release cycle means to break through the traditional mode of software packages, and emphasise to offer an environment for users to interact with each other among web 2.0. It also emphasises that perpetual beta implies continual evolution and constant change.

Web 2.0 doesn’t only offer applications each with specific functionalities, but has also become a gaming platform. A strong example will be Facebook where a large population of users play all sorts of different games on this social network. Some popular titles include CityVille, Texas HoldEm Poker, Hidden Chronicles, FarmVile, CastleVille and etc. I bet nearly every Facebook user has played games on Facebook once. The thing that caught my mind is that the traditional gaming industry procedure requires the users to install the program onto their workstations to access the game. However, the games on Facebook do not require the user to install or update anything and all it takes to play is one click and few minutes of loading time. It is well known that game makers always update constantly and often by users’ feedback in order to satisfy the needs of game players. And then Facebook’s games have open up a new target audience for the gaming industry which are the internet users whom weren’t heavy gamers in the past. This is because gaming is very simple and easy when playing on a web 2.0 platforms where no complicated procedures are required. These games are often small application with simple ideas.


Matthews. S. (2011). Perpetual Beta – The Real 21st Century Library Model?
O’Reilly (2012). What is Web 2.0?
Thompson. M. (2012). Top 25 Facebook games of April 2012
DrWeb-Love. (2011). Perpetual beta as an archaeological attitude


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. akklam2011
    May 01, 2012 @ 09:18:59

    I agree that web 2.0 is the time for software to be always on and always developing for improvements for customers. I like it how the software I’ve used such as youtube has been constantly updated in that it allows users to use youtube more easily, and more effectively.
    Seeing change is a good thing, as I believe my feedback and usage of any software that has been developed in the web2.0 era has always improved over time.
    I like how you used a game as an example, because I have seen many games being improved considerably with updates coming invisibly over time without me even noticing.
    I know also that Siri, which a “personal assistant” that is still in beta, is gradually being updated to be compatible with other languages in the near future. If you want to know more about it, check out my blog


    • Wei-Hsuan Chien
      May 01, 2012 @ 23:54:34

      Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for the comment. You are right, it’s the era that software has to be always on and always developing for improvements for users. Also, just like you said that youtube always keeps updated constantly. It definitely shows one of the best practices, which was mentioned in the lecture- release early and release often.


  2. Bo Peng
    May 02, 2012 @ 01:47:47

    I am not very familiar with facebook game applications , but one thing i agree is that the facebook is a platform. So the software update or beta process should have changed to a new method, Good post.


  3. Dan R.D. (@ddrrnt)
    May 02, 2012 @ 08:02:31

    The state of perpetual beta in social games is worth noting. With new features constantly being released keep many gamers engaged. The developers can also monitor usage to ensure that updates keep players surprised. Personally, I’d like to see more of these games applied to education and teaching. I don’t really learn anything about farming from FarmVille, for example. I play Sims Social from time to time, but have to remember that it can be a serious waste of time. I ask myself, “Why am I improving the life of a virtual avatar and not my own?” I think we need more games that help players’ minds evolve. Although, I feel that occasional mindless gaming is okay in small doses.


    • Wei-Hsuan Chien
      May 14, 2012 @ 18:09:49

      Hi Dan,
      Thanks for the comment. Just like you said, it would be great if these games can apply to education and teaching. I think it must improve the enthusiasm of students for learning. However, I guess these social games are so popular because not only can keep in touch with others, but also playing them don’t need to think a lot but just relax, especially, in this full of pressure era. XD


  4. jaroodi
    May 02, 2012 @ 13:45:51

    in the past, it was hard to deal with software updates. for example, I had to buy the CD and physically intall in my computer. now, most of the application we use in the internet are cloud based application and we access them via the browsers. so the customer will not have to do anything because the updates are implemented silently in the background.

    when i started playing games in facebook, the games were not that good. but, using perpetual beta is a good way to improve and provide new features to the players. I dont have any idea about facebook games these days, because i have stopped playing on facebook, but i think all the games will great if they are using Perpetual Beta method. great post


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: